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...]

Brighter Than Today: The 2014 Secular Solstice

SolsticeTitle

In the depths of winter's darkness, human beings have a seemingly inherent need to celebrate and be festive, especially with holidays that involve the kindling of light, as if in defiance of chilly weather and early nightfall. And the winter solstice, the shortest and darkest time of the year, is a natural date to choose, which is why so many cultures have marked it with holidays, often borrowing or building upon the customs of their forerunners.The Christians did it once, co-opting the very … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: Atheism Doesn’t Need Richard Dawkins

It had to be said.My newest column on the Guardian is titled "Richard Dawkins has lost it: ignorant sexism gives atheists a bad name". It's about Richard Dawkins' indefensible regression to gross and ignorant sexism, after a brief period in which it seemed he was flirting with enlightenment regarding the treatment of women in society generally and the atheist community specifically. I used to consider him a hero and an exemplar, but no more. Here's an excerpt:The atheist movement - a … [Read more...]

The Shermer Affair Erupts

VolcanicEruption

The allegations against one of our Big Names that have been simmering in the atheist community for more than a year have erupted into the public eye, with the publication of a long article by Mark Oppenheimer on Buzzfeed, "Will Misogyny Bring Down The Atheist Movement?"Oppenheimer's article is largely about the serious accusations made against Michael Shermer, which I referenced last year in "Disillusionment". For the first time, the woman who accused him of raping her after getting her too … [Read more...]

The Coming Secular Era

NYCSunrise

The most important changes don't come in the form of attention-grabbing headlines, but subtle trends that quietly gather momentum until, by the time they finally burst into public view, they're unstoppable. Such is the case with the most important, and paradoxically most underappreciated, trend in American religion today: the long-term, across-the-board decline of Christianity and the corresponding rise of atheism, which has been going on behind the scenes for more than twenty years and is now … [Read more...]

Is Richard Dawkins Evolving?

This is big news: Richard Dawkins has apologized for "Dear Muslima", the infamous remarks he made in 2011 belittling the concerns of Western feminism on the grounds that women in Muslim countries have it worse. Here's the relevant part:There should be no rivalry in victimhood, and I'm sorry I once said something similar to American women complaining of harassment, inviting them to contemplate the suffering of Muslim women by comparison.This follows on the heels of a joint statement … [Read more...]

You, Sir, Are No Robert Ingersoll

RobertIngersoll

Before I went on vacation last month, you may recall how I tangled with a mob of nasty sexists who misleadingly call themselves "men's rights activists". Most of their comments were pure ad hominem filth, not worth the trouble of responding to, but there was one I wanted to address: from an atheist MRA who fears that feminism is ruining both science and atheism, and who thinks that some famous historical freethinkers would have taken his side.Surprisingly, my largely religious family was … [Read more...]

Richard Dawkins’ Commendable Step on Sexism

SteppingStones

Well, this is most welcome news:[W]e have to be able to manage disagreement ethically, like reasonable adults, as opposed to brawling like enraged children who need a nap. It should go without saying, but this means no death threats, rape threats, attacks on people's appearance, age, race, sex, size, haircut; no photoshopping people into demeaning images, no vulgar epithets.Richard adds: I'm told that some people think I tacitly endorse such things even if I don't indulge in them. … [Read more...]

Repost: Making Non-White Atheists Feel Welcome

BilliardBalls

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from November 2010.]I was reading this outstanding essay by Alom Shaha, an atheist and ex-Muslim of Bangladeshi descent, who describes what it's like to come out as a nonbeliever in a tightly-knit, intensely religious community. But as he makes clear, the social and cultural pressure on people in his situation isn't just a matter of happenstance; it formed as a defensive reaction … [Read more...]

Repost: Green Fields

GreenFields

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from June 2009.]For those who are grieving, for those who mourn, and for all those who are burdened with the weary weight of sorrow, I have a prescription.Find a quiet, peaceful place, a green field of grass where great trees grow and gift the world with their shade. Let it be just before sunset, at that golden hour when the heat of the afternoon is past, when the sky is blue … [Read more...]


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