August 26, 2010

When America’s founders ratified the Constitution, they created something that arguably had never existed in the world before: a republic where freedom of religion was explicitly enshrined in the charter, where toleration wasn’t just the whim of a benevolent ruler but the immutable law of the land. As George Washington wrote in his famous letter to the Jewish congregation of Newport: It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one… Read more

August 24, 2010

There’s welcome news out of the U.K. this week: the government-established Charity Commission has ruled that the adoption agency Catholic Care must abide by anti-discrimination laws and therefore may not refuse to consider same-sex couples as prospective parents: The Charity Commission… ruled that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is a “serious matter” because it “departs from the principle of treating people equally”, and that religious views cannot justify such bias because adoption is a public matter. …”In certain… Read more

August 23, 2010

The Language of God, Chapter 2 By B.J. Marshall Collins starts off this chapter noting that, if we’ve followed him this far, we’ve no doubt begun to form numerous objections. That’s an understatement to be sure! He gives us some of his own: Isn’t belief in God just a case of wishful thinking? Hasn’t a great deal of harm been done in the name of religion? How could a loving God permit suffering? How can a serious scientist accept the… Read more

August 22, 2010

Street art, Manhattan, June 2010. Photo by the author. Camera details: Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS. Click for larger version. Read more

August 20, 2010

I’ve been writing since the beginning of Daylight Atheism about the unique ways that religion harms women. Although men have also suffered innumerable harms from religious beliefs, they’re not singled out, treated as an underclass uniquely deserving of condemnation, the way that women are in almost every major religion’s sacred texts. That’s why I wrote in posts like 2006’s “Religion’s Harm to Women”: There is only one realistic way to end religion’s harm to women, and that is to cut… Read more

August 18, 2010

When a new sect with strange and unfamiliar beliefs bursts onto the scene, it almost invariably meets with hostility (most of it from the old sects with strange and familiar beliefs). And depending on the nature of the newcomer, there are two common responses. It may stress its own virtue and righteousness all the more strongly, wearing its persecution as a badge of pride. Or it may become bitter and apocalyptic, denouncing its enemies as God’s enemies and warning of… Read more

August 16, 2010

People who are ignorant of science sometimes speak as if the scientific method was some esoteric, arcane method of problem-solving, applicable only to a few highly specialized areas of inquiry and having no relevance to everyday life. But nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, the scientific method is just a more sophisticated, more careful way of asking and answering questions about what is true, with extra safeguards built in to counteract the ways that human beings often… Read more

August 15, 2010

The Language of God, Chapter 1 By B.J. Marshall The chapter begins with a description of Collins’ experiences growing up. His parents shrugged off the business world and lived an agrarian life on huge tracts of land in the Shenandoah Valley. His father went on to teach at a women’s college. Collins was homeschooled, and faith did not play a part in his upbringing. He went to an Episcopal church, but it was more for music appreciation than theology. OK,… Read more

August 13, 2010

As a wedding present to ourselves, my wife and I bought the DVDs of the original Star Trek, and these past few months, we’ve been working our way through them. For myself, it was a test: I hadn’t seen most of these episodes since my childhood, and I was curious to see if they held up. I’m pleased to say that, for the most part, they more than hold their own. There’s plenty to criticize, but after all this time,… Read more

August 11, 2010

As you’ve surely heard by now, Judge Vaughn Walker issued a ruling last week striking down California’s Proposition 8 on equal-protection grounds. You might also have heard that Argentina has legalized same-sex marriage and that a Mexican court upheld a marriage-equality law in Mexico City, rejecting a challenge by the conservative Calderon government. Of course, all three of these victories are cause for jubilation. The wins in Mexico and Argentina are particularly welcome, insofar as they show that marriage equality… Read more

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