November 26 - December 2, 2006

This column will provide links to, plus quotes and summaries of, on-line articles that might be of interest to the Infidel community. Because theinfidels.org is concerned with educational issues, the articles selected will help to inform and enlighten readers as well as entertain them. In order to conform to "fair use practices," only small segments of the articles will be quoted. One caveat: to read the entire linked article, readers may have to subscribe to on-line versions of newspapers or magazines.


This is another short column, given that the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday is putting some pressure on my time to search out and read Internet news, but I've provided some links to debates between religionists and non-religionists, and among scientists about the role of science vs. religion. Check out especially the link to Dinesh D'Souza's column, in the Christian Science Monitor, claiming that atheists are "bloodthirsty" monsters. Please, write to the Christian Science Monitor about this column.

First, though, from the New York Times, a debate among scientists about becoming more evangelistic:

There has been no shortage of conferences in recent years, commonly organized by the Templeton Foundation, seeking to smooth over the differences between science and religion and ending in a metaphysical draw. Sponsored instead by the Science Network, an educational organization based in California, and underwritten by a San Diego investor, Robert Zeps (who acknowledged his role as a kind of “anti-Templeton”), the La Jolla meeting, “Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival,” rapidly escalated into an invigorating intellectual free-for-all. (Unedited video of the proceedings will be posted on the Web at tsntv.org.)

A presentation by Joan Roughgarden, a Stanford University biologist, on using biblical metaphor to ease her fellow Christians into accepting evolution (a mutation is “a mustard seed of DNA”) was dismissed by Dr. Dawkins as “bad poetry,” while his own take-no-prisoners approach (religious education is “brainwashing” and “child abuse”) was condemned by the anthropologist Melvin J. Konner, who said he had “not a flicker” of religious faith, as simplistic and uninformed.

After enduring two days of talks in which the Templeton Foundation came under the gun as smudging the line between science and faith, Charles L. Harper Jr., its senior vice president, lashed back, denouncing what he called “pop conflict books” like Dr. Dawkins’s “God Delusion,” as “commercialized ideological scientism” — promoting for profit the philosophy that science has a monopoly on truth.

That brought an angry rejoinder from Richard P. Sloan, a professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, who said his own book, “Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine,” was written to counter “garbage research” financed by Templeton on, for example, the healing effects of prayer.


Read the complete article here...

More grist for the increasing war of rhetoric between pro-religious pundits and atheist, anti-religious pundits, this time by the conservative social critic Dinesh D'Souza, published in The Christian Science Monitor:

The crimes of atheism have generally been perpetrated through a hubristic ideology that sees man, not God, as the creator of values. Using the latest techniques of science and technology, man seeks to displace God and create a secular utopia here on earth. Of course if some people - the Jews, the landowners, the unfit, or the handicapped - have to be eliminated in order to achieve this utopia, this is a price the atheist tyrants and their apologists have shown themselves quite willing to pay. Thus they confirm the truth of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's dictum, "If God is not, everything is permitted."

Whatever the motives for atheist bloodthirstiness, the indisputable fact is that all the religions of the world put together have in 2,000 years not managed to kill as many people as have been killed in the name of atheism in the past few decades.

It's time to abandon the mindlessly repeated mantra that religious belief has been the greatest source of human conflict and violence. Atheism, not religion, is the real force behind the mass murders of history.


Click for the full article...

Ugh! Another terrible Bush appointment, this time to the Nation's family-planning program, from Slate:

On Monday, the federal office that oversees the nation's family-planning program got a new boss who doesn't believe in birth control. Eric Keroack is a Massachusetts obstetrician-gynecologist who argues that abstinence until marriage is the only healthy choice for women. Until recently, he served as medical director of a pregnancy-counseling organization that runs down contraception and gives out scientifically false health information—for instance, that condoms "offer virtually no protection" against herpes or HPV. Keroack also promotes a wacky piece of pseudoscience: the claim that premarital sex disrupts brain chemistry so as to create a physiological barrier to happy marriage.

Link to full article here...


And as if you can't wait for the Pope to offer another medieval opinion on birth control. Even among Catholics, who is listening? From my hometown paper, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal:

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican's office for health care has concluded a study on the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS, and a long-awaited report on it is now being examined by the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog, a senior cardinal said Tuesday.

But the prelate gave no indication of the position the study takes or when a final pronouncement might be made.
Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, who heads the Vatican office for health care, told a news conference on infectious diseases that the document was drafted with the help of scientists, theologians and other experts.

"We have prepared a detailed study on condoms from both the scientific and moral points of view and we have passed our study on to the Congregation for the Faith," Barragan said. "Now the dossier is being studied by that office and then it will go before the pope."


Read the full article here...

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