New on the Guardian: Beyond Debating God’s Existence

My latest column on the Guardian is up: "It's time for atheists to stop debating God's existence and decide what to do about it".In it, I argue that the atheist movement can't make critiques of religious belief its whole focus and should be doing more to create justice in this life, which is the only one we'll ever have. I also argue that the community is already moving in this direction, citing a new mission statement put out by the Secular Student Alliance that makes diversity and social … [Read more...]

Thoughts on the Chapel Hill Shooting

I hope there's a day when I won't have to write about the latest mass murder in gun-crazed America, but today isn't that day. This time, the tragedy took place in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where a young family - Yusor Mohamad Abu-Salha, her husband Deah Shaddy Barakat, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, all observant Muslims - were shot and killed in their home, allegedly by a neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks.But there's an additional element that we can't ignore: the accused killer … [Read more...]

Why People Are Flocking to a New Wave of Secular Communities: Atheist Churches


This article was previously published on AlterNet.In the last thirty years, atheism and secularism have been booming in America. As I've previously written, as many as one in four members of the Millennial generation now say they have no religion. Given the vast size of the Millennials - 78 million people, slightly more than the Baby Boomers - that adds up to almost 20 million freethinking Americans. And from all indications, the up-and-coming generations are even more secular.As the … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: The Peaceful Side of Atheism


I've published a new column on the Guardian: "If peace on earth is our goal, atheism might be the means to that end".From the Russian invasion of Ukraine, to the disintegration of Syria, to the atrocities of Islamic State and Boko Haram, it sometimes seems as if the world is spiraling down a vortex of bloodshed and violence. But in spite of these headlines, the truth is that the world is becoming more peaceful, not less. In the new piece, I argue that the rise of atheism in America and … [Read more...]

On the Importance of Firebrand Atheism


Steve Neumann, one of my colleagues on the Patheos atheist channel, has written an essay titled "The Case Against In-Your-Face Atheism" which argues that the firebrand style of atheist advocacy does more harm than good. Since he quotes me in it, I thought I'd offer a reply.This is his definition of firebrand atheism:The president of American Atheists, David Silverman, defines firebrand atheism as simply telling the truth about religion, with the emphasis on the telling. He says we … [Read more...]

Lee Strobel Says Atheism Is Winning


Here's some welcome news to start out 2015: Lee Strobel, the famed Christian apologist, says that atheism is winning and evangelical Christianity is "facing a crisis":"We are facing a crisis in America. Skepticism is rising. Too many young people are leaving the faith. Few Christians are able to effectively share Jesus with others," Strobel said in a statement released exclusively to The Christian Post. "At many churches, reaching spiritually lost people falls to the bottom of their … [Read more...]

The Frozen River: A Humanist Sermon


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...]

The Suppression of Richard Dawkins

Following up on our little contretemps in September, Richard Dawkins has granted an interview to Kimberly Winston of Religion News Service about the remarks that have made him infamous to pro-social-justice atheists. And although he seems a bit chastened, he insists he has no regrets:"I don't take back anything that I've said," Dawkins said from a shady spot in the leafy backyard of one of his Bay Area supporters. "I would not say it again, however, because I am now accustomed to being … [Read more...]

Brittany Maynard and the Right to Die


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


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...]