Thursday, December 25, 2014

    Religion with God? Column from NY Times

    This column bears re-reading even if you saw it in the NY  Times.  The comments section is, as always, revealing of how people think on the topic.

    At HSGP, we recognize the need for community mentioned in the column, even if we're not big on ritual.  Our Humanist Community Center is not a psuedo-church consuming vast amounts of resources, as one commenter put it, but a focal point for building community for freethinkers and other like-minded people, a place where non-theists can feel comfortable and not worry about adherence to dogma.

    Tuesday, December 16, 2014

    Another way of explaining why everyone needs to be vaccinated

    Recent HSGP speaker Will Humble did a fine job of explaining why vaccination is a good thing.

    Here's another explanation, this time in pictures.  (Actually a "comic" but I wanted you to take it seriously.)

    Sunday, December 14, 2014

    Interesting comments on the Christmas Season

    I am constantly surprised at how many of my fellow Humanists actively celebrate "Christmas".   Sure, many of us pay lip service to "Solstice" but then run out and buy gifts for all the relatives.  Personally, I'll admit to doing a tiny bit of decoration, but more in the mood of bringing light into these dark winter days (such as they are at this latitude!)  But the materialism surrounding the season has repelled me for years and the idea that our national economy depends on Christmas spending is downright boggling.

    Here's a New York Times columnist with whom I rarely agree, but I think he's made some interesting points in this op-ed.

    And by the way,  Happy Solstice to all!

    Sunday, November 30, 2014

    Bookworm Report #4 by Russell Pizer "why we believe in gods"

    why we believe in god(s) (143pp, © 2011)
    “A concise Guide to the Science of Faith”
    by J. Anderson Thomson, Jr., MD with Clare Aukofer
    with a forward by Richard Dawkins
    •  •  •  •  •
    This is an unusually small book.  Though it has 143 numbered pages, it is really only about half that length because it measures 4½” wide by 7” high and ¾” thick.  A fast reader could probably finish this in a few hours.  However, it is a book the reader will probably want to read two or maybe even three times.  This is because of the large number of endnotes that contain related and/or  apropos information.

    The title is in lower case letters probably because the author purposely did not want to spell the word “god” with a upper case letter G.

    The Forward by Richard Dawkins has this to say, “Darwin, though not religious in his maturity, understood the religious impulse. He was a benefactor of Down Church and regularly walked his family there on Sundays then continued his walk while they went inside. He had been trained to the life of a clergyman.  William Paley’s Natural Theology was his favored undergraduate reading.  Darwin killed natural theology’s answer stone dead, but he never lost his preoccupation with its question: the question of function. It is no surprise that he was intrigued by the functional question of religiosity.  Why do most people . . . harbor religious belief? . . .

    “‘Fast food’ is a leitmotif of the book: ‘if you understand the psychology of fast food, you understand the psychology of religion.’  Sugar is another good example.  It was impossible for our wild ancestors to get enough of it so we have inherited an open-ended craving that, now that it is easily met, damages our health.”

    “Thomson’s chapters identify a series of evolved mental faculties exploited by religion, each one beguilingly  labeled with a line familiar from scripture or liturgy; ‘Our Daily Bread,’ ‘Deliver Us from Evil,’ ‘Thy Will be Done,’  ‘Lest Ye Be Judged.’ . . .

    “To most of us, the arms-extended gesture of the worshipers looks merely foolish. After reading Thomson we shall see it through more penetrating eyes: it is not just foolish, it is infantile. . .”

    The Preface ends with: “We [the non-religious] now know why and how our minds manufacture and spread beliefs in god(s). [N]ew research continues to add to what we know. This knowledge can free us. Anything we can do, no matter how small, to loosen fundamentalist religious’s grasp on humanity strikes a blow for civilization and boosts the chances for truly global civil society – and perhaps even for our species’ long-term survival. . .”

    Mr. Thomson concludes his amazingly logical, carefully researched and scientifically based explanation as to why people believe in god(s) with this:

    “It is . . . so much easier to believe. Religions offer sets of rules and, when combined with all of our adaptive mental mechanisms, eliminates the need for serious thought about the issue.  The 2010 Pew Poll on Religion actually found that agnostics and atheists were more knowledgeable about the world’s religions than believers were, which would seem to indicate a higher level of thought about the issues involved.

    “But there is hope.  In a June 6, 2010, ABC News interview, physicist Steven Hawking, considered by many to be one of the greatest scientific minds of our or any time, said, ‘There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority; and science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.’ As most people know, without the aid of science, Hawking would long ago have succumbed to the ravages of amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or ‘Lou Gehrig’s disease’) no matter how many people prayed for him. Instead, his fine mind survives and continues to learn and teach, aided by an array of technological accouterments. . . .

    “As demonstrated in this book, science – specifically the cognitive and social neurosciences – shows us how and why human minds generate religious beliefs. More than an outline is apparent and with each passing day, psychological mechanisms, the neuroanatomy, and the neurochemistry of religion continue to come into sharper focus. . . .

    “Religion may offer comfort in a harsh world; it may foster community; it may incite conflict.  In short, it may have its uses – for good and for evil. But it was created by human beings, and this will be a better world if we cease confusing it with fact.”

    If someone asks you to say "grace" at Thanksgiving

    We will be spending Thanksgiving with my daughter, her boyfriend and the boyfriend's family.  I know that my daughter has been religious in the past and it's likely that the rest of the attendees are also on the religious side.  In case someone asks me to say "grace" at the bounteous table, it seemed reasonable to be prepared.  The internet, as we all know, is full of suggestions for every occasion, including this one.

    From the website Secular Seasons there are a number to choose from.  Some I found in interesting were these:

    ........ from the humanist writer Nicolas Walter:

    Let us think thrice while we are gathering here for this meal. 
    First, let us think of the people we are with today, and make the most of the pleasure of sharing food and drink together.

    Then, let us think of the people who made the food and drink and brought it to us, who serve us and wait on us, and who clear up and clean up after us.

    Finally, let us think of all the people all over the world, members with us in the human family, who will not have a meal today.

    For those who find these humanist graces too long, or don’t want to be reminded of the suffering of others just before a celebratory meal, there are these simple words of secular thanks and good wishes:

    We are thankful for the food on this table.
    We are thankful for this time together.
    Our thoughts go out to family and friends;
    We hope that they are safe and well.

    Or these words of humanist benediction
    For the meal we are about to eat,
    for those that made it possible, 
    and for those with whom we are about to share it,
    we are thankful.

    From the Science Notes blog on Wordpress:

    What a great occasion! We are gathered here together in the safety of our home, each of us taking a moment from our busy, separate lives, to enjoy this wonderful meal with ones we love. Let this evening be a special time in our lives, a blessed stopping point in which we can simply enjoy who we are, where we are, and what we are doing. Let us enjoy this magnificent now with family and friends. Thank you, mother, for preparing this beautiful meal.

    Presumably one could substitute for "mother" as appropriate

    We have created this meal to serve and sustain our lives. Let us enjoy this meal in the full knowledge that all life is purposeful action aimed toward our highest value, our own precious lives and happiness.

    Many of the suggestions I found were way too wordy, especially for folks who are sitting there looking at that glorious meal in front of them.  (You didn't think they were going to bow their heads and close their eyes, did you?)

    This one from the American Humanist Association is a perfect example of TMI:

    A Non-Believers Grace
    I offer my deepest appreciation and my most profound apologies to the plants and animals whose lives were forfeit for our good health this day.

    We give thanks to the ranchers and the farmers, their workers and their hands whose skill, sweat and toil have brought forth this bounty from the Earth.

    We are grateful to the workers in the fields who pick our food, the workers in the plants where our food is processed, the teamsters who carry it to market and the stockers and the checkers who offer it up for our selection.

    We are particularly appreciative for those at this table who have prepared this food with love and affection for our enjoyment and nourishment this day.

    We remember fondly those who the miles and circumstance keep from joining us today as we remember those who are no longer with us and are grateful for the time we have shared with them.

    We enjoy the warmth and fellowship that surrounds this gathering as we share the fervent hope that people the world over can share the good fortune, warm feeling and conviviality that embraces this gathering.

    Thank you.

    Besides the length, I personally also have a little problem with the concept of apologizing not only to the animals but the plants.  If you need to apologize, then don't eat them.  Otherwise, perhaps you could thank them too for their contributions in some manner that doesn't introduce guilt at the very beginning of the speech.  I trust the writer buys only humanely raised and slaughtered turkeys or artisan tofurkey and gently-pulled heirloom carrots.  Needless to say there were lots of interesting comments on the original publication.  Enjoy them at

    And finally, if you're with the right group to appreciate it, here's a short one from

    Thank you glycolysis and electron transport chain, which we are about to receive your STP bounty through phosphorylation.  Amen.

    Trying to figure out the grammar on that one gave me a headache, but I'm impressed that the spell checker got all the words right.  From

    Monday, November 3, 2014

    The Bookworm Report #3: Humanism - An Introduction

    By Russell Pizer
    •  •  •  •  •
    Humanism - An Introduction by Jim Herrick -- the subject of this Bookworm Report #3 -- is a small paperback (105 pp)that begins with this introduction written by Laurie Taylor.
    “It sounded like an easy way to win half-a-crown.  All I had to do was to stand in the middle of the playground at my Catholic school and shout out in a voice that was loud enough to be heard by the giggling crowd of fellow [students] who’d come up with the bet: ‘If there really is a God then I challenge him here and now to strike me dead.’  But I can still recall the drumming of my heart as I slowly walked towards what I still secretly feared might be a date with destiny.
    “I’d brought it on myself. For the best part of a year, I’d been trying to convince my school friends there was no proper basis for the religious dogmas that we were being force fed in class. It had earned me a certain mild notoriety but I was only too well aware that my dismal failure to effect any conversions to atheism had something to do with the shallowness of my own arguments. I’d told my classmates, for example, that the idea of a virgin birth was a contradiction in terms. You simply couldn’t be a virgin and have a baby. Didn’t they know the facts of life? I’d also argued that the miracles of the loaves and fishes and the rising of Lazarus were really nothing more than cleverly conjuring tricks and even made the profoundly heretical suggestions that if Jesus was God and God was all knowing and all powerful then surely he could have avoided his own crucifixion and gone on teaching until a ripe old age.
    “As I struck my pose in the middle of the playground, I made a resolution which nearly captured my adolescent moral capacity to have it both ways at the same time. If God failed to strike me dead after I’d made my challenge then I would devote myself to the task of discovering some rather better reasons for not believing in his existence. . . .”
    “[Jim Herrick’s] account of humanism [in this book] does much to trace its historical development, its philosophical underpinnings and its current status as an alternative to systems of religious belief.  But he is always faithful to his underlying contention that ‘humanism is a position which thinking individuals can reach as a personal conviction.’ . . .”
    On page 1 (Chapter 1 - Humanism Outlined), Mr. Herrick begins with this: “Humanism is a most human philosophy of life. Its emphasis is on the human, the here-and-now, the humane. It is not a religion and it has no formal creed, though humanists have beliefs. Humanists are atheists or agnostics* and do not expect an afterlife. It is essential to humanism that it brings values and meaning into life.
    “As we move away from the morass of the 20th century, we can hope that humanism will be a beacon to help us through the 21st century. It is an approach that is neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but realistic. 
    Chapter 2 begins: “The tradition of humanism is a long one. It questions existing ideas and quests for new one. People have asked what powers control our lives, what is the nature of the world about us, what is our personal potential? From the documents of ancient history to the flowering of thought in ancient Greece, from renaissance Italy to the 18th century Enlightenment, from the wide developments in philosophy and science in the 19th century to the crystallization of humanist ideas in the 20th century, the humanist temper has developed through time.”
    He then continues with: “Some Greek philosophers laid down the essential foundations of humanism. In his work Of the Gods, Protagoras (481-411 B.C.E.) stated, ‘About the gods I have no means of knowing either that they exist or that they do not exist . . .’
    - - - - -
    *Many Humanists that would disagree that there are only two such categories.

    Monday, October 27, 2014

    An popular-press article talking about evolution that actually gets some things right

    Anyone else get frustrated with writing on evolution that implies that species evolve toward a planned goal?   Even when used as a figure of speech, it annoys the heck out of me.  Here's a fun article, with some delightful images, and it actually mentions that evolution can be pretty wacky at times.  How refreshing!

    Finally someone notices that Ark Encounter project has a little religion/state problem

    For some reason, the lawmakers in Kentucky failed to notice until recently that state support of Ken Ham's enterprises violates the law.  I'm not sure who to thank (one of the few down-sides of being a non-believer) but perhaps someone in the state has finally come to their senses.

    Monday, October 6, 2014

    Where the Nones are

    From The  Guardian, this set of maps showing where the godless and the non-godless live in various cities in England and Wales.  We've frequently noticed that the Brits are much more inclined to self-identify as non-religious than Americans and this data visualization bears out the observation.

    Be sure to click on the link "It's not about atheism" above the maps to get another viewpoint on what these maps mean.

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014

    Bookworm report for October 2014: The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors

    By Russell Pizer

    This Bookworm Report  is regarding a paperback reprint dated 2007 from an original book dated 1875.  Whereas it might be intriguing for Humanists, it would probably be shocking for Christians. 

    The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors was written by Kersey Graves who was born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania on November 12, 1813. The rear cover states: “His parents were Quakers. As a young man he accepted the observances of his parents then later, moved to a different wing of Quakerism. He was disowned by his Quaker meeting group due to his neglect of attendance and also setting up a rival group.”  

    That disownment was, no doubt, also a result of the many ideas he must have acquired through a book titled: The Anacalypsis by Sir Godfrey Higgins dated 1833. Mr. Graves used much of that book’s contents for the basis of his 1875 publication.

    I have read many books about what would be called “anti-Jesus literature” but this was incredible. I thought I knew a lot of the incongruities that exist in The Bible, however, this is full of additional and surprising revelations.

    Beginning on page 33, Graves begins: “The following considerations exhibit some of the numerous absurdities involved in the story of the miraculous birth of Jesus . . .”  He then gives, by actual number, 17 items.  Here are the first three:
     “1.  The evangelical narratives show that Christ himself did not claim to have a miraculous birth.  He did not once allude to such an event; while if, as Christians claim, it is the principal evidence of his deityship, he certainly would have done so. . . 2.  His parental genealogy, as made out by Matthew and Luke, completely disproves the story of his miraculous conception by a virgin. . . .  3. [H]is own disciple (Philip) declared him to be the son of Joseph . . .  [This] is still further confirmation of the conclusion [that he did not come to earth via a virgin birth] . . . ”

    The next excerpt begins on page 39. “There is much evidence that the Christian Savior was a black man, or at least a dark man . . .  And that evidence is the testimony of his disciples who had nearly as good an opportunity of knowing what his complexion was as the evangelists who omit to say anything about it. In the picturers and portraits of Jesus by the early Christians, he is uniformly represented as being black. . . [T]he only text in the Christian bible quoted by orthodox Christians, as describing his complexion, represents it as being black.  Solomon’s declaration, “I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem. . . .” (Sol. I.5) . . .”

    Mr. Graves goes on to speculate . . . “Let us suppose that, at some future time, he makes his second advent to the earth, as some Christians anticipate he will do, and that he goes to . . . one of our fashionable churches . . .   Would the [usher] show him to a seat? . . .”

    This next except is especially amusing.  It appears on page 46.  “. . . observe the absurdity in Matthew’s story, which teaches that the wise men followed the star in the east, when they, coming from the east, were, as a matter of course, traveling westward, which would placed the star at their backs. . . .”

    Chapter XXXII is titled: “Three Hundred and Forty-Six Striking Analogies Between Christ and Krishna.”  (Krishna’s birth is given as 3228 B.C.E.)  This shows, if the book’s contents are true, those ghost writers of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John, borrowed almost all of their material for the story of the man the Christians call Jesus of Nazarus from the life and teachings of The Lord Krishna of India.

    Needless to say, there are some vociferous criticisms of this book to be found on the Internet.

    Sunday, September 28, 2014

    Humanist Invocation given by Dianne Post at Maricopa Board of Supervisors meeting

    The Humanist Minute at the September 21, 2014 meeting consisted of reading an invocation given by HSGP member Dianne Post at the September 10, 2014 meeting of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meeting.  The invocation is published here to allow both those who missed it and those who heard it to read it for themselves and reflect on Dianne's words.

    My name is Dianne Post.  I've been a resident of Maricopa County since 1980.  I'm speaking as a humanist.

    I ask you not to bow your heads but instead to open your eyes.

    Look at the world as it is but imagine what it could be if we all brought our good hearts to work every day.

    The word "invocation" has several meanings:

    First one:  the act or process of petitioning for help or support.

    Today I petition for support for our democracy: a democracy that includes all people regardless of their individual characteristics or choices.

    A democracy that does not elevate one person, one ideology or one belief over another.  A participatory democracy that stands for human rights and social justice.

    Second meaning:  calling upon for authority or justification.

    Today I call upon the authority of evidence, facts and reason as justification for the decisions made by this governmental body.

    Decisions that will benefit all of the people of this county, not just the rich, not just the vocal, not just the powerful - but all of us.

    Third meaning of invocation is:  a formula for conjuring.

    Today I conjure up the best of what's in all our hearts, kindness and concern for others, acceptance and understanding, the ability to think for ourselves using reason and knowledge.

    The last meaning is:  an act of legal or moral implementation.

    Implementation is, of course, the most important aspect of any "invocation".

    What do we want to implement?

    We want to lead meaningful lives.

    We want to be free from dogma and fear.

    We want to have compassion for our fellow citizens.

    We want to leave the world a better place than we found it.

    We owe it to ourselves and all with whom we sure this fragile planet now and in the future to make our lives the best we can.

    Let us embrace a code of ethics driven by a sincere thirst for justice.  A code that does not depend on threat or punishment but can only be found within ourselves by understanding the connections to our mutual well-being.

    A friend of mine, Olivia Free-woman said "the table of peace will be set with justice."  May we have both in our hearts this day and every day.

    More about CO2 to go along with our recent climate change presentation

    Recent HSGP Sunday speaker LuAnn Dahlman spoke about the effects of CO2 on Earth's climate.  Here's more explanation of CO2 and what we might do about it from the NY Times

    If you missed LuAnn's presentation, you can find a summary of it along with some great web links by going to, selecting Past Speakers from the right hand column and scrolling down to September 21, 2014.

    Thursday, September 25, 2014

    British feminists and their religious stances

    This article is almost in the category of a big "Duh".

    Karen Armstrong on the incorrect conflation of religion and violence

    Karen Armstrong has a new book out too.  Warning, this is a seriously long article apparently based on the new book.  An interesting take on the history of the development of secularism by, one should note, a writer on comparative religion who perhaps has her own slant.  If you're willing to invest the time reading this, you may learn something yourself.  As always, skepticism is an appropriate stance.

    Dawkins has a new book out so of course he's in the news.

    A short article about Dawkins' and his latest pronouncements.

    Note that in a related on-line survey by The Guardian, 71% of the respondents agreed with Dawkins. No selection bias there!

    Friday, September 19, 2014

    Another in the NYTime Opinionator series on religion: See if you can figure it out

    In case you haven't been following along, the NY Times columnist Gary Gutting has been conducting a series of interviews with various pundits, sages and other purported wise men on the subject of religion.  Here's one entitled "Why Take a Stance on God?" which seems to be the most convoluted of all, although you may have your own favorite.  Lots of talking in circles which doesn't seem to be solving anything, IMHO.  By the end, my head was reeling so much that all I could determine with certainly was that the current interviewee felt it was important to take a stance although I think he coyly hinted on which side of the line he would stand.

    If you're really, seriously, improbably interested that much, you can link to other columns in the series from this one.  Warning:  not to be read while under the influence although it might be a good non-pharmaceutical sleep aid.

    Thursday, September 18, 2014

    Has RIchard Dawkins lost it?

    From the Guardian, evidence that Dawkins is not perfect, may even have feet of clay.

    Sunday, August 31, 2014

    The September 2014 Bookworm Report

    This is the first of what we expect to be a regular feature:  The Bookworm Report by HSGP member Russell Pizer.  The series will explore books not just on topics such as Humanism and religion but other related topics such as the history of American religious ideas including the Founding Fathers and their relationship, or lack thereof, with religion.  

    The Bookworm Report

    In 1999, I finally found a belief system with which I was – I think I should say – "the most
    comfortable." It was with the Palm Coast, Florida, Freethinkers. I really didn’t know
    what a "Freethinker" was but the meetings of that organization appealed to me.

    After talking with the chairperson, Mimi Cerniglia, individually on a number of
    occasions over the next few months, she suggested I read a book by Bertrand Russell
    titled: Why I Am Not a Christian. It was a book that greatly helped solidify many of my
    thoughts regarding questions I had been asking myself – directly and indirectly –
    since the mid 1950's.  However, I was then confronted with that ugly demon of truth that
    Carl Sagan has identified as the "Bamboozle Factor."

    Carl Sagan has describes this ugly factor in his book, The Demon Haunted
    World. On page 241 this is found: "One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve
    been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re
    no longer interested in finding the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too
    painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken . . . "

    This book by Bertrand Russell – Why I am not a Christian – enabled me to ask the
    questions – if only of myself – that I previously had not even considered. For me,
    the facts pointed a way to easily surmount the "Bamboozle Factor."
    For this "Bookworm Report," I will simply lift the description of this book from
    the back cover of the paperback edition that is dated 1957.

    "Dedicated as few men have been to the life of reason, Bertrand Russell has
    always been concerned with the basic questions to which religion also addresses
    itself–questions about man’s place in the universe and the nature of the good life,
    questions that involve life after death, morality, freedom, education and sexual
    ethics. He brings to his treatment of these questions the same courage, scrupulous
    logic and lofty wisdom for which his other work as philosopher, writer and teacher has
    been famous. These qualities make the essays included in this book perhaps the
    most graceful and moving presentation of the freethinker’s position since the days of Hume
    and Voltaire.

    "‘I am as firmly convinced that religions do harm as I am that they are
    untrue,’ Russell declares in his Preface and his reasoned opposition to any system or
    dogma which he feels may shackle man’s mind runs through all these essays in this
    book, whether they were written as early as 1899 or as late as 1954.

    "The book has been edited, with Lord Russell’s full approval and cooperation,
    by Professor Paul Edwards of the Philosophy Department of New York University. In an
    Appendix, Professor Edwards contributes a full account of the highly controversial
    ‘Bertrand Russell Case’ of 1940, in which Russell was judicially declared ‘unfit’ to teach
    philosophy at the College of the City of New York.

    "Whether the reader shares or rejects Bertrand Russell’s views, he will find
    this book an invigorating challenge to set notions, a masterly statement of a
    philosophical position, and a pure joy to read." 

    Russell Pizer

    KJZZ interview with local atheist activist

    Many of you know of Holly S. from the Phoenix Atheist Meetup Group.  Listen as she's interviewed on KJZZ's local Friday program "The Show".

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

    From the NY Times: Frank Bruni on "Between Godliness and Godlessness"

    Many Humanists profess to be spiritual but not religious.  Here's some support for that position from, of all people, Sam Harris.

    Frank Bruni: between Godliness and Godlessness

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

    Rituals for secular humanists?

    One of the topics of the September 7 meeting is whether humanists can benefit from rituals.  You can get a head start on forming your opinion by reading this article from The Atlantic

    Friday, August 1, 2014

    Does the Humanist mind fare any better than participants in this study?

    It seems that most people can't stand to be alone with their own thoughts.  What a tragedy!  Here's hoping that the Humanist mind is the exception.  Think about it when you're alone in your own head, if you can find the time, that is.

    Yet another new TV channel - but this time it's Atheist TV

    Here's another way to spend your TV viewing hours, a channel by and for atheists.  As they say, everyone else has a TV presence, so why not unbelievers?

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014

    Obviously not a Dawkins fan

    Here's someone who is not enamored of Richard Dawkins, erstwhile hero of the freethinking set.  Apply your humanist critical thinking here and make your own decision about the legitimacy of the attack.  Be sure to read the reader comments.

    Saturday, June 14, 2014

    Surprise! Atheists still don't get much acceptance

    Here's an article from Slate that shows where non-believers stand in the who-would-you-want-your-kid-to-marry poll.

    A link within that article that you may have missed points to a longer, meatier article in Salon about the contemporary face of atheism and, spoiler alert, the author doesn't think it's the Hitchens/Dawkins group.

    Friday, May 16, 2014

    "Soft Atheism"

    The Opinionator column from the New York Times has been running an interview series on religion.  Here's one that actually makes sense.   Some interesting back-and-forth on the subject of "transcendence".  Be sure to read down to the end where the interviewee makes the case for what he calls "refined religion" as a "half-way house" with secularism as the ultimate desired outcome.

    Sunday, April 27, 2014

    Glad to be godless at Camp Quest

    Thanks to member Mike Franklin, here's an article about Camp Quest from July of 2009.  Thanks to the wonders of the internet where nothing ever disappears, it's still available for your reading pleasure and just as relevant today as when it was published.  By the way, reading the comments were a treat, at least as far as I got they were thoughtful and well-put.  Of course they appeared to be mostly from fellow non-believers, which might explain the tone.  Perhaps the anti-atheists are farther down in the pack.

    Saturday, April 26, 2014

    English majors without enough to do....

    Your respectful blogger tries not to interject personal prejudices into this blog, but this article from Slate left me ROFL (or rolling on the floor laughing for those of you not into texting acronyms.)  I guess it's just another sign that too many college graduates are underemployed and are possibly searching for a way to justify spending that $120,000 on a BA in English.  (I almost said "god love 'em and then I remembered where and who I am.) If you read this article and disagree with my reaction, I'd love to hear from you.  If for no other reason than to know someone reads this blog occasionally.

    I did appreciate the fact that the article notes that at the time of Shakespeare the notion of atheism as a world view was just becoming possible.  One does well to remember that we are fortunate to have the option of being a humanist.

    Sunday, April 20, 2014

    Reclaim the Spring Festival

    Here's the poem read by Bruce Pettycrew for the Humanist Minute on April 20, 2014, known to some as Easter Sunday.  It is an excellent statement of how we should view the Spring Festival.

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

    Alcoholics Anonymous without a "higher power:

    It's now possible for freethinkers to attend an AA meeting without being a hypocrite or saying the Serenity Prayer.

    From the New York Times:

    Wednesday, February 12, 2014

    The Bad Astronomy guy answers 22 questions posed by creationists

    Phil Plait, the author of Slate Magazine's ever-informative and enjoyable Bad Astronomy blog takes on creationists after the infamous Bill Nye/Ken Ham evolution debate.

    Monday, February 10, 2014

    Another overwrought dismissal of the non-theist position

    From the New York Times comes this interview about the rationality of atheism.  One might question whether an individual who is a member of the Society of Christian Philosophers is an unbiased commentator.  One also might wonder why the interview went on and on and on without accomplishing much.  Read at your own risk.

    Would it be too much to hope for a follow-up interview on the rationality of theism?

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    Can Science Deliver the Benefits of Religion?

    This is a long article that makes some provocative points about a perennial question.

    Be sure to save time to read the comments which are often amusing and sometimes informative.