Welcome, all, to the new Daylight Atheism! I’m pleased to be officially joining Big Think as a blogger-in-residence. Whether you’ve just come across this site or are a long-time reader from my previous home, I hope you’ll stick around and become a return visitor. To those who aren’t familiar with my views, I’d like to begin with a quick summary of where I’m coming from.
As you’ve doubtless already grasped, I’m an unapologetic atheist. I don’t believe in any supernatural beings – gods, angels, demons, ghosts, fairies, unicorns, leprechauns – I treat them all alike, and disbelieve in them all equally. Of course, I spend the majority of my time writing about the particular superstitions that are most popular today, that I’m most familiar with and that pose the greatest threat to human progress. Some people have asserted that religious beliefs have a unique status in our culture and should be exempt from criticism, but I don’t think highly of those arguments. I consider it one of my guiding principles that any belief which claims to teach truths about the world should be open to challenge and debate.
I’m a materialist in the fine old tradition of Democritus, Epicurus and Lucretius: all that exists is made of matter and energy interacting in the arena of time and space. The world is extraordinarily complex, but it’s also patterned and lawful, and we can discover truths about it by using reason and the scientific method.
On the moral side of things, I’m a humanist and a utilitarian. I hold human beings as the ultimate source and standard of value, and happiness as the only intrinsic good. Contrary to common stereotypes of atheists, I believe that objective morality exists and is knowable, and consists of choosing the course of action with the greatest likelihood of improving human well-being and happiness. Because the mind is unified with the brain, we die when our brains do; our lives are finite and death is the end of consciousness, which only underscores the importance of filling our limited time with meaning and purpose.
On the political front, I’m a progressive. I believe that government should advance the common good and defend the general welfare, and the way it should do that is by smoothing out natural obstacles to create an equality of opportunity where all people’s natural talents have the best chance to manifest. In the last few years, I’ve increasingly come to identify with the feminist movement, as I’ve realized that the scourge of inequality and active discrimination has often fallen the most heavily on women – due, in large part, to the baleful influence of patriarchal religions.
Atheism is a worldview with a long, proud and storied history, yet over the ages it’s been repeatedly censored and pushed back into the shadows by religious authorities who fear any challenge to their views. But in our era, this is changing very quickly. In the U.S.A. today, as many as one in seven people describe themselves as atheist, agnostic or nonreligious, and our numbers are growing with each generation. This site is called Daylight Atheism because I want to do what’s in my power to speed this transition, to bring atheism fully into the light of day and see atheists take our rightful place at the table of society’s discourse.
I’ve been blogging since 2006, and in that time, I’ve had a few memorable experiences. My writing was cited by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion and won a science writing prize judged by Steven Pinker. I’ve been attacked in campaign ads run by a U.S. senator, stood in the rain of a tropical rainforest, looked out from the edge of the radio dish of Arecibo, and last but not least, married the love of my life. More recently, I started writing occasional columns for AlterNet and joined the speakers’ bureau of the Secular Student Alliance, a fast-growing organization which helps organize atheist student clubs in universities and high schools across the U.S.
This site is my home and hearth: my observatory on the world, my library of ideas, the garden where I find reason for hope. If you already agree with what I have to say, then I hope you’ll find inspiration and encouragement, and reasons to keep fighting the good fight. If you disagree with me, then I hope to meet you in open debate, and may the best ideas win. Once again, welcome, and let’s get this show on the road!