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...]

The Intellectual Sterility of Creationism


In honor of Darwin Day earlier this month, Slate ran a thorough article about the creationist movement in America and one of its leading evangelists, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. As the article points out, the science is at best a secondary concern for them: their certainty is founded on a literal reading of the Bible (which explicitly trumps any evidence, according to their statements of faith). Their primary concern is that they believe acceptance of evolution leads to sin, like abortion and … [Read more...]

The Republican Stupid-Party Spiral Dilemma

In an interview late last month, Republican senator Marco Rubio, who's widely viewed to be laying the groundwork for a 2016 presidential run, announced that he doesn't know how old the Earth is:I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States.I can't help suggesting that perhaps … [Read more...]