September 30 marks International Blasphemy Rights Day (IBRD), which the Center for Inquiry has observed since its beginning.1 IBRD celebrates the right of authors, artists, and dissidents to treat religious matters as they see fit, even to the point of offending believers.
The Artful Blasphemer
I am a blasphemer. Even now, some forty-five years after tossing the last vestiges of my Catholic indoctrination into the dustbin of childhood beliefs, this is still an oddly unsettling thing to write.
Blasphemy Is Harass for Me
Pat Oleszko is an accomplished performance artist whose work often trespasses on “forbidden” religious ground. Her sensibility is absurdist; her methods encompass raucous costuming, rowdy street theater, and puppetry of sometimes breathtaking complexity.
Hate Speech or Blasphemy: What’s the Difference?
The walls surrounding me were adorned with Arabic calligraphy and an image of a beautiful, large mosque beneath a bright blue sky. As a child, I would gaze at these images, admiring the intricacies of the calligraphy, every line and squiggle elegantly limned with shimmering silver paint.
‘I Love Tuesdays’
Every Tuesday afternoon, five friends played pickup basketball, then went to their favorite bar and grill for a bite to eat. They made quite the melting pot: a Roman Catholic, a Protestant evangelical, a Jewish guy, a Muslim, and an East Indian Hindu.
In the preceding issue, Part 11 of this three-part symposium in print took a think-tank approach, emphasizing naturalism’s implications for education and public policy. In Part 2, we turn in a more critical direction.
When Philosophy Lost Its Way
The history of Western philosophy can be presented in a number of ways. It can be told in terms of periods—ancient, medieval, and modern. We can divide it into rival traditions (empiricism versus rationalism, analytic versus Continental) or into various core areas (metaphysics, epistemology, ethics). It can also, of course, be viewed through the critical lens of gender or racial exclusion, as a discipline almost entirely fashioned for and by white European men.
Why Philosophy of Religion Must End
What I’m about to write is against everything I was taught in college and seminary, where I earned three master’s degrees and then pursued PhD studies for a year and a half in fields related to the philosophy of religion (PoR).
The Real Question: Can Philosophy Be Saved?
I certainly share our editor’s sense that academic philosophy is in bad shape, and his concern for the future of our discipline. But his diagnosis—that, in what he sees as a kind of culture war in our profession, the side that appeals to “awe and transcendence” seems to be winning—strikes me as way off the mark.
Must Humanists Be Naturalists?
Are secular humanists obliged to sign up to naturalism? Should we define humanism (or secular humanism, as some prefer to call it in the United States) as involving a commitment to naturalism? Many humanists often define humanism that way, of course.
Fatima: Miracles, Secrets, and Sainthood A Century of Folly
It began on May 13, 1917—a series of “miracles” and “secrets” that three shepherd children claimed the Virgin Mary shared with them in Fatima, Portugal.
Atatürk Triumphed Over Religion
Under the right circumstances, a brave freethinker can rescue a fundamentalist society and lead it away from oppressive religion. That’s what Mustafa Kemal Atatürk did for Muslim Turkey in the 1920s and 1930s.
All Things Bold and Blasphemous
Happy International Blasphemy Rights Day (IBRD)! Secular humanists and other free-speech stalwarts celebrate IBRD each September 30. For more on the observance, see my Introduction to this issue’s cover feature, “Art, Blasphemy, and Humanism”.
Populism and Its Discontents
It’s been a cliché of political campaigns for decades that liberals are effete snobs, while conservatives are salt-of-the-earth workin’ folks constantly wounded by the scorn of the pointy-headed intellectuals (a.k.a. the Jews).
Trump in Warsaw and the Long Shadow of Charles Martel
On July 6, 2017, Donald Trump delivered a speech in Warsaw that was clearly intended as a landmark in the fog and swirl of geopolitical debate. The Warsaw speech evoked a vision of global politics, and it gave a suggestion of what Trump’s confusing presidency stands for.
The Blight of Monotheism
Like other U.S. presidents before him, Donald Trump has vowed to defend Western civilization against the menace of Islam. Other presidents defined the values of the West as liberty, democracy, and the rule of law, but Trump has defined them as Christianity, culture, and tradition.
If we’re going to fight the rise of hard Right bigotry in the United States and around the world, we need to be willing to get uncomfortable.
Re: “Religion Is an Empirical Question—Finally,” by Robyn E. Blumner (FI, August/September 2017). Religion has been studied in the social sciences for over a century. The problem that we face, however, is not religion as such as an aspect of world culture but rather the ontological content of religious doctrine.
Two Fiftieth Anniversaries Swallowed by History
This year is the fiftieth anniversary of two important occurrences now largely out of the public eye: New York State’s last Constitutional Convention and subsequent referendum and the outbreak of Nigeria’s civil war.
What God Didn’t and Kant Couldn’t: Richard Rorty and the World after Philosophy
From Plato to Kant to Russell, philosophy has been in the business of describing the mind in a way unavailable to the lesser disciplines.
Private Irony and Liberal Hope
The social glue holding together the ideal liberal society . . . consists in little more than a consensus that the point of social organization is to let everybody have a chance at self-creation to the best of his or her abilities, and that that goal requires, besides peace and wealth, the standard “bourgeois freedoms.”
The Mythical Jesus Argument: What’s the Key Issue?
Yes, the evidence for the theological Christ is weak. But it simply doesn’t follow that there is no historical person behind it. Were that the case, virtually no person in the ancient world would have existed.
Religious Freedom or Discrimination?
The culture wars have left us with a country that is polarized to the point of paralysis and a national political discourse that becomes more divisive, childish, and vulgar with each passing election year.
No One Here Gets Out Alive
“Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick,” wrote Susan Sontag in Illness as Metaphor.
A Notable Freethinker and Humanist Writes a Memoir
No one in the last forty years has thought or written more for the general public about a person’s right to choose when it is time to die than Derek Humphry.
Oh God is.
Oh God is great.
I have no picture of you—
oh, how do we die