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Clay Farris Naff
Clay Farris Naff ( is a science writer with a special interest in the rational reconciliation of religions with science. An award-winning journalist and author, he has been a Tokyo correspondent for United Press International, a freelance reporter for National Public Radio, a science-and-religion columnist for the Metanexus Institute, and is the author or editor of numerous books, including most recently Free God Now! He has been a freelance writer for Newsweek, Earth Magazine, The Humanist, and Scientific American, among other publications. You can follow him at Twitter @claynaff, or join his Free God Now! page on Google+.or Facebook. Any opinions expressed are his alone.

Entries by Clay Farris Naff

Not OK: Oklahoma Marriage Bill Is Jaw-droppingly Unconstitutional

(18) Comments | Posted March 12, 2015 | 9:13 AM

A preacher of the Gospel, a priest, and a rabbi.

Sounds like front end of a bad joke, right? But that's the full list of religious officials deemed competent to perform marriages under HB1125, the bill that Oklahoma's House just passed in an attempt to restore ecclesiastical...

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The Retreat From Universalism: How Identity Politics and Old Time Religion Corrode Human Rights Progress

(2) Comments | Posted February 25, 2015 | 7:16 AM

Amid the ashes of World War II, with the stench of industrial-scale genocide in their nostrils, the nations of the world pledged to do better. They signed onto the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For the rest of the 20th century, human rights blossomed.

How can it be...

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If We Equate Muslims With Terrorists, al-Qaeda Wins

(20) Comments | Posted January 14, 2015 | 8:13 AM

Germans are a menace.

Long before there were Nazis, this was the prevailing sentiment in America's heartland. During World War I, patriotic Nebraskans formed "The Council of Defense" and went about intimidating anyone who spoke or published German. Propaganda, like the image below, stoked their righteous rage.

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An Open Letter to Warren Buffett: Why Not Run Those Coal-Fired Plants on Carbon Dioxide?

(0) Comments | Posted December 28, 2014 | 10:53 AM

Dear Mr. Buffett:

I hope this letter will please you. For one thing, this is the first open letter addressed to you in, gosh, nearly a month. What's more, I won't ask you for money, investment advice, or a tax-deductible contribution. I simply hope to point out...

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Do Bacteria Go to Heaven?

(10) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 9:53 AM

Pope Francis has hinted that all creatures go to heaven. 2014-12-15-popelamb717x450.jpg

"The Holy Scriptures teach us that the realization of this wonderful plan covers all that is around us, and that came out of the thought and the heart of God," Pope Francis said,...

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Does Ferguson Herald the End Times? Ptolemy Says No!

(4) Comments | Posted November 25, 2014 | 8:12 AM

These are dark and bloody days.

In Russia, Putin is out to restore, of all things, the Soviet empire. In China, Hong Kong's promise of freedom endures slow strangulation. In Europe, neo-fascist parties are scaling the heights of power. The Middle East, never at peace, has...

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Islamo-Fascism for Real: To Appease Islamists, Egyptian Court Makes a Travesty of Justice Over Gay Wedding

(0) Comments | Posted November 3, 2014 | 7:04 AM

Eight men attended what may have been a gay union on a boat on the Nile. We know this because in September a video of the event went public. The men were not seen to have engaged in any sexual acts; the most "damning" thing in the video is that...

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Claiming Their Place in the Pantheon of Religions: Pastafarians Go Mainstream

(5) Comments | Posted October 22, 2014 | 11:43 AM

Oh, dear. Have I unleashed a monster?

A Flying Spaghetti Monster, that is? Last month in these pages I published a call for government to treat the followers of His Noodliness just as they would believers in any other religion. This month, Pastafarians put the Feds to the test.


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The Vatican's Unfinished Business -- Accepting Gays Is Great, But What About Condoms?

(1) Comments | Posted October 14, 2014 | 8:11 AM

For all those who care more about fairness than doctrine, this is a moment to be savored. It is like the day in 1990 when Nelson Mandela was released from his South African jail: You just knew that apartheid's days were done.

Of course, South Africa was responding to tremendous...

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Is It Time for Government to Recognize the Rights of Pastafarians?

(17) Comments | Posted September 13, 2014 | 4:39 PM

What a difference a year makes.

Last September, when I attended Apostacon, an Omaha-based freethought conference celebrating the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the mood was all ribaldry, mockery and piracy. (Pirates, of the "arrrr, matey" variety, are considered misunderstood divine beings.)

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Why Is ISIS So Awful? Evolution, Ideology, Culture, and Sex

(10) Comments | Posted August 11, 2014 | 12:11 PM

Tossing prisoners into chasms, executing children, putting severed heads on display: In a region where brutality is common, ISIS certainly has made a name for itself. The militant Islamist group -- born of the carnage in Syria and Iraq, and led by

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Sherlock Holmes Versus God Almighty: Who Is More Real? The Multiverse Says Go With the Gumshoe

(7) Comments | Posted July 15, 2014 | 9:20 AM

All stories are true.

On its face, this is a preposterous statement. By definition fiction is false. The tourists who for decades sought out 221B Baker Street in hopes of glimpsing Sherlock Holmes were barking up an imaginary tree after fictional prey: neither the address nor the sleuth existed. Since...

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Michael Sam and the Last Few Yards: Will We Fumble?

(0) Comments | Posted May 13, 2014 | 4:12 PM

The sight of Michael Sam's eyes welling with tears will stay with me forever. Unfortunately, for the fanatics of Old Time Religion it's the sight of Sam kissing his boyfriend after becoming the first openly gay man drafted into the NFL that will remain indelible.

The religious right is...

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Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Putin, Religion and the Second Coming of Fascism

(36) Comments | Posted April 5, 2014 | 3:16 PM

Comparison with Nazis is so overdone that there's even a name for it: Godwin's Law. Still, the parallels with Putin's Russia right now are so very tempting: after the collapse of its empire a fumbling, nascent democracy creates an opening for a ruthless strongman who stokes the nation's wounded pride...

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Guns and Jesus (Not to Mention Mohammed)

(2) Comments | Posted March 14, 2014 | 8:49 AM

Grace Baptist Church in upstate New York, following the lead of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, is giving away an AR-15 assault rifle -- you know, the kind that killed kids at Sandy Hook Elementary.

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Is That the Best You've Got? Alvin Plantinga's Feeble Attack on Atheism

(34) Comments | Posted February 12, 2014 | 6:16 PM

Widely regarded as America's leading Christian philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, emeritus professor of philosophy at Notre Dame, offers what are presumably his best arguments against atheism and in favor of Christian belief in a lengthy New York Times "Opinionator" interview published earlier this week. Its headline: "Is Atheism Irrational?"

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Justice on Trial: Another Minister Breaks Church Law to Perform Gay Marriage

(5) Comments | Posted January 26, 2014 | 6:42 AM

"One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." -- Martin Luther King Jr.

Rev. Thomas Ogletree performed a marriage ceremony for his own son. For that, he will stand trial in March before an ecclesiastical court of the United Methodist Church. You see, his son is gay. Ogletree officiated...

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Indiana GOP: While Banning Gay Relationships, Why Not Enact White Supremacy, Too?

(628) Comments | Posted December 27, 2013 | 7:24 AM

Indiana already has a law banning gay marriage, complete with criminal penalties for pastors who perform same-sex rites, but that's not good enough for state Republicans. Prodded by right-wing religious groups such as the good Christian folks at the Indiana Family Institute, GOP legislators voted overwhelmingly...

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Let's Move Christmas to February!

(0) Comments | Posted December 19, 2013 | 9:17 AM


Though "Culture Wars" may rage over Christmas, the holiday brings a rare point of consensus among secular scholars and devout theologians: It ain't the birthday of Jesus, bub.

So little is known about the actual life of Jesus that the starting odds...

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God's Coming Phase Change: Can the Rising Generation Get Religion Right?

(115) Comments | Posted November 10, 2013 | 9:14 AM

Monotheism in the West has undergone two major adaptive changes in the past 2,500 years. A third great leap is nigh. Can it succeed? Whether you are religious or not, you'd better hope so.

Like life itself, religion has repeatedly met the challenge of extinction with a phase change --...

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