Historian Jackson Lears has a damning review of all Sam Harris’s books in The Nation magazine: “Same Old New Atheism: On Sam Harris.”It’s not a perfect takedown. Lears can’t resist reaching into the liberal religious apologetic bag of tricks (oh, he’s not addressing real religion, which is the more sophisticated and more experiential stuff), plus indulges in traditional humanities-based suspicion of science (which manifests itself as bashing “positivism” and “reductionism”).But if you can get beyond the obligatory 10% posturing-content, it’s… Read more

I used to have a principle not to be overly discouraged about any insanity I might observe in the US. After all, something similar but worse was bound to have taken place in Turkey. I could then be happy I didn’t live there.With the increasingly entrenched right-wing nature of US public life over the past couple of decades, I can’t hold this principle consistently anymore. We now routinely do things here that I would find out of place in a… Read more

A little comic relief from all the heavy-duty philosophizing on this site. This is one of the more amusing of these types of stories:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-preacher-warns-end-of-the-world-is-nigh-21-may-around-6pm-to-be-precise-2254139.htmlYou sinners have only a few days to mend your ways if you don’t want to be left behind! I enjoyed the idea that God sent the gay pride movement as a sign of the end times. Best, though, was the guy at the bottom of the story who said he gave up raccoon hunting so he… Read more

I hesitate to respond to Victor Reppert’s latest riposte (April 19) on his Dangerous Idea blog, since BDK and others have already hashed it out with considerable sophistication and subtlety. My aim here, however, is not to refute Victor (knockdown refutations in philosophy occupy a shadowy ontological niche somewhere between very rare and nonexistent), but to understand as clearly as possible just where our differences lie. In my experience, intractable disagreements come down to ground-floor, big-ticket items like a clash… Read more

Last night Nonie Darwish, one of the favorite ex-Muslims of Fox News, visited campus.She gave a strange talk. Part of was sensible enough, such as the bits where she pointed out the seriously illiberal aspects of Islamic law, with examples of everyday atrocities from countries where sharia has significant influence on laws and policies. (An example she gave about Turkish law, however, was mostly wrong, which didn’t inspire confidence.)But then, she also went off the deep end with some regularity,… Read more

Here’s an interesting (and fun) idea: FFRF’s Out of the Closet Virtual Billboard Campaign. Take a few minutes to add to the visibility of nonbelievers. Read more

I’ve just finished Herbert London’s America’s Secular Challenge: The Rise of a New National Religion. It’s a standard theocon screed, so there’s nothing new to it. It manages to sound both pompous and petulant, but that’s not unusual with these sorts of books.What bothered me, however, was the author. The book is a hack job, utterly predictable once you know London’s version of right-wing ideology on offer, which is obvious from the first page. Typically, his “argument” depends on gross… Read more

David Brooks is one of the very few conservative commentators I can read without retching. He offers dispassionate, reasoned argument unlike the screeching, foaming rants of Michelle Malkin (I think she should be tested for rabies), and he has nothing of the tinfoil-hat paranoia of Glenn Beck (Sha-na-na-na. Hey, hey, hey. Goodbye.). I like Brooks’ style too—straightforward and unaffected, unlike the prissy pontifications of George Will or the pomposity of Charles Krauthammer. In last Saturday’s (4/23) Houston Chronicle Brooks’ column… Read more

The University of Kansas Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics is putting on a two-day festival May 6-7th. The first annual ReasonFest features a debate between Dan Barker and John-Mark Miravalle on “Does God Exist?” and a full day of secular speakers including Darrel Ray, Tom Clark, Hemant Mehta, James Underdown, and Annie Laurie Gaylor.For more information, see the media release, a promo video, or a facebook notice. Read more

The first US national election I got to vote in was 1988. I was disgusted with Reagan, and worried about the 1980s incarnation of the religious right. So I voted Democratic, and they lost.In the 1992 presidential elections, I voted Democratic again. I was now thoroughly sick of the American right wing. The Democrats won: we got Clinton, Republican-lite. That was an improvement, I suppose. The Religious Right had less direct influence. Still, it was a center-right government, and all… Read more

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