When you lay down a proposition which is forthwith controverted, it is of course optional with you to take up the cudgels in its defence. If you are deeply convinced of its truth, you will perhaps be content to leave it to take care of itself; or, at all events, you will not go out of your way to push its fortunes; for you will reflect that in the long run an opinion often borrows credit from the forbearance of its patrons. In the long run, we say; it will meanwhile cost you an occasional pang to see your cherished theory turned into a football by the critics. A football is not, as such, a very respectable object, and the more numerous the players, the more ridiculous it becomes. Unless, therefore, you are very confident of your ability to rescue it from the chaos of kicks, you will best consult its interests by not mingling in the game.

I've spent a life-time attacking religious beliefs and have not wavered from a view of the universe that many would regard as bleak. Namely, that it is a meaningless place devoid of deity.However I'm unwilling simply to repeat the old arguments of the past when, in fact, God is a moving target and is taking all sorts of new shapes and forms. The arguments used against the long bow are not particularly useful when debating nuclear weapons, and the simple arguments against the old model gods are not sufficient when dealing with the likes of Davies et al.For example, the notion that God didn't exist, doesn't exist but may come into existence through the spread of consciousness throughout the universe is too clever to be pooh-poohed along Bertrand Russell lines. And if I had the time I could give you half a dozen other scientific theologies that will need snappier footwork from the atheist of the future.

The traditional arguments for the existence of God have been fairly thoroughly criticised by philosophers. But the theologian can, if he wishes, accept this criticism. He can admit that no rational proof of God's existence is possible. And he can still retain all that is essential to his position, by holding that God's existence is known in some other, non-rational way. I think, however, that a more telling criticism can be made by way of the traditional problem of evil. Here it can be shown, not that religious beliefs lack rational support, but that they are positively irrational, that the several parts of the essential theological doctrine are inconsistent with one another, so that the theologian can maintain his position as a whole only by a much more extreme rejection of reason than in the former case. He must now be prepared to believe, not merely what cannot be proved, but what can be disproved from other beliefs that he also holds.

I'm a writer by profession and it's totally clear to me that since I started blogging, the amount I write has increased exponentially, my daily interactions with the views of others have never been so frequent, the diversity of voices I engage with is far higher than in the pre-Internet age—and all this has helped me become more modest as a thinker, more open to error, less fixated on what I do know, and more respectful of what I don't. If this is a deterioration in my brain, then more, please."The problem is finding the space and time when this engagement stops, and calm, quiet, thinking and reading of longer-form arguments, novels, essays can begin. Worse, this also needs time for the mind to transition out of an instant gratification mode to me a more long-term, thoughtful calm. I find this takes at least a day of detox. Getting weekends back has helped. But if there were a way to channel the amazing insights of blogging into the longer, calmer modes of thinking ... we'd be getting somewhere."I'm working on it.

It is often argued that religion is valuable because it makes men good, but even if this were true it would not be a proof that religion is true. That would be an extension of pragmatism beyond endurance. Santa Claus makes children good in precisely the same way, and yet no one would argue seriously that the fact proves his existence. The defense of religion is full of such logical imbecilities. The theologians, taking one with another, are adept logicians, but every now and then they have to resort to sophistries so obvious that their whole case takes on an air of the ridiculous. Even the most logical religion starts out with patently false assumptions. It is often argued in support of this or that one that men are so devoted to it that they are willing to die for it. That, of course, is as silly as the Santa Claus proof. Other men are just as devoted to manifestly false religions, and just as willing to die for them. Every theologian spends a large part of his time and energy trying to prove that religions for which multitudes of honest men have fought and died are false, wicked, and against God.

Most errors consist only in our not rightly applying names to things. For when someone says that the lines which are drawn from the center of a circle to its circumference are unequal, he surely understands (then at least) by a circle something different from what mathematicians understand. Similarly, when men err in calculating they have certain numbers in their mind and different ones on the paper. So if you consider what they have in mind, they really do not err, though they seem to err because we think they have in their mind the numbers which are on the paper. If this were not so, we would not believe that they were erring, just as I did not believe that he was erring whom I recently heard cry out that his courtyard had flown into his neighbor's hen, because what he had in mind seemed sufficiently clear to me.And most controversies have arisen from this, that men do not rightly explain their own mind, or interpret the mind of the other man badly. For really, when they contradict one another most vehemently, they either have the same thoughts, or they are thinking of different things, so that what they think are errors and absurdities in the other are not.

I am a cuddly atheist... I am against creationism being taught in schools because there is empirical evidence that it is a silly notion... I am passionately concerned about the rise in pseudo-science; in beliefs in alternative medicine; in creationism. The idea that somehow it is based on logic, on rational arguments, but it's not. It doesn't stand up to empirical evidence.In the same way in medicine, alternative medicines like homeopathy or new age therapies – reiki healing – a lot of people buy into it and it grates against my rationalist view of the world. There is no evidence for it. It is deceitful. It is insidious. I feel passionately about living in a society with a rationalist view of the world.I will be vocal on issues where religion impacts on people's lives in a way that I don't agree with – if, for instance, in faith schools some of the teaching of religion suggests the children might have homophobic views or views that are intolerant towards other belief systems...I am totally against, for example, bishops in the House of Lords. Why should someone of a particular religious faith have some preferential treatment over anyone else? This notion that the Church of England is the official religion of the country is utterly outmoded now.

Look, Jordan, you’re not alone any more. It’s my job to protect you while I’m here and I can’t do that if you keep pushing me away.”“That’s the problem, Michael,” I shot back. “You have more responsibilities to your boss than you do to me. You taught me how to defend myself, how to heal myself, and that should be good enough. You can’t keep babysitting one little human when you have an entire cosmos to worry about.” He faced me again, those green eyes boring into mine as if he could see straight through me. “Are you saying you want me to leave?”My chest tightened. I hadn’t expected him to say that. I bit my bottom lip, glancing away. “That’s not what I mean.”“Then what do you mean?” “Since when have I ever known what the hell I mean?” He touched my right cheek, making me face him. “You do when it counts.”Staring up at him, shirtless, vulnerable, and wounded, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. He had a knack for picking my walls apart brick by brick. It bothered me. He took a step closer, casting a shadow over me. “Stop,” I mumbled, fixing my eyes on the floor. He brushed a lock of hair behind my ear, sliding his warm hand to lift my chin so I’d have to look at him. “Stop what?” he murmured. “Looking at me.”“Why?”“That’s how Terrell used to look at me before we kissed.”His lips parted to say something but I pushed past him, gathering up my duster from where it lay on the bed next to the dress. “Get dressed. We have more ghosts to help.

Thus, by science I mean, first of all, a worldview giving primacy to reason and observation and a methodology aimed at acquiring accurate knowledge of the natural and social world. This methodology is characterized, above all else, by the critical spirit: namely, the commitment to the incessant testing of assertions through observations and/or experiments — the more stringent the tests, the better — and to revising or discarding those theories that fail the test. One corollary of the critical spirit is fallibilism: namely, the understanding that all our empirical knowledge is tentative, incomplete and open to revision in the light of new evidence or cogent new arguments (though, of course, the most well-established aspects of scientific knowledge are unlikely to be discarded entirely).. . . I stress that my use of the term 'science' is not limited to the natural sciences, but includes investigations aimed at acquiring accurate knowledge of factual matters relating to any aspect of the world by using rational empirical methods analogous to those employed in the natural sciences. (Please note the limitation to questions of fact. I intentionally exclude from my purview questions of ethics, aesthetics, ultimate purpose, and so forth.) Thus, 'science' (as I use the term) is routinely practiced not only by physicists, chemists and biologists, but also by historians, detectives, plumbers and indeed all human beings in (some aspects of) our daily lives. (Of course, the fact that we all practice science from time to time does not mean that we all practice it equally well, or that we practice it equally well in all areas of our lives.)

لو أن لبائع اللب قدرة على الجدل لدلل على أنه يلعب دوراً خطيراً في حياة البشر، ولا يبعد أن يكون لكل شيئ قيمة ذاتية ولا يبعد كذلك ألا يكون لشيئ قيمة البتة، كم مليوناً من البشر يلفظون أنفاسهم في هذه اللحظة؟ في الوقت نفسه يرتفع صوت طفل بالبكاء على فقد لعبة، أو صوت عاشق يبث الليل والكون متاعب قلبه، أأضحك أم أبكي؟

"You’re the first girl I’ve met around here who’s real, and who cares about things and likes to do things. But half the time, you decide the conversation’s over in mid-sentence and take off. Or you ignore me when we’re at school and other people are around, and you tell your cousin that there’s nothing going on between us and that you’re not interested me at all.""Me? What about you?""What about me?""You’re the master of saying one word and disappearing. And you have all these things that you care about, like Bea and Oliver and surfing and acting, but most people would never know that. Your father thinks you can’t wait to be a banker and all your friends think you don’t care about anything. And meanwhile you’ve gone from a person who acted like he cared about me to a professional bodyguard doing a favor for my aunt. I mean, what is the whole Secret Service act about?”His jaw was clenched. “I don’t want anything to you.”“Nothing’s happened to me.”“Oh, like when you got hit by a car?”“It didn’t hit me.”“But I should have been there. I got caught up, talking to Mr. Dudley, and I was late, and I let you stand out there all alone.”“Quinn, that makes no sense.”“I just don’t want it to happen again.”“What don’t you want to happen?”“I don’t want anyone I care about to get hurt on my watch.”That shut us both up. We were silent for a while, each looking out our respective windows as we sped along the highway. And then I figured it out. “This is about your mom, isn’t it?”He just sort of shrugged. And then he said, “Probably.”I moved closer and leaned into him. After a moment he put his arm around my shoulder. And we just stayed like that, not talking, the rest of the way to the airport.

One day in my pharmacology class, we were discussing the possibility of legalizing marijuana. The class was pretty evenly divided between those that advocated legalizing marijuana and those that did not. The professor said he wanted to hear from a few people on both sides of the argument. A couple students had the opportunity to stand in front of the class and present their arguments. One student got up and spoke about how any kind of marijuana use was morally wrong and how nobody in the class could give him any example of someone who needed marijuana.A small girl in the back of the classroom raised her hand and said that she didn’t want to get up, but just wanted to comment that there are SOME situations in which people might need marijuana. The same boy from before spoke up and said that she needed to back up her statements and that he still stood by the fact that there wasn’t anyone who truly needed marijuana. The same girl in the back of the classroom slowly stood up. As she raised her head to look at the boy, I could physically see her calling on every drop of confidence in her body. She told us that her husband had cancer. She started to tear up, as she related how he couldn’t take any of the painkillers to deal with the radiation and chemotherapy treatments. His body was allergic and would have violent reactions to them. She told us how he had finally given in and tried marijuana. Not only did it help him to feel better, but it allowed him to have enough of an appetite to get the nutrients he so desperately needed.She started to sob as she told us that for the past month she had to meet with drug dealers to buy her husband the only medicine that would take the pain away. She struggled every day because according to society, she was a criminal, but she was willing to do anything she could to help her sick husband. Sobbing uncontrollably now, she ran out of the classroom. The whole classroom sat there in silence for a few minutes. Eventually, my professor asked, “Is there anyone that thinks this girl is doing something wrong?” Not one person raised their hand.

If the Pentateuch be true, religious persecution is a duty. The dungeons of the Inquisition were temples, and the clank of every chain upon the limbs of heresy was music in the ear of God. If the Pentateuch was inspired, every heretic should be destroyed; and every man who advocates a fact inconsistent with the sacred book, should be consumed by sword and flame.In the Old Testament no one is told to reason with a heretic, and not one word is said about relying upon argument, upon education, nor upon intellectual development—nothing except simple brute force. Is there to-day a christian who will say that four thousand years ago, it was the duty of a husband to kill his wife if she differed with him upon the subject of religion? Is there one who will now say that, under such circumstances, the wife ought to have been killed? Why should God be so jealous of the wooden idols of the heathen? Could he not compete with Baal? Was he envious of the success of the Egyptian magicians? Was it not possible for him to make such a convincing display of his power as to silence forever the voice of unbelief? Did this God have to resort to force to make converts? Was he so ignorant of the structure of the human mind as to believe all honest doubt a crime? If he wished to do away with the idolatry of the Canaanites, why did he not appear to them? Why did he not give them the tables of the law? Why did he only make known his will to a few wandering savages in the desert of Sinai? Will some theologian have the kindness to answer these questions? Will some minister, who now believes in religious liberty, and eloquently denounces the intolerance of Catholicism, explain these things; will he tell us why he worships an intolerant God? Is a god who will burn a soul forever in another world, better than a christian who burns the body for a few hours in this? Is there no intellectual liberty in heaven? Do the angels all discuss questions on the same side? Are all the investigators in perdition? Will the penitent thief, winged and crowned, laugh at the honest folks in hell? Will the agony of the damned increase or decrease the happiness of God? Will there be, in the universe, an eternal auto da fe?

I see how it is,” I snapped. “You were all in favor of me breaking the tattoo and thinking on my own—but that’s only okay if it’s convenient for you, huh? Just like your ‘loving from afar’ only works if you don’t have an opportunity to get your hands all over me. And your lips. And . . . stuff.”Adrian rarely got mad, and I wouldn’t quite say he was now. But he was definitely exasperated. “Are you seriously in this much self-denial, Sydney? Like do you actually believe yourself when you say you don’t feel anything? Especially after what’s been happening between us?”“Nothing’s happening between us,” I said automatically. “Physical attraction isn’t the same as love. You of all people should know that.”“Ouch,” he said. His expression hadn’t changed, but I saw hurt in his eyes. I’d wounded him. “Is that what bothers you? My past? That maybe I’m an expert in an area you aren’t?”“One I’m sure you’d just love to educate me in. One more girl to add to your list of conquests.”He was speechless for a few moments and then held up one finger. “First, I don’t have a list.” Another finger, “Second, if I did have a list, I could find someone a hell of lot less frustrating to add to it.” For the third finger, he leaned toward me. “And finally, I know that you know you’re no conquest, so don’t act like you seriously think that. You and I have been through too much together. We’re too close, too connected. I wasn’t that crazy on spirit when I said you’re my flame in the dark. We chase away the shadows around each other. Our backgrounds don’t matter. What we have is bigger than that. I love you, and beneath all that logic, calculation, and superstition, I know you love me too. Running away and fleeing all your problems isn’t going to change that. You’re just going to end up scared and confused.”“I already feel that way,” I said quietly.Adrian moved back and leaned into his seat, looking tired. “Well, that’s the most accurate thing you’ve said so far.”I grabbed the basket and jerked open the car door. Without another word, I stormed off, refusing to look back in case he saw the tears that had inexplicably appeared in my eyes. Only, I wasn’t sure exactly which part of our conversation I was most upset about.

Weak and trembling from passion, Major Flint found that after a few tottering steps in the direction of Tilling he would be totally unable to get there unless fortified by some strong stimulant, and turned back to the club-house to obtain it. He always went dead-lame when beaten at golf, while Captain Puffin was lame in any circumstances, and the two, no longer on speaking terms, hobbled into the club-house, one after the other, each unconscious of the other's presence. Summoning his last remaining strength Major Flint roared for whisky, and was told that, according to regulation, he could not be served until six. There was lemonade and stone ginger-beer. You might as well have offered a man-eating tiger bread and milk. Even the threat that he would instantly resign his membership unless provided with drink produced no effect on a polite steward, and he sat down to recover as best he might with an old volume of Punch. This seemed to do him little good. His forced abstemiousness was rendered the more intolerable by the fact that Captain Puffin, hobbling in immediately afterwards, fetched from his locker a large flask of the required elixir, and proceeded to mix himself a long, strong tumblerful. After the Major's rudeness in the matter of the half-crown, it was impossible for any sailor of spirit to take the first step towards reconciliation.Thirst is a great leveller. By the time the refreshed Puffin had penetrated half-way down his glass, the Major found it impossible to be proud and proper any longer. He hated saying he was sorry (no man more) and he wouldn't have been sorry if he had been able to get a drink. He twirled his moustache a great many times and cleared his throat--it wanted more than that to clear it--and capitulated."Upon my word, Puffin, I'm ashamed of myself for--ha!--for not taking my defeat better," he said. "A man's no business to let a game ruffle him."Puffin gave his alto cackling laugh."Oh, that's all right, Major," he said. "I know it's awfully hard to lose like a gentleman."He let this sink in, then added:"Have a drink, old chap?"Major Flint flew to his feet."Well, thank ye, thank ye," he said. "Now where's that soda water you offered me just now?" he shouted to the steward.The speed and completeness of the reconciliation was in no way remarkable, for when two men quarrel whenever they meet, it follows that they make it up again with corresponding frequency, else there could be no fresh quarrels at all. This one had been a shade more acute than most, and the drop into amity again was a shade more precipitous.