God on a cow

Catholics see Jesus on burnt toast. Muslims don't do images, so they see "Allah" in Arabic script on various objects. Inside vegetables that have been cut open is a perennial favorite.Here is one of these miracles from Turkey: a cow, intended for sacrifice in the present Eid, which appears to vaguely perhaps have "Allah" written on its side. … [Read more...]


Well, monotheistic weirdness is but a subset of the weirdness we humans are capable of. And damn, are we capable of an awful lot of brain-melting, asinine notions that tie into spiritual beliefs. For example: (Sounds of me banging my head against a wall...) … [Read more...]

How to be Secular

I just read Jacques Berlinerblau's How to be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom. It's a good book and well worth reading, precisely because it will rub a lot of atheists the wrong way.I see little to object to in Berlinerblau's description of the poor state of secularism in the United States. I'd be even more blunt: secularism has not just faded, it has been defeated, and any attempt to resuscitate it must start from the fact of defeat. I also tend to agree with his description of … [Read more...]

The political incoherence of atheism

Ian Murphy has a piece called "The 5 Most Awful Atheists." His choice of 5 is pretty much what I would pick: Sam Harris, Bill Maher, Penn Jillette, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, S.E. Cupp. Islamophobes, quasi-New Age ditzes, and libertarians.There is a serious point here as well. Sometimes it makes sense to speak of an "atheist movement" or the likes in the US, particularly in the context of efforts to increase social visibility and acceptance. But by and large, beyond such narrowly focused concerns, … [Read more...]

Aan petition

There's a petition to the White House, to "Call upon the Indonesian government to respect the freedom and dignity of all its citizens and to free Alexander Aan."Aan is the Indonesian currently imprisoned because of announcing he is an atheist on Facebook.If you haven't signed it yet, what are you waiting for? There are only 5000 signatures so far. That's pitiful. … [Read more...]

New Chick Tracts

Jack Chick does Islam. The reason you shouldn't believe the Quran is the word of God because it says so is that the Bible is the word of God because it says so. … [Read more...]


I'm fortunate to often run into students whose interests in physics go beyond what they encounter in class, and who might even develop their interests in philosophical directions. Anyway, one of my previous students has apparently been taking the ambitions of physics to describe everything very seriously, and has been worrying about the classic free will vs. determinism problem.So I emailed him a response, which aside from directing him to the literature, tried to give a quick and dirty … [Read more...]

Criminalizing sex

A poster put out by one of the Islamist political parties in Turkey. On top of the image of people turned to stone, with hints of Sodom and Gomorrah, the slogans are "Criminalize adultery" and "Homosexuality is immorality."They may eventually get their way as well. There's considerable public support for enforcing religious morality through the legal code. In Turkey, as with other Muslim countries, a lot of this is already part of the legal system; the Islamists only want to intensify something … [Read more...]