Contributions

Stop Misusing Science To Bolster Religious Fables
December 6, 2018


Christmas season is upon us. (I recognize I’m late in noting this. For retailers it started immediately after Halloween.) This season brings forth many familiar experiences—familiar because they recur every year: festive decorations, foraging for parking spots, Tom Flynn at work on Christmas Day, and an essay in a newspaper/on the internet attempting to explain …

Assisted Dying and Slippery Slopes: Where Do We Place the Guardrails?
May 15, 2018


The recent assisted suicide of David Goodall, the 104-year-old Australian ecologist, has brought into focus some key issues in the continuing debate over assisted suicide and euthanasia. One issue is whether we should legalize assisted suicide or euthanasia for those “tired of life.” A related issue is whether legalization of assisted suicide or euthanasia for even a restricted class of individuals (such as the terminally ill) places us on a slippery slope to accepting euthanasia in cases that many of us—at least now—consider questionable or objectionable, for example, the nonvoluntary euthanasia of incompetent patients who physicians deem to have an unacceptable quality of life.

The Down Syndrome Gambit
March 9, 2018


In case you haven’t noticed, a few states (North Dakota, Indiana, Louisiana, and Ohio) have enacted laws that prohibit a physician from performing an abortion if the physician knows the woman is seeking an abortion because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. Utah is considering a similar measure. Indications are this is the beginning of a major effort to curtail a woman’s right to choose whether to continue a pregnancy. 

Selling The Bible, Hobby Lobby Style
November 28, 2017


The recently opened Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., is a well-designed, visually appealing, ideally located, state-of-the-art used car lot, using the soft sell approach to peddle old, worn ideas. Its sales pitch, which is subtle, may well be persuasive to some, but it will appeal mostly to those who already have faith in the brand.

Blasphemy and Other “Hate Speech”
September 30, 2017


During my tenure as president and CEO—in 2009, to be precise—CFI established International Blasphemy Rights Day (September 30, in case you forgot). It’s one of the accomplishments I take some pride in.

Biotech and the Poverty of Religious Morality
May 30, 2017


Advances in biotechnology present some critical and challenging ethical issues. How to resolve these issues will and should be a subject of much debate, but there is one thing that is certain: religion will be of no help in addressing these issues.

Israel, the Two-State Solution, and Humanity’s Flaws
February 16, 2017


Let’s forget history for a moment, or at least as much history as is not absolutely necessary for understanding the present situation of Israel and the Palestinian people. Let’s also pretend for a moment that we are all rational, forward-looking beings, who are committed to universal human rights, including the right to a democratic government.

The Trump Presidency: A Second Harding Administration?
January 13, 2017


The inauguration of Donald Trump is only a week away and the many who dread the incoming administration are busy bewailing the coming catastrophe. The terms “fascist” and “fascism” feature prominently in their denunciations and historical analogies to Hitler or Mussolini are liberally offered. Just the other day, a full-page ad appeared in the Washington Post courtesy of refusefascism.org. The ad, bearing the signatures of a number of prominent individuals, flatly states that “by any definition, Donald Trump is a fascist.” This claim is not unique. Some respected political commentators have made the same accusation.

Male Circumcision: It Should Not Be a Major Concern for Humanists
December 13, 2016


A not insignificant percentage of humanists and secularists are strongly opposed to male circumcision, to the point of wanting to ban it. The vehemence of their opposition is not warranted by the evidence regarding the effects of circumcision: it is not medically necessary, but it is not harmful (assuming appropriate analgesics are used) and it provides small benefits. 

My Debate at the YPU: Religion Has No Place in Government
November 17, 2016


The Yale Political Union invited me and the Christian writer/scholar Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig to debate this topic: Resolved: Religion Should Have No Place in Government.