Is atheism about Civil Rights?

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My latest for The Daily Beast went up yesterday. Is atheism about Civil Rights? In part because of horrors that atheists experience in the rest of the world, and in part because of gross abuses experienced by other minorities in the West, I tend to roll my eyes at rhetoric often used by the public faces of atheism in America. My close friend Chris Stedman has catalogued a few examples: according to Bill Maher of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, atheism is the new gay marriage; Todd Stiefel, a pr … [Read more...]

Atheists can be fundamentalists, but not “atheist fundamentalists”

That's pretty specific // Photo by Steven Depolo, (CC)

This week, Chris Stedman’s Faitheist column featured a fascinating debate over whether or not atheists can be fundamentalists. Stedman’s decision to host the debate was rooted in his own ambivalence about employing terms like “militant” and “fundamentalist” about atheists: Just as there are religious people who denigrate any and all who do not share in their beliefs, or who argue that the only path forward to building a better world is the universal adoption of their worldview, there are some at … [Read more...]

Is there room for the spiritual in humanism?


At a launch party for a new local coffee shop a few nights ago—the kind of thing that draws people as much to network and get free as it does to support what’s being launched—I ended up discussing humanism, as I often do, with a few new faces. Two men stuck out to me, because they had never heard the term humanism before. And after I explained what it was, both of them immediately told me they were humanists.The first man told me that, while he’s been an atheist for quite some time, he’s neve … [Read more...]

When is civility appropriate?

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Over at Temple of the Future, fellow Patheos blogger James Croft has a few notes about civility in the aftermath of Ferguson: Civility is not the most important value. There are times when incivility is warranted and useful – and times like that arise frequently during events such as those we are seeing in St. Louis right now. Incivility can be an effective jolt to a complacent mind – or a complacent system which is harming people. Individuals under duress and suffering from oppression cannot re … [Read more...]

Atheists who experience discrimination identify more strongly as atheists

People on rocks

At The Pacific Standard, Tom Jacobs discusses recent research on how atheist identity is affected by experiences and perceptions of discrimination. Jacobs writes:Writing in the journal Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, [the researchers] describe a study featuring 960 self-identified atheists. They responded to a long list of statements designed to measure their experience with personal discrimination, group discrimination, and their personal identification with atheism, along with the … [Read more...]

Chis Stedman and Reza Aslan on experiences shared by Atheists and Muslims

From an interfaith event at Faisal Mosque. Photo by the U.S. State Department.

In light of the recent controversy between Sam Harris and Ben Affleck on Bill Maher’s “Real Time” and the backlash that followed, Muslim academic, Reza Aslan and Humanist leader Chris Stedman[1. Full disclosure: Chris Stedman is the founder of NonProphet Status.] call for a more civil discussion between atheists and Muslims. They explain that atheists and Muslims may have more in common that one might think: “According to a Pew poll conducted this year, Muslims and atheists are the two least fav … [Read more...]

The problems with “ethical” meat

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A common response to my post about why atheists should be vegans is that it's okay to eat ethically-raised meat. Shouldn't we pursue those, the argument goes, instead of completely abstaining from animal products? I find these arguments somewhat compelling---after all, if people with ethical concerns left the meat market, that would leave the meat market driven by people with no ethical concerns for how their meat is treated. But I've become convinced for a number of reasons that it's better on t … [Read more...]

Keith DeRose on knowing whether or not God exists

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At The New York Times's "The Stone" blog, Gary Gutting, a professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame, has a running series of thoughtful interviews with philosophers about religion and God. The latest installment features Keith DeRose.DeRose provides a challenging view for many atheists, and, even if you disagree (which I think I might), it's a thoughtful perspective worth grappling with. DeRose says:My suggestion is that neither theists nor atheists know whether God exists. And here I don’t j … [Read more...]

Football, big hits, and dualism

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In The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates reflects on his decision two years ago to boycott football in the wake of the suicides of two prominent former NFLers. One of them, Dave Duerson of the Chicago Bears, shot himself in the chest and left a note expressing his wish that his brain tissue be used for research on head trauma.Writes Coates:I regret losing a common language and a common culture. The NFL allowed for a bridge to other people with whom I had virtually nothing else in common. [...] B … [Read more...]

The case for flexitarianism


A few days ago, our beloved editor Vlad Chituc posted a piece about why atheists should be vegans. He makes a compelling case, and you should definitely read it.In super-paraphrased form (sorry, Vlad), his argument goes something like this:Causing suffering is only justifiable if doing so is a means for achieving some higher goal (or avoiding suffering that is even worse).The animals we raise for food undergo tremendous suffering, but we do not need to eat animals in order to lead … [Read more...]