Weekend Coffee: March 28

Coffee

• GOP congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers asked her constituents for Obamacare horror stories. The response she got was rather different.• "Shouldn't you be having these same kind of prayer circles around divorce attorneys' offices to 'save' people from acting on the sin of divorce?"• According to federal investigators, a self-described American "patriot" named Michael Sibley was upset that Muslims weren't committing enough acts of terrorism to make everyone see how evil … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Bring Me a New Black Guy

Fig. 1: Eddie Willers

Atlas Shrugged Part II: The StrikeThe most noticeable and jarring change between the first and second Atlas movies is that this one has an entirely new cast. This page from the Atlas Society explains why: Part 1 was shot in a rush to keep John Aglialoro's rights from expiring, and the time pressure and limited budget meant there wasn't time to get the actors to commit to more than one film. The page doesn't say so, but the fact that the first movie bombed surely gave them no great desire to … [Read more...]

Why Atheism Is a Force for Good

MorningSunRays

If you've followed my writing these past few years, you know that I've often taken up arms against prominent atheists who've made clueless, sexist comments or worse. I've also insisted that the atheist movement as a whole needs to pay more attention to social justice, an area where it's historically been deficient. In all these things, I insist that we nonbelievers can and should do better than we currently are.I've been asked by various critics why I don't leave atheism behind and join a … [Read more...]

The FLDS Cult Is Unraveling

Eight years ago, a particularly nasty cult leader named Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison. Jeffs was - and still is - the spiritual leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, an extremist Mormon splinter group with enclaves scattered across the American West.The FLDS, like most cults, was controlled with an iron fist, and members were expected to live like slaves serving the whims of an all-powerful leader. Both Warren Jeffs and the previous leader, … [Read more...]

You Got Your Ideology in My Atheism!

My column in the Guardian this week about atheism and social justice got a lot of comments - over 2900 at the time I'm writing this - and most of them were what you'd expect, both for the better and for the worse.But what I'm fascinated by are the people who wanted to argue against my proposal without admitting that that's what they were doing. If you're going to make the case against including social justice in atheism, then do it honestly and have the intellectual fortitude to admit what … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Craft of Not Acting

Atlas Shrugged Part II: The StrikeIn 2011, a wealthy businessman named John Aglialoro produced a movie based on the first part of Atlas Shrugged. Aglialoro imagined himself as John Galt, boldly speaking the truth to a complacent world. As it turned out, he was more like Ivy Starnes, the inheritor of a famous brand who thought people would flock to buy an inferior product just because of the name stamped on it. The film landed with a resounding thud at the box office, earning back less than … [Read more...]

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 11

This is part 11 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply.Hello Andrew,I'm ready to move on to comparing our views on government, really! But I have to tarry on one small point:Goodness itself is not a necessary truth, but God as the Final Cause (Being and Goodness itself) is a necessary truth in the Aristotelian-Thomistic conception, (goodness being inseparable from God's nature).I've read … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: Beyond Debating God’s Existence

My latest column on the Guardian is up: "It's time for atheists to stop debating God's existence and decide what to do about it".In it, I argue that the atheist movement can't make critiques of religious belief its whole focus and should be doing more to create justice in this life, which is the only one we'll ever have. I also argue that the community is already moving in this direction, citing a new mission statement put out by the Secular Student Alliance that makes diversity and social … [Read more...]

SF/F Saturday: Terry Pratchett’s Death

I was devastated to learn that Terry Pratchett, the renowned fantasy author, died this week at the unfairly early age of 66. Pratchett had been suffering from early-onset dementia for several years, and while he was a vocal advocate of assisted dying, his own passing was natural. (He also worked almost right up to the end: his final Discworld book, The Shepherd's Crown, is set to be published posthumously this year.)The sad news was broken by family on his Twitter account, in a form any … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Rapture of the Capitalists

Rapture

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter XLeaving the stranded train behind, Dagny and Owen Kellogg set out into the night to seek help. As they walk along the tracks, they get to talking. Dagny tells Kellogg how hard her job has become, lamenting, "I don't have a single first-rate man left on the Taggart system" (ouch - sorry, Eddie!), and offers him any job he wants if he'll work for her again:"All right. Track walker.""What?""Section hand. Engine wiper." He smiled at the look on her … [Read more...]


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