September 2, 2018

Last week I offered up a rather dense introduction to the storytelling problem of “sacrifice” and “societal regression”. And I admit, writing punchy blog posts is not my forte. The underlying issue–suffering–has a literary canon as old as literature itself, and I lack the deftness of, say, an Umberto Eco or Christopher Hitchens for seamlessly interweaving a multitude of socio-political and philosophical threads in 700 to 1100 words. But I do have one secular story that I have been refining for… Read more

August 26, 2018

This week in Colombia, the Constitutional Court overturned a two-year-old ban on bullfighting, citing its traditional nature as a reason for preservation of the practice. The news reached me in the middle of processing another societal regression: the struggle, in countries like Brazil and Ecuador, to keep the influx of Venezuelan refugees from destabilizing local socioeconomic networks. In Brazil, 1,200 refugees were driven out of the country for the alleged actions of a few Venezuelans against a restaurant owner. In… Read more

August 12, 2018

It happens with uncanny frequency here in Colombia: when I talk to a male person, mid-20s to late-30s, eventually any conversation on societal expectations wends its way to The Dark Knight–and in particular, to the character of The Joker. Hesitantly, a good seven people I know here, Catholic and atheist alike, have confessed that they admire The Joker’s philosophy–resonate with it, deeply, even though they know this makes them atypical, and even though they’re a little ashamed to be inspired… Read more

August 10, 2018

One way or another, everybody believes the whole Universe operates according to some kind of order. Religion and science both came about as institutions because we needed a way to 1) understand the Universe and 2) talk about what it means for us as thinking animals. In a lot of ways, the religious animosity we see all around us, between major and minor faiths, and between sub-groups of sub-religions, has distracted us from the point of congregating with one another… Read more

August 4, 2018

I had the opportunity a few days ago to read a column on atheism in El Espectador, and to delight in how easy it is to find like-minded thinkers even in a country as overtly Catholic as Colombia.  Valentina Coccia’s “Una vida sin Dios” is a meditation on whether one needs religion to live a full and happy life, and it’s an op-ed that wisely focuses inward, using the example of her own upbringing, with a deeply religious mother and… Read more

July 25, 2018

I suspect it’s clear by now, to readers of this blog, that I am more interested in discussing proactive humanism than in waging war against persons of faith and their beliefs. I’m not naive, though: I know it’s neither as sexy nor as interesting to talk about how we can all strive to be better humans from our respective cosmological positions. How much more delicious the click-bait, when someone uses fighting words for or against religion on the internet! But… Read more

July 16, 2018

The other day a family member wrote me with a “joke”: an email that contained, simply, the words “Numbers 23:22”. It’s a common set-up for online atheists–finding humour in Biblical issues (moral as well as factual) that undermine the story’s plausibility from a literalist perspective. We atheists can, as I have mentioned before, generally discuss a number of failed prophecies, boorish conduct on the part of supposed godheads, scriptural contradictions, or other clear evidence that the writers of the Bible… Read more

July 8, 2018

It’s been a wild ride in Colombia this past week, if you’re up on your infotainment outrage. After all, Colombia lost to England in a heartbreaker of a World Cup game with baffling upsets: a 90-3′ goal to tie up a match muddled by a slew of yellow cards against Colombia; a fudged reffing call that stopped play just seconds before Colombia scored an overtime goal; and a shoot-out with a brutal cross-bar miss that turned deafening cheers across the… Read more

June 29, 2018

In May of 2018, the Council on Foreign Relations organized a workshop on “Religious Literacy in Global Affairs,” as part of their Religion and Foreign Policy Workshop. The CFR Religion and Foreign Policy program serves as a resource for the faith community, bringing together congregational and lay leaders, religion scholars, and representatives of faith-based organizations for conversations on issues at the intersection of religion and global affairs. I daresay, it is a useful resource for nonreligious people as well. I… Read more

June 22, 2018

As outrage spread in response to the U.S. policy of separating children from parents at the border, so too did a number of memes invoking the Bible to advocate for human welfare. As a humanist, I value the politics behind these posts–the deep compassion for fellow human beings, and the desire to correct the problems humans make in this world–but I wince at the implicit religious message, especially when these memes are shared by fellow atheists. When we on the… Read more

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