Poetry Sunday: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Most connoisseurs of poetry have heard of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a collection of poems originally written in Persian and attributed to the eleventh-century poet and polymath after whom it is named. The various translations of the Rubaiyat have given the English language some of its most enduring verses and images (most notably "a jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou"). And yet, how many people know the distinctly freethought sentiments of this famous poem? Today's Poetry Sunday will … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Shameless Self-Promotion Day

Since I've just wrapped up my series on blogging, it seemed appropriate to do this. This is an open thread purely for the purposes of self-promotion.If you keep a blog or other site that you want us to know about, then now's the time! Feel free to leave a comment below telling us about yourself and your site: who you are, what you write about, and why we should be interested. (No commercial sites, please: this is not an invitation to spammers, obviously.) Both new and established bloggers are … [Read more...]

A Clarification on the Theist's Guide

I feel as though I need to clarify something.In my Ebon Musings essay, "The Theist's Guide to Converting Atheists", I wrote that I would link to any theist who was willing to post a list of things they would accept as proof that atheism is true. That offer has been open since I first posted the essay in 2001; it is still open now and will remain open as long as practical.However, for me to consider your essay a valid answer to that challenge, it must answer the question I actually posed: … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Election Predictions

As the world's eyes turn to America and tomorrow's election, I just have to join in. This is an open thread for election predictions, rumors, speculation, results reporting, and whatever else you can think of. Once the polls have closed and the results are all in, I hope to write a longer post, most likely to be put up Wednesday, analyzing the results.So, what do you think is going to happen? I have three predictions:Barack Obama is going to be the next President of the United States. This … [Read more...]

New on Ebon Musings: Spanish Translations

I'm very pleased to announce that reader David Cabrera has volunteered to translate some of the essays on Ebon Musings into Spanish. He's already completed work on five of them: the disclaimer and introduction, "Why Ebon Musings?", "Life of Wonder" and "All Possible Worlds". I've added links to the Spanish versions of these five from the index and site map on Ebon Musings. All the complete translations are also listed here:http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/espanol/That page is still a … [Read more...]

Poetry Sunday: Away, Melancholy

Today's Poetry Sunday features the British poet Stevie Smith. The Literary Encyclopedia calls her "one of the most important female British poets of the twentieth-century, and the most original voice to emerge from the 1930s".Stevie Smith was born in 1902 in Hull (her birth name was Florence Margaret Smith; she acquired the nickname "Stevie" later in life). Her poetry was much shaped by her personal life: her father abandoned his family before she was three years old, and her mother died … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Battle Royale Edition

This comment was left on a different post by a visitor calling himself Ty:I cannot imagine how you could believe that there is no savior in this world. I am 14, and strongly believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the whole world. I'm almost offended that you could think there is no God. If you really believe that you have evidence that Christ is not the Savior of the world, I'd like to hear your claims. No offense to you or any other atheist, but I believe that they would … [Read more...]

From the Mailbag

Although I get my share of kook mail, I'd much rather share the truly inspiring e-mails I receive - the ones that remind me why I write and give me the motivation to keep at it. I welcome the reminder that, beyond the political battles and debates that accompany every nascent reform movement, there are real people, fellow freethinkers, whose lives are affected by what we say and do. I'm always grateful to make the acquaintance of a kindred spirit, somewhere out in the wilds of the world; and if … [Read more...]

It Pays to Advertise

I have a remarkable story to share with you all:Last Friday, I had made plans to go out with some friends after work. At the end of the day, I debated whether to go and meet them directly or whether to go back to my apartment first and change, but I ultimately decided to go home first. The subway was jam-packed, and the first train that arrived was too crowded to get on. Likewise the second. I was getting impatient and determined not to miss the third, so I went all the way down to the end of … [Read more...]

Poetry Sunday: In Westminster Abbey

Today's poem was one I first read in Christopher Hitchens' The Portable Atheist. This is slightly odd since its author was not an atheist himself. However, this poem is a biting little satire of prayer, one whose point is all the more valid for having been made by a believer, and as such, it makes for a good entry in this series.John Betjeman was an English poet who lived during the twentieth century. He studied at Oxford, where he ultimately left without obtaining a degree. While there, he … [Read more...]