Archive for November 2010

Joseph Hoffmann ponders the election *

Nov 5th, 2010 | Filed by

We can never count on the American people to do the right thing, whether they choose kings over republics or republics over kings.… Read the rest

Could there be evidence of a god? *

Nov 5th, 2010 | Filed by

Greta Christina says yes, but we need a coherent god-hypothesis to begin with.… Read the rest

How to write about gnu atheists: a guide *

Nov 5th, 2010 | Filed by

Gnu atheism shouldn’t be presented as an intellectual position. Repeatedly emphasize hostility to organized religion as the source of their disbelief.… Read the rest

Politics: sexism hasn’t disappeared yet *

Nov 5th, 2010 | Filed by

It discourages a lot of women from running for office.… Read the rest

News items

Nov 5th, 2010 11:17 am | By

Something is broken so I can’t post news items in News for the moment, so I’ll post them here.

Peace breaks out

Massimo holds out an olive branch.

Peace consolidates

Jerry returns the olive branch.

Frans De Waal on god-science shouting match

He would love to see a debate among moderates.… Read the rest


Nov 4th, 2010 5:50 pm | By

Mehdi Hasan is annoyed with Roshonara Choudhry. She doesn’t get it – she doesn’t understand that Islam doesn’t approve of her going to her MP’s surgery for the purpose of stabbing him to death, nor of her actually sticking a knife in his stomach.

She is, for example, ignorant of the specific Quranic verses that she claims inspired her horrific and cowardly attack on Timms – “the main chapters about it are chapter . . . chapter eight and chapter nine, I think,” she says, pathetically. In fact, there are no verses in the Quran which justify such brutal, vigilante attacks on innocent civilians. Suicide bombings for example, are un-Islamic.

Oh tut – isn’t that awful. But if … Read the rest

Charles Freeman reviews “God’s Philosophers” *

Nov 4th, 2010 | Filed by

Hannam has no understanding of the intellectual inhibitions that arise from ring-fencing large areas of knowledge as “faith.”… Read the rest

Is Britain an anti-Christian country? *

Nov 4th, 2010 | Filed by

Of course not, but it’s fun to pretend it is and make a big fuss.… Read the rest

YouTube takes down al-Awlaki videos *

Nov 4th, 2010 | Filed by

There’s an issue with incitement to murder.… Read the rest

Student gets life sentence for stabbing MP *

Nov 4th, 2010 | Filed by

She watched Anwar al-Awlaki on YouTube and decided to kill the Labour MP for East Ham.… Read the rest

Committee against Stoning on Iran’s deceptions *

Nov 4th, 2010 | Filed by

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, a ‘judicial review’ often effectively means the regime is waiting for the opportunity to carry out its executions.… Read the rest

Where are all the atheist women? *

Nov 4th, 2010 | Filed by

Right here, Jen McCreight points out.… Read the rest

For when the agent gets here

Nov 3rd, 2010 4:48 pm | By

So as Sigmund says, the point is that if there is (what looks like) convincing evidence of ‘God’ we will not be able to tell whether it is simply evidence of an advanced alien technology. My similar point is that we won’t know of any way to distinguish between a natural intelligent agent and a ‘god’ of whatever sort.

I think that observation is hard to get around. We could of course say that it could be a ‘god’ – that we don’t know that it’s not a god, that it has powers that seem to us to be what is called ‘miraculous.’ But could we say ‘this is supernatural for sure’? I don’t think so. It seems like … Read the rest

Agents or aliens

Nov 3rd, 2010 12:46 pm | By

The more I think about it, and read what other people have to say about it, the more I think “supernatural” is a meaningless word. That’s just another way of saying I’m a naturalist, I guess. I think the same thing about the word “god” or “gods” – I think that word brings a lot of excess baggage, and warps thinking about it from the outset. I kept stumbling on that in a discussion on a post of Jerry’s yesterday. Sigmund said

I suspect we will be unable to determine whether such evidence indicates a ‘God’ or a ‘God-like alien’.

And I thought, and said, what is the difference anyway?

Really – what is the difference? The … Read the rest

Uganda: judge tells tabloid to stop outing gays *

Nov 3rd, 2010 | Filed by

High Court judge ordered Rolling Stone newspaper to stop publishing names and photographs of people it says are homosexual.… Read the rest

Thomas Nagel reviews The Moral Landscape *

Nov 3rd, 2010 | Filed by

Harris’s concrete moral conclusions depend on one venerable moral premise and a number of commonsense observations about human life.… Read the rest

Rand Paul in victory speech misquotes Jefferson *

Nov 3rd, 2010 | Filed by

Or rather, misattributes something Thoreau said to Jefferson. As Ayn Rand said, “accuracy is tyranny.”… Read the rest

Ashtiani has not been hanged yet *

Nov 3rd, 2010 | Filed by

Bernard Kouchner said Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told him no verdict in her case had been reached.… Read the rest

UK author convicted of insulting Singapore judiciary *

Nov 3rd, 2010 | Filed by

In Once a Jolly Hangman – Singapore Justice in the Dock Alan Shadrake criticised how the death penalty is used, alleging a lack of impartiality.… Read the rest

Hunting for the elusive atheist woman

Nov 2nd, 2010 4:02 pm | By

Jen McCreight said what’s wrong with Ms magazine’s blog post asking whether gnu atheism will make room for women. Jen did it, so I don’t need to. But I’ll go over some of the ground anyway, because I feel like it.

If you’ve been following the rise of so-called “New Atheism” movement, you may have noticed that it sure looks a lot like old religion. The individuals most commonly associated with contemporary atheism—Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett and Victor Stenger—are all male, white and, well, kinda old (69, 61, 68 and 75).

I have been following the rise of gnu atheism; I’ve even been participating in it, in my own small (but noisy) way; … Read the rest