The Humanist Symposium: Inaugural Edition

It is a brilliant spring morning, and the first-ever gathering of the Humanist Symposium has convened here in the Garden at Daylight Atheism. The crowd of attendees has gathered in a natural clearing delineated at one end by a vast, ancient oak, its upper branches dappled gold in the sun, great weather-worn stones embedded in the ground among its roots, and flowering vines curling around its trunk. At the tree's foot, a wilderness of brilliant blue and red pansy violets grows wild in the grass, … [Read more...]

Illuminated History

The further back we go in time, the more of human history recedes into the mists of ignorance. A scant few centuries ago, before the invention of the printing press, books were a rare and expensive luxury. Further back beyond that, we have only the word of a few chroniclers, passed down and recopied through the generations, and often of dubious reliability. Then even the era of named historians ends, and only fragments and scraps of documents remain to give us glimpses into the past, like … [Read more...]

The Milgram Obedience Experiment

Stanley Milgram. "Behavioral study of obedience." Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, vol. 67, no.4 (1963), p.371-378.In the 1960s, Stanley Milgram conducted one of the most important experiments ever done in the field of human psychology and social conformity. For ethical reasons, this study probably could not be repeated today, but that only makes it even more important to raise awareness of its findings.Milgram, a psychology professor at Yale University, recruited 40 male subjects … [Read more...]

Some Items of Note

Following my earlier announcement, I'm now very pleased to announce that the Humanist Symposium now has hosts for its first seven editions, up through September 2. My sincere gratitude goes out to everyone who stepped up to volunteer!Also, the carnival home page, linked above, now offers some graphic logos thanks to Intergalactic Hussy, proprietor of The Atheist Jewish Zen Buddhist, who kindly volunteered her time and effort. Please feel free to download and use them to promote this carnival … [Read more...]

A World in Shadow IV

In an e-mail conversation I had a few weeks ago, a theist visitor attempted to answer my argument on the problem of evil by comparing God to parents who let their children learn from work and life experience, rather than trying to shelter them from all possible harm.My parents have money, they could have written away all my debt in an instant and then let me come chill back at home. But no, they helped me enough so that I wouldn't starve to death, but they made me work.There is an important … [Read more...]

Some Words on Exploiting Tragedy

In the wake of the recent horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech, where a mentally disturbed student named Cho-Seung Hui murdered 27 students and five faculty members before taking his own life, a shocked nation has struggled to understand. There has been agonized debate over what could have caused this young man to commit such a horrific act of violence - whether it was due to persistent harassment and social ostracism which he suffered, or whether it was mental illness, or some combination of both. … [Read more...]

Not for the Love of Money

This month I've written two posts condemning the get-rich-quick, get-everything-for-nothing mentality prominent both in evangelical Christianity (The Root of All Evil) and in New Ageism (The Secret). (It occurs to me that this is April - tax month, for us Americans - and though I didn't intend these posts to appear during this month, the correlation pleases me.) This brand of supernatural selfishness has never brought humanity any benefits, instead only giving grief and distracting us from truly … [Read more...]

New Book Reviews on Dangerous Intersection and Ebon Musings

I've posted a new blog entry at Dangerous Intersection, a book review of Peter Galbraith's The End of Iraq. Galbraith's book deals with the chaos the American invasion has unleashed and argues that the only feasible solution remaining is to partition Iraq into three states.Also, I'm pleased to announce that while I personally remain on hiatus from updating Ebon Musings, frequent Daylight Atheism commenter James Bradbury has contributed a new guest essay there, a review of C.S. Lewis' book … [Read more...]

An Address to Hispanic Freethinkers

This year, I made a New Year's resolution to learn Spanish. In a world of many cultures, I've always felt somewhat embarrassed that I never learned to speak another language, and with the increasing influence of Hispanic people and culture in the United States, Spanish was a rational choice. Both while going to graduate school and working in multicultural New York City, there have been times it would have helped me to speak it, and the next time the opportunity comes, I intend to be prepared. So … [Read more...]

Through a Glass, Brightly

In past posts such as last December's "The Theodicy of Narnia", I've called attention to some of the unintentionally revealing comments that famous theists have made about their own belief systems. C.S. Lewis, for example, wrote whole books to defend the thesis that God's existence is compatible with pain and suffering, but when it came to creating his own fictional world, he took pains to point out that its history was overwhelmingly blissful and peaceful so as not to cast doubt on the goodness … [Read more...]


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