Tuesday, 28 December 2010

End Hereditary Religion

First international day of protest against hereditary religion | End Hereditary Religion

Richard Collins.

I’m starting to float the idea of organizing an international day of protest against the religious grooming of children. This is a big undertaking, but simply talking amongst ourselves will never change anything. Discussion is enormously helpful in making us understand the problem we face, but until we serve constructive notice on parents and institutions nothing is going to change.

A 2 year-old fanatic in the making

Muhammad tells it like it is.

Friday, 24 December 2010

A Christmas List

Robert Ingersoll produced the following Christmas list over one hundred years ago.

If I had the power to produce exactly what I want for next Christmas, I would have all the kings and emperors resign and allow the people to govern themselves.

I would have all the nobility crop their titles and give their lands back to the people. I would have the Pope throw away his tiara, take off his sacred vestments, and admit that he is not acting for God—is not infallible—but is just an ordinary Italian. I would have all the cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests and clergymen admit that they know nothing about theology, nothing about hell or heaven, nothing about the destiny of the human race, nothing about devils or ghosts, gods or angels. I would have them tell all their "flocks" to think for themselves, to be manly men and womanly women, and to do all in their power to increase the sum of human happiness.

I would have all the professors in colleges, all the teachers in schools of every kind, including those in Sunday schools, agree that they would teach only what they know, that they would not palm off guesses as demonstrated truths.

I would like to see all the politicians changed to statesmen,—to men who long to make their country great and free,—to men who care more for public good than private gain—men who long to be of use.
I would like to see all the editors of papers and magazines agree to print the truth and nothing but the truth, to avoid all slander and misrepresentation, and to let the private affairs of the people alone.

I would like to see drunkenness and prohibition both abolished.

I would like to see corporal punishment done away with in every home, in every school, in every asylum, reformatory, and prison. Cruelty hardens and degrades, kindness reforms and ennobles.

I would like to see the millionaires unite and form a trust for the public good.

I would like to see a fair division of profits between capital and labor, so that the toiler could save enough to mingle a little June with the December of his life.

I would like to see an international court established in which to settle disputes between nations, so that armies could be disbanded and the great navies allowed to rust and rot in perfect peace.

I would like to see the whole world free—free from injustice—free from superstition.

This will do for next Christmas. The following Christmas, I may want more.

The Arena, Boston, December 1897. 

The Origins & Symbolism of Christian Holy Days


A really excellent video.

Britain now a majority non-religious nation

"In the latest 2010 BSA report, published earlier this month, only 42% said they were Christians while 51% now say they have no religion. Admittedly, some other surveys – including the last census – have produced different findings on these issues, usually to the advantage of the religious option. There is also a margin of error in all such exercises. All the same, and particularly since the trends in opinion over time seem well set, it is hard not to feel that this latest finding marks a cultural watershed.
This Christmas, for perhaps the first time ever, Britain is a majority non-religious nation. Most of us have probably seen this moment coming, but it is a substantial event nonetheless. It is undoubtedly a development that would have astonished our ancestors who built a Britain on the basis that we were and would remain a predominantly Protestant people. The victory of secularism would have flabbergasted them almost as much as the pope appearing on the BBC with his Thought for the Day.
The change ought certainly to inspire some national reflection, though there is no need for national breast-beating. After all, in most eyes, the BSA survey finding simply underscores things that have already become obvious. Today, our three political parties are led by two open atheists, and a prime minister who admits his faith comes and goes, a development impossible to imagine in other parts of a world, in which the loss of religion is not a uniform trend. The Britain of 50 years ago, in which religion was a far larger part of the social fabric and the national way of life, is a country we have lost."

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Jesus and me


The Islamisation of Europe

Speech given by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff  on 18th December at the 'Rally against Islamisation of Europe' in Paris. She has discovered, like Geert Wilders before her, that the authorities would like to make it a hate-crime to quote from the Koran in public.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Is Jesus a Harry Potter figure?

This is the real question posed by a new book to be published in January next year. Not whether Harry Potter is a ‘Christ Figure’ (similar to a historical religious savior), but rather whether Jesus Christ is a ‘Potter Figure’ (a composition of redemptive mythological symbols and philosophies).

"At first glance it may seem that J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard and the crucified Jesus prophet who became the Christian savior have absolutely nothing to do with each other – and yet the unease and sometimes outright animosity between the followers of these two figures suggests otherwise. Harry has been banned, burned, and abused by religious fundamentalists for over a decade. Just what is it about Harry Potter that Christians find so threatening?

On the surface, the conflict appears simple. The Bible prohibits witchcraft absolutely, on pain of death. Consequently, some Christians argue that the popularity of Harry Potter can lead children to accept that magic is OK – if used for the right reasons – and thus lure them into evil practices that lead to damnation. At the release of Rowling’s final book, however, many readers were surprised to discover parallels between Jesus and Harry that, in such apparently diverse world-views, had no right to be there. As a result, recent years have witnessed a revolution in Christian responses to Harry, with many groups, writers and religious leaders praising Rowling’s young sorcerer as ultimately Christian and a clear metaphor for Jesus Christ."

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Why atheists have higher IQ's

Atheists are probably more intelligent than religious people because they benefit from many social conditions that happen to be correlated with loss of religious belief. When one looks at this phenomenon from the point of view of comparisons between countries, it is not hard to figure out possible reasons that more intelligent countries have more atheists as Richard Lynn (2009) reported.

From an article in Psychology Today by Evolutionary psychologist Nigel Barber, the author of Why Parents Matter and The Science of Romance, among other books.

Read more.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Voltaire's take on Islam

"But that a camel-merchant should stir up insurrection in his village; that in league with some miserable followers he persuades them that he talks with the angel Gabriel; that he boasts of having been carried to heaven, where he received in part this unintelligible book, each page of which makes common sense shudder; that, to pay homage to this book, he delivers his country to iron and flame; that he cuts the throats of fathers and kidnaps daughters; that he gives to the defeated the choice of his religion or death: this is assuredly nothing any man can excuse, at least if he was not born a Turk, or if superstition has not extinguished all natural light in him."  

(Referring to Muhammad, in a letter to Frederick II of Prussia (December 1740), published in Oeuvres complètes de Voltaire, Vol. 7 (1869))

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

A Quick Guide to Christian Theology

Jesus Christ was crucified as a sacrifice to the Invisible Magic Friend who is composed of three parts and one of these parts is Jesus. So Jesus sacrificed himself to himself. Eh??? . . This sacrifice was to atone for all our sins which the Invisible Magic Friend knew we were going to commit before he created us. Oh! My head is beginning to  hurt . . 

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Religion & Santa Claus

It is often argued that religion is valuable because it makes men good, but even if this were true it would not be a proof that religion is true. That would be an extension of pragmatism beyond endurance. Santa Claus makes children good in precisely the same way, and yet no one would argue seriously that the fact proves his existence. The defense of religion is full of such logical imbecilities. - H. L. Mencken

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Census Campaign update

It is claimed that, because of the way the question was worded, the 2001 census underestimated the number of non-religious people in the UK by approximately half. Yet the question remains substantially the same in next year's census.  This has all kinds of ramifications in the way our society is organised and our taxes are disbursed. 

The Census Campaign simply wants want people to know why the question on religion is flawed and why so many non-religious people didn't tick "None" in the 2001 Census. It wants people who are genuinely non-religious to have no hesitation in ticking the "No religion" box in the 2011 Census.

It is appealing for £12,000 to support an advertising campaign in the run-up to next year's census and has already reached nearly 80% of target.

Friday, 26 November 2010

God and the bible - a question.

According to believers God gave us the bible and he also created us with the ability to pick out the good bits that he really wants us to follow as distinct from the nasty bits that we shouldn't.  That is, he gave us the inbuilt ability to distinguish right from wrong, good from bad.

In that case why did he bother with the bible at all, and why do present day believers rate it other than as a work of fantasy literature?

Monday, 15 November 2010

Tony Blair at it again . . . .

Tony Blair has been waffling away again, this time in Montreal, trying to big-up his ridiculous Faith Foundation.  Apparently McGill University has become involved in its "Faith & Globalization Initiative." I wonder why? Do its students know? I was going to read up about it but, unfortunately, found I was due to watch TV.

However in the Montreal Gazette article the following quote from his speech particularly caught my eye:-

"The single most important thing for people of one faith is to know about the others. The more you know and the less the ignorance, the less the fear of the other, and it's often the fear that creates problems."

The point he seems to overlook is that the more rational people learn about some faiths the more they fear them; not excluding the particular cult he favours.  

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Contradictions in the Bible

From Sam & Annaka Harris's Project Reason.
The bars that run along the bottom of the visualization represent the 1189 chapters in The Bible, with the length of each bar corresponding to the number of verses in each chapter. White bars represent the Old Testament and grey bars (to the right) represent The New Testament. Each red arc connects verses that contradict each other.

Wonderful!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Free Speech in Europe

For Armistice Day

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? 
Only the monstrous anger of the guns. 
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle 
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells; 
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells; 
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all? 
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes 
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes. 
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall; 
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds, 
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen

Monday, 8 November 2010

Causes of the Rise & Decline of Islam

Extract from a speech delivered by Marmaduke Pickthall in Madras,
India in 1927:-

"The Muslim empire revived after the attack of Genghis Khan and even made fresh progress. A progress so remarkable that once more it threatened Europe as a whole, and so aroused the old crusading animosity in modern dress, which was the secondary reason of its downfall. I say the secondary reason for the main reason for the downfall must be sought in the Shari'ah, among those natural laws which must always control the rise and fall of nations.  

The empire was apparently progressing but it was progressing on the wave of a bygone impulse. The Ulama who sought knowledge "even though it were in China" were no more. In their place stood men bearing the same high name of  Ulama claiming the same reverence, but who sought knowledge only in a limited area, the area of Islam as  they conceived it - not the world-wide, liberating and light-giving religion of the Qur'an and the Prophet, but an Islam as narrow and hidebound as religion always will become when it admits the shadow of a man between man's mind and God.  

Islam, the religion of free thought, the religion which once seemed to have banished priestly superstition and enslavement of men's minds to other men, forever from the lands to which it came, had become - God forgive us! - priest-ridden.  

The pursuit of natural science had already been abandoned. All knowledge coming from without was reckoned impious. For was it not the knowledge of mere infidels? Whereas the practice of the early Muslims was to seek knowledge even unto China, even though it were the knowledge of a heathen race. The growth of pride accompanied the cult of ignorance.  

The Christian nations, which had been moved to the pursuit of science by the example of the Muslims, had advanced materially just as the Muslims had advanced materially so long as they obeyed that portion of the Shari'ah or Sacred Law which proclaims freedom of thought and exhorts the pursuit of knowledge and the study of God's creation. The Christian nations threw off the narrow shackles of ecclesiasticism and espoused free thought, and their advance in the material field was as surprising in its way as were the conquests of the early Muslims in their way."

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Has Islam a cultural inferiority complex?

I was impressed with an article by The Times correspondent Matthew Parris, "Has terrorism become a weird kind of game", 6th November 2010. Here is an extract from it:-

"Islamists seem spellbound by high-tech and by electronics. While despising the Babylon they think the West has spawned, they are fascinated and impressed by its technological underpinnings, and crave this wizardry for themselves. They cannot build planes and would struggle to run an airline; but to be clever enough to bring down one of ours soothes what may be a deep-seated inferiority complex. To do it by suicide weaves elements of Muslim courage and piety into Western-style scientific mastery: a three-layered self affirmination."

Monday, 18 October 2010

Friday, 15 October 2010

Social networks dominated by the godless

"In our overly zealous religious society, many atheists have had a difficult time finding others who value reason over faith. While atheist communities are on the rise in most cities, atheists have created a disproportionably large community on the internet." . . . 


A useful summary of online atheist activity. Read more:-
Social networks dominated by the godless - Philadelphia atheism | Examiner.com

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Chilean mine rescue

It would seem logical to credit God with the rock fall that entombed the miners and thank the engineers for their eventual rescue.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Fools and their Follies

Those who advocate a piece of folly like the theory of an "intelligent creator" should be held accountable for their folly, they have no right to be offended for being called fools until they establish they are not in fact fools. ~ S T Joshi, author of "Atheism: A Reader". 

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Confrontation all the way . .

A taster from PZ's brillant address at the Secular Humanist Conference:- 

"It's all about the truth, people. And all the evidence is crystal clear right now: the earth is far older than 6,000 years. Evolution is a real, and it is a process built on raw chance driven by the brutal engines of selection, and there is no sign of a loving, personal god, but only billions of years of pitiless winnowing without any direction other than short-term survival and reproduction. It's not pretty, it's not consoling, it doesn't sanctify virginity, or tell you that god really loves your foreskin, but it's got one soaring virtue that trumps all the others: it's true."

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Brighton Vicar targets the weak-minded

Saturday 9th October 2010. The Argus reports:-

A vicar is hoping to turn “weak-willed” offenders from crime to Christ.

The Reverend Dr John Scott will be giving two talks to drug addicts and ex-offenders in Brighton to try and turn them to the light.

Mr Scott, who is the chief executive of the charity the Daylight Christian Prison Trust, said that addicts and criminals were weak-willed and needed to let Jesus into their lives to find the strength to go on the straight and narrow.

He said: “People can't change by good intention. It takes strength they don't have.

"We’ve had a number of uplifting cases of criminals whose lives have been totally changed because they found a source of strength greater than any other - belief in Jesus Christ.

“We talk tough when we speak to addicts and offenders. We know that when you're a habitual addict - hooked on crime or drugs - it takes courage to make the move. But addicts know in their hearts the addiction doesn't give them any real, lasting pleasure in life. Lasting change comes through turning to Jesus Christ, drawing upon his strength to change, living with hope for the future.

“God helps them because it gives them the spiritual commitment to keep going."

Presumably the Reverend Scott is increasingly finding that it is only the weak-willed who can be persuaded to believe his fairy tales. 


Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Census Campaign

The British Humanist Association has launched a campaign in advance of the 2011 census which is only five months away. The concern is that the 2001 census gave inaccurate results because of the leading nature of the religion question. The aim of the campaign is to get everyone to think carefully of the implications before answering the voluntary question on religion next year.




The BHA worked with the office of National Statistics (ONS) to try and improve the question for the 2011 Census. However, despite agreeing to testing of alternative questions, and admitting that the existing question was flawed, the ONS took the decision to keep the same inadequate question for the 2011 Census.

For further information see the Campaign website.
There is also a Facebook page. You can also donate to help finance publicity about this important issue.


Monday, 4 October 2010

The UK census "religion" question.

This was the voluntary question posed in the 2001 census. It is generally considered to be somewhat of a leading question, even though the first tick box allows selection of "No religion", this is not strictly a logical answer since "No religion" is not a religion.  This is  immediately followed by the "Christian" option and it is thought likely that in 2001 many people naively identified themselves as "christian" because they had been told that is what they were when young and had had the idea reinforced by schooling and being told at intervals throughout their lives that they lived in a 'christian' nation. This is not at all the same thing as believing in an invisible magic friend and regularly attending and financially supporting a church.  This is clearly indicated by the vanishingly small figures for church attendance and the many churches being closed, demolished or put to other uses.

This anomaly produced the result that over 42M people declared themselves as belonging to the christian faith and the government uses these results  to justify diverting taxpayers money to faith schools and other religious groups: and the BBC to justify using licence fees to fund a disproportionate amount of religious programming. 

In 2011 British citizens will have the first opportunity since 2001 to make clear the extent of their religiosity yet, notwithstanding strong representations by the British Humanist Society and the National Secular Society it is believed the question will remain unaltered.

We are all aware that christianity has had significant influences on our history and culture but we are where we are and, if we believe that, in the modern world, religion can be a dangerously divisive influence, the answer to the religion question should be clear.

Read an NSS article on this subject.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

US judge asks Vatican to serve court paper to pope.

"MILWAUKEE — A federal U.S. judge is asking the Vatican to cooperate in serving the pope and two other top officials with court papers that stem from decades-old allegations of priest sexual abuse in Wisconsin.

The request is an incremental step in a lawsuit that accuses the officials of conspiring to keep the allegations against a Milwaukee priest quiet."

Read more:- US judge asks Vatican to serve court paper to pope - chicagotribune.com

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Abandoned Church


Church in Gary, Indiana abandoned in the 1970s due to poor attendance.
Photo: CityEyesPhoto.com

Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Religion of Love

Numbers:15: Verses:32-36. (King James Version)

 32) And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.

 33) And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.

 34) And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.

 35) And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.

 36) And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.

Monday, 20 September 2010

A Secularist Manifesto

From an excellent Guardian article by Evan Harris:-

"Secularism is not atheism (lack of belief in God) and nor is it humanism (a nonreligious belief system). It is a political movement seeking specific policy end-points. Many secularists are religious and many religious people – recognising the value of keeping government and religion separate – are secular.

Secularism seeks to defend the absolute freedom of religious and other belief, seeks to maximise freedom of religious and other expression and protect the right to manifest religious belief insofar as it does not impinge disproportionately on the rights and freedoms of others. This is essentially a summary of article 9 of the European convention on human rights. In addition secularism aims to end religious privileges or persecutions and to fully separate the state from religion which is a necessary means to that end."

Read full manifesto here.

Every Catholic should read this . . .

From ex-catholic girl - "A dirty little girl her head hanging in shame"

"The Catholic Church loathes children. Loathes them. To the Church, children are Catholics first and humans second, and the lifelong trauma caused by childhood indoctrination is mere collateral damage in the Church’s battle against the outside world. As is so often the case, the Church unashamedly places their own interests above all other concerns, including the welfare (physical, emotional, and mental) of children. And an organization that despises and preys upon its weakest and most vulnerable members (who haven’t even chosen to be members) is undoubtably a force of great evil in the world."

Sunday, 19 September 2010

The Religious Believer

The religious believer is a mental slave to an insubstantial idea, a phantom presence inculcated in a youthful developing mind with the object of control and obedience. It develops with the mind to become a source of mental refuge and comfort, and consequently becomes near impossible to expel. 

To claim to be in communication with this phantom does not provide the claimant any special authority for the issuing of moral and ethical diktats which can deleteriously affect peoples' lives. 

If a cloistered, life-long celibate, 83 year old man, with no experience of sex, marriage, children or grandchildren professes to give advice on such matters as contraception, abortion, sexual relations, we are  entitled to ask for back-up evidence. We are aware of the shortcomings of our own minds, so we are unlikely to be impressed simply with what is going on in his (or his advisors). If he has sincerely-held opinions on these matters, let him set up and fund appropriate research projects in all the relevant disciplines, physiological, psychological, statistical, and, when they are completed, re-present his advice backed-up with credible evidence.

Richard Dawkins at the "Protest the Pope" march



The full speech in Downing Street at the end of the march.
Photos of the march can be seen on this Page.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Child abuse in Ireland

 

Wow! Another impassioned speech

Stephen Fry on the Catholic Church



A wonderful, impassioned speech. Surely Stephen's best on this subject. How any catholic possessed of the smallest trace of moral conscience can listen to this and remain in their church is a complete mystery.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Richard Dawkins reacting to the Pope's first speech on British soil.

 The Pope said:- 
"Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live. I also recall the regime’s attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives. As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a “reductive vision of the person and his destiny” (Caritas in Veritate, 29)."

This statement by the pope, on his arrival in Edinburgh, is a despicable outrage. Even if Hitler had been an atheist, his political philosophy was not based upon atheism and had no connection with atheism. Hitler was arguably (and by his own account) a Roman Catholic. In any case he enjoyed the open support of many of the most senior catholic clergy in Germany and the less demonstrative support of Pope Pius XII. Even if Hitler had been an atheist (he certainly was not), the rank and file Germans who carried out the attempted extermination of the Jews were Christians, almost to a man: either Catholic or Lutheran, primed to their anti-Semitism by centuries of Catholic propaganda about 'Christ-killers' and by Martin Luther's own seething hatred of the Jews. To mention Ratzinger's membership of the Hitler Youth might be thought to be fighting dirty, but my feeling is that the gloves are off after this disgraceful paragraph by the pope.

I feel like bombarding every newspaper in Britain with letters of protest.

letters@guardian.co.uk

letters@thetimes.co.uk

letters@independent.co.uk

The trick to getting letters published is to keep them BRIEF as well as literate and correctly punctuated.

I am incandescent with rage at the sycophantic BBC coverage, and the sight of British toadies bowing and scraping to this odious man. I thought he was bad before. This puts the lid on it.

Richard

 Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 1:09 PM 

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Saturday, 11 September 2010

September 11th


"From the first moment I looked into that horror on September 11th, Into that fireball, into that explosion of horror, I knew it, I recognized an old companion. I recognized religion." ~ Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete.





Friday, 10 September 2010

The Eternal Flame of Muslim Outrage | NewsOK.com

The Eternal Flame of Muslim Outrage | NewsOK.com

"When everything from sneakers to stuffed animals to comics to frescos to beauty queens to fast-food packaging to undies serves as dry tinder for Allah's avengers, it's a grand farce to feign concern about the recruitment effect of a few burnt Korans in the hands of a two-bit attention-seeker in Florida. The eternal flame of Muslim outrage was lit a long, long time ago."

Read more: http://www.newsok.com/the-eternal-flame-of-muslim-outrage/article/feed/189754#ixzz0z7VwAnSY

Suffolk Humanists and Secularists

September Newsletter out now | Suffolk Humanists and Secularists
Always a good read.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The Church of England

I went to a CofE primary school and it was pretty ineffectual as regards indoctrinating me into Christianity. The CofE is senile and relatively harmless and I used to think it was worth tolerating for its quaint historical link with our culture & constitution. The problem arises that in modern, anything-goes, England it has opened the door to alien, militant religions who are committed to exploiting ruthlessly any opportunity for recruiting to the ranks of unreason.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

What Obama Got Wrong About the Mosque

What Obama Got Wrong About the Mosque by Sam Harris

"Should a 15-story mosque and Islamic cultural center be built two blocks from the site of the worst jihadist atrocity in living memory? Put this way, the question nearly answers itself. This is not to say, however, that I think we should prevent our fellow citizens from building “the ground zero mosque.” There is probably no legal basis to do so in any case—nor should there be. But the margin between what is legal and what is desirable, or even decent, leaves room for many projects that well-intentioned people might still find offensive. If you can raise the requisite $100 million, you might also build a shrine to Satan on this spot, complete with the names of all the non-believing victims of 9/11 destined to suffer for eternity in Hell. You could also build an Institute of “9/11 Truth,” catering to the credulity, masochism, and paranoia of the 16 percent of Americans who imagine that the World Trade Center was intentionally demolished by agents of the U.S. government. Incidentally, any shrine to conspiracy thinking should probably also contain a mosque, along with a list of the 4,000 Jews who suspiciously declined to practice their usury in the Twin Towers on the day of the attack.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Red for Danger

 . . . not suggesting they are all pedophiles, simply referring to the dangers inherent in the irrational & superstitious belief system their lives are dedicated to representing and propagating.

The slow whiny death of British Christianity

 An excellent article by Jonathan Hari is worth reading in full but here are a few tasters below:-
  • How did it happen? For centuries, religion was insulated from criticism in Britain. First its opponents were burned, then jailed, then shunned. But once there was a free marketplace of ideas, once people could finally hear both the religious arguments and the rationalist criticisms of them, the religious lost the British people. Their case was too weak, their opposition to divorce and abortion and gay people too cruel, their evidence for their claims non-existent. Once they had to rely on persuasion rather than intimidation, the story of British Christianity came to an end.
  • A five year old will make friends with anyone, and he'll be much less likely to believe smears against those friends for the rest of their lives. But in Britain today, that mixing is happening less and less. Increasingly, the children of Christians are sent to one side, Jews to another, Muslims to another still, and they never see each other except from the window of their parents' cars. After the race riots in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley in 2001, the official investigations found that faith schools were a major cause.
  • As their dusty Churches crumble because nobody wants to go there, the few remaining Christians in Britain will only become more angry and uncomprehending. Let them. We can't stop this hysterical toy-tossing stop us from turning our country into a secular democracy where everyone has the same rights, and nobody is granted special rights just because they claim their ideas come from an invisible supernatural being. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a Holy Lamb of God to carve into kebabs - it's our new national dish. Amen, and hallelujah.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Incomprehension

The upper echelons of the Church of England (I choose this particular branch of christianity because it is the one with which I am most familiar) appear always to be populated with men of some intelligence and learning (allbeit somewhat restricted in scope) and because the Church is established they often occupy positions of some power and influence.

How do they justify these positions, the lives they have chosen or, if simply drifted into, justify continuing along the same path? In short, how do they manage to live with themselves?

I was mildy indoctrinated with religious beliefs as a child and can remember making some childish efforts to embrace them. I rationalised that Jesus probably did live, was probably a pretty good guy, and consequently, that Christianity was a 'good thing', something one could pay lip service to. By the time I was in my teens however I had come to suspect that the whole Bible was a motley collection of myths and superstitions; and that prayer, collective worship and religious ritual was pretty meaningless and only of  value in any beneficial effect it had for the individual participant.

Do religious leaders simply shut such thoughts from their minds? Or have they, by a process they never seem to reveal, rationalised them out of existence? Are men (and women) of learning and intelligence happy and fulfilled wearing funny hats and bejewelled robes and drawing pictures in the air? Or have they simply settled for the pragmatic argument that they are serving the emotional needs of the gullible, believing public; and the question of whether their activities are of any significance at all to the deity they claim to represent, can be put aside?

The Intellectuals Against the Pope,... And Justice...

Julián Arévalo B.: The Intellectuals Against the Pope,... And Justice...: "Next September, in the midst of a series of scandals that has surrounded the Catholic church over the last months, Benedict XVI will visit t..."

Monday, 2 August 2010

"Burnt at Lewes"

Black Lion Street, Brighton, England. In the name of religious "truth" Catholics were, in the past, wont to burn people to death by tying them to a stake in the middle of a large bonfire. Presumably, as their modern counterparts do not aspire to this activity, they now regard it as mistaken. 

I wonder why? Would it be because they have re-interpreted their divine instructions or received new ones? Or is it maybe that they have simply been influenced by grass-roots growth of humane values? Did they follow or lead? If it was reliance on humane values that caused them to abandon burnings, should they also not refer to those same values in matters of homosexuality, contraception and abortion?

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Brain juice.


Professor Lionel Tiger, a new face on the rationalist scene, delivers a laconic but very convincing summary of how the  workings of the human brain are involved in religion and eagerly 'consume' its effects.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

The Ascent of Man

The Principle of Uncertainty is a bad name. In science or outside of it we are not uncertain; our knowledge is merely confined, within a certain tolerance. We should call it the Principle of Tolerance. And I propose that name in two senses: First, in the engineering sense, science has progressed, step by step, the most successful enterprise in the ascent of man, because it has understood that the exchange of information between man and nature, and man and man, can only take place with a certain tolerance. But second, I also use the word, passionately, about the real world. All knowledge, all information between human beings, can only be exchanged within a play of tolerance. And that is true whether the exchange is in science, or in literature, or in religion, or in politics, or in any form of thought that aspires to dogma. It's a major tragedy of my lifetime and yours that scientists were refining, to the most exquisite precision, the Principle of Tolerance, and turning their backs on the fact that all around them, tolerance was crashing to the ground beyond repair. The Principle of Uncertainty or, in my phrase, the Principle of Tolerance, fixed once for all the realization that all knowledge is limited. It is an irony of history that at the very time when this was being worked out there should rise, under Hitler in Germany and other tyrants elsewhere, a counter-conception: a principle of monstrous certainty. 

When the future looks back on the 1930s it will think of them as a crucial confrontation of culture as I have been expounding it, the ascent of man, against the throwback to the despots' belief that they have absolute certainty. It is said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That is false: tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods. Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error, and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end, the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: 'I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ: Think it possible you may be mistaken.' We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.

 From 'The Ascent of Man', the 1973 BBC TV documentary. The epic, enthralling journey through mankind's achievements, movingly conducted by the polymath, Dr. Jacob Bronowski (1908 -1974).

Pre-Nativity Briefing

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Christian views on Scientific Knowledge


All text taken from Christian Fundamentalist Forums. Listen & squirm with embarrassment. 

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Jesus and Marxism

I don't really know if Jesus was an early Marxist and I don't really care enough to read up about it, but you only need to do a quick Google to see that the proposition has been much discussed.

However if I was an ardent Marxist and claimed Jesus to be one too, I would be praising him by my lights wouldn't I? Isn't that what Xtians want me to do?

Why then are the commenters on this blog so upset? I quote for example:-

"Go ahead and amuse yourself taunting God fearing people Quedula. Your game will turn to torment. You have gone into a place where any sensible person would NEVER go. Your words will echo in your ears. I urge you to change your course, or at least consider it. If you choose to ride out your remaining time as is...then so be it and goodbye."

:-D




Monday, 19 July 2010

A couple of quotations . . .

 . . . . that I didn't want to lose:-

"What religion and the religious fear most of all is ridicule because what they believe is 
absurd. Deep down they all know that. We give far too much credence to 'the mirthless cretins of jihad'. Much better to point and laugh at all such fundamentalists of whatever creed. They feed and thrive on our pusillanimous silence and respect for their beliefs."
~ Paul Owen. (There are several Paul Owens. I think this one is probably the Guardian journalist).

and:-

"Religious faith can give people a sort of hyperbolic confidence, an utter unconcern about whether they might be making a mistake, that enables acts of inhumanity that would otherwise be unthinkable." ~ Daniel Dennett. (and you all know who he is).

Sunday, 18 July 2010

US Christians & their guns

Quedula is gratified to learn that her various comments on Rural Revolution have inspired a spirited defence of  American gun ownership.

I think the arguments go something like this:-
  • I believe in God because I believe God wants me to believe in Him.
  • I need guns to protect my right to have guns.
Some connection perhaps?



Monday, 12 July 2010

InCREDOlous


A concept ripped off mercilessly from Platitude of the Day but applied to the Saturday Times' Credo column. Imitation is the sincerest form of flatter.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The Display of Crucifixes

Images of a man writhing in agony have no place in any educational establishment, excepting perhaps a theological college: certainly not in a primary school. It is extraordinary how christians are blinded by their weird beliefs from considering the emotional vulnerability of the developing mind and to the general requirements for some degree of reticence when expressing their sado-masochistic fantasies.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Stanley Kubrick on the Universe

"I'd be very surprised if the universe wasn't full of an intelligence of an order that to us would seem God-like. . . .There are approximately 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone and approximately 100 billion galaxies in just the visible universe . . . where intelligent life . . . is hundreds of thousands or millions of years in advance of us. When you think of the giant technological strides that man has made in a few millenia - less than a microsecond in the chronology of the universe - can you imagine the evolutionary development that much older life forms have taken? They may have progressed from biological species, which are fragile shells for the mind at best, into immortal machine entities - and then, over innumerable eons, they could emerge from the chrysalis of matter transformed into pure energy and spirit. Their potentialities would be limitless and their intelligence ungraspable by humans."

But why don't they just say "Hi"?

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

A Universe from Nothing


Saving for later. This is over an hour long but looks to be a fascinating talk.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Swedes depart church in droves - The Local

Swedes depart church in droves - The Local
Over the ten years since the church was separated from the state, the proportion of the population retaining a membership of the church has fallen from 82.9 percent to 71.3 percent, with 73,400 people leaving the church in 2009.

Black Holes

This is persuasive. If the Universe is designed for anything it is the production of black holes. Life is a mere accidental offshoot. The existence of the human brain is evidence for atheism.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Reason in Motion


Islam & non-Muslims

"The intellectual - and thereby the rational - foundation of Islam results in the average Muslim having a curious tendency to believe that non-Muslims either know that Islam is the truth and reject it out of pure obstinacy, or else are simply ignorant of it and can be converted by elementary explanations; that anyone should be abe to oppose Islam with a good conscience quite exceeds the Muslims' powers of imagination. . . ."

Frithjof Schuon (1907-1998) Swiss religious philospher and Sufi.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Intelligent Design is an oxymoron

Excellent critique by Michael Ruse in the Guardian of Stephen Fuller's lengthy defence of intelligent design theory "Is intelligent design bad theology".

"It is not a question of being an atheist or not. In the nineteenth century, even those who thought that there could be no natural explanation of organic origins realized that the appeal to divine intervention takes one out of science."