The Purview of Skepticism

I may have mentioned that, at Skepticon IV, JT Eberhard gave a fantastic talk on why the skeptical community must concern itself with mental illness. For the most part, the response from the community has been enthusiastically supportive - but there were a few sharp notes of dissent, like this post by Gina Colaianni. Most of Colaianni's criticisms are so off-base, I can't help wondering if she saw the same talk as the rest of us. (She thinks that JT, of all people, is calling for us to stop … [Read more...]

Speaking at Syracuse University

Tonight, I'm happy to announce that I'll be speaking to the Secular Student Alliance at Syracuse University on December 9, one week from tomorrow. The talk will be about ethics and morality: why divine command morality is inferior, what it means to say that morality is objective, and how we can decide between right and wrong in a godless cosmos. If you live in the Syracuse area, come out and see! WHAT: The Science of Morality: How Atheism Is Compatible With Objective Ethics WHEN: … [Read more...]

Victory By Adversarial Overreaction

You may have heard that another atheist billboard campaign has been censored, this time in Ohio. The Mid-Ohio Atheists had spent several weeks coordinating with the billboard company, planning locations and designing graphics, with no hint of a problem. Then, just days before the first billboards were to go up, they received an unexpected e-mail from the company's senior managers canceling their contract. According to a subsequent explanation, the company felt that running the atheist ads would … [Read more...]

Religion Imprisons Women

One hypothesis for the origin of religion is that it's a kind of "costly signaling" - a way for people to prove their loyalty to the group by participating in complex rituals and extravagant shows of devotion. But there's an underappreciated danger to this: when everyone in a community already follows a strict interpretation of faith, religious belief will have a tendency to spiral out of control into extremism, as group members go to greater and greater lengths to express their piety. And when … [Read more...]

An Ex-Mormon Story

Editor's Note: After a holiday that's all about gratitude, it seemed appropriate to post this. Please welcome Jessa Jackson as she tells the story of how she went from Mormonism to atheism. We're thankful to have you, Jessa! —Adam Lee One thing I remember hearing repeatedly claimed about ex-Mormons is that they "never really knew the truth." The assumption being that if they knew the truth they never would have left. I want to be absolutely clear that I believed. My mother's family was … [Read more...]

Skepticon Wrap-Up: Day 2

Read the recap of Day 1 here. Day 2! I have to admit I missed the first talk of the day by Joe Nickell (see my previous post about goings-on at the gastropub - an early rising just wasn't in the cards). Jen McCreight of Blag Hag led off the morning instead with a talk about how the genome works and what genetic science can and can't do. You can never have too many cat photos in a talk on science. We persevered through some technical … [Read more...]

Skepticon Wrap-Up: Day 1

As promised earlier, here's a full wrap-up of my weekend attending Skepticon IV in Springfield, Missouri. I really have to give tons of credit to the organizers, who not only put together an amazing convention, they did it as a part-time volunteer effort and made it completely free! They're rock stars, and I sincerely hope the atheist movement can find them full-time jobs doing this kind of stuff, because we need people with those sorts of skills. Here are some highlights from the … [Read more...]

Further Thoughts on Gelatogate

I was going to update my previous post, but this got long, so I'm spinning it off into a separate post. Read the other one first if you need more background. So, the Gelatogate story continues to unfold. The owner of the store has posted a longer apology, and it's rapidly becoming the subject of the latest all-consuming atheist blogosphere flame war. Here are some of my fellow atheists' thoughts, in rough order from least to most conciliatory: PZ, JT, Jen and Hemant. First things first: I … [Read more...]

Skepticon Impressions: Gelatogate!

I'm back! As you may know, I've spent the last three days in Springfield, Missouri, having a blast at Skepticon IV. The convention was a weekend of great talks that ran the gamut: atheism, skepticism, sex, politics, feminism, math, science. There was no overarching theme at all, and I think it was better for being eclectic: since there was very little overlap, each and every talk offered something new and different. Best of all, I got to get together with some of my atheist blogger friends whom … [Read more...]

Can an Atheist Be a Unitarian Universalist? (Part 3)

In my previous post in this series, I quoted a shockingly anti-atheist letter written by Rev. John Buehrens, former president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. This letter repeated all the worst falsehoods and prejudices of fundamentalist proselytizers: failing to draw any distinction between peaceful activism and violent coercion, accusing all outspoken atheists of collective guilt for the atrocities of totalitarian regimes while airily saying that "real" religion never commits evil … [Read more...]


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