Fragile Trappings

I stepped out of my house today on a chilly fall afternoon. After an unseasonably late warm spell, as if summer had lingered this year past its appointed time, autumn had arrived at last. The feel of the season was in the air: the misty cool, the forests defiantly ablaze with fiery color, the smell of fallen leaves, wet black and rusty gold, in the grass. There was a sense of hunkering down, of quiet activity in the stillness, as nature prepares for the coming winter foreshadowed in the bare … [Read more...]

On Branding

There's been another kerfuffle in the atheist community, and for once, it wasn't caused by someone telling us that we need to pipe down and stop attacking religion. This time, surprisingly, the instigator was Sam Harris - who argued at the Atheist Alliance International Convention 2007 that we should stop calling ourselves "atheists". Hemant of Friendly Atheist has been reporting on this controversy from the beginning, and has collected responses to Harris, including from Ellen Johnson of … [Read more...]

Finding Our Voice

Last year, in a series of posts titled "The Quiet Revolution", I observed that atheists were in many ways making inroads into society beneath the gaze of the media. But that quiet revolution, I'm most happy to say, is becoming increasingly noisy. More and more lately, I see atheists and atheist groups who are willing to stand up and defend their nonbelief in public. If this trend continues, editorials expressing sentiments like this one may soon become a thing of the past:I didn't know what … [Read more...]

On Atheist Janitors

I recently received an e-mail which asked me if I believe that atheism is a worldview that anyone can take up, or whether the majority of society needs religion to keep them happy and pacified:The question at the heart of the debate is: does the average Jacques need religion in his life? I am familiar with all the atheist talk of self-fulfillment and living the only life you've got to the fullest, and think it's a great idea. Except for a snafu. The people who write about these issues tend to … [Read more...]

Golden Atheists

The popular aphorism "there are no atheists in foxholes" implies that people can only be atheists in times of comfort and security, and that if the end of life is in view, they will inevitably cry out to God to save them. I wish everyone who uses this thoughtless and insulting slur could meet Claire Hull:Claire Hull rarely misses a Sunday at church. That's remarkable for two reasons: She's a 91-year-old with a replacement hip, and she's an atheist.Yes, you heard right: Ms. Hull is a … [Read more...]

Clearing the Ground

A recent comment by Sastra on EvolutionBlog made me laugh:When atheists make their arguments against fundamentalist forms of God, the moderate believers both approve and disapprove. They agree with what they say, they can't stand the extremists either, but of course there's no reason for atheism as a reaction! Those people may be in the majority, but they don't represent real Christianity at all. So atheists are seen as being just as extreme as the fundamentalists. No God on one side, Too … [Read more...]

Atheists at 25%

Atheist Revolution recently picked up on a stunning poll result described in The Nation:...a more recent and more nuanced Financial Times/Harris poll of Europeans and Americans that allowed respondents to declare agnosticism as well as atheism: 18 percent of the more than 2,000 American respondents chose one or the other, while 73 percent affirmed belief in God or a supreme being.A more general issue affects American surveys on religious beliefs, namely, the "social desirability effect," in … [Read more...]

Atheists Meek and Mild

Do you, readers, remember the golden age of American secularism, where freethinkers stood on every corner preaching that they believed one thing and Christians believed another, and that we should all ignore these differences and do our best to get along without attacking each other's beliefs?I don't either. But convicted Watergate felon and current prison evangelist Charles Colson does, and in a recent column, he bemoans the aggressive stance today's most prominent atheists have taken when … [Read more...]

Nurturing Virtue

Earlier this year, I wrote a post series titled "The Virtues", which proposed a secular reinvention of the seven cardinal virtues of theology. But I now realize that with this series, I was making an additional, implicit point: that it is possible for human beings to be consistently virtuous.This was made clear to me in a recent e-mail correspondence with a Christian visitor:One of the things that convinces me of my need for a savior is a long hard look at myself. In particular my absolute … [Read more...]

Nothing Behind the Altar

Last month, the Los Angeles Times published a story titled "Religion beat became a test of faith". The author, William Lobdell, described himself as a "serious Christian" - raised Episcopal, later a born-again evangelical, still later a convert to Roman Catholicism at his wife's urging - who believed it was God's plan to use him to write stories that would portray faith as respectable and serious.Lobdell's unquestioning faith in the Church first began to waver in 2001, when he covered the … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X