Of Gender, Language, and Clarity

September 02, 2014

FREE INQUIRY columnist Greta Christina wrote a great essay for her other column (over at THE HUMANIST) about issues associated with treating transgender people with respect. (No idea whether it's online, but the column "Trans People and Basic Human Respect" is on pages 38-39 of the new September-October issue.) ... At one point Christina writes that some transgender people "choose to be identified with the gendered pronouns 'he' and 'she,' while others prefer new gender-neutral pronouns like 'zie' and 'hir' or use 'they' as a singular pronoun." I'm down with all of that except the last bit. Using "they" as a singular pronoun ... strikes me as going one step too far, because it unnecessarily degrades the clarity of our language in regards to number.

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Really, Mr. Friedman?

August 06, 2014

Writing from Tel Aviv, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman today  surveyed the current Israeli-Gaza war and sighed, "More and more, this is becoming a religious conflict." Becoming, Mr. Friedman? Really? The seemingly-perpetual crisis in the Middle East has been a religious conflict -- not totally, but significantly (and often principally) since its beginnings. And all three Abrahamic faiths bear guilt, in my view.

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For many U. S. Christians, It’s Still “Subdue the Earth”

July 18, 2014

Rank-and-file Christians seem to be less concerned about the environment than other Americans -- and also, less concerned than their pastors think they are.

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The Dry Humor of Samuel Alito

July 01, 2014

Not since Mick Jagger promoted the upcoming Monty Python reunion concert by complaining about old stars from the 60s who just endlessly rehash their own stuff (OK, that was earlier this week) has anyone displayed mastery of dry British humor like U. S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Jr.

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Ingersoll Museum Renovation: Progress Report

March 18, 2014

It's been a vicious winter; nonetheless progress continues toward the installation of the all-new T. M. Scruggs Museum Interior. Herewith, some progress photos.

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A Classic Article on the Religious/Secular Humanist Divide

February 21, 2014

From time to time I'll flag classic articles from back issues of FREE INQUIRY -- pieces that are worth another read today if you keep your physical back issues. If you're a current FI subscriber, you can also read the article online (link at bottom of this post).

 From the Summer 2002 issue (Volume 22, No. 3), Bible scholar Robert M. Price limns the difference between religious and secular humanism about as elegantly as one can. 

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2014 Will Be a Big Year for the Ingersoll Museum

February 21, 2014

2014 will be an epic year for the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum in Dresden, New York. Last year we challenged our donors and friends to raise $70,000 for a long-needed redesign of the museum interior. They exceeded the target by more than $20,000. We're well into the redesign process. The Museum will open in May with all-new exhibits and expanded promotion, and in August we'll have an Ingersoll-themed mini-conference in western and central New York State. For the full story see the link at the bottom of this post!

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Catholicism’s Sex Abuse Scandal Goes Global

February 05, 2014

The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child savaged the Vatican today, in a report that accused the worldwide Roman Catholic Church of "systematically" allowing priests to rape and otherwise sexually abuse tens of thousands of children -- and then to evade responsibility for their acts -- over multiple decades. In one sense, this is only a capstone for a scandal that's been erupting in country after country for almost three decades. But freethinkers shouldn't allow the fact that this scandal has been grinding on for so long to blind them to the sheer fact of what a huge, even extraordinary development it represents.

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Nye/Ham Debate Probably a Bad Idea, but I’d Love to Be There for It

January 03, 2014

Planetary Society director and forever "Science Guy" Bill Nye has apparently agreed to debate young-earth creationist Ken Ham on February 4th at Ham's sprawling Creation Museum in northern Kentucky. At least Ham says so on his website, and I haven't seen a denial from the Nye camp yet. Opinions are mixed on this, and mine are too -- there's a very real risk that Nye will shine a fresh spotlight on a fading evangelist whose museum has lately been grasping at straws to keep its attendance numbers up. But it's sure to make for great theater.

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The Difference between Religious and Secular Humanism in Its Essence

December 30, 2013

In a Guardian blog, New Humanist commentator Suzanne Moore has -- if inadvertently -- defined the key difference between religious humanists and secular humanists in a very few words.

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