Saturday, 30 June 2012

Interview with Reap Paden

Completed. Great fun. Maybe out on Tuesday.
I Think I might have said a few contentious issues. Time will tell

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

New wheelz donated to Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict's previous ride, bought for $244,590.83 by
Golden Palace Casinos as an advertising gimmick
Not everything the Catholic News Agency reports on is dogmatic and dour. According to a recent report, the Vatican took the keys to a brand new vehicle donated to Pope Benedict XVI by the NWG autos by the founders of the company, Francesco D’Antini and Antonio Rainone.


The event included a blessing of the car and a prayer to St. Christopher, the patron of travelers, that it would always be driven safely.


Never heard of them? No, neither had I. And for some reason, they didn't think it intersting enough of a story too print any details about the vehicle beyond how much it costs to 'top-up' (2.50 USD, btw)


Now for that price, the car is either a model, or it is an electric road vehicle. It turns out, it is the latter. Let's see what Ratzo will be darting around the Vatican in.

Thunderf00t has yet more cats to throw around


Politicians are often touted as 'hawks' or 'doves'. Thunderf00t's recent arrival at FtB can be better described as a cat amongst the pigeons.


On only his second post, he threw his oar into the TAMGate farce that has been enthralling (yawn) its readers for weeks (it seems like months?), by suggesting that it isn't really a big problem.


Today, he responds to PZ Myers' attacks on him, calling him out on his straw man arguments. In his third offering, he cites no less than five examples of what he perceives to be Myers "going off half cocked on some argument that was never made"


I'll not list them all here, Thunderf00t is more than capable of expressing himself, but I would like to see his presence at FtB rattle a few cages. Those that have followed me on Google+ recently will be aware of my growing frustration at a number (but by no means all) of the more established bloggers there cowering to the almighty Myers, rather than having the spine to stand up to him and have an opinion of their own.


Some might say I am not being very fair on those that do actually support Myers' position on TAMGate, and that would be a fair appraisal. If they are genuine in their sycophancy, then I am not talking about them, then.


No. It is those that sit on the fence that I am directing this towards. The self-serving obeisance that I have witnessed recently is excruciating, and in total contradiction to the name of free-thought.


I, for one, welcome Thunderf00t to FtB. His timely presence has been a breath of fresh air at a time when the discussions there were becoming awfully stifled and - dare I say - boring.


It has crossed my mind, that Thunderf00t is trolling for effect. If he is, Ed Brayton should be loving it, and by extension, Myers also. Their revenues must be going through the roof.


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

@JesseLeeEvans Let's discuss this here

The claim: William Lane Craig's three arguments for the existence of a historical Jesus; the resurrection appearances, the empty tomb, and the origin of the Christian faith. 


The players: @mygodlesslife, @JesseLeeEvans and @TedTheAtheist


Highlights of the text;

  • "The resurrection touches history as a tangent touches a circle-that is, without really touching it."  - Karl Barth
  • And modern man cannot be reasonably asked to believe in nature miracles before becoming a Christian. Therefore, the miraculous elements of the gospel must be demythologized to reveal the true Christian message [So in order to believe in miracles, one must accept them as true on faith alone to prove that they are true, but only to those that have already made the leap themselves? If this is true, then you present a tautology, not truth or evidence; you believe because you have made a concious decision to believe despite evidence]

Discuss...

Monday, 25 June 2012

Looks like I am going to be a guest on Reap Paden's GodlessRadio show!

Mornings are usually a boring and unproductive time for me. I mean, I keep myself occupied, just with the more mundane day to day humdrum tasks that fill out my day and give me a semblance of reality away from the work you will all be more familiar with.


This morning, though, when answering on-line surveys in the effort to keep my head above water, I got a Skype message from Reap Paden (a.k.a. The Angry Atheist) who runs the GodlessRadio.net podcast.


Now, I have been aware of his show for a couple of years now, and always listen to the show for no other reason than the great people he attracts to it, as the following exchange just goes to show.


Here, follows, a transcript of the conversation:

What is wrong with this picture?

Click image to embiggen

And, No. It is not shooped.

Check it out for yourself at 


I can't quite work out if they are just trying to be helpful, a harmless Easter Egg or just a sinister piss-take.

Do you know any cool Easter Eggs? I could do with a break from theology and politics for a day or two.

A quick philosophical conundrum

It's late here in Blighty, and I can't be bothered to work this out right now.


How does God know He is omniscient?


What you got?

Sunday, 24 June 2012

President Morsi: Islam is the problem, not the solution

The results of the Egyptian Presidential election have been announced, and just as I had feared at the time Tahrir Square began to fill up on the 25th January 2011, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood have taken power, with Mohammed Morsi's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).


He has said that it is time to put into practice the Brotherhood's famous slogan - "Islam is the solution" - and described its policy plans as having "a moderate Islamic reference". But what does a moderate Islamic reference mean when compared with notions of secularity and equality?


The Muslim Brotherhood, was formed in 1928 as a Pan-Islamic, religious, political, and social movement by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna, it was banned in its founding nation, Egypt, after it supported the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 when it attempted an assassination of Egypt's president then President Nasser in 1954.


"God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations."

The Muslim Brotherhood's goal, as stated by Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna was to reclaim Islam's manifest destiny, an empire, stretching from Spain to Indonesia [source].

The Thinking Christian's "The Child Sacrifice Question" - Counter apologetics

I have commented before on Tom Gilson's website, The Thinking Christian. He writes well, even if I disagree with the content of his work.

Up until this point, I have had no problem posting comments, but now things appear to be somewhat... clunky? So I have decided to post a full response here.

Tom's latest post is an apologia for God's testing of Abraham, by asking him to sacrifice his first-born child. Of course, I have some issues with his appraisal of the situation.

He begins by asking, "What is it about a command to sacrifice a child that makes it wrong?"

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Website Update:: New 'Image' page added


I have been planning on adding an 'Images' page for a long time, but never quite had the time to do. That said, I didn't count on just how easy it would be to integrate a PicasaWeb embedded slideshow into my pages.

Not so many images at the moment, but I would love to hear from you if you feel there is an image you feel really should be added to the folders.

At the moment, there is only one category (funnies), but if you think I should start another category, just drop me a line in the comments and I'll see what I can do.

You can find the new 'Images' page on the menu at the top of each page, or by clicking here.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Quick comment on Ophelia Benson's TAM withdrawal

How true! Thanks to John R. Ellis
Ophelia Benson claims to have been receiving threatening email messages about TAM today.

This is outrageous.

I have sat pretty much on the periphery of this debate in the hope that it might blow over, but this?

People's security is of paramount importance in a large event like TAM, and I am sure the JREF take it very seriously (even if a little ham-fisted at times), but for speakers to receive threats in email that make them not want to attend at all, then there is something rotten in the state of Denmark.

I do not know what the nature of these threats are, Ophelia apparently doesn't care to share them [UPDATE: She has now posted the emails here], but I trust they are of a serious enough nature for her to warrant her decision to drop out of TAM, and to report them to the necessary authorities.

This cannot be tolerated.

But what is more disturbing for me personally, is that she has capitulated to the threats. They win.

I really feel for anyone that has been threatened, but I cannot condone her pulling out of the very conference that gives her the opportunity to confront these assholes and tell them they will never hold sway over our security.


Ophelia, I really hope you change your mind. I am sure there are a number of options available to you to enhance your safety on site.

xkcd: Exoplanets

xkcd: Exoplanets

Click to embiggen

"God told me to..."

I was initially going to make this post principally about those that have carried out God's instructions to kill, but whilst they are included here, I found during my research that I encountered a number of interesting asides.

Unfortunately, my original message got somewhat drowned out in the theocratic white noise that is justification of personal moral turpitude by blaming someone that cannot be held accountable.

Guess what? You are accountable for your actions, and not in some randomly conceived notion of an afterlife, but here and now.

Certainly, some of these people are seriously cognitively challenged, but where is the level of demarcation to be drawn? What is it in someone's actions that we can clearly define one persons actions as an illness, and another's as a leadership quality?

Taslima Nasrin, beheadings and censorship

Over on FtB, Taslima Nasrin has posted a gruesome photo (NSFW) of the severed head of a 20 year old Indian lady who had been beheaded by her father, because he disagreed with her lifestyle.

I have some experience of posting similar material myself. One of my earliest posts included a picture of a female actually going through the process of being beheaded. The picture was not directly related to the story I was writing about, and said as much, but it caused quite a stir and is still the most read post here by some considerable margin.

Google Adsense took exception to this image, and promptly suspended my account. At the time I didn't wish to be censored, so the post remained, but as the costs have risen in producing my various blogs, I am forced now to pull the offending photo in order to highlight Taslima's post.

I suspect FtB have a better relationship with their advertisers than I do, so she may well evade censor. I trust she does. Stories like the one presented below deserve our critical appraisal and attention, for ignoring the terror that underpins such actions, we tacitly support it.

More Catholic News Agency misrepresentation and obfuscation

Those of you that are familiar with me both here on my blog and Google+ will be all too aware of my past run ins with the Catholic News Agency. 

If I blog more frequently on their stories than others, this is explained by virtue of their obvious and blatant disregard for journalistic rigour, and their apparent obsession with 'moderating' my comments into forms that I do not recognise (i.e. they are deliberately editing my comments to better reflect their own agenda).

Today, Catholic hacks have reported on a recent survey conducted by ComRes on behalf of Catholic Voices that apparently suggest that there is "low support for 'gay marriage' legalization".

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Removing my blog title from my post title

It's a small niggle, but nevertheless increasingly irritating. Just how do I remove my blog title from the post title when sharing or on news feeds?


Blogger's support is worthless.


Anyone else have this problem?

Catholic News Agency misrepresents same sex parenting study UPDATED


I have come to expect CNA will twist the news to support its agenda, this article on same sex parenting is no exception.

In it, they quote research done by other groups which may lead one to believe that this study condones same sex parenting as a statistically significant factor in the adult problems faced by the children that are its products.

However, this is not the remit of the study at all, as its conclusion - which is not mentioned at all in the CNA article - makes very clear (slightly edited for ease of reading. high-lights my own).

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

An intellectually honest and secular Catholic? Who'd ha' thunk it?

Professor Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo is a Washington Post blogger, American scholar of religion and retired Brooklyn College professor emeritus.

A staunchly traditionalist Roman Catholic, he cuts a curious politicised figure on a range of issues, not least his position on the canonisation of Queen Isabella - who signed the decree that created the Spanish Inquisition - and Pope Pius XII - who signed the Reichskonkordat between the Vatican and Nazi Germany.

It's not all autos-da-fé and pogroms, though. In fact you may be quite heartened to read what he thinks about the role of the church in providing health care, universities and other agencies that serve the public welfare.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Sanal Edamaruku facing blasphemy charges for exposing Catholic 'miracle'

The Church of Our Lady of Velankanni in Vile Parle, Mumbai was witness to a curious event that many claimed was a modern-day miracle.

A statue of the crucifixion began to drip 'holy water' from its toes, and before long, thousands of pilgrims flocked to the church to collect the 'divinely sourced' water in vials for its undoubtedly restorative powers.

But then, back in March, Indian TV channel 9 invited Rationalist International president, Sanal Edamaruku, to investigate the phenomenon.

He immediately set about his task, and before long had isolated the true - more disturbing - nature of events.

Mickey Mouse must die - The Islamic jihad on mice

I don't watch TV at all, because I think the overall quality of programming here in the UK is dreadful and caters to the lowest common denominator. Were I to have a TV in Saudi Arabia, however, I would have taken it out into the street, half buried it and stoned it to smithereens.

The following video shows an interview on Saudi state TV with Muhammad Al-Munajid, a radical cleric that has claimed;
“There cannot be harmony between Jews – who are usurpers and aggressors, who have oppressed and persecuted others, and who are known for their treachery and corruption throughout the world, historically and in the present age... As the Muslims and Jews are enemies residing in opposing religious and doctrinal camps, it is not possible for them to be brought together unless one is made to submit to the other by force.”
Highly divisive stuff, I am sure you will agree, but I fear his TV celebrity may have gone to his head a little.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Pastor Hagee? I call for YOU to leave America



To the American Christian reading this blog, if the idea of your Constitution protecting the rights of its citizens to believe as they wish offends you? Move.


There are plenty of planes leaving every hour where you can get a transfer to Iran or Pakistan where you can see for yourself why a secular constitution is necessary for the good of all of its citizens, not just those that subscribe to the majority. Get on one. Your country is embarrassed by you. It doesn't need you. And you'll miss the freedom America can rightly boast about that you appear to think is so offensive. I promise you.


Your coins say 'In God we trust', in strict violation of the Constitution you claim to hold so dear.


America may well be a nation of predominantly Christian people, but this is a nominal demarcation of demographics alone and has no constitutional, legal or moral standing.


Your Government has not officially recognised another god. It hasn't even officially recognised the Christian God, lest it be ruled unconstitutional. And in calling for Congress to outlaw one particular religion, you tacitly state that you re in favour of a constitutional amendment outlawing all religion; including your own.


Over 30 million non-Christians - a sizeable, increasingly powerful and vocal minority don't care about the Christian.

Why I will not be going to TAM this year

First, it was Rebecca Watson, then Justin Vacula and now me. It would appear the numbers of people stating they are not going to The Amazing Meeting this year is stacking up quicker than those who have stated they are.


Each of us have our own reasons, of course. Rebecca has stated that she will not be attending because she "can no longer support someone [DJ Grothe] who is so incredibly dismissive of women’s experiences." 


Justin is a debt-ridden student on the wrong side of the nation.


For my part, I shall not be attending because DJ Grothe has not come out and defended a man's right to be protected from feminist accusations of sexual predation. Why would I subject myself to such a flagrant disregard for my safety? It has not even been raised as an issue.


Oh, and I can't afford it ;-P


Safety is certainly a contentious issue, and I do support a comprehensive plan to deal with offensive behaviours, but I can't help but feel the way this is being dealt with (or not, as the case may be) is in any way constructive.





Will you be boycotting TAM this year? Why? Do you think that feminists are right to highlight safety above that of the meeting's content, or do you feel their actions undermine the message TAM tries to project?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Catholics! Do you tolerate bearing false witness and paedophile accommodationism?

NY Post h/t The Moral Perspective



Cardinal Timothy Dolan is a liar and a paedophile accommodationist. This is not in doubt.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York authorized payments of as much as $20,000 to sexually abusive priests as an incentive for them to agree to dismissal from the priesthood when he was the archbishop of Milwaukee.
Questioned at the time about the news that one particularly notorious pedophile cleric had been given a “payoff” to leave the priesthood, Cardinal Dolan, then the archbishop, responded that such an inference was “false, preposterous and unjust.”
But a document unearthed during bankruptcy proceedings for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and made public by victims’ advocates reveals that the archdiocese did make such payments to multiple accused priests to encourage them to seek dismissal, thereby allowing the church to remove them from the payroll.
You might have thought that the honest thing to do would be to admit to your lies and subterfuge, before handing in your resignation with your head held in shame. But no, that would be far too human a reaction. Far from making even a passing apology for his outrageous and illegal behaviour (not so much in the name of God, but his Vatican-based child-fucking men's club), he starts shooting the messenger in the forlorn hope that in the resulting smokescreen, we will not notice his odious actions/inactions.
“The New York Times does not have a reputation for fair and accurate reporting when it comes to this issue. … So, to respond to charges like that — that are groundless and scurrilous — in my book it’s useless and counterproductive.”
 So, Catholics. I ask you sincerely. Will you, for once, stick your neck out and admit that this man is a despicable cretin that should be ejected at the earliest convenience by the church you hold so dear?


If not, why not?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Doctors With Gay Bias Denied Meds, Man Says

Courthouse News Service


Honestly, this story beggars belief. I have no words to describe how I feel about this so-called doctor, so I shall just let the story speak for itself. I have nothing to add.

ELIZABETH, N.J. (CN) - A gay HIV-positive man says in court that a hospital denied him treatment and visitors, as the doctor remarked, "This is what he gets for going against God's will."


Joao Simoes sued Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Union County Superior Court. He says that the hospital admitted him in August 2011, but that "requests for his lifesaving medication were not honored," and his sister was denied visitation rights.

Susan V. Borga, M.D., from the Department of Behavioral Health and Psychiatry, allegedly approached Simoes while he was confined to the hospital's mental health wing. Borga is not named as a defendant.

Simoes says Borga was unfazed when another patient told her that he had just gotten out of prison, where he served time for murder. But her reaction was allegedly different when Simoes said that he did not work because he planned to go back to school and because of his HIV status.

Borga then allegedly asked Simoes how he got HIV, to which he responded, "I got it from unprotected sex."

The complaint then says that "Dr. Borga closed the plaintiff's file, put it down and looked at plaintiff with disgust on her face and asked, coldly, "Is that from sex with men?"

Simoes says he responded affirmatively and that, "immediately after hearing this, Dr. Borga proceeded to exit the room."

After this consultation, no nurse or doctor came to see Simoes, even though he told them that he needed to take his HIV medication, according to the complaint.

When the hospital finally permitted Simoes to call his personal physician on the third day of his stay, he learned that the doctor had already spoken with Borga about Simoes' medication, according to the complaint.

Borga allegedly responded: "You must be gay, too, if you're his doctor."

"Additionally, apparently realizing that plaintiff's doctor had an accent, Dr. Borga exclaimed, 'What, do you need a translator?' to which plaintiff's doctor had again responded that Dr. Borga needed to give plaintiff his HIV medication," the complaint states.

"Dr. Borga responded to plaintiff's doctor by stating, 'This is what he gets for going against God's will,' and hung up the phone on plaintiff's doctor."

Simoes says his sister had been at the hospital when he checked in, but the hospital refused to let her visit.

When the sister came to the hospital again on the day Simoes spoke with his personal physician, she brought her brother's medication.

"Plaintiff witnessed his sister leave his medication with the nurses' station and it was not until this time that the nurses, seeing that the plaintiff had witnessed his sister give his medication to the nurses, that the nurses eventually gave plaintiff his medication," the complaint states.

The hospital's conduct allegedly caused Simoes to miss five doses of his medication.

Simoes seeks punitive damages for discrimination. He is represented by Kevin Costello with Costello & Mains of Mount Laurel, N.J. 

At a Texas High School, Saying ‘Atheist’ Could Disrupt the Learning Process

At a Texas High School, Saying ‘Atheist’ Could Disrupt the Learning Process


My response is as follows:

Hi.
I have just seen your principal's notes on a Secular Student Alliance flyer.
I should like to ask him how, exactly, educating people in the meaning of a word that is a fundamental precept to the greater proportion of the events attendees, to others that may have a skewed misrepresentation of the term, constitutes a disruption to the education process?
Kind regards,
Mr Tris Stock
I can't honestly say I am expecting a response. Maybe you will have better luck. Remember to keep your response civil and to the point.

"The children's children cannot be held accountable for the misdeeds of their forefathers."

You would hardly credit it, but I found this statement in the Catholic Encyclopaedia whilst reading up on religious freedom!


Whilst there is no precise heading for religious freedom, my search did come up with an article on religious tolerance. Not so much with how Catholics should be treated, but more how they should treat others.


It is a bit of a tortuous read, as many things are in Catholic writings, but there are some notable doozies that should get the attention of even the most fundamentalist papists; the title of this post being just one.

Grassroots concerts: Voices United for Separation of Church and State - Home

Grassroots concerts: Voices United for Separation of Church and State - Home


This sounds like an awesome event..


Americans United


Americans United for Separation of Church and State represents members and supporters in all 50 states. We come from different religious, political and philosophical viewpoints, but we share a common commitment to church-state separation and individual freedom. Americans United wants to share our message through music, bring together artists to perform at house concerts all across the country, and major concert events in at least six cities. For more about Americans United visit our web site at www.au.org.

John Jennings

Voices United's major concert events are being coordinated by musician/producer John Jennings, a guitarist whose decades-long career spans several genres with top performers. John has produced or performed on albums by Mary Chapin Carpenter, the Indigo Girls, Cheryl Wheeler, George Jones, and a host of others. We are pleased that John is joining with Voices United to produce our major events. Look for more information about the events as it becomes available.

Catie Curtis

When the singer-songwriter movement boomed in the mid-‘90s, Catie Curtis was at its forefront. Now a veteran artist with an 18-year career, Curtis has recorded 11 critically acclaimed solo albums and has had songs featured in numerous TV shows, including “Dawson’s Creek,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Alias,” as well as in films such as “500 Miles to Graceland” and “A Slipping Down Life.” She won the Grand Prize in the International Songwriting Competition, several Boston Music Awards and has garnered critical praise along with a loyal fan base. Since the release of her 11th album, Stretch Limousine on Fire, in 2011, Curtis has continued to tour extensively, playing venues ranging from Chicago’s legendary Old Town School of Folk Music to the White House. All this makes Catie a perfect choice for coordinating the more than 50 House Concerts planned by Voices United.
Catie is lending her talents to Voices United for Separation of Church and State because she believes in the cause of freedom of conscience and the right of all Americans to live their lives free  from government-imposed dogma. Catie agrees with Americans United that for religion to be meaningful, it must be freely chosen. The right to believe – or not – as you see fit is the cornerstone of American liberty. Through Voices United, Catie is proud to be working with Americans of all stripes, lifting our voices high in a celebration of freedom.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Ten reasons why we are winning on gay "marriage"

I don't write much on gay rights. As a heterosexual man, it is not a subject that directly touches me. To be honest, I feel a bit of a fraud.

That said, I do take an interest in oppressed groups, especially if there is an overlap into areas of interest where I have more experience.

Tom Gilson writes a blog called The Thinking Christian that I follow. He is not your typical Christian blogger, inasmuch as he is actually very lucid and the quality - if not the content - of his writing is of a high standard.

In today's RSS feed I came across one of his latest posts entitled '10 reasons we are losing on gay "marriage"'. I couldn't help myself.

Letter to Governor Daniels: Ruth Burger child sex abuse case. UPDATED


Ruth Burger (nee Copley)
Many of you will by now have encountered the story over at Incongruous Circumspection regarding the horrific treatment of Ruth Burger (nee Copley), adopted daughter of Dr. Ken Copley - Pastor of Discipleship at Brownsburg Baptist Church IN., who sexually abused her for years. Her mother, if not sexually, certainly physically abused her for an even longer period of time. The nine part series does not take too long to digest, but its content does.


Today, we are informed that the now married with children, and war veteran  Ruth, wrote to Governor Mitch Daniels (Rep.) requesting that the Hamilton County District Attorney to re-open and conduct a thorough investigation into her claims. The letter is dated April 10th, 2012, and as yet has not received a response.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Testing my morals

I have just encountered a website that claims you can learn about your own morality, ethics, and/or values, while also contributing to scientific research.


You will have to register to have your results recorded, but it is a speedy enough process, at which point you are free to take the following surveys:


Sacredness Survey - What would you do for a million dollars?
Moral Motivation Scale - What motivates you to act morally?
Systems and Feelings - Which kind of understanding do you prefer?
Personal and Social Power - What are your tendencies and preferences when it comes to being in positions of power?
Ethnocentrism Measure - What are your attitudes toward your own ethnic group?
Moral Behavior Assessment - How moral or immoral do you consider a list of behaviours?
Trait ratings - How do you perceive your traits and abilities?
Satisfaction with Life Scale - How happy are you these days?


I shall be publishing my results here as I work through each survey. I should imagine I shall also be making some notes.

Here goes...

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Dr Peter Saunders and his double entendres





It is scary to think that certain medical professionals are so dishonest and manipulative, but Dr Peter Saunders has posted a blog with the title '20 questions atheists struggle to answer', and then post another blog saying;
Last week I put together a list of twenty questions that, in my experience, atheists either won’t or can’t answer and invited coherent responses.
Surely, if atheists won't or can't answer his propositions, it is just outright hypocrisy to then use the rest of the post to list all those that did bother to answer him. Whether or not he accepts these answers as coherent is a matter for, either him to judge his own interpretation of coherence, or for others to do it on his behalf. From my perspective, his judgement is in serious question, so his understanding of coherence is itself, incoherent.