The distrust, indeed the dislike, of atheists has been growing of late, possibly due to a bunch of not previously declared atheists suddenly "coming out of the closet." And given that, 50 Great Myths About Atheism has appeared at a very good time indeed.
They are drawn to take the journey toward individuation rather than individualism, and for many, that journey is not just a progression toward a healthy ego--invaluable as that is in itself--but also an opening to the transcendent dimensions of human experience.
When critique becomes belittling, when poking fun becomes ridiculing, the respect that is the foundation for any meaningful conversation is lost.
The age of three is an awfully early age to pose such in-depth concepts as the Trinity and the Immaculate Conception, but my daughter is certainly mature enough to start grasping concepts of real vs. pretend, and belief vs. non-belief.
Popes no longer ride the sedia gestatoria. They no longer wear the triple tiara. But other aspects of the monarchy remained firmly in place until the auspicious year 2013.
There's another current in our American culture that runs deep and is seriously problematic, probably even the worm that will eventually lead to the fall of the American empire: We are profoundly anti-intellectual.
For the next 12 months I will live as if there is no God. I will not pray, read the Bible for inspiration, refer to God as the cause of things or hope that God might intervene and change my own or someone else's circumstances. I will visit atheist gatherings and try it on.
The War on Christmas story reflects the discomfort that many socially conservative media figures, and presumably at least some of their followers, feel with an increasingly diverse country where people are no longer afraid to express their views.
I support atheists' fight to be viewed in the same light as any religious person. After all, atheists can be just as compassionate, as loving and as giving as anyone else, regardless of whether they believe in God or not, so why should they be treated differently?
Jesus obviously isn't the reason for the season. So what is? Many atheists joke that the reason for the season is the tilt of the Earth's axis. That's funny and all, but it only goes one level deeper than the Christian view. Here is the godless honest truth.
Was Hitchens' incredulity acerbic and coarse? Irreverent and obscene? Depends on your tastes and sensitivities. More importantly, these qualities were imbedded in charm and wit that set up the discussion of religion in a way that awoke our reflective capacities.
What the report itself did not do was to compare these 77 countries posing "severe" or even "grave" problems, with the member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Let's do that now!
One bit of minor calendar news before we get on with it: for the next two weeks, this column will be on hiatus. Instead, it will be pre-empted by our annual awards columns where we note the notable and laud the laudable from the past year.
Sometime in the next decade, the number of worldwide godless people -- atheists, agnostics, and those unaffiliated with religion -- is likely to break through the billion-person mark.
Politics, cosmology, culture - all provide the story-line and dialogue for our movie. The cultural movie we're all in tends to assume a mechanistic view of the universe.
So, to both the Dawkinite atheists and the Christian fundamentalists among us, I've one piece of advice. I'm sorry if it sounds harsh, but you've fumed and shouted and bloviated and obfuscated for too long. Put your Bibles down, shut up, and take an introductory English course.