Firebrands

I've been watching the "Four Horsemen" video, a two-hour conversation among four of today's leading atheists: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens. Right at the beginning, Dan Dennett brings up a point that's also been on my mind. Speaking about his pre-publication editing of Breaking the Spell, in an effort not to offend religious readers:"...it's a no-win situation, it's a mug's game. The religions have contrived to make it impossible to disagree with them … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch XIII: "You Have No Right to Be Here"

Recently, the state government of Illinois proposed a $1 million grant to rebuild the historic Pilgrim Baptist Church, which was destroyed by a fire earlier this year. Atheist Rob Sherman testified before the House State Government Administration Committee to oppose this blatant violation of the separation of church and state.What happened next was difficult for me to believe. Here's a transcript of an exchange between Sherman and state representative Monique Davis, as reported by Eric Zorn of … [Read more...]

Popular Delusions IX: Numerology

triskadekaphobia

As you can see from this picture, the building where I live has no thirteenth floor:But of course, what this picture depicts is a mathematical impossibility. My building does have a thirteenth floor; it's just that it's mislabeled as the fourteenth floor, with all the floors above it similarly mislabeled by one.This may be a small thing, but every time I step into the elevator, it's a jarring reminder of how superstitious beliefs still permeate our society. I can see the logic … [Read more...]

Legal Thuggery Against Neurodiversity.com

Kathleen Seidel, author of the Neurodiversity weblog, writes extensively about issues related to autism. Among other things, she gives the scientific perspective on claims that autism is caused by vaccination. One of her recent posts, The Commerce in Causation, concerns the career of one Clifford Shoemaker - a lawyer who's represented hundreds of clients making this allegation, including an ongoing suit, Sykes v. Bayer. Many of these cases have come before the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation … [Read more...]

Strange and Curious Sects: Jesus Malverde

Malverde's shrine stands near the railroad tracks on the west side of Culiacan, well-known to just about everybody in town. Nearby are Malverde Clutch & Breaks, Malverde Lumber and two Denny's-like cafeterias: Coco's Malverde and Chic's Malverde. Outside the shrine people sell trinkets, candles, and pictures. Inside the shrine are two concrete busts of the man. Malverde, supposedly a poor man from the hills, turns out to look a lot like a matinee idol -- dark eyes, sleek mustache, jet-black … [Read more...]

Update on the UC-Calvary Lawsuit

One of the first posts on Daylight Atheism, over two years ago, was "The Fallacy of Free Speech", about a private Christian high school which sued the University of California because the UC had refused to give college credit in biology for courses which taught young-earth creationism. Well, the wheels of justice grind exceedingly slow, but they do eventually turn. Last week, a federal judge issued a preliminary ruling which, while it does not completely prevent the case from going forward, … [Read more...]

No Religious Exemptions from Child Abuse Laws

Several people have mentioned this tragic story from Wisconsin, in which an 11-year-old girl died of juvenile diabetes after her parents decided to pray for her recovery rather than seek medical help. Shockingly, the town police chief said that "there is no reason to remove" her remaining three siblings from the home. Haven't her parents already demonstrated that they are a clear and present danger to the well-being of their offspring? The district attorney is considering filing charges, but if … [Read more...]

TV Review: Planet Earth

I recently finished watching Planet Earth, the award-winning BBC nature documentary series narrated by David Attenborough. As its title implies, Planet Earth is an effort of considerable ambition: the filmmakers set out to produce a series that would provide a survey of our world's natural grandeur and biodiversity. To a remarkable extent, I think they succeeded. Of course the full richness of Earth's biosphere could not be exhaustively chronicled, but this series touches on many of the high … [Read more...]

The Keyhole

For much of human history, information was a rare and precious commodity. In pre-literate societies, the collected wisdom of the tribe - when the rains come, when is the best time to plant crops, what plants are best for illness - was passed down in oral format, requiring much diligent work of recitation and memorization. If the only person who knew something died in an accident, that bit of information was lost.When writing was invented, the situation improved somewhat. Now important facts … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses VIII: Priestly Celibacy

Today's edition of "Little-Known Bible Verses" is specific to the Roman Catholic denomination of Christianity. This is because, of all major Western denominations, Roman Catholicism is the only church that still requires that its clergy members remain celibate. The Catholic church to this day believes that this is a biblically supportable doctrine. But in fact, the opposite is true, as we can see from two little-known Bible verses.Both the verses in question come from the epistle of 1 Timothy, … [Read more...]


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