Archive for April 2010

Paul Sims on the Harry Taylor question

Apr 28th, 2010 2:56 pm | By

I don’t disagree with Paul Sims on all points, but I do on some.

If Taylor had been convicted for publishing the images in a magazine, or on a website, where members of the public have the choice not to buy or visit, I would strongly oppose his conviction. But this isn’t what Taylor did – he placed the images in a room provided for the religious to quietly practise their faith, away from public space.

But why is a room provided in an airport for the religious to quietly practise their faith? Rooms aren’t provided for the religious to quietly practise their faith in supermarkets and bookshops and bus terminals and parks, so why in airports? And if … Read the rest



Carlin Romano doesn’t like Massimo Pigliucci’s tone *

Apr 28th, 2010 | Filed by

He’s so ferocious, so sarcastic, so scientistic.… Read the rest



Global population of Catholics growing *

Apr 28th, 2010 | Filed by

Declining in Europe but rising everywhere else.… Read the rest



National Prayer Day – everyone should be disinvited *

Apr 28th, 2010 | Filed by

Why should Franklin Graham have all the fun?… Read the rest



Atheists and Asbos *

Apr 28th, 2010 | Filed by

Paul Sims and I consider the punishment of Harry Taylor.… Read the rest



Why feminism must embrace reason and shun religion

Apr 28th, 2010 | By Amy Clare

When I was four, I was an angel in the school nativity play. I had wanted to be the angel Gabriel, but my teacher had gently informed me that Gabriel was a boy. Mary had already been cast, so the only parts left for other girls were generic angels. I was disappointed but then I realised, what did Mary do exactly? It seemed to my young mind that all she did was have a baby; it was the baby that everyone was interested in, and the baby was a boy. I soon learned that all the good parts to play in this story belonged to the boys, and with every passing school year and corresponding nativity play, I felt more … Read the rest



The Christian churches are the conscience of our country

Apr 27th, 2010 10:01 am | By

Lawrence Lessig notes that the pope told victims of priestly rape in Malta last week that the church “was doing all it could to investigate abuse accusations and find ways to safeguard children in the future.”

But it’s not, Lessig says. In fact it’s doing the opposite. It’s defending a New Jersey statute immunizing charities against negligence even if their employees acted “willfully, wantonly, recklessly, indifferently — even criminally.”

What was truly astonishing was the appearance of the New Jersey Catholic Conference in the case. As its Web site explains, the conference “represents the Catholic bishops of New Jersey on matters of public policy,” because “the Catholic Church calls for a different kind of political engagement: one shaped by the

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The church is campaigning to block compensation *

Apr 27th, 2010 | Filed by

It is lobbying hard against statute of limitation reform.… Read the rest



For the record

Apr 27th, 2010 9:15 am | By

It gets more and more tedious, but it can’t be helped – or it can be helped but it shouldn’t be. The relentless brainless dishonest denigration of “New” atheists has to be shown up for what it is every damn time it happens. It may be futile to say “That’s a lie, and that is, and that is, and that’s another”; it may just entrench the lies even deeper (depressingly, there is research that indicates this is what happens); but it has to be done, if only for the record. (What record? Oh shut up.)

Michael McGhee, Comment is Free (sugar and tea, rainbows at sea, la de da dee).

I am not a believer. I incline towards a secular

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Believers don’t believe in God *

Apr 27th, 2010 | Filed by

Oh and by the way new atheists are bad and wrong.… Read the rest



Believers without belief *

Apr 27th, 2010 | Filed by

The idea is going viral: Michael McGhee, Theo Hobson, Andrew Brown all claim that belief is practice.… Read the rest



On dryness

Apr 27th, 2010 8:08 am | By

Kenan Malik points out that fundamentalism is an idea, not a biology.

Secularism and fundamentalism are not ideas stitched into people’s DNA. They are not born so. Secularist ideas and religious beliefs are like any values: people absorb them, accept them, reject them. A generation ago there were strong secular movements within Muslim communities and fundamentalism was a marginal force. Today secularism is much weaker, and Islamism much stronger. This shift has been propelled not by demographic trends but by political developments. And political developments can also help reverse the shift.

Kaufmann doesn’t deny any of this. But, he insists, nothing can stop the inevitable demographic triumph of the fundamentalists. Why? Because ‘we inhabit a period of ideological exhaustion’.

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Kenan Malik on “Eurabia” *

Apr 27th, 2010 | Filed by

Secularism and fundamentalism are not ideas stitched into people’s DNA. They are like any values: people absorb them, accept them, reject them.… Read the rest



Open Democracy on Fred Halliday *

Apr 26th, 2010 | Filed by

For 40 years his knowledge of global politics and forensic analytical skills were in the service of rational argument and universalist political values.… Read the rest



Fred Halliday 1946-2010 *

Apr 26th, 2010 | Filed by

His twenty plus books and his wide ranging, powerful essays and journalism provided a constant source of inspiration.… Read the rest



A sufficiency of delight

Apr 26th, 2010 11:07 am | By

Grayling’s reply to Gray is a much better read.

Anxious to appear original while in fact pushing a familiar counter-Enlightenment line, Gray has often entertained us with his assaults on logic and historical fact, each time repeating the two tenets of his faith, one acquired from Isaiah Berlin and the other from his Sunday school, namely, that we are condemned to live with the conflict between irreconcilable goods, and that we owe everything of significance in human achievement (not, he gloomily adds, that there has been much) to religion.

Concise, sly, cutting, and funny – also accurate. Gray is extraordinarily repetitive and predictable. I knew what his “review” would say before I read it. “Gray has often entertained us” reminds … Read the rest



Grayling replies to Gray *

Apr 26th, 2010 | Filed by

Anxious to appear original while in fact pushing a familiar counter-Enlightenment line, Gray has often entertained us with his assaults on logic and historical fact.… Read the rest



The well thinkings

Apr 26th, 2010 10:26 am | By

John Gray makes a familiar point.

SEEING THEMSELVES as fiercely independent thinkers, bien-pensants are remarkable chiefly for the fervor with which they propagate the prevailing beliefs of their time.

Prevailing where? Prevailing among whom?

Bertrand Russell, John Stuart Mill’s godson and a scion of one of England’s great political dynasties, exemplified this contradiction throughout most of his life. British philosopher A. C. Grayling can now be counted amongst his number.

Okay – he means “prevailing among people who think similar things” – which is a tautology. He’s pointing out that independent thinkers (fierce or otherwise) are not usually so very independent that they think things that no one else anywhere thinks. Right. Well we knew that, actually. If you’re … Read the rest



Eugene Volokh on Harry Taylor’s sentence *

Apr 26th, 2010 | Filed by

An appalling restriction on freedom of speech; not a content-neutral prohibition on leafleting in particular places: the conviction was based on the content and viewpoint of the speech.… Read the rest



John Gray Reviews A C Grayling *

Apr 26th, 2010 | Filed by

The inevitable ‘Hampstead dinner party’ is cited.… Read the rest