Back in 2007, I wrote a post on optimistic populism, or how free markets can be a force for good: by spurring efficiency and innovation, they increase the total amount of wealth in the world, making it possible to raise the standard of living for all people. I also noted the irony that libertarians, the fiercest defenders of the free market, so often misunderstand this. In their jeremiads against taxation, they’re implicitly buying into the view that wealth cannot be… Read more

The history of anti-Semitism in the Christian church is a long, sad story. Ironically, this faith which began as a sect within Judaism has been responsible for many more atrocities against the Jewish people than any of their other enemies. For centuries, Christian Europe reviled Jewish believers as Christ-killers, and Jews were accused of ludicrous crimes like “host nailing” (stealing consecrated communion wafers and driving nails through them, to crucify Jesus anew) or draining the blood of Christian children to… Read more

This month’s Poetry Sunday features another poem by Robinson Jeffers, an American poet of the early twentieth century. Born 1887 in Pennsylvania, Jeffers was the son of a Presbyterian minister who taught his son Latin and Greek. Nevertheless, Jeffers did not follow in his father’s footsteps. Rather than theology, he became enthralled at a young age with the natural world, and became an avid outdoorsman and follower of scientific discoveries in biology, astronomy, and other areas. Jeffers found his voice… Read more

By way of Dangerous Intersection, I came across this sorrowful, beautiful story: He spent his life conducting world-renowned orchestras, but was almost blind and growing deaf – the music he loved increasingly out of reach. His wife of 54 years had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. So Edward and Joan Downes decided to die together. Edward Downes, a renowned British conductor who headed the BBC Philharmonic and served for five decades as a music director for the Royal Opera House,… Read more

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 3 Up until now, Jonathan Wells’ critiques of evolution, although misguided, have been fairly sophisticated, touching on topics such as abiogenesis, the Cambrian explosion, and embryology. That’s about to change. In this section, Wells and Strobel haul out the most breathtaking, shameless lie bandied about by creationists: that there are no such things as transitional fossils. This opening quote foreshadows the direction they’re going: I was under the impression that [Archaeopteryx] was featured in… Read more

I’ve been reading this essay from Sikivu Hutchinson in the L.A. Watts Times, which calls on black atheists to come out of the closet while acknowledging the difficulties they face in doing so. The cultural barriers, she says, are even greater than for white atheists: African-American culture is “heavily steeped” in Christian dogma, the legacy of a “culturally specific survival strategy” – in the slave era, it served them as a unifying force and a source of comfort (despite the… Read more

While we’re on the topic of science and the public, I came across another opinion poll worth mentioning: a survey released this month by Pew, Public Praises Science; Scientists Fault Public, Media, which analyzes how the public views scientific achievement and what professional scientists think of how their work is covered in the media (HT: Obsidian Wings). There’s lots to chew over in this report, but I want to focus on this section, which shows how many ideas that are… Read more

I was asked in e-mail to pass along news of this contest, which some Daylight Atheism readers may be interested in. Quark Expeditions is sponsoring a “Blog Your Way to Antarctica” contest. Anyone can submit a 300-word essay explaining why they should be the one to join a voyage to Antarctica scheduled for February 2010, and the entrant who gets the most votes will become the trip’s official blogger and will post daily updates about their experience. Here’s the list… Read more

“Ignorance, poverty and vice must stop populating the world. This cannot be done by moral suasion. This cannot be done by talk or example. This cannot be done by religion or by law, by priest or by hangman. This cannot be done by force, physical or moral. To accomplish this there is but one way. Science must make woman the owner, the mistress of herself. Science, the only possible savior of mankind, must put it in the power of woman… Read more

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 3 Strobel’s discussion of embryonic similarities with Jonathan Wells leads into a broader discussion of homology, which deserves its own post. I’ve been harder on Wells than I otherwise would because he, unlike the vast majority of creationists, has a legitimate degree in biology. It’s impossible that he doesn’t understand some of the things he claims not to understand, or that he doesn’t know the actual scientific explanations for the questions he poses. That… Read more

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