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...]

Will Life Extension Mean the End of Religion?

I've been thinking in speculative directions lately, and nothing is more speculative than the question of whether we'll one day be able to extend the human lifespan. The notion of living longer is certainly pleasant to contemplate personally, but I'm not convinced it would be positive for humanity as a whole. As I wrote in "Who Wants to Live Forever?", the invention of anti-aging therapy could be a disaster, if it freezes the human race's moral opinions exactly as they are now: imagine North … [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...]

Dispatches from Future America: Nation Ratifies Reproductive Rights Amendment

[Editor's Note: The last dispatch I received in this ongoing series was particularly bleak. As if on cue, I got another message the other day, this one apparently originating from a very different, and much rosier, future. I get the strong impression that these two possible worlds are, in some manner, competing against each other.]JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI (August 6, 2037) — The Thirty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified today after passing the Mississippi state … [Read more...]

Dispatches from Future America: Government Increases Budget for Christiancare Program

[Editor's Note: After the two strange messages I received earlier this year, I thought the wormhole, or whatever it was, had closed forever. Evidently not. This past week, as fighting over the debt limit reached a fever pitch, I found a new e-mail from the future in my inbox. Elaborate hoax? Frightening warning of what lies ahead? You be the judge...]NEW YORK CITY (July 24, 2037) — Mayor Harold Ford Jr., along with a group of civic dignitaries, was on hand for the gala ribbon-cutting of … [Read more...]

Weekly Link Roundup

I noticed a few stories this week that I haven't had time to write more about, but wanted to mention briefly:• So-called "psychics" defraud their gullible customers out of thousands of dollars, usually through laughably obvious ploys in which they claim the client's money needs to be "cleansed". Can we please regulate these con artists already? Or should we even try - do the suckers deserve what they get?• And proving that corruption and hypocrisy crosses denominational lines, a … [Read more...]

Dispatches from Future America: Nation Celebrates National Day of Reason

[Editor's Note: This just keeps getting stranger.Last month, I received a news dispatch from a disturbing future version of America through an anonymous remailer. The other day, I received a message from a different address, presenting itself as the same thing... but apparently from a very different future than the previous one.I have no idea how to explain this. Parallel universes? Uncollapsed quantum wavefunctions? Which of these, if any, are our future? Are different possibilities … [Read more...]

Dispatches from Future America: Court Upholds National Day of Christianity

[Editor's Note: The day after after publishing my article on the abuse of standing, I found a message with a strange attachment in my inbox, sent through an anonymous remailer. This attachment presented itself as a story clipped from a newspaper published in a future version of America. The author of the message wouldn't explain how they acquired it, other than a cryptic comment about wormholes. I have no way to verify this admittedly fantastic account, but thought it best to reprint the story … [Read more...]

Movie Review: Into Eternity

This weekend, my wife and I saw Into Eternity, a gripping documentary by the Danish filmmaker Michael Madsen. It's well worth a wider audience, so here's a review of it that I hope will provoke some interest.Every nuclear power plant in the world produces several tons of high-level radioactive waste each year. In total, there exists in the world about 250,000 tons of radioactive waste, which is potentially deadly and will be for tens of thousands of years. Most countries that rely on nuclear … [Read more...]

Apotheosis

Last month, in "Dreams of a Better World", I considered some of the immediate problems humanity could solve if we had the collective will to do so. I want to continue that theme in this post, but from a longer perspective.Historically, humanity's knowledge has exceeded its wisdom. As soon as we invent a new technology, we begin adopting it on a wide scale, without asking whether we should or what the consequences might be. Many of our most pressing problems - multidrug-resistant diseases, … [Read more...]