The Roots of Morality I: Refuting Relativism

Back in March of this year, soon after the founding of Daylight Atheism, I wrote a series of posts under the collected title "On Free Will". In that series, I argued that appeals to the supernatural are neither necessary nor helpful in explaining the origins of human behavior, and that a rational, physical account of free will which preserves the qualities we value most can be given without invoking an immaterial soul.I was pleased with the way this series turned out - in particular, I myself … [Read more...]

On Pushing Back

The recent violence in Lebanon, as well as the worsening sectarian bloodshed in Iraq, that have dominated the headlines in recent weeks remind us of the sheer unending vindictiveness of religious warfare. Indeed, of all the worst trouble spots in the world either currently or in recent memory - Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, India and Pakistan, Sudan - religion has played a major causative role in virtually every one. The defenders of religion assert that it has brought into the world much good … [Read more...]

A Call for Truth in Advertising Laws

I was in New York City the other week, near Penn Station, when I was accosted by a well-dressed man in a business suit attempting to hand out fliers to passers-by. I did not take one, but inside the train station, I noticed one cast aside and lying on the ground. Out of curiosity, this time I picked it up and read it. It turned out to be promoting a revival meeting to be held in Madison Square Garden that weekend by the Korean evangelist Jaerock Lee, sponsored by a host of local churches. Below … [Read more...]

No Miracles

The previous essays in this series have explored various ways in which human beings appeal to the supernatural to solve our problems. We seek out oracles to tell us the truth without doing the hard work of seeking it out through study and experiment; we dream up heavens to provide us with a perfect world to live in without the sweat and toil of creating it ourselves; we invent commandments to show us morality without the intellectual labor and uncertainty of reasoning it out; we look to the … [Read more...]

No Messiahs

To judge by the narratives of our culture, an observer might well come to the conclusion that Homo sapiens was a race of fearless, free-spirited revolutionaries. History and mythology both religious and secular is filled with stories of the mavericks, the dissenters, the nonconformists who rebelled against an unjust and senseless system and "did it their way".However, this seeming admiration for dissent conceals the unsettling truth: Humanity is, and has always been, a race of followers. Ever … [Read more...]

No Heavens

Since time immemorial, believers in a loving and just god have looked around at the world we live in, filled with toil, strife and suffering, and have pondered how to reconcile their belief with the facts at hand. The solution which most religions have adopted is to assert the existence of another world, beyond this one, to which the souls of the good will fly in order to receive their due reward.Poets and dreamers throughout history have filled their scriptures with rapturous visions of this … [Read more...]

No Commandments

"That most of the [kosher] laws are divine ordinances without reason given is 100 per cent the point. It is very easy not to murder people. Very easy. It is a little bit harder not to steal because one is tempted occasionally. So that is no great proof that I believe in God or am fulfilling His [sic] will. But, if He tells me not to have a cup of coffee with milk in it with my mincemeat and peaces at lunchtime, that is a test. The only reason I am doing that is because I have been told to so do. … [Read more...]

No Oracles

One of the major purposes of religion is and has always been as a way for human beings to seek knowledge about the world they could not otherwise attain. The ancient Greek oracle of Delphi, for example, is said to have foreseen the answers to supplicants' questions while in an ecstatic trance from breathing the vapors of her cave. Comets and other unusual astronomical events were believed to be portents from God presaging events of great earthly significance such as the downfall of kings. … [Read more...]

Putting Away Childish Things

This month, I will be posting a new essay series that is somewhat different from the ones I have written before. Rather than a series of numbered sequels, each one following the previous in a linear fashion, this new series will be more like a branching bush, with different essays all growing out of the same central idea. That idea, as expressed by the title of this post, is "putting away childish things". In the Bible, the Apostle Paul says the following:When I was a child, I spake as a … [Read more...]

Happy Ingersoll's Birthday!

As far as most people are concerned, the 11th of August has no special significance. But atheists, freethinkers and skeptics everywhere should recognize it as a very special and significant date indeed. For on this day, we commemorate the birth of the most famous freethinker that most Americans have never heard of, the most fearless and possibly the most eloquent defender of nonbelief in our nation's great and storied history - the illustrious Robert Green Ingersoll.Ingersoll's name is little … [Read more...]


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