Pay Attention to the News You Don’t See


Last week, there was a powerful magnitude 8.3 earthquake in Chile near the city of Illapel. The tremors were felt as far as São Paulo, 1,600 miles away, and triggered tsunami warnings throughout the Pacific, from Hawaii to Japan to New Zealand.If you didn't hear about this quake, there's a reason for that: in spite of the widespread damage and massive evacuations, it had a tiny death toll. Just 11 people died, compared to the 525 people who died in a similar quake five years ago. That … [Read more...]

Is Assisted Dying Narcissism?

In a milestone, the California legislature approved an assisted-dying bill last week. Gov. Jerry Brown hasn't said if he'll sign it, but if he does, the state would become the fifth and by far the largest to allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication. Like its counterpart laws in Oregon, Washington and Vermont, the California version requires doctors to certify that the person is of sound mind and has less than six months to live.But even if Brown vetoes this version of the bill, it … [Read more...]

The Maturing Secular Community: Fewer Personalities, More Good Deeds

Editors' Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on the Future of Faith in America: Humanism. Read other perspectives here.I've written about the future of religion and the coming secular era, but there's another side to that coin. Namely, if religion is declining, what will happen to the non-religious? How will the secular community change as it grows and matures over the next few decades? I don't have any special insight into the future, but we can make some educated … [Read more...]

Pro-Gay Christians, Wouldn’t Atheism Be Easier?


I have to wonder what could possibly be motivating gay and gay-affirming Christians to stay in the church. Last week, another one was unceremoniously tossed out:Julie Rodgers rocked the evangelical world last year when Wheaton College announced they would be hiring the celibate gay Christian as an associate for spiritual care in the Chaplain's office. In a new blog post, Rodgers announces her affirmation of same-sex relationships and marriage equality.And Wheaton College says Rodgers … [Read more...]

Secular Students Week 2015: How to Win at Activism


It's Secular Students Week, when we old folk interview the next generation of secular activists and share stories of the fantastic work that they're doing. The Secular Student Alliance has a goal to get 500 donations this week, and if they reach this goal, they'll unlock a $20,000 challenge grant! Donate and help them reach their goal here.For this post, I spoke to Sarah McCarter of the Students for Free-thought at the University of Michigan-Flint, whom you may remember from my column in the … [Read more...]

The Hidden Garden of Ex-Muslim Atheists


While I don't believe there's anything like a law that good and evil have to be in balance, the headlines of the past few months seem to give that impression. Even as the countries of the West shed their theocratic past and progresses toward a brighter and more secular future, there's never been a blacker time to be a freethinker in the Muslim world.ISIS continues its rampage through Iraq and Syria, imposing theocracy through slaughter and erasing the cultural patrimony of the human race. … [Read more...]

How Low Will It Go? The Continuing Decline of American Christianity

The Pew Research Center has released a huge new survey of the American religious landscape, showing how the demographics have shifted from 2007 to 2014. And the lede is very, very good for us:[A] major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: Atheists Are Diversifying

My latest column on the Guardian is up: "Finally, atheists are no longer just old white men".The atheist community, in America at least, has long had a reputation for being dominated by geeky white men. I have no onus against geeky white men - I happen to be one myself - but the data suggests that if we stick with this strategy, we'll needlessly alienate potential allies and end up in a demographic cul-de-sac. If the atheist movement wants to succeed in the long run, it's essential that we … [Read more...]

The Atheist Community Is Diversifying


I was pleased to read about a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute on millennial views about sex. It confirms our generally pro-choice and non-judgmental attitude, with a few caveats:"What we see running through the answers is that where principles of fairness come up, millennials want to see equal access to health services, abortion and contraception. They think people should have individual freedom to make decisions," said [Robert] Jones [CEO of PRRI].For the most … [Read more...]

Why Atheism Is a Force for Good


If you've followed my writing these past few years, you know that I've often taken up arms against prominent atheists who've made clueless, sexist comments or worse. I've also insisted that the atheist movement as a whole needs to pay more attention to social justice, an area where it's historically been deficient. In all these things, I insist that we nonbelievers can and should do better than we currently are.I've been asked by various critics why I don't leave atheism behind and join a … [Read more...]