20 Things I’ll Teach My Son

Ever since my son was conceived, I've been thinking about what I want to teach him, about life and about the kind of person he should strive to be. It's going to be a while before he's old enough to absorb any kind of major life lessons, but that makes it more important to start coming up with ideas now, so I won't be unprepared when the time comes.I'm not going to list basic principles like the Golden Rule, because those go without saying. In this post, I'd like to collect the ideas that … [Read more...]

We’re All In This Together: A Humanist Sermon

Certain recent events in my life have made me think about how human beings depend on each other. However privileged or fortunate you are, you're all but certain to eventually face a challenge you can't overcome alone and need other people's help to pull you through. And I don't just mean in a disaster or a crisis, but for everyday, ordinary things, the kind of situations that most of us can expect to encounter in the course of life.Having children is the perfect example, because it's such a … [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...]

A More Diverse Humanism Is a Stronger Humanism

If you, like me, are tired of that obnoxious slogan "I'm not a feminist, I'm a humanist", there's good news: now you don't have to choose!To strengthen the humanist presence in social justice movements, today the American Humanist Association launched the Black Humanist Alliance, an adjunct organization that will promote racial justice and solidarity between the Black and humanist communities. In conjunction with the launch, the American Humanist Association is also relaunching its women's … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: February 20

• Last month, I wrote about Richard Dawkins being disinvited from NECSS for sexist comments. I'm disappointed but, in a sign of my cynicism, not overly surprised that NECSS has caved in and reinvited him. Needless to say, I won't be attending. Ophelia has more, and a follow-up.• In happier news, scientists at the LIGO detector confirm the existence of gravitational waves, a Nobel-worthy discovery if there ever was one. LIGO picked up the signal of two black holes colliding and … [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...]

The Astounding Hypocrisy of Anti-Refugee Christians

With the Syrian civil war plodding through its fourth year, the country is being hollowed out as everyone who has the means to escape flees from the bloodshed. Ordinary Syrians are trapped in a vise between the indiscriminate brutality of Bashar al-Assad's military and the sadistic terror of ISIS. The United Nations estimates that over four million of them are now refugees. The vast majority have gone to neighboring states like Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and even Iraq, but tens of thousands are … [Read more...]

On Moral Superheroism

I have thoughts about this essay in the Guardian about extreme altruism, seen through the life of an atheist named Julia Wise:Julia believed that because each person was equally valuable, she was not entitled to care more for herself than for anyone else; she believed that she was therefore obliged to spend much of her life working for the benefit of others... She reduced her expenses to the absolute minimum so she could give away 50% of what she earned. She felt that nearly every penny … [Read more...]

Is Assisted Dying Narcissism?

In a milestone, the California legislature approved an assisted-dying bill last week. Gov. Jerry Brown hasn't said if he'll sign it, but if he does, the state would become the fifth and by far the largest to allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication. Like its counterpart laws in Oregon, Washington and Vermont, the California version requires doctors to certify that the person is of sound mind and has less than six months to live.But even if Brown vetoes this version of the bill, it … [Read more...]

Pro-Gay Christians, Wouldn’t Atheism Be Easier?

I have to wonder what could possibly be motivating gay and gay-affirming Christians to stay in the church. Last week, another one was unceremoniously tossed out:Julie Rodgers rocked the evangelical world last year when Wheaton College announced they would be hiring the celibate gay Christian as an associate for spiritual care in the Chaplain's office. In a new blog post, Rodgers announces her affirmation of same-sex relationships and marriage equality.And Wheaton College says Rodgers … [Read more...]