Poetry Sunday: Creation

The third installment of Daylight Atheism's Poetry Sunday is some time overdue. Once again, I'd like to welcome back Philip Appleman, whose contribution this week is the poem "Creation". (I will feature other poets - but Professor Appleman has written so many beautiful works, I can't resist sharing them with my readers.)The Lascaux cave complex of southwestern France is famous for its cave paintings: hundreds of strikingly lifelike depictions of horses, cattle, bison, stags, and other animals. … [Read more...]

How to Think Critically III: Randomness

I've written before that the human mind is a pattern-seeking engine. We are wired by evolution to seek cause-and-effect relationships in the world around us, and when there are relationships to be found, we often do very well. The problem is when there are no causal relationships to be found. People in such situations often develop what we call superstitions, erroneous conclusions about what sorts of causes are correlated with desired outcomes. In other words, we do not have an instinctive grasp … [Read more...]

Why I Am Not a Libertarian III

Opportunity and ObligationOne of the driving notions behind libertarian political theory is that society should be a meritocracy. By removing all restraints on competition, we will create a system where the hardest-working, most talented, most creative people succeed. And this is a good idea which I agree with. We need to encourage effort and innovation to create a healthy society; we should not punish motivation, nor reward laziness. We should give people an incentive to work and to strive. … [Read more...]

Why Do They Care?

In the summer of 2006, Republican Senator David Vitter (about whom you might have heard some news lately) said the following about a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage:"I don't believe there's any issue that's more important than this one," said Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican. "I think this debate is very healthy, and it's winning a lot of hearts and minds. I think we're going to show real progress."No issue is more important than the drive to ban gay … [Read more...]

Not Being an Angry Atheist

In the marketplace of ideas, atheists and atheism are still fighting to carve out a place. We have made some dramatic gains, but our long-term success is not yet assured. The sheer novelty of our message has, no doubt, attracted much interest and attention, but we must still work to win an established place in society's halls of power. When media organizations routinely invite atheists along with religious leaders to give the secular humanist perspective on issues, or when politicians seeking … [Read more...]

Book Review: The Assault on Reason

Summary: A blistering, brilliant counterattack on the forces that have conspired to undermine American democracy.Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's The Assault on Reason is a passionate, scathing book that paints a clear picture of where America has gone wrong. Our democracy is far from dead, but as events of recent years have shown, it is ill - perhaps gravely so. The appalling levels of ignorance of basic scientific and political facts among the voting public; our heedless and disastrous … [Read more...]

Do You Really Believe That? (II)

The Tower of BabelThe second installment of "Do You Really Believe That?" will examine another classic Old Testament story, the Tower of Babel. According to this story, in the days after Noah's flood, all humanity spoke one language. Filled with pride and ambition, they came together and began to build a tower "whose top may reach unto heaven" (Genesis 11:4). God witnesses this and is upset, not because the building of the tower displays hubris, but because he actually fears that humanity will … [Read more...]

Why I Am Not a Libertarian II

Positive and Negative LibertyThe second major reason why I am not a libertarian has to do with the social safety net - programs like public education, universal health care, food stamps or unemployment pay - that are funded by redistributive taxation. Hard-core libertarians decry these programs as theft or even slavery, arguing that it is unfair to tax them to fund programs from which they derive no direct benefit.In reality, however, these programs do benefit all members of society. … [Read more...]

The Basis for an Atheist's Morality

Yesterday, the Washington Post published an editorial titled What Atheists Can't Answer. The author, Michael Gerson, is an influential evangelical Christian and was formerly George W. Bush's chief speechwriter.Compared to most attacks on atheism, including a few I've rebutted recently, Gerson's essay is fair and honest. He rightfully steers clear of the slanderous and unfounded insults so common in apologetic literature, conceding that human beings can be good without God. However, while he … [Read more...]

An Incident in the Senate

The U.S. Senate traditionally opens each day's session with a prayer, and today's was a first: the invocation was given by Rajan Zed, a Hindu priest who was invited by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. This was the first time a representative of Hinduism has ever been invited to do this.However, there was an ugly incident that disrupted the occasion. As Zed began to speak, he was interrupted by three Christians in the visitors' gallery shouting at the top of their lungs, calling Zed's prayer … [Read more...]


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