All entries by this author

‘Faith’ Schools Will Improve Cohesion *

Sep 10th, 2007 | Filed by

Or separation. One of those.… Read the rest

What Would Jesus Surf? *

Sep 10th, 2007 | Filed by

Welcome to the Jesus Surf Classic, for those who are into waves, God, baggy shorts, and crucifixes.… Read the rest

On fundamentalism

Sep 10th, 2007 11:18 am | By

Curious about the latest rash of misrepresentations of Dawkins, I’ve been re-reading The God Delusion in order to compare what he says with what people like John Cornwell and Mark Vernon claim he says.

First of all there’s the ‘he ignores sophisticated theology’ complaint, the ‘God is not an old guy in the sky, God is the ground of all fzzzwrkklppp’ complaint. He says right at the outset that he’s not talking about the more rarefied or ‘sophisticated’ ideas of god. Page 20:

My title, The God Delusion, does not refer to the God of Einstein and the other enlightened scientists…In the rest of this book I am talking only about supernatural gods, of which the most familiar to

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Militant tendency

Sep 9th, 2007 4:09 pm | By

Not everyone who reads this page reads comments, so I’ll comment a little on Mark Vernon’s reply to He doubted doubt out here.

Did I ever say that atheists per se can’t do doubt? It’s the militant sort that apparently find uncertainty so offensive in relation to religion – hence, for example, the argument that a liberal faith is a cover for religious terrorism. But since, obviously, you won’t believe me, try Julian Baggini’s Very Short Introduction for a reference on why this matters to the state of atheism, let alone anything else.

I have tried Julian’s book (and have said good things about it here), and I’ve known him to use the modifier ‘militant’ of atheists in other places … Read the rest

Extremes meet – or not

Sep 9th, 2007 12:31 pm | By

As Jean Kazez mentioned in comments, Mark Vernon has an article in TPM about doubt and agnosticism. He does indeed, and I disagree with much of it, in some places quite strongly. I always did, but I kept it to myself.

First he was a priest, then he became an atheist. And then –

I found I was actually becoming an agnostic. Over time, I came to feel that the triumphalism that too often seems to be part and parcel of atheism entails a poverty of spirit that is detrimental to our humanity. It tends to ignore or ridicule the “big” questions of life – those questions of existence that are natural to ask, if never finding conclusive answers –

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Parody Dawkins Review on the Valve *

Sep 9th, 2007 | Filed by

Dawkins cannot afford to entertain the possibility that Fascism fills a deep-seated need in people.… Read the rest

Swedish PM Meets With Muslim Ambassadors *

Sep 9th, 2007 | Filed by

‘Causing offence does not belong to the concept of freedom of speech,’ said Iran’s ambassador.… Read the rest

‘Embrace Islam’ Says Persuasive Mass Murderer *

Sep 9th, 2007 | Filed by

No thanks.… Read the rest

Pope Demands Respect for Sunday *

Sep 9th, 2007 | Filed by

Tuesday and Thursday are offended, Wednesday is an apostate, Monday has become a Mormon.… Read the rest

Stephen Law on Galileo and Bruno *

Sep 9th, 2007 | Filed by

They were hauled before the Inquisition for their scientific views as well as their theological views.… Read the rest

Battle of Ideas: The Resurrection of Religion *

Sep 9th, 2007 | Filed by

Stephen Law, Frank Furedi, Ruth Gledhill. October 27, Upper Gilbenkian Theatre, the RCA, London.… Read the rest

He doubted doubt

Sep 8th, 2007 2:06 pm | By

So, my curiosity renewed about Vernon’s much-recycled trope that only theists doubt while atheists are full of certainty, I amble over to his blog and find an even more ridiculous example. He’s praising John Cornwell’s book on Dawkins:

It is a gently written, precision riposte to The God Delusion. Cornwell used to be an agnostic and so appreciates the place of doubt in life. He also ‘doubted his doubt’ and returned to the Catholic faith…

Ah – so he’s a doubly wonderful fella because he doubted not once but twice, thus returning to ‘the Catholic faith’ which of course as is well known is all about doubt and always has been. That’s what the pope is for, that’s … Read the rest

Why can’t you be humble like me you bastard?!

Sep 8th, 2007 1:38 pm | By

Mark Vernon is annoying. Again.

But if you speak to people who believe literally in the six days of Genesis, they do so in part because they fear the moral nihilism they see as implicit in a Dawkins-style Darwinism. Dawkins’ approach is pretty nihilistic because he insists on the meaning-lite doctrine of ‘science as salvation’, as Mary Midgley put it. He will never win the Creationists over. Rather, he is likely to confirm them in their belief.

Notice the complete absence of substantiation for that silly accusation. Notice the failure even to say what it’s supposed to mean – notice the obnoxious combination of the emphatic verb ‘insists’ with the labeling via someone else’s unexplained epithet. Does Dawkins ‘insist’ … Read the rest

Bible Study More Important Than Doing the Job *

Sep 8th, 2007 | Filed by

Says head of U.S. government agency that pays benefits to disabled veterans.… Read the rest

Iraq Freezes Funds of Women’s Rights Group *

Sep 8th, 2007 | Filed by

The Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq shelters women who are threatened by honor killing.… Read the rest

Ben Goldacre on Conflict of Interest *

Sep 8th, 2007 | Filed by

It is extremely common for journalists to take money from pharmaceutical companies.… Read the rest

Scott McLemee on The Last Intellectuals *

Sep 8th, 2007 | Filed by

The zeitgeist overlooked features of Russell Jacoby’s argument that did not fit into a simplified history.… Read the rest

Celibate Priest Urges More Breeding *

Sep 8th, 2007 | Filed by

Pope warns Europe not to ’embrace’ abortion, urges it to embrace Xianity.… Read the rest

Man Jailed for Taking Woman to Hospital *

Sep 7th, 2007 | Filed by

His neighbor was ill, he helped her, so he was accused by religious police of immoral behaviour.… Read the rest

Primates Expect Others to Act Rationally *

Sep 7th, 2007 | Filed by

A new study shows that non-human primates infer others’ intentions in a sophisticated way.… Read the rest