Taxation Is Not Theft

In last August's post "Spread the Wealth", I talked about the justifications for redistributive taxation. I felt that some of the issues raised in the comments deserved to be revisited - and since it's tax time here in the U.S., it's worth a reminder of why we pay them and what we get out of it.The centerpiece of the libertarian rhetorical strategy is to refer to taxation as theft, robbery, slavery. I've heard these epithets and others like them many times. It's easy to see what purpose this … [Read more...]

Thoughtful Iconoclasts: A Response to Madeleine Bunting

I last mentioned Guardian columnist and Templeton Foundation fellow Madeleine Bunting in 2007, in "On Being Uncontroversial". She's recently written another column attacking atheism, alleging that the New Atheists are drowning out, in her words, "real debates" about religion and faith.Personally, I don't see the basis of her complaint. I think we've been provoking some very good debates - about the proper role of religion in society, how much influence it should have, whether and to what … [Read more...]

Bus Ads and Atheist Visibility

If you're an American freethinker who's envious of the success of the atheist bus campaign in Europe, this is your chance. The Freedom from Religion Foundation is launching its own campaign to put pro-atheist messages on buses and trains in America, with six ads already designed that feature quotes from famous freethinkers both historical and modern. The ads are already up on buses in Madison, and if enough donations come in, the FFRF plans to take the campaign to major cities like New … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Facts About VD

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 1We pick up where we left off, with self-proclaimed former skeptic Lee Strobel interviewing a rural Appalachian community whose inhabitants were violently resisting the teaching of evolution. As we'll see, Strobel believes a person can be fully justified in advocating creationism. Yet it seems improbable that these isolated, deeply religious communities were thoroughly acquainted with the complicated philosophical and scientific arguments he deploys later in the … [Read more...]

The Twisted Moral of Passover

This week is the holiday of Passover, one of Judaism's high holy days which commemorates the ancient Israelites' deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Although the archaeological evidence for captivity and exodus is lacking, this story has become a fundamental part of Jewish cultural consciousness, as well as a symbol and an inspiration to others. In pre-Civil War America, for example, the Exodus mythology played a role in the abolitionist movement, as African slaves and their allies looked to … [Read more...]

Congratulations, Iowa!

Last week, friends of equality had some very welcome news: the Supreme Court of Iowa has unanimously struck down a ban on gay marriage in that state. No blue state this, no liberal haven like California or Massachusetts that is so often demonized by conservatives and religious right bigots: Iowa is part of the mythologized "American heartland", a midwestern swing state whose electoral votes went to George W. Bush in 2004 (although Barack Obama won it in 2008, and Democrats currently control both … [Read more...]

Sunday Open Thread: Tell Your Deconversion Story

Of all the essays I've written for Ebon Musings, one of my favorites is "Into the Clear Air": a chronicle of the stages of deconversion, as told by people who were going through them.What shines through from these testimonies again and again is the pure relief, the freedom experienced by people who left behind their oppressive, confining religious beliefs and found exhilaration and joy in finally taking control of their own lives. Closely intertwined with this feeling is a newly arisen sense … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Angry Hillbillies

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 1The first chapter of Case opens with an anecdote from Strobel's days as a journalist for the Chicago Tribune, a story from the 1970s when he went to West Virginia to cover a story of rural communities rioting over evolutionary content in their schools' textbooks. In some cases that anger had spilled over into open violence, with angry locals shooting at school buses or firebombing classrooms, and at least two people had been seriously injured.Like many … [Read more...]

Rebutting The Case for a Creator

In my third anniversary post, I discussed some of the directions I'd like to take Daylight Atheism in during this year. I mentioned that I've always admired Fred Clark (a.k.a. Slacktivist) for his methodical, page-by-page deconstruction of the Left Behind series from a progressive Christian viewpoint. It's a very cool idea, and a successful idea, one that I thought worthy of imitation. I wouldn't want to go after Left Behind myself, as that ground is already well-trodden. But there are plenty of … [Read more...]

Life Goes On

"If the Devil's Time were above a thousand years ago, pronounced short, what may we suppose it now in our Time? Surely we are not a thousand years distant from those happy thousand years of rest and peace and (which is better) Holiness reserved for the People of God in the latter days; and if we are not a thousand years yet short of that Golden Age, there is cause to think, that we are not an hundred."—Cotton Mather, The Wonders of the Invisible World, 1692In every era since the … [Read more...]


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