Where Have All the Anti-altruists Gone?
Science settled the question whether altruism is real, and most of us never noticed.
Call It Terrorism
A review of Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism, by David S. Cohen and Krysten Connon.
Too often, experts on climate change, environmental depletion, and species loss go out of their way not to discuss population’s relevance to their concerns.
Overpopulation, Immigration, and the Human Future
Today’s myriad ecological crises can never be solved without a major commitment not just to control but to reduce human numbers.
God for ‘Dummies’
A review of How God Works: A Logical Inquiry on Faith, by Marshall Brain.
An invitation for readers to speak their minds on the enduring crises of the Middle East.
Perhaps the World’s Shortest Argument Against Israel
Israel may mean well, but it is—unavoidably—built on discriminatory principles that most secularists would abhor in any other context.
The CFI Merger in Context
The recent merger into CFI marks a culmination of two movements’ histories.
Published before the Islamic attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo, this book takes on even greater relevance in the massacre’s wake.
Secularism Humanism: Not a Religion
Conceding from its opening move that humanism is a religion, the American Humanist Association damaged the movement while defending one prisoner’s rights.
Thirty Years Yule Free
A look back at thirty years of skipping Christmas and at how things are different now.
The Sociologists Are In
A review of Atheist Awakening: Secular Activism and Community in America, by Richard Cimino and Christopher Smith.
What is religion good for? For secular humanists on the atheist side of the spectrum, the reflexive answer is often ‘Nothing much.’
Winning future church-state lawsuits may require us to step away from the familiar arena of “religious freedom” and into the more inclusive arena of freedom of conscience.
Brain States All the Way Down
Like spirit, words such as transcendence and reverence can’t help making us sound like we still believe in woo.
Secularism and Secular Humanism
“Among today’s students, what does it mean to be secular—in other words, how do they understand that term?”
Spoiler alert: We’ll probably never really know what happened on Easter.
Less Secular Than It Seems
A review of Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It, by Jennifer Michael Hecht.
No God, Know Peace: Introduction
In the April/May 2013 issue, FREE INQUIRY invited readers to submit autobiographical essays describing the life-stance odysseys that had led them to their present positions of secular humanism or atheism.
How Small Our Wants
Let’s look back at The Nine Demands of Liberalism and reflect on the differences between what freethinkers wanted circa 1870 and what many in our movement want today.
Speaking—at Last!—of Forbidden Things
A review of Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation, edited by Philip Cafaro and Eileen Crist, with a foreword by Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich.
Just a couple of years ago, an objective observer might be forgiven for concluding that religious Humanism was dying—or at least that it was in a very bad way.
The Left Is Not Always Right
Sidney Hook was among the earliest American intellectuals to break with Marxism. That’s saying a lot: Marxist revolutionary thought held enormous sway over American intellectuals during much of the twentieth century.
Helping Seculars Gain Traction in Government
The Citizen Lobbyist teaches its reader how a private citizen can lobby effectively in the halls of government. Period. And it does so without a wasted word.
Celebrating Fifty Years of Separation
The year 2013 marks a noteworthy anniversary: it has been fifty years since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the conjoined cases Abingdon School District v. Schempp and Murray v. Curlett ended school-sponsored Bible reading in American public schools. This decision came on the heels of 1962’s Engel v. Vitale, which ended school-sponsored prayer. Those …
Is Religion Dying?
In case you missed it, Roman Catholics have a new pope. Pope Benedict XVI resigned, which no pope has done in almost six hundred years, and the College of Cardinals met in conclave and elected Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who chose the name Pope Francis. But of course, you didn’t miss it. No one …
Behind Beguiling Error, a Call to Action
What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster, by Jonathan V. Last (New York: Encounter Books, 2013, ISBN 978-159403-641-5). 230 pp. Hardcover, $23.99. The title of this book riffs archly on a current mega–best seller (What to Expect When You’re Expecting), which should give you a clue about author Jonathan V. Last’s …
Mormon Marriage Made Funny
“It’s Not About the Sex,” My Ass: Confessions of an ExMormon ExPolygamist ExWife, by Joanne Hanks as told to Steve Cuno (Self-published: 2012, ISBN 978-1-105-99740-2 paper) 171 pp. Paperback, $15.97. Available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon.com; available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle, Nook, iBook, and eBook at www.itsnotaboutthesexmyass.com. We seldom review self-published books, so let’s …
Note from the Editor
Some Free Inquiry readers may find the articles in this special section controversial. Most of these articles share the view that the best solution to tensions posed by a growing nontheistic/nonreligious contingent within a U.S. military steeped in “Christian nation” ideology is to expand the scope of military chaplaincy to encompass nontheistic/nonreligious service members. Some …
Yes, Virginia, There Was a Twentieth Century
Reader alert: the sentence that follows will include more slashes than I have ever penned—oops, I’m showing my age, keyboarded—in my life. If any topic in our movement has liberated more virtual ink than the current debate/flame war over feminism/misogyny in atheism/secular humanism/secularism/freethought, I don’t know what it is/might be. Phalanxes of words have been …
As I write, significant swaths of New York and New Jersey remain uninhabitable more than a month after Superstorm Sandy churned ashore. Sandy followed in the footsteps of Hurricane Irene, which savaged much of the same territory just fourteen months earlier. Sandy seems to have marked a turning point in the way most media commentators …
When ‘Current Law’ Is Not Enough
I may be reading too much into the November 2012 elections, but they seem to have genuinely altered the drift of American political discourse. Minority groups from Hispanics to the nonreligious played central roles in the reelection of President Barack Obama and in numerous congressional, state, and even local races. (Obama arguably owes his election …
The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought, by Susan Jacoby (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2013, ISBN 978-0-300-18892-9). 256 pp. Hardcover, $25.00. The life of nineteenth-century freethought orator Robert Green Ingersoll has been chronicled by five previous biographers, the most recent previously being Frank Smith, whose Robert G. Ingersoll: A Life appeared in …
It’s Time to Stand Up for Free Expression
The entire Muslim world . . . is agitating for the United Nations to pass an anti blasphemy law. The rest of the civilized world must oppose this at everytu rn. —Mahfooz Kanwar, Calgary Herald It seemed the whole world was marking International Blasphemy Rights Day (September 30). Debates about free speech and criticism …
Ffity Years of American Atheists
Free Inquiry congratulates American Atheists as it nears its fiftieth anniversary year. The organization was founded by the activist Madalyn Murray O’Hair in 1963, soon after O’Hair’s victory in one of two consolidated U.S. Supreme Court cases that ended mandatory prayer in public schools. During most of its early years, American Atheists was the movement’s …
On Saturday, March 3, 2012, the Council for Secular Humanism and the Center for Inquiry presented one of the feature events of their cosponsored conference, “Moving Secularism Forward,” held at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Florida. Four distinguished speakers from across the political spectrum addressed the question, “Does Secular Humanism Have a …
Hell Freezes Over! / Minding the Lines
If there was a hell, it would be garlanded with icicles. According to recent survey data, two longtime dreams of American secularists have come true: Charitable giving by Americans to churches and religious organizations actually declined in 2011. What’s more, it fell in three of the last four years. For the first time in fifty-four …
Rebuking the Foul Spirit
I welcome Andy Norman’s riposte. Still, after several close readings I cannot escape three conclusions: With all good intentions, he underestimates the scope of the problem. He inadvertently makes my point that spirit-talk is corrosive of naturalism. He underestimates how easy spiritual language is to avoid. 1. The Scope of the Problem Norman argues that …
A Judeo-Islamic Nation: The Evolution of America’s Political Theology, by Thomas Mates (Minneapolis: Mill City Press, 2011, ISBN13 978-1-936780-76-1) 239 pp. Paper, $14.95. Now and then a self-published book demands inclusion in Free Inquiry’s review section, even though we can’t find space to consider all the deserving works from mainstream publishers. With A Judeo-Islamic Nation, …
Are LGBTs Saving Marriage?
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . . .” That Dickensian chestnut sums up the state of traditional marriage today. Surveys confirm that Americans have less use for the institution than ever. More of us are now single than married. Few progressives get excited about weddings unless they are …