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This Week in Atheism 2018–09–30


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/09/30

“In 1931, Plennie L. Wingo tried to walk around the world backward. He didn’t succeed. Why did he try?

Is opera in America dead? Probably: “It is not that grand opera is incapable of appealing to American theatergoers. Even now, there are many Americans who love it passionately, just as there are regional companies such as Chicago’s Lyric Opera and San Francisco Opera that have avoided making the mistakes that closed City Opera’s doors. Yet the crises from which the Metropolitan Opera has so far failed to extricate itself suggest that in the absence of the generous state subsidies that keep European opera houses in business, large-house grand opera in America may simply be too expensive to thrive — or, ultimately, to survive. At its best, no art form is more thrilling or seductive. But none is at greater risk of following the dinosaurs down the cold road to extinction.””


“In response to the “gnawing pain in my heart and soul about the meaning of life,” Australia’s former governor-general, Bill Hayden, a life-long atheist, was recently baptized at the age of 85.

After living a great deal of his life in denial of the Creator, the former politician renounced his atheism and joined the Catholic Church. He said witnessing so many selfless acts of compassion by Christians over his lifetime — as well as a season of reflection following a stroke — inspired his decision.”


“Referring to Hitler and Stalin, the New Atheist biologist Richard Dawkins has written that there “is not the smallest evidence” that “atheism systematically influences people to do bad things.” Gary Saul Morson, reviewing Victoria Smolkin’s A Sacred Space Is Never Empty: A History of Soviet Atheism, finds ample evidence to refute Dawkins; to the contrary, he writes, “Bolshevik ethics began and ended with atheism.”

Only someone who rejected all religious or quasi-religious morals could be a Bolshevik because, as Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and countless other Bolshevik leaders insisted, success for the party was the only standard of right and wrong. The bourgeoisie falsely claim that Bolsheviks have no ethics, Lenin explained in a 1920 speech. No, he said; what Bolsheviks rejected was an ethical framework based on God’s commandments or anything resembling them, such as abstract principles, timeless values, universal human rights, or any tenet of philosophical idealism. For a true materialist, he maintained, there could be no Kantian categorical imperative to treat others only as ends, not as means.”


“The CBS drama, God Friended Me, is taking a daring step by showcasing a lead black actor as an atheist. This is remarkable groundwork for television because when it comes to black religious portrayals and mass market TV scripts, black Americans are often mostly portrayed as one-note, stereotypical, head-shaking, foot-stomping believers with no other elements or nuance. This show turns that stereotype on several heads by offering various viewpoints of how one or two people of color look at and digest and struggle with faith.

And that’s a good thing.

God Friended Me is about Miles Finer, who runs an atheist podcast. Finer is later sent a friend request from God, and he thinks the request is a joke. He deletes it. That is, until things start to happen that make it seem like an omniscient presence really is calling the shots. Finer makes new friends and strong connections as he researches who this “God account” might belong to. Miles is an atheist but he’s also a PK, that is, Preachers Kid. And in true Touched By An Angel style, this CBS original offers a lot of hope and discussion points for the faithful and unbothered-by-faith alike. Finer is portrayed by Brandon Micheal Hall of The Mayorand Search Party fame.”


“Irish Atheists will today launch their campaign for a Yes vote in October’s referendum on removing the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution.

After a decade of lobbying, Atheist Ireland will present their campaign posters at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin this afternoon.

Chairperson Michael Nugent said it is about freedom of speech and the separation of Church and State.”


“Many atheists think that their atheism is the product of rational thinking. They use arguments such as “I don’t believe in God, I believe in science” to explain that evidence and logic, rather than supernatural belief and dogma, underpin their thinking. But just because you believe in evidence-based, scientific research — which is subject to strict checks and procedures — doesn’t mean that your mind works in the same way.

When you ask atheists about why they became atheists (as I do for a living), they often point to eureka moments when they came to realise that religion simply doesn’t make sense.

Oddly perhaps, many religious people actually take a similar view of atheism. This comes out when theologians and other theists speculate that it must be rather sad to be an atheist, lacking (as they think atheists do) so much of the philosophical, ethical, mythical and aesthetic fulfilments that religious people have access to — stuck in a cold world of rationality only.”



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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