All entries by this author

PZ Finds Bunting and Baggini Unconvincing *

Apr 18th, 2009 | Filed by

What the New Atheism has brought is more openness; we are building a lively community of the godless.… Read the rest

Baggini Chides the ‘New’ Atheists Again *

Apr 18th, 2009 | Filed by

Atheists must turn down the volume and present a more agreeable face; otherwise we’re stuck with Bunting.… Read the rest

The atheists had it coming

Apr 17th, 2009 5:30 pm | By

Hmm…I hope Julian isn’t permanently joining the tedious chorus of people shouting at ‘new’ atheists to shut up. It’s not a very glorious vocation.

Intelligent atheism rejects what is false in religion, but should retain an interest in what is true about it. I don’t think many of my fellow atheists would disagree.

I would – depending on what is meant by ‘what is true about it.’ I don’t think anything is true about it, if we mean factually true. If we mean something much looser by ‘true’ such as ‘having some good things to say about compassion or peace’ then I don’t think religion has anything to offer that is inherent to religion as opposed to simply widely-shared … Read the rest

A paradigm

Apr 17th, 2009 12:36 pm | By

No no, I’m not starting it up again, I just want to offer a little illustration of what I’ve been saying, which is that the (putative) fact that ‘cunt’ does not refer to women and is not an insulting epithet for women in the UK does not mean that that description holds everywhere. I consulted Google blog search, and one of the first items was a rather truculent San Francisco blog

This Just In: Jeanene Garofalo is a CUNT

Ugly, bitter, has-been Jeanene Garofalo spews more racist hatred on Olbermann.

Bitch still thinks she’s funny. But I guess we can remove the “still” – seeing that she was never funny.

What motivates a person like Garofalo to scream “racist”

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Jason Rosenhouse Wonders What the Point Is *

Apr 17th, 2009 | Filed by

Baggini urges us to talk about what is of value in religion, then derides liberal theology as woolly-minded.… Read the rest

Paul Kurtz on Torture and American Democracy *

Apr 17th, 2009 | Filed by

US democracy is based on laws and committed to the defense of human rights. Let’s keep it that way.… Read the rest

Iran Set to Execute Darabi *

Apr 17th, 2009 | Filed by

Iran’s penal code holds a 9-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy to be legally responsible if involved in crime.… Read the rest

Amnesty International Fears Imminent Execution *

Apr 17th, 2009 | Filed by

Delara Darabi was sentenced to death for murder for a crime she committed when she was 17. … Read the rest

Negotiations Over Durban II *

Apr 17th, 2009 | Filed by

US will not accept any text citing ‘incitement to religious hatred’ as a pretext for restricting free speech.… Read the rest

Hitchens on Paine, Obama, Warren, Washington *

Apr 17th, 2009 | Filed by

The name of Paine, our unacknowledged Founding Father, can only be used in a kind of code.… Read the rest

The hegemonic modern human rights discourse

Apr 16th, 2009 6:23 pm | By

Harvard has an ‘Islamic chaplain’. Lucky Harvard.

Harvard Islamic chaplain Taha Abdul-Basser ’96 has recently come under fire for controversial statements in which he allegedly endorsed death as a punishment for Islamic apostates. In a private e-mail to a student last week, Abdul-Basser wrote that there was “great wisdom (hikma) associated with the established and preserved position (capital punishment [for apostates]) and so, even if it makes some uncomfortable in the face of the hegemonic modern human rights discourse, one should not dismiss it out of hand.”

Oooooookay, isn’t that interesting. One shouldn’t dismiss out of hand the idea that apostates from Islam should be executed, even if it makes some uncomfortable in the face of the hegemonic modern Read the rest

Tom Flynn on ‘Spirituality’ Run Amok *

Apr 16th, 2009 | Filed by

Avowedly ‘spiritual’ people think avowedly non-spiritual people are made of cast iron.… Read the rest

Jonathan Derbyshire Interviews John Gray *

Apr 16th, 2009 | Filed by

‘Why should one think that, because knowledge has grown, human beings will be less prone to cowardice and cruelty?’… Read the rest

Harvard Islamic Chaplain Pro Death for Apostasy *

Apr 16th, 2009 | Filed by

‘Even if it makes some uncomfortable in the face of the hegemonic modern human rights discourse, one should not dismiss it out of hand.’… Read the rest

Faisal Gazi on Kenan Malik’s Fatwa to Jihad *

Apr 16th, 2009 | Filed by

The grievance culture of radical Islam is winning the battle against Enlightenment values.… Read the rest

Parents Charged With Starving Children *

Apr 16th, 2009 | Filed by

Parents sought to raise children ‘in strict obedience to Islam’ by starving, beating, taking out of school.… Read the rest

Gestures and Symbols *

Apr 16th, 2009 | Filed by

The queen, for the first time in her public career, put her hand on someone. A bit of the world turned upside down.… Read the rest

Zuma Sues the Guardian *

Apr 16th, 2009 | Filed by

He is demanding an apology and damages and has appointed a London law firm to act on his behalf.… Read the rest

Sewing Machine Hoax Hits Saudi Arabia *

Apr 16th, 2009 | Filed by

Less ‘austerity’ in education might help.… Read the rest

Alors, ça suffit maintenant

Apr 15th, 2009 5:16 pm | By

One or two more items, by way of mopping up. (And just in case there is any doubt on the matter, as apparently there was for at least one commenter: no I don’t think the importance of the subject is in proportion to the time I’ve spent on it; no the fact that I’ve done several posts on it doesn’t mean that I think words are more important than, say, marrying a child of 8 to a man 52 years her senior. I’m just interested; and there is a lot of disagreement and a lot of testimony. I’m interested in language – this is not a big surprise, surely; one of the first things I did with B&W was to … Read the rest