And You Shall Know the Free Thinkers By Their Cussing?

Last week, an atheist friend of mine posted a link to Mark Oppenheimer's feature article on misogyny in the atheist movement, sharing a quote and a comment: "Jillette embodies that side of the freethought movement that prizes absolute free speech above feelings."In other words, the only side that enables free thought, period. The Oppenheimer article had written up several instances of alleged sexual abuse or harassment, but Penn Jillette had wound up included in the piece because he … [Read more...]

What’s the Difference between Forgiveness and Self-Deception?

An atheist friend of mine recently posted the following question to Facebook (and gave me permission to reprint it here):I don't think I grok forgiveness in the absence of Catholicism. I keep trying to imagine what I might mean if I asked someone to forgive me. I certainly wouldn't ask anybody that they purposefully have poorly calibrated beliefs about me, or that they have emotions poorly calibrated to their beliefs. The best I've got at the moment is "please keep in mind that decision … [Read more...]

In the Moral Landscape, There Still Be Dragons

Sam Harris has announced the winning entry in his contest for critiques of The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values.  The winner (from a philosophy M.A. and blogger at Point of Controversy) is the obvious complaint, which seems just.  Here's an excerpt: First, your analogy between epistemic axioms and moral axioms fails. The former merely motivate scientific inquiry and frame its development, whereas the latter predetermine your science of morality’s most basic findings. Epis … [Read more...]

The Uncharity of Ideological Containment

There's an unpleasant undertone to Terry Firma's vision of a kinder, humbler Christianity over at Friendly Atheist.  He reads through an essay from The New York Times about a Christian parent's discomfort when her daughter wants to put an evangelical sign on their lawn.  The author talks about her immediate flinch, and Firma thinks that's all to the good. Along with that gratitude, there’s a bit of embarrassment woven through Taylor’s account, and I think it becomes her. She knows that her belie … [Read more...]

No Room for Atheists at the Conservative Inn

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is on the horizon, and, not 24 hours after the American Atheists announce that they'd registered for a booth, they were unceremoniously ejected by the organizers.  Over at my day job, I interviewed both Dave Silverman, head of the American Atheists, and Edwina Rogers, leader of the Secular Coalition for America.  They're both self-described conservatives, and they talked about why atheists should want to reach out to conservatives and vice v … [Read more...]

Philosophy Class Should Be Perilous

Over at Friendly Atheist, there's a trailer for a terrible looking Christian movie, where a noble Christian student stands up to his bullying atheist philosophy professor who begins the semester by essentially asking telling his students that they'll need to disavow religion in order to pass.  Cue the intense stares, montages, lazy apologetics, and guest appearance by a Christian rock band.Hemant Mehta titled his post "This Must Be What Christian Apologists Think A College Philosophy … [Read more...]

Safe Zones for Secular Students

 My friend Jesse Galef, the communications director at the Secular Students Alliance, sat down with me to do a Q&A about a new project they unveiled: the Secular Safe Zone.  The program recruits and trains teachers, students, and other allies to establish clear safe points for non-religious students to have conversations and ask questions.  Here's the discussion we had: Jesse, can you tell me and the readers a bit about why the Secular Students Alliance has started the S … [Read more...]