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Atheism and Human Rights Abuses in Africa

May 28th, 2012 | By Leo Igwe
Today around the globe too many atrocities are being committed with impunity in the name of god, allah and other constructs which have, over the ages, been identified or associated with the so-called supreme being. The dream of a secular peaceful world where people of all faiths and none can coexist in harmony continues to elude many across the region. Millions of people – theists and atheists – continue to suffer and are abused due to superstition, religious fundamentalism and supernaturalism. In this piece I will focus on two of such areas. The rights of non-believers. I have heard it proclaimed at the UN that the rights of women are human rights. I have also heard it proclaimed that the… Read the rest

Eroding Feminism

May 26th, 2012 | By Lauryn Oates

When Adele Wilde-Blavatsky’s article ‘To be Anti-Racist is to be Feminist: The Hoodie and the Hijab are not Equals’ on the Feminist Wire garnered a storm of opposers angrily accusing her of everything from attacking the identity of Muslim women, to exercising white privilege, to perpetuating racism and Islamophobia, it led to the Feminist Wire censoring both Wilde-Blavatsky and its own subsequent response.

The “Collective Response” removed from The Feminist Wire, but published later on, is signed by a group of feminist writers, activists, and academics” fromdiverse racial, religious, economic, and political backgrounds.”

But are the signatories really as diverse as they claim to be? It’s worth taking a closer look at the characteristics that … Read the rest

2012 Global Atheist Convention – Redux

May 11th, 2012 | By Bruce Everett
2012 Global Atheist Convention – Redux

I’m back home in Adelaide now, trying to mellow out after the trip, and dealing with things that have popped up in my absence – such as the contents of an abused toilet drain which I’ve had to shove my arm down. The house sitter’s 3-ply was a bit much, it seems.

These are some of the tribulations of travel (and of being too cheap to call a plumber).

Trains, as it happens, are an interesting way to travel across the big dry continent that is Australia. At first, I considered it the scenic option, never having done it before. If I didn’t like it, at only 828k (514Mi), it was one of the shorter interstate train rides in the … Read the rest

The Feminist Wire censorship: An unpublished response

May 1st, 2012 | By Adele Wilde-Blavatsky

Here is my unpublished response to a collective response (signed by over 70 feminists) that was published on The Feminist Wire website opposing my article: ‘To be Anti-Racist is to be Feminist: The Hoodie and the Hijab are not Equals’. I sent this response to TFW editorial collective for publication, prior to their removing both my article and their collective response.

Thank you for this collective response to my article. I absolutely accept and welcome the effort by The Feminist Wire Collective to challenge hierarchies of privilege and build solidarity. I have listened to your concerns and taken them to heart as well. We can all learn something from this debate. I also welcome any initiative for an honest … Read the rest

Day Five – Monday: Night of the Wankers…

Apr 27th, 2012 | By Bruce Everett
Day Five – Monday: Night of the Wankers…

I’m sure you Americans in the readership have the same phenomena where you are, albeit with different tourists, most probably the English; ‘FAWCET-FAWCET-FAWCET-WELL-HOWDY-PARDNER-BATHROOM-FAWCET-MCDONALDS!’

Do you ever get sick of visitors to your country overusing your words, and using them wrong? Technically wrong; wrong connotations; wrong situation; mismatched nuance and misjudged tone?


This is what you look like when you overuse the lingo. It’s not a good look, mate.

I tried preventing this before it even had a chance to happen with CFI’s Debbie Goddard, by confounding her with complete nonsense, and I think it worked. If you ever get the chance to meet her, ask ‘why can’t Fred ride a bike?’

(Don’t ever ask me, … Read the rest

MP hosts Summit to end violent witchcraft abuse

Apr 27th, 2012 | By Press release

London: MP Chuka Umunna, the most senior UK politician of Black African heritage, has hosted the first ever House of Commons Summit designed to end child abuse resulting from witchcraft-branding. Former Home Office Minister Meg Hillier said that the Home Secretary should consider using her power to refuse to allow faith leaders who have branded children as witches to enter the UK.

Chuka Umunna’s position as Shadow Business Secretary and the only black member of the Shadow Cabinet means that he is the most senior politician in the UK who is of African origin. The London MP hosted the Summit in conjunction with AFRUCA, Africans Unite Against Child Abuse, to bring together policymakers, charities, faith leaders and community representatives in … Read the rest

The Excuse-making of Cultural Relativism

Apr 26th, 2012 | By Lauryn Oates

Foreign Policy has a superb series out now called The Sex Issue. In their own words, here is what it’s about:

When U.S. magazines devote special issues to sex, they are usually of the celebratory variety (see: Esquire, April 2012 edition; Cosmopolitan, every month). Suffice it to say that is not what we had in mind with Foreign Policy’s first-ever Sex Issue, which is dedicated instead to the consideration of how and why sex — in all the various meanings of the word — matters in shaping the world’s politics. Why? In Foreign Policy, the magazine and the subject, sex is too often the missing part of the equation — the part that the policymakers and journalists talk about

Read the rest

Dispatches from the Global Atheist Convention

Apr 15th, 2012 | By Bruce Everett

Day one – Thursday: It begins…

… or the fringe events begin, at any rate.

I’ve arrived in Melbourne, being greeted by more than a few pubs with closed doors and ‘For Sale’ signs, and hijab or ten. The voice of an invisible, satirical yokel cries in my mind ‘Sharia law! This was a Christian nation’.

We don’t have the same presence of far-right, totalitarian, Islamic groups here in Australia that Europe has. Our yokels object to Muslims, not Islam (which they don’t know anything about – ask them what they think of Wahhabism, and they’ll probably tell you they don’t like sushi), while our political left remains somewhat oblivious to the ways far-right political Islam can manifest, and don’t … Read the rest

Islam and the Problem of Street Children in Mali

Mar 23rd, 2012 | By Leo Igwe
Islam and the Problem of Street Children in Mali

In Mali, there are strong links between Islam and the problem of street children in the country. Mali is predominantly Muslim. Around 90 percent of the population profess Islam. But Islam in this West African country is said to be ‘moderate and tolerant’. Unlike their counterparts in Nigeria, Muslims in Mali live in relative peace and harmony with themselves and with adherents of other faiths and beliefs. Constitutionally, Mali is a secular state and freedom of religion is guaranteed for all citizens. But this does not mean that all is well in this country in terms of what is perpetrated or condoned in the name of this religion as I noticed during my recent visit. Below the thin layer of … Read the rest

Killing for a Book

Feb 25th, 2012 | By Lauryn Oates

Afghanistan is a complicated place.

It’s full of fierce, brave people challenging entrenched traditions and trying to forge a new kind of society in the wake of the Taliban years. Its government is endemically corrupt and somewhat too keen to flirt with misogynists, but it’s blissfully moderate compared to the theocracy to its west, and the frightening common xenophobic opinions of the population to its east.

But some Afghans – or Afghan men I should say – are easily fooled into embarrassing themselves.

To date, nine people have been killed in violent demonstrations across Afghanistan in reaction to the discovery by some Afghan labourers that two Americans were incinerating bags of books that included copies of the Quran. The … Read the rest

My Visit to Australia

Jan 20th, 2012 | By Leo Igwe

From August 17 to September 5 2011, I visited Australia. I was invited by the the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Australian Skeptics to deliver the Canberra Lecture and to do a speaking tour of the country. It was my first visit to the country and continent. Late in 2010, I was contacted by Kevin Davies to know if I could visit Australia and deliver a lecture as part of events marking the National Science Week. I readily accepted.

What started as an invitation to deliver a lecture gradually ‘evolved’ to become a grand tour that would take me to all states in Australia. It was only the Northern Territory that has Darwin as its capital … Read the rest

Stop Ukpabio from Bringing her Witch hunting campaign to the US

Jan 12th, 2012 | By Leo Igwe

In March, Nigeria’s notorious witch hunter, Helen Ukpabio, is organising a Deliverance Session in the United States, according to the information posted on the web site of the Liberty Gospel Church. The event is slated for March 14-25 at Liberty Gospel Church in Houston Texas (Tel +1 832 880 8406 +1 713 530 2080). The program is said to be ’12 days of battling with the spirit for freedom.’

The poster lists the categories of people invited to ‘come and recieve freedom from the Lord’. It asks ‘Are you in bondage – Having Bad dreams – Under witchcraft attack or oppression – possessed by mermaid spirit or other evil spirits – Untimely deaths in family – Barren and in … Read the rest

Mileva Marić: The Other Einstein

Jan 9th, 2012 | By Allen Esterson

Mileva Marić: The Other Einstein.

A short film written and directed by Alana Cash (Vibegirl Productions)

“Mileva Marić: The Other Einstein”, whose writer and director has also made films on Anna Freud and Marie Curie, is worth detailed analysis because it contains claims about Marić’s alleged collaboration on Einstein’s epoch-making work in physics in the early period of his scientific career some of which are in wide circulation and stated as fact in a number of books. This provides another opportunity for subjecting these claims to close scrutiny.

Before moving on to significant contentions it is worth noting a couple of less important errors and misconceptions in the early section of the film. The narrator states that in the period … Read the rest

Bishop Oyedepo: A Slap in the Name of Jesus

Jan 2nd, 2012 | By Leo Igwe

A video clip of Bishop Oyedepo where this charlatan slapped a young lady during a deliverance session was being circulated on the internet but has now been taken down.

The first time I saw the link, I thought it was a joke; I thought it was something made up by someone who wanted to blackmail Oyedepo, who is the general Overseer of the Living Faith Church (aka Winners Chapel).

But after watching it I had no doubt that it was real. This is not only because of what transpired as recorded in this video clip but also what I know goes on in pentecostal churches and prayers houses across the country – impunity, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment by pastors.… Read the rest

Gay Marriage and African Politics

Dec 2nd, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

I am writing to condemn in no uncertain terms the recent passage by the Senate of the the anti gay marriage bill. The passage of this bill once again demonstrates how disconnected Nigerian politicians and lawmakers are from the realities of the 21st century. It has confirmed that our lawmakers indeed prefer to fiddle while our social, political and economic house, called Nigeria, burns. Otherwise how does one explain the relevance of this bill at a time when Nigeria has become almost a failed state due to terrorist attacks, sectarian violence, corruption, poverty, diseases, abuse of office, tribalism and nepotism, misguided politics and mistaken sense of statecraft?

The passage of this bill has shown clearly how misplaced our priorities are, … Read the rest

Facts and belief

Nov 18th, 2011 | By Ophelia Benson

Keith Ward wrote a short piece for Comment is Free, a couple of weeks ago, saying something about religion and science and claims and facts. (I put it loosely that way because Ward oscillates between terms a lot, so it’s not easy to specify exactly what he’s claiming. The title of the piece is “Religion answers the factual questions science neglects,” which is an ok summary, but it’s not necessarily written by Ward.) Ward’s piece was in response to Julian Baggini’s piece on whether science and religion are compatible.

Jerry Coyne wrote a piece responding to Ward’s. Jim Houston wrote a piece at Talking Philosophy responding to Coyne’s, with a response directly from Ward.

All straight? … Read the rest

How Many More People Will Boko Haram Kill in Nigeria…..?

Nov 6th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

The news has just come in that at least 150 people have been killed in a coordinated attack by the radical Islamic sect in Nigeria known as Boko Haram. Many government buildings have been reportedly destroyed. The group’s leader has threatened to carry out more attacks. And that means more innocent lives will be lost in the coming days, weeks or months.

My question is this: should the world keep quiet, stand by and watch this bloodthirsty group continue its killing spree? How long will the international community continue to pretend not to know that Boko Haram is a deadly terrorist group that is capable of destroying and destabilizing the country and the region? I mean how many deaths will … Read the rest

Atheism for the World

Nov 5th, 2011 | By Leo Igwe

When we organize atheism to benefit atheists only, when we promote atheism among atheists and for the good of atheists, when atheist groups defend only the interests of atheists, we make the world poorer and rob humanity of an inestimable good. This is often the way I feel when I try to reflect on how atheism is being organised today. I come from a part of the world where atheism is not something many people will openly identify with. I come from a part of the world where many people are suffering and dying due to theism’s stranglehold on their lives. I come from a part of the world where there is so much need for atheism. I think it … Read the rest

On the vilification of rail enthusiasts and what this tells us about contemporary society

Nov 4th, 2011 | By Edmund Standing

Rail enthusiasm (or ‘railfanning‘ as it is known in the US and some other countries) is a hobby with an international following which involves and incorporates a number of different interests in railways and trains. In the public imagination (at least in the UK), rail enthusiasts in general tend to be automatically seen as ‘trainspotters’, despite trainspotters actually being a minority in the rail enthusiast community.

Trainspotters are people who go out and about seeking to ‘spot’ as many locomotives as possible. The point is not, as some assume, to simply ‘collect’ numbers as such, but really to enjoy watching trains in action and to attempt to see as many as possible. As noted above, trainspotting is really … Read the rest

Public Philosophy and Our Spiritual Predicament

Oct 16th, 2011 | By Andrew J Taggart

When I was 16, I was confirmed Lutheran. By the time I got to college, I’d been won over to atheism. Seemed like a no brainer at the time. Sometime after that, though, I lost my way and gained some insight.

(This, I assure you, is not a story about being dipped in water or writhing on the floor.)

I’ve since noticed a certain post-Kantian convergence emerge in our fragile secular age. As Kant showed in the First Critique, all rational proofs for God’s existence, the immortality of the soul, and the ex nihilo creation of the universe have failed, and yet from these results we have no grounds for concluding that a God can’t exist, that the self can’t … Read the rest