Archive for Religion

Derren Brown exposes faith healing as mass hysteria, adrenalin, hypnotism and fraud (“Miracles for Sale”)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on 26 April 2011 by Michael Hampson

Illusionist Derren Brown’s latest television spectacular exposes the american faith-healing industry as a fraud by turning a reality-TV wannabe into a faith healer for a night.

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New Scientist: atheism is irrational and culturally conditioned

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 13 April 2011 by Michael Hampson

Jonathan Lanman lectures in anthropology in Oxford.

His article in the New Scientist last week analysed atheism from an anthropological and sociological perspective, and far from finding it to be the coolly rational phenomenon that it claims to be, found its main public manifestations (“strong atheism” or anti-theism, as opposed to the meek and largely silent non-theism) to be both irrational and culturally conditioned.

There is a good review and summary here.

Also this week, promoting his book Divinity of Doubt, Vincent Bugliosi lays into the poor reasoning – the irrationality – of most atheism:

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Atheist, liberal and fundamentalist conspire together to misrepresent the faith

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 11 April 2011 by Michael Hampson

Atheist and fundamentalist conspire together to misrepresent the faith, insisting that Christianity demands a God who is a wrathful king, and a bible that is an infallible oracle.

The atheist rightly mocks, and the fundamentalist defends the indefensible.

Most liberals commit the same offence, maintaining the fundamentalists’ notion of an angry God. God is just angry (and you are required to feel guilty) about different things, like global warming and poverty.

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New report: ordinary catholics are more supportive of gay rights than the general population

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on 29 March 2011 by Michael Hampson

A new report from the American Public Religion Research Institute finds that ordinary lay catholics are more supportive of gay rights than the general population, for example:

• 74% support legal recognition of same-sex civil unions
• 71% support gay civil marriage, “like you get at city hall”
• 73% support legislation against discrimination in the workplace
• 63% support gays in the military
• 60% support gay adoption
• 70% fear that messages from America’s places of worship contribute to higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth
• 43% support gay marriage without further description or restriction (rising to 71% for “civil marriage, like you get at city hall”)

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Official catholic doctrine: everybody goes to heaven, nobody goes to hell (universalism, purgatory, and the Rob Bell ‘Love Wins’ controversy)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 29 March 2011 by Michael Hampson

Rob Bell has caused a huge flurry of controversy amongst his fellow evangelicals with his suggestion that hell may be empty.

What he is presenting is universalism, a respectable Christian theological position for centuries, and the official doctrine of the catholic church, as set out in detail in the catechism.

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The History of Fundamentalism – and America’s bizarre relationship with creation and evolution

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 9 March 2011 by Michael Hampson

The original fundamentalists were members of a protestant movement in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, proudly coining the title and declaring the five fundamentals of their faith: the inspiration and literal inerrancy of the bible, the virgin birth, a theology of the crucifixion as a substitutionary sacrifice for atonement, the bodily resurrection of Christ, and the forthcoming bodily return of Christ. Different groups produced different versions of the list, but the clarity of the stance overall pulled off a major coup: they managed to fix themselves in the American (and now the global) mind as the real Christians, and those they opposed (the liberals and the modernists) as less than the real deal.

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Peter Vardy on Good and Bad Religion

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 30 January 2011 by Michael Hampson

Peter Vardy’s new book Good and Bad Religion is reviewed by Gavin D’Costa in The Tablet.

Vardy argues that those in religions should join with atheists in criticising bad religion.

Hear, hear.

Atheists likewise should recognise complexity, colour and difference within a single religion, as well as learn that their own naturalism is not quite as unquestionable or self-evident as they sometimes think.

Vardy goes on to suggest rationality and virtue as standards by which to judge good and bad religion – and good and bad secularism.

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