Video: My Dating and Relationships Panel at Skepticon V

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     As I mentioned earlier, I took part in a discussion panel at Skepticon V last month, How Should Rationalists Approach Relationships and Marriage?The video of that panel is now available online, so if you'd like to see it, enjoy:Thanks to Jesse Galef for inviting me to participate, and thanks as well to my fellow panelists Chana Messinger, Matt Dillahunty, and Julia Galef. We'll have to do this again sometime... like maybe next year! … [Read more...]

In Defense of Sex

The birth-control battle that's dominated headlines for the past few weeks seems to be winding down, as religious conservatives belatedly realize it's not a winning issue for them. But given how the American religious right continues to contract into a hard, embittered core, I doubt it's the last time this will come up. I had some thoughts on how this battle played out in the media, and how we should prepare for the next one. In the thick of the fight, many people pointed out, rightly, that … [Read more...]

Perfecting Man’s Moral Shortcomings

In the Book of Exodus, there's a bizarrely out-of-place story that I've always found hilarious. This is immediately after God has told Moses that he's going to be God's messenger to Pharaoh, listing all the signs and wonders Moses will be able to do to convince the Egyptians of his authority, and sent him on his way:"At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. But Zipporah [Moses' wife] took a flint knife, cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: December 18

In top news this week, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And in other news: • A paper in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that the HPV vaccine doesn't change girls' later sexual behavior. • A new survey by the Pew Center finds that the percentage of Americans who consider religion "very important", though still far greater than in Europe, has declined by 9% in the last 9 years. • And on a related note, the Institute for the Study of Secularism in … [Read more...]

Sex and Taboos in Orthodox Judaism

In the past, I've poked fun at the Catholic church for the logical contortions it goes through to get around the problems it creates for itself with its nonsensical decrees about sex. But the Catholics are far from the only sect that has laughably ridiculous rules about sex, nor are they the only sect that goes to absurd ends to get around the problems those rules create. So, today I'm going to write about a particularly hilarious example which, like the last one, I first heard about from my … [Read more...]

Sex and Sensibilities

By Richard Hollis (aka Ritchie)Being a documentary fanboy, I've lately stumbled across a couple of interesting histories on the topic of sex, which have set me thinking about what shape our attitudes to it, so forgive me coming over all Carrie Bradshaw.Many early European cultures had a decidedly celebratory attitude to sex. Ancient Egyptians practised public fertility rituals which included open masturbation. The homes of ancient Romans were liberally adorned with explicit images of sexual … [Read more...]

Pro-Family Christians Support Child Kidnapping

Yesterday, I came across a story that was so appalling I had to write about it. It shows the true depths of the Christian right's hatred for gay and lesbian people, and the lengths they're willing to go to - up to and including defying U.S. law - in the name of that hatred. (HT: The Wall of Separation)The story in a nutshell: A same-sex couple in Vermont, Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins, were married in 2000 and had a legally recognized civil union. Two years later, they had a daughter, … [Read more...]

Weekly Link Roundup

If I had the time, I'd write a whole post about each of these. As it is, you can probably guess what I would say:• There are atheists in the military!• And in high schools!• And for why this matters, see this post on Friendly Atheist, about a study finding that anti-atheist prejudice goes down as atheists become more numerous and visible.• I wrote a post a few months ago asking about atheist apps for the Android platform. I'm happy to point out that a developer has … [Read more...]

The Catholic Church Answers Your Sex Questions

Gather round, readers! I've got a real treat in store for you, because today the Roman Catholic Church is going to answer all your questions on dating and sex. Yes, that's right - if you've ever wanted your raunchiest, most explicit questions about human intimacy answered in full, uncensored detail by a group of elderly white men who are also lifelong celibates, today is the day you've been waiting for.First of all, a reader writes in with this dilemma:When pregnant, I have am prone to … [Read more...]

In Praise of Human Diversity

The Nobel committee has awarded this year's prize in physiology or medicine to Dr. Robert Edwards, a pioneer of in vitro fertilization. Given how long ago this achievement took place, this decision is surely meant to be read partially as a political statement - an implicit rebuke of the right-wing churches that want to deny people the right to exercise control over their own bodies.And right on cue, the Roman Catholic church stepped in to once again remind us of its existence:The … [Read more...]


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