Guest post at Ed Brayton's blog is....

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Ritual Doesn't Do It For Me

Yesterday the Earth crossed the celestial equator. Since 21 December, the position of the sun on the eastern and western horizons has been shifting steadily northward, bringing more direct light to the northern hemisphere, and more oblique light to the southern hemisphere. These two days when the sun crosses the celestial equator are the equinoxes, equal nights, so named because the length of the day and the night are roughly equal. The equinoxes and solstices are days of significance which have been known to humanity for thousands of years. Our earliest religious rituals occurred on these days, calculated through generations of observation, and marked by stone circles in the landscape. The vernal equinox in particular was a day of celebration and renewal as life reemerged from its winter slumber. Wiccans…Read More

What Language Did Moses Write?

The Bible is a fascinating compendium of texts documenting hundreds of years of history and politics within its pages. However, the accuracy of this history should be taken with a very large pillar of salt. Despite its anachronisms, its contradictions, and its debatable veracity, it is nonetheless an accessible starting point for anyone interested in studying the history and culture of the ancient near east. The books of the Bible reflect a long literary tradition dating back to the very dawn of human civilization along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. This collected work is an analysis and interpretation of the growth and metamorphosis of a tiny nation in a narrow band of land found smack in the middle of numerous empires far more powerful. It reflects glimmers…Read More

"The New Agnostics" Appearance on HuffPost Live

I appeared today on the HuffPost Live news program to discuss the rise of the "Nones" in the millennial generation. You can check that out here.Read More

Robot Gender

David Willis gets me, and he has no idea who I am. Probably. Willis is the creator of several webcomic series, Roomies, It's Walky, Joyce and Walky, Shortpacked!, and Dumbing of Age. If you haven't read them, then you totally should because they are excellent. Why does Willis get me? In 1986, the animated Transformers movie released in theaters. I was twelve years old at the time and a serious Transformers geek. I went to go see it, not expecting to discover something very fundamental about my identity during the movie. That year, Transformers fans were introduced to the very first female Transformer, Arcee. I totally fell in love with Arcee. She was sexless, but still female, which turned out to be quite appealing to me. The character of Arcee…Read More

Studying Religion

When I tell people that I majored in religious studies at university, they sometimes leap to the conclusion that I must be religious. Why else would someone study religion? "So are you going to go to become a priest?" That was often the first question asked of me by people who didn't know what religious studies was all about. I would always replied with a nervous laugh and an emphatic "no". I didn't grow up religious. My first memory of anything religious was when I was around eight years old and I found myself at a Catholic mass. The experience wound up putting me off organized religion for the rest of my life, though it did leave my young mind wondering what it was about religion that brought so many…Read More

Response to the Response to Libba Bray recently posted a response to Libba Bray's description of what it's like to live with depression. You can find Bray's post here, and the response here.   As someone who's recently started writing about their own depressive issues, the exchange interested me. As people with mental health concerns become more vocal, and more visible, it's inevitable that they will also become more vocal about their disagreements. TheFerret doesn't pull any punches in his criticism of Bray's personal story. He calls out what he considers catering to a “Good Depressive Citizen” trope: the disingenuous tendency to write about depression in a way that distances it from yourself: “write a Very Articulate Post detailing your pain… …but do it from a distance. Write about it in a sad, somber tone.…Read More

Philosophy Discussion on 'Faith and Skepticism'

Justin Schieber, Elijah Thompson, Tyler McNabb, and myself were recently featured on the 'Faith and Skepticism' podcast: More

Apparently, Stafford Betty's God Still Isn't Big Enough for Me

It is often claimed that atheists (and other heretics) reject the wrong sort of God. Theologians assert that God's nature is far more mysterious than atheists recognize. True knowledge of God is far more hedged, tentative, and indirect than the dogmatists atheists are used to arguing with. If only atheists could be exposed to a much bigger and far more intellectually appealing deity then they would surely be able to believe. Such arguments are not new. Nor is the form which such arguments take. In 1709, William King authored a sermon entitled Divine Predestination and Foreknowledge, Consistent with the Freedom of Man's will. King's sermon was directed against heretic Pierre Bayle, who had apparently argued that several of God's properties are incompatible with the world we inhabit. For example, God's…Read More

Trying on Judaism

Have I ever told you about that time in my life when I considered converting to Judaism? A question was posed not long ago on the twitters asking how folks who self-identify as atheist/agnostic/nonreligious/etc arrived at that identification. My path went like this: no faith at all => potential convert to Judaism => Wicca => general paganism (Discordianism, specifically) => atheism So you read that correctly. There was a time in my life when I contemplated converting to Judaism. But why Judaism? It's not a proselytizing religion, as Jews generally become Jewish through matrilineal heritage, not through conversion. I knew more Christians than Jews. If I was looking for community, I could have very easily found it through Christianity but for the small fact that I found Christianity utterly contemptible…Read More