With the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and a series of ongoing protest sweeping across other countries of North Africa and the Middle East, a new Arab world is imminent. The old Arab world is slowly and gradually fading away and ushering in a new era of hope, freedom and progress. But there are uncertainties and anxieties as to what this wind of change holds for the people in the region and the world at large. There is a growing concern as to what would be the role of Islam in the new dispensation particularly in this era of Islamic terrorism. The Arab world and the Islamic world are often seen as identical. North Africa and the Middle East are … Read the rest
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Despite the title, I have no intention of discussing the extensive literature on the origin and nature of Darwin’s chronic illness. My concern here is to examine the contention that trepidation about the potential vehement opposition his evolutionary theory would evoke from his religious friends and acquaintances, and among the privileged classes in general, greatly exacerbated his symptoms. The widely-held view that there was such a link is a significant feature of Adrian Desmond and James Moore’s biography Darwin (1991), and in the course of challenging the very basis of this contention, I shall also examine the means by which these authors seek to persuade their readers to accept it.
On his return from the five-year Beagle voyage, Darwin was … Read the rest
It is widely believed that Darwin delayed publication of his evolutionary theory for some fifteen years largely because he feared the wrath of his contemporaries. The most influential exponents of this view are Adrian Desmond and James Moore, who have promoted it not only in their 1991 biography Darwin, but also in a number of articles and broadcasts. For instance, having reported that in 1842 Darwin had “fleshed-out a thirty-five-page sketch of his evolutionary theory”, they add that “he could have planned to publish” were it not for the fact that it was “heresy to the geologists and blasphemy to the parsons” (Desmond and Moore 1991, pp. 292, 294). A little later they write:
Of course Darwin could not
Most people interested in the literature on Darwin are aware that he alighted on his theory of natural selection a short time after returning from his five-year Beagle voyage in 1836 (Sulloway 1982). It is rather less well-known that during the first decade following his return he produced a large body of work not directly related to his evolutionary theory: Journal of Researches of the Voyage of H. M. S. Beagle (1839 and revised in 1845); five volumes of Zoology of the Voyage of H. M. S. Beagle (1840‑1843), which he edited; three volumes of the Geology of the Voyage of the Beagle (1842‑1846); and numerous papers and reviews (Richards 1983, pp. 46-47).
Darwin started jotting down notes on the … Read the rest
On February 11, 2011 I led a team of child rights activists and a police officer who rescued two children – Freedom Peter Okoro-Oko (8) and Anietie Mfon Ime Etuk (10) – following a tip off from our local contacts in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
The kids were living in a shanty buiding with an old man, Asuquo Akpan Ukpong, whose family members – according to local sources – trafficked children.
Freedom and Anietie were accused of witchcraft and then abandoned by their families. They were living in the local market square before they were ‘picked up’ by Mr Asuquo who used them as child labourers. (Asuquo, we were told, used to send children to work for him on his … Read the rest
Helle Klein has instinctively labeled Sans magazine as islamophobic, solely on the grounds that its cover portrays a woman in a burqa. If that is the case, most articles and news stories from Afghanistan should be labeled islamophobic in the delusional world of Helle Klein, write Sara Larsson and Christer Sturmark, editor and editor in chief of Sans magazine.
The new cultural magazine Sans has recently been launched. Its theme is the religious oppression of women and in the issue’s main article, American feminist and author Ophelia Benson is interviewed. In her book “Does God Hate Women?”, Benson examines how women’s human rights are violated in the name of conservative religious traditions all over the world.
On Sans’ cover, which … Read the rest
To mark Darwin Day, which is galloping toward us at a rate of knots, I have decided to write about apophatic atheism.
“Apophatic” (from Greek ἀπόφασις from ἀποφάναι – apophanai, “to show no”) – is a term used in apophatic theology, [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apophatic_theology ] according to which the essence of God and His mysteries is unknowable by way of pure reasoning, and therefore to know God you have to use a method of negation, paradox, antinomy, etc.
It states what God is not; for example, God is not mortal, God is not limited.
The first apophatic text which made a serious impression on me was written in 1956 by Leszek Kołakowski and was entitled “Socialism is not Truncheons”. The young … Read the rest
Published: 2011-01-23, Updated: 2011-01-24
The past days saw the launch of the new culture magazine Sans. The theme [of the premier issue] is religious oppression of women, and the main article of the magazine is an interview of the American feminist and author Ophelia Benson, who in the book “Does God hate women?” charts how women’s human rights are violated within conservative religious traditions around the world.
On the front page of Sans, which bears the headline “A God for women?”, we publish a picture of a woman dressed in a burqa.
Say what you will, Sam Harris knows how to stir a hive and send its inhabitants into a positive buzz. Some of them will turn this into an opportunity to get some intellectual exercise. Others may fly into a frenzy and sting at anything and everything, eventually disembowelling themselves intellectually in the process. Of the first, Brother Blackford (to co-opt a recently Coyned soubriquet) is a prime example: his ruminations are clearly valuable to the discussion. But where clarity is its own reward, the contributions of others need to be carefully disentangled from their ill-conceived targets, in order that everybody may see clearly where they went off course. Massimo Pigliucci has thankfully supplied us with such an opportunity—one is tempted … Read the rest
“Secrecy,” says American fiction writer, Robert Heinlein, “is the beginning of tyranny”. But I think, secrecy is actually the abode of darkness, ignorance, prejudice and confusion. Because whatever is held in secret is like something held in the dark- it can be anything, it can become anything. It can become nothing.
In Africa, so much secrecy prevails in the area of human sexuality. Sexual expressions are preferably done in secret or discussed in hushed tones. There is hardly any open honest debate or dialogue on sexual issues going on anywhere on the continent. All questions about sexual matters appear to have been answered and such answers are taken to be correct- absolutely correct. Sexual rules are taken to be beaten … Read the rest
I admire Richard Holloway for his courage. Here is a religious man who, from 1986-2000, was Bishop of Edinburgh; a man of virtue concerned with his neighbor, with social justice, and with the common good; and, not the least, a contemplative man who somewhere along the way lost his faith but not his desire for transcendence. I don’t know when his doubts became so substantial that they compelled him to leave the Anglican Church, but I imagine that the decision came only after the crisis had become too acute to ignore and too great to bear.
What brought on this crisis, one that emerged, no doubt, over the course of many years only to reach critical mass in the past … Read the rest
As the Afghan Government continues its wooing overtures to the Taliban, and Karzai whines about “foreign interference” in his latest meddling in Afghan parliamentary democracy, the Taliban execute a couple by stoning them to death in Kunduz province in front of a crowd of hundreds.
The crime? The couple fell in love and attempted to elope, beyond a community where relationships based on mutual love and attraction, and not on money and perversion, might have a chance of fulfillment.
The BBC has short clips of the horrific murders, noting that “most of the video is too graphic to be shown.” The event is described as follows:
The video begins with Siddqa, a 25-year-old woman, standing waist-deep in a hole in
On January 11, 2011, I led a team of police officers who rescued an 8 year old girl, Esther Obot Moses, in a remote village, Nsit Ubium, in Akwa Ibom State in Southern Nigeria.
Esther, according to locals, was accused of witchcraft and abandoned by her family. She was sleeping in the local market till a 40 year old man, Okokon, ‘kidnapped’ her.
Police arrested Okokon who is believed to have some mental problems. He has been living with Esther in his shanty building since last year, and he raped her several times.
Both Okokon and Esther made statements at the police station at Nsit Ubium. Esther was later taken to Uyo and handed over to the Ministry of Women … Read the rest
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi is a life peer, co-chairman of the Conservative Party, and Minister without Portfolio in David Cameron’s cabinet. She is also a Muslim.
In a recent controversial speech, Warsi has put forward a number of arguments, centred around the claim that bigotry towards Muslims has been mainstreamed in British society. In this article, I do not wish to take issue with that claim, which I think has some merit, especially when it comes to the often egregious manner in which stories relating to Islam and Muslims are presented in Britain’s popular newspapers. Indeed, I have recently published a report which looks at paranoia about the supposed ‘Islamisation’ of Britain and highlights the way in which sloppy ‘journalism’ … Read the rest
On Tuesday January 11th around 5pm, I was arrested along with my driver and a photographer in front of a bank in Uyo Akwa State in Southern Nigeria . I arrived in Akwa Ibom on Sunday, January 9 to rescue two alleged witch children abused and abandoned by their families. One of the kids, 8 year old Esther Obot Moses, was living with a mad man who raped her several times. On that ‘fateful’ Tuesday, around 5.40 am, I stormed a dilapidated building in Nsit Ubium where the lunatic lived with two police officers and successfully rescued the poor girl. We went to the police station, made an entry and got a police extract.
Esther started vomiting on our way … Read the rest
I start this piece by stating emphatically that if lack of critical thinking or inability to apply one’s common sense to issues is what makes one an African, then I am not an African. I say this – and I really mean it. That I hereby renounce my African identity if it means that I should not exercise my critical intelligence or apply reason and science in all areas of human endeavor. If being an African means I should suspend and shut down my thinking faculty and blindly accept whatever any person or prophet says or preaches, then, I say, count me out. Don’t count me as an African. I am making this assertion because very often blind faith, dogma … Read the rest
Yoga is to North America what McDonalds is to India: both are foreign implants gone native. The urban and suburban landscape of the United States is dotted with neighbourhood health clubs, spas and even churches and synagogues offering yoga classes. Some 16 million Americans do some form of yoga, primarily as a part of their exercise and fitness routine. Thus, when everyday Americans talk about yoga, they mostly mean physical, or hatha yoga, involving stretches, breathing and bodily postures, or asanas. Many styles of postural yoga pioneered by India-origin teachers are thriving, including the Iyengar and Sivananada schools, the Ashtanga Vinyasa or ‘power yoga’ of Pattabhi Jois, and ‘hot yoga’ recently copyrighted by Bikram Chaudhary. The more meditational forms … Read the rest
In what appears to be another move to combat the allegations of witchcraft and child abuse, the governor of Akwa Ibom state, Chief Godswill Akpabio, has inaugurated a six member Commission to inquire into witchcraft accusations and child rights abuses in the state. He charged them to recommend appropriate actions to be taken to protect children from being branded witches and wizards in order to guard against future occurence. The governor asked the Commission to determine the veracity of all the allegations of witchcraft against children and infliction of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment upon such children and to examine the role and culpability of all the allegations and abuses or practices and make recommendations.
He then urged the people … Read the rest
[References to Dixon’s book are to location numbers in the Kindle edition. There are 2548 locations in the book, so those using the print edition should be able to access the general page vicinity of the quote based on the percentage of the book traversed at the location number indicated. This, by the way, raises a question for publishers of ebooks. They should include page numbers for the sake of scholarly reference.]
This is a worryingly confusing and confused book, as I shall try to show in detail. It purports to be a very short introduction to a field of academic study, and yet it does not really address the question of whether or not there is such a field. … Read the rest
Today a Federal High Court in Calabar in Cross River State, presided over by Justice P.J. Nneke, dismissed the application by Helen Ukpabio and some members of the Liberty Gospel Church seeking to enforce their fundamental rights against Akwa Ibom state government, the Commissioner of Police of Cross River state, Assistant Inspector General of Police, Leo Igwe, Sam Ituama, Gary Foxcroft and others as respondents for daring to organize a workshop which they perceived to be critical of their activities. They asked the respondents to pay them 200 billion naira ($.1.3 million dollars) in damages.
The court wondered why Helen and her church members attacked some of the respondents and still came to court to enforce their fundamental rights for … Read the rest