Parenting Beyond Belief

I have the privilege tonight of telling my readers about a wonderful project that's gotten me feeling very excited. The author Dale McGowan has edited a book of essays for parents on the topic of raising a child without religion, titled Parenting Beyond Belief, to be released next month.This is a particularly important gap in atheist literature, which is why I'm so glad to see a serious effort being made to bridge it. Although some books, like the FFRF's Just Pretend, have addressed this … [Read more...]

The Secular Islam Summit

I've recently been reading Karen Armstrong's A History of God, an enormously informative though often irritatingly naive account of the evolution of monotheism in the Abrahamic faiths. One thing that struck me while reading it is how religious grievances dating back centuries or even millennia continue to cause hatred, bloodshed, and violence today with virtually unabated intensity.For example, Armstrong discusses the roots of the Sunni-Shiite split in Islam, a dispute over who would succeed … [Read more...]

The Virtues: Be Humble

The sixth of the Virtues is humility. In many religious traditions, humility is considered the very highest of virtues, and while I think it is an important and desirable quality to practice, I wouldn't go quite so far. Furthermore, as we'll see, my idea of what constitutes humility differs somewhat from the theistic view.What I advocate is not the humility enshrined in many religious texts, the aim of which is to abase oneself and think of oneself as lowly and worthless, in order to avoid … [Read more...]

The Virtues: Be Passionate

The fifth of the Virtues is passion; in the ancient lists of cardinal virtues, it was sometimes referred to as diligence or zeal. In his famous list of virtues, Benjamin Franklin called it industry. All these terms describe basically the same quality. Passion is the opposite of laziness, apathy, and nihilism: it implies placing value on the right qualities, making the best use of one's time, and being diligent and tireless in defense of the good.There is substantial truth in the Bible's … [Read more...]

The Virtues: Be Truthful

The fourth of the Virtues is truthfulness, a quality that is in short supply for all that it has been extolled through the ages. The proliferation of new media of communication in our society, from cable news to the internet, has resulted in a wonderful diversity of previously overlooked viewpoints; but it has also created an atmosphere where half-truths and untruths of every kind can readily take root in the desires of partisans of every side.Some people, viewing this swamp of conflicting … [Read more...]

The Virtues: Be Rational

The third of the Virtues is rationality, a crucially important but often overlooked element of the virtuous life. I do not mean to say that being a good person requires being an atheist or a skeptic - for obviously, someone can believe in all manner of pseudoscience and superstition and still be a generous, benevolent and loving person. As always, how one treats one's fellow human beings is the only true marker of morality. Nevertheless, I believe that all else being equal, the rational person … [Read more...]

The Virtues: Be Compassionate

The second of the Virtues is compassion. The Latin roots of this word literally mean "suffering together", but I think this captures at most one-half of what it means to be compassionate, and the less important half at that. While being compassionate does include perceiving others' pain and distress and being motivated to relieve it, the far more important aspect of compassion is sharing not in others' suffering, but in their happiness and joy.My reasoning behind this conclusion is as follows: … [Read more...]

The Virtues: Be Mindful

As regular readers of Daylight Atheism are likely aware, morality is a major concern of mine, both in how ethical behavior finds its foundation and in how those principles can be applied to issues of everyday life. Mainly this is because I genuinely am interested in determining what best constitutes the good life, although I won't deny that my writings on this topic are also aimed at rebutting the tiresome claim that atheists are immoral or lack a basis for morality.But there is much left to … [Read more...]

All Days Are Holy

The word "holiday" comes directly from the phrase "holy day". This designation, in turn, is based on the curious notion that a particular event happening on a certain date forever afterward gives that date some special sacredness or magical quality. The day of Halloween, for example, was once believed to be a time when barriers between our world and the other world grew thin and restless spirits could return to haunt the land of the living, and other supernatural events are often tied to the … [Read more...]

A Freethinkers' Yule Sermon

Throughout the Western world, the end-of-the-year holidays are a time for celebrating and making merry. Our most time-honored traditions encourage us to come together at this time in commemoration and gratitude for the blessings that life has to offer and the good fortune we have enjoyed during the year.But even as we are encouraged to rejoice over the good things in life, the holiday season brings with it no shortage of reminders that there are many others who are not so fortunate. We are so … [Read more...]


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