Monday, February 20, 2017

The Reason Review 2-1: Theocons, murtads, and Course 0

 The Reason Review - Volume 2 Issue 1 


2016/FEB/19



Editorial Message


Dear Readers,


Welcome to The Reason Review 2-1, the first issue of the Spring 2017 semester.


There is, of course, plenty of catching up to do over the winter break and IAP period. This issue includes select articles on the challenges facing secularism in American governance, including ones on the (now on hold) 7-country travel ban, the new administration's ambitions for the Johnson Amendment, and the DeVos confirmation. In addition, the issue includes worrying reports and assessments on anti-secular trends and ideologies in government.

On the positive side, SSOMIT has gotten off to a roaring start, having collaborated with Blue Ocean Faith on our "Bon Voyage: Leaving Faith on Good Terms" event for ex-Christians, near the end of the IAP period. Shortly after the semester began, and despite a couple of weather-related hiccups, we also held a film screening with live Q&A, as well as a museum trip, for our first Darwin Day celebrations in living memory.

We're keeping the momentum up with the upcoming launch of our "Course 0" event series. This a new series designed to combat apatheism and foster a more intellectual approach to atheism and secularism, so that members of our community are more aware of precisely what arguments they're rejecting and why. A sort of "Defence Against the Dark Arts" for disbelievers, the need for which has been highlighted further by my recent on-campus run-ins with theistic apologetics from multiple religions.

Finally, we would like to congratulate MIT professor Alan Lightman on being honored by the Humanist Hub with its first "Humanism in Literature" Award.

Hope you enjoy the issue.

Sincerely,



Sohan Dsouza
Editor of The Reason Review
Contact editor: dsouza@mit.edu
Contact SSOMIT: ssomit@mit.edu



Sign up for SSOMIT Announcements (includes The Reason Review): http://mailman.mit.edu/mailman/listinfo/ssomit-announce
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Announcements


MON FEB/27: SSOMIT Course 0 Subject 1 -- Science, Religion, and Astronomy


The Secular Society of MIT is launching a new lecture/panel/discussion series designed to educate on and foster a thinking approach to secularism, skepticism, and atheism. Our first subject will be "Science, Religion, and Astronomy", featuring locally-based skeptic and author, Dr Aaron Adair. Dr Adair will speak on scientific explanations for claimed religious phenomena, using the Biblical tale of the Star of Bethlehem as a central case study.
More at https://www.facebook.com/events/2028149920744909/

TUE FEB/21: SSOMIT Darwin Day Tabling

While SSOMIT's Darwin Day film screening made it to execution by a hair's breadth, the snow closure on the preceding Thursday in its entirety meant that there was no chance to table as planned. The tabling day has been moved to the 21st, and to the Memorial Lobby in the middle of the Infinite Corridor. Drop by between 10am and 4pm to check out our cool new Evogeneao Tree of Life poster and our other SSA tabling kit goodies, and to pick up Darwin Fish stickers and testudine-shaped candy.

TUE FEB/21: Disproof Atheism Society -- Everything You Know about Sex Is Wrong: The Gender Binary & God

The Disproof Atheism Society will present a talk about God and gender in celebration of Darwin Day by Abby Hafer, Prof. of Anatomy and Physiology (Curry College).  (For a preview, see http://gayiceland.is/2016/queer-animals-common-believed)
https://www.meetup.com/bostonatheists/events/237685060/

SUN FEB/26: Humanist Hub -- Alan Lightman: Humanism in Literature Award Recipient

We are delighted to honor Dr. Alan Lightman with our first-ever Humanism in Literature Award. This award was created to celebrate an author who has exemplified and illustrated the values of Humanism through art and literature. He is a professor of the practice of the humanities at MIT and was the first professor at MIT to receive a joint appointment in the sciences and the humanities.

More at https://www.facebook.com/events/1878712312347793/

News


SSOMIT and Blue Ocean Faith organize event for ex-Christians

The Secular Society of MIT and MIT's Blue Ocean Faith chaplaincy collaborated to organize an on-campus dialogue dinner event, "Bon Voyage: Leaving Faith on Good Terms", for those leaving or already out of Christianity. The evening began with opening addresses by representatives of both organizations, followed by three ex-Christian speakers talking about their experiences having once been in and having parted with Christianity. It continued with more such stories from attendees in open-mic format, and ended with a moderated group discussion on the ex-Christian experience.

SSOMIT screens Flock of Dodos and organizes museum trip for Darwin Day

The Secular Society of MIT marked Darwin Day with a special film screening of acclaimed pro-evolution comedic documentary Flock of Dodos.


The film's maker Randy Olson and Fresh Pond Research Institute founder Steven Orzack -- both Harvard PhD graduates in biology -- joined over live video call and in person, respectively, for a Q&A session on evolution science, science education, and science communication, especially in light of recent political developments.


Attendees were treated to special birthday cake alluding to the other major occasion that week.


A group of biodiversity and biological evolution enthusiasts also set out for the Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge over the weekend, to view some of the HMNH and Museum of Comparative Zoology life-sized taxidermy specimens and skeletons/fossils therein -- with special attention to the section dedicated to explaining the science and scientific consensus on evolution by natural selection.

Man Given 3-Year Sentence for Insulting Putin

Kazakh criminal law says one cannot incite “social, national, generic, racial, class, or religious hatred” and is prohibited from insulting “the national honor and dignity of religious feelings of citizens.”
http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2016/12/29/man-given-3-year-sentence-for-insulting-putin.html

Sick Minnesota boy died 'after parents prayed instead of calling ambulance'

When they returned, they allegedly found Seth collapsed on the floor but decided to pray for his recovery rather than seek medical attention.
http://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/sick-boy-dies-after-parents-prayed-for-his-recovery-instead-of-calling-emergency-services-a3433196.html

Saudi mufti warns of ‘depravity’ of cinemas and concerts

He warned that cinemas "might show movies that are libertine, lewd, immoral and atheist, because they rely on films imported to change our culture", according to Sabq.
http://www.thenational.ae/world/middle-east/saudi-mufti-warns-of-depravity-of-cinemas-and-concerts

Telugu director arrested for showing 'Shivalinga' in bad light

ecently, teaser of ‘Devuda’ was released on YouTube by the director and the film producer G Hari Kumar Reddy, prompting a complaint by a section of society saying it has hurt their religious sentiments, the officer said.
http://www.deccanchronicle.com/entertainment/tollywood/190117/telugu-director-arrested-for-showing-shivalinga-in-bad-light.html

Jerry Falwell Jr. Asked to Lead Trump Higher Education Task Force

Falwell acknowledged the controversies surrounding Trump, but he said he believed Trump was the better choice to advance causes championed by evangelical and other conservative Christian communities.
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/jerry-falwell-jr-asked-lead-trump-education-task-force-n715116

Leaked Draft of Trump’s Religious Freedom Order Reveals Sweeping Plans to Legalize Discrimination

It also, by extending some of its protections to one particular set of religious beliefs, would risk violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.
https://www.thenation.com/article/leaked-draft-of-trumps-religious-freedom-order-reveals-sweeping-plans-to-legalize-discrimination/

President Trump Says That Religious Freedom Is 'Under Threat'

"I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution," Trump said during remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast, a high-profile event bringing together faith leaders, politicians and dignitaries.
http://time.com/4658002/president-trump-prayer-breakfast-johnson-amendment/

‘I’m an Atheist’: Stephen Hawking on God and Space Travel

"What I meant by 'we would know the mind of God' is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there isn't. I'm an atheist.""
http://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/im-atheist-stephen-hawking-god-space-travel-n210076

US Mosque hosts celebration in honor of Pakistani killer

The Gulzar E Madina Mosque in Pikesville, Maryland hosted an “Urs” in honor of the infamous killer on February 12th. Urs is a traditional commemoration usually given to Saints and Holy personages.
https://www.rabwah.net/us-mosque-hosts-celebration-honor-pakistani-killer/

Reports


Mumtaz Qadri's shrine: In memory of Salmaan Taseer’s assassin

“To pray at his grave is a guaranteed way to have it answered, for Qadri has earned a place at the side of the Prophet (PBUH) through his sacrifice,” he added, as we walked through the courtyard into the shrine.
http://www.dawn.com/news/1302289/mumtaz-qadris-shrine-in-memory-of-salmaan-taseers-assassin

Fewer Americans are practicing religion

A staggering 21 percent of those surveyed said they don’t practice a “formal religion” — up from the 15 percent who said that in 2008, according to Gallup.
http://nypost.com/2016/12/23/fewer-americans-are-practicing-religion/

Iran’s Oddly Selective Crackdown on Christians

One is Maryam Naghash Zargaran, 38, a schoolteacher who converted from Islam to Christianity and was sentenced to four years in prison.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/27/christians-in-the-crosshairs-iran-s-oddly-selective-crackdown-on-christians.html

A smokescreen for bigotry: Disguising anti-Muslim bias with land-use objections

But when the Islamic Center of Culpeper bought a parcel of land and proposed a small mosque, a local Republican activist whipped the community in a frenzy over the sewage permit, which became a sneaky way to block the entire project.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/a-smokescreen-for-bigotry-disguising-anti-muslim-bias-with-land-use-objections/2017/01/02/14040744-d129-11e6-a783-cd3fa950f2fd_story.html

As Shariah Experiment Becomes a Model, Indonesia’s Secular Face Slips

In the decade and a half since, Indonesia as a whole has drifted in a conservative direction, and Aceh, once an outlier, has become a model for other regions of the country seeking to impose their own Shariah-based ordinances, alarming those who worry about the nation’s drift from secularism.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/12/world/asia/indonesia-sharia-law-aceh.html

The Saudi women afraid to go home

Arwa argued that as she had publicly renounced Islam, had questioned and challenged the country's guardianship system, and had left her home and the country without the appropriate permissions from her guardian, it would not be safe to return.
http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/16/world/saudi-women-asylum-seekers-us/index.html

How Betsy DeVos Used God and Amway to Take Over Michigan Politics

Across those efforts, one constant is the DeVos family’s devout Christian beliefs, and the indivisibility they see between Christian and Calvinistic notions and their conservative politics. 
http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/betsy-dick-devos-family-amway-michigan-politics-religion-214631

Studying at the Bahai secret university

"In my belief, you're not supposed to lie about your faith even when facing death. So I wrote back, I was not Muslim. They said, 'Good luck, you can't enter university.'"
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-38656871

Six former Jehovah’s Witnesses share their stories in powerful new videos

But there were many in the audience who had never been Witnesses, and who had up until now been largely unaware of the way Watchtower ran its ship. The look of astonishment and horror on some of their faces was palpable.
http://jwsurvey.org/life-stories/six-former-jehovahs-witnesses-share-their-stories-in-powerful-new-videos

You have to be Christian to truly be American? Many people in the U.S. say so.

This opinion is apparently becoming much less popular with the younger generation of Americans, who are less likely to affiliate with a religion than generations before them.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/02/01/you-have-to-be-christian-to-truly-be-american-people-in-the-us-are-far-more-likely-to-say-so/

Leaving Islam in North America 

One common method of dismissing her aims, Haider said in the speech, is to assume that she is “pro-war” or that she broadly supports the far-right agenda in some way, though neither is the case.
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444556/muslim-apostates-north-america-face-leftist-scorn-muslim-death-threats

Trump's theofascist

Bannon, by contrast, tends to treat religious affiliation wholly as a function of ethno-national identity: "We" in the West must affirm our Christian identity or we will be overrun by dangerous outsiders (Islamists) who will impose a different identity upon us.
http://theweek.com/articles/679058/trumps-theofascist

How Russia Became the Leader of the Global Christian Right

In the first 18 months after his return to the presidency in 2012, Putin corralled protesters, smothered many of the remaining independent media outlets, and dissolved the distance between the Kremlin and the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church.
http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/02/how-russia-became-a-leader-of-the-worldwide-christian-right-214755

Pakistani Hindus lose daughters to forced Muslim marriages

Every year, Muslim men abduct and forcibly convert about 1,000 girls — mostly Hindus, but also Christians, according to the South Asia Partnership-Pakistan, a local human rights group.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/02/15/pakistani-hindus-lose-daughters-forced-muslim-marriages/97013614/

Opinion


Simon Cottee -- Why Ex-Muslims Pig Out

In my research on Islamic apostasy, I found that pig meat has a special place in the hearts and minds of former Muslims. For many, the consumption of pig meat was a crucial point in their passage out of Islam. 
https://psmag.com/why-ex-muslims-pig-out-d8d92133c1ef

(SATIRE) London “Muslim” Restaurant Owner’s Actions Have No Basis in Islam

Yet in today’s media, all these considerations are ignored and tossed aside. When a person who appears to be Muslim commits an act of generosity, his actions are automatically attributed to Islam. Ironically, reports in this case indicate that Mr. Almuhammad was not even that religious, and had not even read the Qur’an.
http://www.muftinews.com/london-muslim-restaurant-owners-actions-have-no-basis-in-islam/

Elif Shafak -- The Reina atrocity shows how deeply Islamic fanaticism has taken hold in Turkey

For weeks prior to New Year’s Eve, ultra-nationalist and Islamist groups had been distributing flyers on the streets saying “Muslims do not celebrate Christian festivals”.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/03/reina-islamic-fanaticism-turkey-new-years-eve-massacre

Sohaila Abdulali -- I'm a slacker Muslim. But Donald Trump has us atheists nervous

I care about many things. Allah doesn’t happen to be one of them. I’m just a slacker Muslim. I just don’t care. I don’t WANT to care. Why can’t I just not care?
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/16/slacker-muslim-donald-trump-atheists-nervous-registry

From The Saudi Kingdom to EXMNA (and back)

But it has changed and inspired me in more ways than I realized. I am no longer content with being in the closet forever. I am no longer resigned to live a life of pretense driven by rules and ideas that I don’t believe in.
http://www.theexmuslim.com/2016/03/01/from-the-saudi-kingdom-to-exmna-and-back/

Sana Ahmed -- Why I rejected religion

Questioning religion can be deemed as blasphemous, and one can even languish in jails if one gets in trouble with the authorities, or worse, angry mobs, if you’re unlucky. 
http://sister-hood.com/sana-ahmed/i-rejected-religion/

Walking by Moonlight: My Journey Out of Islam

Furthermore, Muslims are not the only ones who claim that their book is perfect and divinely inspired. We can compare what other religions say about their perfect books with the same passion and certainty as Muslims: No Man Could Have Written This.
http://www.theexmuslim.com/2017/01/27/walking-moonlight-journey-islam/

Kieryn Darkwater -- I Was Trained for the Culture Wars in Home School, Awaiting Someone Like Mike Pence as a Messiah

Christofascists have been wanting someone like Pence in the White House and, until now, didn’t have a way to get one in. They know Trump is easily manipulated and will change his mind with the wind if it makes him feel more powerful and famous.
https://www.autostraddle.com/i-was-trained-for-the-culture-wars-in-home-school-awaiting-someone-like-mike-pence-as-a-messiah-367057/

Jay Michaelson -- Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Is Payoff to the Religious Right

Post-election analyses have focused on the “white working class,” but it’s evangelicals who held their noses, thought of the Supreme Court, and voted for Trump.  Now they are being rewarded.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/01/31/trump-s-supreme-court-pick-is-payoff-to-the-religious-right.html

Emma Green -- Donald Trump Declares a Vision of Religious Nationalism

Trump’s message seems to be directed toward these groups: He is affirming their sense of the tie between national and religious identity, and pushing back against those who would diminish either of those identities.
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/donald-trump-national-prayer-breakfast/515445/

Catherine Rampell -- Religious law may be coming to America. But it’s not sharia; it’s Christian.

This is, of course, all in the name of preserving religious freedom. Except that it allows some people to practice religious freedom by denying jobs, services and potentially public accommodation to those with differing beliefs.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/sharia-law-may-be-coming-to-america-but-its-christians-who-are-bringing-it/2017/02/02/aa44fbe8-e98c-11e6-bf6f-301b6b443624_story.html

Eiynah NiceMangos -- Empowering Islamists under Trumpism

The left has it’s versions of  'not as bad as' too, the same way it has it’s versions of faux-minists, like those who champion the hijab carelessly as a feminist symbol, or those who think Sharia apologist Sarsour was a good pick to lead the Women's march. 
http://nicemangos.blogspot.ca/2017/02/empowering-islamists-under-trumpism.html

K Anis Ahmed -- Bangladesh’s Creeping Islamism

This is exactly what Islamists have long wished for, particularly Hefazat-e-Islam, a network of madrasa leaders who hope to introduce Shariah in Bangladesh. But why these changes now, and from a nominally secular government that seems to have tried, if unevenly, to clamp down on Islamists in other ways?
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/03/opinion/bangladeshs-creeping-islamism.html

Julie Lenarz -- Sweden's 'feminist government' wearing hijabs in Iran is a joke – they are bowing down to oppressors

But instead of highlighting their plight, Sweden's female lawmakers smiled as they signed several contracts with the Islamic Republic and hid behind the pitiful excuse that they were just respecting the norms of the country.
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/swedens-feminist-government-wearing-hijabs-iran-joke-they-are-bowing-down-oppressors-1606586

Ruby Hamad -- Why it's not enough to counter fear of 'Sharia law' by insisting Islam is 'feminist'

It shouldn't be that difficult to make a distinction between the two and it could be as simple as qualifying the difference between criminal Sharia law, or hudud, and the private moral code. As long as we fail to make this simple but vital distinction, Muslims will continue to be demonised and the real issue will continue to be missed.
http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/news-and-views/opinion/why-its-not-enough-to-counter-fear-of-sharia-law-by-insisting-islam-is-feminist-20170216-guec5m.html

Imtiaz Shams -- Why I left Islam and now help others who are doing the same

Although we received support from the wider public (including Muslims), we also received plenty of hate mail and abuse. I've had people spit on the ground and call me a murtadd, while insults to female Faith to Faithless speakers are always framed in disgustingly sexist terms.

http://www.businessinsider.com/why-i-left-islam-2016-2

Media


Rationality Rules -- Argument From Irreducible Complexity Debunked

In 1996, the Intelligent Design advocate Michael Behe published a book titled “Darwin's Black Box”, and in which, he claimed that many biological systems, such as the human eye, are irreducibly Complex and therefore must’ve been designed by a god… by a very, very specific god… this, is the Argument from Irreducible Complexity Debunked.

CBC.ca -- The danger of admitting you're an atheist Muslim

Ali Rizvi was raised in a Shi'a Muslim family, but for him, religion always raised more questions than answers.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert -- Ricky Gervais And Stephen Go Head-To-Head On Religion

Ricky Gervais proves a formidable opponent for Stephen in a spirited conversation about belief, religion and atheism.

Polite Conversations -- Episode 25 - Life in Saudi Arabia: Burqas & Bras

Join me for the second interview in my 'life in Saudi Arabia' series. I chat with a Saudi feminist now based in the UK, about her life growing up, the first time she put an a'abaya (modesty cloak thing) on, the strange contradictions of living in a theocracy in the 21st century.

Polite Conversations -- Episode 26 - Life in Saudi w/Ali Rizvi "The Atheist Muslim"

Join me and my good friend Ali Rizvi for a conversation about Life in Saudi Arabia. Ali and I share a very similar geographical background. We both grew up as Pakistani expats in Saudi in fairly liberal Muslim families. It’s always fun to compare notes…

Atheist Experience -- 21.07 with Matt Dillahunty and Don Baker

The Atheist Experience episode 21.07 for February 19, 2017, with Matt Dillahunty and Don Baker. Stem Cell Snafu. Don examines the huge debt to humanity incurred through stem cell research restrictions.

The Thinking Atheist -- God, Guns & Glory: Religion and the Military

How often is the military colored by religious language and superstitious thinking?  And is a taxpayer-funded military supposed to be promoting God?  This show explores the issue with the perspectives of many listeners, and an interview with Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

The Thinking Atheist -- Religious Family / Conditional Love

This broadcast is about atheists and skeptics, and how they deal with the often conditional love on a religious family tree. 

ScathingAtheist -- 209: Nephi Fo Fum Edition

In this week’s episode, Nephi’s brothers will try to kill him half a dozen more times, a porn website teaches Mormons what binders of women should really look like, and Violets turn out not to be blue, which is probably why we call them violets.

Friendly Atheist Podcast -- Ep. 144 - Rebecca Hensler, Founder of Grief Beyond Belief

Rebecca Hensler is the founder of Grief Beyond Belief, a Facebook group devoted to faith-free grief support for those who have just lost a loved one. We spoke about how honesty about death can be comforting for atheists, what she would say to religious people who want to help atheists grieve but say the wrong things, and her go-to resources for secular people coping with loss.

Friendly Atheist Podcast -- Ep. 145 - Maggie Garrett, Legislative Director for Americans United

Maggie Garrett is the Legislative Director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. On the day of Donald Trump‘s inauguration, we spoke about the church/state issues affecting his Cabinet nominees, what a future Supreme Court might look like, and whether a right-wing government is good for groups like Americans United.

Classic


2012 -- "Sam Harris Destroys Craig in debate"

The second annual God Debate features atheist neuroscientist Sam Harris and Evangelical Christian apologist William Lane Craig as they debate the topic: "Is Good From God?"




Feel free to share this issue and blog far and wide.
Discuss in the comment space below.
Email the editor with any questions or feedback.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Reason Review 1-7

 The Reason Review - Volume 1 Issue 7 


2016/DEC/25


Editorial Message


Dear Readers,


Welcome to The Reason Review 1-7.



It's the end of our first semester of publication, and therefore of our first volume. As might be expected for this time of the year, we have numerous news links to stories from the purported "War on Christmas", as well as a dissection of the very concept linked in the Reports section. On the local "front line", I joined Boston Atheists in installing a banner in Boston Common. It was a pleasant little outing, although the mood was dampened a little by what was going on at the State House in the background: a nativity scene set up for the afternoon, complete with a clerical blessing ceremony, inside the State House itself (the first link in the News section). This breach of a longstanding informal truce over expression or symbol display of religion AND irreligion was sprung on the secular community with practically no notice (and therefore no opportunity to respond in kind), engineered on behalf of Rep. Lyons (R-Andover) by the right-leaning Thomas More Society. This is a society that claims to stand for "religious liberty" while being named after a statesman who had people arrested and burned at the stake for heresy; it's rather appropriate, then, that they would assist in whittling away at the religion-state barrier. Hopefully, this incident will be used as precedent for a "complementary" installation by the secularist movement next year.

Since the last issue, I also finally completed the bi-weekly "Islam and the Modern Worldview" lecture series conducted this past semester by Brandeis professor Sharif El-Tobgui for the MIT Muslim Student Association. From having the cosmological argument casually lobbed at me in the first lecture, to having to defend the scientific theory of human evolution against persistent faith-based opposition, to constant sneers at the ideal of state secularism, it was a somewhat frustrating experience to endure. Of course, these sentiments would not be out of place in the worldview of a conservative Jew or Christian, and Dr el-Tobgui did indeed express agreement with and admiration for these other regressive strains of shared Abrahamic origin. Secularists, take note: the values we guard must be guarded consistently, against threats from ALL quarters.

In other news, we have an event lined up for the IAP period, described and linked in the Announcements section. There's supposed to be a Christian apologetics course during the IAP period as well; I plan on attending and reporting from there too. We also have a bunch of novel and awesome events lined up for next semester, catering to interests in skepticism, counter-apologetics, apostasy, and biological evolution theory. We therefore look forward to the new year with special excitement, and wish you all happy holidays until then.

Hope you enjoy the issue.

Sincerely,



Sohan Dsouza
Editor of The Reason Review
Contact editor: dsouza@mit.edu
Contact SSOMIT: ssomit-officers@mit.edu



Sign up for SSOMIT Announcements (includes The Reason Review): http://mailman.mit.edu/mailman/listinfo/ssomit-announce
Website: ssomit.mit.edu
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Twitter: twitter.com/SecularMIT


Announcements



2017/FEB/01 -- Bon Voyage: Leaving Faith on Good Terms

In this special IAP event, the Secular Society of MIT will offer a warm welcome into community to those exploring secularism while one of MIT’s Christian chaplains will offer parting words of blessing and affirmation to those whose authentic journey is leading them out of Christianity. There will also be a time for sharing stories of leaving faith and offering support for those who are in a spiritual transition or contemplating one. Dinner and dessert will be provided.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1052217344907834/

News


Nativity gets place at [Massachusetts] State House

“We are prepared to litigate this case for you if those in charge of the Bureau’s role as (a) supposedly neutral gatekeeper to this traditional and designated public forum do not promptly fulfill their constitutional duty,” the society’s lawyers wrote. Lyons said he promptly won approval the next day, and the Nativity scene will be on display from noon to 3 p.m., with clergy on hand at 2 p.m. to bless it.
http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_coverage/2016/12/nativity_gets_place_at_state_house


Atheists now legally protected in US under religious freedom bill signed by Barack Obama

"That non-theists are now recognised as a protected class is a significant step toward full acceptance and inclusion for non-religious individuals, who are still far too often stigmatised and persecuted around the world."
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/atheists-legal-protection-us-religious-freedom-bill-signed-barack-obama-a7489641.html


Shelton Resident Wins Right to Place Atheist 'Winter Solstice' Sign at City Park

"We'd prefer to keep public parks and government buildings free from religious divisiveness," said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker in a statement. "But if a devotional nativity display is allowed, there must be 'room at the inn' for all points of view, including irreverence and freethought."
http://patch.com/connecticut/shelton/shelton-resident-wins-right-place-atheist-winter-solstice-sign-city-park


Anti-religion banner posted next to nativity scene in a Manassas park

“The goal is not to offend. It's to maybe cause somebody to think,” he said. “[Nelson Park is] a public forum,” he added. “Anybody has the right, the ability, to file for a permit and put up a display here.”
http://wjla.com/news/local/anti-religion-banner-posted-next-to-nativity-scene-in-a-manassas-park


Satanists Declare They Are Religiously Exempt From Heartbeat Bill

“Our tenets assert bodily autonomy and uphold science as the arbiter of claims over what is true, to which we give deference in our decisions. As the Ohio Bill is imposed for no medical purpose and presents no compelling state interest, it is simply a violation of our free exercise, we will fight back against it, and we will very likely prevail,” Greaves added.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/satanic-temple-exempt-heartbeat-bill_us_584f1c8ce4b04c8e2bb1526a


Noted atheist Rob Sherman dies in plane crash: 'He was dedicated to his causes'

"I've known Rob for all my 20 years as an activist. He was a proud fighter for religious freedom and the separation of church and state. He was a great activist and a great person," Silverman said in an email. "I've flown with him in that very plane when he gave me a tour of Chicago. He loved that plane and loved flying it."
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-rob-sherman-plane-crash-met-20161212-story.html


Sean Hannity Teams With Kevin Sorbo for Faith-Friendly Movie

"It's been likened to Ghost meets Heaven Is for Real, with a dash of God's Not Dead," Sorbo said of the film, which was made on a $3 million production budget. Sorbo is still working on a distribution deal but he expects the film to open in November 2017.
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/sean-hannity-executive-produce-faith-friendly-movie-kevin-sorbo-955970


God Is a Sadistic Internet Troll in the Delightful French Satire ‘The Brand New Testament’

Dormael’s fable is emblazoned with CG-heightened colors and a sugary uplifting score, rife with interconnecting storylines that speak to a grand unifying design, marked by an overarching belief in people’s inherent goodness and universal desire for togetherness, and chockablock with random flights of fancy.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/10/god-is-a-sadistic-internet-troll-in-the-delightful-french-satire-the-brand-new-testament.html


Church, State See Eye to Eye in Putin's Orthodox Russia

The moral authority of the Orthodox Church has grown steadily under Putin, who sides with the church in promoting traditional family values and opposing gay rights. He, in turn, cites Russia's Christian roots to justify the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, noting that a prince of medieval Russia was baptized there more than a millennium ago.
http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/national-international/Church-State-Seeing-Eye-to-Eye-in-Putins-Orthodox-Russia-407071215.html


Death Penalty Looms For Mauritanian Blogger Accused Of Insulting Islam

The bloodthirsty protest in November was the latest instalment in a case that has become a source of national fury in Mauritania, a conservative Islamic republic and one of just eight countries where apostasy is a capital offense.
http://www.newsweek.com/mauritanias-raif-badawi-slips-under-radar-death-penalty-looms-531564


Saudi Arabia to 'inoculate' children against Westernisation, atheism and liberalism

It states that Saudis must be brought up on the basis of Islamic faith and that the state will accordingly strive to maintain the country’s Arab and Islamic values and “protect Islam”. The constitution stipulates that education will “aim at instilling the Islamic faith in the younger generation” and mould children to be “useful” in society.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-islam-inoculate-children-education-against-westernisation-atheism-liberalism-secularism-a7478761.html


Pakistan International Airlines goat slaughter mocked

n Pakistan killing a black goat is supposed by many to ward off evil. But the move by ground staff in Islamabad prompted hoots of incredulity once it was established the images were genuine and had not been photo-shopped.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38368667


Indonesia blasphemy case: Emotional scenes as Ahok trial begins

The case is being seen as a test of religious tolerance in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation. The prosecution said Mr Purnama insulted Islam by misusing a Koranic verse which suggests Muslims should not be ruled by non-Muslims, to boost public support ahead of February's governorship election.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38285515

Reports


How Fox News Created the War on Christmas

Over the last decade, many Americans changed their minds about the greeting they want to hear, and the question of what to say to customers and neighbors became fraught with social meaning. This change — and the very idea of a war on Christmas — seems to be the result of coverage on one channel: Fox News.
https://hbr.org/2016/12/how-fox-news-created-the-war-on-christmas


Where is the world's most 'godless' city?

Meanwhile, the author and biopsychologist Nigel Barber has argued that as cities become more stable and prosperous, their inhabitants are less likely to feel the need for religious belief.
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/dec/07/where-world-godless-city-religion-atheist


Virgin Mary, Career-Killer

Salome is a fictional character, but real human beings have also paid a price for questioning the details of the nativity story or the status of Mary. In the fifth century, Nestorius, the archbishop of Constantinople, argued that Mary should be called “mother of Christ” rather than “mother of God.”
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/18/did-the-virgin-mary-actually-have-sex.html


Sarah Haider On Leaving Islam, Changing Liberals’ Minds, And Ex-Muslims Of North America

I thought I just needed better teachers, books, and resources so that I could understand it correctly. In that sense I didn’t know I was on the path to leaving religion. I thought I was on the path to better understanding it.
https://areomagazine.com/2016/12/19/sarah-haider-on-leaving-islam-changing-liberals-minds-and-ex-muslims-of-north-america/

Opinion


Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins -- Why Steve Bannon wants to destroy secularism

Instead he references none other than Julius Evola – one of the intellectual godfathers of European fascism who promoted a spiritual type of racism – whose reception in Russian under Putin has inspired a traditionalist movement from which Bannon believes there is much to learn.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/07/why-steve-bannon-wants-to-destroy-secularism


Hiba Krisht -- Women’s Rights vs Anti- Muslim Bigotry: An Unfortunate Tension

‘Hojabi’. Slut-shaming. Blatant denial and disingenuous rationalization of manifest sexism and inequality. Violence and cruelty hidden and obscured and dressed in the comfortable trappings of respectable conservatism.
http://www.theexmuslim.com/2016/12/15/womens-rights-vs-anti-muslim-bigotry-unfortunate-tension/


J. H. McKenna -- Little Things Can Make An Atheist

Unbelief is a false crime, and belief is not meritorious. God can neither be injured by the one nor boosted by the other.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/j-h-mckenna-phd/little-things-can-make-an_b_13703430.html

Media



Polite Conversations -- 12 Days of Haraam-mas

A very haraam Xmas song by Eiynah and Dylan Beck, with vocals by Eiynah, Ali Rizvi, Maryam Namazie, Sarah Haider, and Faisal Al Mutar

MassLive -- WATCH: Atheists Put Up Holiday Sign on Boston Common

While a Nativity scene was on display at the Mass. State House, local atheists put up a holiday sign on Boston Common.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9fALyIm0rQ


A Fox News Host Invited an Atheist to Church As He Promoted His Group’s Latest Billboards

Last week, American Atheists announced their latest billboards, urging non-believers to skip church over Christmas. One of them even made that point by riffing on Donald Trump‘s campaign slogan.
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2016/12/07/fox-news-host-invited-atheist-church-promoted-groups-latest-billboards/

Ex-Muslims of North America -- Sarra: Life Beyond Faith

She began to doubt her faith when she discovered philosophy and began studying history and logic. By the age of 21, she no longer considered herself a believer. Since leaving the faith, Sarra wants to use her freedom and skills to help others. She started an online group for Tunisians who are struggling with Islam to connect with each other and offer support.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhhvq6PX2kg

Atheist Experience -- 20.49 with Matt Dillahunty and Jen Peeples

The Atheist Experience episode 20.49 for December 11, 2016, with Matt Dillahunty and Jen Peeples. ACA Position Statements. Matt and Jen defend our apparent "liberal" views, both in the ACA and the show.

Atheist Experience -- 20.50 with Jen Peeples and John Iacoletti

The Atheist Experience episode 20.50 for December 18, 2016, with John Iacolettii and Jen Peeples. Some Pre-Christmas Thoughts. Jen and John talk about a few Christmas-related items.

Atheist Debates -- Alex Malpass on epistemology and presuppositionalists

Alex Malpass (https://www.youtube.com/alexmalpass) sits down for a long conversation about philosophy, epistemology and presuppositionalists.

Atheist Debates -- Street Epistemology

Anthony Magnabosco drops by to talk about the pros and cons of Street Epistemology

Mythicist Milwaukee -- Dr. Bill Zingrone: On Human Uniqueness

Dr. Bill Zingrone is a college instructor and secular activist with a PhD in developmental psychology and research interests in cognitive development and evolution, with a driving motivation to dispel outdated religious based ideas about human nature that are ingrained in the folk beliefs of our modern culture. He is a very active member of the secular movement in Illinois.

GSPodcast -- Taking The Myth – December 2016 Edition

This week on Taking The Myth, Stephen Knight (@Gspellchecker) and Iram Ramzan (@Iram_Ramzan) discuss the big topics. We talk about the Amazon ‘Allah doormat’ controversy, Cryogenics, ‘Muslims like Us’ TV show, Berlin and Ankara terrorism, the case of ex-Marine Alexander Blackman and much, much more!

Dogma Debate -- #290 - Christian Blogger vs. David Smalley

Jeremy Christian - yes, that's his real name, joins David Smalley in studio to take questions from listeners.

Atheistically Speaking -- AS300: The Scathing Atheist, Plus A Personal Message And Announcement!

Joining me first to kick off my extra special 300th episode, 3 part, 3+ hour extravaganza are none other than Noah, Heath, and Eli of the Scathing Atheist and God Awful Movies! Oh right, and the Skepticrat … I interview the guys on a few different topics related to their particular approach to atheist activism and spreading knowledge while also being entertaining.

Atheistically Speaking -- AS303: Doing Charity Better, With Foundation Beyond Belief

Joining me for today is Noelle George, Executive Director of Foundation Beyond Belief! Since the holidays have rolled around again and you’ve likely started to hear the annoying, holier than thou jangle of constant Salvation Army bells outside of every grocery store and mall, I thought it might be a good idea to talk with someone doing charity without strings attached! Noelle and I talk about her background and atheism for a bit, and then we go on to discuss the exciting and important work the foundation does!

The Thinking Atheist -- One Nation: Divisible

The original U.S. Pledge of Allegiance calls the USA, "one nation...indivisible."  Yet it remains a nation splintered and divided, with many of those divisions fueled by religious ideas.  This broadcast welcomes several special guests to talk about America, the rise of secularism, the influence of the Religious Right, and the future of a country that seems unable to agree about anything.

The Thinking Atheist -- Christmas Music by Secular Artists

It's surprising to many, but a lot of atheists and non-Christians enjoy Christmas music...even the tunes that talk about angels singing and the Bethlehem star.  We speak about this (supposed) contradiction, and several special guests join host Seth Andrews for a casual round of holiday songs around the hearth.

The Thinking Atheist -- Heathen Holidays

How do atheists handle religious holidays (and religious families) every year, and how do many atheists mark an occasion with Christ in the title?  This show features the perspectives of our listeners, advice on how skeptics can (if they choose) enjoy the holiday season and navigate the often turbulent waters stirred by fundamentalist families, and a few holiday anecdotes.

ScathingAtheist -- 200: 200th Edition

In this week’s episode, we finish the Quran and definitely do NOT burn our copies (please don’t murder us), we learn -- unrelatedly -- that you shouldn't burn a Kindle inside your house, and we’ll go long by thirty minutes, so hopefully there’s traffic.

ScathingAtheist -- 201: Lump of Coal Edition

In this week’s episode, all three of Eli’s hobbies become legal as an early Christmas present, abortion abortionists in Oklahoma fail to recognize that abortions are corporations just like people, and Bryce Blankenagel of the Naked Mormonism podcast will be here to tell us about more people that Mormons killed.

The Friendly Atheist -- 139: The Year In Review (Red Wine Edition)

We (Hemant and Jessica) sat down to discuss all the big stories from 2016. By which we mean whatever stories we could cram into two hours. Those topics included atheism, our future traveling roadshow, and Donald Trump.

The Friendly Atheist -- 140: The Producers Of The Documentary "We Believe In Dinosaurs"

Monica Long Ross and Amy Ellison are two of the producers at 137 Films, a non-profit production company based in Chicago that promotes science through storytelling. (Another producer, Clayton Brown, couldn’t join us for the interview.) Their next project, currently in post-production, is called We Believe in Dinosaurs, all about Noah’s Ark, Creationism, and America’s troubled relationship with science. I spoke with them about Ken Ham‘s reaction to their project, whether Ark Encounter has led to an economic boom in the community it’s in, and why the word “Believe” is in the title of the film.

The Friendly Atheist -- 141: Ryan Mcknight, Founder Of MormonWikiLeaks

This past week saw the launch of a website called Mormon Wikileaks, a “safe, secure, and anonymous way to submit documents, videos, or any other information regarding the Church.” The site was created by Ryan McKnight, a former Mormon. I spoke with Ryan about why he left the Mormon Church, why he hopes to achieve by exposing the Church’s secrets, and what the ultimate secret would be.

Classic


How the Atheist Stole Christmas - The Atheist Experience #762

This Atheist caller has a five month old Baby. He wants some advice on raising children without Religion. He states he's not raising an Atheist, but a free thinker. He asks specifically about Christmas. He wants to know if it's wrong for Atheists to still celebrate Christmas or is it a kind of hypocrisy?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz5EILFhSpo



Feel free to share this issue and blog far and wide.
Discuss in the comment space below.
Email the editor with any questions or feedback.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Reason Review 1-6

 The Reason Review - Volume 1 Issue 6 

2016/DEC/04


Editorial Message


Dear Readers,


Welcome to The Reason Review 1-6.

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving and/or Friendsgiving.

As the year draws to a chilly end, we approach the days of the Winter Solstice and Festivus, with upcoming local events for both. Naturally, this also means "War On Christmas" news articles will be making the rounds, and we have a couple of those.


In other news, Ali A Rizvi's book, The Atheist Muslim, was recently released. Those of you who attended our inaugural Out And Out event may remember us raffling off a pre-ordered copy of it. It features thrice in this issue -- once as an op-ed by the author himself, and twice in podcasts by other atheist activists.

We also have an opinion piece by local Zouhair Mazouz on critiquing religion, a report and an opinion piece on the Black atheist experience, and a video conversation between counter-apologetics maestro Matt Dillahunty and renowned atheist author Richard Dawkins. A cringe-worthy video of a visit to a creationist "museum" as our classic feature rounds off this one.

Hope you enjoy the issue (and our new banner -- let me know what you think of it).

Sincerely,


Sohan Dsouza
Editor of The Reason Review


Contact editor: dsouza@mit.edu
Contact SSOMIT: ssomit-officers@mit.edu

Sign up for SSOMIT Announcements (includes The Reason Review): http://mailman.mit.edu/mailman/listinfo/ssomit-announce
Website: ssomit.mit.edu
Facebook: facebook.com/SecularSocietyOfMIT
Twitter: twitter.com/SecularMIT


Announcements



Boston Secular Solstice 2016

FRI DEC/09 8PM
MIT Chapel
The Boston Secular Solstice will be celebrated at 8pm on Friday in the MIT Chapel. The event traditionally consists of speeches and participatory siinging.
https://www.facebook.com/events/165899473859037/


HCHAA Festivus

FRI DEC/09 5PM
The Humanist Hub, 30 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA
The Harvard Community of Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics will be hosting Seinfeldesque Festivus festivities at The Humanist Hub, complete with a traditional pole.
https://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~secular/?page_id=58



The Disproof Atheism Society: Disproofs of God from the Free Will Defense

WED DEC/07 7:30PM
Boston University Photonics Center, Room 442, 8 St. Mary’s St, Boston, MA
At this Disproof Atheism Society event, Dr Hugh LaFollette will be presenting his paper "Plantinga on the Free Will Defense" for a discussion about why the free will defense to the logical problem of evil not only fails but also disproves God. Recommended primarily for those interested in philosophy.
https://www.meetup.com/bostonatheists/events/235947352/


News


Judge Rules Against Christian Teacher Who Displayed Bible Verses in Classroom

FFRF said they had learned about the classroom displays from an anonymous student and were acting on that student's behalf. "Teachers should strive to conduct their classes in an inclusive manner so that students can participate fully without compromising their own personal beliefs," wrote FFRF Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert to Superintendent Kane.
http://www.christianpost.com/news/judge-rules-against-christian-teacher-who-displayed-bible-verses-in-classroom-122361/


Documentary on “ex-Muslims” sparks contentious debate at Portland State

Sadia sent Freethinkers of PSU a written statement. It read in part, “Islam’s Non-Believers was such an important documentary because for the first time ex-Muslims have been given a face and a voice. It has made us human.”
http://www.theexmuslim.com/2016/11/25/documentary-ex-muslims-sparks-contentious-debate-portland-state/


Oil City VFW Just Says 'No' to Atheists

The bench in question, the Tyrants Bench, contains the quotation “Men Who Aren’t Governed By God, Will Be Governed By Tyrants.”  The atheist group felt the wording on a public park likely violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and does not fairly consider veterans who are also atheists.
http://www.exploreclarion.com/2016/11/15/oil-city-vfw-just-says-no-to-atheists/


Falwell Jr. says Trump offered him education secretary job

Falwell told The Associated Press on Saturday that Trump offered him the job last week during a meeting in New York. He says Trump wanted a four- to six-year commitment, but Falwell says he couldn't leave Liberty for more than two years.
http://bigstory.ap.org/8bd25b9c668c4d22b3aace76434821f5


Meeting with Trump emboldens anti-vaccine activists, who see an ally in the Oval Office

Wakefield and a small group of like-minded activists spent nearly an hour with Trump in the closing months of the presidential campaign. “I found him to be extremely interested, genuinely interested, and open-minded on this issue, so that was enormously refreshing,” Wakefield said.
https://www.statnews.com/2016/11/30/donald-trump-vaccines-policy/


Kenai borough Assembly votes — again — to change invocation rules

The change would return the Assembly's policy to what it looked like earlier this year — a first-come, first-served system that allows anyone to sign up to give an invocation before a meeting. That was how it worked before an atheist and, most notably, a satanist delivered invocations over the summer, leading to conversations about whether there should be a stricter set of rules.
https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/kenai/2016/11/23/kenai-borough-assembly-votes-again-to-change-invocation-rules/


Michigan town removes nativity scene due to sustained FFRF effort

The Freedom From Religion Foundation had initially sent a letter to the city in 2007 objecting to the nativity scene. It was taken down briefly, then was put back up in 2009 as part of a new City Council policy. Since then, FFRF had been doggedly persistent, writing several letters over the years pointing out the constitutional problems with the display.
https://ffrf.org/news/news-releases/item/28024-michigan-town-removes-nativity-scene-due-to-sustained-ffrf-effort


It’s blasphemy to oppose having prayers in meetings, blasts councillor

"I was very disturbed to discover that at the commencement of the meeting all those present were asked to stand and share a moment of prayer." Mr Addis said it was a "huge presumption" to assume that "every person in the room subscribes to the same religious viewpoint.
http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2016/11/its-blasphemy-to-oppose-having-prayers-in-meetings-blasts-councillor


Florida Atheist Sets Up Anti-Trump Festivus Pole At City’s Christmas Display

“Wrapped with an upside-down American flag (acknowledging the majority of Americans who didn’t vote for the Pumpkin In Chief), this year’s pole is shorter, a shout-out to Donald’s tiny hands,” Stevens said via email. “We’ve donned Distresstivus with the infamous Make America Great Again red cap, and fastened it all together with a big ol’ safety pin.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-festivus-pole-florida_us_5840f83ae4b09e21702dfa30


Bangladesh arrests killer of secular blogger, publisher

Khairul had started to collect information about the duo since January 2015 and provided it to the outfit's Askari section (armed wing) to carry out the killings, he added. "Seeing CCTV footage, Khairul has identified four people involved in blogger and secular writer Avijit's killing and we are analysing the information," Baten said.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Bangladesh-arrests-killer-of-secular-blogger-publisher/articleshow/55388092.cms


Atheists protest after being barred from visiting children's home

The President of Atheists in Kenya, Harrison Mumia, in the letter to the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs alleged that the department has banned them from visiting NEST Children’s Home in Limuru.

http://www.hivisasa.com/kiambu/news/182220

Reports



Why female genital mutilation still exists in modern Singapore

Most Singaporeans have little idea of the procedure's existence in the city-state, but it is observed, typically among Malay Muslims, who make up some 13% of the total resident population. Sunat Perempuan, as it is known in Malay, is usually carried out on girls before the age of two, who normally have the tip of the clitoris cut, with a tiny piece of skin sometimes removed.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37819753?post_id=10155889855375534_10157735100105534


Black atheists matter: How an increasingly vocal group of freethinkers is taking on religion

New black atheists are not content to personally reject religion but instead have a goal of spreading freethought to the broader black community. For example, the author Sikivu Hutchinson and the founder of Black Nonbelievers, Mandisa Thomas, argue that religion hurts the black community by promoting sexism, patriarchy and homophobia.
https://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/black-atheists-matter-how-an-increasingly-vocal-group-of-freethinkers-are-taking-on-religion/


How I turned my back on Islam and became an atheist campaigner

"We wanted to change the conversation around apostasy which was highly politicised and remained within the remits of what theologians think about it. "We wanted to define our own experiences and make the institutions which seek to protect us, aware of the challenges affecting apostates in Britain today."
http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/how-i-turned-my-back-on-islam-and-became-an-atheist-campaigner/story-29855803-detail/story.html


Opinion



Zouhair Mazouz -- Getting It Wrong About Islam: Check Your Secular Privilege, Liberal America

Such is the pervasiveness of America’s polarized political discourse on Islam post-9/11. Whatever stances the right-wing espouses, liberals are compelled to advocate for the total opposite. What is lost in between is a crucial discussion on the role of religion in perpetuating injustice and violence in countries governed by Islamic law. As Republicans and Democrats settle their scores, nuance and context take a backseat.
http://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2016/12/01/liberals-islam-zouhair-mazouz


Ali A. Rizvi -- ‘Atheist Muslims’ could be the key to defeating Islamic terror

Both of these narratives miss the mark. One assumes that Muslims are inherently violent because Islam is inherently violent. The other paints the act of criticizing Islam as bigotry against all Muslims. The key distinction both sides miss is that Islam is an idea. Muslims are people.
http://nypost.com/2016/11/26/atheist-muslims-could-be-the-key-to-defeating-islamic-terror/


Brandon Withrow -- What It’s Like to Be Black and Atheist

“Unlike atheists of yesterday, we’re for the most part… vocal. Exodus focuses on African Americans and their exodus-exit from the church. It’s honest, raw, and intimate.”
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/11/20/what-it-s-like-to-be-black-and-atheist.html


Shamila Ghyas -- Why the world needs secularism

If we don’t want extremists to take over our country and turn it into their own personal kingdom, if we don’t want them to sit on thrones shouting “off with their heads” every time someone opens their mouth, if we don’t want to see the literal version of Game of Thrones around us, secularism is the only way to ensure that does not happen.
http://nation.com.pk/blogs/22-Nov-2016/secularism

Media


Richard Dawkins and Matt Dillahunty In Conversation

One of the most respected scientists in the world and the biggest draw in secularism, Richard Dawkins always generates impressive crowds when visiting North America. Secularism is sweeping America as a movement, and Richard Dawkins is the catalyst who galvanizes it. Matt Dillahunty is the current host of the webcast and cable access television show "The Atheist Experience," and from 2006 to 2013 served as the president of the Atheist Community of Austin. He is also a founder of the comprehensive counter-apologetics Wiki "Iron Chariots."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNCzd6_ce0I

Atheist Experience -- 20.46 with Russell Glasser and Phil Session

The Atheist Experience episode 20.46 for November 20, 2016, with Russell Glasser and Phil Session. Recovering from Religion. Russell and Phil chat with author Darrel Ray about Recovering from Religion.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gffGCJUkojA

Atheist Experience -- 20.47 with Matt Dillahunty and Don Baker

The Atheist Experience episode 20.47 for November 27, 2016, with Matt Dillahunty and Don Baker. Troubling Theology. Don and Matt discuss some troubling theological questions and athests' responses to them.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY_9KGdvHQU

Atheist Debates -- Debate Review vs Matt Slick

Part 1 of this debate review gives an analogy that covers the overview of this debate, followed by a discussion of how we decided on the topic. Why did I reject several suggested topics and why did I settle on "Is Secular Humanism superior to Christianity?"Part 2 of this debate review covers my thoughts on my opening remarks and begins to analyze Slick's opening remarks...did they address the topic? What's all this about brain fizz and certainty and truth...and is it relevant to which is the best strategy?Part 3 of this debate review covers the conclusion of Matt Slick's opening remarks and a very brief overview of the cross-examination (which isn't examined in full) as well as an answer to the burning question "What did you ask Matt Slick at the end?" ... As well as a final thought about this debate.
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djbasNcOcDs
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYgwbyR8jYE
Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxYElTniSpw

Polite Conversations -- Episode 19 - Robert Spencer

Robert has tweeted about this as some sort of plot to edit him to look bad... I can assure you that the content is pretty much unedited. I usually obsessively remove umms and Ahs.. but i even let most of those be for this episode. I may have taken out some dead air or repeated words, but thats about it.
https://soundcloud.com/politeconversations/episode-19-robert-spencer

Friendly Atheist Podcast -- Ep. 137 - Ali A. Rizvi, Author of The Atheist Muslim

We spoke about whether someone can be culturally Muslim, whether there's something uniquely problematic with the doctrine of Islam, and what people like Reza Aslan get wrong about the faith.
https://soundcloud.com/friendly-atheist-podcast/ep-137-ali-a-rizvi-author-of-the-atheist-muslim

ScathingAtheist 198: Secular Activist Edition

In this week’s episode, Dolores Umbridge gets appointed secretary of education, Heath consumes five leftover sandwiches during the recording, and Dan Arel joins us from the pre-nation of California to talk secular activism.
https://audioboom.com/posts/5344417-scathingatheist-198-secular-activist-edition

Godless Spellchecker -- EP#93 – ALI RIZVI – THE ATHEIST MUSLIM

It’s a great pleasure to welcome the return of author Ali Rizvi (@AliAmjadRizvi) to The #GSPodcast. Ali will be talking about his excellent new book ‘The Atheist Muslim’. We also discuss Donald Trump, liberal complacency, the left/right divide and much, more!
https://www.gspellchecker.com/2016/11/ep93-ali-rizvi-the-atheist-muslim/

Dogma Debate -- #280 – Atheists vs. Christmas

Taking calls from atheists celebrating Christmas; a moment of prayer with David (yes, he prays with you), the Salvation Army & Target.
http://login.dogmadebate.com/podcast/280-atheists-vs-christmas/

Dogma Debate -- #281 – Christian Listener vs. David Smalley

Daniel Ray has been a listener of Dogma Debate for 2 years, and is a devout Christian. David and Daniel discuss demons, angels, talking animals, the bible, special revelation, depression, childhood, and the firmament in the sky. Daniel believes the universe points to Jesus, and that evil is NOT just the result of “free will.”
http://login.dogmadebate.com/podcast/281-christian-listener-vs-david-smalley/

The Thinking Atheist -- Our 300th Show!

This very special 300th broadcast was recorded in Dallas, Texas on November 19th in front of a live audience at the DoubleTree by Hilton Dallas-Richardson.  Special guests include: Matt Dillahunty, Sarah Haider of Ex-Muslims of North America, David Smalley of Dogma Debate, Aron Ra, and Recording artist Shelley Segal
PODCAST: http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/podcast/our-300th-show
VIDEO: https://youtu.be/U6ViKFHOC-I

The Thinking Atheist -- Movie Review: The Atheist Delusion

The hosts of God Awful Movies join Seth Andrews for a review of Ray Comfort's new film, "The Atheist Delusion."  They watched the movie...so you don't have to. 
http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/podcast/movie-review-the-atheist-delusion

Classic



Atheists at the Creation Museum

On October 5th, 2012, Seth Andrews joined a group of skeptics for a tour of Kentucky's infamous Creation Museum. These are the Top Ten Lessons he took away from that experience.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVHWq0ZGE_Y



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