Repost: The Republican Stupid-Party Spiral Dilemma

[Author's Note: I wrote this in late 2012. In light of recent developments, I thought it was worth reposting. The success of Donald Trump seems to show that classic Christian conservatism isn't as necessary an ingredient to the Republican coalition as I once thought - but in just about every other respect, these trends have only accelerated.]In an interview in November 2012, Republican senator Marco Rubio, who was clearly laying the groundwork for his 2016 presidential run, announced that he … [Read more...]

Beware the Man Who Knows One Thing

OK, let me admit this first and get it out of the way: I used to be a big fan of Scott Adams.In the early 2000s, I regularly read Adams' Dilbert strip and subscribed to his newsletter, "Dogbert's New Ruling Class". I signed up for the jokes, but in retrospect, what I overlooked was the condescension. In between the office anecdotes and corporate-jargon humor, Adams insisted that his fans were naturally superior, that they're the ones who see how the world really is. In Ayn Rand-esque … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: May 31

• Rabbis in a British branch of ultra-Orthodox Judaism forbid women from driving - and threaten to expel their children from school if they're caught violating the ban.• The horrific news keeps coming out of Bangladesh, as Islamists circulate a hit list of secular writers whom they want to kill.• "As the country becomes less religious, it is also becoming more socially liberal."• The number-two Vatican official says that Ireland's legalization of same-sex marriage … [Read more...]

Neil deGrasse Tyson Shows Why Small-Minded Religious Fundamentalists Are Threatened by Wonders of Universe

This column originally appeared on AlterNet.Neil deGrasse Tyson's new Cosmos series is a worthy reboot of Carl Sagan's original. Following in Sagan's footsteps, Tyson takes viewers on a voyage through the outer reaches of the solar system and beyond, showing how our sun is just one star out of a hundred billion in the majestic spiral of the Milky Way galaxy, and even the Milky Way itself is a speck in the observable universe. As in the original series, he compresses the history of the … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: December 7

• Creationists lose a lawsuit seeking to keep evolution out of public schools on the spurious grounds that it's "religious". It's worth noting that they've given up on demanding equal time for their own beliefs and are now just seeking to destroy science education.• This painfully appropriate headline says it all: Actual War on Black People Distracting from Fictional War on Christmas". And along the same lines, don't miss the magnificently righteous anger of my Patheos colleague … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: Cosmos and the Creationists

My latest column is now up on AlterNet, Neil deGrasse Tyson Shows Why Small-Minded Religious Fundamentalists Are Threatened by Wonders of Universe. It's about the new Cosmos TV series, and its reminder that those who advocate new ideas have always met fierce violent resistance from the credulous masses and the elite guardians of popular orthodoxy, from the persecutors of Galileo and Giordano Bruno in the medieval era to creationists, climate-change deniers and anti-vaxers today. Read the excerpt … [Read more...]

Pensacola Christian College: The Republicans’ New Feeder School

I usually pay little attention to the State of the Union address, since it rarely amounts to anything more than political theater. I had it on in the background last week, but I only listened to some of it, and even less to the official Republican rebuttal, which was delivered by Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a congresswoman from Washington state. My offhand impression was that Rodgers' speech was heavy on gauzy rhetoric and bromides about religion and God, but devoid of any actual policy proposals. … [Read more...]

Riding a Dinosaur Off Into the Sunset

It's conventional wisdom that when you've got to make an announcement but don't want people to pay too much attention, you release it on a Friday afternoon. And when you've got some news that you really want to bury, you release it on Christmas Day. That's just what the Republican party did last month, with this quiet announcement that the party establishment, in tandem with the Chamber of Commerce, is launching a $50 million political offensive - not against Democrats, but against other … [Read more...]

Repost: Fossilized Opinions

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from March 2010.]Sam Harris is famous for the argument that religion, even moderate religion, does harm by teaching that faith is a virtue that should not be questioned, which encourages militant and violent strains of fundamentalism. Today, I want to talk about another way, subtle but unmistakable, that religion causes harm to human beings.Because of its tendency to treat … [Read more...]

Notable (and Hilarious) Examples of the Christian Right’s Failed Prophecies

This article was originally published on AlterNet.The Christian right in America, like all organized religions, claims to have a correct and exclusive understanding of God's will. To hear them tell it, the almighty creator of the universe has strong opinions about corporate tax rates, firearm ownership, and what consenting adults do with their genitals, and he's delegated them to speak on his behalf.But if they want us to believe they have this authority, it seems only fair to consider … [Read more...]