No ads? Contribute with BitCoins: 16hQid2ddoCwHDWN9NdSnARAfdXc2Shnoa
Nov 282015
 

Waking up this morning, I find news of a terrorist incident in the US; except that it was not called a terrorist incident. It was announced as a mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic. For those who are not aware, in the US, Planned Parenthood clinics sometimes perform abortions.

There are those who protest about the abortions using methods up to and including murder. And whilst leaping to conclusions is not something to be encouraged, this incident has all the hallmarks of being a "pro-life" terrorist killing.

(Image from the Casper Star Tribune)

Given that the media is quite happy to label as terrorist incidents other killings, what is special about this incident?

Perhaps it has something to do with who the perpetrators are – they are not wild-eyed revolutionaries, nor are they islamic fanatics; they are christian fanatics. And it seems that christian terrorists get the benefit of the media not labelling their outrages as terrorism. Why?

And look at some of the twitter spew :-

3nhP9mX

PkqDdJC

QxK1psbTqTI21T

 

Nov 222015
 

There are approximately 1.6 billion muslims in the world today, so there are 1.6 billion different versions of islam; in most cases the differences are trivial (at least to "unbelievers").  In other cases the differences are rather more obvious.

Each muslim supposedly reads the Qur'an differently and consciously or unconsciously gives different conflicting verses a different emphasis: The obvious being :-

…slay the pagans wherever ye find them

And :-

whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.

Any normal person is going to emphasise the second verse whereas murderous psychopaths will emphasise the first.

For those who think that only the qur'an is like this, take a closer look at the bible – in particular deuteronomy 17.

As a wooly minded liberal, I have a problem with certain aspects of certain flavours of islam :-

  • Apostasy. A number of those versions of islam have no place for god in them; if you become an atheist in certain islamic countries it is safest to go through the motions. Because being stoned to death for apostasy would ruin your entire day. And atheists are the lucky ones – it is possible for us to go through the motions and pretend.
  • Women's rights. I'm not happy with anything that believes in second class citizens.
  • Criticism. I'm human and I've got a right to criticise anything which I see has issues. Calling it "blasphemy" and threatening me with stoning isn't a sensible way of facing criticism.

But the main problem is of course that a tiny number (in comparison to the total) of versions of islam support terrorism. Interestingly there are suggestions that many terrorists have an extremely limited understanding of islam.

Mainstream muslims protest that the terrorists aren't real muslims and that islam is a religion of peace. Fair enough.

But perhaps they should go a step further and declare that supporters of terrorism and terrorists are apostates, and need to talk with a qualified iman about rejoining the faith.

For those who think that this is a uniquely islamic problem, you should read up on christian terrorism

Jan 172015
 

In the wake of the murders of the Charlie Hebdo journalists there is a continuation of the debate over free speech (and expression). Amongst those making a contribution are those who say things like “I believe in free speech, but …”.

As soon as someone sticks a “but” into a sentence like that, you begin to wonder if they are really in favour or not. Usually it turns out they are not.

And one of the points raised after the stereotypical “but” is the issue of offence. Which is a tricky area because who likes being offended? Or to be more precise, who likes their personal sacred cows to be offended? And perhaps that is the tipping point – if your intention is to offend someone or a group of people, perhaps you should re-consider.

But if you are intending to criticise someone’s beliefs – religious or otherwise – it is perfectly justifiable. And yes using humour to make fun of someone’s beliefs is just as much criticism as a long, tedious, and boring blog posting. Any offence caused is a byproduct of the criticism, so perhaps this blog posting should be “The right to criticise includes the right to offend.”.

And in most cases the criticism comes in response to offence caused – if you create a religion that requires human sacrifice, you can expect a Charlie Hebdo cartoon mocking your religion.

And all religions include ridiculous and offensive aspects. After all the depiction of a mythical sky-daddy and impugning the godless nature of the universe causes offence to atheists.

So if you want free expression like the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo banned because they are offensive, I’ll be asking for all those religious tomes like the bible and the koran to be banned because they are offensive – to me. Your rights as a believer in fairies, angels, and other imaginary and infectious friends do not trump my rights as an atheist. Just as my rights as a godless and amoral unbeliever do not trump your rights as a believer.

 

Jan 102015
 

(Stolen from a Facebook posting)

Sounds daft doesn’t it? Because the killers themselves would have claimed they were doing it for islam. And of course there are plenty of feeble-minded bigots who are now attacking muslims and islamic places of worship.

Now don’t get me wrong: I have no patience with organised religion and think anyone who believes in an imaginary infectious friend in the sky needs their head examining. But they have a right to believe anything they want.

They just don’t have the right to inflict it on the rest of us.

Within any community (religious or otherwise), there are two sorts of people, and yes I’m being overly simplistic here. There are the majority who go along with the community and obey the dictates if they are not too inconvenient. And there are the zealots who take it to the extremes. And amongst the zealots there is a deranged minority who want to inflict the standards of their community on everyone. Some of them use violence to do so.

Now there was some idiot on the news today who claimed that despite Charlie Hebdo publishing a cartoon insulting to christians, that it wasn’t christians shooting journalists. True enough, but it there are christians murdering abortion doctors and harassing those entering abortion clinics, so it is not as if there are no christian terrorists.

Now comes a bit of a leap of faith: These terrorists whatever their faith, have more in common with each other than their co-religionists. They all espouse an extreme form of their faith, are compelled to inflict it on everyone, and resort to violence to pursue their goals.

Their most significant attribute is terrorism and not their religion. Their crimes overwhelm their faith and make their religion irrelevant.

An alternative way of looking at it is a quantitative approach. There were 3 killers involved in the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket. The number of muslims in France is not known precisely, but a figure of about 3 million seems a reasonable approximation for this sort of calculation, which if you work it out makes the number of killers in this incident just 0.0001% of the muslim population of France.

So why were there only three killers? Because muslims as a whole are not terrorists.

Besides which, there is nothing we could do to annoy the killers more than to deny their islamic nature.

Aug 212014
 

Everyone knows who I am talking about – those christians who keep banging on about how homosexuals are “broken” or evil or whatever weird names they’ve come up with lately. Like Scott Lively, Fred Phelps, Laura Schlessinger, etc.

The normal and sane response to finding out that someone prefers same-sex partners is to shrug it off as a matter that is nobody’s business but the people involved.

But “god hates homesexuality” claim the christian homophobes. So I gather, but I also gather this god person hates lots of other stuff too – mixed textiles, women who try and stop men fighting, no cursing, no gossiping, weird foods, etc. So why are these people so bent out of shape when it comes to a little harmless sex between consensual adults?

Well, when we normally encounter someone with a prurient interest in the sex lives of other people, we usually find that they like watching other people have sex. And we call them “voyeurs”.

If we were to postulate a hypothetical group of voyeurs who for some reason or another (perhaps “christianity”) repressed their sexual perversion, we would be quite likely to find them coming to hate the “objects” of their unnatural desire.

Which sounds a great deal like these christian homophobes.

Perhaps we should be treating these christian homophobes with compassion. Telling them their desires are perfectly fine (if they get permission first) and sending them free porn!

Mar 302013
 

In something I first heard about in the Daily Mail, so there was an instant credibility gap, it seems that Lord Carey has been blathering on about how Christians feel like a persecuted minority, and that the government is discriminating  against them.

Which is of course complete rancid rhino bile.

And any christian who feels persecuted against needs to take a good hard look at things.

According to the 2011 census, 59% of the UK population claimed to be christian. Given that 59% is more than 41%, I’d say that any christian who feels that they are a minority probably needs to take their socks off to count above 10. It is the rest of us – humanists, secularists, muslims, buddists, hindus, atheists, agnostics – who have the right to claim to be a minority. Given that 2001 (72% christian) was the first time the question was asked, it is hard to make historical observations regarding levels of christianity in the UK. Christians would of course say that we have been historically a christian society where everyone was a christian; others would say those who weren’t christian were under a great deal of pressure to pretend.

There are occasions when we get forced to sit through some sort of christian ceremony, although it was more common in the past than today. And it can be quite creepy listening to you guys speaking to your imaginary friend (or is it friends?).

Nothing to do with what goes on inside your churches of course, but christian ceremonies in public life can be excluding to those who are not christian. Take for example, the infamous council meetings where pre-meeting prayers are no longer permitted. Or rather praying out loud as part of the meeting is no longer permitted. If such prayers are part of a council meeting, they are effectively an unconscious expression of the kind of people who should take part in the meetings – that is practising christians. Or in other words, you are saying that the real minorities – atheists, muslims, etc. are not welcome.

Not that a period of silent contemplation at the start of a council meeting is a bad idea – indeed, it is probably a very good idea. And nobody is saying that you cannot talk with your imaginary friend(s) in the silence of your mind.

Carey specifically mentions the legalisation of gay marriage as one of the symptoms of “aggressive secularisation” within the government. Actually legalising gay marriage is simply doing the right thing; there is nothing in the legislation that forces anyone to get married to someone not of their choice! So it is merely allowing those who choose to, to get married to the person of their choice.

What christians who oppose gay marriage are complaining about, is that they are no longer allowed to impose their views of what marriage should be onto those who believe differently.

In other words christians are complaining about not being allowed to persecute others.

If christians still feel they are being persecuted in the UK, perhaps they should look at some of the real examples of christians being persecuted around the world (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Christians). Any kind of inspection of what happens around the world will make any decent person claiming that UK christians are being persecuted thoroughly ashamed. Whatever the rights or wrongs of the case (and frankly in the case of the BA employee, both sides could do with being told to just grow up), being unable to wear a cross in jewellery form at work hardly compares to being stoned to death.

Sep 172010
 

So the Pope on his visit to the UK is warning us of the dangers of “atheist extremism” and is comparing atheists to the Nazis.

I’m not sure what kind of thinking went on to associate Nazism with atheism. The Nazis repressed atheist groups in Germany with Hitler proclaiming in 1933 that he had “stamped [atheism] out”. It is just as ridiculous to claim that Catholicism lead to Nazism (as Hitler was brought up Catholic) as to associate atheism with the Nazis.

From his speech, it would seem that the pope is implying that atheists are less moral than those who believe that their imaginary friends will punish them severely if they behave badly. It is true that atheists do not have a single written code of morals to follow, but nothing stops us from following the sensible bits out of (for example) the bible. But what evidence is there that atheists behave less morally than those who believe in some religion ?

Of course we can all point out a list of historical atheists who haven’t exactly been good – Stalin, Lenin, and Hitler are usually top of the list, although it isn’t totally certain that Hitler was an atheist. The bigoted will point to that list as evidence that all atheists are evil, but of course you are not one of those fools.

The pope may have a point where he claims that morality in public life is in danger, but not when he claims that atheists are the root of the problem. A moral atheist is better than an immoral christian every single time, just as a moral christian is always preferred to an immoral atheist. We may not be able to agree on religious issues, but on most of the basics a moral atheist will be in full agreement with a moral christian – for example that all forms of murder and theft are wrong.

It is also a mistake to label everyone who doesn’t attend church or claim some sort of belief as an atheist. In a traditionally christian society, atheism is a choice to be made, and most people in Britain haven’t made that choice. Even those who put down “no religion” in the 2001 census (between 14% (England) and 19% (Wales) can’t be labelled as “atheist”, as “no religion” is a category that covers atheists, agnostics (the “don’t knows”), and the “don’t cares”.

And what examples of atheist extremism have we seen ? How many churches have been burnt to the ground ? How many bishops have been hung from lamp posts ? How many people attending churches or mosques have been spat at and reviled ? Well if all that has been going on, it mysteriously hasn’t shown up on the national news.

Perhaps us atheists aren’t that extreme at all.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close