Iran: The Ass End of Progress

Say you're a country full of people and you have a lot of vital business to conduct to keep everybody fed and housed and healthy and safe. What do you do? Well, you reach first for this immense tool you have, the most flexible and creative problem-solving device on the planet — the intelligent, educated human brain. Unless you're Iran, in which case you forbid HALF your population — half of those problem-solving brains — from getting a full education: Iranian women banned from 77 … [Read more...]

Top 10 Important Points About Pushing Islamic Buttons

I'm including the horrifically bad movie trailer for "Innocence of Muslims" at the bottom of this post. There are deeper issues in the Middle East, and even deeper issues in this latest flap over the "anti-Muslim" video. But some obvious things spring to mind: 1) Freedom of speech is damned important. No, you don't get to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater, but if you shout "Fire!" on the Internet, and people have to actually make an effort to find and watch the video of you shouting, that's … [Read more...]

A Basic Motivation for Atheism+ … and for Beta Culture

In his post "Value-free atheism," Justin Vacula focuses on the meaning of the word "atheism" — making the point, as do so many others, that it means only one thing. The argument seems to be coming often these days following the appearance of Atheism-Plus. Vacula says: … [Read more...]

First Person Revolutionary — Part 4

[ First read Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 ] All the civilizations I ever heard of had this in common: Somewhere right near each one’s heart was religion. It seems impossible to get away from. And yet it shouldn’t be. After all, it’s never been true that religion is ALL people do. And it’s not as if religion is food, or water, or air. It’s just this ... idea. Hideously embroidered, massively wrapped in confusing, fanciful language, aggressively forced upon people in their vulnerable … [Read more...]

First Person Revolutionary — Part 3

[ Read Part 1 and Part 2 ] The fatal flaw of atheism? Actually, it's a challenge atheism shares with religion. The difference between the two is that religion has found a solution. So let's talk about religion: The weedy form of religion, superstition, arises automatically in each mind all on its own, simply by virtue of our need to create private theories – often wildly personified due to our ability to detect “person-ness” in everything from smiley faces to wind in the trees – about … [Read more...]

First Person Revolutionary — Part 2

[ Read Part 1 first. ] Atheism (more broadly, freethought) isn’t new, of course. Just in this country alone, it’s as old as Thomas Paine (although Paine was a deist, he was widely accused of being an atheist, and I'm confident he would've been one of us if he lived in a society in which it was possible to actually think about such things), and has had its bright sparks all along the way, right up to Carl Sagan, who published The Demon Haunted World only 15 years ago. … [Read more...]

First Person Revolutionary — Part 1

Ever think about the revolutions in your life? The things that change, and change greatly, and then affect everything that comes after? Boy, I do. I’ll tell you a little one first, and then a big one, and then a maybe one. The Little One The little one – well, it might be a big one to you – is about music. … [Read more...]

One in Five Americans Stricken With Crippling Mental Illness

Well, it’s a crippling mental illness if you’re a religious authority. Otherwise, it’s Freedom. Nones Climb to 19 Percent America’s “Nones” — the nonreligious — are at an all-time high, now comprising nearly one in five Americans (19%), according to a new study by the Pew Center for the People and the Press. The 19% count is based on aggregated surveys of 19,377 people conducted by the Pew Research Center throughout 2011 and reported by USA Today. … [Read more...]

German Court Grabs Parents by the Foreskin

Oooh. A German court has ruled that not even deeply religious parents have the right to circumcise young boys on religious grounds, calling it “grievous bodily harm.” The regional court in Cologne, western Germany, ruled that the 'fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents.' 'The religious freedom of the parents and their right to educate their child would not be unacceptably compromised, if they were obliged to wait until the child … [Read more...]

Bow, Yield, Kneel — Everywhere A Sign

Came across this church reader board yesterday while I was driving. It's in front of the Calvary Assembly of God castle in Amsterdam, New York. I know you can't read it. The pic was taken with my cellphone camera, through a dirty windshield, and while I was stopped at a red light. It says "TO YIELD TO GOD'S WILL MEANS TO SURRENDER YOUR OWN WILL." The message was instantly repulsive. Surrender your will? I mean ... surrender your will? Who teaches that?? … [Read more...]