This month, I want to write about some words important to the atheist movement that are frequently misused and abused by religious apologists. The first of these words is secularism. In the rhetoric of spokespeople for the religious right, secularism is often assumed to be the desire to ban all forms of religious expression from public view. As is usual in these polemics, this is a falsehood, created by taking a true statement and then twisting and distorting it almost… Read more

This week’s guest contributor says: “This is why it pays to rise with the sun. Very few people are blessed with the experience of a wilderness sunrise such as this gem. After a morning like this, the world cannot help but seem a miraculous place.” Sunrise, Pharaoh Lake, Adirondack State Park. Photo credit: Jim Sabiston, Essential Light Photography. (Visit his site!) Read more

Last night I had a chance to see Creation, the independent film by British director Jon Amiel that presents an account of the life of Charles Darwin and his struggle to write his great work, On the Origin of Species, while mourning the death of his beloved daughter Annie. The movie is based on Annie’s Box, the biography of Darwin written by his great-great-grandson, Randal Keynes. The movie opens promisingly, with Darwin’s eldest daughter Annie asking him to tell her… Read more

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 8 In my review of Darwin’s Black Box, I listed three ways that an irreducibly complex system can evolve: The first can be summed up as scaffolding: extra parts which support a partially functional system until it is completely assembled, at which point the extra parts become unnecessary and are pruned away by selection. The second is the case of improvement becomes necessity, where an adaptation is at first merely beneficial, but as later… Read more

Summary: A compelling atheist thought experiment, wrapped inside a cleverly plotted and fast-paced tale of transhumanist fiction. This isn’t the first time I’ve reviewed a book written by a fellow blogger, but it’s always a pleasure for me to do, and this one was particularly pleasurable to read. The Quantum Mechanic is a novel written by the blogger D – you may know her as the author of She Who Chatters – for 2009’s National Novel Writing Month. The hero… Read more

Via Ophelia Benson, this unwelcome news: the Center for Inquiry’s podcast Point of Inquiry, which I listened to regularly until now, is seeing a change in hosts. D.J. Grothe, who formerly conducted the interviews, is leaving to serve as the president of the James Randi Educational Foundation. He’ll be replaced by a rotating series of hosts, and the most important of which, who’s expected to conduct approximately half of Point of Inquiry’s new interviews, is Chris Mooney. On its face,… Read more

You get all kinds of weird and amusing religious literature on the New York subways, and here’s the latest proof: Click to enlarge. Also see interior and back cover. If you’ve attended a college with a significant Jewish population, you’re probably familiar with Chabad House, an organization that runs community centers and programs for observant Jews. What you may not know is who runs these centers – or one of this group’s stranger and more curious offshoots, the subject of… Read more

As much effort as we freethinkers put into making atheism a viable and socially accepted option, it’s important to remember that it’s still a difficult feat to extricate oneself from religion when one’s family and social life are bound up with church attendance. Consider this e-mail I received a few days ago, whose author’s personal information I’ve omitted: I just wanted to say thanks for your sites, which I’ve been reading for about a year now. I’m a 49 year… Read more

I’m happy to report that there’s quite a lot of good news this week: • The U.K. government recommends that primary school religious education classes should teach about “secular beliefs such as humanism and atheism”, in addition to learning about major world religions like Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. This is just one more symptom of how far ahead of us our European friends are in some respects – can you imagine the religious right frenzy that would ensue if a… Read more

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 8 In the previous installment, I discussed how creationists steer well clear of doing any real science. We can see another example of this in, ironically, the way Strobel falls all over himself lauding Michael Behe as a Real Scientist: He has authored forty articles for such scientific journals as DNA Sequence, The Journal of Molecular Biology, Nucleic Acids Research, Biopolymers, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Biophysics, and Biochemistry… He is… Read more

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