Reasonable Doubts interview part 1

I got interviewed by the Reasonable Doubts podcast while I was visiting CFI-Michigan last month. Part 1 of the interview, concerning Islam, is available online now.Reasonable Doubts seems to be an interesting program. It started last year, I hope it catches on. … [Read more...]

Another fundamentalist death sentence in Afghanistan

Nonbelievers have to put up with a good deal of nonsense in places where fundamentalist Christians have a lot of influence. But then, there are fundamentalist Muslim environments, where never mind outright nonbelief, you can get your life ruined just for exploring more liberal interpretations of Islam.Afghanistan, which Western powers "liberated," is at it again. According to the UK newspaper The Independent, Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, a journalism student, "was accused of blasphemy after he … [Read more...]

No Atheists on MySpace

According to the Secular Student Alliance, has deleted what was the largest atheist grouping in the world. They say this was "due largely to complaints from people who find atheism offensive."Interesting. I wonder what to make of this. Conservative Christians demonstrating that they can be as nasty as conservative Muslims? The very existence of active nonbelievers being threatening to some people? Some religious people deciding they need to be more aggressive in the culture war? … [Read more...]


World population growth is in the 1-2% per year range. GDP growth is typically 2-3%; US economists consider about 3% the ideal.Most of what is decent about modern life depends on growth. From biology, we might expect a nasty, Darwinian competition for resources. In Richard Dawkins's words,During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from … [Read more...]

The Evolution of Religion

Anyone interested in current scientific approaches to explaining religion as a human phenomenon should take a look at The Evolution of Religion: Studies, Theories, and Critiques, edited by Joseph Bulbulia et al. It has a lot of good stuff. … [Read more...]

The Suicide of Reason

I recently read The Suicide of Reason: Radical Islam's Threat to the Enlightenment, by conservative commentator Lee Harris. It's pretty worthless, except as evidence that anyone seems to feel free to write a book on Islam, without the benefit of research or experience.Some of Harris's points are sane enough. Liberal Enlightenment-based politics is different. It's a historical accident, not some kind of natural default state. Neither is it a way of life that's automatically appealing to people … [Read more...]

Women, feminism, and religion

A short while ago I asked, Why is skepticism primarily a male thing?, and speculated on how traditional gender roles inclined women toward religiosity. There's an interesting post on the feminist blog Pandagon, called "Feminism helps collapse religion," that addresses some of the same questions. The comments on it are also interesting.Still, there's no convincing answer that I've come across. For example, in many situations (the US is an exception in this regard), women tend to be more … [Read more...]

Religion as a social good

On the Touchstone web site, there's an article by Logan Paul Gage, "Staying Power", that is an interesting current example of the argument that religion is socially beneficial. Presumably this means that religion deserves public support of some kind.Some of the article is basic conservative spin. But it's not entirely so easy to dismiss. The social science research Gage mentions is quite mainstream, as far as I can make it. There is real (if ambiguous) evidence that religiosity is associated … [Read more...]