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...]

Season of Light

As the end of 2006 draws within sight, the annual holiday season is upon us. This year, I have noticed an interesting pattern in these familiar rituals. It is striking how many of the holidays that fall around this time of year involve the ceremonial kindling of light as an element of the celebration.Chief among them, of course, is the Christian/pagan holiday of Christmas, when evergreen trees and buildings' eaves are adorned with strings of glowing lights, and the traditional Yule log is … [Read more...]

The Least We Can Do

by Alexander WeaverI drove from Sacramento to Portland (Rancho Cordova to Wilsonville, technically) last night (as of the original writing on 11/08/06), over mountains and through rain and what I would characterize as "pea soup fog." This is important in other contexts, but for our purposes the main relevance is that it got me to Portland. I got in at 05:30, slept for 6 hours and then booked a flight back to Sacramento, departing at 16:50. The flight was fully booked, and for a change everyone … [Read more...]

What Will Replace Religion?

One argument for theism that I have always found interesting is the argument that humans do not have desires for which there exists no corresponding object in the real world. For example, we desire water, and water exists; we desire food, and food exists; we desire love and friendship, and those things exist. Similarly, this reasoning goes, human beings innately desire fellowship with God, and this strongly suggests that God exists.This argument is clever, but naive. A straightforward … [Read more...]

Tipping the Scales

"The book (The End of Faith) has spent nearly 20 weeks on bestseller lists... Presale orders of 'Letter to a Christian Nation' earned the book a spot among Amazon.com's top 10 a month before its Sept. 19 publication. It debuted at No. 7 on the bestsellers' list and is now in its sixth printing with 110,000 copies in print and a mammoth $200,000 ad campaign behind it."—Gina Piccalo, "Oh, dear God - it's him again", The Los Angeles Times, 2 October 2006In a recent post, "The Quiet … [Read more...]

The Atheist Crew

"Should Franks be elected in November, one would have to conclude that he will hold true to his out of touch 'atheist' belief system and ignore the laws and Constitution of Texas."—Mary Alice Robbins, "GOP Raises Religion in Court Race, Calling Democrat an Atheist." Law.com, 9 October 2006.In Paradise Lost, published in 1667, John Milton labels Satan and the other rebel angels "the atheist crew", despite the fact that they were in Heaven at the time fighting against God and the … [Read more...]

An Atheist Dinner Benediction

Back in April, the post "Out of Respect" inspired a discussion about what an atheist host could say at a meal as substitute for a prayer. This is, I think, an important question, and one worthy of an answer. I have written before about the importance of spirituality, even to a nonbeliever. Just because we are atheists does not mean that we cannot find symbolic significance and meaning in the small rituals that we all undertake every day. Indeed, I would argue that human life in a sense needs … [Read more...]

The Third World

We live today in a divided world. More so than lines based on race, religion or nationality, there is a fundamental distinction that partitions human society, and that distinction is wealth. The wealthy, prosperous, industrialized nations of North America, the European Union and Japan, the ones that have the greatest influence on world affairs and shape the development of human civilization, are often called the First World. By contrast, there are a far greater number of nations, harboring a far … [Read more...]

The Quiet Revolution Progresses

While the voracious hordes of religious proselytizers continue to bombard society, demanding that their beliefs be wedged in wherever they can find a crack, atheism continues to grow quietly in the background. Largely unnoticed by the mainstream media and politicians, the advocates of nonbelief are still making their case, and they are increasingly finding people receptive and even eager to hear their message. There are many encouraging signs that, after the frenzied religious madness that has … [Read more...]

No Heavens

Since time immemorial, believers in a loving and just god have looked around at the world we live in, filled with toil, strife and suffering, and have pondered how to reconcile their belief with the facts at hand. The solution which most religions have adopted is to assert the existence of another world, beyond this one, to which the souls of the good will fly in order to receive their due reward.Poets and dreamers throughout history have filled their scriptures with rapturous visions of this … [Read more...]


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