Daylight Atheism Has Moved to Big Think

Change has come at last! As of today, Daylight Atheism is officially moving to its new home at Big Think. I'm planning to hit the ground running, so be sure to go there to see all my new posts.

For the moment, www.daylightatheism.org still goes to this site, but expect that to change very soon. Within a few days, I'm going to put in a redirect that will send anyone who types that URL to my blog's new address at Big Think, which, again, is:

http://bigthink.com/blogs/daylight-atheism

The site you're reading right now is going to remain up as an archive. Since the front page is going to become a redirect, if you want to browse the old posts, bookmark http://www.daylightatheism.org/archive. That's a stable address that won't change, and my Big Think blog will have a link to it as well.

I'm also going to put in a redirect for the RSS feed, so in theory, RSS subscribers should be seamlessly redirected to the new site. If that turns out not to work, I'll put up another post with the new feed address. Again, expect this to happen within a few days.

Hope to see you on the new site! Come and say hello.

October 4, 2011, 6:29 pm • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink13 comments
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Still Here, For Now

As I mentioned earlier, yesterday was my official start date as a blogger for Big Think. However, it appears they're not quite ready yet, so I'm going to continue blogging here for now. I'll update with more information when I have it.

October 2, 2011, 8:46 am • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink1 comment
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Take Action: Speak Out on "Conscience Clauses"

The other day, I got this action alert from FFRF that I thought was worth passing along:

As you may know, on August 1st, 2011, the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor, and Department of Health and Human Services jointly announced new guidelines for access to preventative care. The new regulations greatly expand access to preventative care under the new health care act, particularly for women. One of the most significant changes is the provision that all FDA-approved contraceptives (including emergency contraception), as well as contraceptive counseling and education, shall be provided without a co-pay fee.

...Ironically, while these provisions are almost certain to reduce the number of abortions in the U.S., religious groups are fighting these health services and demanding broad exemptions based on religious and "conscience" grounds.

...FFRF would prefer that no religious employer exemption be provided. However, some religious groups are agitating for broader exemptions... They want to grant religious third parties the right to deny medical care and FDA-approved treatment on the basis of personal "conscience" – without regard to the conscience of the women who are actually impacted by these preventative services! Reproductive rights opponents, particularly Catholic and evangelical organizations, are lobbying to expand this narrow exception so that any organization even vaguely affiliated with religion (such as denominational hospitals open to the public) can deny basic healthcare to women in need of contraception and contraceptive counseling.

Full coverage for contraceptives is one of the all-too-rare unequivocally good moves by the Obama administration, and we can't let the advocates of religious misogyny dilute it. The "conscience clause" is an insidious and harmful way for believers to claim that their superstitions excuse them from complying with the law, and we need to push back against its expansion. The administration should hear loud and clear from us that any exceptions to this rule should be as narrow as possible.

If you want to leave a comment, go to regulations.gov, click on the "submit a comment" button, and enter "CMS-9992-IFC2" into the keyword search field. There will be three results, which all refer to this same regulation, so you can comment on any of them. The comment period closes on Friday, so get to it!

Here's the one I sent in:

To Whom It May Concern:

Access to contraception is a human right and should be protected accordingly. That's why I'm writing to urge you not to expand the exemptions to the recently announced rule that requires all employers to cover contraception for their employees without a co-pay.

The vast majority of men and women in America, regardless of their religious beliefs, use contraception at some point during their lives. Birth control ensures that every child is a wanted child, and by doing so, leads to happier and more stable families and less poverty and more education for children. There's every reason for a democratic government to strongly support its use and ensure that everyone who wants it has access to it. Please don't bow to the demands of a small, noisy minority. Leave this rule as is!

September 27, 2011, 7:17 pm • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink10 comments
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His Noodly Appendage, Now in Yarn Form

I'm inordinately pleased by this. :)

Earlier this summer, I threw in for a fundraising contest for Camp Quest, pitting a team of us lowlier bloggers against the Dark Overlord himself. The over $30,000 we collectively raised was reward enough for me, but I just received a completely unexpected thank-you gift in the mail: a hand-crocheted Flying Spaghetti Monster, crafted by Sue Henry and Kelley Freeman of the Secular Student Alliance. Thanks, Kelley and Sue! I shall display it with pride, and whenever I see it on my desk, I'll be reminded that the FSM and His glorious noodly appendage are always watching over us.

Isn't he cute?

I decided to reenact the FSM's creation of the universe. (Desktop image by Digital Blasphemy.)

September 25, 2011, 4:20 pm • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink4 comments
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Catch Me on Ring of Fire This Weekend

I'm very pleased to announce that I'm going to be on Ring of Fire Radio this weekend, discussing my recent AlterNet article on creationism with Mike Papantonio. (Some of you may remember Papantonio as the voice of reason in Jesus Camp. They also used to be part of Air America, and it's good to see they've forged ahead on their own.)

There's a list of local stations that carry Ring of Fire. There's also a downloadable podcast, though it's not free, I'm afraid. I believe it's also available through the iTunes store.

If you do catch the interview, let me know what you think! I'm not the best at extemporaneous speaking, I have to admit - I prefer to have my speeches prepared in advance. But I'm thrilled for the opportunity, and this ought to be a lot of fun.

September 15, 2011, 8:19 pm • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink0 comments
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Got a Question for Penn Jillette?

If you've read Penn Jillette's new book God, No! and want to ask him something about it - or if you just have a general question you've been dying to ask him - then this is your lucky day!

My soon-to-be blog home, Big Think, is having Penn back for an interview on Friday, and they're soliciting reader questions. Presumably, he'll answer some of them. If you've got a question for him, post it in the comments on Big Think (or post it here - I'll send them in to the overlords).

This one is mine:

Hello Penn,

Glad to see you’re doing this. I’ve followed you with interest for a long time – I met you after your show in Vegas a few years ago, though I’m sure you don’t remember. (I still have a picture of me and you, though!)

I just finished reading God, No!, and I was hoping you’d address a conflict I find in your thinking. From the book and from watching shows like Bullshit!, I know you’re an atheist who values skepticism and critical thinking. But in that book, you’ve also made it clear that you’re a libertarian who values a minimal state and considers it immoral to tax people for any other reason, even if the goal is something good like education or medical research.

From the work of sociologists like Gregory S. Paul, we know that religion and other kinds of harmful superstition flourish best in poverty-stricken, unstable, uneducated, grossly unequal societies. If we as a society don’t commit to educating people, to teaching them how to think, and to providing them some measure of peace and prosperity in this world, they’ll always be fearful, ignorant, and hungry for miracles – easy prey for any religious huckster or demagogue who comes along. And you know as well as I do how this threatens the well-being of the rest of us. Do you think that a true libertarian state could ever effectively address this problem?

September 13, 2011, 8:50 pm • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink32 comments
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Daylight Atheism Moves to Big Think

Well, I think I've kept you all in suspense long enough. :)

Today, I'm announcing that I've accepted an offer to join Big Think, a media website whose purpose is to bring together ideas, opinions and commentary from some of today's great minds. Big Think's signature offering is its video interviews with an impressive range of newsmakers and luminaries, including Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, James Randi, Daniel Dennett, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Sam Harris, Steven Pinker, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, and many more. Big Think was declared one of the 50 best websites of 2011 by Time magazine, and just recently announced The Floating University, a video lecture series in the liberal arts that will be used in courses taught concurrently by Harvard and Yale this fall.

With this move, Daylight Atheism will come under Big Think's umbrella. I'll be joining their other house bloggers, the ranks of which include Michio Kaku, Lindsay Beyerstein, and, um, Matthew Nisbet. (OK, so two out of three ain't bad.)

The move is effective October 1. Here's how it's going to work: The site you're reading right now will stay up as an archive. Permalinks to my past posts won't change, and I see no reason to close comments on the ones that are still open. Ebon Musings will be unchanged as well. But www.daylightatheism.org will redirect to my new home at Big Think, and my new posts will appear there. I haven't yet figured out whether RSS readers will have to resubscribe or whether I can transparently redirect the feed from this site to its new URL at Big Think, but I will if I can.

Comments? Questions? Post them below - I'll answer whatever I'm able to.

September 8, 2011, 5:45 am • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink28 comments
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Thanks to Chicago Readers

Thanks to all who attended the meetup in Chicago this past weekend! As always, it was a pleasure to meet and talk to the real people who read Daylight Atheism, including one who made a very long drive to attend. (I still find it weirdly flattering that people are interested in meeting me.) I also got my first taste of real Chicago deep-dish pizza, which was delicious although - sorry, I'm a New Yorker to the bone - I still prefer the New York thin-crust variety.

I had a great time in Chicago, and in addition to doing plenty of sightseeing, I got to meet both Hemant of Friendly Atheist and Jerry Coyne, both of whom showed my wife and me wonderful hospitality. I still have to go through my pictures, but I may post some of the better ones in coming weeks.

And yes, the people who were there got to find out my big secret announcement in advance. The rest of you will have to wait a few more days. (If you were there, no spoilers!)

September 5, 2011, 1:15 pm • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink9 comments
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A Change Is In the Air

Here in New York, it's been a hot, relentless summer. But in the last few days, the first hints of fall are making themselves known: the earlier fading of the light, a sudden crispness in the air, a touch of cool in the breeze. And since autumn is a time of change and transition in the wider world, it's only fitting that it be the time for a change in this site as well.

Daylight Atheism has been my home on the 'net for over five years. I've always thought of it that way, as you can probably tell from the category names in the sidebar on the right. When I started this project, I never gave much thought to how it would conclude or what would come next. But nothing lasts forever, everything is impermanent (which is one thing the Buddhists got right), and I'm no exception.

In the next few days, I'm going to make a major announcement about the future of this site. Stay tuned!

September 1, 2011, 5:44 am • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink34 comments
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Weekly Link Roundup

The storm may rage and the winds may howl, but I'm still here! (So far.) Here's a couple of interesting stories I didn't have time to write more about this week:

• Following Rick Perry's urgent prayers for rain in his drought-stricken state, Tropical Storm Don formed in the Gulf, headed toward Texas, and then dissipated before dropping any significant rain. The drought continues. How long will it be before Perry's Christian supporters start to seriously consider if God is punishing him for something?

• The Filipino Freethinkers win "The One" category at the Tatt Awards! Congratulations to the FF, and thanks to everyone who voted for them.

• Following some very disappointing decisions at the United Nations, here's one that's a welcome change: the UN affirms that criticizing religion is a human right.

• Jon Huntsman torpedoes his chance at the Republican presidential nomination by announcing he doesn't deny two of the foundational theories of modern science.

• The U.S. defense agency DARPA plans to award half a million dollars in seed money for a feasibility study for a ship that could send human beings to another star. This money is a drop in the bucket next to the trillions that would actually be needed to construct such a ship, but it's good to see that some people still have the ability to contemplate the biggest and most adventurous questions.

• Sam Harris writes a superb article on Objectivism. "Many of my critics imagine that they have no stake in the well-being of others. How could they possibly benefit from other people getting first-rate educations? How could they be harmed if the next generation is hurled into poverty and despair? Why should anyone care about other people’s children? It amazes me that such questions require answers." (Edit: But please see this disclaimer.)

• In a previous post, I wondered if the Irish government would match its harsh condemnation of the Vatican with action by seizing and auctioning church property to compensate the victims of church-sanctioned sexual assault. I'm extremely pleased to read that they're doing just that, pressing the church to hand over control of land and schools and pay half the compensation bill for abuse victims in Roman Catholic children's homes.

August 28, 2011, 12:59 am • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink23 comments
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