It’s Hard to Make Up Marriage

wedding cake assembly

This month, Libby Anne and Dan Finke are asking bloggers to comment on the purpose of marriage as part of their Forward Thinking linkup.  And, in order to try to speak clearly, I'd like to riff off of a recent Modern Love column in the Times, where the unmarried author shared his experience officiating a friend's wedding.Because it was a secular wedding, the officiant and his friends had a lot of flexibility with the how of the ceremony, but the author of the essay seemed to be frighteningly … [Read more...]

Is There a Good Ideological Echo Chamber?

This is the second part of a discussion about the rhetoric I use on this blog and the dangers of linking identity to ideology.As I head out to the Reason Rally this morning, I wanted to address the second part of Brian Green's comment: I suppose my real concern is a theory-practice one again, as usual. As you gain practical commitment to atheist causes, the bond strengthens. Theory follows practice. Habit deepens. When you become president of the American Atheists, your freedom of thought … [Read more...]

Alain de Botton Gets it Backwards

Remember you can vote once per day for the About.com Atheism Awards.  I’m one of five nominees for Best Atheist Blog.  More details here.Alain de Botton, author of Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion, is, as you might guess, a bit persona non grata with the New Atheist blogosphere.  After reading his most recent CNN Opinion piece ("What atheists can learn from religion"), I'm guessing religious folks will also be thinking, "Please, don't help us."  Here … [Read more...]

Feser’s Typology of Atheism (Part 2)

church-of-nativity09

Today, I'm returning to Edward Feser's typology of atheism.  Monday, I took a look at ways atheists approach religious philosophy, today the focus is on responses to religious practice.  Here's how Feser splits up atheists: A. Religious practice is mostly or entirely contemptible and something we would all be well rid of. The ritual side of religion is just crude and pointless superstition. Religious morality, where it differs from secular morality, is sheer bigotry. Even where certain moral p … [Read more...]

High Octane Ritual

Hooded figures

Yesterday I made a case for authority among atheists and today I’m addressing ritual without religion.In the big discussion about Greg Epstein’s humanist chaplains and the twitter forum on #humanistcommunity, PZ Myers claimed setting up atheist rituals that paralleled religious tradition was “a cheat and a waste.” At their essence, Myers claimed, ritual is just another world for “waste of effort, feel-good displacement activities that take the place of thought.”It’s easy to think of fairl … [Read more...]


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