1. My brief (or not so brief) critism with the New Statesman Article by Christina Odon

    The new intolerance: will we regret pushing Christians out of public life? - http://www.newstatesman.com/2014/01/new-intolerance-will-we-regret-pushing-christians-out-public-life

    “They should not have to close their businesses, as happened to the Christian couple who said only married heterosexual couples could stay at their bed and breakfast. They should not lose their jobs, which was the case of the registrar who refused to marry gays.” – Appeal to Religious Privileges

    “Once a dominant force in western culture, religion has been demoted to, at best, an irrelevance; at worst, an offence against the prevailing establishment. For millennia, religion has coloured every aspect of the European landscape. Churches were every­where – one for every 200 inhabitants in the High Middle Ages – and oversaw every stage of life: “hatch, match and despatch”. “ – Appeal to Tradition, as if something traditional is naturally better? Britain is full of pre-Christian traditions, rituals, holidays, stories, monuments ect. Does this mean author thinks we should revert to these pre-Christian, therefore superior, beliefs?

    “Their currency (“In God we trust”, proclaims the dollar bill), the prayer before the college football game and the national anthem: all invoke God, and pledge faith in His powers. “ – Ironically cites all government sanctioned abuses to First Amendment’s claim to freedom FROM religion.

    “David Cameron was on hand last summer to take credit for equal marriage reforms which would allow gay schoolchildren to “stand a little bit taller”. The Royal Bank of Scotland was in evidence to take credit for sponsoring high-profile gay awards.” – Implying that the ability for politicians and bankers to boost their own egos by supporting a popular movement, such as the gay-rights movement, therefore makes such movements a negative thing. Simply look at all conservative “pro-Christian values” flaunted by American politicians and companies, particularly in typically republican/highly religious states. Good example is Mitt Romney’s flaunting of “Christian values”, often directly conflicting with his actual Mormon ideas of morals.

    “Practicing Christians, Jews and Muslims should also step forward into the limelight, dismantling prejudices that they must be suspect, lonely, losers. Believers should present themselves as ordinary people, men and women who worry about the price of the weekly shop and the size of the monthly mortgage. They should not appear to be religious zealots or gay-bashers or rabid pro-lifers.” – I would hope that most prominent secularists would understand this quite clearly, and most secular progression would be in favour helping these people be distinguished clearly from those who might hold more fundamentalist, discriminatory, threatening, dangerous or violent versions of their religious views.

    “Without a change, the work that faith groups have carried out for millennia – charities, hospitals, schools, orphanages – will disappear. Communities will no longer be able to rely on the selfless devotion of evangelists and missionaries who happily shoulder the burden of looking after the unwanted, the aged, the poor.” – Again not only appealing to the assumed superiority of tradition, but also appealing to the ridiculous assumption that only religious based values and charities are beneficial, and that somehow people lacking religious belief are unlikely to take on these responsibilities themselves.

    “In this new scenario, yesterday’s victims are today’s victors. Gays and women, among other scapegoats from the past, now triumph over their former persecutors. But they have learned no lesson from their plight. As they promote a one-sided tolerance” – Such as the ban on heterosexual marriage, the ability for people to refuse to marry or serve heterosexual couples, the new policies within companies to pay males less than their female counterparts?

    “Religion has long been synonymous with authority. This was no bad thing when, for millennia, traditional hierarchies were respected for ensuring that the few at the top protected, organised, and even ensured the livelihood of, the many at the bottom.” – Again, appeal to tradition; such as the tradition for oppressive, ‘god-chosen’ monarchies, and violent church-chosen castellians to force serfdom upon peasant farmers. Is author referring to good old days of religious missionaries, colonisation and slavery?

    “Atheists seized their chance: shrewdly, they pointed to the ayatollah’s quashing of free expression as representative of a religious mindset: blasphemy laws were part of the Judaeo-Christian legacy, too. They went on to elide Islamism with all religions;” – The term Islamism within itself is a term used to identify the far-right politically fueled fundamentalist movement distinctly from the religion of Islam. Although this may sound counter intuitive, the term Islamist is used to characterise the political movement involving the instillation of sharia law and the ideals of the ‘fight against the west’, not of the particulars of those who hold Muslim beliefs. The existence of the term ‘Islamist’ signals a clear difference from opinion on a ‘Muslim’. Also the idea that it was purely atheists that criticize, and not also those who hold non-Abrahamic religious views, those of varying sects of Judeo-Christian views, and agnostics and unbelievers.

    “The 11 September 2001 attacks gave the secularist campaign to discredit religion a whole new impetus. The tragedy reawakened fears of Islam. The commentary surrounding the 19 terrorists wove elements of fanaticism and A Thousand and One Nights into the inspiration for these gruesome acts.” – Need I point this out the Crusade like ‘War on Terror’ that this sparked? How many Muslim countries did atheist leaders start wars in?

    “In fact, most of the hijackers and their accomplices could not be considered model Muslims; they were alcohol-swigging middle-class youngsters who had hung out in Las Vegas (some with prostitutes there).” – An example of an Islamist, coincidentally.

    “They rewrote history to present the Enlightenment as a battle between two mortal enemies: reason v religion.

    The faithful, according to this manipulation of history, stood on the side of obscurantism and ignorance. Believers turned their back on progress, rejected Darwin and hated women. Ranged against them were the forces of good – the new atheists, who shed light on the dark and sinister workings of religions.” – Straw man Fallacy. The argument is really more akin to outspoken, often fanatical religious leaders and institutions, usually unrepresentative of the general, less outspoken populace, denying the advances of scientific theory and philosophy, (despite often neither being their specialist subject) in the name of traditionalism and scripture. It is still happening today, just that a broader spectrum of general belief and the decreased power (and therefore ability to shout loudest) of religious institutions and leaders means it is often less obvious to the mostly uninterested public.

    “With these clever and rational men (they were all men)” – Is that a criticism of a misogynist ideal?! How dare they promote a one-sided tolerance!

    All in all, can’t wait for Robin Ince’s response tomorrow.

  2. The new intolerance: will we regret pushing Christians out of public life? - Christina Odon

    On Newstatesman - http://www.newstatesman.com/2014/01/new-intolerance-will-we-regret-pushing-christians-out-public-life

    I’d say the article’s name is pretty self-explanatory, and the argument is comically easy to pull a part. If you’d like to see how, I shall put it in my next post.

    Found here - http://d-scovery1992.tumblr.com/post/73423723622/my-brief-or-not-so-brief-critism-with-the-new

  4. Petition to David Cameron: Ban gender segregation in British universities

    You may remember back in march I posted on a story from UCL in which a public debate involving Cosmologist Lawrence Krauss held by Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA), entitled “Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?”. The iERA and members of security staff from UCL (“on instruction”) attempted to segregate the audience by gender.

    (If you didn’t read my previous post, or would like to know more about happened please take a look here  http://d-scovery1992.tumblr.com/post/45114832067/sexual-segregation-by-islamist-fascists-at-debate)

    Gender segregation should never be allowed, especially at Universities, hubs of secular education. To sign the petition, and read even more on the subject please go here - http://chn.ge/1jlGqI7

  5. Comment: Faith schools are enforcing segregation right under our noses - From Andrew Copson (pictured) at Politics.com 

    More on the Segregation by Religious schools in Britain. Not only is it bad enough that these schools are able to discriminate their employment of staff and admission of pupils through their (or more their parent’s in the case of the pupils) religious beliefs, they are also found to discriminate based on participation/contribution/donation within local churches, and now the facts point towards their segregation on socio-economic grounds.
    Personally I don’t find it suprising, only disgusting, that the people that run admission for schools who feel they have the right to deny a child education, primarily on their parent’s spiritual beliefs, also feel they can do so based on the parent’s affluence. 

    The original article can be read here - http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2013/12/04/comment-faith-schools-are-enforcing-segregation-right-under

    (My previous post can be found here - http://d-scovery1992.tumblr.com/post/68927592517/new-research-reveals-socio-economic-segregation )


  6. "History shows that in the matter of religions we progress backward and not the other way."
    — Mark Twain, born on November 30, 1835, on religion and our human egotism (via explore-blog)

    (Source: , via explore-blog)

  7. New research reveals socio-economic segregation impact of faith schools - National Secular Society

    4% more pupils eligible for free school meals than would be expected compared to their area. In contrast, Church of England schools whose admission criteria allowed for full selection on religious grounds admitted 31% fewer children on free school meals.

    Find the full article here - http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2013/12/new-research-reveals-socio-economic-segregation-impact-of-faith-schools?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nssnews+%28NSS+News%29#.Up5Y8oIhi0g.twitter


  8. stephen-fry-me:

    There was a right old Twitter barney last week. It started with me defending Richard Dawkins –– always a difficult thing to do since he seems to be everyone’s least favourite atheist. Even atheists often express the wish that he’d “tone it down a bit”.

    The usual hail of insults at Richard (and…

  9. I hope this picture clearly indicates the futility of “Teaching the controversy”, often claimed to be a ‘fair’ way to include creationist views in education.

    My university is holding a ‘Creation vs Evolution debate’ tomorrow, and I was wondering if anybody could help me think of some good questions to stump them?!

  10. From Physics Today - https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153557727835164&set=a.10150189178410164.429416.57270780163&type=1&relevant_count=1

    On this day in 1905 the German journal Annalen der Physik published a paper by Albert Einstein that asked in, its title, does the inertia of a body depend on its energy content? In answering his question, Einstein derived the famous mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc².