Ten years ago, and last week

Dec 31st, 2010 5:27 pm | By

I was browsing through Katha Pollitt’s Subject to Debate this morning and read a great piece from September 2000, Freedom From Religion, ¡Si!

…that’s the official American civic religion at the opening of the twenty-first century: What religion you have may be your own business–rather literally so, in the case of Scientology–but it’s society’s business that you have one. Modernity may have eroded some of the distinctions between previously antagonistic belief systems–Quick! Explain the difference between Presbyterianism and Methodism!–as is suggested by the increasing replacement of the word “religion,” with its connotations of dogma and in-groupness, by the warm, fuzzy propaganda term “faith.”

See? I’m not the only one who has noticed the replacement and thinks it’s a plot of … Read the rest

Katha Pollitt: Freedom From Religion, ¡Si!

Dec 31st, 2010 | Filed by

Because the most energetic religions tend to be the ones most invested in keeping women subordinate, women in particular have nothing to gain from the burgeoning involvement of religion in the public sphere.… Read the rest

No one is permitted to ask

Dec 31st, 2010 1:10 pm | By

Eric has an excellent post on Catholic casuistry, compassion, and authority today. It’s a bit like Google Earth, examining this subject – we get closer and closer and closer. The closer we get, the more ridiculous Karen Armstrong’s claim that compassion is central becomes. Compassion is not only not central, it’s nowhere. Compassion is beside the point altogether.

Ronald Conte, as I pointed out yesterday, simply says what the rules are, over and over again, and quotes popes also saying what the rules are. He quotes JP2 saying what they are:

Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary

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Pakistan: mullahs on strike against “blasphemy” reform *

Dec 31st, 2010 | Filed by

Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of “insulting Islam” faces the death penalty.… Read the rest

Israel: some question benefits for Torah study *

Dec 31st, 2010 | Filed by

More than 60% of haredi men don’t work, ditto more than 50% of haredi women. Other Israelis are getting restive.… Read the rest

A dab more theology

Dec 30th, 2010 6:01 pm | By

I’m reading Ronald Conte’s laying down of the law more calmly and thoroughly, and along with the vicious brutality of it, another thing that strikes me is the plain stupidity. It doesn’t jump out at you at first, partly because the vicious brutality takes up most of your attention, but also because the sober language obscures it; but after awhile it becomes more salient. It is just stupid. There’s nothing to it but repetition and insistence. He says the same thing over and over, interpersed with popes saying it. It’s just a long long string of stupid assertions – which if heeded of course can ruin people’s lives.

This is the bit I was reading when the stupidity started to … Read the rest

There was an arrogance, an independent and defiant air

Dec 30th, 2010 12:18 pm | By

Maniacal Catholics are still explaining that the bishop was right. Gerard Nadal even explains that the bishop was right to “push back against a culture of death.” By insisting that a woman should have been allowed to die along with her fetus, the bishop was pushing back against a culture of death. How does that work?

Nadal explains the “principle of double effect” to our wondering eyes.

In essence the principle states that a lifesaving procedure that cannot be delayed, such as the removal of a cancerous uterus before the baby can be taken in a Cesarean section at viability (~25 weeks gestation), is permissible so long as the death of the baby is the indirect and unintended effect…


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Remembering Denis Dutton *

Dec 30th, 2010 | Filed by

The lesson on display every day at ALD is that one can be precise and brisk, and nuanced and weird, at the same time.… Read the rest

Women are trafficked into marriage in India *

Dec 30th, 2010 | Filed by

Shafiqur Rahman Khan is a gender rights activist and columnist; his organization helps rescue trafficked women.… Read the rest

Dickens’s Xmas Carol is his protest against Xmas *

Dec 30th, 2010 | Filed by

Eric MacDonald does a close reading.… Read the rest

Apathy about human rights is deadly *

Dec 30th, 2010 | Filed by

Lauryn Oates points out that tyrannies are just as lethal and sorrowful as earthquakes and tornadoes.… Read the rest

Ashtiani’s fate is still unclear *

Dec 30th, 2010 | Filed by

Her lawyer has been forced out of the country.… Read the rest

Godless women

Dec 29th, 2010 5:20 pm | By

Jen McCreight has a second Most Influential Female Atheist contest, and I’m nominated again, which is my reward for being notoriously obnoxious, which I would be even without a reward, but rewards make it even more fun.

But other sweller more influential people are also nominated, and you get three votes, so vote. Allow me to put in a plug for Maryam Namazie, who rocks. They all rock, but allow me to put in a plug for Maryam anyway.… Read the rest

So long and thanks for all the links

Dec 29th, 2010 5:02 pm | By

It’s sad about Denis Dutton. ALDaily is all in black.

Denis was a friend to B&W, from very early in its career – about three months into it, I think. He added it to Favorites, and soon after that he started linking to articles. He helped B&W get an audience.

It is melancholy that he’s gone.… Read the rest

Most influential female atheist of 2010 poll *

Dec 29th, 2010 | Filed by

Second annual blaghag poll. It is an Honor Just to be Nominated. It’s an honor to get ten votes, too, chiz chiz.… Read the rest

There’s plenty of time for evolution *

Dec 29th, 2010 | Filed by

Jerry Coyne on a new paper that shows mathematically that simultaneous substitution is much much faster than “serial” substitution.… Read the rest

The relevant self-development training modules will be helpful

Dec 29th, 2010 11:27 am | By

The US Army requires its soldiers to have something called “spiritual fitness.”

The US Army distributes a mandatory survey called an SFT, which stands for “Soldier Fitness Tracker”.  The purpose of this survey is to measure an individual soldier’s competency in four areas, Emotional, Social, Family and Spiritual.

Yes really.

Here is what they tell someone who scores badly in that last area:

Spiritual fitness is an area of possible difficulty for you. You may lack a sense of meaning and purpose in your life. At times, it is hard for you to make sense of what is happening to you and others around you. You may not feel connected to something larger than yourself. You may question your

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Dec 29th, 2010 11:09 am | By

This is very trivial, but quite funny in a way. Remember “steph” who derailed the “F word” thread last week with endless passive-aggressive rambling about gnu atheism and New Zealand? And then suddenly at the end went all cuddly and we can get along? No, you probably don’t, because you probably stopped reading that thread when she derailed it, and quite right too.

But if you do, you might be amused to learn that she didn’t really mean the cuddly part. She derailed someone else’s thread – some theology type – to say how horrible I am. Apropos of absolutely nothing. I mean, it’s like a clown suddenly appearing in the middle of a sober newscast. Wha?? Truly funny.


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Celebrities and Science 2010 [pdf] *

Dec 29th, 2010 | Filed by

Detox, the Master Cleanse, magnets, Power Balance bracelets, charcoal.… Read the rest

Denis Dutton 1944-2010 *

Dec 29th, 2010 | Filed by

Bad news.… Read the rest