Are Atheists Smarter than Theists?

Are atheists, on average, smarter than everyone else? It sounds unbearably smug and condescending even to ask the question this way. But whatever one’s feelings about the matter, there’s some evidence suggesting that this may be the case. Belief in God correlates inversely with education level, as surveys have long shown. From high school to college to grad school, as you move up the rungs of educational attainment, people are more likely to be atheists, less likely to pray, less... Read more

The Fountainhead: Serpent’s Tooth

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 10 Peter Keating is attending a party thrown by another architect, a pompous old windbag named Ralston Holcombe who designs state capitols and other monumental buildings. He secretly despises Holcombe and is only there for appearances’ sake. He’s glancing at his wristwatch, “calculating the time when it would be permissible to leave”, when he notices another guest across the room. It’s Dominique Francon: She stood leaning against a column, a cocktail glass in her hand.... Read more

Repost: Epicurus’ World

The story goes that the renowned physicist Richard Feynman was once asked to summarize the most important finding of modern science in a single sentence. Feynman replied, “The universe is made of atoms.” Although there are many other scientific discoveries that are arguably of equal importance, Feynman’s choice makes a lot of sense. The discovery of atoms is so familiar to us that it’s easy to overlook its breathtaking significance. We know, at the smallest scale where it still makes... Read more

Repost: “Choose Faith in Spite of the Facts”

I usually don’t think it’s worth beating up on the purveyors of popular evangelical feel-goodism, for the same reason I don’t get in boxing matches with life-size Jell-O sculptures. But I had to make an exception for this tweet from human tooth-whitening strip Joel Osteen: The facts may tell you one thing. But, God is not limited by the facts. Choose faith in spite of the facts. — Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) November 26, 2014 Osteen is most famous for his... Read more

Weekend Coffee: July 2

I’m going on vacation for the July 4 holiday, so I’m planning to run some reposts this week. There will be a new Fountainhead post on Friday, because I love you all that much. In the meantime, here are some amusing stories: • First up, please enjoy meeting Skylar Ittner, a young more-Catholic-than-the-Pope ultra-fundamentalist. His private Catholic college expelled him – for putting up unauthorized anti-gay posters all over campus, and then being extremely hostile and defiant toward campus administrators... Read more

The Fountainhead: Bizarro Ayn Rand

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 9 First up, some good news to finish out the week: The excellent blog McMansion Hell, which I’ve mentioned in this series, was served with a legal threat by the real-estate website Zillow for using its pictures. This was obvious empty bluster, not just because parody and commentary are the essence of fair use, but because Zillow doesn’t even hold the copyright to the photos on its site, which are taken by local real-estate agents.... Read more

The Gap

I like to think of myself as an optimist, but lately I find myself adrift in feelings of hopelessness. It’s not just the election, although that’s obviously part of it. It’s a whole raft of disasters which add up to the impression that humanity is going backwards: the genocide in Syria, which the world seems to have no will to do anything about; the upsurge of racism and xenophobia across the West; in the U.S., police who murder innocent people... Read more

The Online Atheist Community: Still Terrible

I haven’t written much about the regressive elements within the atheist community in a while, but that doesn’t mean they’ve gone away. On the contrary, they’re still around and they’re just as loud and repulsive as ever. We got an unfortunate reminder of that when the Atheist Foundation of Australia announced that Clementine Ford, a feminist writer and speaker, had accepted an invitation to their 2018 Global Atheist Convention. The Facebook page where they made the announcement was promptly deluged... Read more

The Fountainhead: Hooray for Unions

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 9 Ayn Rand wasn’t one for understatement. When she had a political point to make, she did it with all the subtlety of a big brass band. This makes it all the more noteworthy when she lets a controversial topic pass without comment. And one of those silences, the topic of today’s post, is a surprising one. It begins with the city’s construction workers going on strike: The strike of the building-trades unions infuriated Guy... Read more

The Pro-Slavery History of the Southern Baptists

Last week, the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention was thrown into chaos by a proposal to condemn racism and the alt-right. This CNN article has a good timeline of how it played out: The debate began when Rev. Dwight McKissic, a black pastor from Arlington, Texas, called on Southern Baptists to formally condemn the movement’s “retrograde ideologies, xenophobic biases, and racial bigotries” and re-affirm its opposition to racism in the aftermath of a presidential election that saw the... Read more