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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
Batten Down the Hatches
As I've mentioned before on this blog, I'm a born-and-bred New York City native. And as you may have heard, there's a bit of rough weather headed our way this weekend. In fact, it seems like freak events are becoming the new normal: first, the absurdly huge blizzards we got this winter, then the earthquake earlier this week (yes, I felt it), and now the hurricane. Sheesh, nature, what did we ever do to you to deserve this? (Don't answer that.)
There's no need to fret about me: I'm fully stocked up with supplies, and I don't live anywhere near the evacuation areas, so I don't anticipate that safety will be an issue. However, it's possible that I may lose electricity for a few days, and if that happens, I'll naturally be a little scarce on the net. I do have an internet-capable phone, and even a solar charger for it - three cheers for ThinkGeek and their catering to survivalist paranoia! - but of course, there's no way of knowing what the state of the cell network will be. So, if Daylight Atheism isn't updated for a few days, that's most likely why. I'll be back as soon as possible, so don't miss me too much!
Also, a reminder if you missed the first announcement: I'm coming to Chicago over Labor Day weekend. There's a meetup being organized; if you're interested in attending, send me an e-mail and let me know. I'll see it at some point before I arrive.
New Translation on Ebon Musings
I forgot to post this one along with the other translations that went up recently, but I'm happy to add that Ebon Musings now has a Portuguese translation of "All Possible Worlds". Thanks to Petrucio for the effort (and the pictures).
New Translations on Ebon Musings
I'm happy to announce that new translations have been posted for several of my articles on Ebon Musings, representing not one, not two, but three languages. My devious plan for world conquest is proceeding exactly on schedule!
My sincere gratitude to all these dedicated volunteers for their hard work! As always, additional volunteers are welcome.
Poll and Feedback: Proposed Advertising Policy
Since the beginning, I've resisted having paid ads on Daylight Atheism. But I'm wondering if the time has come to change that, and I'd like to know what readers think of the idea.
I've been thinking about this because, lately, I've been getting a more-than-usual number of e-mails from strangers who want me to promote their projects or give them financial help. The other week, there was one from a liberal Christian pastor who deplored how right-wing Christianity has become and wanted my help to raise funds for a documentary he was making that would, he claimed, get Christians back to "what God and the Bible say". (That one went into my "unclear on the concept of atheism" file.) This week, there was one from an atheist group asking me to spread the word about a new secular charity they're starting, and one from a P.R. agent for an indie film that he boasted was sympathetic to the atheist viewpoint, among others.
I want to do my part to help build the secular community, and I'm always willing to support worthy efforts toward that end. But I realize that I put my own credibility on the line when I endorse one of these projects, and I'm wary of asking anyone to spend time or money on an effort I personally know nothing about. (Also, I'm a little annoyed by the emotionally manipulative language in some of these appeals - in particular, the film promoter, whose e-mail read less like "We think this is a great film that your readers would enjoy," and more like "If you don't see this movie, the Christians win!")
It occurs to me that the best way to deal with e-mails like this would be to have paid ads, so people who write to me seeking publicity could just buy one. But until now, I've never had ads on this site because I personally find them distasteful. I know that some bloggers have them to defray hosting expenses, which has never been an issue for me - Daylight Atheism is my hobby and I have no problem paying the bills for it. But it would be a neat and simple way to handle requests like these, and it could be useful if the site ever does grow to the point where hosting would become a financial burden on me.
I haven't made up my mind about this by any means, and I'm hoping for some feedback about it. I'm still considering how I could implement ads if I do have them. One way would be to have small textual or image ads in the sidebar (no animated ads, I promise that). Another would be to have "sponsored posts" like some other sites do, though I worry if that wouldn't keep a sufficiently clear separation between my opinions and paid advertising. So, what do you think?
What would you think of ads on Daylight Atheism?
- I have no opinion one way or the other (10%, 42 Votes)
- I detest paid ads of any kind (11%, 46 Votes)
- I wouldn't mind sidebar ads, but wouldn't like sponsored posts (65%, 281 Votes)
- I wouldn't mind sponsored posts, but wouldn't like sidebar ads (2%, 10 Votes)
- I wouldn't mind either kind of ad (12%, 56 Votes)
Total Voters: 435
On the Treatment of Guest Authors
Now that I'm rested, I've been catching up on the posts written by my guest authors, as well as the 200+ comments they attracted. I'm mostly up to date now, and I have to say a few things about the way they were treated.
In particular, I want to speak to Leah's posts on mockery as a component of atheist strategy. I knew as soon as I saw those posts that they'd draw some sharp ripostes, which is fine. I'm not averse to people disagreeing with my guest authors - as some commenters noted, I personally differ with Leah regarding the wisdom of the PZ Myers "Crackergate" episode. I expect that anyone who posts on Daylight Atheism, either as an author or as a commenter, will be able to handle criticism. But a disappointing number of comments went well beyond that, crossing the line into rudeness, vitriol, and unwarranted personal attacks.
I'd prefer not to name names, but let me say that I find comments like "I hope Adam is back soon" to be highly offensive. I made my choices for guest authors because I had confidence in their abilities, and I interpret any personal slight against them as a personal slight against me. (There were some that were even more vicious and obnoxious, which I deleted. You know who you are.)
For the record, I'm pleased with all the guest posts and the conversation they inspired. Ideas like this are a valuable contribution to the discourse of the atheist community, even on the points where I don't fully agree with them. Although I believe that mockery has a place in our strategy, it's also necessary that we occasionally remind ourselves of the equal importance of civility and productive engagement. Leah's strategy isn't always the one I'd choose, but it has its place, and the many enlightening conversations that take place on her blog between atheists and religious believers are proof of that. She's emphatically not one of the Mooneyites whose only goal is to get other atheists to shut up, and I wouldn't have invited her to guest post if she was.
It seems there are some people who don't know what the word "accommodationist" means. In its original sense, that word was used to describe those who believe that religion and science occupy strictly non-overlapping spheres of thought, and that we must never argue that science disproves any religious belief. It's since widened somewhat to include those who urge atheists to stop criticizing religious belief or publicly expressing our atheism. But it's never referred to those who merely express the opinion that mockery and ridicule sometimes aren't the best strategy. If that's the definition of accommodationism, then I'm an accommodationist. (But it isn't, and I'm not.)
I don't like having to write posts like this, but it needed to be said. If Leah chooses to return to finish this conversation, as she's said she will, I trust she'll be treated with more civility.
I Have Returned
Greetings, all. I'm back safely from Spain - actually, I was back yesterday, but pretty much went right to bed when I got home to sleep off the jet lag and recover from general sleep deprivation. (You see, we were in Barcelona on Saturday night, which was when the home team won an important soccer match. The people were very enthusiastic in their public displays of approval, resulting in neither my wife nor I getting much sleep the night before our flight...)
In any case, I'm feeling rested and refreshed and more than ready to take up the reins of Daylight Atheism again. Many thanks to my guest admins, Leah, Ritchie and SuperHappyJen, for writing posts and looking after the site while I was away. I'm still catching up on comments, but things were certainly lively in my absence!
I'll have more to say about my trip soon, but for now, let me just say this: Spain is a beautiful, vital, romantic country with an almost ridiculously picturesque countryside, with vast fields of fiery red poppies and golden sunflowers, endless groves of olive and orange trees, mountaintop windmills, solar farms, and beaches and coasts overlooking the intense blue of the Mediterranean. It has spectacular art and architecture from every era from the Roman empire up to the modern day. And it has an abundance of the most morbid and gruesome religious iconography I've ever seen.
Despite its secular population and plummeting rates of church attendance, Spain bears the stamp of its long history as a Catholic theocracy. Churches and cathedrals dot every city, and most streets are named after Catholic kings, saints or religious figures. And all its churches, as well as most of its museums, contain endless depictions of Jesus being flagellated, Jesus being crucified, Jesus' dead body being taken down from the cross, and so on, all of them executed in all the gory and graphic detail that the greatest painters and sculptors of the Renaissance could conceive. It's not just Jesus who's shown suffering these torments, either: Peter being crucified and John the Baptist having his head cut off are also popular subjects.
This fixation on suffering is part of a larger, morbid fascination with death and martyrdom that's very much on display in the churches. One of the cathedrals we visited had the preserved, severed arm of a long-dead martyr on prominent display. The chapel where the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella are interred offers visitors the chance to descend into the crypt and see their lead-lined coffins. And in one cathedral we visited, the tour guide told us about the 600-year-old mummified body of a saint that's brought up from the crypt once per year and laid on the altar, in an open casket, as part of a popular festival that draws families. (She related with great amusement how parents warn their disobedient children that the dead saint would rise from his coffin and grab them if they didn't mend their ways.)
Anyway, I'll have more to say about that soon. I see there are a few important stories which happened while I was away, particularly the Damon Fowler case, which I'd like to tackle as well.
A couple of business items:
• The Rapture went off, or rather failed to go off, precisely on schedule. As predicted, Harold Camping has rejiggered his timetable to claim that May 21 was a "spiritual" event (where have we heard that before?) and that the rapture and global devastation he predicted are now delayed to October 21. (Predictably, there was no apology to the followers who quit their jobs or spent their savings to promote his message.) But it seems that he's now hedging his bets: he says that they "don't need to talk about it anymore", and the new, redesigned website no longer has any mention of the date.
• As I mentioned earlier this month, Team Awesome is still competing with PZ Myers in our fundraiser for Camp Quest. We put a variety of forfeits on the line depending on who wins... and, well, PZ made a snide remark about his adversaries lacking "manly facial hair", so I might have offered to grow some of my own in the event of our victory, just to make it clear who's got the testosterone around here. Only now I see that the dirty scoundrel is throwing the match!
This sort of skulduggery cannot stand. I hereby order you all to contribute to PZ!