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...]

Pat Robertson’s continuing influence on the Bush administration

Complementing Jim Still's post about "The Family," Ed Brayton writes at Dispatches from the Culture Wars about how Pat Robertson's Regent University Law School, a 4th-tier law school barely half of whose graduates pass the bar exam, has managed to be the source of at least 150 appointees to the Bush administration. Perhaps the fact that Bush appointed former Regent University law school dean Kay Coles James as the director of the Office of Personnel Management has something to do with it?Not … [Read more...]

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...]


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