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...]

To Win, We Just Have to Show Up

In the wake of marriage equality's victory in New York State last Friday, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler posted the following to Twitter: Now, fully 1 in 9 Americans will live in a state with legalized same-sex marriage. Our mission field is getting more complicated. On the surface, this is a strange statement. Mohler apparently believes that the legalization of same-sex marriage will make it more difficult for Christians to win converts. Why would he think … [Read more...]

Marriage Equality on the March

At the end of last month, the Delaware legislature voted to approve a civil union bill. If Democratic Governor Jack Markell signs the bill, as he's said he will, Delaware will become the newest state to grant same-sex partnerships all the same legal rights as heterosexual couples - joining, by my reckoning, ten others: Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Iowa, plus the District of Columbia. With a little luck and a lot of … [Read more...]

Atheism Is Breaking Out All Over

Right around the time I received James A. Haught's editorial "Fading Faith", I was working on a similar post of my own. It was motivated by the brutal murder of Salman Taseer and the other signs that religious eliminationism is growing throughout the world, which drove me to wonder if there's any reason left to hope. Although recent events argue persuasively that the liberal spirit is alive and well, I think there's still room for this post as well: evidence that atheism is breaking out all … [Read more...]

Fading Faith: The Rise of the Secular Age

By James A. Haught [Editor's Note: I'm proud to feature the writing of James Haught on Daylight Atheism. Mr. Haught has been an editor and columnist for the Charleston Gazette for over fifty years, as well as an eloquent and prolific freethinker and author of books like Holy Horrors. I've been a fan of his ever since I discovered him, through the Freedom from Religion Foundation, soon after becoming an atheist myself. You can read more of his work at his own website, To Question is the Answer, … [Read more...]

The Beginnings of an Arab Enlightenment?

I've written recently about the vicious, dispiriting murders of human-rights advocates in Pakistan and Uganda. I'm an optimist by temperament, but stories like these are enough to drive me to the edge of despair. In my worst moments, it makes me wonder: is it possible for liberal, secular democracies to survive over the long term? Can free and enlightened nations ever endure, or are they nothing more than a momentary flicker in the dark? No republic can survive if its people don't value it, if … [Read more...]

Britain Defends the Enlightenment

Despite the ongoing schism of the Anglican church, which I wrote about in my last post, I'm happy to see that there's still plenty of good sense and reason in the U.K. One outstanding example is this story from last month, where the British Medical Association voted to stop funding homeopathy in public hospitals. (UK readers, do you know if is this a binding vote or just advisory?) There's been some trenchant commentary on the decision, like this column from Ed West: The most outspoken … [Read more...]

Happy Holidays! Atheism Is Growing!

As we ring in the new year, here's some news to give you a sense of optimism for 2010. This holiday season, we can add another piece of evidence to the growing pile which indicates that atheists are becoming more numerous and more successful: This Christmas season, 78% of Americans identify with some form of Christian religion, a proportion that has been declining in recent decades. The major reason for this decline has been an increase in the percentage of Americans claiming no religious … [Read more...]

In Defense of Optimism

Among the writers who oppose the New Atheists, one common theme in their criticism is that we're too optimistic about the possibility of human progress. For example, take this essay by Terry Eagleton attacking Richard Dawkins, in which the sneering condescension drips from every word: It thus comes as no surprise that Dawkins turns out to be an old-fashioned Hegelian when it comes to global politics, believing in a zeitgeist (his own term) involving ever increasing progress, with just the … [Read more...]

Making Progress Toward a Secular America

The Fourth of July should be a time for patriotic Americans to reflect on the progress our country has made and to rededicate ourselves to the cause of making it better where work still needs to be done. We can find material for both of those avenues in this article by Katrina van den Heuvel in the Nation, Rediscovering Secular America (HT: DC Secularism Examiner). It's a heartening glimpse into the political progress that freethinkers are making, including at least two news items I didn't know. … [Read more...]