Find Me on Atheist Nexus

I'm not generally a big user of social networking sites, but I did decide to join Atheist Nexus yesterday. If you're there too, you can find me there and add me as a friend. … [Read more...]

Another Branch on the Human Family Tree

I haven't written about any new transitional fossils in a while, so it's a great pleasure for me to mention this one: a hominid skeleton nicknamed "Ardi", a specimen of Ardipithecus ramidus. This species was known from other fossil fragments, but Ardi is one of the oldest and most complete hominids found so far, and may give us the most insight yet into what the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees looked like.Ardi lived about 4.4 million years ago (by comparison, Lucy and her fellow … [Read more...]

The Religious Right Vision of Marriage, Continued

In my last post on the religious right view of marriage, some commenters took me to task for painting with too broad a brush. In this post, I'll consider how widely held such views are.It's a fair point that not all conservative Christians hold views as extreme as those I criticized. Nevertheless, the views treated in that post are just one end of a spectrum that encompasses nearly the entire religious right. Almost all of them argue that men should always wield the authority in a home and … [Read more...]

Three Cheers for Blasphemy Laws!

Today is International Blasphemy Day, inaugurated as a protest against the new Irish blasphemy law, the Muslim furor over cartoons of Muhammad, and every other law or social norm intended to protect religious ideas from criticism. From the Blasphemy Day website:The last day in September is the anniversary of the original publication of Danish cartoons in 2005 depicting the prophet Muhammad's face. Any visual depiction of Muhammad is considered a grave offence under Islamic law....The … [Read more...]

The Weakening Pull of Orthodoxy

The researchers behind the ARIS, which is the gold standard for American religious demographics, have released a new study that builds on their 2008 results with an in-depth look at one group that's near and dear to our hearts: "American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population". (HT: Friendly Atheist)As always, there's plenty of interesting data here to contemplate. Although "nones" show a decided gender imbalance - 60% of them are male, while the general population is 51% female - … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Submit Your Deconversion Story

I've posted a link to a new deconversion story on Ebon Musings: "Deconversion as Withdrawal: Just what is this God-smack stuff, anyway?", written by the vivacious and loquacious blogger D of She Who Chatters (whom you may recognize from her comments here on Daylight Atheism).Having posted this, it occurs to me that I haven't been doing much to solicit deconversion stories for Ebon Musings lately. That's why I'm inviting you, dear reader, to send yours in. Are you an atheist who's broken free … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: In the Beginning

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 5The second premise of the kalam cosmological argument is that the universe began to exist. In discussing this premise, William Lane Craig asks the question of whether the universe necessarily had a beginning or whether it could have existed for an infinite amount of time before now. He argues that the former is the only option:"...if the past were really infinite, then that would mean we have managed to traverse an infinite past to arrive at today. It would … [Read more...]

The Religious Right Vision of Marriage

Christian conservatives always talk about "defending traditional marriage" - which has that warm, homey, fresh-baked-apple-pie feeling to it - but never make it clear precisely what they're defending.This is deliberate, of course, and a clever political strategy: they choose phrases with positive mental associations but otherwise leave their position vague. That way, ordinary people can project onto it whatever idealized notion of a happy family they happen to hold. By this tactic, the … [Read more...]

Take Action: Defend Marriage Equality in Maine

The last few months have been a rollercoaster ride for advocates of marriage equality in the United States. There was the bitter disappointment of Prop 8 passing in California in the 2008 elections, but soon after, it was assuaged in part by victories for marriage equality in Iowa and Vermont. Soon thereafter, Maine and New Hampshire joined the ranks of the states that offer full civil marriage rights to same-sex couples.The momentum is unquestionably on our side. Every poll ever conducted has … [Read more...]

Unitarian Universalism: A Matter of Definition

Both Greta and Hemant have commented on the full-page ad run by the Freedom from Religion Foundation in the latest issue of UU World, the magazine of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Since I have a copy of that issue, I thought I'd say some things about it as well.The FFRF ad that ran in the fall 2009 UU World. Click to enlarge.No one, of course, is denying that UU World would have been completely within its rights to reject the FFRF ad if they had chosen to. But that … [Read more...]