Victory By Adversarial Overreaction

You may have heard that another atheist billboard campaign has been censored, this time in Ohio. The Mid-Ohio Atheists had spent several weeks coordinating with the billboard company, planning locations and designing graphics, with no hint of a problem. Then, just days before the first billboards were to go up, they received an unexpected e-mail from the company's senior managers canceling their contract. According to a subsequent explanation, the company felt that running the atheist ads would … [Read more...]

Moving the Overton Window

When I tell people that I'm an atheist, I'm often asked if I think that fiery rhetoric and sharp critiques of religion, like the kind found in the writing of trailblazers like Richard Dawkins, is harming the cause by offending believers who might otherwise have been sympathetic. The implication is that, if we focus our attacks only on the worst fundamentalists, we'll gain public support and approval, but if we criticize faith in general, we'll never get anywhere. I don't believe this is true, … [Read more...]

The Blinding Fog of Religious Moderation

The author Sam Harris was, to my knowledge, the first of the New Atheists to make a novel and important observation about the way religious privilege operates in our society. Religious moderates talk a good game about peace, democracy, freedom of conscience, equal rights for women and minorities, and so on. But when push comes to shove, they almost always side with their fundamentalist brethren in arguing that faith is a good thing and shouldn't be criticized, even when faith is directly … [Read more...]

Bringing Light Into Dark Places

My inaugural post on Big Think drew a wide range of opinions from commenters. (New site, new community! It takes some getting used to on both sides.) But this comment in particular struck me:As a born again agnostic, I don't have a problem with your having this take on reality, but must you sound so sure, smug and evangelical.I'm used to fierce denunciation from religious believers. But this comment is remarkable because its author apparently agrees with everything I believe, yet … [Read more...]

Book Review: Losing My Religion

Summary: A hard-hitting and emotionally moving story of a religion reporter's deconversion, despite a few lingering blind spots.Losing My Religion is the autobiography of William Lobdell, the religion reporter turned atheist whom I wrote about in 2007. I briefly mentioned the outline of his story in my previous post, but this book is a much more in-depth account of how he found, and then ultimately lost, his faith. Despite some significant weaknesses, which I'll get to, it's a powerful, honest … [Read more...]

Atheists Are Not Fascists

This week, my first article on Alternet was published, which spurred several comments asking that we not forget about libertarian and conservative atheists. That's why it's so amusing that this same week, PZ Myers points out the curious tale of a pundit named Jeff Sparrow, who's convinced that the New Atheist movement is so right-wing and "Islamophobic" as to be verging on fascist:The so-called New Atheist movement, in which [Christopher] Hitchens is a key figure, is not progressive in the … [Read more...]

Adapt or Die

This is a guest post by Leah of Unequally Yoked.  Adam is on vacation.My previous two posts on mockery have drawn a lot of criticism, including charges that I am an accommodationist.  If that were the case, the definition of accommodationism had gotten way too broad.  Trying to treat people with respect is different from asserting that their beliefs are true, or, at a minimum, not actively harmful.  Accommodationists have no desire to deconvert Christians or other believers, but there's a lot … [Read more...]

Whom Should We Mock?

This is a guest post by Leah of Unequally Yoked.  Adam is on vacation.My last post on Daylight Atheism, asking non-believers to tone down the contempt for Harold Camping and his followers, and many of you disagreed.  Some commenters didn't believe there was anything intrinsically destructive about mocking others, others argued that ridicule was a necessary tactic to help people deconvert.  TommyP commented to say deconversion was catalyzed by the confrontational attitudes of unbelievers, whi … [Read more...]

Charity Yes, Interfaith No?

We atheists are nothing if not argumentative, and the latest argument is over whether an atheist can or should participate in "interfaith" charitable work. Chris Stedman, a member of the humanist chaplaincy at Harvard, asserts that "we must actualize our commitments to justice and compassion" by participating in interfaith projects as often as possible. Ophelia Benson and Jen McCreight were unimpressed, pointing out that there's something paradoxical in a nonbeliever participating in a movement … [Read more...]

Activists, Beware the Veal Pen

Ophelia and Hemant have pointed out that the White House is creating an "Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge" to encourage college students and religious groups to work on community-service projects. What's more, Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard, was invited to the kickoff meeting, and he's overjoyed:I can vouch for the fact that we have been included every step of the way; not only in big public moments like the inaugural speech shout-out to "nonbelievers", but … [Read more...]


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