Return to the Desert

The sun beat down, hot and harsh, from a lead-colored sky. I stood at the end of a dusty, winding trail. Behind me lay gray marsh and scrubland, grassy plains, forest and woodland, and finally the rivers and gardens of my home. But before me was a harsh, arid land, parched and withered and hostile, bleak and savage and yet inhabited: my destination. The desert.In front of me rose an arch of crumbling red stone, pitted and scoured by wind and blowing sand, the words once engraved deeply into … [Read more...]

Report from the 2010 FFRF Convention

Hey, folks - I'm typing this from the airport in Madison, Wisconsin, waiting for my flight home from the 33rd annual convention of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which I attended this weekend. I've had a fantastic time, and I still feel happy, relaxed and full of energy. I need to go to these events more often!The convention was held at the Concourse Hotel in central Madison. We FFRFers descended on the hotel in a freethinking horde - other than the hotel staff, I don't think I saw a … [Read more...]

How to Think Critically XI: The Null Hypothesis

So, you may have heard that Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret, has a new book on the same subject, called The Power. Personally, I'm bewildered. Her first book promised to tell you how to get everything you've ever wanted. What possible room could there be for a sequel?You might also have heard of the famous athletes who are wearing this bracelet, which, according to its makers, uses "processed titanium and holograms" which are "designed to interact with your body’s natural energy", improving … [Read more...]

Answering More Questions for Atheists

Michael Egnor, a creationist working for the Discovery Institute, has posted a list of questions for atheists (HT: Sandwalk). Ironically, the post which contains the questions has comments disabled, so it's impossible to answer Egnor directly. This is probably another piece of evidence for whether whether creationists actually want answers to the questions they ask.Be that as it may, I've decided to write answers to Egnor's questions. He does say "I want to learn more about what New Atheists … [Read more...]

Is There Life on Mars and Venus?

You may have heard that the scientific community is buzzing with excitement over the discovery of Gliese 581g, an Earth-sized planet circling the red dwarf star Gliese 581, 20 light-years from Earth in the constellation Libra. Five other planets orbiting this star were already known, but what's exciting is that the new one is smack in the middle of the star's habitable zone, making it the best candidate ever discovered for an extrasolar planet with liquid water. And where water flows, is it … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: Fall Bridge

Bridge in autumn, Iowa, October 2010. Photo credit: Peter Nothnagle. Click for larger version. … [Read more...]

Weekend Link Miscellany

I've got a couple of links this weekend, some atheism-related, some not:• Lost a digital camera lately? It made me smile to find out about I Found Your Camera, a website helping to reunite lost cameras with their owners.• After the terrible and entirely preventable deaths of three people during a "sweat lodge" ceremony last year, the New Age community in Sedona is suffering a tourist backlash. Is this what it takes to make people realize that pseudoscientific gibberish is not … [Read more...]

Quick Note on Facebook

Just an FYI: The Daylight Atheism site page on Facebook will no longer be updated. I tried it out for a few months, but I wasn't happy with the results: the administrator controls were poorly designed and hard to use, Facebook's staff was unresponsive when I had issues, and the page didn't send much traffic here anyway.However, I'm not abandoning Facebook entirely. I'm going to start posting site updates on my personal page instead. The URL is much easier to … [Read more...]

Sam Harris’ Moral Landscape and Universal Utilitarianism

I've heard that Sam Harris has a new book, The Moral Landscape, coming out soon. In it, he argues that there is an objectively best way for us to live together in a way that produces the greatest well-being for all - i.e., an objective morality - and that we can discover what it is through science:Imagine that there are only two people living on earth: We can call them "Adam" and "Eve." Clearly, we can ask how these two people might maximize their well-being. Are there wrong answers to this … [Read more...]

Thursday Transcendence

I'll post another update tomorrow, but in the meantime, I came across two videos that were too wonderful not to share:• First, this montage of stunning moments from the documentary series Planet Earth, with music by the band Sigur Ros;• and then, this video: a recording of Carl Sagan reading his immortal "Reflections on a Mote of Dust" speech from the book Pale Blue Dot - his words in his voice, set to a slideshow of pictures of the Earth from space.If you can watch either of … [Read more...]


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