Charles Freeman replies to James Hannam *

Nov 9th, 2010 | Filed by

Christianity brought the concept of absolute theological truths, many ring-fenced as “articles of faith” which were unchallengeable.… Read the rest

James Hannam replies to Charles Freeman *

Nov 9th, 2010 | Filed by

The secondary purpose of the book is to deal with the old myth, no longer accepted by historians, that the Church held back science at every turn.… Read the rest

Finding the right gap

Nov 9th, 2010 4:23 pm | By

There’s been a discussion of agnosticism in comments at Pharyngula, with Stephen Novella offering some attempted clarifications. I think agnostics or “agnostics” of the Mark Vernon type have muddied the waters. Not knowing doesn’t have to be some mushy compromise between theism and atheism; not knowing really does matter.

That’s central to all these “what would it take to convince you of god/the supernatural” questions – often the examples offered are of things it would be very hard or impossible for people to actually know. If a 900 foot Jesus appeared – well, appeared where? And how would anyone know it was Jesus? And what about all the people who didn’t see it, because they were ill in bed, … Read the rest


Nov 9th, 2010 12:53 pm | By

Chris Stedman is excited about inter-faith thingies again – interfaith cooperation, interfaith training, interfaith leadership, interfaith youth, interfaith activism, the interfaith movement, the interfaith table, interfaith work, interfaith events, interfaith understanding, interfaith coffee, interfaith ice cream, interfaith bicycles…the list goes on.

Anyway, the thing that’s so particularly exciting this time is that even atheists can do it. You would think that wouldn’t make any sense, since if there’s one thing atheists can be counted on not to be interested in, it’s faith – but it turns out that you would be wrong to think that. Atheists are all over it.

Speaking before a group of policy and philanthropic professionals, I explained that there are many atheists, agnostics, humanists and

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Blackburn, Pinker, Krauss, Harris on morality *

Nov 9th, 2010 | Filed by

Can science shape human values, and if so, should it?… Read the rest

Ernie Lepore on speech and harm *

Nov 9th, 2010 | Filed by

Why slurs matter.… Read the rest

Pakistan: woman sentenced to death for blasphemy *

Nov 9th, 2010 | Filed by

Ali Hasan Dayan of Human Rights Watch: “It’s an obscene law used as a tool of persecution and to settle other scores that are nothing to do with religion.”… Read the rest

Saudi fatwa: women may not work as cashiers *

Nov 9th, 2010 | Filed by

Official board of clerics said the cashier jobs are not permissible because they would result in the women mixing with unrelated men.… Read the rest

In time for Xmas: a new book for the kiddies *

Nov 9th, 2010 | Filed by

About how the evil black Obamaclaus stole Xmas but the nice white people defeated him. Or something.… Read the rest

Oh yay, atheists are doing interfaith whatsits *

Nov 8th, 2010 | Filed by

It’s totally great because you get all the advantages of faith and – um – well you get all the advantages of faith.… Read the rest

Gay suicides and the Mormon church *

Nov 8th, 2010 | Filed by

Utah has the highest rate of suicides among men 15-24 of any state in the US. Coincidence?… Read the rest

David Allen Green on truth in blogging *

Nov 8th, 2010 | Filed by

“There are discrepancies between some of the information that appeared on Ms Dorries’ blog and the information she supplied to the Commissioner.”… Read the rest

Allah honored wives by instating beatings *

Nov 8th, 2010 | Filed by

Don’t make them ugly now, the helpful deity said.… Read the rest

Life as furniture

Nov 8th, 2010 5:26 pm | By

An item from last August, which I hadn’t seen before. For about £5,000 a taxi driver in Bradford would track down women and girls who had run away from home to escape a forced marriage.

Zakir’s job was never to harm his targets, but to return them home to face their “destiny” of being made to marry someone their parents had chosen. Despite the fact that runaways can be beaten for having escaped, he sides with the families on the issue. The softly spoken driver, speaking to G2 on the condition his real name was not used, insisted: “I did it as a favour to the families, as I knew most of them. It wasn’t about the money. It was

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An amuse-bouche

Nov 8th, 2010 5:18 pm | By

Something Allen Esterson pointed out to me a couple of weeks ago and which I had to share. From Brandt, K. J. (2005). Intelligent bodies: Women’s embodiment and subjectivity in the human-horse communication process.

The cowboy’s stranglehold on the label of expert in human-horse relationships, as well as mythic construction of the woman-horse bond, have effectively silenced women’s voices and rendered their experiences with horses non-authentic. This dissertation takes women’s knowledge of horses seriously as data and draws from three years (2001-2004) of ethnographic research of in-depth interviews and participant observation. I explore the human-horse communication process and argue that the two species co-create what I call an embodied language system to construct a world of shared meaning. I problematize

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Joan Smith on romanticized violence *

Nov 8th, 2010 | Filed by

Today’s Islamists display a familiar sense of grievance, self-aggrandisement and contempt for democratic processes.… Read the rest

Freethought Kampala on reporting on witchcraft *

Nov 7th, 2010 | Filed by

Our concern is that the local media tend not to take a skeptical-enough approach to stories pertaining to witchcraft.… Read the rest

Italian women are not amused by Berlusconi *

Nov 7th, 2010 | Filed by

He says it’s better to chase women than to be gay, then he says he’s a victim of the mafia.… Read the rest

Four rows of priests in white robes and pointed white hats

Nov 7th, 2010 4:34 pm | By

He’s not a very pleasant-looking character, is he – he looks pissed off, not to say violent. He looks as if he’s going to take a swing at you as soon as somebody fastens his arms on. He looks as if he thinks you’ve got a fucking nerve cluttering up his world the way you do, with all your talking and breathing and walking to and fro.

Makes sense. The pope thinks so too, after all. No more messing around; let’s get this straight: God is the boss, and the pope is God’s enforcer. We don’t want none of your poxy seculsrism around here; you’ll do what the pope says God says, and you’ll like it. Capeesh?


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Would you?

Nov 7th, 2010 3:53 pm | By

So if a very very tall Jesus appears in a Polish cabbage field (by which I mean a cabbage field in Poland, not a field in which Polish cabbage grows, which I don’t know if there is such a thing), is that reason enough for you to believe in god? Or would you be hesitant to believe because of the news reports that the tall Jesus is the brainchild of a Polish priest and was built by some people?

I think I would, at least at first, until we knew more, find the report of the Polish priest deciding to build the statue out of material more convincing than the possibility that the statue actually only appears to be a … Read the rest