Building Justice

As you probably know by now, my friend Greta Christina was diagnosed with cancer last week, and she's having surgery today. In the grand scheme of things, it could have been much worse: she has health insurance, it was caught early, and there's an excellent chance that the operation will be a complete cure. Still, I admit I felt some purely selfish disappointment when I first heard the news. I'd been looking forward to seeing her at Skepticon next month, which won't be happening now. And … [Read more...]

Book Review: The Swerve

Summary: The compelling true story of the Renaissance humanists who rescued Greek and Roman philosophy from oblivion and wrenched the Western world out of the Dark Ages. After the collapse of the Roman empire, Europe descended into a centuries-long era of cultural and intellectual stagnation, a dark age of theocracy and feudalism. But how did the Western world pull itself out of this pit? What brought about the rekindling of light and reason in the Renaissance? That question is the subject of … [Read more...]

Why I Am An Atheist Activist

If you're not already, you should be reading Surly Amy's ongoing post series asking men who are leaders in the atheist movement to speak out against the sexist hate and hostility that we've lately been spending so much time battling. It's a brilliant idea, and she's already garnered statements from an impressive array of men who hold positions of power or responsibility in secular organizations, but her latest contribution, from Paul Fidalgo of the Center for Inquiry, is possibly my … [Read more...]

The Calgary Secular Church

Editor's Note: Please welcome Korey Peters, who's written a guest post about an atheist organization he's founded that he's calling the Calgary Secular Church. In this post, he'll explain what motivated him to do it and what he's hoping to achieve. My name is Korey Peters, and I'm one of the founding members of the Calgary Secular Church (CSC). In this article, I'd like to do three things: 1. Describe why I think a secular church is important. 2. Describe what the CSC is about. 3. Present my … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: August 12

Coffee

There's a lot of news this week: • Two examples of humanism in action: Charles Feeney, a billionaire philanthropist, plans to give away all his remaining money within a few years, and a new nonprofit helps to crowdfund DNA sequencing for children with rare genetic diseases. • Since we still have a lot of work left to do on this problem, here are two very good articles on sexual harassment: An Incomplete Guide to Not Creeping by John Scalzi, and a post on what "creepiness" means from … [Read more...]

Happy Winter Solstice!

Happy winter solstice, everyone! As you doubtless already know, today is the shortest and darkest day of the year (assuming you live in the northern hemisphere). Ancient people, who were keen observers of the skies even without high technology, knew this date and its significance very well. It's no surprise that so many holidays which fall around this time of year involve the ceremonial kindling of light, whether it's lights on a Christmas tree, Yule logs burning on the hearth, flames on a … [Read more...]

Do We Need More Humanist Chaplains?

I wanted to highlight this excellent post on JT's blog about the rewards of activism: Joe was sick in the hospital, and asked a friend of his to go down to Philadelphia to collect the award for him. Friend went to see him in hospital, said "Joe, what do you want me to tell these folks when I pick up the award?" He's looking at Joe lying there sick as a dog, and thinking about his life, all the struggles, all the hard times, you know, trying to fight for social justice, and racial justice, and … [Read more...]

Governing by the Happiness Index

I've often written about the moral system I advocate, which I've dubbed universal utilitarianism. Although people have a broad range of individual preferences, human nature is, in general, fixed and predictable: certain things reliably bring us happiness, while others reliably cause pain and suffering. Through reason and evidence, we can work out which actions are more likely to have these good or bad consequences, allowing us to choose a course of action that's superior to others in an … [Read more...]

The Contributions of Freethinkers: Wole Soyinka

I wasn't familiar with Wole Soyinka, the first African author ever to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, until I got a Google alert for his name the other day. You can probably guess why - it turns out he's an atheist, as I learned from this article in the Nigerian Tribune grousing about it: Although I might not be able to quote him verbatim, Professor Soyinka had replied thus. "The reason why I don't believe in God is simple. I simply cannot imagine that somebody (emphasis mine) will be … [Read more...]

How to Create (Not Find) the Meaning of Your Life

Guest post by Samantha Eliza Benten A friend recently paraphrased a statement from The Nature of Existence (the documentary, I believe, though I haven't seen it) as follows: "People should spend more time thinking about the meaning of their own lives, than the meaning of life in general." This strikes a chord with a notion I've held since at least my senior year of high school. (That was when I came up with the BLT theory of the purpose of life, which is to say that a purpose is a goal that's … [Read more...]