12.01.2021

Belief in Magic Should Not Absolve Anyone From Being a Responsible Adult

burning face mask

There have been some exceptions, but it seems like federal courts have generally been allowing city and state governments to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for their employees (here's an example in Chicago). I recognize that vaccine mandates are controversial, and I wish they were not necessary; however, I do support them. Those of us who are public employees should be vaccinated to protect the public with whom we interact. And while protecting public health strikes me as something that is in everybody's interest, it is clear that some people require a mandate. As for religious exemptions to these mandates, they strike me me as troubling examples of religious privilege and unequal treatment under the law. Believing in magic should not be accepted by anyone as a valid excuse for disregarding vital public health measures.

Fortunately, some courts have been willing to weaken these religious exemptions a bit, apparently recognizing that they have limits. For example a federal court in Pennsylvania allowed those with religious exemptions to the vaccine requirement to be required to submit to regular COVID testing to maintain their religious exemption. While getting vaccinated would be preferable, this alternative requirement of regular testing seems worth considering.

11.29.2021

Would You Take a Pill That Could Turn Atheists Into Believing Christians?

pill

For this post, we will consider a brief but interesting hypothetical scenario. At some point in the not-too-distant future, a pharmaceutical company reveals a new drug they have been working on for decades without telling anybody about it. It has now been tested extensively and works startlingly well with no side effects whatsoever. What does it do? Someone who takes a single dose of this drug shortly before bed will wake up the next morning feeling well-rested and...um...thoroughly Christian. You see, this drug has the power to turn atheists into believing Christians overnight, and the effects are permanent. If such a drug existed, would you take it?

11.27.2021

When Encountering Opinions Different From Ours Makes Us Angry

Bertrand Russell on encountering different opinions

As some of you know, I am a fan of Bertrand Russell's work. I think that is mostly because I discovered it at the time in my youth when I most needed it. Thus, it should come as no surprise that I agree with what he's saying here. I'm not sure this is the only reason encountering an opinion that conflicts with our own might make us angry, but this does seem to be an especially common one.

11.26.2021

Amazon's Best Sellers in Atheism and the Barriers to Shop Local Efforts

old books

Just because a book is listed in Amazon.com's regularly-updated collection of Best Sellers in Atheism does not necessarily mean it is really about atheism or even that it is not evangelical Christian drivel. The same is true for their New Releases in Atheism collection. This is unfortunate. Still, these would be among the places I might look if I was hoping to add a book about atheism to my collection and was curious about what had recently been released and/or was especially popular among their customers.

I realize that some consider Amazon.com to be evil and try to steer clear of them. They have obviously not been good for local bookstores. Of course, some of us live in areas that have never had local bookstores, at least not acceptable local bookstores. I have one roughly 15 minutes away that has a massive section of evangelical fundamentalist Christian books and little else. I am about as inclined to support that particular store as I am the local Hobby Lobby, which is to say not at all. Not surprisingly, this one local bookstore does not have anything related to atheism that isn't explicitly anti-atheism. The closest acceptable bookstore is over an hour away and is not much more local than Amazon since it is a Barnes & Noble. I do go there occasionally when my cravings for a bookstore experience reach the point that I can no longer resist them, but that isn't more than a few times a year.