A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 4

This is part 4 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply.Hi Andrew,It's been a while, but it's good to hear from you again. Of course, I'm looking forward to our next in-person matchup on Memorial Day weekend. This time I'll be the one with home-court advantage!Just as we agree that morality is a real phenomenon with both rational and empirical components, I think there are moral skeptics among … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: De-Extinction


I was fascinated by a lengthy article last week on "de-extinction", the emerging science of cloning extinct species back to life. While we almost certainly won't be recreating dinosaurs Jurassic Park style, there are many vanished animals for which we have well-preserved specimens from which we could extract genetic material, from passenger pigeons to woolly mammoths, dodos to thylacines (or even the Australian gastric brooding frog, a bizarre species that gestates its young in its stomach). … [Read more...]

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 3

This is part 3 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply.Andrew,Thanks again for inviting me to take part in our radio debate last month. It was fun, even if I sometimes felt like I was arguing with the host more than I was arguing with you! I've always found that thinking on my feet is tricky, but I welcome the chance to get more practice.On the subject of how people acquire religious belief, I … [Read more...]

The World Is Changing and the Churches Are Afraid

The Supreme Court will have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.

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 across a forever-to-be-nameless blog that was chortling over the rise in public acceptance of medical murder, which polite folk like to call euthanasia. This … [Read more...]

Aid in Dying


In 1994, Oregon became the first U.S. state to legalize physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. The Bush administration filed a lawsuit to overturn the referendum, but lost at the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, despite this victory, for many years Oregon stood alone in allowing doctors to ease their patients' passing. But that's now starting to change:In January, a district court in New Mexico authorized doctors to provide lethal prescriptions and declared a constitutional right … [Read more...]

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 1

Author's Note: This post kicks off the "Of God and Government" debate series, featuring me and a Christian author, Andrew Murtagh, which I intend to become a semi-regular feature on Daylight Atheism. You can read Andrew's opening statement on Patheos' Versus blog, and this is my initial reply. I'll also be appearing at the Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with Andrew on December 14 for a live debate.* * *Hello Andrew,Thanks for contacting me! I appreciate your kind words … [Read more...]

God Doesn’t Solve the “Who Sez?” Problem

I've finished reading Timothy Keller's book The Reason for God. It was a hard slog, especially the last section, in which he announces he's not going to argue for God's existence any more because everyone already agrees with him whether they admit it or not (yes, he actually says that), and instead devotes his time to writing theological fan-fiction about how happy and glorious and wonderful everything will be when Jesus comes back.I've addressed Keller's arguments regarding inherited … [Read more...]

When an Atheist Falls From Grace: On Teresa MacBain


I wish I didn't have to write this post, but if I'm going to call attention to religious misbehavior, I can't ignore it when it happens in our own community. So, here's a sad story about Teresa MacBain, a former Methodist minister who dramatically outed herself as a nonbeliever on stage at an atheist convention. (Full disclosure: I've met Teresa and talked to her at several conventions, most recently at Women in Secularism 2 in May.)Earlier this month, she was hired as the new director of … [Read more...]

The Richard Dawkins Facepalm Watch


When I last wrote about Richard Dawkins, it was to report on the backlash over some clumsy, badly-judged remarks that he made about Islam. I was hoping that, at the very least, he'd learned a lesson from all the criticism he received and would watch his words more carefully in the future. But alas:In an interview in The Times magazine on Saturday (Sept. 7), Dawkins, 72, he said he was unable to condemn what he called "the mild pedophilia" he experienced at an English school when he was a … [Read more...]

If I Were an Unethical Atheist


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 nonbelievers have a self-chosen moral code derived from philosophy and personal reflection, that isn't good enough, because it lacks any means of enforcement. If … [Read more...]