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This Week in Atheism 2018–08–05


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/08/05

“Suicide is never an easy thing to talk about. To give some background, The Suicide Act 1961 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It decriminalised the act of suicide in England and Wales so that those who failed in the attempt to kill themselves would no longer be prosecuted (it was never a crime under Scots Law).

In the US:

Under Common Law, suicide, or the intentional taking of one’s own life, was a felony that was punished by Forfeiture of all the goods and chattels of the offender. Under modern U.S. law, suicide is no longer a crime. Some states, however, classify attempted suicide as a criminal act, but prosecutions are rare, especially when the offender is terminally ill. Instead, some jurisdictions require a person who attempts suicide to undergo temporary hospitalization and psychological observation. A person who causes the death of an innocent bystander or would- be rescuer while in the process of attempting suicide may be guilty of murder or Manslaughter.

Religiously, suicide is commonly seen as a sin.”


“What is Jordan Peterson talking about when he talks about God? Sometimes, it seems like even Peterson isn’t sure. At Quillette, Matt Johnson critiques Peterson’s insistence on speaking vaguely about God and the Christian religion. He makes several good points. All the more unfortunate, then, that the article around them is a tissue of bad philosophy and old canards about the history of Western civilization.

Johnson is right that Peterson’s definition of “God” is so malleable as to be functionally meaningless. Not content to leave his thesis there, however, he attacks Peterson’s claim that the enterprise of Western humanism is the outworking of a fundamentally Judeo-Christian ethic. Peterson has repeatedly needled atheist Sam Harris and his ilk by claiming that they only think they’re atheists. In fact, Peterson proposes, a logical atheist looks much more like Joseph Stalin than like Harris.

Harris is unamused. In fact, he’s more than a little angry that we are still having this conversation. For the last time, he says in his recent London debate with Peterson, atheism had nothing to do with the gulags and the gas chambers. Can we not “put to bed” this religious fiction once and for all? Indeed, Johnson boldly avows, “the most heinous crimes of the twentieth century were committed by people for whom God was still very much alive.””


“Atheist author and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has announced that he’s working on two books aimed at introducing atheism to teenagers and children.

Some Christian columnists, such as Laura Perrins, co-editor of The Conservative Woman website, have warned that children are going to be “evangelized” to with philosophies of “nothingness” and “emptiness.”

“I’m actively working on [two] new books. Outgrowing God is atheism for teenagers. Second one (illustrated) is Atheism for Children. It still needs a title. Maybe OMG I think I’m an Atheist,” Dawkins announced on Twitter Saturday.”


“Richard Dawkins, atheist evangelist, is working on two new books, Atheism for Children which will be illustrated (!) and Outgrowing God, atheism for teenagers. I know, I can feel your excitement.

Quite what will be in these books, God only knows. Atheism is that odd faith that says there is no God, so perhaps the pages will be blank to reflect the emptiness of it all, the sheer nothingness of this belief that maintains life came from non-life, organisation came out of chaos, consciousness came out of non-consciousness and reason came out of irrationality.

Indeed, they will make spiffing Christmas gifts, not that any of the young recipients should be celebrating Christmas and all its traditions that mark the birth of Christ.”


“I had the opportunity a few days ago to read a column on atheism in El Espectador, and to delight in how easy it is to find like-minded thinkers even in a country as overtly Catholic as Colombia.

Valentina Coccia’s “Una vida sin Dios” is a meditation on whether one needs religion to live a full and happy life, and it’s an op-ed that wisely focuses inward, using the example of her own upbringing, with a deeply religious mother and an atheistic father, to show how different views can co-exist. Coccia does not use the term “humanist” to describe herself, but I feel ideological kindred to many of her sentiments all the same.”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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