Can We Play Not-Nicely Better, Please?

And speaking of sparing feelings without pulling punches, there's been a donnybrook going between Tom McDonald (Catholic) and Hemant Mehta (atheist) and JT Eberhard waded in yesterday.  I'm not planning to tag in exactly, but I would like to suggest that they have a slightly different fight.Both Tom's original post mocking atheism and Hemant and JT's rejoinder seemed pitched particularly to their own sides, so, even though the posts got pretty heated, it has kind of the effect of a flurry of … [Read more...]

“A Week?” Tell me you’re a _____

a week

If you cross-read the atheism portal here at Patheos or have atheist friends who are heavily engaged with the movement, you may be seeing images like this pop up across Facebook this week.It's 'A' Week, which, as Hemant Mehta explains at his blog, is a challenge to atheists to come out and give their friends a chance to know they know atheists.  This year's celebration seems particularly well-timed, falling right after Rob Portman's rapid about-face on gay marriage demonstrates that people m … [Read more...]

Darren the Humanist Explains it All to You

dancing humanist

This is a guest post, prompted my plea to hear more about how Humanists ground their philophies and people's interest in Darren's thought in the comments.  Thanks Darren for talking about what you defend!There was discussion on Leah’s blog of last week that the tenets of Humanism (or Secular Humanism, as I prefer) appear to lack a certain satisfying specificity. Having read through a few of the official manifestos, I am sympathetic to this view. It is all well and good to espouse Eq … [Read more...]

Straight from the Humanist’s Mouth

philosophy_discussion

James Croft and Vlad Chituc have both continued to contribute to the discussion of what exactly unites humanists.  Vlad's put up a new post, and James has posted a clarifying comment that I've quoted from below. You seem to think "Humanism" denotes a single, coherent moral system (particularly a metaethical system). He seems to think that it is some sort of equivalent to "virtue ethics" or "utilitarianism" or something.But this is a category error. Humanism, in my understanding, can mean … [Read more...]

Can You Pick a Humanist Out of a Lineup?

human lineup

Vlad Chituc, an atheist who blogs at NonProphet Status, thinks I was right on in my critique of humanist groups yesterday.    He says, as an atheist activist, he's run into similar problems. I’ve tried to pin down specific moral principles of Humanism from various people, and all I ever seem to get is some vague gesturing towards Reason or Compassion, or some philosophical terms like Naturalism and Consequentialism. But that gives me nothing specific.If I have a conversation with someone who … [Read more...]

How is an atheist group like a bridge club?

good without god

In yesterday's Sunday Review section of The New York Times, Susan Jacoby had an essay titled "The Blessings of Atheism."  She's tackling the perceived absense of atheists and secular philosophy in moments of crisis.  Here's an excerpt, but my critique is about something missing in the piece, so you'd better read the whole thing to be fair. One major problem is the dearth of secular community institutions. But the most powerful force holding us back is our own reluctance to speak, particularly at … [Read more...]

The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Philosophers

"What sat in those three chairs was three men, though hard to recognize as men till you looked closely. Their hair, which was gray, had grown over their eyes till it almost concealed their faces, and their beards had grown over the table, climbing round and entwining plates and goblets as brambles entwine a fence, until, all mixed in one great mat of hair, they flowed over the edge and down to the floor. And from their heads the hair hung over the backs of their chairs so that they were wholly hidden. In fact the three men were nearly all hair."

I know there are some rumblings in yesterday's thread about sin, judgment, and necessity about my being tardy to reply to comments.  When there's such a fast discussion (over 100 comments in 12 hours, I can't pop in and out as much as I'd like to.  I did quite appreciate Steve Schuler's comment that, even though my tardiness was frustrating, "For my purposes the best aspect of Leah’s blog are the comments threads and the overall civil and thoughtful exchanges I am able to read here."  Ag … [Read more...]


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