Let’s Talk About Torture

I have been proud to host many civil discussions on my column. We have talked about abortion, pornography, and various Bush controversies without ripping each other’s eyes out. It has been lovely.

But this is not going to be one of those articles.

Yesterday, the breaking news was that an American had actually been held and tortured at an American naval base in Iraq. His torture amounted only to being cold, subjected to bright lights and loud music, and repeatedly interrogated under the conviction that he was involved in something suspicious. He lost over three months of his life this way.

Now, compared to what others have lost in our prisons, this is nothing. Others have lost their dignity, their health, and their lives. What makes this story remarkable is that it is your final wake up call. Continue reading

Being An Atheist Doesn’t Mean You Are Immoral

A comment on a recent Newsvine thread stated:

A Columbine shooter’s diary, released along with loads of other documents by the Denver Post, shows that he was an atheist who believed all the evolutionary teaching he’d been fed in school. He wondered why he should suppress his natural instincts and be nice. Surely natural instincts like eating, breeding, and fighting are good since they were instrumental in evolving us to our present state. He viewed most people as being worthless, and would have selectively killed most U.S. citizens if he could. If we are created by God, and He loved us enough to send His Son to die for our sins, then we are all very special indeed.

If there is no God and we are purely the result of random chance, then we are no more significant than bacteria on a mote of dust.

The Columbine shooters held the latter view and took it to a logical conclusion for their circumstances.

I hear this line all the time, and find it very interesting. To be fair, I describe myself as fanatically agnostic, rather than atheistic, but in fully embracing the fact that I do not know, and in fact cannot know whether or not there is a god, I must face squarely the possibility that there is not. When you couple this with the fact that in all my nearly 31 years on this earth, I have never yet seen any indisputable evidence of a god, I find that I often proceed on the assumption that there is not. And yet, somehow, I don’t find myself tempted to go out and hurt others. How could this be?

The argument: Continue reading