Title Excerpt Author Date Total Comments Recent Comment
A Confutation of both Sam Harris and Richard Carrier on Science and Morality A refutation of an argument typically exposes a false or unknowable premise, or a fallacious inference. A confutation can admit the soundness of argument, while pointing out how it fails to prove what it was intended to prove.    Richard Carrier raises solid concerns about Sam Harris’s defense of the view… John Shook 09/05/13 8 10/03/13
Religion is the Opposite of Humanism The reflections of R. Joseph Hoffmann range widely across intellectual history and issues of broad humanist concern. A recent blog posting, “On the Dignity of Humanism,” makes uplifting observations about humanism’s lasting value, marked occasionally by his characteristic laments about the secular ‘movement’ lately.    Readers can judge the merits to his… John Shook 08/31/13 0
Skepticism and Humanism - Allies? No, skepticism doesn’t lead to moral principles. And no, kindly ethics won’t reveal good logic.  There doesn’t seem to be some third thing to generate them, either. Then I asked myself this question, “What would Bertrand Russell suggest?” One of the 20th century’s smartest and wisest nonreligious philosophers has a… John Shook 08/23/13 0
‘Atheophobia’ Hysteria? Readers of the magazine Humanist Perspectives (Canada) are getting the latest issue (Summer 2013) and opening it to read a most alarming report of treachery and sedition.    This article is titled “Trouble With Humanists: How atheophobic attitudes among Humanists compromise the fight for freedom of conscience” by David Rand… John Shook 07/30/13 1 08/02/13
Dawkins’ Tea Cup If any “Church of Atheism” needs to assemble its own sacred relics, here’s how to get started! The Secular Hub in Colorado - http://www.secularhub.com - recently hosted the second annual Colorado Secular Conference on July 20.  Yes, secular folks have a dry sense of humor too. This photo (thanks to… John Shook 07/24/13 1 07/25/13
You Aren’t Religious, But Who Are You? Researchers at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga have released some initial findings about the kinds of people who are generally categorized as unaffiliated—the “Nones”.    You can read their summary at their website: http://www.atheismresearch.com/   A summary of the research is also here: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/07/02/atheism-study-authors-congratulations-non-believers-youre-just-like-everybody-else/   What did they find about the kinds… John Shook 07/05/13 2 07/20/13
Atheist Mythology Atheists are an interesting group of people. They have little in common, in general. A finer bunch of reasonable people couldn’t be wished for. But maybe I’m just saying that because they are my “tribe.”    Like any “tribe,” they differ about how they express their disbelief in god and… John Shook 06/19/13 2 06/20/13
Does the Internet Generation Have Its Own Priorities? Watching and waiting for the Millennials has kept lots of cultural observers busy for a long time. Ever since the team of Howe and Strauss predicted back in 1991 that this generation would repeat the civic virtues of the GI ‘Greatest’ generation (see also their 2000 book Millennials Rising), endless forecasts… John Shook 05/25/13 2 06/20/13
Skepticism and Religion The divide within skepticism over religion is centuries old, and won’t go away. Fasten your seatbelts. PZ Myers just announced his divorce from the Skeptic Movement, based on manifestos by Jami Ian Swiss and others. Many have commented on this development. Daniel Loxton has supplied a lengthy defense of Skepticism’s “No… John Shook 05/09/13 20 05/26/13
Theology Just Won’t Understand Human Morality Religious philosopher David Baggett says that he is exasperated.  I had the pleasure of engaging him recently, at an event at the University at Buffalo.  You can watch the video here. Baggett kept asking whether a naturalist and humanist philosopher (like me) could take morality to be objective. I kept replying… John Shook 04/30/13 0
The Rise of the Post-Christians It is still said that America is a Christian nation. Really?   The rise of the Nones – people who don’t regard themselves as belonging to any religion – has risen to around 20% of America. What has not gotten as much attention is the rise of the “post-Christian” population,… John Shook 04/17/13 0
The Secular Agenda The Center for Inquiry is advancing the secular agenda on many fronts, as one can observe from posts here at Free Thinking blogs. Our upcoming conference on “Why Tolerate Religion?” will be in Washington, DC on April 27, 2013. For attendees, and folks unable to join us in DC, here is a… John Shook 03/25/13 0
Are Nonbelievers Perceived as Less Moral? You’ve seen the headlines: the nonreligious are perceived as less moral (less trustworthy, etc) that the religious.  Well, not so fast. Are such studies geting confirmed? The journal Secularity and Nonreligion has published fresh research that can’t find a bias against nonbelievers.   This new article, “Non-Theists Are No Less Moral Than Theists:… John Shook 03/12/13 3 03/15/13
Goodbye to an Evil Pope Goodbye, evil Pope. At least this Pope admitted that the Catholic Church is unable to decide what is good and what is evil. On December 20, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI described how the Catholic Church hasn’t had a consistent moral stand against the sexual abuse of children. As reported in… John Shook 02/28/13 4 03/01/13
What Did Science Owe to Christianity? Some notes while reading James Hannam, The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution (2011).... Indeed early scientists in Europe were all Christians. They were reading as much from Greek and Roman thinkers as they could, during the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. (There wasn’t… John Shook 02/16/13 2 02/16/13
Is Faith in God Reasonable? Debates about the existence of God can get tedious. It can be tedious for the debaters, too.  Theologian William Lane Craig and philosopher Alex Rosenberg debated the question, “Is Faith in God Reasonable” at Purdue University on February 1. The video is below. Dr. Rosenberg’s latest book is The Atheist’s… John Shook 02/04/13 0
Atheism and the Consolations of Philosophy It’s only natural that a belief system like religion would judge rivals by its own criteria for success.    Having nothing to instruct humanity about the realities of the world, religions can only appeal to the fantasies of the mind. Arouse the wildest fantasies, and any religion can then say,… John Shook 01/16/13 2 01/23/13
New Year’s Resolutions - For Humanity The Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems. We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look… John Shook 01/01/13 0
A History of Disbelief It’s still the best overview of atheism’s history on video.   Below is the first part of Jonathan Miller’s 3-part series, first broadcast in 2004 by the BBC as “Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief.”  In 2007 the series appeared in America as “A Brief History of Disbelief.”   The… John Shook 12/27/12 0
What Does Humanism Stand On? Traditional religion couldn’t reach objectivity, but it always accuses nonbelief of the same failure.   Religion in itself permits anything, since a god can command anything, and the world’s religions notoriously can’t agree on ethics. Yet religion perpetually thinks that a believer’s conviction in unquestioned moral rules is the same… John Shook 12/11/12 1 12/19/12
Richard Dawkins explains the Irrationality behind Miracles Do you know anyone who has witnessed a ‘miraculous’ event—so amazingly coincidental that it must have been invisibly controlled?  What about someone claiming to be able to predict the future? In this delightful talk on “Why Coincidences are Meaningless,” Dawkins explains why we are far more rational to put our… John Shook 12/05/12 0
Atheists, Nontheists, Agnostics, Faitheists, Apatheists, and now “Evatheists” Newly elected Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) isn’t a believer in God, but now it seems that she’s not a nonbeliever either.   Philosophers perk up their ears when informed that a logical dichotomy, such as “believer or nonbeliever” is in fact a false dichotomy. Let philosophers rethink their logic. We… John Shook 11/13/12 14 11/28/12
Religious War has been declared by the Religious Right In these final weeks and days of the 2012 Presidential election, religious war has been declared.   Minister and former politician Mike Huckabee narrates a political ad now circulating which says that anyone voting for Obama will end up in Hell.   The ad starts by announcing that the faithful… John Shook 11/01/12 5 11/02/12
A Tribute to Paul Kurtz, Secular Philosopher It may be difficult to recall nowadays, but there was a time when the greatest atheists were philosophical giants. They matched their metaphysical, theological, and political opposition with the kind of constructive argument and systematic philosophizing that they expected from rival thinkers in return. These giants never got wide respect,… John Shook 10/23/12 1 10/23/12
What the World Needs Most is Critical Inquiry We hear it at every event, big or small. We hear it from all sides, from every kind of attendee at Center for Inquiry events.    Maybe you’ve heard it yourself. “We need to get more people to understand critical thinking!” And maybe it has occurred to you that your… John Shook 10/15/12 1 10/16/12
How the West Was Civilized Despite Christianity Americans should ask themselves—Do you live in a Christian civilization?    You don’t live in a Christian nation, obviously. There’s nothing Christian about the US Constitution. Americans who still believe in that Trinitarian righteous God are no longer a majority. Americans attending church at least once a month haven’t been… John Shook 10/03/12 1 10/10/12
After Atheism It’s only natural for religion to keep thinking that it has the sole responsibility for leading humanity.     Enfolded in its own self-delusions of grandeur, religion can’t imagine how people could lead their own lives. After all, religion is not intelligently designed for promoting independence of thought. This leaves… John Shook 09/17/12 2 09/24/12
Religious Liberty - A Reality Check We’ve watched political candidates try to be the most “godly” and “faithful” for years.  Now they even use religious liberty as a weapon to fight for “most godly” status.  No, they aren’t talking about individual rights in the Constitution.  The new meaning of “religious liberty” now seems to be “religious… John Shook 09/09/12 0
‘Violence Against Women Act’ stalled over Inhuman Politics Politics is all too human, as we know.  Can’t we hope for some genuine humanity from our politicians?  Apparently not.  As we watch political parties appeal to demographic segments at circus-like conventions, Congress sits empty.  Important bills sit in piles.  Including some bills for laws that can mean life and… John Shook 08/29/12 0
Children Can’t Choose Their Religion, But Judges Can Do It For Them When a judge in the United Kingdom ruled last week that a 10-year-old girl, born into a Jewish family, can be baptized according to her wishes, is this child choosing a religion, or is this judge really choosing it for her?   I can’t see how this judge’s decision does… John Shook 08/06/12 2 08/06/12
Being an Agnostic Isn’t so Simple Anymore It’s only natural to suppose that a person doesn’t have to think of one’s self as an atheist in order to be a nonbeliever. These are more liberated times, right? If religion can’t dictate your creed, then nothing else should be able to, either. Stay flexible, right? You might have… John Shook 07/20/12 4 07/24/12
The Unbelief Generation - Millennials are the Secular Future People are starting to really notice how the Millennial Generation (30 years old and younger) is so much more secular than any American generation before it. As the polling numbers keep rolling in, I am struck by the repetition of the number 70%.  Watch out for that figure—when seven out… John Shook 06/26/12 0
You Might Be An Atheist Who is an atheist? Polls produce all sorts of statistics about what people say to questioners, but each person has to first think for themselves.  Honest thinking can produce surprising results. Dan Dennett’s terrific talk about how “you might be an atheist” can be viewed below.  Got me thinking too,… John Shook 06/11/12 0
Who is still going to Church? One measure of the decline of church strength and authority is church membership and attendance.  And by that measure, U.S. secularity is rising to surprising heights.  Church-goers are now a minority in America. Churches don’t regard people showing up just a few times a year as real church-goers, and they… John Shook 05/22/12 5 05/27/12
Sam Harris’s New Plan for the War on Islam Sam Harris now wants extra security screenings for everyone who looks Muslim (see his April 28th blog). The Center for Inquiry, the American Humanist Association, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and many other secular and civil rights organizations disagree, publishing a letter against religious profiling. Who is… John Shook 05/02/12 12 05/08/12
I’m So Over God—but I’m No Atheist! It’s only natural for leaders in secular organizations to get asked questions about the differences between atheists, agnostics, secularists, humanists, freethinkers, rationalists, and so forth. I rather imagine that typical answers have more to do with the sorts of people one’s own organization is trying to recruit, than with any… John Shook 04/17/12 10 04/19/12
Don’t Bother Praying Before That Exam It’s only natural to think that religious people could benefit a little from some religious practices.  Not because some God will answer the call—nope, that isn’t happening—but only because inner psychological forces might possibly deliver some help.  Perhaps religious cues energize a few cognitive systems for believers, or perhaps religious… John Shook 04/07/12 0
Is there Nothing Wrong with Being Religious? It feels unnatural to be reading philosopher Alain de Botton’s new book, Religion for Atheists.  His title doesn’t have a ghost of a chance with me. Keeping up with scientific accounts of religion myself, I don’t need reminding that De Botton is expressing a theory that certain forms of religious… John Shook 03/17/12 8 04/17/12
Christians Protesting at the Reason Rally If you need one more reason to join us at the Reason Rally in Washington DC on March 24th, here’s another: Christians unhappy about this huge display of rationality are planning to attend, too.  A sampling of their announced plans: http://www.crossexamined.org/blog/?p=286   http://www.theblaze.com/stories/evangelicals-to-hold-true-reason-rally-to-coincide-with-atheist-woodstock-in-d-c/    http://www.thinkingchristian.net/2012/02/come-to-the-reason-rally/      http://www.reasonsforgod.org/2012/02/the-reason-rally/   Let’s… John Shook 03/04/12 9 03/10/12
Where are all the Atheists? The NONES, the NONS, and the SHUNS Barry Kosmin’s ARIS 2008 survey has supplied the most detailed look at American religious identity yet. That category of the “Nones”—people who said “None” when asked to label their religious identity—now encompass 15% of Americans, up from 8% in 1990. The social category of the Nones gathers people together according… John Shook 02/25/12 3 02/27/12
Religion and Xenophobia It’s not the fault of atheists. It’s the religion that makes religious people distrust others so different from themselves. The social sciences have long been studying how religion increases trust among congregants who already know each other inside a church, but trust drops towards unfamiliar people. If the cause for… John Shook 02/12/12 1 02/13/12
How Unnatural Is Religion? For a species as thoroughly encultured as we are, it is curious how we often seek a more ‘natural’ way of living. This quest for naturality is itself a by-product of advanced-stage civilization. Ponderings about how far we have strayed from the ‘natural’ life that was good enough for the… John Shook 01/27/12 8 01/29/12
The Tebow Effect It’s only natural to expect that Tim Tebow’s full-frontal Christianity on the football field would please lots of fellow Christians, football fans or not. While this religious effect is a sure bet, his effects on the secular world are not so easy to forecast. Here’s my bold weekly picks: Tebow… John Shook 01/12/12 2 01/16/12
A New Year’s Resolution: Admit You are an Atheist It’s only natural that many atheists have trouble admitting to themselves that they are atheists. The way people categorize themselves is often tightly linked to the way we want others to see us. The negative social connotations attached to atheism are familiar to everyone. That’s why polls that ask “Are… John Shook 12/31/11 18 01/16/12
Naturalism vs. Supernaturalism: Framing the Debate In modern times, naturalism and supernaturalism are the only serious worldview competitors. Naturalism—the scientific worldview—takes reality to be what verifiable observation and scientific method discovers. Much has been explained by science, and much more will be. As science has shined its light of knowledge farther into nature, religion’s God has… John Shook 12/14/11 4 12/19/11
Who Trusts Gallup Polls about Religion? Expert demographers on nonbelief in America have figured that Gallup’s reassuring polls about SO many god-believers couldn’t be reliable.  Sure, pioneer George Gallup was quite religious, and happily asked simplistic questions about religion for decades. “Over 90% of Americans keep firmly believing in God” has been the refrain from Christians… John Shook 12/02/11 6 12/06/11
Proving God’s Existence is Impossible Among your humbler atheists and typical agnostics, common phrases can be overheard. “Show me the evidence for God,” they say. “I’m not close-minded, just skeptical” is another cliché. Some atheists may be so bold as to announce, “Sure, I’d admit there’s a proof for God, if clinching evidence were presented… John Shook 11/16/11 29 12/14/11
Secularism and Religion - Where’s the Fight? Two meanings of “secularism” have dominated lately. One meaning is preferred by militant religionists, and the other is genuinely accurate. Frustrated religious people have perverted the meaning of “secular” and “secularism” to include anything that stands in their way. Unable to control major social institutions to their liking, eager theocrats… John Shook 11/10/11 0
Secular Humanism Greets the Seven Billionth Person The surprising news is not that the world has reached seven billion people. That figure was predicted many years ago. A different surprise has emerged recently. Looking further ahead, overpopulation in itself will not be the world’s primary problem within another generation or so. In all likelihood, within fifty years… John Shook 11/01/11 1 11/04/11
Harvard Prof. Alan Dershowitz on Secularism Below is a fascinating lecture about secularism by Professor Alan Dershowitz.  His talk was given during a 2007 conference on “Secular Society and its Enemies” in New York City, organized by the Center for Inquiry. Some highlights to watch for: minutes 5-7—Dershowitz doesn’t equate secularism with civic condemnation or state… John Shook 10/21/11 3 11/17/11
Page 1 of 4   1 2 3 >  Last »