We Have an Unfair Advantage

When it comes to debating the merits of religion, we atheists have an unfair advantage. Lately, almost every day when I go to work, there are Jehovah's Witnesses in the subway station. I see them in the morning and the evening, two or three of them sitting on folding chairs in the sweltering, grimy heat, holding up Watchtower magazines and pamphlets to the rush of disinterested commuters. I think I've seen someone engage them maybe once or twice, either to talk or to debate, but 95% of the time … [Read more...]

The Millennials: America’s Secular Future

I had a run-in with an old adversary lately, and after I've sent him on his way, I always feel compelled to point out some of the hopeful things he never mentions. This post is about one of those things. In recent posts, I've expressed my disillusionment with the Democrats. But whatever the current state of politics in America - and I'm not denying that it's depressing and infuriating by turns - the long-term trends look very good for us. One of the brightest of these trends is the rise in … [Read more...]

The Real 1% of American Democracy

I'm still sorting through all my thoughts and impressions from the Netroots Nation conference this past week. But there's one image that's stayed with me vividly, which was a slide in a talk given by the progressive House candidate Darcy Burner. This is a chart of voter turnout in Burner's home district in Washington state, which she said is one of the highest-turnout districts in the country:Of the district's approximately 500,000 eligible voters, 45%, almost half, either aren't registered … [Read more...]

The Atheist-Progressive Alliance

I've long argued that there's a natural alliance between atheism and feminism, for the same reason that there's a natural alliance between atheism and GLBT activism: because we all understand what it's like to experience oppression and discrimination rooted in religion, and we ought to grasp that by cooperating to diminish religion's power, we can achieve goals we all hold in common. And in spite of a few recent, high-profile flamewars over questions of sexism and harassment in the atheist … [Read more...]

The Radicalism of Obedience

As I mentioned in my last link roundup, I wanted to discuss in more detail the Pope's latest Easter homily, in which he directly addresses the "disobedience" of priests who are calling for the ordination of women and an end to mandatory celibacy. There are some interesting implications for how the elites of the Vatican see the future of the Catholic church. The background to this story is that Catholicism is in the grip of a slow-motion demographic crisis: their priests are growing old and … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: Teaming Up with Liberal Theists

My latest article has just been published on AlterNet, Why Is America's Most Progressive Voting Block Often Overlooked? In it, I discuss the strong progressive leanings of American nonbelievers, what we could accomplish if we worked together with liberal religious believers on causes we held in common, and what the obstacles to that alliance are. (It's also been reprinted on Salon, if you'd rather comment there.) Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:In America, … [Read more...]

Storming the Ivory Tower

Since moving to Big Think, there's a viewpoint I'm encountering more and more often. This belief holds that the New Atheism is tilting at windmills, because most religion is moderate and harmless, and destructive fundamentalist beliefs are held only by an inconsequential minority. One commenter even absurdly accused me of "confusing fundamentalism with religion", as if those two things were completely unrelated phenomena with nothing in common. This ivory-tower view, if it was ever true, has … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: December 18

In top news this week, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And in other news: • A paper in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that the HPV vaccine doesn't change girls' later sexual behavior. • A new survey by the Pew Center finds that the percentage of Americans who consider religion "very important", though still far greater than in Europe, has declined by 9% in the last 9 years. • And on a related note, the Institute for the Study of Secularism in … [Read more...]

Goodbye Religion? How Godlessness Is Increasing With Each New Generation

This essay was originally published on AlterNet.Something strange is happening to American teenagers. If you believe popular wisdom, young people are apathetic, cynical and jaded; or, they're supposed to be conformists whose overriding desire is to fit in and be popular. But if you've been paying close attention over the past decade, you might have seen any of a growing number of cases that conspicuously defy these stereotypes: stories of teenagers who have strong principles they're unashamed … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: The Rise of Young Atheists

My latest article has been posted on AlterNet, Goodbye Religion? How Godlessness Is Increasing With Each New Generation. It surveys the demographic transformation that's been taking place in American society, with rates of godlessness steadily increasing in each generation since World War II, highlights the work of some outstanding young activists who are part of this trend, and points out the panicked warnings from religious authorities who recognize that their influence is fading away. Read … [Read more...]


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