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...]

An Illusion of Harmony interview

I should be on the "Faith and Freethought" internet radio show tomorrow at 8pm-9pm Eastern time to discuss An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam. … [Read more...]

13th District of California: holy smiting imminent?

The Secular Coalition of America reports that Rep. Pete Stark of the 13th Congressional District of California has acknowledged his nontheism in response to their inquiries. A Los Angeles Times article carries a little more detail:"When the Secular Coalition asked me to complete a survey on my religious beliefs, I indicated I am a Unitarian who does not believe in a supreme being," Stark said. "Like our nation's founders, I strongly support the separation of church and state. I … [Read more...]

Good week for infidels in the book world

The 11 March New York Times bestseller list for hardcover books includes five that should be of interest and possible encouragement to infidels: The God Delusion and Letter to a Christian Nation are still there, of course, at #12 and #24 respectively; Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel is on for its third week, at #7; and they are newly joined by Chris Hedges' American Fascists, at #13, and Victor J. Stenger's God: The Failed Hypothesis at #21. Not altogether bad.Of course, we are all expecting An … [Read more...]

An Illusion of Harmony

It's out! An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam is now available in bookstores, amazon.com, etc. etc. Just in time, John Gray has a full-length review in the latest New Scientist. With any luck, An Illusion of Harmony will benefit from the current public interest in all things Islamic.Buy the book! It won't make me rich, but if you want decent, accessible critiques of religion to be available to the general public, you should support books like this when they are published. (OK, … [Read more...]