Poetry Sunday: Tor House

This month's Poetry Sunday features another poem by Robinson Jeffers, an American poet of the early twentieth century. Born 1887 in Pennsylvania, Jeffers was the son of a Presbyterian minister who taught his son Latin and Greek. Nevertheless, Jeffers did not follow in his father's footsteps. Rather than theology, he became enthralled at a young age with the natural world, and became an avid outdoorsman and follower of scientific discoveries in biology, astronomy, and other areas.Jeffers … [Read more...]

Dignity in Dying: An Atheist's View

By way of Dangerous Intersection, I came across this sorrowful, beautiful story:He spent his life conducting world-renowned orchestras, but was almost blind and growing deaf – the music he loved increasingly out of reach. His wife of 54 years had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. So Edward and Joan Downes decided to die together.Edward Downes, a renowned British conductor who headed the BBC Philharmonic and served for five decades as a music director for the Royal Opera House, was going … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Ancient Wings

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 3Up until now, Jonathan Wells' critiques of evolution, although misguided, have been fairly sophisticated, touching on topics such as abiogenesis, the Cambrian explosion, and embryology. That's about to change. In this section, Wells and Strobel haul out the most breathtaking, shameless lie bandied about by creationists: that there are no such things as transitional fossils. This opening quote foreshadows the direction they're going:I was under the … [Read more...]

The Contributions of Freethinkers: Zora Neale Hurston

I've been reading this essay from Sikivu Hutchinson in the L.A. Watts Times, which calls on black atheists to come out of the closet while acknowledging the difficulties they face in doing so. The cultural barriers, she says, are even greater than for white atheists: African-American culture is "heavily steeped" in Christian dogma, the legacy of a "culturally specific survival strategy" - in the slave era, it served them as a unifying force and a source of comfort (despite the fact that it was … [Read more...]

The Science Gap

While we're on the topic of science and the public, I came across another opinion poll worth mentioning: a survey released this month by Pew, Public Praises Science; Scientists Fault Public, Media, which analyzes how the public views scientific achievement and what professional scientists think of how their work is covered in the media (HT: Obsidian Wings). There's lots to chew over in this report, but I want to focus on this section, which shows how many ideas that are accepted by an … [Read more...]

Send a Blogger to Antarctica

I was asked in e-mail to pass along news of this contest, which some Daylight Atheism readers may be interested in.Quark Expeditions is sponsoring a "Blog Your Way to Antarctica" contest. Anyone can submit a 300-word essay explaining why they should be the one to join a voyage to Antarctica scheduled for February 2010, and the entrant who gets the most votes will become the trip's official blogger and will post daily updates about their experience.Here's the list of current entrants. (There … [Read more...]

Clinic Escorting Journal: Day One

"Ignorance, poverty and vice must stop populating the world. This cannot be done by moral suasion. This cannot be done by talk or example. This cannot be done by religion or by law, by priest or by hangman. This cannot be done by force, physical or moral.To accomplish this there is but one way. Science must make woman the owner, the mistress of herself. Science, the only possible savior of mankind, must put it in the power of woman to decide for herself whether she will or will not become a … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: The More Things Change

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 3Strobel's discussion of embryonic similarities with Jonathan Wells leads into a broader discussion of homology, which deserves its own post.I've been harder on Wells than I otherwise would because he, unlike the vast majority of creationists, has a legitimate degree in biology. It's impossible that he doesn't understand some of the things he claims not to understand, or that he doesn't know the actual scientific explanations for the questions he poses. … [Read more...]

Answering the Accommodationists (Again)

A great deal of flak has been flying back and forth across the blogosphere in recent weeks on, once again, the issue of compatibility between science, atheism and religion. The latest round was sparked by a Pew study on how the public views conflicts between science and faith, with Jerry Coyne arguing for incompatibility, Chris Mooney taking the opposite position. I have a few thoughts of my own.First, the survey. There are a few choice pieces of data, such as this one which finds that … [Read more...]

Book Review: Misquoting Jesus

Summary: An eye-opening look at just how much the text of the Bible has changed over the centuries. Not to be missed.I've read two other books by Bart Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted and God's Problem, and while they were both competent, readable works explaining the principles of biblical textual criticism, neither one really floored me. But I circled back around to read some of his earlier books, and I'm glad I did. His 2005 book, Misquoting Jesus, is by far the best of Ehrman's works that I've … [Read more...]