Archive for February 2011

Speaking of objective morality…

Feb 28th, 2011 11:53 am | By

I’ll take a break from following the “new atheists are the rudest people in the history of the universe” discussion, to take a sad and pitying look at Ronald Conte, a Catholic theologian. (Professional? Amateur? He doesn’t say. Oh I take it back, yes he does. Amateur. Self-appointed. Not affiliated with any church or college or university that he mentions. Like me – but then I don’t call myself a theologian.)

We’ve seen him before, talking vicious murderous nonsense about the life-saving abortion in Phoenix. Now, in jocular vein, he’s talking about whether or not married people are allowed to do things to each other’s genitals with their hands (or, godforbid, their mouths). His answer is absolutely not.… Read the rest

An important question for Freeman Dyson *

Feb 28th, 2011 | Filed by

Why should the public believe a few lone heretics rather than the vast body of scientists who have a plethora of published work to back up their claims?… Read the rest

Ron Conte says: foreplay is evil *

Feb 28th, 2011 | Filed by

Intrinsically evil, at that.… Read the rest

Angela Saini on the god confusion in India *

Feb 28th, 2011 | Filed by

Given that India is intent on becoming a scientific superpower, why are these odd ideas tolerated?… Read the rest

Texas school board re-writes history *

Feb 27th, 2011 | Filed by

“In Texas we have certain statutory obligations to promote patriotism and to promote the free enterprise system.”… Read the rest

Atheists like me are less willing to settle for the status quo

Feb 27th, 2011 1:16 pm | By

Jason Streitfeld says some very cogent things on the subject of public displays of atheism.

For atheists like me, there is one issue that matters most in all of this: the role of religious authority in society. I’m not saying atheists are concerned with this issue above all else. Not at all. They might be more concerned about global warming, say, or human rights violations in third-world countries. What I am saying is that, for many atheists, atheism is first and foremost about the rejection of religious authority. Public atheism is first and foremost about putting religious authority in its proper place. For us, to be a public atheist just is to deny that there is any objectively valid moral

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They do not represent any of the local communities

Feb 27th, 2011 12:50 pm | By

Tower Hamlets Council is shocked shocked by those anti-gay posters that appeared recently. So is the Mayor, so is Dilwar Khan, Director of the London Muslim Centre, so are the chairs of Rainbow Hamlets LGBT Community Forum.

Andrew Gilligan says some of the shock shock is bogus. Guess which part.

…the East London Mosque speaks with forked tongue. Yesterday, it was due to demonstrate its deep commitment to “standing together against homophobia” by hosting a gala dinner with one Uthman Lateef, a homophobic preacher who has stated: “We don’t accept homosexuality… we hate it because Allah hates it.”

Why does the East London Mosque say one thing while it means another? Because it can. Because it works.… Read the rest

Ratzinger muses aloud

Feb 27th, 2011 12:28 pm | By

The pope has been telling doctors to straighten women out on something the poor deluded darlings are hopelessly confused about. What – that homeopathic “polio vaccinations” are real vaccinations? That their most important job in life is to have flat abs? That they have to be “spiritual”? No.

Pope Benedict XVI has urged doctors to protect women from the “deceptive” thought that an abortion might be a solution to social or economic difficulties or health problems.

Has he indeed. How, I wonder, does he know that that thought is deceptive? If a woman or a couple doesn’t have enough money to have a child, how is it deceptive to think that an abortion might be a solution to the problem? … Read the rest

Stop the tsunami of executions – add your name *

Feb 27th, 2011 | Filed by

Demand an immediate end to this state-sponsored murder that aims to intimidate the protest movement in Iran.… Read the rest

Jason Streitfeld on public displays of atheism *

Feb 27th, 2011 | Filed by

For many atheists, atheism is first and foremost about the rejection of religious authority.… Read the rest

Andrew Gilligan on the East London Mosque and homophobia *

Feb 27th, 2011 | Filed by

The rise of homophobic hatred in Tower Hamlets is caused by the growth of Islamism under the influence of the mosque and its parent, the Islamic Forum of Europe.… Read the rest

Taliban methods in East London *

Feb 27th, 2011 | Filed by

Four Muslim men pleaded guilty to an attack on a religious studies teacher who taught Muslim girls.… Read the rest

Pope continues interfering in women’s lives *

Feb 27th, 2011 | Filed by

Ratzinger announces that “abortion solves nothing.” It solves nothing he has to worry about!… Read the rest

What a nice thing to say

Feb 26th, 2011 5:02 pm | By

Darrick Lim has been observing the inter-atheist wars. He has kind things to say about me. (Well that’s the important thing; do admit.)

Fellow atheists Jerry Coyne and Ophelia Benson jump into the fray with their own takes on DBAD. Both are known for taking off the gloves in anti-religion arguments when they deem it appropriate. As an evolutionary biologist, Coyne in particular has little patience for accommodationist views – the belief that science and religion can be reconciled and need not necessarily be at odds with each other. Along with another passionate – some may say ‘cantankerous’ – atheist, the biology professor and blogger PZ Myers (who runs the popular science blog ‘Pharyngula’), Coyne, Benson and

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More malevolence

Feb 26th, 2011 4:25 pm | By

Via Johann Hari:

In May 2008, a 15 year old Muslim girl tells her teacher she thinks she might be gay, and the Muslim teacher in a state-funded comprehensive tells her “there are no gays round here” and she will “burn in hell” if she ever acts on it. (I know because she emailed me, suicidal and begging for help). In September 2008, a young gay man called Oliver Hemsley, is walking home from the gay pub the George and Dragon when a gang of young Muslims stabs him eight times, in the back, in the lungs, and in his spinal column. In January 2010, when the thug who did it is convicted, a gang of thirty Muslims storms

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Off with her head

Feb 26th, 2011 4:17 pm | By

Does god hate women? Do Republicans hate women?

 Georgia State Rep. Bobby Franklin—who last year proposed making rape and domestic violence “victims” into “accusers”—has introduced a 10-page bill that would criminalize miscarriages and make abortion in Georgia completely illegal. Both miscarriages and abortions would be potentially punishable by death: any “prenatal murder” in the words of the bill, including “human involvement” in a miscarriage, would be a felony and carry a penalty of life in prison or death.

Isn’t that interesting? So a woman has a miscarriage…will the cops be pounding on her door wanting to find out if there was any human involvement in that miscarriage? If so, how will she demonstrate that there wasn’t? Multiply by a large … Read the rest

Are the new atheists the rudest people on earth? *

Feb 26th, 2011 | Filed by

Actually, no.… Read the rest

A minor point

Feb 26th, 2011 11:43 am | By

What is wrong with the word “harm”? Or “damage”? Why is it always “negatively impact” now? Why is a stupid clumsy circumlocution that includes a noun pretending to be a verb preferable to a single blunt word of one or two syllables?

Is it for the same reason that so many people say “poor” when they mean bad? “It’s poor weather for a walk.” Because of some nebulous worry that “bad” might hurt someone’s feelings? Like, say, the weather’s?

Why else would Kathleen Sebelius say it?

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said the rule, issued in the last days of the Bush administration, could “negatively impact patient access to contraception and certain other medical services.”

Read the rest

Bush admin “conscience” rules revised *

Feb 26th, 2011 | Filed by

2008 rule granted sweeping protections to health care providers who opposed abortion, sterilization and other medical procedures on religious or moral grounds.… Read the rest

Can we talk about Muslim homophobia now? *

Feb 26th, 2011 | Filed by

Yes, it is “Muslim culture” today to be bigoted against gay people. It was British culture to be anti-gay thirty years ago. Cultures change.… Read the rest