Friday 28 August 2009

Natural Selection at work

This little bit of research reported in the Telegraph struck me as a very easy to understand example to quote the next time I get into an argument with a creationist. The work shows that over a period of 8000 years deer mice living in Sand Hill, Nebraska changed the colour of their fur from brown to blonde to enhance their chance of survival.

Saturday 22 August 2009

The Ancestor's Tale

"A voice of reason in irrational times, Richard Dawkins is both theorist and explainer of one of the greatest discoveries of the human mind"

This is the promising introduction to the leading editorial in today's Times. It is a good read and on the whole doesn't disappoint. It is a precursor to the Times's publication next week of extracts from his latest book "The Greatest Show on Earth", in which RD lucidly expounds evolution and its mechanism of natural selection.

"The book’s most obvious accomplishment is to rout “scientific” creationism and its equivalent (and equally absurdly named) doctrine of Intelligent Design. But while that is an exhausting and necessary task, it is only indirectly Professor Dawkins’s message. He is rightly impatient that scientists need devote any time to dogmas that are not testable and yield no predictions, and that are thus exactly unlike science."

However, even the Times, no doubt with an eye on circulation, cannot avoid a concessionary nod to the religiosi:

"Religious faith can be entirely compatible with science and reason. Professor Dawkins’s belief that “moderate religion makes the world safe for extremists” is mistaken and tactically disastrous."

There are two points I would make about this unjustified assertion:-

a) The so-called "moderates", by which I presume is meant those who don't advocate or resort to violence against "unbelievers", have had 2000 years to exert some influence. Surely we could be expecting some results by now?

b) Is it, in any case, "moderate" to believe in an Invisible Magic Friend and, if you do, are you in any position to exert practical influence on those who have their own Invisible Magic Friends giving instructions with which you happen to disagree? Isn't this the very root of the problem? All you will end up doing is to argue about which of you has the true IMF; to which of course there can never be an answer.

Monday 17 August 2009

Robin Williams speaks his mind

Robin Williams, wearing a shirt that says 'I love New York ' in Arabic.

I'm sure we all have thoughts similar to the following from time to time, but RW comes out with it:-
"I see a lot of people yelling for peace but I have not heard of a plan for peace. So, here's one plan. 

1) 'The US / UK ?AUSTRALIA will apologize to the world for our 'interference' in their affairs, past & present. You know, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Tojo, Noriega, Milosevic, Hussein, and the rest of those 'good 'ole' boys', we will never 'interfere' again.

2) We will withdraw our troops from all over the world, starting with Germany , South Korea , the Middle East , and the Philippines . They don't want us there. We would station troops at our borders. No one allowed sneaking through holes in the fence.

3) All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs together and leave We'll give them a free trip home. After 90 days the remainder will be gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of whom or where they are from. They're illegal!!! France will welcome them.. 

4) All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited to 90 days unless given a special permit!!!! No one from a terrorist nation will be allowed in. If you don't like it there, change it yourself and don't hide here. Asylum would never be available to anyone. We don't need any more cab drivers or 7-11 cashiers.

5) No foreign 'students' over age 21. The older ones are the bombers. If they don't attend classes, they get a 'D' and it's back home baby. 

6) The US /UK/ Australia will make a strong effort to become self-sufficient energy wise. This will include developing nonpolluting sources of energy but will require a temporary drilling of oil in the Alaskan wilderness. The caribou will have to cope for a while.

7) Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries $10 a barrel for their oil. If they don't like it, we go someplace else. They can go somewhere else to sell their production. (About a week of the wells filling up the storage sites would be enough.) 

8) If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the world, we will not 'interfere.' They can pray to Allah or whomever, for seeds, rain, cement or whatever they need. Besides most of what we give them is stolen or given to the army. The people who need it most get very little, if anything.

9) Ship the UN Headquarters to an isolated island someplace. We don't need the spies and fair weather friends here. Besides, the building would make a good homeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens.

10) All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That way, no one can call us 'Ugly Americans' any longer. The Language we speak is ENGLISH..learn it...or LEAVE...Now, isn't that a winner of a plan? 
'The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.' She's got a baseball bat and she's yelling, 'you want a piece of me?' " 

Sunday 16 August 2009


An insightful quote from Bruce Bawer's book "Surrender:-

"The pernicious doctrine of multiculturalism, which teaches people to belittle their own liberties while bending their knees to tyrants, and which, as we shall see, has proven to be so useful to the new brand of cultural jihadists that it might as well have been invented by Osama bin Laden himself."

Friday 14 August 2009


Those readers who have ever scrolled to the bottom of this web page will see that I am plugging Kiva the world's first person to person micro-lending website. I have also blogged about it here. The British Humanist Association has now jumped on board and is endorsing the Humanist Lending Team, here. This team was formed in September 2008 only a few days after the all-embracing Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular humanists and the non-religious Team ("Atheists" for short) but its lending total is still only $10,000, whereas the latter is up to $793,550. I think I shall stick with the "Atheists".

Wednesday 12 August 2009

TftD Appeal to the BBC Trust. Episode 4

Just to let you know this is still chugging along quite nicely. In my last post I reported that the BBC Trust Unit had decided that the question of lack of impartiality in TftD was a matter for the General Appeals Panel rather that the Editorial Standards Committee. This seemed quite a strange decision and one of the appellants had the happy notion to appeal against it. As a result both the Editorial Standards Committee and the General Appeals Panel will now be sitting on the same day to determine the appeals from different points of view.

Before that happens the BBC Trust will invite the BBC Executive to provide a statement on the issues of impartiality and how it seeks to meet the Public Purpose remit across particular programmes, series or services. The BBC Trust will then prepare a briefing paper which it will circulate to the appellants for final comment before the appeals are heard.

We are already familiar with the BBC Executive's defence of TftD from Mark Damazer's various communications. Unless they can pull some new rabbits out of the hat the situation is, I think, beginning to look quite promising.

Tuesday 11 August 2009


I know most of atheospace has already seen Bill Maher's anti-religious diatribe but as far as I'm concerned it was worth waiting for. A glorious 101 minute sneer & sniggerfest. How did Bill find so many idiots I wonder? Did he interview them first and pick only the stupid ones? Or are all religious people stupid? Or am I being overly subjective and only perceive religious people to be stupid when they are talking about their IMF and, after all, that was what they were in the film to do? Perhaps that is it. I can recall one exception in the film; a jolly old RC priest interviewed in Rome who seemed to be taking his religion with some scepticism and god was not mentioned.

I have a few friends who are religious but seem perfectly normal in their everyday lives. They probably know my views and, of course, the subject of religion is avoided. The Cof E clergymen I have encountered also seem very sane, decent chappies but again they rarely mention god outside church. Indeed one sometimes gets the impression that belief in god is completely optional for C of E membership, although this happy compromise is in risk of being undermined by the obnoxious Alpha Course. I remember seeing the Archbish RW being interviewed by Richard Dawkins. His statement of belief seemed so ethereal that I was unable to reach any conclusion about his mental capabilites

Friday 7 August 2009

There is No God (And You Know It)

Another splendid polemic from Sam Harris. This time from October 2005. Here are a couple of quotations from it:-

"Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make when in the presence of religious dogma"

"Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply a refusal to deny the obvious"

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Dangerous Talk

This is the name of a blog I have just discovered and here is a quote from the latest post entitled "A Fool Says Out Loud that they have an Imaginary Friend":-

"It is much easier to simply make claims and assert that they are “The Truth” without having to actually think about those claims or back them up with actual evidence. Could you imagine if everyone simply asserted ridiculous claims as Truth? What if scientists and doctors did that? The real truth is that only fools claim truth without presenting evidence while at the same time trying to stop the conversation through name-calling. Only a fool would assert a ridiculous claim without any valid reasoning."

Saturday 1 August 2009

Atheist Blogroll

Nuts & Reasons has now been added to The Atheist Blogroll. You can see the blogroll in my sidebar. The Atheist blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information.