Feminism's Freedom Fighter? On Feminism, Atheism and Ayaan Hirsi Ali

By Sikivu HutchinsonIn mainstream media, public conversation about the intersection between atheism and what I will loosely term third world feminism is as rare as Halley's Comet. In the corporate media universe, the groundbreaking work of feminists of African descent like bell hooks, Angela Davis and Patricia Hill Collins remains largely unknown, relegated to academe. Feminism, when invoked at all in mainstream media, is framed as the province of white women, a vestige of a less "enlightened" … [Read more...]

Poetry Sunday: Paul Laurence Dunbar

I'm especially pleased to be able to showcase this new poet in this week's edition of Poetry Sunday. In the past, I've highlighted the lives and the accomplishments of famous African-American freethinkers like W.E.B. DuBois and Zora Neale Hurston, showing that religious skepticism and freethought have always played a lively role in the American black community. Today's post offers another example of that.Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in Ohio in June 1872 to two ex-slaves from Kentucky. His … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Strange New Worlds

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 6The cosmological fine-tuning argument is one of the more interesting claims in the intelligent-design movement's toolkit. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it's the best argument they have. I'll let Robin Collins make the point as strongly as he can:"Over the past thirty years or so, scientists have discovered that just about everything about the basic structure of the universe is balanced on a razor's edge for life to exist. The coincidences are far too … [Read more...]

Secular Sabotage!

In their never-ending quest to elevate every ranting wingnut to the same status as genuine experts, the Washington Post has given a guest column to Bill Donohue - the extreme right-wing Catholic bully whose sole purpose in life is seeking out things to be offended by. Whether it's The Simpsons, the "secular Jews" who run Hollywood and hate Christianity, store greeters who say "Happy Holidays", or monogamous gay couples who want to adopt children, no insult or indignity against the Catholic … [Read more...]

Cargo Cult Science

During World War II, American forces fighting in the Pacific set up bases on remote islands whose people had had very little prior contact with other civilizations. These people, with technology at a Stone Age level, were amazed by the strange visitors and the almost miraculous cargo they brought with them - chocolate, cigarettes, radio, steel tools. When the war ended and the soldiers left, some tribes went to desperate measures to summon them back, forming religions - cargo cults - which tried … [Read more...]

In Honor of Terry Pratchett

I should have mentioned this story much earlier, but better late than never.If you're an atheist and a regular reader of sci-fi and fantasy, you probably know the name Terry Pratchett - and if you don't, you should. He's the award-winning and much-loved author of Discworld, a series of fantasy novels set in a flat, circular world that's carried through space on the back of a giant tortoise. Discworld began as a straight-up parody of other fantasy novels, but it's moved on to parodying all … [Read more...]

Celibacy Is Unnatural

The Roman Catholic church's stated reason for opposing homosexuality is that it violates a vaguely-defined construct they call "natural law". This viewpoint is explained in essays like this one:People have a basic, ethical intuition that certain behaviors are wrong because they are unnatural... The natural sex partner for a man is a woman, and the natural sex partner for a woman is a man. Thus, people have the corresponding intuition concerning homosexuality that they do about bestiality — t … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Another Non-Authority

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 6Chapter 6 of Case is about the cosmological fine-tuning argument, but before I get to that, I want to say a few words about Strobel's next choice of interview subject.The interviewee in chapter 6 is Robin Collins, another prominent ID advocate. Granted, the areas of Collins' interest lie mainly in physics and cosmology. But Collins himself is not a physicist, nor a cosmologist, nor even a practicing scientist. His undergraduate major was physics; he began a … [Read more...]

On the Front Lines of Islamism

While we in the West work to defend secularism against creationists, pro-lifers and other would-be theocrats, it's worth remembering from time to time how good we have it. Our church-state wall may be an embattled boundary, but in most of the world, it's nonexistent. This is especially true in most of the world's Muslim-majority countries, where a few heroes of secularism are fighting against nearly impossible odds. Take Kuwait, where two courageous female MPs are refusing to wear headscarves in … [Read more...]

Letter to a Young Skeptic of Color

By Sikivu HutchinsonFor the longest time religion has simply been an accepted way of life for you, unchallenged, unquestioned, a shopworn ritual, gentle as a vise. If you're churchgoing the first seeds of doubt may be planted after squirming through umpteen marathon prayer sessions. If you're not churchgoing, doubt may come from seeing all the privilege and status, the houses, cars and ring-kissing reverence lavished on the pastors, the bishops, the priests and other hallowed Christian … [Read more...]