Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, February 13, 2017

Illegitimate legislation

Peter Boghossian (@peterboghossian)
Even by 2017 standards, this is deranged. twitter.com/GodDoesnt/stat…

Republican lawmaker in Tennessee proposes bill designating children born via artificial insemination "illegitimate."

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Necessity of Secularism

“We’re living in the midst of a revolution in human attitudes and belief. In much of Europe and North America and other areas of the developed world, such as Australia and Japan, large portions of the population are now nonreligious, that is, they reject belief in God and transcendent spiritual entities of any sort. This is an unprecedented moment in the history of humanity. As far as we can tell, belief in gods and spirits was nearly universal until the late eighteenth century; widespread religious skepticism, such as we are now experiencing, is a phenomenon of just the last few decades.
The consequences of this dramatic shift in beliefs are still unknown, because we are living through this change. All we can say with certainty at the present is that we’re in unfamiliar territory. Humanity has never been in this situation before.”

–Ronald Linday, The Necessity of Secularism, pg 13

via RDF

The humanist chaplain godfather

The son of a famous pastor, Bart Campolo is now a rising star of atheism — using the skills he learned in the world he left behind.
"...Campolo eventually came across a book called “Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Believe,” by Greg M. Epstein, the head of one of the most influential humanist groups in the country, Humanist Hub. The group began at Harvard and now has anywhere from 300 to 350 people at its weekly meetings, only a third of them students. Epstein, 39, its leader since 2005, has become a godfather to the movement, the anti-Dawkins. He doesn’t want to lecture people or talk them out of anything; he sits with them in circles, sips water from coffee mugs and listens..."
(continues, nyt)

Monday, December 5, 2016

An atheist church sermon

New Humanist (@NewHumanist)
Preaching to the converted: Julian Baggini reflects on giving an atheist church sermon. newhumanist.org.uk/articles/4952/…

...“I’m not religious, but I am spiritual.” I told the congregation what I thought people meant by this. They mean that they reject the creeds and institutions of traditional religions, organised or not. They can’t accept that any religion has a claim to divine truth when history suggests that every religion is the product of the particular time and place in which it emerged. Religions are too obviously human institutions to own universal truth, and sacred texts too obviously the product of the human hand to claim divine authorship.

Nor do the best-known teachings of the main religions make sense to them. They don’t believe in the stories of ancient miracles, of angels dictating God’s word, of a saviour rising from the dead. Even more unbelievable is the need to perform certain rituals in order to attain salvation, or at least to have a relationship with God.

But rejecting all this does not mean they are willing to embrace the full-blown naturalism of atheism. They cannot believe there is nothing more than the physical realm. They believe that there is more to life than the material, and that something they give the label “spiritual”.

All this I can see. But I think the division between the religious and the spiritual that it suggests is profoundly misleading. Consider the category of the “spiritual”. It is often used to cover anything that cannot be understood in purely physical terms, like love, beauty and morality. These things comprise the “something more” than the physical that those who call themselves spiritual often seek...

-Julian Baggini, continues

Monday, November 21, 2016

We're in trouble

Maria Popova (@brainpicker)
#MiamiBookFair2016 hotel drawer. Until this country starts placing "On the Origin of Species"alongside it in hotel drawers, we're in trouble pic.twitter.com/jodPLhiYaV

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Carroll's Considerations

Sean Carroll is one wise theoretical physicist and "poetic naturalist." His Ten Commandments Considerations, resisting the unfortunate human impulse to tell one another what to do, deferring instead to one another's mental freedom:
  • Life Isn’t Forever.
  • Desire Is Built Into Life.
  • What Matters Is What Matters To People.
  • We Can Always Do Better.
  • It Pays to Listen.
  • There Is No Natural Way to Be.
  • It Takes All Kinds.
  • The Universe Is in Our Hands.
  • We Can Do Better Than Happiness.
  • Reality Guides Us.
Naturalists accept that life is going to come to an end — this life is not a dress rehearsal for something greater, it’s the only performance we get to give. The average person can expect a lifespan of about three billion heartbeats. That’s a goodly number, but far from limitless. We should make the most of each of our heartbeats.
The finitude of life doesn’t imply that it’s meaningless, any more than obeying the laws of physics implies that we can’t find purpose and joy within the natural world. The absence of a God to tell us why we’re here and hand down rules about what is and is not okay doesn’t leave us adrift — it puts the responsibility for constructing meaningful lives back where it always was, in our own hands.