Archive for 2010

Why Freethought Kampala matters

Oct 28th, 2010 6:08 pm | By

I was very chuffed to see that Time did a story on Freethought Kampala. Uganda needs all the freethought it can get, so publicity is good.

A study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that 97% of Ugandans are believers, and the fact that professions of atheism are invariably met with incredulity has prompted most of Uganda’s freethinkers to keep their skepticism in the closet.
Exactly. This is why solidarity is needed, and why atheists really shouldn’t stay in the closet or go back in the closet if they have the freedom and safety not to. Yes we are too so helping.

But James Onen, a former Pentecostal Christian who once spoke in tongues, is

Read the rest


Where the rabble-rousers come in

Oct 28th, 2010 12:25 pm | By

Victor Stenger sends encouragement.

It’s time for secularists to stop sucking up to Christians–and Muslims and Jews and Hindus and any others who claim they have some sacred right to decide what kind of society the rest of us must live in–what a human being can do with her own body. The good news is that young people are joining the rising atheist movement in increasing numbers. I have not met one yet who is an accommodationist.

That is indeed what it is time for. This does not mean, contrary to what accommodationists keep saying (whether they believe it or not, and I suspect they mostly don’t), it is time for us to call believers idiots whenever we encounter them. … Read the rest



Blasphemy laws are a serious threat to human rights *

Oct 28th, 2010 | Filed by

Governments use these laws to legitimize crackdowns on minority groups and dissidents under the pretext of maintaining ‘social harmony.’… Read the rest



Why blasphemy laws are a terrible idea *

Oct 28th, 2010 | Filed by

Because they can be and are used to suppress freedom of speech and freedom of religion.… Read the rest



Skeptics u r doin it rong *

Oct 28th, 2010 | Filed by

It’s affected to spell “skeptic” with a k, for one thing, and you think you’re so clever, for another.… Read the rest



NHS funding for homeopathy risks misleading patients *

Oct 28th, 2010 | Filed by

“If the government is paying out millions for homeopathy, people will think there’s something in it.”… Read the rest



Vic Stenger on why religion should be confronted *

Oct 28th, 2010 | Filed by

“Young people are joining the rising atheist movement in increasing numbers. I have not met one yet who is an accommodationist.”… Read the rest



Franco Frattini calls for holy war on atheists *

Oct 27th, 2010 | Filed by

“Christians also must be able to forge an agreement with Muslims on how to fight atheism, materialism and relativism.”… Read the rest



Zainab Rashid on her “controversial” personality *

Oct 27th, 2010 | Filed by

“The Palestinian woman lives in a chauvinistic society, which continues to treat women as immature and incompetent beings.”… Read the rest



It is just too easy to proclaim a mysterious god

Oct 27th, 2010 3:07 pm | By

More from John Shook’s The God Debates. I’m finding it very quotable.

Religion’s defenders often show a preference for defining atheism as the strongest claim to know that no god exists. If atheists cannot justify such a claim (and they can’t…), perhaps belief in god then appears reasonable?This tactic fails, since it uses the wrong definition of atheism and conveniently forgets how religious believers do claim extravagant knowledge of a supreme infinite being. It is religion that credits an extraordinary capacity for knowledge to humans, not atheism. [pp 22-2]

It is just too easy to proclaim a mysterious god, deride dogmatic atheism’s inability to prove that such a mysterious unknowable god cannot exist, and conclude that the faithful should

Read the rest


Jesus and Mo are full of deep questions *

Oct 27th, 2010 | Filed by

Know-it-all barmaid replies.… Read the rest



Joshua Knobe on morality and hidden judgements *

Oct 27th, 2010 | Filed by

Our moral judgements influence our intutions about the non-moral question whether someone is acting intentionally or not. [rr]… Read the rest



Patricia Churchland on the brain roots of morality *

Oct 27th, 2010 | Filed by

Neuroscientists are catching the first glimpses of how altruistic behaviour happens in the brain. [registration required]… Read the rest



Time magazine notices Freethought Kampala *

Oct 27th, 2010 | Filed by

Most of Uganda’s freethinkers keep their skepticism in the closet, but not James Onen.… Read the rest



Doonesbury at 40 *

Oct 26th, 2010 | Filed by

Slate looks back.… Read the rest



Superficial respect

Oct 26th, 2010 4:08 pm | By

Stanley Fish is at the old stand. (Thanks to Christopher Moyer for the link.) Liberalism, secularism, universalism – he hates’em.

“Liberal principles,” declares Milbank, “will always ensure that the rights of the individual override those of the group.” For this reason, he concludes, “liberalism cannot defend corporate religious freedom.” The neutrality liberalism proclaims “is itself entirely secular” (it brackets belief; that’s what it means by neutrality) and is therefore “unable to accord the religious perspective [the] equal protection” it rhetorically promises. Religious rights “can only be effectively defended pursuant to a specific and distinctly religious framework.” Liberal universalism, with its superficial respect for everyone (as long as everyone is superficial) and its deep respect for no one, can’t do

Read the rest


A place of greater safety

Oct 26th, 2010 3:46 pm | By

Oh for god’s sake.

this is Scotland’s first ‘halal hairdressers’ – a beauty salon which conforms to the strict rules of Islam; a place where Muslim women who wear the veil or headscarf can be seen uncovered without the risk of the gaze of men.

The salon will be a ‘man-free zone’. The frosted windows will stop any inquisitive men passing by from gawping at the clients. No-one can get in without passing through a secure buzzer entry system with CCTV. All this means that the Muslim ladies who have come for a new hair-do can remove their headscarves safe in the knowledge that only other women can see them.

Was this article written by an imam? Probably not, … Read the rest



“Halal” hairdressing *

Oct 26th, 2010 | Filed by

Once your hair is dressed, you plaster it down with bandages. All very sensible.… Read the rest



Leo Igwe pays tribute to Norm Allen *

Oct 26th, 2010 | Filed by

Allen encouraged many Western humanists to look beyond their borders and appreciate humanism from an African perspective.… Read the rest



The overlap between agnosticism and atheism

Oct 26th, 2010 | By John Shook

From John R. Shook, The God Debates: a 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers (and Everyone in Between). (pp 16-18) Wiley-Blackwell 2010. Published by permission.

Nonbelievers who reject traditional theistic Christianity have many options for positive worldviews. Besides other nontheistic religions, there are many kinds of pantheisms, spiritualisms, and mysticisms, along with varieties of humanism and naturalism. Forming a positive worldview is hard enough; selecting a label for oneself from a limited menu is even harder. Demographers polling people in America and around the world consistently find that few nonbelievers prefer the label of “atheist” for labeling their own position (Zuckerman 2007). This reluctance probably has more to do with the perceived meaning of atheism rather than … Read the rest