The Coming Secular Era

NYCSunrise

The most important changes don't come in the form of attention-grabbing headlines, but subtle trends that quietly gather momentum until, by the time they finally burst into public view, they're unstoppable. Such is the case with the most important, and paradoxically most underappreciated, trend in American religion today: the long-term, across-the-board decline of Christianity and the corresponding rise of atheism, which has been going on behind the scenes for more than twenty years and is now … [Read more...]

When Will We Have an Atheist President?

LincolnMemorial

So far this year, a rightward-leaning Supreme Court has issued two major rulings granting sweeping new privileges to religious belief. Atheists and secularists in America are angry and frustrated, and it's natural to wonder when we'll have a government that heeds our wishes. Is there any prospect of an atheist president any time soon, or a nonbeliever in some other high political office?My message, to atheists and friends of secularism, is that there's reason to hope. It won't be next … [Read more...]

TV Review: Cosmos, Episode 11

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(I've decided to review the new Cosmos series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson that's airing on Fox. If you missed it, you can stream full episodes online.)Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 11, "The Immortals"As the new Cosmos approaches its final episode, it's about time that the series started looking back on the ground it's covered and drawing some larger lessons. This episode accomplished that, and while it treads into more speculative territory than earlier outings, I think that's … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: The Promise of In Vitro Meat

CoffeeWithBacon

Earlier this month, the first ever lab-grown hamburger was eaten at a taste test in London. The tasters' reports were guardedly positive:Upon tasting the burger, Austrian food researcher Ms Ruetzler said: "I was expecting the texture to be more soft... there is quite some intense taste; it's close to meat, but it's not that juicy. The consistency is perfect, but I miss salt and pepper."This is meat to me. It's not falling apart."Food writer Mr Schonwald said: "The mouthfeel is like … [Read more...]

Building a Better Secular Movement

Overlook

This post will have to be my last word on this for the time being, because all this ugliness and nastiness takes an emotional toll, and I really want to get back to writing about happier things. But the events of the last few days have convinced me that our secular community, the one I love and want to see thrive, has some serious problems that need to be confronted and resolved.When I see a problem, my instinct is to fix it. So, what can we do to fix this one? I have three … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: Making the Blind See Again

Eye

As science marches on, the miraculous cures that past ages dreamed of are slowly becoming reality. We're gaining the ability to engineer new body parts, like windpipes and bladders, outside a person's body and successfully transplant them to replace a damaged or cancerous organ. Bionic exoskeletons to let paralyzed people walk again are becoming commercially available. And this month, the FDA approved the first artificial retina, designed to restore limited vision to people with certain kinds of … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: Bring on the Autonomous Cars!

SelfDrivingCar

In a previous post, I wrote about the extremely cool technology of 3D printers. Today I want to geek out about another imminent technological advance I'm even more personally excited for: the self-driving car.This technology is exactly what it sounds like: a robotic car that senses its environment with ultrasound, radar and computer vision, automatically avoiding obstacles, obeying signs and traffic signals and following GPS routes to a programmed destination. But the transformative … [Read more...]

Dispatches from Future America: Income Tax Brackets Become Hereditary

[Editor's Note: These mysterious messages seemingly always come in pairs, so after receiving the last one, I was expecting a counterpoint to arrive in my inbox soon. I wasn't disappointed, as you'll see. Like the previous one, it claims to hail from a future world, but a very different future world than the one its predecessor originated from.] WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 2, 2041) — Reporters from the world's top luxury news services were on hand today as U.S. President Targg Romney IV … [Read more...]

Dispatches from Future America: World Reaches Zero-Fossil-Fuel Milestone

[Editor's Note: It's happening again. I hadn't gotten any of these messages since last year, and I was starting to hope that the wormhole, or whatever strange conduit it was, had closed for good. But once again, in my inbox this morning, there it was: the same anonymous remailer, the same untraceable IP address, and yet another message presenting itself as a news dispatch from a possible future version of our world. Is it truly what it claims to be, and if so, how did it end up in this era? … [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...]


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