New on AlterNet: Morality Doesn’t Need Religion

My latest article has been posted on AlterNet, We Don't Need Religion to Have Morality. In it, I argue that morality is real, objective, and not dependent on theistic belief, and I explore the basis for this view and imagine what effect it could have on society if it were more widely adopted. To those who've read my essay on morality at Ebon Musings, this will be familiar ground, but I touch on a couple of new points as well. Read the excerpt below, then click through and see the rest!The … [Read more...]

Weekly Link Roundup

Some scattered thoughts to contemplate on a Saturday morning:• Earlier this year, my post on urban agriculture drew some spirited disagreement. Now there's a study from Ohio State University which concludes that Cleveland could supply all its own produce, poultry and honey if the many vacant lots in the shrinking, post-industrial city were converted into gardens.• A Missouri high school, in response to a complaint from a homeschooling parent who doesn't even have kids in the … [Read more...]

6 Ways Atheists Can Band Together to Fight Religious Fundamentalism

This essay was originally published on AlterNet.If atheists were as politically organized as the religious right, we could accomplish a world of good in combating theocracy and standing up for human rights and secularism. But whenever an atheist political alliance is proposed, the objection is inevitably raised that "atheists don't all agree," and that this would be an insurmountable obstacle to forming a unified political movement.I believe, however, that this objection overstates … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: Circumcision

"And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that … [Read more...]

Meat is Dinner?

By Richard Hollis (aka Ritchie)Just over two years ago, DaylightAtheism featured an essay discussing vegetarianism - though coming at it largely as an environmental issue. Seeing as so many faces on here seem new, I thought I'd tackle it again and hit the moral question head-on: can we justify eating meat?Many religions include restrictions on consuming meat, from total abstention to restrictions on eating certain animals, considered either sacred or unclean. Even the Christian Bible co … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: Investing

I haven't written a post on morality in a while, and this one's a little different than past entries. This is an issue where I haven't made up my mind, and I'm hoping that people's comments can illuminate the issues and help me reach a final decision.Through the economic chaos of the past two years, I have to admit I've been more fortunate than a lot of Americans. I have a high-yield savings account with ING Direct - that is to say, I had one. I still have the account, but since the subprime … [Read more...]

Another World Creeps In

I'm an atheist, in part, because I'm a moral person.When I first read the books that are called holy, what I found were countless passages that are abhorrent to the conscience: God drowning the planet in a global flood, massacring the innocent firstborn of Egypt, ordering Abraham to murder his son as a test of faith (and rewarding him for being willing to do it!), commanding the Israelites to wage genocidal war on other tribes, promising to torture nonbelievers in a burning hell forever, … [Read more...]

Stepping Across the Is-Ought Gap

Sam Harris' book The Moral Landscape has fallen among the atheist community like a cannon shell, and I for one couldn't be happier. This is an important and long-overdue project for us to begin: to take morality out of the hands of religionists, to rigorously define it as the achievement of human well-being rather than the set of rituals that must be undertaken to please an ineffable god, and to begin a discussion about the best way to accomplish this end. Establishing this firm foundation will … [Read more...]

Morality Has No Place in the Law

By Sarah Braasch"Surely if we have learned anything from the history of morals it is that the thing to do with a moral quandary is not to hide it." —H.L.A. Hart"This lesson is that the distinguishing characteristics of true law must be sought for somewhere else than in the nature of the authority from whence it proceeds, and in the certainty of the punishment by which its infraction is attended." —Sheldon AmosIn loving memory of my baby brother, Jacob Michael Braasch (01/28/86 … [Read more...]

Using Purchasing Power for Good

Since 'tis the season for commercialism, shopping sprees and big-ticket purchases, I thought I'd write a post that I've had in mind for a long time. It's less about atheism per se, more about rationalism and being aware of the ways our choices shape the world around us.We may scoff, and rightfully so, when the Supreme Court uses free speech as an excuse to lift campaign-finance restrictions on huge multinational corporations. But it's true, nevertheless: Money is a form of speech - and not … [Read more...]


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