Report from the Secular Society Conference: Day One

I mentioned back in October that this weekend I'd be attending The Secular Society and Its Enemies, the 2007 conference of the Center for Inquiry. I didn't get to post my report on the first day of the conference yesterday (since it finished rather late), so I'll do that now. My report on today's events will be up tomorrow, and Sunday's report will be posted on Monday.The conference was held at the New York Academy of Sciences in lower Manhattan, which is on the 40th floor of World Trade … [Read more...]

Advice to an Atheist

A few days ago, I had an e-mail query from an atheist looking for advice. I answered him as best as I was able, but his was a question that I think could benefit from some additional perspectives. With my correspondent's permission, I'm reprinting his query below. If you were in his situation, what would you do?My wife is a Christian and I am an Atheist. We have two small children. She knows how I feel about religion and doesn't like it, but we have basically agreed to disagree. I do not try … [Read more...]

Flickers of Conscience

One year ago this month, I posted an essay titled "A Seriously Warped Moral Compass". In it, I highlighted the disturbing tendency of religious beliefs to twist and distort a person's conscience to the point where they accept terrible evils as just acts, and, conversely, elevate harmless actions to the height of wickedness and sin.But I do wonder sometimes if even the most thorough and relentless religious brainwashing can ever completely succeed. Are human beings infinitely malleable, so that … [Read more...]

The Exploitation of Antony Flew

Have you heard the shocking news? The world's most notorious atheist has converted!No, it's not Richard Dawkins.Or Sam Harris.Or Christopher Hitchens.Or Dan Barker.Or Michael Newdow.Or Julia Sweeney.No, this world-famous, notorious atheist convert is the philosopher Antony Flew.If you're wondering, "Who?", you're probably not alone. Antony Flew is a British philosopher, now retired and of advanced age. Though fairly well-known in philosophical circles in his day, I doubt he was … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Christianity and the Enlightenment

This is an open thread to address John's comment regarding Christianity and the origins of the Enlightenment. Comments and replies are welcome. … [Read more...]

A Note on the IIDB Situation

There are many reasons why I didn't want to write this post. Unfortunately, they are outweighed by the reasons why I did have to write it. A serious wrong has been done to a friend of mine, a once-thriving atheist community has been mortally wounded by an unaccountable few whose actions reflect poorly on the freethought movement, and I fear that if I don't report on this matter, those same few may erase the fact of its occurrence from history. I detest politics, gossip, and drama, and alas, this … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses VII: Iron Chariots

One of the core beliefs of Judaism and Christianity is that God is omnipotent, able to do anything that is logically possible. But surprisingly, the Bible does not consistently support this idea. I've already written about the Tower of Babel, in which the Old Testament God appears to worry that humans will overmatch him if they complete the tower. And then, there's the following little-known Bible verse:"And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could … [Read more...]

The Last Battlefield

Back in September, the blogger Riverbend - the thoughtful, eloquent young Iraqi woman who authors the blog Baghdad Burning - left Iraq along with her family. After four years of writing from a first-hand perspective about the chaos and violence that the U.S. occupation has unleashed on her country, Riverbend and her family finally decided that things had become too dangerous to stay, and it's hard to blame them.She writes about leaving her house for the last time, taking only the … [Read more...]

The Desert V

(Author's Note: "The Desert" is a work of short fiction in several parts. If you haven't already done so, now would be a good time to go back and read the previous chapters so that you know what's going on.)V: EpilogueIt seemed like ages ago that I had set out from my home, and the beautiful Garden that surrounded it, on a journey that brought me deep into the harsh wilds of the desert. In that barren, desolate land, I had encountered several of the lost souls who dwelt there. Most had … [Read more...]

Fragile Trappings

I stepped out of my house today on a chilly fall afternoon. After an unseasonably late warm spell, as if summer had lingered this year past its appointed time, autumn had arrived at last. The feel of the season was in the air: the misty cool, the forests defiantly ablaze with fiery color, the smell of fallen leaves, wet black and rusty gold, in the grass. There was a sense of hunkering down, of quiet activity in the stillness, as nature prepares for the coming winter foreshadowed in the bare … [Read more...]


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