Ahlquist sued in federal court in April, saying the mural is offensive to non-Christians.
Since Christopher Hitchens was diagnosed with cancer in June, he has received thousands of letters and e-mails, some from believers asserting that he’s getting what he deserves, more from people saying they’re praying for his recovery. Hitchens says he has been overwhelmed by the outpouring. But he is annoyed that some writers hope he’ll have a last-minute conversion to Christianity.
“Under no persuasion could I be made to believe that a human sacrifice several thousand years ago vicariously redeems me from sin,” he says. “Nothing could persuade me that that was true — or moral, by the way. It’s white noise to me.”
His brother, Peter, is equally blunt: “There is actually no absolute right or wrong if there is no God,” he says.
Peter once shared his older brother’s views; he burned his Bible when he was a teenager in boarding school. But as he chronicled in his book, The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me To Faith — which he wrote as a response to his brother’s anti-religious book — he felt drawn back to his Anglican faith starting in his late 20s.
He says his work as a journalist in Somalia and the former Soviet Union convinced him that civilization without religious morality devolves into brutality. Moral behavior requires more than higher reasoning, he says; it requires God.
In the video, posted on YouTube, Queensland University of Technology staffer Alex Stewart compares cigarettes made with pages from the two holy texts.
In the clip, titled “Bible or Koran – which burns best?“, the professed atheist says burning religious books is no big deal and people need to get over it.
But the Queensland University of Technology, which employs Mr Stewart, is not impressed and has demanded he explain himself.
“QUT is tolerant of all religions and does not condone damage to any religious artefacts,” QUT registrar Dr Carol Dickenson said in a statement.
Imagining believable conversations between famous historical figures is not easy, but Mark St. Germain has created a lively, plausible and provocative 1939 dialogue between Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis in his witty new off-Broadway play, “Freud’s Last Session.”
With Europe in turmoil on the brink of World War II, the two great intellectuals — the elderly and ailing, world-renowned psychoanalyst and the youthful Oxford professor, an atheist turned Christian — go head to head in the dynamic, often-comical production.
Their profound, often touching conversation, while primarily a debate about the existence of God, also covers other major philosophical issues, such as the nature of love, morality and sex before marriage. Yet St. Germain, who got the idea for his play from the book “The Question of God,” by Armand M. Nicholi Jr., also includes personal discussions that humanize the two men.
While the EU is a secular body, the three European presidents, of the commission, parliament and EU Council, alongside two commissioners, on Monday met with 24 bishops, chief rabbis, and muftis as well as leaders from the Hindu and Sikh communities. The annual dialogue, which has taken place since 2005, is for the first time this year made legally obligatory under Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty.
Under pressure from Belgium, which constitutionally protects and financially supports humanist organisations as well as churches, the EU has been forced to hold a mirror-image summit, but of atheists, scheduled for 15 October.
However, in a move that perplexed and annoyed humanist groups, the EU atheist summit will also welcome under the rubric of ‘non-religious groups’, the Freemasons, the secretive fraternal organisation, according to commission spokeswoman Katharina von Schnurbein.
“I find it rather odd,” David Pollock, president of the European Humanist Federation, told EUobserver. “Some of the Grand Lodges are secularist organisations, and strongly for separation of church and state, but they also retain all sorts of gobbledygook and myths such as the Great Architect of the Universe.”
At the annual American Atheists Convention, one of atheism‘s premier provocateurs, Edwin Kagin, faced the crowd and raised high a hairdryer labeled “Reason and Truth.”
He then conducted a mass “de-baptism” of fellow non-believers and symbolically dried up the offending waters that were sprinkled on their foreheads as young children.
Publishers of Christian material have begun producing iPhone applications that can cough up quick comebacks and rhetorical strategies for believers who want to fight back against what they view as a new strain of strident atheism. And a competing crop of apps is arming nonbelievers for battle.
“Say someone calls you narrow-minded because you think Jesus is the only way to God,” says one top-selling application introduced in March by a Christian publishing company. “Your first answer should be: ‘What do you mean by narrow-minded?’ ”
The war of ideas between believers and nonbelievers has been part of the Western tradition at least since Socrates.
Yet for good or ill, combatants entering the lists today are mainly everyday people, drawn in part by the popularity of books like Richard Dawkins‘s “The God Delusion” and Christopher Hitchens‘s “God Is Not Great.”
Jim Henderson has blazed a new path as an innovator, author, church-evaluator, self-professed subversive, and leader in the creation of new ways to be publicly and persuasively Christian in the 21st century. Maybe the most subversive — and sensible — surprise of all is the population to which this well-caffeinated Seattle man has turned for partners, friends and teachers: atheists.
What could a Christian possibly learn from atheists? A lot, it turns out. As more and more Jesus followers like Henderson are discovering, taking a look at yourself and your religion through the eyes of the unconvinced can be a revelatory experience.
What do Christians learn when they start listening to atheists? Henderson, author of the forthcoming book The Outsider Interviews, has found that the “I’m right/you’re wrong” model is a conversation-killer par excellence….
Atheist Gina Welch went undercover for two years, joining a megachurch and revealing her nonbeliever status to no one. She talked with TIME about why even atheists can respect Christian evangelism. “They felt that they could do something about the eternal suffering of others. I came to see evangelism instead as a kind of empathy. That made me feel like there was something in it I could respect.” “…the experience that I had of most people was that they were very concerned with being good in this life. They wanted to do as Jesus would do in this life.”