Some Thoughts on Trigger Warnings

The latest thinkpiece that's consumed the internet is an editorial by Judith Shulevitz about trigger warnings. A trigger warning, if you don't know, is a warning label intended to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder. It's meant to give advance warning of material they might find distressing so that they can avoid it and keep from suffering a flashback, panic attack or other recurrence of their trauma. It's become a popular concept on college campuses, such as at UC-Santa Barbara, … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: March 28


• GOP congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers asked her constituents for Obamacare horror stories. The response she got was rather different.• "Shouldn't you be having these same kind of prayer circles around divorce attorneys' offices to 'save' people from acting on the sin of divorce?"• According to federal investigators, a self-described American "patriot" named Michael Sibley was upset that Muslims weren't committing enough acts of terrorism to make everyone see how evil … [Read more...]

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 9

This is part 9 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply.Hello Andrew,Just to briefly return to our previous topic, on Heaven and the problem of evil: If you say you don't know why God does or doesn't do X, that's fine. But in that case, don't also say that God is good, or that his actions advance a greater good that we can't perceive. Saying that someone is good (or evil) requires some understanding of … [Read more...]

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 8

This is part 8 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply.Hello Andrew,We'll get into consciousness soon, but before we do, I have a few more things I want to say about the problem of evil. Let's jump right into it:The emergence of free, loving, moral, and compassionate human beings comes at quite a price - the duality of nature and the duality of humanity. God created a universe to result in the … [Read more...]

Religious Violence Isn’t a Mental Illness, and Neither Is Misogyny


In the wake of the mass shooting in California last month, committed by a killer who left a long, misogynist manifesto vowing to punish women for not dating him, many pundits and commenters have strained to blame something other than sexism for his rampage. The most common claim is that the shooter, Elliot Rodger, was mentally ill, that the illness was the real cause of his killing, and the misogyny is just what his disturbed mind happened to latch onto as an excuse; if not for that, it would … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: January 25


• Is conservative Christianity itself bad for marriage? The research says yes. Michelle Goldberg lays out the facts:Ironically, the very practices meant to shore up marital security in conservative communities end up sabotaging it. By promoting abstinence until marriage, these communities encourage people to marry young. Poor sex education and limited access to contraception for teenagers lead to unintended pregnancies and shotgun weddings. Gender-role traditionalism leads to … [Read more...]

Your Weekend Brain Training with

If you're motivated to be a better reasoner and critical thinker (and shouldn't we all care about that?), then you should want to hear about, an online academy founded and run by my friend Spencer Greenberg.If you know how human cognition works, then you know that we're far from being perfect reasoning machines. There are certain systematic biases built into our brains that operate without us even being aware of them, causing us to make reasoning errors or decisions that … [Read more...]

More Than the Sum of Our Senses

I'm still reading Timothy Keller's book. He's very much a fan of presuppositional apologetics, like this one in which he argues that an intelligent being that came about through evolution wouldn't be able to trust its own reasoning abilities:Evolutionists say that if God makes sense to us, it is not because he is really there, it's only because that belief helped us survive and so we are hardwired for it. However, if we can't trust our belief-forming faculties to tell us the truth about … [Read more...]

The Fiery Fountain

My first book hasn't been out for long, but I'm thinking it's almost time to start writing the next one. I came back from my trip to the U.K. with a head full of ideas, and I want to start getting them down on the page. My next book is going to be a novel, not nonfiction. I may write another book about atheism in the future, but at the moment, I don't have any topic ideas that haven't already been covered better by other authors. But I do have some ideas for works of fiction, lots of them, in … [Read more...]

Is Your Soul an Information Field in Another Dimension?

[Author's Note: In keeping with the tradition that whenever you have a blog post whose title is a question, the answer is always "no"...] Of all the essays I've written, my favorite is "A Ghost in the Machine", presenting the evidence that our personality traits and sense of self arise from neural circuitry in the brain and not a supernatural soul. I've just found out that this essay has drawn a reply from the blog Paranormalia, written by Robert McLuhan. McLuhan writes that, despite the … [Read more...]