Thursday 25 June 2009


"Adults still have childhood memories of being taken to church, and they maintain a nostalgic affection for Christianity but that is dying out. They still go along with the some kind of religious identity but they're not passing it on to the next generation, and people who aren't raised in a religion don't generally start one as adults."
Professor David Voas

Nice quotation from the anti-theist blog

Friday 19 June 2009

Science v. Faith

A beautifully clear exposition on the differences between science and faith.

Thursday 11 June 2009

Definition of Atheism

"Atheism may be defined as the mental attitude which unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason and aims at establishing a lifestyle and ethical outlook verifiable by experience and the scientific method, independent of all arbitrary assumptions of authority and creeds."
Madalyn Murray O'Hair 1919 - 1995

quedula says: I think this would be an even better definition of humanism. Although I cannot think of anyone doing evil deeds in the name of atheism (unlike religion), I am sure that there are plenty of atheists who never give reason & ethics a second thought.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Freedom of Information

One thing that has come from the current expenses scandal is that even if this information had been made public under the Freedom of Information Act, much of the detail would be hidden and the full impact would not have been felt. This means we need a fundamental change to this Act.

We need the presumption that all government information, expenses, advice, minutes of meetings etc should automatically be made available and put on line. The government should have to make a case for keeping information secret (and there are reasons for keeping information secret, such as information relating to court cases or which would impact on the privacy of citizens) but all government advice and briefing papers – which we pay for with our taxes – should be available to us, by default.

We should be able to know on what basis politicians have made decisions, what advice they have received, if the advisors had any kind of interest in the outcome and if the various different options were explored equally vigorously. No more secrecy can be tolerated. If they are doing a proper job, and have nothing to hide, then they should have nothing to fear from this.

(posting by Clare Topic on Secular Thought for the Day)

Tuesday 9 June 2009

The Independent Safeguarding Authority

From October the Independent Safeguarding Authority will require anyone working with children to join a register at a cost of £63, and submit to ongoing checks, at which point the parent volunteers, the scout masters, the college maths students, the authors, music tutors and children's entertainers will find something else to do with their time.

(Extract from Henry Porter article "Britain is not radical enough")

quedula thinks these things seem to creep up on us unnoticed. How can anyone think it is a useful idea to charge volunteers for giving up their time?

Monday 8 June 2009


I am unconvinced that any persons of normal intelligence really do believe in a supernatural agency. It merely suits them to suppress their rationality and subscribe to an unspoken conspiracy with other "believers" to pretend, and act as if, they believe. Its a kind of comfort blanket.

Sunday 7 June 2009

Yob who 'found God' has sentence for brutal attack on homeless man reduced

A teenage thug who nearly battered a homeless man to death in Fishbourne has had his prison sentence cut after good behaviour and 'finding God'.
Oliver Skeggs was part of a gang who nearly killed 40-year-old Paul Vickers as he slept on a bus shelter on the A259 in Fishbourne in July 2007. 

In June last year he was sentenced at the Old Bailey to serve a minimum of 13 years in prison for attempted murder and robbery.

But now three senior appeal judges have cut his minimum term by 18 months.

The judges heard of his good behaviour and his efforts to turn his life around through Christianity. 

Skeggs had even given a talk about his experiences to an audience which included Cherie Blair.

quedula wonders if this would have worked the other way round. Would an offending christian who had "found" atheism or humanism have had his sentence reduced?

Christianity in decline

"It is well documented that Christianity has withered dramatically in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The failure of the faith in the West is regularly denounced by Popes and Protestant leaders. Churches are being converted into libraries, laundromats and pubs. Those who disbelieve in deities typically make up large portions of the population, according to some surveys they make up the majority of citizens in Scandinavia, France and Japan."
G. Paul & P. Zuckerman
(with thanks to the Anti-theist blog)

quedula says: good news yes,  but we have to be careful that the influence of christianity is not replaced by that of other religions that were not subject to the Enlightenment and are still at a primitive stage in their development. For example, according to Sam Harris, if present trends continue France will be a majority muslim country in 25 years.

Friday 5 June 2009

I like this . . .

Philosophy, and science cannot tell if gods exist or not. But they can tell us about the nature of any god should one exist. Most, not all, religions make claims for their favourite deity intervening in the universe. Claim of intervention fall within the purview of science, and there is bad news for religion: There is no evidence that events happen in the universe that cannot be explained as the result of natural processes. Of course not all events have been explained, but that does not mean that absent data one assumes “godditit”. Now there some religious groups that say god is how the universe works, in otherwords he works through what scientists consider natural processes. Science does not help us with this type of god, but philosophy does. If a universe that has a god running it cannot be distinguished from a universe running simple in natural processes then why posit a god at all ? Pushing a god into such a scenario has no explanatory purpose.
So it would seem to me that between them science and philosophy tell us either 1) god probably does not exist, 2) is irrelevant or 3) is deceitful. The deceitful bit comes from claims of some religious groups that god has rigged the universe to give the appearence of age and that it appears to follow natural rules, when in fact it is young, and is subject to his arbitrary whim. They tend not offer a reason why a god they admit lies is worthy of worship.