Philosophers and scientists have long debated whether there is something unique about Homo sapiens that sets us apart from all of the other animals. It's not a question of whether we should feel like special humans - it's a question of whether in some way we are actually special animals.
Are parents who have large families because they believe it is a divine commandment or because they take pride in their family heritage any less capable of creating "life-enhancing relationships" with their children than, say, educated professionals who wait until there are financially stable?
Is morality like the laws of physics, ironclad dicta from nature? Or is morality like language, where there is no "right answer" but different languages that different groups of people speak? These are eternal questions with many answers.
Reading the Hebrew Scriptures as reason rather than revelation, we find a book entirely different from the one many people are taught to expect. Once approached in this light, we may never read the Bible the same way again.
On the National Day of Reason religious people of all sorts join non-believers in recognizing that a government of the people should use reason as the basis for creating and enforcing its laws and regulations.
Santorum and Dolan are at least right on one point. No one should be saying that religious people can't participate in the public square. The reality is, however, the public square has a cacophony of voices.
There is a widespread shrug of the shoulders among Democrats -- "Romney wouldn't be so bad." But this in essence is a silent vote for unreason and a kick in the teeth to President Obama and his complete loyalty to reasoned policies.
So as your favorite websites post their Top 10s and Best 10s and Worst 10s of 2011, we thought we'd just post 10 videos we enjoyed this year -- some you will have definitely seen, some you may not have. They're not the best or worst. They're just cool.
The incompatibility between faith and reason come into full glory in the political arena. And nowhere is that made more clear than the rush toward willful ignorance in the field of Republican presidential candidates.
If Republican leaders begin to act more like public servants and less like non-thinking fundamentalist soldiers, we might begin to repair our political system. If not, their absolutism will plunge us into unspeakable economic darkness.
The reasonable theist and atheist may reach opposite conclusions, but both will spend much of their time investigating, in an open-minded (and frequently critical) way, the strongest and most coherent versions of theism available.