Interview on Point of Inquiry

A prominent skeptics' podcast I regularly listen to, Point of Inquiry, just had me on today for an interview about my latest book, An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam.It went well, and the result is interesting to listen to. (I hope.) … [Read more...]

Atheist and humanist emblems

People seem to be looking because the Wiccan symbol has just been added to the list amid some controversy, but apparently the US Department of Veterans Affairs has an atheist emblem on the list of symbols to be used on gravestones: plus a Humanist symbol:Interesting. Especially the atheist symbol. It must be an American Atheists kind of organization-specific thing; I have no knowledge of any symbol generally associated with atheism, let alone the whole atom business.I like Greg Saunders's … [Read more...]

Do they really believe that?

There's a question that surfaces when reflecting on the beliefs of unfamiliar cultures, and especially their religions. "Do they really believe that?", we may ask, when encountering beliefs about witchcraft or the evil eye. Such beliefs might seem not just wildly incongruent with reality, but somewhat incoherent, even inconsistent with the other convictions of religious believers who are perfectly competent in navigating the world in their daily lives. A Christian may wonder what a Muslim sees … [Read more...]

Murdered missionaries

If US news has lately been dominated by the Virginia Tech shootings, news from Turkey has been full of the recent murders of three Christians. It appears that five students staying at a religiously-based dorm got outraged by the missionary activity linked to a local Christian publishing house. So they decided to do something about it: torture and then murder a German missionary and two converted Turks associated with the publisher. The Turkish media is full of expressions of shock and anger that … [Read more...]

D’Souza Attacks Atheists

Dinesh D'Souza opens mouth and inserts foot essentially hijacking the Virginia Tech tragedy to attack atheism in general and Richard Dawkins in particular. I don't know whether to laugh or cry when he suggests that "we need something more than modern science." Clearly, following his latest disaster of a book in which he blames the secular state for the September 11 bombing, D'Souza is not keeping the first rule of holes firmly in mind. … [Read more...]

Clone Farms, Polygamy, and Pinkos

If recent history is any guide, expect the leaders of the religious right to blame the tragic shooting in Virginia yesterday on our so-called corrupt secular culture. In Adele Stan's fantastic summary of the recent "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention said:“[A]ll the pinks,” Land said, “have become chartreuse; that’s the environmental crowd.” In an America run by “secularists,” Land’s hand-out reads, “[h]uman life would become more commoditiz … [Read more...]

“Intellectual diversity” in academia

Here's a sample of the occasional public pressure you get when you teach in a public university. The Missouri General Assembly will be debating a bill calling for "intellectual diversity." The full text is interesting enough, but the most important bit is:(e) Include intellectual diversity concerns in the institution's guidelines on teaching and program development and such concerns shall include but not be limited to the protection of religious freedom including the viewpoint that the Bible is … [Read more...]

Kurt Vonnegut dies

Kurt Vonnegut died yesterday. Just after I griped about some things he's said recently. I feel bad. A great novelist and a great social critic; occasional griping aside, I will sorely miss him.The AHA has set up a web site for those who would like to make a contribution in Vonnegut's memory. … [Read more...]


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