On the Morality of: Gay Marriage

The second installment in my "On the Morality Of" series will focus on another issue that has sharply divided society in recent years, the issue of whether gay couples should be legally permitted to obtain marriage. Although American polls consistently find that majorities are opposed to this idea, substantial minorities support it, and the opposition seems to be declining in strength year by year. Is the majority right in this case? If gays are not permitted to marry, should they receive at … [Read more...]

Book Update

It's been a while, but I haven't forgotten. The fifth chapter of my book, which covers the argument from religious confusion and is based on the Ebon Musings essay "The Cosmic Shell Game", is finally complete.I realize this chapter has taken a while - as for that, I can only plead work and other commitments that have been playing a larger role in my life than usual lately. But I don't intend to let the next one take so long!As always, any regular commenter who'd like to read this chapter and … [Read more...]

The Treadmill

Earlier this month, the New York Times ran an article series about millionaires who don't feel rich, mostly engineers and executives living in America's Silicon Valley. Though most of the people profiled in the article have luxurious, paid-off homes, multiple cars and several million dollars already in the bank, they continue to work grueling, stressful 60- to 80-hour weeks, largely because they feel insecure when they compare themselves to their even wealthier neighbors. (This article was … [Read more...]

The Thomas Weeks Affair

Since this seems to be a week for tearing down Christian icons, I have another fall from grace to report: Bishop Thomas Weeks, founder of the international Christian ministry Global Destiny, was released on bond last week after turning himself in to face charges of brutally beating his estranged wife Juanita Bynum - herself a nationally renowned Christian evangelist and best-selling gospel singer, and co-founder of that same ministry.The police report of the incident states that, during a … [Read more...]

Mother Teresa's Loss of Faith

Time magazine this month has a rather amazing story about a decades-long crisis of faith in the life of Agnes Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother Teresa. A newly released biography, Come Be My Light, consists of numerous letters Teresa exchanged with her church superiors. These letters reveal that for the last fifty years of her life, she felt as if God had withdrawn his presence from her and would not respond to her prayers. Unable to feel any hint of God's existence - "neither in her heart or in … [Read more...]

Free Speech Under Siege

Since the Enlightenment, fundamentalist religious leaders the world over have railed against the idea of free speech, for understandable reasons. By permitting other people to point out the fallacies in their arguments and dispute their claim to be the infallible voice of God, the right of free speech is the single most effective countermeasure to prevent theocracy and tyranny from taking hold. Religious extremism can be found in many places, but it rarely becomes truly dominant unless it can … [Read more...]

The Asch Conformity Experiment

Solomon Asch. "Opinions and social pressure." Scientific American, vol.193, no.5 (1955), p.31-35.Back in April, I wrote about the classic Milgram experiment and what it shows about how disturbingly willing people are to submit to authority, even in the presence of strong countervailing reasons. What about when the pressure to obey comes not from an authority figure above us, but from our peers? How will people fare then?A classic study was done on this question in 1955 by Solomon Asch. In … [Read more...]

Atheists Meek and Mild

Do you, readers, remember the golden age of American secularism, where freethinkers stood on every corner preaching that they believed one thing and Christians believed another, and that we should all ignore these differences and do our best to get along without attacking each other's beliefs?I don't either. But convicted Watergate felon and current prison evangelist Charles Colson does, and in a recent column, he bemoans the aggressive stance today's most prominent atheists have taken when it … [Read more...]

A Legal Development

I've said on previous occasions that Daylight Atheism is a weblog devoted to commentary and analysis, not breaking news. However, I've heard of a case sufficiently noteworthy that I think it merits an exception.Last month, the indomitable P.Z. Myers of Pharyngula posted a review of Stuart Pivar's book Lifecode, which purports to explain the embryonic development of organisms through topological manipulation of an initially fluid form. Myers' review, though sympathetic to the principles … [Read more...]

On Literal Interpretation

"I've written before about one variety of mirror-opposites of these illiteralist believers... those who I call 'sectarian atheists.' These are usually folks who start out like Marshall Hall, fully indoctrinated in the all-or-nothing illiteralism of American fundamentalism. They start out believing, like Hall, that the Earth must be fixed or else the Bible is false and there is no God and life is meaningless despair. And then they catch a glimpse of the moons of Jupiter or of an eclipse or of a … [Read more...]


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