Threads of 2011

One of the traditions of my old site was, at the end of each year, to choose a selection of my favorite posts from throughout the year and highlight them as the classics that give the best sense of what Daylight Atheism is all about. On the new site, I'm going to do something a little different: I'm going to pick posts which address themes that kept recurring throughout the year. In my mind, these were the most significant threads of 2011: The Arab Spring The biggest worldwide story of the … [Read more...]

A Response to Peter Hitchens

My previous post quoted Peter Hitchens, the conservative Christian brother of the late Christopher Hitchens, to criticize some of his views on divine command morality. To my surprise, it drew two comments that were signed Peter Hitchens. I have no way to be sure they were actually written by him, but the e-mail and IP addresses are plausible, and it's not an extraordinary claim, so I'll accept provisionally that the author is who he says he is. That being the case, I'd like to extend Mr. … [Read more...]

There Is No Non-Human Moral Authority

While reading some remembrances of Christopher Hitchens, I came across a column which quoted this statement from his brother Peter, who was a believer: Like Einstein, he viewed ethics as "an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it," a position that sparked conflict with his journalist brother, Peter, who has argued that, "For a moral code to be effective, it must be attributed to, and vested in, a nonhuman source. It must be beyond the power of humanity to change it to … [Read more...]

Storming the Ivory Tower

Since moving to Big Think, there's a viewpoint I'm encountering more and more often. This belief holds that the New Atheism is tilting at windmills, because most religion is moderate and harmless, and destructive fundamentalist beliefs are held only by an inconsequential minority. One commenter even absurdly accused me of "confusing fundamentalism with religion", as if those two things were completely unrelated phenomena with nothing in common. This ivory-tower view, if it was ever true, has … [Read more...]

The Problem of the Magi

If you search on "what the Bible says about astrology", you'll get a flood of evangelical websites with advice like the following: Astrologers, Satanists, witches, psychics, and all those who are dabbling in magic of some kind - take heed: Man's efforts to predict omens and tell the future through magic are always fruitless. These "gifts" come from Satan, not from your Creator. Dabbling in these will only result in certain spiritual death. God says so. (source) God command [sic] His people, … [Read more...]

A New Spin on a Holiday Classic

If you've still got an appetite for holiday links, I'd like to point you to a great new piece by a friend of mine, the author Greta Christina. In a new post on her site, Greta takes that classic piece of Christmastime treacle, "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus", and rewrites it the way it should have been written in the first place - not as an insistence on literal belief in falsehoods, but as an ode to the value of free inquiry and rational thought. It's both hilarious and brilliant. Check … [Read more...]

Happy Winter Solstice!

Happy winter solstice, everyone! As you doubtless already know, today is the shortest and darkest day of the year (assuming you live in the northern hemisphere). Ancient people, who were keen observers of the skies even without high technology, knew this date and its significance very well. It's no surprise that so many holidays which fall around this time of year involve the ceremonial kindling of light, whether it's lights on a Christmas tree, Yule logs burning on the hearth, flames on a … [Read more...]

Why Is Atheism a Bigger Obstacle to Political Office Than Mormonism?

This piece was originally published on AlterNet. When America was founded, it was the first modern nation to throw off the rule of absolute monarchy and prove that democracy was feasible. But at the same time, when America was founded, it was hardly a democracy at all. The vote was denied to women, to millions of enslaved human beings -- to everyone except a relatively small number of its citizens. Despite the Constitution's prohibition on religious tests, many states had their own established … [Read more...]

‘Tis the Season for Holy War Nostalgia

Most atheist writers in America have encountered the phenomenon of "fatwa envy", where Christian apologists sneer that we wouldn't dare criticize Islam in the same way we criticize Christianity. (This is false, for the record.) Evidently, they're jealous of Islamic extremists' willingness to commit violence in an attempt to silence their critics. Sometimes, it almost comes across as wishing they had more people on their side who were willing to be violent, so they could make us sorry. This isn't … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: December 18

In top news this week, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And in other news: • A paper in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that the HPV vaccine doesn't change girls' later sexual behavior. • A new survey by the Pew Center finds that the percentage of Americans who consider religion "very important", though still far greater than in Europe, has declined by 9% in the last 9 years. • And on a related note, the Institute for the Study of Secularism in … [Read more...]


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