What’s wrong with the ‘left-wing’ newspapers recently?

Putting a DENT in Independent: in one week, Independent publishes outlandish attack on “new atheists” for their being “Islamophobic” and follows this up by giving a free, unedited, unbalanced platform to Andrew Wakefield, utterly discredited and dangerous MMR scare lunatic. Comments not allowed (anymore in either of the articles either.

The Guardian going down the same road, publishing one attack on new atheism after the other and publishing an uncritical “science” piece about a clearly bogus “remote hepatitis C detector”.

What is it about left-wing newspapers lately? Is it the humanities graduates running them? Who never learned to think critically? Who think that in every debate there are two, equally worthy, sides? There’s no need to suck up to religion, superstition and other woo. Leave it, please.

Marriage according to the Bible

I was recently in a hotel in Ireland (so they obviously had a bible in the bedside cupboard) and decided to have a fairly random flick, see what I’d find.

Now, I live in the UK and there’s this whole kerfuffle going on about gay marriage, with most against claiming that marriage ‘always has been and always will be’ between one man and one woman. I also read that that is definitely not what the OT says. So I thought, let’s check for myself.

So the first bit I found, don’t recall where, was about what to do with what bit of an ox (I presume after a sacrifice unto the lord), which goes on for what looked like a whole page or more.

Then I bumped into a passage (IRC somewhere in Deuteronomy) that first described what to do if you capture a slave girl that you fancy: something along the lines of: change her clothes, let her grieve for a bit (because you’ve killed all her family) and then have sex with her, which makes her your wife. Charming.
And just below that a passage that started like “suppose you have two wives, one loved and one unloved, and you have a child with both.” One man, one woman? My holy arse. And again, charming.

And I literally found that shite within a few seconds, not after hours of searching.

On a side note, I agree with what has been said, that if anything should make one lose their belief, it is READING the freggin’ thing.

And as to the debate about same-sex marriage, I don’t understand that anyone can get away with the argument about “one man and one woman” because that is just a patent lie – if even an avowed atheist like me can find passages that disprove that claim in minutes, anybody can – and Christians themselves certainly must know it (and therefore lie), or have a seriously different way of reading the Bible from other people.


‘Militant secularists’ are not the ones eroding religiosity…

… the religious themselves are.

A fair amount has been written lately about the ‘militant secularism’ remarks by baroness Warsi. I won’t waste more time dispatching of these stupid and bigoted ideas, as this has been done convincingly by others already. Suffice it to say that if current secularists and atheists are seen as ‘militant’, then students, NHS staff, London underground drivers, and members of the Scottish Labour Party, to name but a few, must be deemed positively terrorist – what with like, taking to the streets and protesting en masse, or demanding things. The temerity!

Compare this to ‘militant’ secularists who, er, write articles in newspapers, or take to the court (where, may I remind Warsi and her ilk, the LAW is upheld, nothing more, nothing less). Compare this classic cartoon:







What I want to say here, briefly, as I don’t think it has been said, is this:

Nobody can forcibly take (religious) beliefs away

Why is this realisation important?

Because is this discussion the religious (mostly the christians) make it appear that it is the atheists/secularists (NB these are of course not the same at all, but the distinction is usually lost upon the frothing-at-the-mouth antiatheists) who are forcing the believers out of their churches, taking their bibles away, and thereby effect a decline in religiosity. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The only people that can make christians stay away from church, are those that attend in the first place. The only people that can unregister from a church’s membership are those that are a member to begin with. As was once said wittily but truthfully: “If people don’t want to come out to the ball park, nobody’s gonna stop ’em” (Yogi Bera) – the inverse applies here: if people wanted to go to church, no atheist is gonna stop them.

As indeed christians are making that decision for themselves, blaming outside forces is silly. The question that people like Warsi forget to ask (conveniently and deliberately, because to put up a strawman enemy and attack it is so much easier than confronting your own failures as a religion, political movement, or public figure), is why this is happening in the first place.

It’s the arguments, stupid!

If outside pressure is to have any credit, the most likely explanation, then, is that the arguments put forward by secularists and atheists are seen as increasingly valid, and the religious are acting upon this. And if there were no truth in these arguments, I don’t see the problem the church has – all it has to do is simply indicate where these arguments are flawed, and people will start coming back to the churches. Well, I say – good luck with that.

On a side note, and despite loud claims to the contrary, most mainstream media are still overwhelmingly biased towards religion, so to think that people are giving up their beliefs because they are ‘bombarded’ with anti-religious messages, is simply insane. If anything, religious people are on the whole surrounded by reinforcing, yay, indoctrinating, messages, constantly reminding them of how awesome their beliefs are. The fact that atheist messages come through at all, and are even accepted as valid, says a lot about the relative merits of the arguments either side puts forward. However ‘militant’, in loudness of arguing, there still is no contest between atheism and religion.

Also, of course, the continued failings of every major religion are not helping their own cause either, being in turn (or simultaneously) backward, stubborn, wrong, and downright criminal. In this age of internet and fast-spreading news, religion is its own worst enemy – ‘with friends like these, who needs enemies‘.

In short, instead of incessantly trotting out the ‘loud militant bad’ canard, the conservative right slash christian defenders of the faith would be better off asking themselves some tricky questions about exactly why christianity is increasingly seen by its own members as non-viable. Whether they do or not, and whatever answers they find if they do, the outcome to me is likely to be the same regardless.

Adam Lusher and The Telegraph are lowly cowards

(with apologies for the slightly dodgy grammar in the header)

Why, this header? Here’s why:

“Slaves at the root of the fortune that created Richard Dawkins’ family estate”

Lately the lower echelons of the right-wing press have been busy ganging up on Richard Dawkins. Probably because, hot on the heels of a defeat in court, christianity in the UK was put further on the back foot by an interesting and  thorough poll by Ipsus Mori, showing that there is no such thing as a vast christian majority in the UK. We all know how much our right-wing newspapers love to cozy up against religion, giving them the sheen of righteousness (while actually being rather vile and scummy, if you have been following the news about phone hacking, amongst other things).

Anyway, Richard Dawkins has been targeted by the lowlifes in the tabloids, which is no surprise and can be ignored fairly easily, but this slur in a ‘normal’ newspaper is a new low.

And to elaborate on why this is the act of a cowardly journalist, supported by a cowardly newspaper?

Well, first off, there is no comments section. Probably because they knew that was going to be filled 90% with support for Dawkins and rage against the writer of said shite. The newspaper also dared to file it in the “UK > News” section, which seems very charitable given the non-content of the article.

Secondly, it would have been nice if the writer had done similar research into his own family history and shown a perfectly pristine clean sheet. Having said that, even with such an inclusion the point made would not be valid, as nobody alive can be held responsible for what their ancestors have done. We’re not talking about just slavery of course, but about witch-hunting, repression of women, supporting genocide, and suchlike.

Then there is the problem that Richard Dawkins is a fairly low-profile figure, compared to, say, the current PM, a few archbishops, and most of all the Queen. I daresay that within their families there are quite a few more skeletons in the closet than Richard Dawkins’s relatively modest one. Why such fuss about him? Well, we know why, see above.

And finally, on the same level but much more recent in history, there are literally (tens of) millions of Germans alive today that descend directly (as in, one or perhaps two generations) from a population that helped initiate the largest war in the 20th century as well as one of the biggest genocides of all human history. I do think we’ve all gotten over that one and realise that the generation(s) of Germans alive today is (are) not responsible for this.

So, for all the above, I say that Adam Lusher and The Telegraph are lowly cowards. And, unlike them, I do have an open comments section.

Religion indeed has no place in a city council

A judge has, thankfully, ruled that calls for prayer during a council meeting are unlawful. As indeed they are, no matter what the people involved come up with to defend the practice.

Politics should be secular

and therefore free of all, every, and any religion. Religion is a personal choice, for which there exists freedom of religion. Vice versa, when in the public, government-sponsored space, there should be freedom from religion. Nobody should have somebody else’s choice shoved down their throat.

There are more issues. One argument is that ‘England is a christian country’ and this is part of a ‘tradition’. Whether the former is true or not barely matters (I think it is, unfortunately, true), because ‘tradition’ is one of the worst arguments for anything. Slavery was tradition too once, as was stoning of adulterers. Real arguments have taken over and dismissed of these ‘traditions’.

Another obvious issue is that of neutrality. What would a muslim think of their chances of the council, for instance, approving their request to hold islamic player meetings, when a christian church has protested against them? What if a jew complains about antisemitism from christians? The state and government should maintain the strongest possible image of neutrality.

Finally there are ‘mechanistic’ issues. The simplest one is, what does this prayer thingy actually do? It’s specifically christian (a compromise solution of holding a few moments silence was rejected by the council in case), so it’s not just for the council members to meditate. So let’s assume it’s praying to the christian god. Hmmm… the christian god? The catholic one, the protestant one, methodist baptist orthodox one? Even assuming the council picks the ‘correct’ god, then what? Is god going to help the council make better decisions? Or help them execute these decisions (that would presumably call for a proper miracle, as god is not well known to interfere much with mankind lately)?

And what if half of the council does not believe in the specific god prayed to? Will he still help them? Or are only the True Believers eligible for help? Will each member be helped by their respective god? Is that not discrimatory against atheists and agnostics, who will get no help, or do not know if they will get help, respectively? No, this whole prayer thingy is totally nonsensical and should be eradicated completely from any level of government.

Christianity is not marginalised – it’s just shown its rightful place

There are those that say that christianity is ‘marginalised’ or even ‘persecuted’ and that evil angry atheists like me want to deconvert all christians and take their religious rights away in an inverted witch hunt. This is of course complete bollocks. All I want is for everybody to be treated exactly equal – unlike some misguided christians. I do not wish atheist books to be read before a council meeting. I do not call for atheist prayers (whatever that may be, anyway) in the commons.

Those christians that make a lot of noise along the lines of ‘why can’t other people just leave us alone with our belief’ while supporting prayers in, say, councils or the House of Commons, should take a long hard look in the mirror and realise that they themselves are the ones not leaving others alone. If you do not understand what is wrong with the attitude ‘we are entitled to our prayers and if you disagree, well, you can just walk out or not watch or not pray’, well, you simply lack a fair few brain cells and empathy.

Until everybody in this country is left alone with their fundamental right to believe – or not believe – what they want to without the interference of anybody else, there is still work to be done. Fortunately, one bit of that work was done this week.

Homo’s zijn niet ziek (maar sommige gelovigen wel)

De achtergrond

Op één of andere manier is er de laatste tijd een kleine stortvloed aan nieuws over, laat ik het noemen, wat sommige gelovigen van homosexualiteit vinden.

Ik laat het aan de lezer om zelf de volgende links door te lezen in zijn/haar eigen tempo:

Christelijke organisatie krijgt geld van ziekenfonds om homo’s te ‘genezen’ met gebedstherapie

Christelijke organisatie ‘geneest’ homo’s met een combinatie van methoden

Diverse leidende kerkfiguren zijn het eens met bovenstaande ‘homotherapie’

En opdat ik niet wordt beschuldigd van een anti-christelijk standpunt:

Rabbijnen verklaren homosexualiteit een ziekte

Laat ik hier niet teveel tijd aan besteden, maar wel een duidelijk standpunt innemen:

Voorzover we kunnen nagaan is homosexualiteit aangeboren. Homo’s en lesbiënnes die hun eigen leven kunnen leiden, zijn even gelukkig als hetero’s; ze leven even lang; en ze veroorzaken geen enkele overlast voor mensen om hen heen (buiten de ‘overlast’ voor intolerante homofobe minkukels). Om kort te gaan: homosexualiteit is geen ziekte volgens enige gangbare definitie.

De vorm van religie, zoals gepraktizeerd door bovenstaande individuen, daarentegen, is niet aangeboren maar een keuze, en veroorzaakt overlast, niet alleen door het aanpraten van een niet-bestaande conditie aan totaal normale mensen, maar ook door de noodzaak om deze mening op te dringen aan de rest van de mensheid. Tenslotte is de mening dat homo’s ziek zijn, zoals boven uitgelegd, op geen enkel feit gebaseerd en is daarom een waandenkbeeld.

Als er dus ergens in dit verhaal zieke mensen zijn, dan zijn dat de beminde gelovigen. Ik zou daarom kunnen voorstellen dat we ze onderwerpen aan een soortgelijke ‘behandeling’; echter, ik ben wel tolerant, en beperk me daarom tot het voorstel dat ze hun zieke en achterlijke mening voor zichzelf houden en er anderen niet mee lastig vallen – homo’s nog het minst.

De gematigde gelovigen?

Tenslotte wil ik nog wel kwijt dat hier, zoals in veel gevallen waar ‘extreme’ vormen van geloof zich afreageren op onschuldige derden, het steeds de humanisten, atheïsten, secularisten, etc. zijn die zich ertegen verzetten. Wat ik mis is de stem – het protest, het LUIDE protest – van de gematigde gelovige, tegen de uitspattingen van de eigen religie en de inbreuk die dit maakt op grondrechten van de betrokken mensen.

Of zijn de ‘gewone’ gelovigen het soms stiekem eens met de extremisten? Is er hier sprake van groepsdenken en voelen ze zich toch meer betrokken bij de waandenkbeelden van hun eigen geloof dan bij het gezonde verstand van ‘een ander’ geloof?

Ik zou dat wel eens willen weten.