Evolution Is Design

It's not often I disagree with Richard Dawkins, but I have to do so today. In the opening pages of Climbing Mount Improbable, he discusses what he calls "designoid" objects:Designoid objects are living bodies and their products. Designoid objects look designed, so much so that some people - probably, alas, most people - think that they are designed. These people are wrong. But they are right in their conviction that designoid objects cannot be the result of chance. Designoid objects are not … [Read more...]

A Memo to Fence-Sitting Agnostics

In the Guardian last week, Tracy Quan had a column titled Agnostic about atheism. It strikes a note we've heard before: Quan, though a nonbeliever herself (she describes herself as a "'cafeteria' atheist and secular Catholic"), is embarrassed and uncomfortable to hear atheists speaking out forthrightly and wishes we would stop.Some of my fellow atheists are to non-belief what being nouveau riche is to the traditionally rich. It's as though they've just discovered God doesn't exist, and they … [Read more...]

Poetry Sunday: Design

This month's Poetry Sunday features another classic by a famous poet who's already made an appearance: Robert Frost, the skeptical New Englander whose work has become iconic of the American experience.Frost's views on God are complex. In some of his letters, he calls himself "an old dissenter", "secular till the last go down", and said there were "no vampires, no ghouls, no demons, nothing but me". In others, he expresses belief in and even fear of God, whom he usually identifies as the … [Read more...]

How to Think Critically VII: Risk Assessment

Given that this is an atheist site, I feel compelled to start this post with a snappy anti-religion quip, so here it is: Children and teenagers are more likely to be molested or assaulted in church than they are on social networking sites like MySpace. Parents, do you want to protect your kids? Keep them home on Sundays and send them to the computer instead!But it wouldn't be fair to leave it at that. This statistic doesn't prove the inherent riskiness of going to church. What it proves is … [Read more...]

Think for Yourself

In one of his "My Answer" columns, Billy Graham replies to a correspondent who doesn't see the need for organized religion:Don't make up your own ideas about God, but understand from the Bible who He really is, and commit your life to Christ."Don't make up your own ideas" - this is Billy Graham's advice to the seeker. Instead, presumably, we should read the Bible and believe exactly what it says, without bringing any of our own imagination or independent thought to the subject.My friend … [Read more...]

Tainted Icons

More than most other belief systems, organized religion emphasizes tradition and continuity with the past. The historical figures who founded today's prominent churches are considered larger-than-life and thought of as possessing uncommon character and virtue. This is probably because religion is widely equated with morality; given this mistaken assumption, it follows that very religious people must also be very moral.But in fact, the opposite is true. Just as with the character of Jesus, many … [Read more...]

The Contributions of Freethinkers: Verdi

Today, I'm inaugurating another new post series on Daylight Atheism, "The Contributions of Freethinkers". The purpose of this series will be to dispel the myth that nonbelievers have never contributed anything of worth or value to human culture by highlighting some famous historical atheists and freethinkers who've left their mark. Whether in the arts, the sciences, or the humanities, all are eligible. The subject of my first post in this series will be the famous nineteenth-century Italian … [Read more...]

Shattering the Myth of Mother Teresa

In all the universe of religious experience, few figures are so beloved as the Catholic nun known to the world as Mother Teresa. The official biography holds that she selflessly devoted her life to ministering to the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta, suffering through poverty and deprivation nearly as great as that of her patients without complaint, and asking no reward except the knowledge of doing God's will. She was a beloved figure to millions and a trusted counselor to powerful … [Read more...]

Evolution and the Problem of Evil

In the opening chapter of The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins penned the following words:An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: "I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn't a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one." I can't help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable … [Read more...]

Daylight Atheism in the News

I just have to boast: I'm on TV!Well, sort of, anyway. Daylight Atheism commenter RiddleOfSteel has brought to my attention this clip, in which Richard Dawkins is interviewed for the Canadian TV program The Agenda. As we all know by now, my essay "The New Ten Commandments" is quoted in Dr. Dawkins' book The God Delusion, and about halfway through the clip (at around 4:10), the interviewer reads one of my ten commandments verbatim.That being said, I have to raise a substantial objection to … [Read more...]


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