A Reply to James Croft

My new Patheos colleague, James Croft, has written a post welcoming me to the site and inviting me to a rhetorical face-off. I'm never one to pass up an invitation to a cordial debate, so let's have at it!James' post concerns my speech at the 2012 SSA conference, where I laid out my strategy for effective atheist activism. He has responses to several of the points I made, which are under the headings below:The Importance of AngerI spoke about why anger is a valid and important … [Read more...]

Both Billboards and Soup Kitchens

What strategy should the atheist movement adopt during the holiday season? Should we focus on doing good works as a visible proof that we're caring and moral people, or should we redouble our efforts to be loud and uncompromising in the face of an onslaught of religious schmaltz? That's the subject of the latest Deep Rift(TM) in the secular community, being debated in an article by Dan Merica on CNN as well as a rather caustic post by Andrew Tripp (whom you may remember from his recent guest post … [Read more...]

Why Is America’s Most Progressive Voting Block Often Overlooked?

This article was originally published on AlterNet. The renowned physicist Max Planck once said, "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." And this isn't just true of science: the same principle holds true in the political arena. Most progressive advances don't come about because vast numbers of people are persuaded to drop their … [Read more...]

Winning the Culture War on Two Fronts

The big news this week, as well it should be, was a new survey from Pew showing that America's religious "nones" continue their demographic ascent:The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling. [That works out to 46 million people! —A.L.] In the last five years … [Read more...]

How Religious Liberals Harm Their Own Cause: A Response to James Rohrer

Last month, AlterNet published a column by James Rohrer, a history professor and self-identified progressive religious believer who had some unkind words for the New Atheists. I'd like to take the opportunity to respond here and to show how his essay partakes of many of the same fallacies that have ensured the religious right's dominance in the American culture wars for the past several decades. Rohrer begins:Lately the progressive blogosphere has been filled with pieces by humanists who … [Read more...]

New on Salon: The Rise of the New Atheists

Well, here's an announcement! My first-ever original article for Salon has just been published, "Rise of the new atheists: Should non-believers make an alliance with religious progressives?" In it, I discuss the meteoric growth of nonbelief in America, why the so-called New Atheists think it's a legitimate and useful tactic to criticize all religion equally, and whether and how we should make alliances with religious progressives to advance political goals we have in common. If you're a regular … [Read more...]

The Twitter Report: Nice Guys Finish Last

Once again, I've gotten enmeshed in a debate on Twitter. This time it wasn't with a theist, but with two atheists, Daniel Loxton and Reed Esau. It started with these two posts, which I happened to overhear:I'd support a focussed movement to counter bigoted "atheists as hostile outsiders" stereotype. That mvnt wld be useful for me as an atheist —@Daniel_Loxton, 2:27 PM - 18 Apr 12@Daniel_Loxton Taking atheism out of the nutty, angry fringe and into the no-big-deal territory can … [Read more...]

Objecting to Big Think’s Dawkins Test

As anyone who knows me is aware, I'm generally a peaceful and diplomatic fellow. I'm not one to pick fights just for the hell of it. But that said, I'm afraid I have to raise some objections to a recent front-page post by Mark Cheney here at Big Think: Are You a Believer? Take The Dawkins Test. Cheney's post concerns the seven-point scale that Richard Dawkins introduced in The God Delusion to categorize people's beliefs about God, ranging from strong theism at one end to strong atheism at the … [Read more...]

Shocking Newsflash: Infamous Atheist Wears Mismatched Socks!

LONDON, February 22 - It's been a rough week for Richard Dawkins, prominent evolutionary biologist and noted God-hater. Our reporters can reveal that on Monday, while Dawkins was ordering breakfast at a local shop, he received the wrong change for his coffee and muffin, but failed to count it and notice the error until he was a short distance away, when walking back would have been mildly inconvenient. Then, while consuming the items, he carelessly spilled a blotch of coffee on his pants leg, … [Read more...]

Another Day, Another Dragon

Some days, I hate writing about atheism. I want to tell you why. Two weeks ago, I was watching a PBS show called Inside Nature's Giants, about a team of biologists dissecting a sperm whale that died after beaching itself on a British coast (this involved heavy machinery and a chain saw, if you were curious). Richard Dawkins took part in the program, although he wasn't among the scientists wading in whale viscera on the shore. In cutaway shots, he explained the evolutionary significance of the … [Read more...]