Skepticon VI Impressions

The speakers at the Godless Perverts Story Hour on Friday night. L to R: Rebecca Watson, Heina Dadabhoy, Greta Christina, Keith Lowell Jensen, David Fitzgerald.

This past weekend I was in Springfield, Missouri for Skepticon VI. This is my third year attending Skepticon, which is far and away my favorite of all the annual atheist conventions.I didn't go to all the talks this year, but the ones I did see were very good. Debbie Goddard told the funny and moving story of her deconversion (when she came to the conclusion there was no god, she was so excited she wanted to tell everyone, starting with her Catholic school teachers - with predictable … [Read more...]

The Sunday Assembly’s American Tour

Pippa Evans and the band warm up on stage at NYSEC.

Last Monday night, I attended a meeting of the Sunday Assembly in New York City. It was the first U.S. stop on their 40 Dates and 40 Nights tour, in which cofounders Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans are barnstorming across the country to drum up support and excitement for launching satellite congregations in, as they say, "every town, city and village that wants one".When I attended the NYC Sunday Assembly over the summer, it was at a midtown dive bar called Tobacco Road. It was a good … [Read more...]

Congratulations, New Jersey!

NewJersey

As a born-and-raised New Yorker, I reserve the right to make fun of New Jersey every so often, but this week I have nothing but congratulations for my neighbors in the Garden State:As couples across New Jersey began marrying on Monday after the stroke of midnight, Gov. Chris Christie abandoned his long fight against same-sex marriage, concluding that signals from the court and the march of history were against him.His decision not to appeal a judge's ruling that allowed the weddings … [Read more...]

Repost: Quintessence of Dust

Transhumanism

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from June 2008.]One of the most persistent misconceptions about atheism is that, if there is no supernatural soul and human beings are made merely of atoms and molecules, then our lives would be deprived of meaning. Asserts Christian apologist Phil Fernandes:If atheism is true, then man is mere molecules in motion. He has no greater value than the animals. In fact, human … [Read more...]

Repost: Fragile Trappings

StoneDoorway

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from October 2007.]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. … [Read more...]

When an Atheist Falls From Grace: On Teresa MacBain

ParkZamkowy

I wish I didn't have to write this post, but if I'm going to call attention to religious misbehavior, I can't ignore it when it happens in our own community. So, here's a sad story about Teresa MacBain, a former Methodist minister who dramatically outed herself as a nonbeliever on stage at an atheist convention. (Full disclosure: I've met Teresa and talked to her at several conventions, most recently at Women in Secularism 2 in May.)Earlier this month, she was hired as the new director of … [Read more...]

Building a Better Secular Movement

Overlook

This post will have to be my last word on this for the time being, because all this ugliness and nastiness takes an emotional toll, and I really want to get back to writing about happier things. But the events of the last few days have convinced me that our secular community, the one I love and want to see thrive, has some serious problems that need to be confronted and resolved.When I see a problem, my instinct is to fix it. So, what can we do to fix this one? I have three … [Read more...]

That Was the Wrong Answer, CFI

AlpsUponAlps

So, yesterday I wrote a post about the issue of sexual harassment in the secular community boiling over. I cited a post written by Dr. Karen Stollznow, at Scientific American's Mind blog, detailing her experiences with an employer which she says badly mishandled her complaint of harassment, and which was later reported to be the Center for Inquiry (CFI).Then, yesterday afternoon, I discovered that Stollznow's post was mysteriously gone. Shortly thereafter, Stollznow herself said the … [Read more...]

Disillusionment

Cloudbreak

I've been writing about sexism and feminism in the secular community for several years now, and if you'd asked me this question even a few days ago, I would've said that I thought things were getting better. There's certainly evidence I could point to to support that: in just a short time, anti-harassment policies have become standard at our conferences and gatherings, we've had a parade of male leaders speaking out against sexism, we have whole conventions and organizations specifically … [Read more...]

The Perils of Scriptural Morality

AcaciaTree

I was cheered by a story I saw last week about about heroic activist groups working to end the barbaric custom of female "circumcision", aka female genital mutilation, that's practiced in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. FGM isn't unique to Christianity or to Islam, but is found across a range of traditional societies that fetishize female virginity and purity and view girls as unfit for marriage if they aren't cut. The harm to women is immense: death from infection and blood loss, … [Read more...]


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