Summer Twilight: A Humanist Sermon

Fireflies

On a night earlier this summer, a humid blue twilight in July, I stepped out of my home to run an errand. It was sweltering and heavy after the day's heat, but it must have been the perfect temperature for fireflies. There were hundreds of them, swarming in the air and the grass, glimmering and flashing like motes of gold in the gathering dusk.Through some means I can't imagine, it seemed as if they had agreed to synchronize, so that no two of them lit up at the same time. As soon as one … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: Atheism Doesn’t Need Richard Dawkins

It had to be said.My newest column on the Guardian is titled "Richard Dawkins has lost it: ignorant sexism gives atheists a bad name". It's about Richard Dawkins' indefensible regression to gross and ignorant sexism, after a brief period in which it seemed he was flirting with enlightenment regarding the treatment of women in society generally and the atheist community specifically. I used to consider him a hero and an exemplar, but no more. Here's an excerpt:The atheist movement - a … [Read more...]

The Shermer Affair Erupts

VolcanicEruption

The allegations against one of our Big Names that have been simmering in the atheist community for more than a year have erupted into the public eye, with the publication of a long article by Mark Oppenheimer on Buzzfeed, "Will Misogyny Bring Down The Atheist Movement?"Oppenheimer's article is largely about the serious accusations made against Michael Shermer, which I referenced last year in "Disillusionment". For the first time, the woman who accused him of raping her after getting her too … [Read more...]

Is Richard Dawkins Evolving?

This is big news: Richard Dawkins has apologized for "Dear Muslima", the infamous remarks he made in 2011 belittling the concerns of Western feminism on the grounds that women in Muslim countries have it worse. Here's the relevant part:There should be no rivalry in victimhood, and I'm sorry I once said something similar to American women complaining of harassment, inviting them to contemplate the suffering of Muslim women by comparison.This follows on the heels of a joint statement … [Read more...]

Richard Dawkins’ Commendable Step on Sexism

SteppingStones

Well, this is most welcome news:[W]e have to be able to manage disagreement ethically, like reasonable adults, as opposed to brawling like enraged children who need a nap. It should go without saying, but this means no death threats, rape threats, attacks on people's appearance, age, race, sex, size, haircut; no photoshopping people into demeaning images, no vulgar epithets.Richard adds: I'm told that some people think I tacitly endorse such things even if I don't indulge in them. … [Read more...]

Repost: Making Non-White Atheists Feel Welcome

BilliardBalls

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from November 2010.]I was reading this outstanding essay by Alom Shaha, an atheist and ex-Muslim of Bangladeshi descent, who describes what it's like to come out as a nonbeliever in a tightly-knit, intensely religious community. But as he makes clear, the social and cultural pressure on people in his situation isn't just a matter of happenstance; it formed as a defensive reaction … [Read more...]

Grief Beyond Belief

I've been writing about atheism for some years now, and one of my great joys has been watching the secular community grow and thrive. Once, our main pastimes were debating philosophy on the internet and filing church-state lawsuits. Now we have political lobbying arms, atheist parenting guides, secular student clubs and summer camps, humanist communities and celebrants, and more. We're getting closer and closer to the ideal of a true secular community whose members offer tangible support to each … [Read more...]

On Paying Your Atheist Speakers

Money

I was at Women in Secularism 3 this last weekend, a fantastic and nearly flawless conference put on by the Center for Inquiry. I greatly enjoyed every part of it (including Ron Lindsay's opening speech). I intend to write a longer report later, but first: On a Sunday panel, there was a question from an audience member about how to start up a conference of their own, and one of the panelists' suggestions was to look for people who'll come speak for free. This drew some dissent from people … [Read more...]

Facing Up to Atheism’s MRA Problem

Thistle

We've known for a while that there's an ugly strain of aggressive anti-feminism within the larger atheist community. Now it appears that we know where they congregate: the "men's rights activist" subgroup on Reddit ran a survey of their members, which found that the vast majority (94%) identify as atheist or religiously indifferent.That came as a surprise to me, although the other numbers were more or less what I'd have expected. MRAs are overwhelmingly white (98%), between the ages of 17 … [Read more...]

#AAcon14 Wrapup

I've just gotten home from Salt Lake City, where I was at the 2014 annual convention of American Atheists. AA always has their convention on Easter weekend (and after all, what better weekend would there be for an atheist not to have other plans?), and this year gave us a double dose of cheekiness by putting it on in the heart of Mormon country.AA's president Dave Silverman took some heat (rightfully so, in my opinion) for his ill-judged comments at CPAC about abortion last month. I didn't … [Read more...]


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