Update on “The Family”

Hullabalo provides a fantastic update on the intriguing story of The Family, the secretive fundamentalist group that organizes the National Prayer Breakfast and enjoys a powerful influence over U.S. national leaders. … [Read more...]

The study without a prayer

According to Bruce Flamm, long-time critic of one of the best known studies that claimed real effects due to intercessory prayer, further reasons to be dubious of the study authors' work has surfaced, in the form of one being caught in plagiarism.In summary, the man who designed and supposedly conducted the prayer study resides in federal prison, and the man originally listed as lead author admits he knows nothing about the alleged research. The only remaining author has now been charged with … [Read more...]

Vonnegut goes off deep end about Darwin?

Kurt Vonnegut is one of my favorite novelists (the somewhat obscure Deadeye Dick in particular) and cultural commentators. He is deeply rooted in the freethought tradition, and has served as honorary president of the American Humanist Association.Lately, though, he seems to be on a strange anti-Darwinian kick. For example, about a year ago, the blog of the intelligent design-advocating Discovery Institute quoted Vonnegut expressing skepticism about evolution in an NPR interview. I didn't think … [Read more...]

After Secularism?

I like to keep religious interference in my life to a minimum. I count myself lucky that I Iive in a social and work environment where there's no expectation that I should attend any kind of religious service. And in politics as well, one of my leading concerns is to preserve church-state separation and to promote an environment where public matters are debated without reference to faith-based commitments.As far as I can tell, most nonbelievers also have similar attitudes toward religion and … [Read more...]

Talk at University of Kansas

If anyone's in the area—I'll be giving a talk on Tuesday, April 3, 7pm, at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. It will be in the Alderson Auditorium in the Kansas Memorial Union, entitled "The Creation/Evolution Debate in the Muslim World." Based on An Illusion of Harmony, naturally. Free and open to the public. … [Read more...]

Global warming and evangelicals

Normally, I don't buy the sentiment expressed by Voltaire, that "as long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities." Someone with accurate views about the nature of the universe can still be a complete and utter bastard; some of the most gentle, most pacifist people in the world link their behavior with supernatural beliefs as dubious as anything connected to Inquisitions.Nevertheless, I have to admit that occasionally I'm tempted to think otherwise. After all, … [Read more...]

Nice declaration, but…

The Secular Islam Summit earlier this month appears to have produced "The St Petersburg Declaration," which expresses some very agreeable sentiments. Normally I'd endorse it, and encourage others to endorse it as well. But I find it hard to support an event organized by some thoroughly vile neocon figures such as Michael Leeden, is dripping with hard-right US and Israeli nationalist connections, and so far seems to be celebrated by the right-wing press who are not generally allies of secularism … [Read more...]

We live in the land of biblical idiots

That's the headline of an opinion piece in today's Los Angeles Times by Stephen Prothero.Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University, is author of a new book, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know--And Doesn't. Part of his book is based on a "religious literacy quiz" he has given to his undergraduate students for the last two years, the results of which show that the majority consider themselves to be religious Christians, but are profoundly ignorant of … [Read more...]


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