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Squeeze in everybody! Elise Gravel/Shutterstock

How to fit everyone who has ever lived in one valley

Interpreting the Bible is a tricky business at the best of times. Those encountering nativity plays or Hollywood epics such as Exodus: Gods and Kings this Christmas will no doubt spot errors, ranging from…
Large numbers of people who do not normally attend church still go there to celebrate Christmas. ManImMac

The church has left Christmas Day to the heathen … maybe

In my home city of Melbourne, an extraordinary cultural and religious drama is played out on Christmas Eve each year at the intersection of Flinders and Swanston Streets. Thousands of people mill around…
In Cecil B. Demille’s The Ten Commandments, Charlton Heston’s Moses is presented straightforwardly as a man certain of his mission. Wikimedia Commons

Rebooting the history of the world

The term “reboot” means something particular in the movies. The metaphor is drawn from computers: a “reboot” restarts a machine whose software has malfunctioned. But in cinematic terms a reboot refers…
It seems we’ll never produce the evidence to eliminate faith – or doubt. Jerry Worster

Examine what we know and choose your own personal Jesus

Christmas is bound to produce a few questions about Jesus Christ – as was the case with a recent article on The Conversation on the lack of evidence for a “historical Jesus”. Such questions bleed in to…
Man Haron Monis, the perpetrator of the Sydney hostage siege, appeared to be unaware of basic Islamic theology. AAP/Dean Lewins

Sydney siege shows the rise of a new form of extremism

Man Haron Monis, the sole perpetrator of the Sydney hostage siege, is but one example of the recent development of a new form of Islamic extremist radicalisation. In recent years, Islamic extremism has…
The earliest sources only reference the clearly fictional ‘Christ of Faith’. Charles Roffey/Flickr

Weighing up the evidence for the ‘Historical Jesus’

Did a man called Jesus of Nazareth walk the earth? Discussions over whether the figure known as the “Historical Jesus” actually existed primarily reflect disagreements among atheists. Believers, who uphold…
King’s College Chapel: beauty, art, profundity – but truth? Tom Thai

Is religion a consolation worth having?

My idea of bliss is a Sunday walk that takes in first some English countryside, and second a pleasant medieval church, with some glass or woodwork or monuments. I once even wrote a piece, published in…
Home to many. tmesis

Jerusalem: where religion divides but lives are entwined

The latest violent episode between Palestinians and Israelis has prompted Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to assert that Israel is in the midst of a “battle for Jerusalem”. This is a city divided…
The Indonesian government is drafting a bill to protect religious minorities in a move to improve the country’s poor record in religious freedom. AAP/Nugroho Kuthit

Is a new law enough to protect religious minorities in Indonesia?

Indonesia, having grappled with problems of religious intolerance and violence, seems to be making efforts to improve religious freedom. Indonesia’s religious affairs minister, Lukman Syaifuddin, is drafting…
Instead of dying out, Anti-Semitic myths have withstood the test of time.

The greatest zombie lie ever told

Eight hundred years ago, a monk named Thomas of Monmouth wrote a bogus account of the life of St. William, a Christian boy supposedly abducted by “the Jews” of Norwich. A boy – “like an innocent lamb…
One size doesn’t fit all. Matthew Black

Why there is no such thing as the Muslim ‘community’

Cases of extremist violence and sexual exploitation have caused significant anxiety in the UK in recent years and politicians are continually looking for ways to identify how these things happen and how…
Carolina Muñoz Marin, an amateur kickboxer from Costa Rica, is featured in “Meet the Mormons.” Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Why are we meeting the Mormons?

In October the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released its new documentary Meet the Mormons to wide theatrical distribution. The film depicts the lives of six individuals – two women and four…
To see off challenges to its dominance, Malaysia’s government exploits Muslim sentiment at every turn. This has been a factor in sodomy charges against opposition figurehead Anwar Ibrahim. EPA/Azhar Rahim

Malaysia reaches a critical crossroad over state Islamisation

Fuelled by the rise of Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, debate about Islam and violence has flared again in Australia. In a predictable cycle of provocation and reaction, governments launch a wide-ranging…
They are listening but whose side are they on? Max Rossi/Reuters

The tectonic plates of world Catholicism shift

An extraordinary two weeks in Rome ended Saturday with a standing ovation. Pope Francis had invited 191 bishops and clergy to the Synod on the family to speak their minds on issues such as divorce, premarital…
The extraordinary synod of bishops on family is meeting for two weeks at the Vatican. EPA/L'Osservatore Romano

Pope sets off a ‘gay earthquake’? No, the church has hardly moved

A report of debate from the first half of the extraordinary synod of Catholic bishops meeting in Rome has been described as a “pastoral earthquake” and a “seismic shift in Rome” for praising gay relationships…
There are many different conceptions of God, and endless questions. Waiting For The Word

We don’t know if God exists, but we should keep asking

Disputes about the existence of God — like most disputes about religion, politics, and sex — almost always generate heat but not light. The question of the existence of God seems intractable. As with other…
An Iraqi man prays at the Al-Noori Al-Kabeer mosque – now draped with the Islamic State flag – in Mosul, northern Iraq. EPA/STR

The truth about whether Islam is a religion of violence or peace

Islam has a history of violence. Muslims can be violent. Denying this is not at all different to denying that Islam is peaceful and that all Muslims are pacifists. The dichotomy is simply false. The Qur’an…
A US Marine covers a statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein with the US flag in Baghdad’s al-Fardous square in April 2003, before the statue was toppled. EPA PHOTO AFPI/RAMZI HAIDAR

Is it fair to blame the West for trouble in the Middle East?

For at least a decade, attempts to understand why some young Muslims living in Western countries turn to violence in the name of religion have raised questions about Western foreign policy in the Middle…

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