In Praise of Massachusetts Liberals

In the 2004 American presidential campaign, the label "Massachusetts liberal" was used as an epithet by Republican against the Democratic candidate John Kerry. In the argot of conservatives, the term signifies a candidate who is unacceptably far left, out of the mainstream of American politics - as indicated by their association with the prosperous, well-educated, gay-friendly state of Massachusetts. (See Conservapedia, which, as always, is not a parody.)I find it interesting that this term … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: Conservation

Today's post on morality concerns environmental conservation and sustainability. Human civilization has historically behaved (and many still do behave) as if the Earth was there to be conquered and natural resources were limitless. Environmental devastation is not solely the product of industrialized society; ancient cultures did the same thing, even those with tools no more sophisticated than the hand ax. For instance, as Jared Diamond wrote in his book Collapse, the reason for the … [Read more...]

Skin Deep

I've been reading this account of a disciplinary hearing against the odious John Freshwater, an Ohio science teacher who allegedly promoted religion in his class, repeatedly and illegally, even after being ordered by school administrators to stop. Among other things, Freshwater brazenly taught creationism in class - directing his students to Answers in Genesis and giving extra credit to those willing to see the anti-evolution documentary Expelled. Most infamously, he was accused of using a Tesla … [Read more...]

Thoughts on the Soul-Making Theodicy

In "All Possible Worlds", I wrote about the various religious responses to the problem of evil. Today, I want to say some more words about one of the common theodicies, the "teaching" or "soul-making" theodicy, as it's defended in the Christian tradition. This theodicy holds that experiencing and resisting evil is the only way to produce the kind of genuine moral development and strength of character that God desires.In the Christian view, one could imagine that the universe is like a testing … [Read more...]

New on Ebon Musings: Spanish Translations

I'm very pleased to announce that reader David Cabrera has volunteered to translate some of the essays on Ebon Musings into Spanish. He's already completed work on five of them: the disclaimer and introduction, "Why Ebon Musings?", "Life of Wonder" and "All Possible Worlds". I've added links to the Spanish versions of these five from the index and site map on Ebon Musings. All the complete translations are also listed here:http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/espanol/That page is still a … [Read more...]

In Which I Am Attacked by a U.S. Political Party

This just keeps getting better and better.Earlier this month, I wrote about the Senate campaign of Elizabeth Dole and how it was attempting to stir up anti-atheist bigotry to use against her Democratic challenger, Kay Hagan. Now, the national Republican Party has joined in, and once again, Daylight Atheism is a part of the controversy.Shock! Horror! Outrage!Reader Brian Westley informs me of this new web ad by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, titled … [Read more...]

Poetry Sunday: Away, Melancholy

Today's Poetry Sunday features the British poet Stevie Smith. The Literary Encyclopedia calls her "one of the most important female British poets of the twentieth-century, and the most original voice to emerge from the 1930s".Stevie Smith was born in 1902 in Hull (her birth name was Florence Margaret Smith; she acquired the nickname "Stevie" later in life). Her poetry was much shaped by her personal life: her father abandoned his family before she was three years old, and her mother died … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Battle Royale Edition

This comment was left on a different post by a visitor calling himself Ty:I cannot imagine how you could believe that there is no savior in this world. I am 14, and strongly believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the whole world. I'm almost offended that you could think there is no God. If you really believe that you have evidence that Christ is not the Savior of the world, I'd like to hear your claims. No offense to you or any other atheist, but I believe that they would … [Read more...]

Advice to an Atheist

Before now, I've written two previous posts offering, and soliciting, advice for atheist readers who've found themselves in difficult situations. With today's post, I'm thinking I ought to make it a regular series.I was contacted by a reader with the following dilemma:As part of my job, I am often expected to attend and participate in public meetings that are put on either by my employer or by community councils that are affiliated with it. My Canadian employer is considered to be a public … [Read more...]

Maintaining the Mystery

In last year's post "The Default", I quoted this astonishing concession from theist Andrew Sullivan:I have lived with the voice of Jesus read to me, read by me, and spoken all around me my entire life - and I heard it that day. If I had been born before Jesus' birth, would I have realized this? Of course not. If I had been born in Thailand and raised a Buddhist, would I have interpreted this experience as a function of my Buddhist faith rather than Jesus? If I were a pilgrim right now in … [Read more...]


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