Dystopia Journal #1: A Vast Unreality

This past weekend's inauguration didn't feel real. It still doesn't.Despite the evidence, it's hard for me to accept that the presidency of Donald Trump is really happening. Watching the news feels like we've been granted a collective glimpse into an alternate timeline, a bad future, as a warning and a means of averting it. But this is no dream or fantasy, it's the reality we live in now and we'll be facing it for years to come.It feels all the more unreal because it's such a sharp break … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: We Don’t Need No Education

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 1Last time, we found out that Howard Roark, Randian superman, was being expelled from architectural college. In this installment, we'll find out why. Try to form your own guess before reading on!When Roark returns to his rented room in town, there's a message from the dean asking to meet with him. Instead, he spends an hour sitting and doodling, reworking some of his old sketches. He later makes the excuse that he lost track of time; although since … [Read more...]

Letter-Writing Wednesday: Andrew Cuomo’s Bad Faith

Dear Governor Cuomo:As a New York State resident and a Democrat, I was dismayed to read that you vetoed a bipartisan bill passed by the legislature to reform the state's woefully inadequate public-defender system. What's even more disgraceful is that you let the legislature pass the bill back in June of last year and then sat on it, waiting until the last possible moment to announce your veto, to ensure that the legislative session would be over and there'd be no chance to override it until … [Read more...]

When Should a Humanist Forgive?

In "The Ashes", I wrote that we should stop trying to help Trump voters who are about to suffer the consequences of getting what they voted for. This drew a rejoinder by Dragoness Eclectic:And this, I fear, is the difference between the compassion preached by Jesus, and secular humanist compassion: "We'll only be kind and compassionate to our friends and allies" vs. "Love your enemies; for even sinners love their friends. You are called to do much more."I thought this critique … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Our Hero

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 1The Fountainhead begins with nudity:Howard Roark laughed.He stood naked at the edge of a cliff. The lake lay far below him. A frozen explosion of granite burst in flight to the sky over motionless water. The water seemed immovable, the stone — flowing. The stone had the stillness of one brief moment in battle when thrust meets thrust and the currents are held in a pause more dynamic than motion.Howard Roark will be our hero for this novel. A … [Read more...]

How to Resist Temptation

A quick question about your philosophical intuitions. Who's the more moral person: the one who feels immoral temptations and resists them, or the one who's never tempted to do wrong in the first place?Famous philosophers have taken different sides on this. As an article in the Atlantic describes, social scientists are now investigating the question:One argument, associated with Aristotle, is that a truly moral person will wholeheartedly want to do the right thing, and no part of her … [Read more...]

Some Thoughts on Anti-Theism

We've been discussing anti-theism on Patheos, spurred by a post from Martin Hughes confessing that he no longer considers himself an anti-theist. His change of heart came about because he turned to a philosophical god-concept of his own making in a time of need:No, it wasn't the Christian God. More like Spinoza's God, if there is such a thing. This idea that there is a consciousness made up of the collection of everyone's experience. That God is everything connected thoroughly and … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Once More Into the Breach

After finishing my marathon review of Atlas Shrugged, I always wanted to circle back and review Ayn Rand's other major novel, The Fountainhead. It was part curiosity, part completionism. (An unkind assessment might add a hint of masochism.)The Fountainhead is the earlier book, published in 1943, fourteen years before Atlas. While it was successful in its own right and helped establish Ayn Rand as an author, it's not as well-known. This may be because, unlike Atlas Shrugged, it's set in a … [Read more...]

Letter-Writing Wednesday: Don’t Help Republicans Govern

[For 2017, I made a New Year's resolution to make sure my elected officials hear from me more often. To hold myself accountable to that pledge, and hopefully to inspire others to do the same, I intend to post the letters I send on Daylight Atheism. I sent a version of this letter to my senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Feel free to reuse it or adapt it for your own purposes.]Dear Senator:After Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009, Mitch McConnell declared that Republicans' … [Read more...]

Secular Community-Building Is Hard Work

Another of Christianity's big names has left the faith and joined us: Bart Campolo, son of the famous preacher Tony Campolo and a well-known evangelical pastor in his own right.As Mark Oppenheimer's article says, Campolo finally dropped his faith after surviving a serious bicycle accident in 2011, which persuaded him of the fleeting nature of life and the importance of making the most of it. But his beliefs had been weakening for some time. A lifetime of experience had eroded their … [Read more...]