Jul 242012

Here is a nasty article by Owen Jones in the Independent: Owen Jones: Islamophobia – for Muslims, read Jews. And be shocked “Islamophobia – for Muslims, read Jews…. Imagine our alarm if nearly half the UK population said they believed that ‘there are too many Jews’”. What is nasty about this argument is that it (probably deliberately) conflates “race” and “religion”. And then it uses the race-related experiences of Jews to try to defend the indefensible use of the charge of Islamophobia. Let’s remind ourselves of some reasons why racism is wrong: A person’s race, if determined by ancestry and/or . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Feb 112012

BBC: “Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has said the Christian faith is facing “gradual marginalisation”.” Daily Mail: “Christianity under attack” (Added on 14 February) BBC: “Militant secularisation threat to religion, says Warsi” Wrong! Christianity is not under attack.  Christian privilege is under attack! Christianity is a hobby. As long as Christianity has no fewer privileges than any other hobby, there is no justification for complaint. What Warsi calls “Militant secularisation” is really: “Stop pushing religion in our face. Treat your religion, one of 1000s that are practiced in the 21st century, as a personal and private matter, or one . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Jan 302012

If there really are people whose mission is to see religion eliminated across the world, I am not one of them. My vision is much more limited. I want everyone to realise that religions are hobbies and to treat them as such. If this is achieved, most of the conflict caused by the existence of religions will disappear, and atheists and followers of all religions should be able to coexist reasonably peacefully. After all, other hobbies can coexist reasonably peacefully (unless they have double-booked the meeting room!) By any plausible definition of “hobby”, religions (more specifically “religious practices”) really are . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Jan 292012

I’m posting this as the basis for further analysis in later posts. The UK media has lots of articles about good and bad behaviour in the name of various religions. This is especially true for Islam. In August 2008 I started to publish examples of what I thought the non-Muslim population of the UK wanted to see in the case of Islam, plus examples of what we typically don’t want to see. The latter dominated. When there were too many “bad behaviour” articles to fit conveniently onto the main page, I moved most of them to an overflow page: Main . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Jan 202012
In praise of cartoons about Islam

This is also in praise of cartoons about other religions! But a cartoon about Muhammad has been in the news recently: Pharyngula: This is getting ridiculous Butterflies and Wheels: More from the bully boyz BBC: Muhammad cartoon row leads to resignation NSS: Students defend freedom of expression at University College London Here is the cartoon. (I’ll show it to emphasise how silly it is to try to censor something like this!) What is all the fuss about? Some might think that the fuss is because it suggests that Muhammad drinks alcohol in a pub alongside Jesus. But no-one on the . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Jan 112012
Islam and Female Genital Mutilation - the link may be worse than I thought

In “My articles about Islam” I said: “Neither the Koran nor the Haddith mandate Female Genital Mutilation, nor the wearing of the Burqa, the Niqab, or even the Hijab. But in a religious environment where women had equality (if such exists), would these practices still exist? Islam is not excused.” I’m still reasonably sure that FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) is not mandated, but some Islamic scholars state that FGM is desirable. (I’m using the internationally recognised term, rather than the misleading euphemism “Female Circumcision”). This is from “Islam Question and Answer“: Medical benefits of female circumcision Circumcision: how it is . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Nov 082011
When people make their god obscure, simplify things

This is prompted by Julian Baggini’s article “‘You just don’t understand my religion’ is not good enough” in the Guardian. That article was about typical objections that religious people have towards criticisms of their religion, and also their typical leaps of illogic. Whether or not their intention is to obscure their god to protect their concept of him from scrutiny, arguing with obscure statements about a god is pretty futile. The goal-posts will keep shifting. Their god may start as “whatever was needed to cause the universe to exist”, and end up (without any logic whatsoever) as the God who . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Sep 262011

I recently posted Silly review by Colin Tudge of “The Magic of Reality”. In there I quoted from an older article of his: Microscopes have no morals (Guardian, 2003): It is often said that science answers “how” questions while religion asks “why”, but that is simplistic. The greater point lies in their scope. Religion, properly conceived, attempts to provide an account of all there is: the most complete narrative that human beings are capable of. Science, by contrast, is – as the British zoologist Sir Peter Medawar put the matter – “the art of the soluble”. It addresses only those . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Sep 232011

The Independent has a review by Colin Tudge of “The Magic of Reality” by Richard Dawkins, illustrated by Dave McKean. (This review is also discussed at RichardDawkins.net and Butterflies and Wheels). Virtually every one of the very many comments, both in The Independent and at RichardDawkins.net, criticises, and in fact generally condemns, this review. (I use the word “review” because it is in the “Reviews” section of The Independent, not because it is a genuine book review in any plausible sense). Quite right! It is a bizarre polemic, a rant against some aspect of either the book, or perhaps of . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Sep 232011

This article was prompted by a recent NewsScientist editorial: “Stamp out anti-science in US politics“. But after starting to write it, I was delayed by two new books I’ve bought: “The Magic of Reality” by Richard Dawkins and Dave McKean, and “Lying” by Sam Harris. How very appropriate! The fine line between ignorance and lying When do you stop giving the benefit of the doubt to people who keep making claims in defiance of science? The first time someone makes such a claim, they may simply be ignorant of the relevant science. Many scientists will be ignorant of science away . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]