All entries by this author

Contemplative wonder is doomed, doomed, I tell you

Oct 28th, 2007 12:23 pm | By

I’m told by more than one witness that Mark Vernon is a nice guy (and I don’t doubt it) – but he does talk the most godawful crap.

Do you need to be religious to truly experience wonder at the world? This question lurks behind much of the ongoing debate about atheism. If everything can be explained by science, what is worthy of awe?

That’s a ridiculous question, and also a sinister one. It’s ridiculous because of its gormless assumption that explanation is for some reason inimical to awe. But why should it be? Think of the first atomic bomb, dropped in the desert at Alomogordo. The physicists and engineers watching knew how it worked, obviously; they could explain … Read the rest

Cruising With Sylvia Browne *

Oct 28th, 2007 | Filed by

‘There is no doubt that she makes a fortune saying very serious, cruel, show-stopping things to people in distress.’… Read the rest

Mark Vernon Urges Preservation of Ignorance *

Oct 28th, 2007 | Filed by

Scientific knowledge must be limited or else it will ‘erode the capacity for contemplative wonder.’… Read the rest

Vatican ‘Beatifies’ Spanish Civil War Dead *

Oct 28th, 2007 | Filed by

Franco side only, of course; cites ‘reconciliation.’… Read the rest

Nick Cohen on the Dangers of Alt Med *

Oct 28th, 2007 | Filed by

The Society of Homeopaths promises to provide ‘fascinating insights’ for World Aids Day.… Read the rest

Srebrenica Revisited *

Oct 28th, 2007 | Filed by

The Srebrenica massacre cast a shadow on the viability of international law and organizations. … Read the rest

Hinduism Still State Religion in ‘Secular’ Nepal *

Oct 28th, 2007 | Filed by

The state spends over Rs.50 million annually on Hindu rituals, including slaughter of birds and animals.… Read the rest

The Echoes of the Bell

Oct 28th, 2007 | By Ravi Dhungel

Every morning, the bell rings. It’s not my cell-phone alarm nor the siren broadcast by big mansions for the periodical shifting of laborers. The bell rings everyday and I am hearing it for the last twenty-eight years (apart from a few odd days). It’s evident that millions of Hindus throughout the world hear these bell-echoes every day in the early morning. The frequency of this bell must have been raised exponentially these days as the Hindu’s greatest festival Dashain has finished recently.

Being a Hindu by birth and a secular humanist by thought, I am always at a cross-roads in shaping myself into the proper track with regard to atheism and theism. The trail is muddy and complicated, but I … Read the rest

Wichita Disenchanted With Political Evangelicals *

Oct 27th, 2007 | Filed by

Secular sociologists say evangelicals’ changing view of society reflects their changing place in it. … Read the rest

Ben Goldacre on Infant Survival Statistics *

Oct 27th, 2007 | Filed by

Science is about clarity and transparency, especially for public policy – such as abortion law.… Read the rest

She Brought the Killing on Herself, Husband Says *

Oct 27th, 2007 | Filed by

A man who murdered his wife and three children in an ‘honour’ killing feels ‘totally justified in what he did.’… Read the rest

Disgrace: Is the Shunning of Watson Justified? *

Oct 27th, 2007 | Filed by

Dawkins, Blakemore, Wilson say no; politicians worry about aiding racist fringe.… Read the rest

Westboro Baptist Church Sued Over Funeral *

Oct 26th, 2007 | Filed by

The case raises difficult free speech issues.… Read the rest

Haleh Esfandiari on the Crackdown in Iran *

Oct 26th, 2007 | Filed by

It has criminalized the activities of academics, journalists, and activists for women’s and human rights.… Read the rest

No Free School Bus Pass Without Baptism *

Oct 26th, 2007 | Filed by

Why ‘faith’ schools are such a good idea.… Read the rest

Polly Toynbee on Women’s Same Old Enemies *

Oct 26th, 2007 | Filed by

All the Abrahamic faiths find the key to morality in keeping women and their fertility under control. … Read the rest

Olivier Roy on Secularism and Islam *

Oct 26th, 2007 | Filed by

‘Today’s religious revival – fundamentalist or spiritualistic – thrives on the loss of cultural identity.’… Read the rest

BJP Dismisses Gujarat Riot Claims *

Oct 26th, 2007 | Filed by

Video footage shows BJP politicians describing how they carried out the violence against Muslims.… Read the rest

A plan? A man? The Quran

Oct 26th, 2007 | By Adrian Reddy


A previous article [1] suggested that a suitable response to the recent influx of Islamic ideas would be to apply typically Western methods of enquiry to Islam itself. The article presented, as an example, a critical discussion of the inheritance laws as set out in the Quran and concluded that the laws were ineptly specified, thereby providing evidence that the Quran was composed by a fallible human mind. This conclusion is in direct and irreconcilable conflict with the central Islamic assertion that the Quran was composed in its entirety by an almighty, all-knowing deity: the Biblical God.

This article continues in the same vein, but discusses not the details within the Quran, but the accounts of its creation as … Read the rest

Solidarity and its enemies

Oct 26th, 2007 11:10 am | By

Haleh Esfandiari and Robert S. Litwak point out some ironies of Ahmadinejad’s visit.

While in New York, President Ahmadinejad, at a dinner arranged by the Iranian Mission to the United Nations, met with American scholars who work on U.S.-Iranian relations and with representatives of nongovernmental organizations. Yet the Iranian president failed to explain why he was inviting comments from this group even as his government was curtailing the activities of Iranian NGO’s and preventing their members from attending workshops outside Iran. The Ahmadinejad government’s broad crackdown on Iran’s civil society, described by some observers as a cultural revolution, has essentially criminalized the activities of academics, journalists, and activists for women’s rights and human rights.

And labor unions, I believe; … Read the rest