Sam Harris is famous for the argument that religion, even moderate religion, does harm by teaching that faith is a virtue that should not be questioned, which encourages militant and violent strains of fundamentalism. Today, I want to talk about another way, subtle but unmistakable, that religion causes harm to human beings. Because of its tendency to treat all the statements of its founders and sacred texts as holy truth, religion has the effect of “freezing” the prejudices in vogue… Read more

Our next stop was the Liberty campus bookstore. It was run by Barnes & Noble, and it looked pretty much like any other campus bookstore. I was surprised by the range of books available there, some of which I would have expected to be verboten on campus – from Neil Gaiman’s American Gods to Jeff Sharlet’s The Family, as well as books on global warming and dream interpretation. That said, there were also four or five whole racks of shelves,… Read more

Over the past year or so, I’ve become increasingly aware that, for the atheist movement to make a difference, speaking out isn’t enough. Speech is a valuable tool, but it isn’t the only tool. Almost as important is our money and our effort – the way we spend it, and the causes we support. To build the world we want to see, we must be willing to act in concrete ways that advance the goal of creating a secular community…. Read more

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 9 Chapter 9 of Case is about abiogenesis. It seems Strobel couldn’t find any actual molecular biologists or organic chemists who support ID and were willing to speak with him about it, so it’s back for another talk with Stephen Meyer, the philosopher already interviewed in chapter 4. With cheerful ludicrousness, Strobel describes Meyer, who is not a biologist and has never published a single piece of research on this topic, as “one of… Read more

For this week’s Photo Sunday, a seasonally appropriate picture. There’s complexity in the world all around us, and the patterns of cracks and pits on the frozen surface of this lake, almost like the surface of an alien planet, caught my eye as a beautiful example: Frozen lake surface, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, January 2010. Photo by the author. Camera details: Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS. Click for larger version. Read more

I’ve often used the terms “freethought” and “freethinker” on this blog, but I’ve never explicitly defined them. In this post, continuing my efforts at defining words that are important to the atheist movement, I want to speak briefly about how I use these terms and what I understand them to mean. As the Freedom from Religion Foundation defines it, a freethinker is a person who forms their opinions about religion based on reason, independently of established belief, tradition, or authority…. Read more

When the church service let out, my friends and I toured several other buildings on campus. We stopped by the dorms, which are strictly gender-segregated: I wonder what mindset lies behind this. Is it because the trustees of Liberty believe it’s indecent for men and women to mingle in public? Then why aren’t the classes and the church services also sex-separated? And why don’t they also enforce the biblical decree that women not wear jewelry or braid their hair (1… Read more

By Sarah Braasch In Loving Memory of My Baby Brother, Jacob Michael Braasch (01/28/86 – 02/02/10) I was working on this piece when I received news that my beloved youngest brother, Jacob, had taken his own life by hanging himself in my parents’ basement. I was ten, almost eleven when my mother told me and my brother and sister that she was pregnant again. I didn’t speak to her for weeks. I was a good little Jehovah’s Witness girl back… Read more

Most Americans have heard of the movie critic and writer Roger Ebert. But what most people probably didn’t know – what I didn’t know – is that he hasn’t been able to eat, drink or speak since 2006. That was the year when most of his jaw had to be surgically removed, the result of complications from thyroid cancer that nearly cost him his life. This information comes via a surprisingly moving article in Esquire by Chris Jones, which describes… Read more

This week’s guest contributor says: “Day three of a canoe exploration of Lows Lake and the Bog River Flow, Adirondacks. This dreamlike scene marked the end of an idyllic day of slow paddling and fishing for dinner. The world takes a breath and pauses….” Sunset, Lows Lake, Adirondack State Park. Photo credit: Jim Sabiston, Essential Light Photography. (Visit his site!) Read more

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