Indeed, There Is Still a Gaping, Atheist-Shaped Hole in the Interfaith Movement

A few years ago, I read an article by Rory Fenton, and adamantly disagreed with his assessment that atheists were missing from the interfaith movement.  After all, I was a living example of the contrary. At the time, I was employed at an interfaith seminary in Berkeley, where it was not unusual for atheists to be enrolled. I was 1 of 2 atheists serving on the Board of Directors at the Interfaith Center at the Presidio in San Francisco.  Around that same time, I was regularly invited to ‘preach’ a … [Read more...]

Is “Is God Dead?” Dead?

My latest for The Daily Beast, where I talk about Lawrence Krauss and some research I really like, went up this morning. On April 8, 1966, Time Magazine’s now-iconic front cover asked in stark red font over a simple black background, “Is God Dead?” Though reactions focused more on the cover than the cover story—which, like most titular questions in journalism, was answered with a “no”—the pushback was strong and the topic was a cultural sore spot. Religion’s influence was in decline, and it was … [Read more...]

Stephen King on God and complacency

On Halloween, Rolling Stone featured a fantastic in-depth interview of Stephen King. The interview touches on a range of topics, from King's struggles with addiction to his writing process, young adult fiction, and political involvement.If you're a King fan, I recommend reading the interview in full. But what struck me as particularly interesting was the part where King discusses his views on religion.From Rolling Stone: Switching gears, your new book Revival talks a lot about religion. … [Read more...]

If only people were less superstitious

While there are many great Atheist writers out there, few captured life's absurdities quite so well as Kurt Vonnegut. In his own way, he managed to handle serious issues like war with a tongue-in-cheek humor and more nuance than many serious commentators could ever dream of.While Vonnegut was an Atheist, he was under no illusion that Atheism was going to save the world. Instead, he recognized that many atrocities are carried out in the name of, or as a consequence of, Science and Pro … [Read more...]

The power and limitations of anger

In my office, beside my computer, is a Hulk action figure. Ignore for a moment what this might imply about my maturity and let me explain why I like him: He’s angry, and so am I.My ire, however, is rather limited compared to the Hulk’s. I’m not angry at the entire world, only part of it—the part that trapped me at home and taught me lies and trained me for a lifetime of soft feminine submission. I am angry at Christian fundamentalism. That anger no longer extends to Christianity the system, o … [Read more...]

de Botton and living in the absence of God

I admire a lot of Alain de Botton’s work: I loved Status Anxiety, very much enjoyed The Consolations of Philosophy, and I thought How Proust Can Change Your Life was very thoughtful and enjoyable, though, having not gotten around to reading Proust, that hypothesis remains untested. I follow de Botton on twitter.In his book, Religion for Atheists, I found the main idea, that the least interesting question we can ask about religion is whether or not it’s true, to be very, very compelling, and I … [Read more...]

Are we "getting" Islam?

A little more than two years ago, I invited Sean Faircloth to speak to members of the Yale and New Haven nonreligious communities. At the time, he was the executive director for the Secular Coalition of America, and he struck me as one of the most compelling and persuasive political advocates for issues such as Church-State separation and countering the religious right.[ref]I should note that my opinion hasn't changed.[/ref] He's since published a book, Attack of the Theocrats!, and joined the R … [Read more...]

Vlad’s Duke Event Audio

To anyone who was waiting for a recording of the dialogue I had with my friend Neil Shenvi last week, the audio is now online, hosted on Neil's website.I listened to it this morning while walking my dog and the audio came out surprisingly well. It's not without its issues (some clipping here and there, a few moments where it cuts out during transitions, and so on), but definitely listenable.My opening statement starts at around the 18 minute mark, and our conversation starts after a … [Read more...]

The evolution of religion: god, or the group?

In The New York Times Opinion Pages this morning, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote about the evolution of religion. This is a topic I'm really interested in, and I encourage others to check out work by Jesse Bering, such as his book The Belief Instinct or this controversial Salon essay.Sacks, though, misrepresents some science and draws a few bad conclusions from data I like. Misusing science to forward an agenda irks me quite a bit, so while I think there's a lot of good to glean from Sack's wr … [Read more...]

Breaking Up With God

Today's guest post comes from Wendi Wheeler, a Creative Associate at Augsburg College, where I went for my undergraduate degree. Wendi and I met last winter when she contacted me to do a story on my work for the Augsburg Now magazine. We've since stayed in touch, and the other day she sent me this blog post, written for her personal blog. I'm flattered by her kind words, but the real reason I'm sharing this here (with her permission) is because I think she's got some very valuable insights on … [Read more...]