Repost: The World Is Changing and the Churches Are Afraid

[I'm taking a break from the blog to bond with and care for my new son. Please enjoy this classic post! I'll check in periodically to answer comments.]Last week, a Daylight Atheism commenter (thanks, Nathaniel!) pointed out that my post "Aid in Dying" had been cited on a blog on the Patheos Catholic channel, Public Catholic, whose author, Rebecca Hamilton, is a member of the Oklahoma state legislature. Needless to say, she was perturbed:Last night, when I googled euthanasia, I came … [Read more...]

Repost: If I Were an Unethical Atheist

[I'm taking a break from the blog to bond with and care for my new son. Please enjoy this classic post! I'll check in periodically to answer comments.]More times than I can count, I've heard the argument that atheists can't be trusted to act ethically, that human beings need to believe in a supernatural source of morality to coerce us to behave. (The most recent time I remember hearing this was in my debate with Peter Hitchens last year.) The argument usually goes that even if we … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Great Chain of Being

Atlas Shrugged, Closing ThoughtsThroughout Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand tells us that her ideal state would be a perfect meritocracy. Everyone would rise or fall as their talents merited. There'd be no corrupt bargains, no discrimination, and no hereditary ruling class.It's an appealing vision, but what the novel shows isn't the same as what it tells. Regardless of what Rand says she wants, she repeatedly undermines her meritocratic ideal by writing characters who do indeed have special … [Read more...]

Useless Money: A Humanist Sermon

This is 432 Park Avenue:It's the newest addition to the New York City skyline, an ultra-luxury residential skyscraper in midtown Manhattan. With a top height of almost 1400 feet, it's the tallest residential building in the world and the second tallest building in all of NYC, ahead of the Empire State Building, behind only the new One World Trade Center.Despite its neck-craning height (it actually required approval from the FAA), 432 Park Avenue has only 104 apartments. The first … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Passion of Eddie Willers, Part II

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter XAnd now, the crowning infamy.The last time we saw poor, tragic Eddie Willers, he'd set out on a suicide mission to restore Taggart service in California - technically against Dagny's wishes, but she didn't make more than a feeble effort to dissuade him. Now, at the very end of the novel, we find out what happened to him:The locomotive of the eastbound Comet broke down in the middle of a desert in Arizona....When Eddie Willers called for the … [Read more...]

Vote for Harm Reduction, Not Purity

North Carolina's appalling HB2, which I wrote about on Monday, is just one bill in a parade of awfulness from state legislatures. In the last few weeks alone, Indiana has outlawed abortion if the fetus has a defect or disability, and Utah requires women getting abortion to receive unnecessary anesthesia against their will. A South Carolina bill would make anyone who sponsors a refugee criminally liable if that refugee commits a crime. Mississippi wants to grant shoot-to-kill authority to … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: Open Borders

My recap of the Maryam Namazie-Sam Harris exchange spurred a debate about open-border policies, so I wanted to write a post focusing on that topic. Unfortunately, I believe this is only going to become more relevant, not just because of the Syrian civil war and refugee crisis, but because it's likely that the next few decades will see millions of people forced to migrate by climate change.On a first pass, it's hard to see what argument could be made against open borders. Shouldn't travel be … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Won’t Somebody Think of the Children?

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter VIIIWith Mr. Thompson's failure, the rest of the looters are taking turns appealing to John Galt, trying to convince him to step in and save the world. Needless to say, it's not going well:"I... I'll just throw myself on your mercy, Mr. Galt," said Chick Morrison with a frantic smile. "You're right. I'll concede that you're right — and all I can appeal to is your pity. Deep down in my heart, I can't believe that you're a total egoist who feels no pity f … [Read more...]

The One-Percent Difference

I posted the other day on Facebook about Richard Dawkins being disinvited from NECSS for promoting a grossly sexist video, which provoked an onlooker to comment that he agreed with Dawkins and not with me. (It was a white man, if you wanted to know.)Since I curate my Facebook wall and don't care to share details of my personal life with people who hold such retrograde opinions, I unfriended him, which he apparently took as a grave insult. He sent me an angry, huffy message, then stopped by … [Read more...]

Welcome Stranger: A Humanist Sermon

I've said in the past, and will have occasion to say again, that the world is slowly becoming a better place despite the tragedies and outrages that parade before our eyes. But just because the overall picture is brightening doesn't mean that there aren't real and lingering dark spots that ought to command our attention. One is the continuing civil war in Syria and the exodus of people, mostly Muslim, it's scattered across Europe and the United States.Last month, I mused about the astounding … [Read more...]


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