Rosetta’s Comet Rendezvous

Rosetta2

The last few weeks have offered atheists and progressives ample reason to feel discouraged. Down on Earth, anti-rational fundamentalism runs riot, and angry, reactionary conservatism seems stronger than ever. But in spite of all this, in spite of the many obstacles that encircle us and limit us, humanity is accomplishing great things among the stars.The latest of our successful cosmic explorers is the Rosetta spacecraft, a mission of the European Space Agency. Launched in 2004 (!), Rosetta … [Read more...]

SF/F Saturday: The Years of Rice and Salt

YearsOfRiceAndSalt

I've been getting into alternate history novels lately - The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove, Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp - and one of the better ones I've read is Kim Stanley Robinson's 2002 book The Years of Rice and Salt. I've read Robinson's Mars trilogy, which I thought was interesting but lacked a strong central concept to drive the plot, but this book is an accomplishment.The classic strategy of alternate history is to pick some important historical event, assume … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Prince of Thieves

RobinHood

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter VIIHank Rearden asks Ragnar Danneskjold, the pirate, why he's chosen a life of violence against society, rather than just disappearing like the vanished industrialists:The shock that came next was to see Danneskjold smile: it was like seeing the first green of spring on the sculptured planes of an iceberg. Rearden realized suddenly, for the first time, that Danneskjold's face was more than handsome, that it had the startling beauty of physical … [Read more...]

Season of the Tempter

DarkForest

On a dreaming night not long ago, I was walking by myself along a lonely road, in search of reflection and solitude. The nearest homes were only a far-off and fuzzy glow, a fleeting scent of woodsmoke through the bare and tangled arms of dark trees. It was a chilly, blustery night, and the snap of frost hung in the air like a premonition of winter. Shredded clouds scudded across the tarnished moon like a rake pushing dry leaves.I had been walking for the better part of an hour in silence, … [Read more...]

Open Thread: An Unwelcome Change [Updated]

As you may have noticed, post pagination is back, and I'm not happy about it. This isn't of my choosing; it was imposed on Patheos atheist bloggers without our consent and with very little advance notice.This is a cheap and artificial way to inflate page view counts, and it does so at the cost of actively antagonizing people who want to read a longer essay all the way through. It makes information harder to search for and makes the site almost impossible to read on slow or data-limited … [Read more...]

Brittany Maynard and the Right to Die

Brittany_Maynard

Brittany Maynard died this month. Diagnosed with brain cancer on New Year's Day, at the age of 29, she opted for surgery, but the cancer returned and became even more aggressive. Deciding that radiation or chemotherapy was only delaying the inevitable and would destroy the quality of her life in what time she had left, she decided to forego further treatment and spent her last few months traveling, checking off all the places on her bucket list, before finally choosing to end her life under … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday

Peacock

I think it's about time for another of these. This is an open thread for the purposes of self-promotion.Do you have a blog, a Twitter or a Tumblr account you'd like to publicize, a Kickstarter project you'd like to promote, a side business that does cool things for reason or science? Post in the comments and tell us about it!This month, I'm especially interested in hearing about good works: a charity that deserves support, a personal fundraiser for someone who needs some help, an … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Highwayman

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter VIIHank Rearden has moved into an apartment in Philadelphia, so as not to have to see his family anymore. He's also - finally - begun divorce proceedings against Lillian, handing his lawyer a blank check and telling him: "I don't care what means you use, how many of their judges you purchase or whether you find it necessary to stage a frame-up of my wife." (Remember, bribery, fraud and false accusations are fine, as long as it's a Capitalist Hero doing … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Election Chatter

It was an exceptionally ugly night for Democrats. The Republicans winning the Senate is discouraging, though not unexpected. (I had held out hope of a 50-50 tie.) But the Democrats also lost multiple governorships, including several that should have been easy holds or promising pickups. A few scattered thoughts:• If you thought the last few years of obstruction were bad, things are about to get worse. It was already a given that President Obama wouldn't be able to pass any major … [Read more...]

Rebutting Reasonable Faith: A Feminized Atmosphere

I haven't responded to William Lane Craig's column in a while, but this question was too good to pass up:Dear Dr. Craig,I have usually found your words to be a source of information and reassurance in my Christian faith... So I was really disappointed, almost shocked, when I read your newsletter of April of this year in which you casually stereotypes [sic] men and women, and complain that the church is becoming increasingly feminized, and has difficulties in attracting men.The … [Read more...]


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