Welcome to our articles section. The articles below either have been written specifically for ButterfliesandWheels or are appearing here having been published elsewhere previously.

If you’re interested in writing an article for ButterfliesandWheels, please click here for our information for contributors page.

The Stinking Ninth Class

Dec 15th, 2004 | By David Stanway

It’s a hard life for educated folk. Earlier this year, the Chinese state newsagency Xinhua reported that the life expectancy of the Chinese intellectual was, at 58, more than ten years lower than the national average. A survey also showed that 76% of the nation’s journalists died between 40 and 60.

Many were surprised by the findings. The insanities of Chairman Mao’s “anti-rightist” campaigns and, worse still, the Cultural Revolution, had by now given way to a kind of modus vivendi. Intellectuals were no longer the “stinking ninth class” of society, some way behind criminals, prostitutes and vagrants in a peasant-led pecking order. By now, in the interests of “stability and economic development”, there would be no more mass persecutions. … Read the rest

Sorry to Disappoint, but I’m Still an Atheist!

Dec 13th, 2004 | By Antony Flew

Has Antony Flew ceased to be an atheist?

In a sensationalist campaign in the internet, it is alleged that Professor Antony Flew, British philosopher, reputed rationalist, atheist and Honorary Associate of Rationalist International, has left atheism and decided that a god might exist.

The controversy revolves around some remarks of Prof. Antony Flew that seems to allow different interpretations. Has Antony Flew ever asserted that “probably God exists”? Richard Carrier, editor in chief of the Secular Web quotes Antony Flew from a letter addressed to him in his own hand (dated 19 October 2004): “I do not think I will ever make that assertion, precisely because any assertion which I am prepared to make about God would not be about … Read the rest

Review of Taner Edis’ Ghost in the Universe

Dec 5th, 2004 | By Phil Mole

Taner Edis’ excellent book The Ghost in the Universe comes to us at a rather unique period for writing about science and religion. Never before have so many books tried to analyze the relationship between theological and scientific views of the world, and never before have so many utterly failed in the attempt. Often, writers distort something essential about both disciplines, and ignore the complexities at the heart of their relationship. Thus, although the bookshelves groan under the weight of volumes contributing to the debate, clear-minded analyses of the fundamental issues are harder than ever to find.

To better understand the achievements of Edis’ book, we should quickly survey some of the competing contributions. We find many theistic writers enlisting … Read the rest

Introduction to Creationism’s Trojan Horse

Dec 1st, 2004 | By Barbara Forrest and Paul R. Gross


It used to be obvious that the world
was designed by some sort of intelligence.
What else could account for fire
and rain and lightning and earthquakes?
Above all, the wonderful abilities
of living things seemed to point to a
creator who had a special interest in
life. Today we understand most of these
things in terms of physical forces acting
under impersonal laws.We don’t yet
know the most fundamental laws, and
we can’t work out the consequences of
all the laws we know. The human
mind remains extraordinarily difficult
to understand, but so is the weather.
We can’t predict whether it will rain
one month from today, but we do know
the rules that govern the rain, even

Read the rest

The Derrida Industry…

Nov 29th, 2004 | By Brian Leiter

…has been working overtime to salvage the reputation of their man. Things are so bad that Joan Scott–who I’m told is a substantial historian, but apparently not much of a philosopher–actually wrote the following to The New York Times:

[Your obituary writer] is embarrassingly illiterate in the history of philosophy. His obituary is also terribly one sided. I thought the Times was committed to balance. Where are the appreciative quotes from American philosophers and literary critics? From those (and there are many) who have used his work to great effect and taught whole generations of students how to read [sic] differently [i.e., badly]?

The obituary author may, indeed, be ignorant of the history of philosophy, but certainly no more … Read the rest

1621: A Historian Looks Anew at Thanksgiving

Nov 26th, 2004 | By Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs

“A Thanksgiving for plenty. O Most merciful Father, which of thy gracious goodness hast heard the devout prayers of thy church, and turned our dearth and scarcity into cheapnesse and plenty: we giue thee humble thankes for this thy special bounty, beseeching thee to continue this thy louing kindnes unto vs, that our land may yeild vs her fruits of increase, to thy glory and our comfort, through Iesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”

This prayer of Thanksgiving was not used by the Pilgrims in 1621, but with these words we must begin, if we want to assess the claims that, “The 1621 gathering in Plymouth was not a religious gathering but most likely a harvest celebration much like those the … Read the rest

The Pre-Established Harmony – Not

Nov 23rd, 2004 | By H. E. Baber

The New York Times: Living for Today, Locked in a Paralyzed Body

When Attorney General John Ashcroft attacked an Oregon law allowing doctor-assisted suicide in 2001 – a case that is still working its ways through the legal system – patients with the disease were among those who supported the law in court. But while the legal case and much of the national attention has focused on the issue of the right to die, less is known about those patients who want to live, and, like Dr. Lodish, will go to extraordinary lengths to do so.

Debates between Liberals and Conservatives on some “lifestyle” issues are usually represented as disputes between those who believe that people should get what they … Read the rest

Not the first time

Nov 18th, 2004 | By Maryam Namazie and Azar Majedi

Maryam Namazie: Theo van Gogh, a film director and journalist, was assassinated in broad daylight in Amsterdam on November 2. He was repeatedly stabbed and his throat slit. They say his assassin has “radical Islamic fundamentalist convictions”. There is a debate on whether this is the act of an individual or the political Islamic movement. Why have you said it is political Islam?

Azar Majedi: This is not the first time we’ve seen that someone who has criticised Islam has been murdered. Political Islam has been massacring, torturing, executing and beheading people for the exact same thing in the Middle East, in Iran under the Islamic Republic of Iran, Afghanistan, the Sudan, and so on. Even when they are not … Read the rest

Political Islam vs. Secularism

Nov 15th, 2004 | By Azar Majedi

‘Islam against Islam’ is an interesting topic. The irony of a believer criticising the beliefs is provocative. I am not a Moslem; I am an atheist. However, I have lived Islam; I have firsthand experience of Islam. I was born within a religious conflict: a religious mother and an atheist father. From childhood, I began to see the flaws, the restrictions, the misogyny, the backwardness, the dogma, the superstition, and uncritical nature of Islam vis-à-vis the enlightenment, the freethinking spirit of atheist thinking.

I became an atheist at the age of 12.

The establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran after a failed revolution laid bare many other appalling and cruel dimensions of Islam, which we later came to label … Read the rest

Patience and Absurdity: How to Deal with Intelligent Design Creationism

Nov 8th, 2004 | By Paul R. Gross

Physicists Matt Young and Taner Edis are the editors of a new volume whose contributors are working scholars in the sciences touched by the newest expression of “creation science”: Intelligent Design (ID) Theory. Why Intelligent Design Fails is a patient assessment of all the scientific claims made in connection with ID. The half dozen science-enabled spokesmen for ID are the indispensable core group of an international neo-creationist big tent. Goals of the American movement are sweeping: they begin with a highly visible, well-funded, nationwide effort to demean evolutionary science in American school (K-12) curricula. ID is offered as a better alternative. The hoped-for result is the addition of ID to, or even its substitution for, the teaching of evolution. Which … Read the rest

Between God and Gibson: German Mystical and Romantic Sources of The Passion of the Christ

Nov 8th, 2004 | By Andrew Weeks

The Passion held the No. 1 position at the box office for three weeks, then dipped when Dawn of the Dead knocked it out of first position. Now in its seventh week, The Passion beat out last weekend’s No. 1 movie, [the] comic-book action-adventure Hellboy, which dropped 52 percent to $11.1 million . . ” Anne Thompson, New York Times, April 11, 2004.

The German Romantics revolted against the Enlightenment by inventing a poeticized Christianity in literature and art and by incarnating their reinvented religion in a spiritualized poetry, love, and nature. Since their spiritualization of art effected its transformations in an autonomous poetic realm, their political impact was slight. For the same reason, even the deeply … Read the rest

Another Murder Committed by Political Islam

Nov 5th, 2004 | By Azar Majedi

Yesterday Theo van Gogh, a journalist and a filmmaker, was brutally murdered in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He was murdered because he cared and dared to expose the inherent misogynism in and the brutal nature of Islam. An act, which sadly, nowadays calls for great courage, due to advancements of political Islam and the rise in religion’s influence in the society. He was murdered by political Islam, a reactionary movement that resorts to intimidation and terror as its main tools for gaining power and achieving its goals. This is not the first crime committed by this movement as a way to silence the critics of Islam and Islamists, and if we do not stand against it, it will not be the last. … Read the rest

Who Loses in the Truth Wars?

Oct 1st, 2004 | By Julian Baggini

Freud once wrote, “Intolerance of groups is often, strangely enough, exhibited more strongly against small differences than against fundamental ones.” This is certainly true of intellectuals. The problem is that if you look at anything very closely, including ideas and ideals, differences which appear small from the wider perspective suddenly appear very large indeed. And so it should be. It is precisely our ability to examine the objects of intellectual endeavour closely and discern differences invisible to the naked mind’s eye which allows us to deepen and extend our learning in the humanities and the sciences.

However, if we never step back and examine the broader picture, we can become blinded to some important features of intellectual life which should … Read the rest

The Sleep of Reason

Sep 20th, 2004 | By H. E. Baber

The embrace of relativism by many leftist intellectuals in the United States, while it may not be politically very important, is a terrible admission of failure, and an excuse for not answering the claims of their political opponents. The subordination of the intellect to partisan loyalty is found across the political spectrum, but usually it takes the form of a blind insistence on the objective truth of certain supporting facts and refusal to consider evidence to the contrary. So what explains the shift, at least by a certain slice of the intellectual left, to this new form of obfuscation?

When I was an undergraduate I volunteered to go door to door for Zero Population Growth to promote the liberalization of … Read the rest

This Should Be the Last Straw for Anyone

Sep 13th, 2004 | By Maryam Namazie

Maryam Namazie: Let’s talk about the horrendous and tragic situation in Beslan. We know that over 1,000 people were held hostage. Over 300 were killed. 150 plus of those so far are children. It is an immense human tragedy. Are there any words that can describe what’s happened there?

Bahram Soroush: It is extremely difficult to come up with the right words to describe this tragedy. It is on a horrendous scale; of an unbelievable magnitude. It is very hard to try to put yourself in the place of those parents who lost their loved ones. I don’t myself remember having witnessed a terrorist action where children were taken hostage on such a scale and used as a bargaining chip. … Read the rest

‘Christian Feminist’ Biblical Exegesis: Ideologically Motivated Pseudo-Scholarship

Sep 5th, 2004 | By Edmund Standing

One of the most intellectually vacuous projects to have emerged in the world of biblical studies has been Christian feminist exegesis. Women desperately trying to balance a belief in Christianity with an allegiance to feminism have churned out voluminous studies on biblical texts, as well as reconstructions of early Christianity and ‘re-readings’ of female figures in Christian history. They have generally taken the line that Christianity’s approach to men and women is not based on an accurate reading of what Jesus of Nazareth and his ‘movement’ were about, and have sought to replace this with their understandings of Jesus as someone promoting radically new ideas about relations between the sexes – essentially as a feminist. One of the most important … Read the rest

Unveiling the Debate on Secularism and Rights

Sep 1st, 2004 | By Maryam Namazie

A ban on conspicuous religious symbols in state schools and state institutions has caused heated debate regarding secularism vs. religious freedoms, giving us the opportunity to reiterate our defence of secularism and women’s and children’s rights. While Islamists and their supporters have proclaimed that banning religious symbols in schools and state institutions is a ‘restriction of’ ‘religious freedoms’ or ‘freedom of belief’, ‘religious intolerance’, ‘a violation of women’s and girls’ rights’, ‘racist’, ‘discriminatory’, and so on, we believe the truth is simple and quite contrary to what they claim. In brief:

The ban is pro-secularism not a restriction of religious freedoms and beliefs: A ban on conspicuous religious symbols in state schools and institutions is but one step toward secularism … Read the rest

1893–1895–1897–1899: Or How Norman N. Holland Gave Game, Set, and Match to Frederick Crews

Aug 28th, 2004 | By Robert Wilcocks

The situation of the present state of psychoanalysis and of the current reputation of Sigmund Freud is well documented and cogently (and patiently!) presented in Professor Crews’s “Reply to Holland.”(1) In my view, and in the opinion of several other Freud scholars, the continuing ability of Freudian rhetoric to deceive is even more dangerous and difficult to resolve than Crews allows.

And, alas, the kind of staged public jousting whereby Fred Crews will accept the publication for the Spring/Summer issue of The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine (vol. 9, no. 1) of “a commentary on both submissions [that of Holland and the reply of Crews] by the psychiatrist Peter Barglow” seems to be `loaded’ from the start.

Barglow is a … Read the rest

Requiem for Ateqeh Rajabi

Aug 24th, 2004 | By Maryam Namazie

16 year old Ateqeh Rajabi was publicly hanged in the city centre in Neka in the northern Iranian province of Mazandaran on 15 August for ‘acts incompatible with chastity’ after having been arrested a few months earlier for having sexual relations. She had no attorney at any stage of the farce.

During the ‘trial’, she expressed her outrage at the misogyny and injustice in society and ‘judicial’ system and even removed some of her clothing. The lower court ‘judge’ was so incensed by her protestations that he personally put the noose around her neck after his decision had been upheld by the ‘Supreme Court’.

In some reports on her execution, Ateqah has been labelled ‘mentally incompetent’.

I suppose it could … Read the rest

A ‘Paradigm Shift’ in Finnish Linguistic Prehistory

Aug 22nd, 2004 | By Merlijn de Smit


Any field dealing with “origins” – archaeology, historical linguistics, general history – has seen its share of nonsense, usually painting a glorious past for whatever ethnicity or social group is involved. Thus a hypothesis popular with (certain) feminists and neo-pagans has an egalitarian, matriarchal, peaceful paradise all throughout the neolithic – until patriarchal, warlike, horse-riding nomads destroyed it all (with the exception of what survives underground in today’s Wiccan movement, of course). Another example may be “Afrocentric” pseudohistory, which ascribes incredible technological advancement to ancient Egyptian society, which happened also to be the cradle of ancient Greek philosophy and culture. In these two examples, pseudohistory serves a clear political goal, which could be regarded as progressive – the emancipation … Read the rest