Archive for August 2010

Free will

Aug 31st, 2010 4:35 pm | By

Jerry has a post on free will (the latest of a series) and it has set off an interesting discussion; see especially the comments by Tom Clark and Russell Blackford, and several by Eric MacDonald.

This subject doesn’t fret me the way it does some people, and I suspect that’s because I’m lazy about it. I’m lazy about a lot of things. It doesn’t fret me because I always end up thinking “but it feels as if I choose and in a way that feeling amounts to the same thing as really choosing.” That’s probably lazy because of the “in a way” or the “amounts to” or both. It’s woolly. And yet -

And yet if we all do … Read the rest



A Saturday afternoon

Aug 31st, 2010 4:30 pm | By
A Saturday afternoon

Ulrika (who did most of the steering me from place to place in Stockholm) told me on the Saturday that she had uploaded audio from the seminar to the Humanisterna site. I looked for it but couldn’t find it, possibly because it’s hiding behind some Swedish words.

But in looking for it I found something else, which is one of the pictures Ulrika took of me while we were walking to her mother’s apartment where the atheist gender group met. That stuff in the background? That’s Stockholm.

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To Ban or Not to Ban? The Burqa, Religious Identity, and Politics

Aug 31st, 2010 | By Timothy Rowe

A great deal of confusion surrounds the burqa and the issue of its being worn in Western countries. A traditional religious garment, the burqa covers a woman’s face and body so completely that only a small slit for the eyes remains to allow the sight of the person behind it.[1] Earlier in the year French legislators passed a vote deploring the apparel, and the lower house recently passed a bill 335-1 which would see it made illegal to wear in public, a vote quickly condemned by Amnesty International as threatening to freedom of expression and religion. While the bill will move to the Senate later in the year, should France actually enact a ban it would not stand out … Read the rest



Coyne on E O Wilson et al. on kin selection *

Aug 31st, 2010 | Filed by

Dawkins comments; a chance to eavesdrop on biology shop talk.… Read the rest



Did freedom evolve? *

Aug 31st, 2010 | Filed by

Jerry Coyne reads Dennett on free will, and is dissatisfied.… Read the rest



Pedophilia in Afghanistan *

Aug 31st, 2010 | Filed by

A recent State Department report called “dancing boys” a “widespread, culturally sanctioned form of male rape.”… Read the rest



Gaddafi says Europe should convert to Islam *

Aug 31st, 2010 | Filed by

He told an audience of 500 women who were paid to attend that Mo was the last prophet.… Read the rest



Qaddafi says give me money to prevent “black Europe” *

Aug 31st, 2010 | Filed by

“We don’t know what will happen, what will be the reaction of the white and Christian Europeans faced with this influx of starving and ignorant Africans.”… Read the rest



They look perplexed, or irritated

Aug 30th, 2010 6:06 pm | By

You know how pundits and armchair “theologians” like Karen Armstrong and Terry Eagleton like to pour scorn on the idea that anybody except dopy militant clueless atheists thinks God is an omnipotent supernatural being who answers prayers. Well Paul Cliteur points out in The Secular Outlook (p 176) that there is such a thing as the Apostle’s Creed, and also such a thing as the catechism. That’s an obvious enough point, but it’s fun to see people remind us of it, or to remind us of it oneself.

Cliteur goes on to quote Armstrong in The Case for God:

Surely everybody knows what God is: the Supreme Being, a divine Personality, who created the world and everything

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Edmund Standing on George Weigel on the pope *

Aug 30th, 2010 | Filed by

Ratzinger would pretend that in Catholicism we find both a respect for reason and a respect for the individual.… Read the rest



Ireland: prostitutes are treated like toilets *

Aug 30th, 2010 | Filed by

 Does this rise in sexual aggression identify a link between degradation of women and the universal availability of hard pornography?… Read the rest



Nick Cohen on Islamism and the left *

Aug 30th, 2010 | Filed by

Why do many “liberals” hate Ayaan Hirsi Ali and dote on Tariq Ramadan?… Read the rest



Mary Midgley quote-mined Nicholas Humphrey *

Aug 30th, 2010 | Filed by

Behavior unbecoming a moral philosopher.… Read the rest



Francis Collins, evangelicals, and stem cells *

Aug 30th, 2010 | Filed by

Collins said that he was stunned by Judge Lamberth’s decision, as were most researchers.… Read the rest



Jane Mayer on libertarian billionaire Koch brothers *

Aug 30th, 2010 | Filed by

“They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation,” says Charles Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity.… Read the rest



What goes where

Aug 29th, 2010 6:05 pm | By

I had one long-standing mistake corrected on the trip to Stockholm. I had been thinking, ever since first hearing from Christer (in January I think), that Fri Tanke was a magazine as well as a publishing company, and that it had published that article by Julian saying “The New Atheist movement is destructive.” I was wrong. I found this out when we were all out for dinner in Östermalm and talking about the hostility to overt atheism, which they talked about before I did, much to my surprise – I thought Sweden would be better that way than the Anglophone countries, but it’s not. So we were talking about this so I said very cautiously, “…And yet you published that … Read the rest



Lightning movie reviews

Aug 29th, 2010 5:40 pm | By

I saw a bunch of terrible movies, or bits of them, on this recent trip, what with two long flights and a few spare moments in a hotel room. I found it vaguely interesting how horrible they all were. I thought I’d say which ones they were and why I thought they were horrible in case anyone else has seen any of them too and thought so too, or thought the opposite.

The first one was on the Seattle to Amsterdam flight, and it’s the only one I saw the beginning and end of along with much in between. Spoiler alert – I’m going to say how it ends, so if you care, don’t keep reading – but you … Read the rest



What elite credentials can do

Aug 29th, 2010 1:04 pm | By

I like to see professionals using their professonalism to be professional and serious and rule-following and everything.

“I can remember, 30 years ago, if a person wanted to learn about reincarnation, they would go into a bookstore and go into a very back corner, to a section called ‘Occult,’ ” said Janet Cunningham, president of the International Board for Regression Therapy, a professional standards group for past-life therapists and researchers.

See? Like that. It’s good that regression thereapists have an International Board which is a professional standards group so that they will do their regression therapy according to standards as opposed to just any old how. It makes me feel safe, and looked after, and protected, and reincarnated.

The popular

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“Past life regression therapy” *

Aug 29th, 2010 | Filed by

Woo has become mainstream; booyah.… Read the rest



Fewer men training as priests in Ireland *

Aug 29th, 2010 | Filed by

16 men are due to start training for the priesthood this autumn, compared to 39 last year.… Read the rest