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

Review of Ben Goldacre’s “Bad Science” *

Nov 2nd, 2010 | Filed by

In  the chapter titled “The Doctor Will Sue You Now,” the usually affable Dr. Goldacre is indeed angry, and rightly so.… Read the rest

Artist refused to be gagged, withdrew from exhibit *

Nov 2nd, 2010 | Filed by

“We were concerned that offence could have been taken and this may have impacted negatively on arts funding.”… Read the rest

Padraig Ready on Ireland’s head-in-sand censorship *

Nov 2nd, 2010 | Filed by

A photographer has withdrawn a project from exhibition after local officials objected to the text accompanying the pictures.… Read the rest

Will “new atheism” make room for women? *

Nov 2nd, 2010 | Filed by

“No women are currently recognized as leaders or even mentioned as a force within the movement.” Debatable.… Read the rest

The Islamic regime of Iran plans to execute Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani immediately‏

Nov 1st, 2010 | By International Committee against Stoning
According to news received by the International Committee against Stoning and International Commitee against Execution on 1 November 2010, the authorities in Tehran have given the go ahead to Tabriz prison for the execution of Iran stoning case Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. It has been reported that she is to be executed this Wednesday 3 November.   We had previously reported that the casefile regarding the murder case of Ms Ashtiani’s husband had been seized from her lawyer’s office, Houtan Kian, and found missing from the prosecutor’s Oskoo branch office so as to stitch Ms Ashtiani up with trumped up murder charges. Ms Ashtiani’s son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, and her lawyer, Houtan Kian, have warned of the regime’s plan to do so on… Read the rest

Policing belief

Nov 1st, 2010 12:14 pm | By

The Freedom House report on blasphemy laws underlines the distinction between blasphemy and incitement.

There is an important distinction in international law between blasphemy—meaning critical, insulting, or offensive expression against religious doctrines, figures, and deities—and incitement—meaning expression that explicitly encourages and calls for hostility and violence. Of the two, only the latter appears to fit the limited circumstances in which restrictions on freedom of expression are considered acceptable.

It’s easy to understand why the two get blended together, because hatred of a set of ideas can lead to hatred of people who espouse them. This is obvious to me with regard to people like Glen Beck; to the pope’s ravings about atheism; to sexist rants about feminism. In that sense,… Read the rest

Lauryn Oates on negotiating with the Taliban *

Nov 1st, 2010 | Filed by
The Taliban have been quite consistent in their beliefs that girls should not be educated and women who work outside the home deserve to die.… Read the rest

Nicholas Kristof tells Afghan women to get over it *

Nov 1st, 2010 | Filed by

Teachers and principals should not have to negotiate with deranged, violent lunatic militants for children to go to school.… Read the rest

How internet discussions of sexism go *

Nov 1st, 2010 | Filed by

“Sorry ladies, nothing is sexist until I say it is, plus I heart women, so lick my balls.”… Read the rest