World's Most Respected People (According to Britain)

It may not be the best poll ever designed but I think it says enough. The top three are as follows.

1) Barack Obama

Good choice, it's great to have someone literate as "leader of the free world" again.

2) Nelson Mandella

Possibly should be at number 1 given his track record, but without doubt a worthy contender.

3) Jade Goody

EPIC FAIL. Britain I want to disown you. Yes, she has cancer and will die. That shouldn't be a reason for somebody whose only reason for fame is (1) being stupid, and (2), going on Big Brother, to rank higher than David Attenborough. Or even, well.... anyone else really.


Skeptically pwnd

Made me laugh. If you're unsure what pwn means go here.


Atheist does Stand Up Comedy in Church

Worry not, ye non Scandinavians, there be subtitles in English. I think it's pretty funny, and would like to see it happen over here.


Guardian Bible Quiz

It's good to know about the bible. It will help you understand many references in our greatest literature and prevent you becoming a Christian. To see how well you know it check out the Guardian's bible quiz. I got a shameful 9/10!


Friday the 13th

I suggest that this day is just the same as any other day, and the following will not influence whether good, or bad, things happen to you.

1. Breaking a mirror

2. Walking under a ladder

3. Friday 13th

4. Opening an umbrella indoors

5. A black cat crossing your path

6. The sight of a single magpie

7. Spilling salt

8. Placing shoes on the table or on the bed

9. Treading on cracks in the pavement

10. Walking over three drains

I mean, really? People actually believe this?

Bush fires caused by abortions

This is a tragic example of how religious extremists try to use natural disasters to promote their cause. The ironically named 'Catch the Fire Ministries' has stated that a relaxation of abortion laws was behind the bush fires in Victoria.

Pastor Danny Nalliah is quoted as saying: "a flash from the Spirit of God: that His conditional protection has been removed from the nation of Australia, in particular Victoria, for approving the slaughter of innocent children in the womb".

Statue Allows Pregnancy

The Telegraph reports that visiting a Hindu god statue allowed a woman to fall pregnant, despite the drugs she was taking.

I'm going to file this one under 'coincidence' along with the fact that I recently went to visit Big Ben and have woken up on time ever since.

Northern Ireland Troubles

It seems like there are troubles brewing in Northern Ireland. Recently Sammy Wilson, DUP Environment Minister, claimed that climate change is not due to the influence of our species. Now his DUP colleague, Mervyn Storey, has threatend the Ulster Museum with legal action if it does not stage a creationist exhibition alongside its forthcoming exhibition on Charles Darwin.

digging a bit deeper into the shadowy world of Mervyn Storey we find that he has already tried to get intelligent design (read: creationism) taught in schools.

Hopefully this lunatic will disappear in a giant failure, but then again.


UFO Athens

There seems to be lots of UFO stories doing the rounds at the moment. This one comes from Athens, but thankfully is a little more realistic than some reports I have read: "Greek officials say that the object, which was not detected on any radar, was probably a mistaken sighting of the planet Venus in the Autumn night sky."

There have also been reports of UFOs above the Houses of Parliament, and from Somerset (see video below).

Also it seems that someone has been collecting UFO reports from police officers.

Shocking UFO news

It appears that the wind turbine damage wasn't due to UFOs after all, it was just mechanical failure. I bet some of the conspiracy theories drag on for a bit though! I do have some more UFO news to follow though - perhaps I'll reveal some real evidence?

Happy Birthday Charles Darwin

Today marks the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, co-discoverer with Alfred Russel Wallace of the theory of evolution by natural selection.

I won't go on too much; Darwin and Wallace where both great men but science is the collective work of many individuals. Some of us just hit the big time. Rather than make you read a load I'd suggest you go and make a donation to the Beagle Project and help fund a rather cool project.

To celebrate the day Google has created a special logo - see above.


Create your own bus slogan

...well, sort of: http://ruletheweb.co.uk/b3ta/bus/.


Tony Blair on Religion

I have mixed feelings about Tony Blair. I remember the excitement he caused when I was at middle school about him becoming Prime Minister. Which is odd on two fronts: I knew nothing of any worth about politics, and as fas as I remember the school election was won by the Monster Raving Loony Party.

Since his departure from Number 10 Blair has been going on about god a lot. Most notably Blair was guided by an imaginary friend, voice or apparition when deciding whether to invade Iraq. This is not a good way to make such decisions. The decision to go to war is difficult, just as the decision not to can be difficult. That decision can only be made on the basis of the evidence available at the time.

But Blair seems to have continued on, and at a recent 'Prayer Breakfast' (who says there's no division between church and state in the USA?) he mention god over 3o times. Quotes such as 'The 21st century will be poorer in spirit, meaner in ambition, less disciplined in conscience, if it is not under the guardianship of faith in God' are find highly comical. It is the liberation from faith that seems to be driving moral progress.

Read through this article, it seems the UK thankfully isn't quite as bad as the USA yet!


A New Atheist Bus Campaign

From Rebroadcast.

George Hargreaves

Will the atheist bus campaign help promote The Christian Party in forthcoming elections? Well, not really. Sadly for their leader, George Hargreaves, we have a political system with, on average, 2.5 main parties. Thankfully the Christians are miles down the list.

Obama blurring church and state boundary

Unlikely to be a good precedent.

This kind of funding would be better applied through the state directly, rather than through the use of religious groups.

Christian Bus Campaign

It seems that the Christians got a bit peeved by the atheist bus campaign. The Christian Party, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Trinitarian Bible Society. I find this quite amusing, the original atheist bus campaign was a response to Christian advertising and it's message that non believers will go to hell.

So what do these organisations have to say?

The Christian Party: "There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life." That's very definite, if, I believe, almost certainly wrong. I have huge issues with bringing religion into politics, so I will refuse the offer to join their party.

The Russian Orthodox Church: "There IS a God, BELIEVE. Don't worry and enjoy your life." Unfortunately believing in the Christian god requires worry, and more often than not fear. Not for me either.

The Trinitarian Bible Society: "The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God," I take exception to being called a fool.

Oh well, looks like I'm going to be a godless heathen for a while longer, damn!

P.S. Have you notice how terrible all three of those websites are? The TBS even refers to Richard Dawkins as an 'atheist'. Do the quote marks indicate they know something we don't?


My Reply From UVM

RE: Ben Stein

Thank you for your note. Although we have recently learned that Mr. Stein will be unable to receive the honorary degree here or to serve as commencement speaker, please know that it was our expectation that his remarks would address the global economic crisis and that he would speak from his widely acknowledged area of expertise on the economy. We regret that he will be unable to do so.

With thanks again for writing and with every good wish—Daniel Mark Fogel, President

How very impersonal! Just a form letter.

At least he won't be there.

Alternative Expelled Advert

I couldn't not show you this from PZ's blog.

Attenborough 'most trusted person'

It seems that David Attenborough is the UK's most trusted person. I'm much happier now! David Attenborough is a fabulous presenter with genuine enthusiasm and a real knowledge of his subject (as compared to some of the crap that passes for entertainment on TV these days). I reccomend you all go and read his autobiography, Life on Air, one of the best autobiographies I have ever read.

Prayer in Hospitals?

I'm of the view that religion has no place in hospitals. I don't want to stop people executing their religious beliefs (well, I'd like to convince them they were ludicrous, but they are ill!). But offering prayer to patients? That pushes the line too far. When I'm ill I want my illness to be treated using the best methods available - genuine, scientific, medical care.

What's most frustrating in this story is the fact that the nurse seems to think that prayer has real effects on her patients. Trust me, if this worked their wouldn't be medical researchers or doctors.


Ben Stein backs out

Ben Stein has backed out of the UVM date. A victory over creationism!

Ben Stein given platform at Vermont

It seems that a certain university has invited Ben Stein to speak. Giving this man a legitimate platform to speak from is clearly ludicrous. So do as PZ and others have done, and write them a letter. PZ even gives the addresses to send them to. I have enclosed my letter below.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I have been following the story of your decision to invite Ben Stein to talk at your institution. This move is frankly a disgusting insult to the scientists at your institution, as well as scientists the world over (myself included).

To give a man with such views a legitimate voice at an otherwise excellent university is wrong and I find it deeply disturbing.

You are belittling the efforts of your own scientists' work, my work, and the work of everybody else who has made a bona fide contribution to furthering our knowledge of our world.


No sign of a more tolerant Vatican

The Pope has decided to appoint Gerhard Wagner to the role of auxillary bishop in Linz, Austria. Just in case you thought in recent years the Catholic church was starting to become tame Wagner is the kind of person who says:
  • the destruction of New Orleans by hurricane Katrina was "divine retribution" for pemrissive sexuality and tolerance of homosexuality.
  • hurricane Katrina not only destroyed nightclubs and brothels but also abortion clinics (oh, and churches too, they obviously fit the same pattern)
Nice guy eh? Almost as good as the rehabilitation of Richard Williamson (by the Pope) who is essentially a holocaust denier.

Why do we think the Catholic church is an out-of-touch evil monstrosity? I wonder...

Denial of Darwin

I sometimes think that we have it easy compared to American scientists. I tend to think of the theory of evolution having near-universal acceptance in this country, with just a few religious extremists on the wrong side of truth.

Perhaps I was wrong

One statistic that is very worrying is the 22% believing in creationism (I refused to place 'intelligent' design as a separate theory). 10% of people believing in young Earth creationism is tragic.

I admit that as scientists we need to engage more with the public, but the theory of evolution has been well explained by numerous authors.

I genuinely feel despaired.

Islamic Toys?

This story is rather sad if true. Children should not be exposed to religion at all, and certainly not through back handed tactics like these.