Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fowles on the obligation to be an atheist

In 1998, John Fowles (author of The Magus and The Aristos) was quoted in the New York Times Book Review as saying, "Being an atheist is a matter not of moral choice, but of human obligation."

(Source: WP)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Atheism in popular culture #271: "I need it to be real"

In Season One Episode 12 (2013) of the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black", the character Piper Chapman is rebuffing another inmate who is pressuring her to concede to be baptized:
I believe in science. I believe in evolution. I believe in Nate Silver and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Christopher Hitchens. (Although I do admit he could be a kind of an asshole.) 
I cannot get behind some supreme being who weighs in on the Tony awards while a million people get whacked with machetes. 
I don't believe a billion Indians are going to hell. I don't think we get cancer to learn life lessons, and I don't believe that people die young because God needs another angel. 
I think it's just bullshit, and on some level, I think we all know that, I mean, don't you?... 
Look, I understand that religion makes it easier to deal with all of the random shitty things that happen to us. And I wish I could get on that ride, I'm sure I would be happier. But I can't. Feelings aren't enough. I need it to be real 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Blogger skeptical & compassionate, if unfair toward antitheists. Also, dragons.

Blogger Lindy West, responding to a creationist's argument that dragons were literally real:
Now, I don't personally believe in Satan (or dragons, or demons, or resurrection, or underground pits of eternally burning gay people, or that a guy can build a campfire in a whale's colon), but I don't mind if people do as long as their commitment to literalism remains wholly separate from my country's legislation and scientific progress. I recognize that religious beliefs, institutions, and structured rituals—even ones that seem arbitrary to an outsider—can be extremely fortifying for people, especially communities of people that have been abandoned or demonized by the status quo.
On the one hand, this is a great succinct example of sound and healthy skepticism. On the other hand, West is implicitly throwing critics of religion under the bus (specifically, those critics who do mind if people believe in supernatural entities, and who think that such belief helps to normalize certain undesirable and dangerous attitudes and behaviors).

On the other other hand, she acknowledges the benevolent role religious participation can play in believers' lives, without endorsing said supernaturalism. Two out of three ain't bad! (via Jezebel)


And, how could we deprive you of the opportunity to watch a guy argue for the existence of dragons on theological grounds? Here's the video from the Jezebel post:

Monday, August 05, 2013

Photos from the 2013 GBH picnic

Greg Epstein spoke this weekend at the Greater Boston Humanists annual summer cookout, and shared some tantalizing details about the Humanist community center soon to open in Harvard Square for the benefit of all members of the local secular community. (More photos from the event can be seen at