Fragile Trappings

I stepped out of my house today on a chilly fall afternoon. After an unseasonably late warm spell, as if summer had lingered this year past its appointed time, autumn had arrived at last. The feel of the season was in the air: the misty cool, the forests defiantly ablaze with fiery color, the smell of fallen leaves, wet black and rusty gold, in the grass. There was a sense of hunkering down, of quiet activity in the stillness, as nature prepares for the coming winter foreshadowed in the bare … [Read more...]

On Atheist Janitors

I recently received an e-mail which asked me if I believe that atheism is a worldview that anyone can take up, or whether the majority of society needs religion to keep them happy and pacified:The question at the heart of the debate is: does the average Jacques need religion in his life? I am familiar with all the atheist talk of self-fulfillment and living the only life you've got to the fullest, and think it's a great idea. Except for a snafu. The people who write about these issues tend to … [Read more...]

Golden Atheists

The popular aphorism "there are no atheists in foxholes" implies that people can only be atheists in times of comfort and security, and that if the end of life is in view, they will inevitably cry out to God to save them. I wish everyone who uses this thoughtless and insulting slur could meet Claire Hull:Claire Hull rarely misses a Sunday at church. That's remarkable for two reasons: She's a 91-year-old with a replacement hip, and she's an atheist.Yes, you heard right: Ms. Hull is a … [Read more...]

Nurturing Virtue

Earlier this year, I wrote a post series titled "The Virtues", which proposed a secular reinvention of the seven cardinal virtues of theology. But I now realize that with this series, I was making an additional, implicit point: that it is possible for human beings to be consistently virtuous.This was made clear to me in a recent e-mail correspondence with a Christian visitor:One of the things that convinces me of my need for a savior is a long hard look at myself. In particular my absolute … [Read more...]

The Basis for an Atheist's Morality

Yesterday, the Washington Post published an editorial titled What Atheists Can't Answer. The author, Michael Gerson, is an influential evangelical Christian and was formerly George W. Bush's chief speechwriter.Compared to most attacks on atheism, including a few I've rebutted recently, Gerson's essay is fair and honest. He rightfully steers clear of the slanderous and unfounded insults so common in apologetic literature, conceding that human beings can be good without God. However, while he … [Read more...]


In the World in Shadow series, I have written about some of the terrible natural evils that afflict humans. My primary purpose in writing this series is to illustrate the strength of the atheist's argument from evil, that the existence of vast amounts of undeserved and random suffering disproves the existence of a powerful, benevolent deity.However, there is another reason I write this series, and that is so I am not accused of excessive optimism. I am, as I will readily admit, an optimist, … [Read more...]

Ancient Atheism

In my last post, I wrote about the explosive growth of atheism in recent decades. As the menace of the religious right has become increasingly clear, atheists have been increasingly driven to speak out in response and have become more visible. Viewing this trend, some commentators have erroneously concluded that atheism is a modern movement. But this is not so. Atheism is not a recent innovation. If we travel back into history, we can find clear evidence of atheists in many cultures and many … [Read more...]

The Humanist Symposium: Inaugural Edition

It is a brilliant spring morning, and the first-ever gathering of the Humanist Symposium has convened here in the Garden at Daylight Atheism. The crowd of attendees has gathered in a natural clearing delineated at one end by a vast, ancient oak, its upper branches dappled gold in the sun, great weather-worn stones embedded in the ground among its roots, and flowering vines curling around its trunk. At the tree's foot, a wilderness of brilliant blue and red pansy violets grows wild in the grass, … [Read more...]

Through a Glass, Brightly

In past posts such as last December's "The Theodicy of Narnia", I've called attention to some of the unintentionally revealing comments that famous theists have made about their own belief systems. C.S. Lewis, for example, wrote whole books to defend the thesis that God's existence is compatible with pain and suffering, but when it came to creating his own fictional world, he took pains to point out that its history was overwhelmingly blissful and peaceful so as not to cast doubt on the goodness … [Read more...]

Announcing the Humanist Symposium

Welcome, friends, well-wishers and regular readers! I have something to tell you all about which I'm very excited. There's an issue that I've been mulling over for some time, and tonight I intend to announce its resolution.Specifically, I've been thinking about carnivals. The Carnival of the Godless, founded in March 2005 by Brent Rasmussen of Unscrewing the Inscrutable, is a wonderful forum for atheist writing and is still going strong. However, since that time there's been a proliferation of … [Read more...]