The Age of Wonder

If you search the internet, it's not hard to find New Agers and others who think that the dawning of the age of reason was a mistake. They envision a more "holistic" approach, one that properly pays heed to the mystery and complexity of existence, and castigate science for being cold, unfeeling, heartless in its probing, reductionist scrutiny of the natural world. For example:The reason things are advancing so slowly... is that science has neglected the (spiritual) indications necessary for … [Read more...]

On the Mumbai Terror Attacks

I had planned to post on a different topic today, but my attention has been riveted - as I'm sure everyone's has - by the horrific events still unfolding in Mumbai. A well-organized and ruthless group of several dozen heavily armed terrorists has slipped into the city, attacking lightly guarded civilian targets with assault rifles and grenades, apparently targeting Western tourists. Over a hundred innocent people are dead, hundreds more wounded, and some of Mumbai's famous landmarks are in … [Read more...]

Teaching the Controversy

When two groups of experts disagree about a controversial subject that intersects the public school curriculum students should learn about both perspectives.In such cases teachers should not teach as true only one competing view, just the Republican or Democratic view of the New Deal in a history class, for example. Instead, teachers should describe competing views to students and explain the arguments for and against these views as made by their chief … [Read more...]

The Decline of the Catholic Church

In this past August's post "On Desecration", concerning the infamous PZ Myers wafer affair, I mocked the ignorance of a group calling itself the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy:We find the actions of University of Minnesota (Morris) Professor Paul Myers reprehensible, inexcusable, and unconstitutional.At the time, I didn't think this was anything other than the raving of a few right-wing Catholic wackaloons, even if they were priests. But I may have to change that assessment. To judge by … [Read more...]

Poetry Sunday: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Most connoisseurs of poetry have heard of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a collection of poems originally written in Persian and attributed to the eleventh-century poet and polymath after whom it is named. The various translations of the Rubaiyat have given the English language some of its most enduring verses and images (most notably "a jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou"). And yet, how many people know the distinctly freethought sentiments of this famous poem? Today's Poetry Sunday will … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Shameless Self-Promotion Day

Since I've just wrapped up my series on blogging, it seemed appropriate to do this. This is an open thread purely for the purposes of self-promotion.If you keep a blog or other site that you want us to know about, then now's the time! Feel free to leave a comment below telling us about yourself and your site: who you are, what you write about, and why we should be interested. (No commercial sites, please: this is not an invitation to spammers, obviously.) Both new and established bloggers are … [Read more...]

On Blogging II

Growing a CommunityYesterday's post offered advice to potential writers about starting a weblog of your own. This post addresses the next question: once your site is established, how do you get noticed and build up a readership?Be a good citizen of the blogosphere. To make yourself known, it's essential to participate in the blogosphere at large. Leave intelligent comments on other sites; contribute to and host carnivals; and don't be afraid to e-mail popular bloggers when you've written … [Read more...]

On Blogging I

Starting Your SiteSeveral bloggers I follow regularly, including Atheist Revolution, A Load of Bright, and Greta Christina, have written posts about blogging in the past several months. Since October was my best month to date, I thought it was about time for me to follow suit. Here follows a two-post series with my personal opinions and advice. Today's post is aimed primarily at those who may be considering starting up a blog of their own, while tomorrow's will address the question of how you … [Read more...]

Down to Earth

I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give.—Thomas Jefferson, letter to Alexander Donald, 7 February 1788What should we seek to get out of life? To a secular humanist, what is the goal toward which our labors should point?As atheists, we don't believe in a heavenly reward, so that path is … [Read more...]

On Analogies, and the Uses Thereof

In essays such as "Three In One", I've scorned the Christian doctrine of the Trinity:If a claim is labeled beyond our ability to understand, then how are we supposed to tell if it is true? What assurance do theists have that the Trinity is a true fact about the world that is genuinely beyond our ability to comprehend, as opposed to a false claim invented by people whose illogical nature is protected from scrutiny by labeling it a mystery we aren't intended to understand?But is this claim … [Read more...]


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