Irrational Britain

Somebody sent me a link to this page, thinking that I'd be happy that religion was the loser. Well I'm not - I'm worried. Believing in UFOs, ghosts, god, faeries, Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and that Paddington Bear is the saviour of the world are all the same thing. The irrational - it hurts!

Sofa Idiocy

When you hear an increasingly loud squeaking noises coming from your sofa would you immediately jump to something paranormal? The Telegraph has a story about two nutters, who have the surname Strange!

"It could be an alien for all we know"

"The noise is getting louder and louder. I'm scared it's going to come bursting out one evening while we're watching TV."

It is unclear whether they have ruled out rodents."

God Trumps

More here.

Idiots of God Unite

Click image to enlarge.

Originally posted here.

Homeopathy Harmless?

Well it would be, if only people didn't use it instead of real medicine. Otherwise it may be partly responsible for easily avoided deaths.

Crucifix Rape Advert Causes Controversy

See here. perhaps there is an organisation "Christians for the prevention of awareness about rape", who knows?

Godless Services

I'm rather disappointed that Eight Lessons and Carols for Godless People sold out so long ago - I would have gone. Oh well - the idea's good at least!

Measuring God

See Andrew Brown's (slightly old now) Guardian post. Biblical literalness gone to far?

Russian (Un)Orthodox

I sometimes say that religious people are backward. By this I tend to mean that they engage with a belief system that is no longer consistent with the wealth of knowledge that is science (there was a time when something creating the Earth and people was the best explanation going).

This guy has recently been demoted from a bishop to a monk for, amongst other things, "prohibiting churchgoers from using cell phones and internet."

I see this as a desperate attempt to prevent people accessing information that might make them cast doubt on there beliefs. Thankfully he church seems to have a put a stop to it, I imagine out of fear for getting a bad press.

Naturist Christians

It appears that some Christians don't like the idea of other Christians having a naked mass. So much for Christian good will and tolerance.

"Christian naturists take the tale of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as the model for their beliefs and ceremonies.

When God created man and woman, Adam and Eve were both naked and "felt no shame", according to the Bible."

Cult Database

The Rick A. Ross Institute has a ton of information on various cults and movements - well worth a dig through if you want to get some background on groups such as Followers of Christ (parents who prefer faith-healing their children than using real medicine).

Should we explore space?

I am one of those people who believe that the exploration of space is important. I believe in gaining knowledge by finding out how the universe works by looking at the universe. In order to find out what we want to know, sometimes we need to leave the safety of our home planet.

Yes, it costs a lot of money. A huge amount of money. Some people will argue that technological insights developed by necessity by the space program may have benefits to everybody else too. I agree with this. But I do not think that it is the way to justify the exploration of space. We need to do it out of an enlightened curiosity.

See this article by Stephen Hawking.

War Heroes

I haven't said much on my views on war, and the military in general. But I have been getting a bit annoyed with the automatic assumption that 'soldiers are heroes'. I would agree that sometimes some soldiers heroic. At the same time some soldiers are power mad murderers, rapists, homophobes, racists etc.

I found this post which has some arguments that I like, particularly this bit:

"Soldiers are not heroes. They can be heroes, they can act heroically, they can do heroic things - but the act of putting on a uniform and agreeing to put your conscience in a lockbox for the next so many years does not make your life more important than others, it does not make your opinions and insights more worthy of respect than others, it does not exempt you from moral judgment [sic]. It does not make you a hero."


I have just put this blog through Typealyzer, and this is what it has to say about me:

"The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters."


Homeopathy on the NHS

Sometimes I get quite disappointed with he Great British public. Such as the fact we, as a nation, somehow seem to tolerate homeopathy (witch doctery) being offered as a bona fide treatment on the NHS. The same NHS which we all pay for, and has enough problems funding real treatments based on real science.

I suggest that UK readers should sign this petition.


No Gnomes

The Diocese of Bath and Wells (of Blackadder fame) has banned gnomes from cemeteries because they are "unnatural creatures". How crazy (and hypocritical) is that?


Church of Maradona

If this story is true then it is rather sad. It seems that fans of Maradona have created a church based on the footballing legend.

What would happen if, in 2000 years, people still believed this? Would people be murdered in the name of Maradona? Would "In Maradona We Trust" be printed on currency? Would I be unwelcome in some people's homes because I didn't believe?

Bad Faith

The New Humanist folks have opened a poll for their very own Bad Faith Awards. Well worth a trip over to cast your vote, and as Caspar Melville says in the Guardian "here's a vote [Sarah Palin] just might win".


I have, over the years, developed something bordering obsessive when it comes to units. They have to be be right, and it's better if they're in some way metric. So this graph made me smile.

song chart memes

Good to see us physicists and biologists at the top!
more music charts


Wrecking Britain?

Quentin Letts thinks that Richard Dawkins is one of the top 50 people who have wrecked Britain, giving his reasons as follows:

"Anti-religionist Dawkins, the best-known English dissenter since Darwin, is the merciless demander of provable fact.

He is the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and tours the world lecturing the elites of the West that they are stupid to believe in any god.

He proselytises against the proselytisers, most of his targets wishing they had a fraction of his apparent certainty.

He is the anti-preacher whose sermons are designed to erode churchgoing and, with that, weaken our happiness.

A man less obsessed with himself and with the narrow calculations of men in white coats might realise that religion, although never offering proof of God's existence, can sugar catastrophe and brighten chasms.

In times of turbulence, the human being is little different from the vole or the dormouse. It will take shelter where it can.

No amount of superior lecturing from an anti-Christ, not even one with so important a title as his, will alter that."

I would argue that religion can create catastrophe and create chasms. As for "demand[ing] provable fact" I would much rather base my life on things that are true than folly.

Golden Statues

As part of a huge back-list of things to blog about there is this. Chrisitans averting the financial crisis by doing something to a golden bull on Wall Street.

Caution! - There is an extended quote from The Bible below (Exodus 32:1).

And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.

And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.

And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:

They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:

Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

So what are these people doing?

New Zealand Education Standards

I find it hard to imagine why someone of this age has such strong views on such a thing. There has to be a nudest beach, and I see nothing wrong with a nudist beach (and you shouldn't too - whether you'd use one or not). Live and let live, or force your irrational beliefs onto your children. I know what I'd prefer!

Please send in your contributions for the new thread, New Zealander of the Week.

Spelling Bee American of the Week

Well done you, Sir!

Obama vs Fundamentalist Christians

The woolly thinking surrounding this has already been debunked by PZ Myers.

Escapee from Westboro

This is a rather sad story, but one with a positive ending. It's an interview with Nathan Phelps, yes - of Westboro Baptist Church fame, one of those who managed to escape from the unimaginable evil of Fred Phelp's gang of mentally ill "Christians". He makes some poignant points, not least:

“In so many different ways we have abused children with religion over the centuries.”

Nathan (Nate) is now an atheist. Interestingly Shirley Roper-Phelps has written the first reply.

"Amazing stuff. At the end of the day, rebel Nate who is a man of the flesh according to the Bible, cannot get it into his head the the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The child crying over a fear of hell is exactly what is intended by the plain language of the scriptures. You can love that and live that and own that and be one with that, as they say, or you can foolishly fight against that. WHO thinks they can beat God? YIKES! He never one time mentions HIS duty to teach HIS children every day in every way with every thing that does and says what the Lord their God requires of them. God is a consuming fire. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, WE PERSUADE MEN! Just look at the way you two brutes got together and tried to put a fluffy spin on rebellion AND the consenquences thereof."

What a lovely woman! I'd rather quote Bertrand Russel:

"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main causes of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom."


Andrew Brown

Andrew Brown seems to be one of the Guardian writers to watch out for (incidentally, so many of the new stories I mention are from the Guardian due to the fact they do good work, compared to the opposition, with RSS feeds).

This little quip was originally published here.

"I notice from Niall Fergusson's long piece on the financial crisis in Vanity Fair that since 1957, when the US Dollar was adorned with the motto "In God we trust", its value has fallen by 87% relative to the consumer price index. This is no more than a measure of inflation, I know. But it is still a fun statistic."

Teachers and Creationism in the UK

A selection of links from Teachers' TV and The Guardian relating to a survey in which 29% of teachers said creationism should be taught as science. As a statistic this is truly appalling. James Randerson dives a little bit further into the statistics here.

Perhaps the best bit is this video, a must for all those teachers who are apparently unable to teach evolution well!

Thames Valley University

It seems that a University in the next town North (the wrong side of the Thames and M4) is teaching lies! Not that Thames Valley University is world-class or anything, but actually teaching a BSc course in Homeopathy is ridiculous. How can you award a Bachelor of Science in a discipline that is anti-scientific? How can a university get away with teaching something that isn't true?

Some hot monk on monk action

The Guardian showed this video online under the headline 'Bless me father for I have chinned'.

If this is how they behave in one of their most holy places is it really surprising that fewer and fewer people are taking them seriously?

Tolerant American of the Week

Tolerance, rationality, love - just three character traits preventing me from becoming an evangelical Christian!

American of the Week

This is just crazy. 'Obama does not support our flag' - why would he? It's a symbolic piece of cloth! If he didn't support freedom, liberty, America, or something else important then feel free to make a point. I also like the kind hearted public service announcement 'Obama's middle name is Hussein' - thanks, that might come up in a pub quiz!

Jesus rode a Dinosaur

Religion and Child Abuse II - Christianity

Yet another sickening story. This is the kind of absurd cruelty that can be entirely avoided by abandoning unsupported belief systems and embracing reason. As someone who doesn't believe in the Christian god, or witches, I find it hard to believe that this happens in the modern world.

Religion and Child Abuse

I had a discussion with somebody recently about how I could not possibly be moral as I didn't believe in a god. The woman I had the conversation with was a devout Christian, but said I could have been Jewish, Muslim, or whatever (as long as it wasn't an atheist). After going through the usual Leviticus quotes and a kind and benevolent god causing suffering she quipped back with something along the lines of "this all happened long ago, things have changed".

Yes, things have changed. But not religion. The BBC reports of a woman (perhaps as young as 13) being stoned to death for being raped. This is a kind of cruelty that I find unimaginable. I find it hard to believe that these people share some of my genes. But then again, I must be wrong, I can't possibly be the moral one.......


Obama Victory

Well, it seems the scrawny-armed, half-black guy from Illinois won. Despite being pretty happy about this, and very happy considering the other possible outcome, I do not have particularly high hopes. There are a huge bunch of issues that Mr Obama needs to sort out, the continued destruction of our planet being high on the list. Only in time can we judge whether Mr Obama can deliver on his pledges.

However there were some good things to come from this election. It seems that United Sates of America have finally pulled themselves out of a united state of apathy when it comes to politics. Heck, they even managed to interest school children over here. The morning after Obama won you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from Europe, and the rest of the world.

I look forward to seeing if all of this change we've been talking about does happen.