Archive for September 2010

Tim Crane on religion, mystery and evidence *

Sep 6th, 2010 | Filed by

Science and religion are different, yet religions rest on historical claims, but – uh – whatever.… Read the rest



Vatican tools say gay marriage is like decaf coffee *

Sep 6th, 2010 | Filed by

“A gay relationship is like decaffeinated coffee, you do not wake up,” said a priest/bioethics professor at Regina Apostolorum U.… Read the rest



Lose Your Illusion: Essays by Joumana Haddad

Sep 5th, 2010 | By Max Dunbar

Here are a few statistics you may or may not be familiar with. The 2002 Arab Human Development Report estimated that the Arab world translates around 330 books annually, one fifth of the number translated by Greece. Taking the long view, the authors also estimated that the Arab world had translated 100,000 books since the Caliph Ma’mun in the ninth century. This is just under the average number translated by Spain in a year. How many books are actually produced? We don’t really know. While they admitted that there were ‘no reliable figures’, the researchers indicated that ‘many indicators suggest a severe shortage of writing; a large share of the market consists of religious books and educational publications that are … Read the rest



From the other direction

Sep 5th, 2010 3:34 pm | By

Here’s something a good deal better than the BBC and its revolting pandering to the mullahs in Iran and their friends – here is Network against honour related violence. I met a splendid woman who works with it – perhaps she founded it and runs it, I’m not sure – at the book launch in Stockholm. The launch took place starting at 7 pm the day I arrived, so my memory had gone to bed by that time – I don’t remember most of the launch very clearly. This means I don’t remember what she told me, or if she told me her name, or what I told her, apart from something about wanting to be sure to retain … Read the rest



The BBC defends the mullahs, silences their critics

Sep 5th, 2010 11:40 am | By

Update: RDF provides the video for non-UK viewers, so I’ve seen it now, and so can you.

The BBC has outdone itself this time. BBC1’s Sunday Live did a programme on whether it is right to condemn the Iranian regime for the stoning of Ashtiani. Maryam Namazie was supposed to take part (and it is not difficult to guess what she would have said, and how firmly she would have said it), but somehow the programme never got around to her. It did get around to two people who said the other thing, but it did not get around to Maryam. Yes that’s right. It found the time to talk to two apologists for the fascist reactionary mullahs’ regime in … Read the rest



Mark Vernon tells such a cute little story *

Sep 5th, 2010 | Filed by

All about Stephen Hawking, and his daddy, and not knowing where everything came from, and the name for that is “God.”… Read the rest



The Guardian endorses God *

Sep 5th, 2010 | Filed by

God is too superior to be interested in our arguments about “Him” but the Graun knows all there is to know on the subject.… Read the rest



BBC’s pathetic coverage of stoning in Iran *

Sep 5th, 2010 | Filed by

Talked to two people defending stoning but somehow never got to Maryam Namazie.… Read the rest



Ashtiani receives new sentence of 99 lashes *

Sep 5th, 2010 | Filed by

Because the Times published a picture purportedly of her without a headscarf.… Read the rest



Interview with Ashtiani’s son Sajjad *

Sep 4th, 2010 | Filed by

The outside pressure works. “You’re all we have. There is no one else, except for you, to give us a hand.”… Read the rest



Atheists are murderers and terrorists *

Sep 4th, 2010 | Filed by

PZ Myers “vandalized sacred religious property”; run for your lives.… Read the rest



Kenan Malik reviews Tariq Ramadan *

Sep 4th, 2010 | Filed by

There is a willfull shallowness about this work, a refusal to think deeply or to pose difficult questions, that is truly shocking. … Read the rest



Hooray for sharia

Sep 4th, 2010 4:31 pm | By

The Huffington Post (who else?) gives a woman named Sumbul Ali-Karamali a space in which to say “what is all this fuss about sharia, sharia is perfectly fine, and besides it’s not the law anywhere, and besides everything is culture, and besides islamophobia, and besides you have to interpret.”

There are six principles of shariah. They are derived from the Qur’an, which Muslims believe is the word of God. All Islamic religious rules must be in line with these six principles of shariah…The Qur’an is old. The fiqh books of jurisprudence are old. To modern eyes, they can look just as outdated as other ancient texts, including the Bible and Torah. That’s why, just like the Bible and the Torah,

Read the rest


David Colquhoun sacked from alt med council *

Sep 4th, 2010 | Filed by

Now that they know he thinks reflexology is bollocks, they think he might be happier elsewhere.… Read the rest



Presumed dead in the water

Sep 4th, 2010 1:17 pm | By

Julian Baggini points out “an inconvenient truth about science that religion would prefer to ignore”:

[A]lthough it is true that science doesn’t rule out a role for religion in providing meaning, or a God who kick-started the whole universe off in the first place, it does leave presumed dead in the water anything like the God most people over history have believed in: one who is closely involved in his creation, who intervenes in our lives, and with whom we can have a personal relationship.

Most people over history, and to this day. People who believe in the attenuated hand-wavy god of Karen Armstrong and Terry Eagleton are a tiny minority of believers.… Read the rest



Your fury is proof of my virtue

Sep 4th, 2010 1:01 pm | By

Update: comments were closed by accident; there’s nothing special about this post that made comments undesirable. Beg pardon.

Norman Birnbaum said in a review of two books on Norman Podhoretz

In the end, the indignation of the critics reinforced Podhoretz’s tendency to think of himself as isolated, his antipathy to other intellectuals. He saw arguments with others as proof of his own virtue.

Yes indeed; there is always that risk, in having opinions that are in some way unpopular or unorthodox or otherwise combative. One can come to think that the more indignant one’s opponents are, the more virtuous One is Oneself.

This is an excellent reason for the Haters of Gnu Atheists to stfu. They don’t want to make … Read the rest



LRB on Frank Kermode *

Sep 4th, 2010 | Filed by

His writing was so much more exact, more stylish, more patient, more ironic, more playful, more attentive, more cunning, more cagey than ‘eloquence’ can suggest.… Read the rest



This is not polling

Sep 4th, 2010 11:17 am | By

The Republicans must be spending money like water (thanks to the Citizens United decision). I got a phone call last night from someone who claimed to be doing a “poll” but it transparently wasn’t a poll at all, it was a ridiculous stealth advertisement.

The guy asked a few neutralish questions at first, then asked if, if I were voting today, I would vote for the Democrat candidate for the US senate or the Republican candidate ditto. “You mean Democratic?” I said. He repeated the question. I repeated my question. “Ma’am, I have to read the question exactly as it is.” Right; well only Republicans use “Democrat” as an adjective that way, and they do it to annoy, so we … Read the rest



Paul Davies: the meta-laws remain unexplained *

Sep 4th, 2010 | Filed by

They are eternal, immutable transcendent entities that just happen to exist and must simply be accepted as given; like a god.… Read the rest



Baggini on Hawking and God *

Sep 4th, 2010 | Filed by

There is no room in the universe of Hawking or most other scientists for the activist God of the Bible.… Read the rest