Saturday 31 December 2011

Rosa Rubicondior: Beyond Belief.

Rosa Rubicondior: Beyond Belief.: How many chances does the Judeo-Christian god need for goodness sake? First it goes to all the trouble to create a vast universe out of...

Monday 26 December 2011

The arrogance of religion

"The fact that stares one in the face is that people of the greatest sincerity and of all levels of intelligence differ and have always differed in their religious beliefs. Since at most one faith can be true, it follows that human beings are extremely liable to believe firmly and honestly in something untrue in the field of revealed religion. One would have expected this obvious fact to lead to some humility, to some thought that however deep one's faith, one may conceivably be mistaken. Nothing is further from the believer, any believer, than this elementary humility. All in his power ... must have his faith rammed down their throats. In many cases children are indeed indoctrinated with the disgraceful thought that they belong to the one group with superior knowledge who alone have a private wire to the office of the Almighty, all others being less fortunate than they themselves." ~ Sir Herman Bondi

Happy Boxing Day

Traditionally, Boxing Day is a secular holiday, and though there are a lot of theories about where the term 'boxing' came from, the tradition has long included giving money and other gifts to those who are in need.

Historic mentions of Boxing Day include one from diarist Samuel Pepys, who recorded in his entry for 19 December 1663:
'Thence by coach to my shoemaker’s and paid all there, and gave something to the boys’ box against Christmas.'

Friday 23 December 2011

Tim Minchin - "Woody Allen Jesus"

Peter Fincham, Director of Televison for ITV ordered this to be cut from the Jonathan Ross, fearing it might cause offence! 

Monday 19 December 2011

A victim of Dutch Church speaks . . .

If religion does not temper even the behaviour of its priests why does David Cameron recommend it to the rest of us?

The Meaning of Life

Carl Sagan, 1934 -1996
“The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life's meaning. We long for a Parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable. If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal.” ~ Carl Sagan

Friday 16 December 2011


"What binds us together, what gives us our sense of empathy and compassion - our goodness - is something far more important, more fundamental and more powerful than religion: it is our common humanity, deriving from our pre-religious evolutionary heritage, then refined and improved by centuries of of secular enlightenment." ~ Richard Dawkins. "Do you get it now Prime Minister?" New Statesman, 19/12/2011

"Godless" - movie trailer

Wednesday 14 December 2011

New American Atheists poster

Catholicism . . .

"Catholicism, that stodgy humbug and haven of horrible old men who think they’ve found love in the rape of children, that citadel of cowards who retreat from reality to find meaning in the dust and lies of antique theology." ~ P Z Myers

Wednesday 30 November 2011

"We need believing people"

"Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith.... We need believing people."
-- Adolf Hitler, April 26, 1933

Wednesday 23 November 2011

The Magicky Man did it . . . .

The Case of the Pope - Epilogue

"This book was completed in August 2010, and published in time for the Pope’s visit to Britain the following month. En route, he made his most grovelling apology yet for the damage caused by clerical sex abuse, expressing “deep sorrow” for these “unspeakable crimes”. He made a similar apology at the outset of his visit to Germany in September 2011. But he does not have the moral integrity to take the action that is necessary to cleanse the Catholic church of its stigmata, namely to abjure any role for canon law in dealing with allegations of molestation, and to require bishops and church officials to report them to the police. In truth, Benedict is incapable of understanding the nature of the problem – he is too old, too academic, and too ready to blame anything but Catholic practices for the explosion of sexual abuse within the church. His last Christmas message was to blame it all on pornography, sex tourism and the ‘moral relativism’ of the 70’s: “In the 1970’s, paedophilia was seen as a natural thing for men and children” he said - a preposterous statement, except to the unworldly Cardinals he was addressing(1). For all his fine words about feeling the pain of victims, he still does not get it: the church, by delivering trusting boys from the age of seven to untrustworthy priests who believe – with good reason – that they can get away with abusing them, is guilty of negligence when they do abuse them. By blaming pornography and sex tourism, Benedict excuses their crimes. He lacks the gumption to tell his paedophile priests – as Christ surely did – that they will burn in hell, if they are not first drowned in the depths of the sea." Read complete article.

Poster Boy

Monday 21 November 2011

E-petition to close the UK Embassy in the Holy See

The petitioner says: "Following Ireland's closure of it's embassy in the Vatican it seems to me time to review our links with this small state. Do we need an embassy here? There is an embassy for Italy in Rome more or less a short walk from the Vatican. Let's save the money."

Monday 7 November 2011

Circular arguments illustrated. . .

Any questioning of a Christian about the validity of their faith, if persisted with, and no matter how minor the original question, invariably end up like this.

Friday 4 November 2011

Note to the rationality-challenged . . .

A quick reminder to any of the great tribe of the 'rationality-challenged' who happen to light upon this blog:-

What goes on inside your head is only evidence for what goes on inside your head.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Friday 28 October 2011

Debunking Christian Science

An incident last night at a  Christian Science "lecture" entitled "Healing with Scientific Certainty Through Christ":-

Speaker: "I've never relied on medicine or been to a hospital...." 
Robert Stovold*: "You've been to an opticians though, haven't you?"

So, emotive testimonies of people being brought back from the dead on one hand, and the speaker's glasses implying that prayer doesn't cure minor sight ailments on the other. Which is it reasonable to believe, do you think?

*Brighton & Hove Humanist Society.

Saturday 22 October 2011

Bad Faith Awards 2011

"It’s time once again for New Humanist readers to vote to decide who walks away with our annual Bad Faith Award. Now in its fifth year our award is a means of dishonouring the year's most outspoken enemy of reason. Previous winners include Sarah Palin, the Pope and last year's victor Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed, the head of the UK Islamic Sharia Council, for his assertion that it is not possible for a man to commit rape within marriage. 2011 has been a bumper year for irrationality (aren’t they all), and we’ve been flooded with nominations. We have whittled them down to a field of six arch adversaries of human advancement – take a look, make your choice, then deliver the click of shame using the poll below."

At the moment Nadine Dorries is in clear lead.

Friday 21 October 2011

Agnostic or Atheist

"A friend, an intelligent lapsed Jew who observes the Sabbath for reasons of cultural solidarity, describes himself as a Tooth Fairy Agnostic. He will not call himself an atheist because it is in principle impossible to prove a negative. But "agnostic" on its own might suggest that he though God's existence or non-existence equally likely. In fact, though strictly agnostic about God, he considers God's existence no more probable than the Tooth Fairy's.
     Bertrand Russell used a hypothetical teapot in orbit about Mars for the same didactic purpose. You have to be agnostic about the teapot, but that doesn't mean you treat the likelihood of its existence as being on all fours with its non-existence.
     The list of things about which we strictly have to be agnostic doesn't stop at tooth fairies and celestial teapots. It is infinite. If you want to believe in a particular one of them -- teapots, unicorns, or tooth fairies, Thor or Yahweh -- the onus is on you to say why you believe in it. The onus is not on the rest of us to say why we do not. We who are atheists are also a-fairyists, a-teapotists, and a-unicornists, but we don't have to bother saying so."

From "A Challenge to Atheists: Come out of the Closet", by Richard Dawkins.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Putting faith in its place.

A beautifully presented  demolition job on fuzzy faith-based 'reasoning', including William Lane Craig's.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Jesus still loves you . . .

THEIST: "I just want you to know Jesus loves you."

ATHEIST: "Actually, you realize Jesus is a direct ripoff of Dionysus and many other mythological characters from earlier cultures, complete with virgin births (divine father / human mother), execution and resurrection on the third day, a 2nd coming prophecy, and miracles like turning water into wine. There's no hard, historical proof that he ever existed, and if there was in fact a Jesus of Nazareth, he lived and died an ordinary human."

THEIST: (uncomfortable pause) "Uh. Um. Jesus still loves you."

Friday 7 October 2011

Huge decline in UK Christianity

The latest Office of National Statistics Integrated Household Survey figures on religion reveal an extraordinarily rapid decline in Christianity in Britain. The figures, published this week, show that growing numbers of Britons are rejecting religious belief, with almost one in four now saying they have “no religion at all”

Keith Porteous Wood, NSS Executive Director, urged Ministers to reflect on the decline of religious belief as they sanctioned an ‘ever-increasing’ number of state funded faith schools, a move which was ‘marginalising the non religious’.”

Respondents throughout Britain were asked “What is your religion, even if you are not currently practising?” In 2011, 68.5% answered “Christianity”, compared with 71.3% in 2010. This roughly 3% decline over just one year is repeated over England, Scotland and Wales, building confidence in the figures. As might be expected, there was a reciprocal rise over the same period in the “no religion” category: 23.2% in 2011 compared with 20.5% in 2010.

From a National Secular Society article. Read on.

Dexter the atheist

Saturday 1 October 2011

Friday 30 September 2011

Letter to the East Alien Dangly Times in response to some religious nuts

Reproduced from Flashmaggie's Posterous.

Dear Sir,

The responses that you’ve published to P J Davison’s assertion (26 September) that we should greet the decline of religious broadcasting with “Good riddance!” were predictable, but full of inaccuracies, particularly on science and evolution.

A R Wainwright of Halstead wrote, “You can’t always see electricity, nor touch, taste, hear or smell it – yet it can be powerful enough to kill you. What makes the spiritual world so different?” Evidence, Mr/Ms Wainwright, that’s the difference. There’s no evidence for any spiritual world, but try telling your energy supplier that there isn’t any for electricity; that’s what meters are for. And just try touching it if you dare!

Richard Martin asserts that “more and more scientists are abandoning belief in evolution.” More and more? In 2006, the Discovery Institute, a conservative Christian “think tank”, published an anti-evolution letter signed by 514 “doctoral scientists”. However, a majority of those “scientists” were evangelical Christians without any expertise in the biological sciences, hence no more expert than any lay creationist, such as Mr Martin. The institute letter was published in response to another letter published the day before by the Alliance for Science, which was signed by over 10,000 clergy, scientists and educators who oppose the teaching of creationism in schools. A 1991 Gallup poll found that only 5% of US scientists identified themselves as creationists. Earlier this month in the UK, top scientists and educationalists, including Sir David Attenborough and a leading science educator who’s an Anglican priest, together with the Association for Science Education, the British Humanist Association, the British Science Association, the Campaign for Science and Engineering, and Christian beliefs and values think tank Ekklesia, have put their names to a statement calling for the teaching of evolutionary science, not creationism, in school science classrooms. Far from “more and more”, it’s fewer and fewer, Mr M.

Your correspondents who wrote to defend religious broadcasting are in a small minority. 5 years ago, media watchdog Ofcom asked viewers what types of programming they most valued on the terrestrial channels. Of the 17 genres identified, religious broadcasting came 16th. Considering that we all pay a licence fee yet very few people watch or listen to the religious output, I’d argue that we should have far less.

Margaret Nelson

Thursday 22 September 2011

How to make a creationist weep . . .

"Tell them advanced civilizations do not ever really intellectually degenerate. Tell them that, developmentally speaking, the human brain is not really designed to unfurl and regress, to suddenly erase complex, deeply learned wisdom. It is not our nature to understand, say, electromagnetic waveform and photosynthesis and suddenly revert to thinking it's all magic fairies and gnome spit.
You can say we will never return to slavery. Our hospitals will never again lop off gangrenous limbs with rusty hacksaws and no anesthesia. Never again will we believe the earth is flat, that we are the center of the universe, that trepanning will release evil spirits from your skull. And sorry, but we will never again believe that everything was created when angry bearded grandpa suddenly snapped his fingers and belched.
You can thusly summarize: If the arc of history bends toward justice, it also lurches, hiccups and stumbles toward basic progressive intelligence. Barring some sort of environmental cataclysm and starting all over, there really is no going back.
As the tears begin to flow, you can offer solace: "It's OK," you can smile, "we just evolved that way.""

By Mark Morford. Read complete article.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Profile of Richard Dawkins

  "A Knack for Bashing Orthodoxy". A nice profile in the New York Times of  the world's most influential evolutionary biologist.

Monday 19 September 2011

Sunday 18 September 2011

A thought for Sunday church-goers

‎"The most powerful being ever created a universe of over 100 billion galaxies, each with over 100 billion stars, which existed for 14 billion years, and then picked one of the 100 billion galaxies and picked one of the 100 billion stars in that galaxy, and picked one planet revolving around that star, and of the million species on that planet he picked one animal member of all those species and said: ‘I’ve really got to tell that guy to stop gathering sticks on the Sabbath’.” ~ Michael Nugent

Thursday 8 September 2011

How evolution poses a problem for Christianity

But of course  . . . . that's not to say it poses a problem for all Christians, since many Christians happily accept evolution: they see Genesis 1 as merely a metaphor, and declare that if God chose to create us using evolution, that's fine by them. I used to be this kind of Christian myself; but I must confess that my blitheness was only possible because I had only the vaguest possible idea of how evolution works and certainly didn't know enough about it to realize that unguided-ness is central to it. While I welcome anyone who recognizes that the evidence for evolution is such that it cannot sensibly be denied, to attempt to co-opt evolution as part of a divine plan simply does not work, and suggests a highly superficial understanding of the subject. Not only does evolution not need to be guided in any way, but any conscious, sentient guide would have to be a monster of the most sadistic type: for evolution is not pretty, is not gentle, is not kind, is not compassionate, is not loving. Evolution is blind, and brutal, and callous. It is not an aspiration or a blueprint to live up to (we have to create those for ourselves): it is simply what happens, the blind, inexorable forces of nature at work. An omnipotent deity who chose evolution by natural selection as the means by which to bring about the array of living creatures that populate the Earth today would be many things - but loving would not be one of them. Nor perfect. Nor compassionate. Nor merciful. Evolution produces some wondrously beautiful results; but it happens at the cost of unimaginable suffering on the part of countless billions of individuals and, indeed, whole species, 99 percent of which have so far become extinct. It is irreconcilable with a god of love.

Evolution poses a further threat to Christianity, though, a threat that goes to the very heart of Christian teaching. Evolution means that the creation accounts in the first two chapters of Genesis are wrong. That's not how humans came into being, nor the cattle, nor the creeping things, nor the beasts of the earth, nor the fowl of the air. Evolution could not have produced a single mother and father of all future humans, so there was no Adam and no Eve. No Adam and Eve: no fall. No fall: no need for redemption. No need for redemption: no need for a redeemer. No need for a redeemer: no need for the crucifixion or the resurrection, and no need to believe in that redeemer in order to gain eternal life. And not the slightest reason to believe in eternal life in the first place.

Christianity is like a big, chunky sweater. It may feel cozy, it may keep you warm, but just let one stitch be dropped and the whole thing unravels before your very eyes. Evolution is that stitch. Evolution destroys the loving creator on which the whole of Christianity depends. I can quite understand why the evangelicals throw up their hands in horror at the very idea of it and will do everything in their power to suppress it. But they can throw up their hands all they like: it won't make any difference to the reality. All that will be achieved by their determined efforts to keep young people misinformed about it is that another generation of Americans will be condemned to ignorance, unable to understand the world around them properly, and at a real disadvantage when having to deal and compete with their peers from more enlightened countries. Wilful ignorance is a choice; evolution is not.

Paula Kirby (Consultant to Secular Organisations) wrote this response to Governor Perry for On Faith, the Washington Post’s forum for news and opinion on religion and politics.

Friday 2 September 2011

Wednesday 31 August 2011

Captain Picard rejects Theism

Gay scientists isolate the Christian gene

Petition supporting legal action in France against Bible & Koran.

On February 16th 2010, the Association “Athées en action / Atheists in Action » launched a new lawsuit in France against publishers of the bible and the koran.

"With the support of our lawyer, master Loïc Waroux, a complaint was lodged at the central police station in Rennes, France. This was the start of a legal proceeding that aims at obtaining the sale and distribution of the bible and the koran with a warning label on the cover.

Here is the text of the petition:

“I support the legal action of the Association “Athées en action / Atheists in Action” against publishers of the bible and the koran, in order to get these books to be sold with a warning label on the cover. An example of such warning label could be: This book contains sexist, homophobic, sectarian and crime-inducing passages. It is necessary to set it back in its historical context knowing it was written before the Middle-Ages”."

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Religion - the crux . . .

From Andy Thomson's talk: "Why we believe in God (s)."

Richard Dawkins on Rick Perry

"The population of the United States is more than 300 million and it includes some of the best and brightest that the human species has to offer, probably more so than any other country in the world. There is surely something wrong with a system for choosing a leader when, given a pool of such talent and a process that occupies more than a year and consumes billions of dollars, what rises to the top of the heap is George W Bush. Or when the likes of Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin can be mentioned as even remote possibilities."

Monday 29 August 2011

Why we believe in God(s)

An excellent talk by psychiatrist Dr. Andy Thomson

"We are risen apes- not fallen angels."
"If you understand the psychology of a Big Mac meal you understand the psychology  of religion."
"Half of all 4 year-olds have imaginary friends."
"We are on the threshold of a comprehensive cognitive neuroscience of religious belief."

Rare Bible on eBay

"You are bidding on an extremely rare copy of a "THE BIBLE."  written by. Jesus, et al.

What makes this copy so rare is that it is autographed by JESUS CHRIST himself!!!  It appears he has signed it using a royal blue Expo marker...which makes it even more valuable.

Book is 'like new' with some slight use.  I'm not pointing fingers at Jesus or anything, but someone has included some crudely drawn PENISES on a few of the pages.

I'm not sure there has been any other Jesus autographs to hit the auction markets, so this is your ONE AND ONLY CHANCE!!!  

***  PLEASE NOTE  ***
AND THIS IS EXTREMELY EXTREMELY EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.... The VHS copy of "The Fly" is NOT included in the auction sale.  Thank you!"

Starting price only $1,000,000.69

This is going to really SOAR!

Saturday 27 August 2011

BHA petition to abolish collective worship in UK schools

Responsible department: Department for Education

"As it stands, the law requires all schools to hold an act of collective worship every day. Even in schools that aren’t ‘faith’ schools, this must be ‘broadly Christian’ in character. In a society which is increasingly diverse, this is an affront to the rights of young people to express their beliefs freely. Although there is the opportunity to opt out, this is reliant on parental permission and is not respected by all schools. The law is extremely unpopular, with opinion polls showing teachers don’t want it, parents don’t want it, and children don’t want it. As such, it is long past time for the daily act of collective worship to be replaced with inclusive assemblies that add to cohesion and a sense of community within the school. We petition the Government to repeal the requirement for compulsory collective worship in schools and to encourage schools to hold educational assemblies that will include all children, regardless of religion or non-religious belief."

Friday 26 August 2011

Evan Harris - Secular Europe Campaign

"We are Atheism"

A new campaign:-
"This is your chance to finally be heard. This is our chance to stand up, speak out, and be counted. We want to provide a platform for atheists around the globe to see that they are not alone. Atheists come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and backgrounds. The only thing that we all have in common is that we don’t see any credible evidence to believe  in a god. It’s ok to be an atheist, and we want the world to know." 

Richard Dawkins on the Secular Europe Campaign

Join the London march for a Secular Europe 17th September 2011

Sunday 21 August 2011

Faith requires self-delusion

The following is an extract from: "Why We Believe in god(s): A Concise Guide to the Science Of Faith." The author is psychiatrist J. Anderson Thomson, JR., MD.

“The human ability for self-deception is crucial to religious belief. If many believers could see their own minds more clearly, they would see that self-deception plays a role in their acceptance of faith.
Maybe there are ONLY atheists in foxholes. If the faithful truly and fully believe in a protective deity, why would they dive into a foxhole to protect themselves from the bullets whizzing by? A part of their brains knows damn well that if they do not protect themselves, the bullets will hardly discriminate between those who claim faith and those who reject it. They may say and think they believe, but their instinctive actions expose the lie.
Why do the faithful buy health insurance? House insurance? Most people live their lives as if there is no god. We stop at red lights, we put our children in car seats, and we act responsibly to protect our safety and the safely of those we love.
If a person is religious, he is an atheist in relation to others’ gods and the gods of history. He also will almost invariably live as an atheist in relation to his own worshipped deity.
We expect others to live as atheists too. We want them to stop at red lights and not assume we drive under divine protection. We in the West have become so used to religious people NOT really, truly, and fully believing what they say they  believe that we are startled when, as on 9/11, we encounter people who really do believe their religion and put their beliefs into murderous practice.”

Pope in Spain

The highspot of the visit so far  . . .
If I was one of the faithful I would surely interpret this as god's message to stfu . . . . . .

Saturday 20 August 2011


Dear believer in Jesus,
Only out of common courtesy do I tolerate your efforts to share the Invisible Man in the Sky gospel with me. I know that much time and money has gone into your efforts; way out of proportion to the success rate of people actually accepting your delusional teachings. Therefore, I feel it only fair that first I reciprocate by sharing something important with you.
Before I consider your teachings I ask you in all honesty, Are you indeed “a True Christian?"

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Teach evolution - not creationism

A new petition on HM Government's website:-

"Creationism and ‘intelligent design’ are not scientific theories, but they are portrayed as scientific theories by some religious fundamentalists who attempt to have their views promoted in publicly-funded schools. At the same time, an understanding of evolution is central to understanding all aspects of biology. Currently, the study of evolution does not feature explicitly in the National Curriculum until year 10 (ages 14-15). Free Schools and Academies are not obliged to teach the National Curriculum and so are under no obligation to teach about evolution at all. We petition the Government to make clear that creationism and ‘intelligent design’ are not scientific theories and to prevent them from being taught as such in publicly-funded schools, including in ‘faith’ schools, religious Academies and religious Free Schools. At the same time, we want the Government to make the teaching of evolution in mandatory in all publicly-funded schools, at both primary and secondary level."

The Virgin Birth and Occam's Razor

Pantaloon Descendo: The Virgin Birth and Occam's Razor: "In Christian myths, one of the central elements is the Virgin Birth -- the belief that Jesus Christ was the child of Mary and the Holy Ghost..."

Saturday 13 August 2011

Separation of Church & State - epetitions

Three epetitions have appeared on HM government website calling for disestablishment and the ending of religious privilege:-
  • Disestablish the Church of England. "With the British Social Attitudes survey showing that just 20% of the population are C of E, and that 50% have no religion at all, England should no longer remain one of the only developed countries to have a state religion."
  • Separation of church and state. "Modern Society has no place for preferential treatment to any religious organisation or faith. Freedom to practice religion is fundamental to democracy however state interference is undemocratic. Arguing the Church has no power through its establishment is false, 26 Bishops sit in the House of Lords. The United Kingdom is host to many different faiths, including atheists who are not represented by an established church. The UK government should lead a debate on the merits of church and state separation."
  • Separate the Church from the State. "This petition calls for the Dis-Establishment of the Church of England, the end of the Bishops' automatic seat in the House of Lords, the removal of religious ceremony from our Government institutions and the end of State-subsidised faith schools. There should be no State-sanctioned religious privilege."
If you are a UK citizen and believe that there is no good reason why people who believe in sky-fairies should be trusted with the business of government, why not sign all three?

Thursday 11 August 2011

Britain is a riot

Pat doesn't seem to like rioters much . . . . .

Goodbye Religion?

Something strange is happening to American teenagers. If you believe popular wisdom, young people are apathetic, cynical and jaded; or, they're supposed to be conformists whose overriding desire is to fit in and be popular. But if you've been paying close attention over the past decade, you might have seen any of a growing number of cases that conspicuously defy these stereotypes: stories of teenagers who have strong principles they're unashamed to display and which they're committed to defending, even at great personal cost, against the bullying of a hostile establishment.

Read on: Goodbye Religion? How Godlessness Is Increasing With Each New Generation | Belief | AlterNet

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Quote of the Day

“Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis. The whole thing is so patently infantile, so foreign to reality, that to anyone with a friendly attitude to humanity it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life.” ~ Sigmund Freud

Sunday 26 June 2011

Madman - or Something Worse

Anti-Christian Film by Peter Breibart, President of the University of Sussex Secular Society. 
"Jesus is the greatest enemy of humanism."

Saturday 25 June 2011

The Ledge

Clip from a pro-atheist  new film to be released next month.

Quote of the Day

"Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus." ~ Thomas Jefferson

Geert Wilders cleared

Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders, who described Islam as "fascist", has been acquitted of inciting hatred against Muslims. 

Amsterdam judge Marcel van Oosten accepted the Freedom Party leader's statements were directed at Islam and not at Muslim believers.  They were, the judge ruled, "acceptable within the context of public debate". 

It is believed the plaintiffs may attempt to make their case before a European court or the UN.

Read whole BBC report. 

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Wanted - religious comedians

One Patrick McKearney, who numbers improvised comedy among his enthusiasms, writes in the Guardian to complain about stand-up comedians who use religion as the butt of their wit. Mr. McKearney is studying for an MPhil in theology and religious studies at Cambridge University. He is a scholar of the Cambridge Interfaith Programme and Queens' College, and is researching the implications of the contemporary ridicule of religion.

Mr McKearney's impressive CV leads one to suspect that he may have been one of those unfortunates indoctrinated from childhood with religious mumbo-jumbo. This would help to explain both his chosen disciplines and his narrow perspective on life. He complains that stand-ups "fail to turn their critical attention to secularism, atheism or liberalism", but does not ask himself why they don't. This gives us an excellent opportunity to tell him. It is quite simple, jokes about religious beliefs make people laugh. If he doesn't like this perhaps he could try not to hold such funny beliefs.

There is another reason that comedians don't make jokes about atheists, secularists, liberalists, humanists, sceptics etc; as far as I know there aren't any. McKearney should try and think some up before he leaps to accuse comedians of ignorance and failing to "critically engage" with a particular world view. They would soon get jeered off the stage if they tried to do that.

Pat Condell 'names the poison'

Monday 20 June 2011

Past & Present

Abraham -  commanded by God to offer his son up as a sacrifice but just as Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, he was prevented by an angel, and given on that spot a ram which he sacrificed in place of his son. 
Andrea Yates - a former Houston, Texas resident who killed her five young children on June 20, 2001 by drowning them in the bathtub in her house.[1] She had been suffering for years with very severe postpartum depression and psychosis. 

Sunday 19 June 2011

Philip Pullman CBE

Philip Pullman the author of the trilogy of childrens' books "His Dark Materials", was chosen by The Independent in 2006 for its ‘Good List of 50 campaigners, thinkers and givers’: the panel of experts at The Independent cited the worlds this ‘campaigning atheist’ creates ‘in which children see good as a matter of choices that are within their control. Pullman wants children to realise they are the inheritors of philosophical, artistic and scientific and literary riches’.

Speaking on ‘faith’ schools, Philip Pullman has said:‘What I fear and deplore in the 'faith’ school camp is their desire to close argument down and put some things beyond question or debate. It's vital to get clear in young minds what is a faith position and what is not – so that, for instance, they won't be taken in by religious people claiming that science is a faith position no different in kind from Christianity. Science is not a matter of faith, and too many people are being allowed to get away with claiming that it is, and that my 'belief' in evolution is a thing of the same kind as their 'belief' in miracles. What we need in schools, really, is basic philosophy.

In an interesting interview on the Christian website Third Way, he said:
‘This is the mistake Christians make when they say that if you are an atheist you have to be a nihilist and there’s no meaning any more. Well, that’s nonsense, as Mary Malone discovers. Now that I’m conscious, now that I’m responsible, there is a meaning, and it is to make things better and to work for greater good and greater wisdom. That’s my meaning – and it comes from my understanding of my position. It’s not nihilism at all. It’s very far from it.’

Philip Pullman, a longstanding supporter of the BHA. is today to be given an award for services to Humanism at the British Humanist Association’s annual conference in Manchester. 

From BHA article here.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Sarah Palin on fruit flies

The slightest possibility that there might be 50% or more of the US population stupid enough to agree with her makes one shudder . . . .


The splendour of human life, I feel sure, is greater to those who are not dazzled by the divine radiance. ~ 
Bertrand Russell

Monday 13 June 2011

BBC Radio 4 'Thought for the Day' comes under new scrutiny

The place and role of BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day has been questioned again following comments from a prominent BBC presenter and an editorial in a national newspaper
John Humphrys, a presenter of the Today programme, which is interrupted by transmission of the three minute Thought for Day slot, stated it was ‘frankly bizarre’ to interrupt the BBC’s news programme with ‘what is in essence a sermon’.
Mr Humphrys, in an article in the Times, has previously expressed his view that non-religious contributors should be allowed to participate in the programme, which explicitly excludes individuals without a religious belief. 
A recent editorial in the Guardian newspaper questioned the timing of the slot, believing Thought for the Day’s positioning within one of the BBC’s premier news and current affairs programmes as inappropriate and out of context. 

"Militant atheism"

"It is worth pointing out a notable difference between today's militant atheists and today's militant theists. The former are known to write books and angry letters to the editor. The latter are known to shoot abortion doctors, fly aircraft into buildings, lie about the efficacy of condoms in preventing AIDS, inscribe Bible verses on weapons and, oh yes, blame people for the natural disasters that afflict them." ~ Richard Dawkins

Was Jesus a madman?

Trailer for a forthcoming film by Peter Breitbart, President of the Sussex University Secular Society, and contributor to the Brighton-based Freethinker magazine.

Sunday 12 June 2011

After the rapture

Video from "The Thinking Atheist". Now over 1 million views.

The historicity (not) of Jesus

Christians often throw out names of non-Christian writers who they claim wrote about Jesus like: Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and Lucian of Samosata, among others. First, most of those writers didn’t write very much at all about Jesus. Many talk about someone called “Christ.” Christians assume this refers to Jesus, but there have been many people during that time and in other times who claimed to be “the Christ.” But what I find more interesting is that none of those writers were contemporaries to Jesus who was alleged to have been crucified in the year 33 CE:
  • Josephus (37 CE – c. 100 CE)

  • Tacitus (56 CE – 117 CE)

  • Pliny the Younger (61 CE – c. 112 CE)
Lucian of Samosata (125 CE – after 180 CE)
Here are some historians who would have been contemporaries of Jesus and interestingly enough never mentioned him at all:
  • Philo Judaeus (20 BCE - 50 CE)

  • Seneca (4? BCE - 65 CE)

  • Pliny the Elder (23? CE - 79 CE)
Then there are the Scrolls of Gabriel's Revelation which tell a story remarkably similar to that of Jesus except that the principle character was named Simon. The scrolls pre-date the alleged birth of Jesus. In other words, the Scrolls of Gabriel serve as a rough draft for the Gospel story. 

Don't pray for me

Saturday 11 June 2011

Crazy caller

This is either a "wind-up" call or a classic illustration of the effect of religious indoctrination on the feeble mind.

Monday 6 June 2011

Hymn-singing marks territory.

From the Argus.

"Brighton scientist compares churchgoers' hymns to youths' mobile tunes."

by Anna Roberts

"A Brighton scientist has revealed churchgoers singing hymns and youths playing tinny music through their mobile phones are expressing themselves in similar ways.
Dr Harry Witchel, a reader in physiology at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said both parties are marking their territories through music."

Thursday 2 June 2011

Religion shrinks the brain

A study by Amy Owen and colleagues at Duke University showed greater atrophy in the hippocampus in individuals who identify with specific religious groups as well as those with no religious affiliation. It is a surprising result, given that many prior studies have shown religion to have potentially beneficial effects on brain function, anxiety, and depression.

"The results showed significantly greater hippocampal atrophy in individuals reporting a life-changing religious experience. In addition, they found significantly greater hippocampal atrophy among born-again Protestants, Catholics, and those with no religious affiliation, compared with Protestants not identifying as born-again.

The authors offer the hypothesis that the greater hippocampal atrophy in selected religious groups might be related to stress. They argue that some individuals in the religious minority, or those who struggle with their beliefs, experience higher levels of stress. This causes a release of stress hormones that are known to depress the volume of the hippocampus over time. This might also explain the fact that both non-religious as well as some religious individuals have smaller hippocampal volumes."

Geert Wilders trial - masterly final address

Wednesday 25 May 2011

The Armageddon that wasn't. PZ is angry . . . .

"Sure, everyone is laughing at Harold Camping now, except his followers, who are undeterred. But you're missing the real joke. Look at every Abrahamic religion, with their myths of prophets and favored peoples and fate. Look at the crazy conservative church in your town, that preaches homophobia and anti-science and supports Israel because of the Armageddon prophecy. Look at the liberal Christian church down the street from you that has the nice Vacation Bible School and puts on happy plays for the older kids, and also teaches that one day you will stand before a great god and be judged. Look at your family members who blithely believe in death as a mini-apocalypse, in which they will be magically translated into another realm, again to be judged.

It's the very same rot, the poison of religion that twists minds away from reality and fastens them on hellish bogeymen. They're demented fuckwits, every one, and the big lie rests right on the fundamental beliefs of supernaturalism and deities, not on the ephemera of one crank's bizarre interpretations."

Complete post here.

Saturday 21 May 2011

Monday 9 May 2011

Saturday 7 May 2011

Nietzsche lays it on the line . . .

"I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct for revenge for which no expedient is sufficiently poisonous, secret, subterranean, petty -- I call it the one mortal blemish of mankind." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Monday 2 May 2011

Prayer can make things worse

The next time some faithhead offers to pray for you best be on the safe side and try and convince them not to. The scientific study summarised here demonstrates that: if you don't know that they are praying for you it doesn't make any difference; but if you do know they are, it can actually make things worse.  True this has only been investigated for patients recovering from a cardiac bypass, and one can find oneself the subject of offers of prayer for all kinds of reasons, but why take any chances. . . .?

Saturday 30 April 2011

Christopher Hitchen's letter to the American Atheists Convention 22/04/2011

Dear fellow-unbelievers,

Nothing would have kept me from joining you except the loss of my voice (at least my speaking voice) which in turn is due to a long argument I am currently having with the specter of death. Nobody ever wins this argument, though there are some solid points to be made while the discussion goes on. I have found, as the enemy becomes more familiar, that all the special pleading for salvation, redemption and supernatural deliverance appears even more hollow and artificial to me than it did before. I hope to help defend and pass on the lessons of this for many years to come, but for now I have found my trust better placed in two things: the skill and principle of advanced medical science, and the comradeship of innumerable friends and family, all of them immune to the false consolations of religion. It is these forces among others which will speed the day when humanity emancipates itself from the mind-forged manacles of servility and superstition. It is our innate solidarity, and not some despotism of the sky, which is the source of our morality and our sense of decency.

That essential sense of decency is outraged every day. Our theocratic enemy is in plain view. Protean in form, it extends from the overt menace of nuclear-armed mullahs to the insidious campaigns to have stultifying pseudo-science taught in American schools. But in the past few years, there have been heartening signs of a genuine and spontaneous resistance to this sinister nonsense: a resistance which repudiates the right of bullies and tyrants to make the absurd claim that they have god on their side. To have had a small part in this resistance has been the greatest honor of my lifetime: the pattern and original of all dictatorship is the surrender of reason to absolutism and the abandonment of critical, objective inquiry. The cheap name for this lethal delusion is religion, and we must learn new ways of combating it in the public sphere, just as we have learned to free ourselves of it in private.

Our weapons are the ironic mind against the literal: the open mind against the credulous; the courageous pursuit of truth against the fearful and abject forces who would set limits to investigation (and who stupidly claim that we already have all the truth we need). Perhaps above all, we affirm life over the cults of death and human sacrifice and are afraid, not of inevitable death, but rather of a human life that is cramped and distorted by the pathetic need to offer mindless adulation, or the dismal belief that the laws of nature respond to wailings and incantations.

As the heirs of a secular revolution, American atheists have a special responsibility to defend and uphold the Constitution that patrols the boundary between Church and State. This, too, is an honor and a privilege. Believe me when I say that I am present with you, even if not corporeally (and only metaphorically in spirit...) Resolve to build up Mr Jefferson's wall of separation. And don't keep the faith.


Christopher Hitchens

Commercial break

Thursday 28 April 2011

Blood taken from John Paul to be used as relic

VATICAN CITY –  Blood taken from Pope John Paul II during his final hospitalization will be used as the official relic for veneration after he is beatified.
The Vatican made the announcement Tuesday, putting to rest questions about what relic would be presented during Sunday's beatification.
In a statement, the Vatican said four small vials of blood had been taken from John Paul during his final days for a possible transfusion, but were never used. Two of the vials were given to John Paul's private secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, and another two remained at the Vatican's Bambin Gesu hospital in the care of nuns.
One of the hospital vials will be placed in a reliquary and presented Sunday; the other will remain with the nuns.
John Paul died April 2, 2005.

Is there no limit to the gruesome lengths these sick minds will not go to?

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus

"Jesus unambiguously preached mercy and forgiveness. These are supposed to be cardinal virtues of the Christian faith. And yet Evangelicals are the most supportive of the death penalty, draconian sentencing, punitive punishment over rehabilitation, and the governmental use of torture. Jesus exhorted humans to be loving, peaceful, and non-violent. And yet Evangelicals are the group of Americans most supportive of easy-access weaponry, little-to-no regulation of handgun and semi-automatic gun ownership, not to mention the violent military invasion of various countries around the world. Jesus was very clear that the pursuit of wealth was inimical to the Kingdom of God, that the rich are to be condemned, and that to be a follower of Him means to give one’s money to the poor. And yet Evangelicals are the most supportive of corporate greed and capitalistic excess, and they are the most opposed to institutional help for the nation’s poor — especially poor children. They hate anything that smacks of “socialism,” even though that is essentially what their Savior preached. They despise food stamp programs, subsidies for schools, hospitals, job training — anything that might dare to help out those in need. Even though helping out those in need was exactly what Jesus urged humans to do. In short, Evangelicals are that segment of America which is the most pro-militaristic, pro-gun, and pro-corporate, while simultaneously claiming to be most ardent lovers of the Prince of Peace."

Extract from an article by Phil Zuckerman on RELIGIOUSINTELLIGENCE.COM

The God Who Wasn't There

This hour long film is now availible in full on Youtube. It is a 2005 independent documentary written and directed by Brian Flemming. The documentary questions the existence of Jesus, examining evidence that supports the Christ myth theory against the existence of a historical Jesus, as well as other aspects of Christianity.

Richard Dawkins on Lord Patten

An article by Jonathan Wynne-Jones of the Telegraph reports the views of Lord Patten, the new Chairman of the BBC. In a lecture last week he accused atheists of being "intolerant"" completely overlooking, apparently, the intolerance catholics show towards homosexuals and women. 

The former governor of Hong Kong and current chancellor of Oxford University, who described himself as a cradle Catholic, said his own experience was that people looked down on him intellectually for having religious belief.

Richard Dawkins comments:-

"Looked down on him? Looked DOWN on him. Apparently they didn't look down on him enough to stop him being a cabinet minister, governor of Hong Kong, Chancellor of Oxford University, Chairman of the BBC Governors, Member of the House of Lords, and all-round one of the most successful and looked-UP-to men in England today!

His appointment now means that both the Director General of the BBC (Mark Thompson) and the Chairman of the Governors are practising Roman Catholics. You'd think he'd be delighted at this triumph of his religion, in monopolising two of the most influential positions in world media. What has he got to complain about?"


Friday 22 April 2011

A short history of the Golden Rule

There’s a common misconception that the so-called Golden Rule is a Christian ethic, but the reality is that it originated long before - - - 
  • 650 BCE. "Do not to your neighbor what you would take ill from him." -- Pittacus
  • 500 BCE. "Do not unto another that you would not have him do unto you. Thou needest this law alone. It is the foundation of all the rest." -- Confucius
  • 464 BCE. "Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing." -- Thales
  • 406 BCE. "What you wish your neighbors to be to you, be also to them." -- Sextus (Pythagorean)
  • 384 BCE. "We should conduct ourselves toward others as we would have them act toward us." -- Aristotle
  • 365 BCE. "Cherish reciprocal benevolence, which will make you as anxious for another’s welfare as your own." -- Aristippus of Cyrene
  • 338 BCE. "Act toward others as you desire them to act toward you." -- Isocrates
  • 300 BCE. "This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you." -- Hinduism
  • 50 BCE. "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary." -- Rabbi Hillel
  • circa 30 CE. "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." -- Jesus of Nazareth
-- compiled by Sandy Feroe, Editor, the Atheist Outreach 
newsletter, 5, Fall 1999

1862 CE. "Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby" from the "The Water Babies" by Charles Kinglsey. Illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith