A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 9

This is part 9 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply.Hello Andrew,Just to briefly return to our previous topic, on Heaven and the problem of evil: If you say you don't know why God does or doesn't do X, that's fine. But in that case, don't also say that God is good, or that his actions advance a greater good that we can't perceive. Saying that someone is good (or evil) requires some understanding of … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Buy Local

Farmer's Market

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter VIIIWhen the villains put Directive 10-289 into effect two chapters earlier, Dagny quit her job and flounced out. This chapter opens with her living in hermetic solitude, at an old rural cabin in Woodstock that she inherited:The sun touched the tree tops on the slope of the hill, and they looked a bluish-silver, catching the color of the sky. Dagny stood at the door of the cabin, with the first sunrays on her forehead and miles of forest spread under … [Read more...]

The Frozen River: A Humanist Sermon

FrozenRiver

Six years ago, this nation achieved a historic milestone when its people elected a black man to be their president. For a country that was sustained by slave labor for decades after its inception and riven by racism throughout its history, this is an almost unimaginable accomplishment. It's not that Barack Obama promised to single-handedly inaugurate a new era of progressive utopianism - those of us who followed his political ascent always knew that he was a conciliatory moderate with mildly … [Read more...]

Book Reviews: Fighting Back the Right, Living the Secular Life

Dec2014BookReviews

(Author's Note: The following reviews were solicited and are written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)Fighting Back the Right by David NioseI previously reviewed Nonbeliever Nation by David Niose, a past president of the American Humanist Association. His new book, Fighting Back the Right, tells the story of how the right wing became a formidable force in America's culture wars and what we can do about it.The modern conservative movement, in Niose's account, is … [Read more...]

Whom Do the Police Serve?

Awful news from Brooklyn this weekend: A disturbed man shot his ex-girlfriend (who's expected to survive), then ambushed and fatally shot two police officers on patrol, and finally shot and killed himself as police closed in. His social media postings indicated that he was angry over the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, although it's hard to see how the shooting of his girlfriend fits into that.After a senseless, horrific tragedy like this, you have to expect people to be angry and … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Midnight Train to Death, Part III

GrimReaper

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter VIIPulled by a coal-burning engine that's not designed for the poorly ventilated tunnel it's about to enter, the doomed train chugs upward into the mountains:Some of the passengers aboard the Comet were awake. As the train started its coiling ascent, they saw the small cluster of Winston's lights at the bottom of the darkness beyond their windows... A black veil went streaking past the windows at times, dimming the lights: it was the heavy smoke from … [Read more...]

The Torture Report is America’s National Shame

The Senate has released a massive report on the torture of terrorism suspects under the Bush administration, and it's as bad as many of us feared. We already knew some of the terrible things done in our name as Americans, but not the full extent. In fact, we still don't know the full extent, since what the Senate publicly released was a summary of an even longer, still-classified report.But even the redacted version is a catalogue of horrors. The Senate's investigation found that prisoners … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: The Mythical Golden Age of Religious Charity

My latest column is up on AlterNet, Do Right-Wing Christians Want People to be Destitute? It's about the conservative politicians who want to slash the social safety net, claiming they want to go back to a time when churches and private charity provided for everyone's needs, and the evidence showing that the actual effect of that policy would be to throw millions into destitution - and its backers not only know that, they're counting on it. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the … [Read more...]

Friday Night Music: Portugal The Man

Like Quiet Company, this is another of the bands I first heard about from Chris Stedman's atheist & agnostic music list. This uptempo, anthemic prog-rock song, from their 2013 album Evil Friends, was his #1 pick, and I find it hard to argue (although I have no idea what the video means): … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Midnight Train to Death, Part II

Tunnel

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter VIIStuck on a train in the middle of nowhere, Kip Chalmers is furious, and is inundating the head office with telegrams demanding that he be given transportation or else. In New York, James Taggart is woken out of bed late at night, and like any good boss, responds by spreading the misery around to his subordinates. The order goes down the chain, and a curt message is sent to the superintendent of the Colorado Division, Dave Mitchum:"Give an engine to … [Read more...]


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