The genius of our ancestors

December 26, 2012

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I get this a lot:
“If people evolved from apes…. why are there still apes?”
– The obvious problem here is with the word “still”. It presumes a continuation of the same, unchanged genetic make-up, untouched by the requirement to adapt. This is wrong. The apes you see today, are not the same apes as those 1,000,000 years ago. Apes today are as evolved as we are. As are slugs, spiders, and cats. They all required different methods of survival based on different circumstances; climate, terrain, predators etc. Apes today are evolved as a different branch from a common ape-like ancestor, shared with humanity. We shot off over millions of years, in all different routes. The ape-like ancestors that broke from the forested areas of Africa, over the savannah became so far apart from the ape-like ancestors still within the forested areas (body structure became different – those who left the forests no longer needed upper body strength in the capacity that those still in the forests did…. and so that trait was no longer necessary for survival), that they became a different species altogether. They slowly, and for many reasons, diverted to all different lines that eventually became homosapien…. human.
And the history of humanity, has been fascinating.

The first thing to note is, there is no real difference between “micro” and “macro” evolution. Macro evolution is simply the accumulation of adaptations over a vast scope of time, that eventually produce different species from the ancestor. It is a term Creationists use for no real purpose. They appear to be under the rather odd impression, that we believe there is an instant in time, when a chimp throwing feces, becomes a man in a suit, looking up mortgage rates; this is their “macro evolution” claim. It doesn’t exist. Macro-evolution, is simply micro-evolution played out over hundreds of thousands of years. If you discuss this with Creationists, they move the goal posts. It’s a pointless discussion. ‘Creation Science’ is not valid, it isn’t respectable, and no credible biologist nor geologist takes it seriously.

Others ask “Where is your evidence?” Well, that’s a massive question, because we have such a plethora of different strands of evidence. For example, we know that if you were to lay The analogous chromosomes 2p and 2q taken from great apes end to end, they would create an identical structure, to the human chromosome 2, including the remains of the ends of the two chromosomes fusing in the middle, to show that somewhere along the line, the two chromosomes became one, and thus, became human. It is a perfect match. I cannot even begin to describe how unlikely this is, had it not been for evolution. I wont get into the evidence from the fossil record, needless to say, the painstaking work that went into progressing the fossil record, recording it, and proving as we’d expect to see through evolution… that the oldest layers of the Earth’s surface, contain early, less evolved species, whilst the top layers, predictably, contain more advanced species, is exactly as we’d expect to see. It is the reason you will not find a modern rabbit skeleton, in an older fossil layer. It is a perfect record, with no reason to doubt its validity. There is also a lot of evidence for speciation in the fossil record…. Creationists don’t accept this, for some odd reason (yet, they do unquestioningly accept the story of dust man, rib lady, and talking fire bush). We also know that modern biology, medicine, zoology, and a list of other subjects are predicated on evolution being true.

We also hear the oft-repeated “There are no transitional fossils!” line from Creationists. I don’t know where they get this idea. The fossil record is full of transitional fossils. For example, Tiktaalik roseae is a transitional form from Acanthostega gunnari to Eusthenopteron foordi. One of many, many examples of “missing links”.

And so, given that it is as close to fact as possible, I am often struck by the degrading rhetoric aimed at our ancestors, that those with faith feel the need to vocalise whenever the subject of evolution is brought up. It is of course a defence mechanism from those who are aware that their myths are based on weak conjecture and second hand nonsense, from period of human history in which we understood nothing.
Here is an example of that defence mechanism:

evolution

We owe our ancestors everything.

I am unable to understand how we could degrade their memory by evoking the idea they were simply dumb apes. I shall now take a look at what we have our Primate ancestry to thank for. Our actual story; of survival, of hardship, of innovation and inquiry and progression and evolution is far more spectacular than that offered by religion, which is nothing but the creation of slaves compelled to obey a dictator. Whilst aspects of religion have given us wonderful works of art and of poetry, and have built the most spectacular buildings, and inspired great philosophical inquiry, the most devious aspects have promoted tyranny and oppression of our natural state as rational and progressive beings.
We insult our ancestors, when we imagine them as slaves to a celestial dictator; depriving them of their hard earned place in the wonderful history of man.

If we take our ancestry as humans back around 2 million years ago, we see our earliest known ancestor from the Homo genus; Homo Habilis. In the wonderful book ‘Adam’s Tongue; How Humans made Language, How Language made Humans’, Derek Bickerton suggests that Habilis developed a sort of proto-language, between great ape sounds and modern human communication, to aid them in their scavenging techniques.
Habilis, it is suggested, was far more advanced that Chimpanzee at the time. There is evidence to show that Habilis mastered the use of Oldowan stone tools. Excavations from the Afar Triangle in Ethiopia suggest that the tools were used to cut through bone and plants. What a wonderful innovation, a testament to the power of the evolving mind, and the nature of our ancestors to not just survive, but improve their standard of living. Niche-construction working hand in hand with natural selection.
Here is Homo Habilis:

450px-Homo_habilis

We owe developments in language, and tools to Homo Habilis. Most of all, we owe our survival as a species. At the same time that Habilis existed, similar Homo-like creatures fought for the same ground, and food alongside them. Australopithecus boisei is a member of the extinct Paranthropus genus. Because of Habilis use of tools among other superior elements, Australopithecus boisei eventually died out, whilst Habilis went on to continue the line of human evolution. Without Habilis, it is unlikely that we would exist today.

Homo Ergaster (about a million years after Habilis) seems to be the direct ancestor of modern Homo Sapiens (us) that was first to use symbolic communication (a sort of precursor to art), similar but obviously less complex, than we today. Paleanthropologists Richard Leakey, Kamoya Kimeu and Tim White named Ergaster, after the Greek word for “Work man”. This naming reflects the advanced tools found with the bones of members of the Egaster family. The Saharan Acheulean handaxe is a spectacular hand axe type tool made and perfected by Ergaster. The handaxe seems to have been used to kill their captured animal, and skinning it for food; it is an important technological development, when we consider that it is also true that Ergaster had began to harness the use of fire. Egaster is also said to have had powerful legs, making them extremely fast runners.
We have Ergaster to thank for sophisticated tools, and use of fire, and for their speed, for survival.
Here is Homo Ergaster:
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Homo Heidelbergensis may possibly be the direct descendent of Homo Ergaster (for those who consider Ergaster to be different from Erectus….this is contentious). Somewhere along the line, Homo Heidelbergensis became Homo Sapien, others became Neanderthal. Studies show that Homo Sapien, and Homo neanderthalensis shared a common ancestor around 400,000 years ago. This puts that common ancestor in the range of Heidelgensis, and their African branch becoming modern Human.
Here is an easy way to describe the digression:
modern_human_family_tree
– It is safe to conclude that the transition from Homo Heidelbergensis to modern human, began between 200,000 and 100,000 years ago. So, we should probably look at the developments that we inherited from Heidelbergensis.
It is thought that Heidelbergensis was the first of our ancestors to bury their dead. It is also the case that Heidelbergensis developed a form of language more advanced that Ergaster, which helped it develop a more ‘human’ like social situation and more sophisticated culture, through language. Between the divergence of Homo Heidelbergensis to Neanderthal, and the divergence to Homo Sapiens, that period may have been key to the victory of Homo Sapiens over Neanderthal some 30,000 years ago.
We have Heidelbergensis to thank for developing more sophisticated language, and sense of social structure.
Here is Homo Heidelbergensis:
homo.heidelbergensis.a

Around 71,000 years ago, just after Homo Sapiens left Africa, it has been suggested that due to the eruption of Mount Toba in Sumatra, modern human races might have diverged as a result of being cut off from populations of other modern humans. It is estimated that the eruption, leading to famine and other survival problems may have caused our numbers to drop to less than 15,000. The size of a small town. And yet, here we are. Diverse races, and the dominant species.

It is around this time that we start to develop more impressive tools. Tools that Neanderthal hadn’t developed. Our tools were constructed out of more than one material. We manufactured different categories of tools, which of course requires a stronger form of communication, to teach.

As Homo Sapiens left Asia for Europe, some 45,000 years ago, and about 20 – 60,000 years after leaving Africa, they soon discovered that Neanderthal – with their bigger brain, more powerful figure, and more adapt understanding of the landscape of Europe – had beat them to it by about 100,000 years. It is pretty evident from studies over the years that Neanderthal and Homo Sapien co-existed for thousands of years. This baffles and amazes me. A different species of human, living side by side with us for thousands of years. Amazing.
There are many theories as to why Homo Sapiens out lasted Neanderthal. The suggestion that Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals interbred, is too contentious to discuss at length. The argument goes back and fourth every couple of years. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory issued a statement after their study in 2006, to say that there was no interbreeding. Yet, work by Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute concluded:


“The proportion of Neanderthal-inherited genetic material is about 1 to 4 percent. It is a small but very real proportion of ancestry in non-Africans today”.

– It is possible that interbreeding occurred just as Homo Sapiens left Africa. But other explanations exist as to why we share about 1 to 4% of our DNA with Neanderthal. However, there is too great a dissimilarity between Neanderthal and Homo Sapien mitochondrial DNA to suggest that Neanderthal were simply absorbed into the modern human.
One of the ways Homo Sapiens differed to Neanderthal, was in how we dealt with extreme climate change. Around 50,000 years ago, right up until the suggested date for extinction of Neanderthal – 30,000 years ago, it is suggested that the Earth experienced hectic climate change that Neanderthal were not able to cope with. They were built for woodlands, and colder temperatures. The fluctuations would have caused changes to the landscape and to animal life, that did not work with traditional Neanderthal ways of hunting and gathering. Neanderthal continue to move north, as the woodland recedes north. They simply couldn’t adapt with the change. Homo Sapiens were less carnivorous than Neanderthal, and could easily adapt our eating habits to suit the climate changes.

Let us also not forget that to survive, a Neanderthal would have required double the amount of calories per day, than Homo Sapiens, due to their huge stature.

We also know that the Neanderthals, whilst having larger cranial capacity, were not too great with language. Whilst they developed language, it was short and slow. It was far less advanced than Homo Sapiens. One reason for this is that Neanderthal had a tongue that was positioned too high in the mouth to produce many different sounds. Their language, would have been a relatively small variety of sounds, and so given that technological advancement requires language to progress, Neanderthal were at a massive disadvantage in comparison to Homo Sapiens.

Researchers Jill A. Rhodes and Steven Churchill, evolutionary anthropologists, writing their findings of a long study, in the Journal of Human Evolution argue that Neanderthal could not throw particularly well and so relied on up close forms of hunting. Suddenly, Modern man bursts onto the scene, fighting for the same food supply, and with a developed bow and arrow, and long range spears to throw, along with a more adapted form of communication. Neanderthal were at a disadvantage. They were better suited to ambush conditions of woodland, given there reliance on meat. The dramatic climate change would have slowly taken its toll, which explains why we don’t see a sudden extinction. It happens slowly, over a long period of time.

Homo Sapiens were simply far greater at adapting to climate change, than Neanderthal.

We have a lot to thank our “Ape” ancestors for. They set the first bricks of human ingenuity, and they built upon it every step of the way. The fought through the most atrocious and frightening conditions. They rationalised, and they innovated. They domesticated nature. They utilised fire, and tools. They came to the brink of extinction, and survived. They communicated between one another. They created, and they educated. Their struggle simply to survive is the backbone that allows for the deluded religious luxury of remarking on Twitter about how embarrassing and dreadful their legacy is.

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The Tory Hypocrisy

December 21, 2012

AlecShelbrooke

Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke apparently isn’t satisfied with completely ripping the bottom out of the entire public support system, immediately after his Party’s social engineering project threw millions out of work and onto the benefit system. Apparently that’s not enough. He wants to go one step further. If you claim any sort of Welfare, he wants to tell you what you are allowed to spend it on. So I thought i’d make sure Shelbrooke was being consistent in his apparent moral outrage at misspent tax payer’s money. After all, if we save enough by forcing poor people to only eat bread and water, we might be able to afford to give Starbucks another wonderful Corporate tax break, on tax that they don’t actually pay anyway.

Interestingly, a quick bit of research (and this is my interpretation of the research only) brings up Mr Shelbrooke’s own expense claims (MPs in-house-socialism).
Between April 2010, to March 2011, Shelbrooke claimed: £38,914.52
Between April 2011 to March 2012, Shelbrooke claimed: £38,666.06
Between April 2012, to the present day, Shelbrooke has claimed: £14,541.57
Altogether, since winning his Seat in 2010, Alec Shelbrooke, the man who is hugely unhappy at wasting taxpayers money, has claimed a total of: £92,122.15. This is on top of his MPs salary of £65,738. a year.

Maybe you’re thinking all of those claims are necessary, for him to run his office? To an extent, you would be right. He needs to cover the cost of the running of his office, and I accept the legitimacy in that. But maybe you’re presuming that it’s perfectly acceptable for the tax payer to be funding the council tax on his second home, or maybe you think he’d be unable to perform his duties as MP-with-an-ideologically-dogmatic-hate-for-poor-people, unless the tax payer fund the £1,300.00 on his monthly flat rental? (That’s a pretty expensive flat. I’m sure he could find cheaper accommodation elsewhere?)
Here:
accom
– Is there REALLY no cheaper flat that he could rent? Actually, yes. Here, I found a few. Saves the taxpayer a fortune. £750 a month, on the Old Kent Road. Perfect!
In fact, of Shelbrooke’s expenses since 2010, he has claimed the most for Accommodation, than he has for Office costs, travel costs, and Staffing costs. For 2010-2011, he received £14,300.00 in Accommodation.

Here’s another interesting talking point; Alec Shelbrooke has claimed a number of times, for his TV licence. Here is just this year alone:
shelbrooke
– So, naturally, being inquisitive, I thought i’d raise this with Shelbrooke over Twitter (admittedly, I could have been a lot more diplomatic; call it heat of the moment):

s1

Shelbrooke, to his credit, replied.
s2
– Interesting statement, and on the surface, appears reasonable. But, if you look on the Parliamentary Standards website, you will come across a “Definitions” page, explaining the terms used on the expenses forms. Here:

Accommodation Expenses
Most MPs outside the London Area need two residences in order to conduct their parliamentary
duties at Westminster and in the constituency. IPSA will fund the costs of one of these locations.
This may include rent or the cost of hotel stays. For some MPs re-elected in 2010, mortgage interest
will continue to be reimbursed for a transitional period, ending in August 2012. Costs of council tax,
service charges, utilities and telephone/TV/internet connections are also reimbursed. Cleaning,
gardening and furniture costs are not.

Office Costs (Previously CORE & GAE)
This covers the basic costs of having an office: rent, business rates, utilities and day-to-day running
costs, including office equipment, various services, basic security, and non-political communication
costs. Constituency surgery venue hire is included here too.

– So, by Shelbrooke’s reply, it would seem that his TV licence should, if it were claimed purely to show Parliamentary proceedings for the benefit of his staff, be made out as an ‘Office Cost’. Yet, if you cast your eyes to the expense claims I posted above, you will see it classed as “Accommodation”. Just to clarify that:
ipsa
– Now, I am not saying that he’s lying. It may have been falsely attributed. He might have just put it down as “Accommodation”, for no real reason. But it’s worth thinking about. If Shelbrooke has claimed for a TV licence in his home (perhaps the same home, that we’re all helping to fund by paying his council tax, and rent every so often), then I am not entirely sure where he gets the nerve to tell benefit claimants (and remember, it isn’t just the typically referred to Tory definition of a benefit claimant – sitting on the couch whilst everyone else funds their lifestyle of pissing away £50 notes – it is everyone who claims any sort of benefit) that they aren’t entitled to luxuries. Even if TV is within the rules of Accommodation costs covered by expenses, he is being hugely inconsistent in his own moral outrage.

Here is another wondrous example of his hypocritical moral outrage at wasting tax payers money. A man earning £65,000 a year, allegedly charges the tax payer for his TV licence and his rent every so often, works at a place where alcohol is subsidised by the tax payer, feels the need to fill out a Parliamentary expenses form to pay for his food and drink…. worth £15.
food
– That’s a pretty expensive meal. Why? Wait a while, go out, with your own fucking money, and buy a cheap meal from somewhere in London. Thereby saving the taxpayer, and not appearing like a massively hypocritical fool.

Shelbrooke isn’t the only Tory to be have been horrendously hypocritical, with a sense of “I deserve” about them. In June 2010 David Willetts referred to students as a “burden” on the tax payer. Interesting stuff from an insufferable millionaire whom allegedly claimed, according to the Telegraph, £125 from the taxpayer for lightbulbs to be changed in his mansion, and £2,191.38 for the cleaning of a shower head, £1,100 for food, and a further £5,107.25 for plumbing repairs. That’s over £8000 in total, which could pay for a University Student’s tuition fees for two full years, after which time the Student will leave university with a better understanding of his or her chosen field of expertise, and the market will gain a new professional. Or, we could have a clean bathroom complete with a brand new lightbulb in THE MILLIONAIRE, Mr Willetts house. Tough call.

David Willetts is a burden to the taxpayer.

If you happen to be a victim of the disastrous failure of far-right economics, forced by a Government of multi-millionaires, that didn’t have a mandate to do it, and you’re now unemployed through no fault of your own………. a man from that clique of the modern day Nobility, wants to make sure you are not allowed a shred of human happiness, and any dignity that you feel you are losing due to not being able to find work, he believes should be amplified. Your misery at being jobless, apparently must be enhanced by your misery to only buy things that ‘Lord’ Shelbrooke, with his tax payer funded flat, his tax payer funded TV licence, and his tax payer funded expensive meal (allegedly), thinks is appropriate. So shut up, and learn your place, you miserable unemployed pleb.

Everyone who has lost their job as a result of Tory economic mismanagement and dogmatic recession-inducing extremism, when receiving your benefit, should note that this overly privileged authoritarian Tory wishes to have the power to tell you what you should and shouldn’t buy. He wants to tell you what constitutes “luxury”. But we should not expect any different. This is what Tories do. They are not compassionate, they are not progressive, they are a Party of millionaires, for millionaires. Remember this in 2015.

Let’s give MPs a Welfare Card.
They can only stay at cheap hotels in London, when they’re in the capital – thus sparing the tax payer, rent payments, and council tax on second homes.
They can only buy lunch, up to the price of, let’s say, £3. This covers a Tesco Meal Deal. Perfect.
Let’s stop subsidising the Commons bar. They can pay for it themselves. But not with their new MP Welfare Card.
And they most certainly cannot claim for a TV licence.
I would support that. Very much so.


Morality needs religion; like the sea needs Poseidon

December 16, 2012

TheWarOnFaith-MP-ChristianMoralityIsBarbaricSupreme Court Nominee Judge Robert Bork, nominated by President Reagan in 1987, once gave his rather insulting explanation as to how Atheists can live a moral, decent life, as follows;

We all know persons without religious belief who nevertheless display all the virtues we associate with religious teaching…such people are living on the moral capital of prior religious generations… that moral capital will be used up eventually, having nothing to replenish it, and we will see a culture such as the one we are entering.

It is a rather curious comment from Bork on a couple of levels. Firstly, Bork is suggesting that Agnostics and Atheists are living off of the back of religious teaching as a guide to our moral existence, whether we chose to believe in the dogma or not. Without that religious backbone, people like me, would be robbing, raping and murdering all over the place. For Bjork, morality preceded life. It was kept in Heaven, before it was handed to us, in the middle of the desert, around 198,000 years after humanity evolved. And then a new set, handed to Muhammad, that directly conflicts with the old set, and caused, still causes, and continues to cause misery and destruction. He is suggesting Moral rights and wrongs existed before humanity, but were not possible to know, until God very generously intervened in human affairs to tell us we were all born sinners, and according to his game, will be violently punished unless we now do exactly what he says. Without this, we would be awful people. He is suggesting that despite all the research and studies into the structure of our minds and how it affects empathy and other key components for moral decision making, it was in fact, Jesus. He quite conveniently ignores the question of why religion has been able to play such a central ‘moral’ role in society for the past 2000 years; this usually involves a lot of violence, oppression and vicious silencing of dissent. Even now, draw an insulting cartoon of Christopher Hitchens, and draw an insulting cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad…. and you watch which group provides the more morally respectable response.

And secondly, because the very reason he is in the position he currently enjoys, is because of the secular nature of the Constitution. He is supposed to be protecting that secular nature. Religion should not play a role in his public life, nor in his public rhetoric. The fact he is in a position of secular power, means he is living off the back of secular reasoning.

He always seems to be under the impression that Christian ‘morality’ is 1) Objective (it isn’t) and 2) Unchanged (it hasn’t).

Bork’s comments stem from the notion that there cannot be a sense of morality, without Religion. This often repeated idea from the Christian community, is embedded in Christian thought. Psalm 14:1:

“The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.”.

– It is a theme that runs through Christian ‘thought’. Any sort of free thinking, any rational inquiry, and kind of curiosity and questioning is punishable, because in a show of circular reasoning, the Bible says so, and so the Bible must be right…. because the Bible says so. It is odd that a God would endow us with critical faculties, and then punish us for using them.

This isn’t morality, this is very heavy dictatorship based on fallacy after fallacy. You mustn’t question, you must be silent, and worship. You are punished, for thought crime. It is made clear right at the point of the ‘fall’, as we are told that the Devil urges Adam and Eve to eat from the ‘tree of knowledge’. God, obviously did not want humanity to think, or to question. Our natural curiosity as a species, is punishable. God wanted blind obedience. He wanted pawns in a very devious game. The Devil seems to get a bad reputation, for simply inspiring free thought. He certainly isn’t as vicious, and as punishing, as genocidal, and as discriminatory as God of the Bible. Nor is he as obsessed with Muhammad’s sex life, as the God of the Qur’an. As i’ve previously argued,The Devil, in the Bible, represents Enlightenment. The enemy of religion.

Bork’s words were echoed yesterday, when Mike Huckabee of “execute Julian Assange” fame (interesting, given that Assange isn’t bound by American law), claimed that the reason the tragic shooting in Newtown took place, was because God was missing from lessons. Call me cynical, but the last time the Church mixed with children, the outcome was a systematic covered up child sex scandal, that still hasn’t been dealt with. I’m not sure I trust Christian teaching, and children to be in any way connected. If we take the recent Hebrew lessons taught in schools in Palestine as dictated by the Hamas leadership; we note that it isn’t for reasoned dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis, it is to teach, and I quote:

“Expanding (Hebrew) teaching comes as a result of our plan and meeting greater demand by students to learn Hebrew. They want to learn the language of their enemy so they can avoid their tricks and evil.”

– It is to further perpetuate hate, and suspicion. Nothing more. There is no Human value to it. It is further indoctrination of children, to create a further atmosphere of tension, at a young age.

Back to Huckabee: Why wouldn’t a God intervene to stop a brutal massacre like Newtown? Christianity is clear; God is immanent. He answers prayer. He flooded the Earth. He can intervene if he wants to. A tiny school that doesn’t base its values on Christian Theocratic principles is not an obstacle for a God that has already wiped out millions before. And yet, he didn’t intervene this time. Why? Simply because the US is a secular Nation? That’s his reason for allowing mass slaughter? He seems to be able to intervene in order to commit genocide every so often, but not to stop a massacre. Keep your God, he’s insane.

I have blogged previously on the Pope’s rather ludicrous claims that non-belief leads directly to Hitler. The Muslim speaker Hamza Tzorzis in practically every debate, insists Atheists ‘lack of moral basis’ can lead to all sorts of atrocities, like Hitler (Hamza’s main talking point in debates, seems to be moral anchors; along with old, long discredited Cosmological arguments) Their suggestion is quite possibly the biggest slippery slope fallacy I have come across, and ignores the very fact that Hitler professed his pro-Christian, anti-Atheist credentials whenever he saw fit, was endorsed by the Catholic Church, and used centuries of anti-Jewish sentiment screamed by the Church, to promote the need to destroy them. In my previous article, I note:

In 1939, Cardinal Orsenigo was sent by Rome to celebrate Hitler’s birthday. Pope Pius XII started an annual birthday celebration tradition for Hitler in fact. The Catholic Church each year would send “warmest congratulations to the Fuhrer in the name of the bishops and the dioceses in Germany”.
Hitler in 1922, said this:

My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. .. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison.

Hitler in 1933, said this:

“Today they say that Christianity is in danger, that the Catholic faith is threatened. My reply to them is: for the time being, Christians and not international atheists are now standing at Germany’s fore. I am not merely talking about Christianity; I confess that I will never ally myself with the parties which aim to destroy Christianity.”

Hitler, also in 1933, said this:

“We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.”

Hitler in 1934, said this:

“National Socialism neither opposes the Church nor is it anti-religious, but on the contrary, it stands on the ground of a real Christianity.”

Now, compare Hitler’s speeches above, with the Islamic Palestinian Political Party Fatah today:

Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims. “Let the eyes of the cowards not fall asleep.”

Compare Hitler’s motives for a Empire by conquest, with Hamas today. Hamas member “cleric Yunis Al Astal”:

“an advanced post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread though Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, even Eastern Europe.”

– So do not tell me, that non-belief creates an atmosphere that leads to parties like the Nazis being morally acceptable. It is absolutely the religious claim on ‘objective morality’ that both motived Hitler, and motives those like Hamas who wish to emulate him entirely. Religious ‘objective morality’ permits acts that we non-believers find abhorrent, by stigmatising groups based on culture, gender, sexuality and race. It is religion that does that, it is religious that creates a hateful atmosphere by creating an Us VS them mentality and claiming divine right to do so. Never trust, nor pay attention to anyone who claims divine right to tell you how to dress, how to talk, what to think, or who you may or may not fall in love with. They are totalitarian poison.

Back to the point. So, the Theist’s are suggesting that morality comes directly from God. An anchor, as Hamza often puts it. A moral anchor, lodged firmly in the setting of bronze age tribal desert people, who took slaves, sacrificed people, and where women were created simply as a companion for the man, whilst gay people are treated to the death penalty.

It is illogical to claim objective morality based on ‘revealed’ texts. The very essence of revelation, is individual to every major religion. Mohammad was apparently given moral revelation, in a cave outside of Mecca. Therefore, the objective truth pertaining to morality, is objective to him only. To everyone else, it is secondary hear-say. No one is compelled to accept it, and therefore, it is subjective morality. It is absolutely irrational to claim an objective anchor for your morality, when it is second, third, fourth hand ‘revelation’.

To begin to suggest “objective” morals from divine source, you need to do a few things first. Your starting point, would be to prove a creator. This implies something ‘outside’ of everything. Everything encompasses itself. Which is impossible. And also logically absurd, because it demands a being that can exist outside of the confines of time. So, to prove a creator, first you must prove that something can exist outside of time (to have created time). Prove it, not philosophically suggest it. Actually prove it. If your faith is to have any power over the lives of others, you have a whole lot of proving to do.
Then, once you’ve proven that something can exist outside of time, you have to prove that the creator is all good. Why not an all evil creator? Or two creators? Or a creator that created everything, and then stepped back? Or a creator who created the universe in a final act before dying?
Then, once you’ve proven something can exist outside of time, and successfully dismissed all other possible creator attributes other than ‘all good’, you then have to prove that the creator, is the God of your particular religion. I wish all Theists the best of luck in that.
Once you’ve done all of those things, proven everything above, then, and only then can you speak of ‘objective’ morals. Otherwise, you have a subjective base for your morality, that you claim is ‘objective’ because someone once wrote it down.

So it is of course, ludicrous for anyone to suggest morality is anchored to religious texts. Not just for the limitations of revelation, and lack of anything even close to ‘proof’ on any of the above points, but also what those ‘revealed’ moral statements enforce at their core. We are also told by anyone insisting that to have a God, is to have ‘objective morality’ that their texts are open to masses of interpretations. Hamza Tortzis of Islamic Public Speaking fame is insistent that to be Muslim, means to have an anchored set of moral principles. Yet when challenged on the brutality that the Qur’an and Hadith have inflicted upon the World, and continue to inflict, he weasels his way out of it, by claiming a multitude of interpretations for those specific ‘objective morals’. The contradiction is glaring.

The Qur’an and the Bible are both excellent examples of what we would consider vast immorality and totalitarianism. It is, for example, very ‘morally’ dubious, for Abraham to have agreed to sacrifice his son, purely to glorify God. Though God stops it eventually, he is happy enough to put Isaac through the horror of believing his own father is about to sacrifice him. Is anyone happy to say that this is morally acceptable? That this represents an all loving God, rather than a very needy God? This test of faith, is disgusting. Islam is no different, and in many ways, far far worse. The Hadith is quite clear on what the punishment for leaving Islam should be;

‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.’ – Bukhari (52:260)

‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.’ – Bukhari (84:57)

“A man embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism. Mu’adh bin Jabal came and saw the man with Abu Musa. Mu’adh asked, “What is wrong with this (man)?” Abu Musa replied, “He embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism.” Mu’adh said, “I will not sit down unless you kill him (as it is) the verdict of Allah and His Apostle” – Bukhari (84:58)

– Most Muslims do not accept this any more. Why? I’d suggest it is because killing people simply for saying “I’m no longer Muslim” is a moral evil. Therefore, those Muslims have absolutely no right to claim a ‘moral anchor’. Unless of course they only claim a moral anchor, with the Qur’an…. which is one big war manual, as well as a guide for Muhammad’s sex life.

And we know the purpose of death for apostasy. As Yusuf al-Qaradawi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood said:

“If they [Muslims] had gotten rid of the punishment for apostasy, Islam would not exist today.”

– Islam, like Christianity, spread it’s “moral” message, through force. Nothing else. Yusuf al-Qaradawi was using the quote above….. as reason to allow death for apostasy to continue. One of the leading Islamic Theologians in the Middle East (and also, admirer of Hitler) was advocating death simply for leaving a religion. Is this your Islamic morality? Keep it.

Now, I am convinced that Muhammad invented the Qur’an to satisfy his own desires for power, wealth, and women. So therefore, to me, the ‘moral anchor’ given by Islam, is simply a man made concoction, with billions of people clinging to the ‘morality’ of a power hungry womaniser. It seems that Allah didn’t actually wish women to be veiled originally. But Muhammad’s friend Umar ‘wishes’ it, and suddenly Muhammad gets another call from Allah, and women are to be veiled for the most mundane reason:

And as regards the (verse of) the veiling of the women, I said, “O Allah’s Apostle! I wish you ordered your wives to cover themselves from the men because good and bad ones talk to them.” So the verse of the veiling of the women was revealed. (Qur’an 24:31)

– Unless Muslims can absolutely prove beyond any doubt that 1) A creator exists. 2) He’s infinitely good (a creator could also be infinitely evil, or he/she could be a creator that kick started creation, and then walked away, or there could be multi-creators) 3) The creator is the God of Islam and 4) Muhammad didn’t make it up….. until they can prove all of those points, then we have no reason to accept that the Qur’an is a moral anchor, any more than we must accept that the Chronicles of Narnia offer a moral anchor.

Similarly, we are aware, in the 21st Century that a grown man should neither marry, nor have sex with a child. We know that to be wrong. Yet, for all the revelations for irrelevant reasons (which way to pray, acquiescing to veil wearing ‘wishes’ of Muhammad’s friends), Allah doesn’t see it necessary to insist that having sex with a child, is wrong. If we are to presume the morality of God is unchanging (which we must, to consider Islamic morality to be ‘objective’), then we must assume that abusing children, is not something God cares too deeply to prevent…. but praying toward Jerusalem instead of Mecca, he feels it necessary to correct. I am not sure I like this God or this ‘objective’ morality. Most Muslims of course abhor child abuse, in the same way as the rest of us do. This is in spite of their Prophet, and in spite of Allah’s tacit acceptance of it. They have evolved a sense of morality alongside the rest of us, shunning the more vicious and frankly, despicable verses that supposedly bind all morality for eternity. The evolved sense of morality is a combination of biological and neurological traits for survival and nothing more. Natural selection is the key.

The very idea of faith; blind acceptance of a system of morals (and I use the word ‘morals’ in its loosest possible form), offered by second, third, fourth hand sources, all of whom based their accounts (if we take the gospels as an example) on second, third, fourth hand sources, edited and revised over the years…. on fear of punishment ….. is a disastrously immoral notion, especially when it is forced onto children.

Let’s assume there is a God, and He commanded us to be good – which suggests we are born sick, having been given no choice in this state of being – by providing a system of anchored morality. This is incoherent. Because if God has an actual reason for us to be good, then we don’t need God. The reason is apart from God (unless it’s simply, to get into heaven, in which case, it is no longer good for the sake of good…. it is now for the sake of reward – and unless he hasn’t revealed the reason to be good – in which case, why should we be compelled to do good?), and so the REASON stands on its own, and does not need someone to give us those reasons. Or maybe God doesn’t have a reason. In which case, there is no longer an anchor. God could say “be kind!” and so if there is a reason to be kind, then humans do not need God. The reason is apparent. Again, unless the reason is hidden – which, means the basis of your morality is a God that you have no evidence for, having a reason that he wont tell you about. If there is no reason for Him to say “be Kind”……. then there is no anchor. Hugely insecure basis. Inconsistent. Irrational. Dangerous. The stuff of children’s story books.

A sense of right and wrong, of course does not have to come from a divine dictator. There does not have to be a supreme idea of perfection, of beauty, of morality, for a sense of those ideals to exist. They are perceptions that have evolved, and appear in different degrees, to different people, in different cultures. We build those ideals ourselves, we are conditioned by society, by our family and our friends, by the injustices we see, by putting ourselves in the shoes of others, and through this, I can quite happily say my sense of right and wrong is due entirely to the evolution of our minds and the course of human events that has shaped perception. Morality is the result of rational minds debating, rationalising, and coming to conclusions based on thought, and evidence available at the time. Sometimes we get it wrong. But we learn, we evolve and we advance. The basis for Atheist morality, is trust and belief in humanity to act justly.

The Bible and The Qur’an are simply reflections of the workings of social cohesion at the time they are written. We tend to ignore the most brutal ‘morals’ because they are no longer permissible. Society has outgrown some of the ‘morals’ set out in these texts. Like the picture at the top of this article. It is absolutely morally wrong to stone someone to death for working on a Sunday. But, if we are to accept that God’s rules are absolute, and binding throughout time…. then why aren’t Christians advocating stoning people for working on a Sunday? We have out grown it. Therefore, morality is an ever evolving idea, it isn’t anchored, it doesn’t require doctrine, and it certainly doesn’t require a vicious God. Religion rides the wave, and claims it as its own.

You do not abandon moral relativism, just because you claim to have God on your side. In fact, you embrace it more than anyone.

I have noted in a previous blog, that the Ten Commandments (arguably the backbone of Christian morality) is clearly stolen from the 42 Principles of Ma’at, from the Kemet tribe of Ancient Egypt. Does this mean that Christians are simply living off the moral capital of the Kemet tribe?

The Ten Commandments of Exodus 19:23 is quite the questionable source for morality also. What we see from the Ten Commandments, is a couple of useful tips for life, but then nothing more than a rather jealous God threatening his followers. Instead of “Do not have any other gods before me”, a seemingly useless commandment, why not “Do not rape” or “Do not molest children“? Why is God using the most important set of rules in human history, to put his own jealousy ahead of much more important guidelines for life? He appears to have abandoned the idea of suggestion, and telling us that in order to live a moral existence we MUST believe in him. And so, we have no choice. It is not a matter of free will. If I were to tell my child that he either love me, or I’ll cook him in the oven, he’s going to tell me that he loves me regardless of how he actually feels. It is simply a form of control, not a form of love. This is evident in the fourth commandment “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.” It’s a carrot mentality, in that you will be rewarded for honouring your mother and father. But religion goes further; it tells you what you must think. It convicts you of thinking “wrong”. That in itself, does not promote morality.

Do we know what moral capital Bork is living off? Well, the foundations of his life, can be traced back to his ancestors, who made it possible for Bork to exist at all, as the Christian Puritans from England fled, taking over land with a rather ambiguous moral crusade of slavery, forced removals and the systematic destruction of the natives. Ward Churchill, Professor of Ethical Studies at the University of Columbia has estimated that between 1500 and 1850, 12 million Natives across America soon became less than 237,000. David Stannard at the University of Hawaii refers to the genocide as “The worst human holocaust the world had ever witnessed, roaring across two continents non-stop for four centuries and consuming the lives of countless tens of millions of people.” And this was all in the name of a brand new Nation derived from Christian ideals? Shouldn’t the argument be “is morality sustainable WITH religion?

We could go into the deep corruption and evil the Catholic Church has spread over the Centuries. The blood that has been shed in the name of Christ. The money that has been squandered from the masses in places like Germany during the early 16th Century to provide funds for the building of St Peters. The Crusades, the holy wars, the immense loss of life. We could also mention Islam’s autonomous ideology of hate, racism, and death-for-apostasy/adultery/homosexuality/insulting the Prophet with words. We could question the horrendous practice of child genital mutilation in the name of religion. We could go into all of this, but I think history speaks for itself. Christianity has survived, not primarily because it offers hope (although, that certainly does play a part), but mainly because it has thrived on fear and murder and indoctrination of children, to the point where we now ingrain it’s teachings (much of which, is far from what I’d describe as “moral”) into our education system, and another generation is disturbingly brainwashed.

Countries that have abandoned the conjoining of Church and State, for a secularist future, are all a huge improvement on the Theocratic hellholes that Christianity carved out when it had the smell of power. I attribute the moral problems we face today, to economic hardship, to the idea that there is no such thing as communities, and only the individual can help himself… perhaps secularism has helped perpetuate that problem by inevitably occupying a middle ground, and introducing a sort of money and Nation state worship. Though, Interestingly, Weber suggests this idea of rampant individualism and materialism, is very much rooted in 16th Century Protestant thinking.

But it stands. Secular liberal democracy, even with its faults, is far superior to anything offered by religion.

It seems unquestionable to these people, that humanity could possibly have a sense of right and wrong without religion. Their trust in humanity is pitiful. They doubt we can be thoughtful, and rational enough to build our framework for morality, without the idea (not proof of, just a very weak idea) of a divine overlord.

From my point of view, our sense of morality has been shaped over millions of years; our minds have evolved and adapted to the constant shift of culture, society, expectation, and interaction. We as humans have a wonderful sense of empathy; a trait that studies suggest has absolutely nothing to do with how we ‘ought’ to feel or act based on religious conviction, but is in fact hardwired in our genetic make up. To suggest morality is dependent on Religion, is as ridiculous as to suggest that the sea is dependent on Poseidon. Religion seems to have a transcendent nature, that opposes progress, until it can no longer sustain itself, and then it changes and updates. It is, in this respect, autonomous – by which I mean, not completely dependent on the social or political context of the day (though certainly influenced by) – I’d go one step further and suggest that if your motive for a moral existence is a Heavenly reward, then you are not acting morally at all. You are acting selfishly. Whereas, if an Atheist were to perform a moral act, he is doing so for utterly selfless reasons, and so by definition, is a virtuous human being.

Morality should not be linked to heavenly consequence. The entire nature of religious morality, is based on Pascal’s Wager. You should do what the Bible says; because it might be true. How irrational. How immoral. It seems, as long as we say “…oh, and you’ll get a reward when you die” we suddenly have an ‘objective’ basis for our morality. How childish. Not only that, but morality is not objective. Even when suggesting a religious “base”. That “base” is simply trusting the account of the person claiming to have revelation, and the historical accuracy of the life of that person, shrouded as it always is, in ambiguity. We are also told that these religious texts have “several interpretations”. So, if you are religious, your “objective” base, is based on trust that the revelation was given to one person, that every subsequent revelation must be a fraud, with very little and historical record for your case, and containing several interpretations and inaccuracies. Most of which, you now ignore, because we know it to be hugely immoral or irrational.
To conclude; the religious don’t understand the word ‘objective’.

Morality needs religion; like the sea needs Poseidon. It doesn’t.


The Christian War on Secularism

December 6, 2012

war-on-christmas“But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
– Thomas Jefferson.

Every year, Right Winged Christians over the pond stir up an imaginary shit storm, by imagining that Atheist Godless moral-less heathens wish to see the total destruction of Christmas. They appear to be very angry if we dare to utter the word “Holidays” instead of “Christmas”. But they appear even more consumed by uncontrollable outrage, with the fact that we even celebrate Christmas at all. How dare we! They ask. How dare we enjoy a day, without thinking long and hard about Jesus and his suffering! Their concept of Christmas is very short sighted. It is as if Christians are under the very odd impression, that Christmas was ever their holiday to begin with. Though we must always remember that these people are avid Fox News viewers, and so reality isn’t something that they have much experience with.

The celebratory atmosphere around this time of year, was not a product of Christianity. It is now a glorious mix of Christianity, Paganism, and Secularism. This mix, is Christmas. We can all call it Christmas, and we can all celebrate Christmas. We may call it whatever we wish, the name is irrelevant. The atmosphere and the happiness is what matters. People from all different faiths and backgrounds celebrate it, because it is a time for family. Belief in the birth of Jesus isn’t necessary to celebrate or enjoy Christmas. It is similar to Christians adopting the day, from the Pagans. They of course, do not accept any Pagan myths as legitimate, yet appropriate the celebrations for themselves. I reserve the right to do the same.

Gift giving, family feasts, and parties on December 25th existed in Babylon long before Jesus, as the celebration of the feast of the son of Isis. Kissing under mistletoe, is a Northern European Pagan tradition, considered a fertility ritual during “Yule” – a festival dedicated to Mithras. Decorating, and Christmas tree’s existed in many different Pagan festivals. Christianity simply appropriated much of the traditions of Paganism, after pressure from the Romans. Christmas therefore evolves. It started Pagan, Christianity took it on (and really, didn’t add much to the pot), and now it is secular as well as Christian. It is a lovely melting pot, and everyone enjoys the day for what it is. We Atheists don’t want to get rid of it. We have no problem with Christians celebrating the birth of Jesus. We however, celebrate for sentimental reasons; for family tradition and the joy that Christmas uniquely brings. And that’s allowed, whether Christians like it or not. Apparently some don’t….

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The only ‘war’ on Christmas, is from those who wish to ensure that Christmas is not celebrated by anyone other than the narrow band of fundamentalist Christians who believe it is “their” holiday. It is an attack on every other interpretation of the holiday. It is a denial of history; that being Christmas traditions take more from Pagan festivals than they do from Christianity. Also….. spending four hours shopping for shit no one needs, followed by an hour singing Silent Night in Church…… is not the Christian spirit of Christmas.

Here is what Atheists don’t do.

  • We do not call for boycotts against private businesses, purely because they believe something different to us.
    Allow me to tell you what the ‘war on christmas’ actually amounts to:
    Walgreens has agreed to label all its Christmas decorations “Christmas” as opposed to “holiday decorations” or just “decorations”. Mad Christians who need constant reassurance that their religion is considered the most important system of belief (or….philosophy as Bill O’Reilly amusingly calls it) from about mid-October onwards, will be over joyed!

    But Christian groups go one step further. Not only do they demand Federal recognition and validation of their religious convictions everywhere they go……. they also wish to impose this on the private property of others also. The American Family Association issued a sort of fatwa against The Gap and Banana Republic…. calling for a boycott. Effectively hurting business, thus hurting people who work for those businesses. Threatening, basically. Because, according the AFA:


    The boycott is part of our ongoing campaign to encourage businesses, communities and individuals to put Christ back in Christmas. The boycott runs from November 1 through Christmas Day.

    For years, Gap has refused to use the word Christmas in its television commercials, newspaper ads and in-store promotions, despite tens of thousands of consumer requests to recognize Christmas and in spite of repeated requests from AFA to do the same.

    – Amusingly, it turns out the AFA issued this statement, a few weeks after The Gap’s advert which includes the phrase “GO CHRISTMAS!”
    According to the AFA, The Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic are at war with Christmas. Now, not only does the Gap’s Advert feature “GO CHRISTMAS!”, if you type “Christmas” into the Old Navy search engine, you are presented with products that clearly say “Christmas” on them, and have Christmas symbols. In fact, one of the items is labelled “Christmas bodysuit for baby”. If you go onto Banana Republic’s website At the top, you will see “Get it by Christmas!”, just above a massive picture of a Christmas tree, and presents. Type ‘Santa’ into any of the search engines, and a plethora of Christmas products are displayed. The conclusion? The AFA, like Fox, is a mouthpiece for the manipulative Christian Right.

    The First Baptist Church of Dallas, in 2010 launched a website designed to allow users to ‘name and shame’ companies who take ‘Christ’ away from the holiday period, in their ads and products. Christians are naturally very talented at forcing their views on others, and silencing dissent, so to harm businesses – small and large – to harm the employees who work at these businesses by shaming them simply for not re-affirming the Christian aspect of Christmas every single second of every day, is no big deal to these horrid little Theocrats.
    My position is simply; a business is privately owned. The owner can do with it as he or she wishes. He/she is not under the control of a few fundamentalists trying to ruin his/her livelihood for such a ridiculous reason.

  • We don’t believe in segregation.
    Students and parents at Sullivan High School in Sullivan, Indiana have decided they wish to have a prom in which gay couples are not allowed. One the special education teachers Diana Medley, rather disgustingly said:

    “We don’t agree with it (homosexuality), and it’s offensive to us.”

    – This bigotry and a belief in apartheid should be offensive to us all. It should be fought at every opportunity. When Christians ask “Why do Atheists keep attacking Christianity”….. it is people like Diana Medley that drive us. Sexuality, as pointed out in a previous entry, has a genetic element. So, exchange the word “homosexuality” for “black” or “people with brown hair” or “women” and you will notice just how bigoted it becomes. Cloaking your bigotry behind outdated myths that have no basis in reality, and are refuted by genetics, does not make you any less of a disgusting human being. You are a bigot. And how does a woman like this get to be a teacher, when a percentage of people who have done nothing to cause her any harm, she finds ‘offensive’? You wouldn’t put a KKK leader in charge of a school in a black community.

  • We do not say that medical treatment should be prioritised for people who do not believe in a God. Can the same be said for the religious? Well, no.
    One study found that a majority of religious people, when asked, would place an Atheist lower down the list of priorities for a kidney transplant, than people who believe.

  • Atheists do not say that people of belief should be banned from public office. Again, the religious aren’t so much a fan of rights for anyone who isn’t like them:

    Arkansas’ Constitution:

    1. Atheists disqualified from holding office or testifying as witness.
    No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this
    State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.

    Maryland Constitution, Article 37:

    That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.

    Mississippi Constitution, Article 14, Section 265:

    No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this State.

    South Carolina Constitution, Article 17, Section 4:

    No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.

    Tennessee Constitution, Article 9, Section 2:

    No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this State.

    Texas Constitution, Article 1, Section 4:

    No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

  • Atheists do not claim that those who believe in a God, are not fit for public office. Again, not so when it is the other way round.
    When Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell declared that he does not believe in a God, the Christian Right of North Carolina took great offence. H.K. Edgerton, a board member for the Southern Legal Resource Center – an organisation that apparently stands to protect the rights of all, threatened to file a law suit against Bothwell, claiming he is unfit to serve, and his appointment violates North Carolina’s anti-Atheist Constitutional provision. Whilst barring an Atheist from public office would certainly be struck down by the Supreme Court as a violation of the Federal Constitution; it doesn’t stop the Christian Right from trying, which often leads to long battles for an Atheist to serve publicly. For example, Herb Silverman ran for the post of Governor of South Carolina in 1992, but was discarded from the race for refusing to swear an oath to God. A whole five years later, the courts ruled in his favour.

  • We do not punish young children, for thought crime.
    In 1996, at the age of 6, Michael Bristor was denied an Honour Roll, because he refused to believe in God. He was ridiculed at school, and it took his parents three years and a legal battle to get the Honour Roll award. When describing his treatment from his clearly fundamentalist teacher, Michael said:

    “She gave me time outs for not praying. Kids were calling me a devil worshipper.”

  • Atheists do not claim that Christians are inherently bad role models.
    The Boy Scouts of America, which exists through a Congressional Charter, currently does not allow Atheists to be a part of it. It states:

    “The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, ‘On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.’ The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members.”

    – That final sentence, is a disgrace, and goes against every rational basis for the Constituting of the United States of America. It is a dangerous sentence, it is a Theocratic principle, and it is massively unconstitutional.

  • Atheists do not enshrine Bronze age ‘moral’ values in law, nor do we wish to restrict an individual’s basic right to love, nor do we wish to place Atheist propaganda all over public buildings and money.
    The rewriting of history to suit Christian America is a regular occurrence from the 1950s until the present day. Somehow, it has managed to convince a Nation that “One Nation, under God” was always a part of the Pledge, or that “In God We Trust” always appeared on the dollar bill. Both of which are a product of the rise of the Christian Right in the 1950s. Jefferson and Franklin would have reacted with anger at the inclusion of “One Nation, under God” on any public institution.

    The Christian Right are experts at rewriting merging their prejudices with Christianity, and using it to attack the secular nature of the Constitution. Anti-social liberalism is a key ingredient in the making of the Christian Right, and this social liberalism extends to homosexuality. We see the influence of the Christian Right in the passing of the ‘Defence of Marriage Act’ – using ‘defence’ to hide the fact that they are slowly breaking down the barrier between Church and State, slowly eroding individual rights, replacing them with Christian theocratic ‘values’. The ‘Defence of Marriage Act’ states:

    “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

    -If this isn’t a restriction of human rights, by a bunch of homophobic anti-constitutional theocrats, I don’t know what is. This is the ultimate in Government power over individual rights. It is a restriction on ‘love’.

  • Atheists do not care if our children marry someone of faith. As long as they are happy, and in love.
    A recent study out of the University of Minnesota found that 47.6% of people polled said they would disapprove if their child married an Atheist.

    Christianity isn’t under attack. It has eroded Constitutional secularism; the achievements of the Enlightenment to break the link between the State and Religion, and it isn’t finished. It is like a cancer, slowly making its way across all sections of public life. Schools, public office, science, love. The ‘values’ that they push for, that they insist on forcing upon the rest of society, are vastly incompatible with the Founding documents. Secularists and Atheists have an absolute duty, to resist it, to fight it, and to stand up for the secularism that took so long to achieve. We do not wish to destroy Christmas. I have a Christmas tree. I will be sharing gifts, and celebrating with the family.

    So, sit back, and allow Fox to wage a non-existent war myth that it created, in an attempt to boost ratings. And remember, Christmas; which started off as pressure placed on Christians in Rome to join in the Pagan festivities… is for everyone.

    Call it Christmas, call it winter festival, call it the holiday season, call it winter solstice, call it anything you wish. The vocabulary is irrelevant. Spend the time loving, smiling, and making memories, whatever your beliefs.


  • The Terrible Tory Week

    December 5, 2012

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    “No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party.”
    – Aneurin Bevan

    It’s an odd feeling, to not be shocked when seeing the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the United Kingdom, bursting into fits of laughter over the fact that the Shadow Chancellor has a stammer. It doesn’t shock me. My initial reaction when watching, was one of “typical”. Their lack of compassion is not only repulsive when it appears on the surface, but it is even more so when reflected in their policies. I expect insensitivity, racism, sexism, homophobic, anti-disabled rhetoric and policy from them. They represent, in so many ways, the problem that – in the words of Glen from The Thick of It – the born-to-rule-pony-fuckers are to this country; evidenced further by today’s Autumn Statement.

    Screams of joy reverberated throughout the Tory back benches today as the Chancellor announced that certain benefits would rise way below the rate of inflation over the next three years, amounting to a real terms cut. The idea of a single mum struggling to put food on the table is what keeps these bastards going, much like the idea of laughing at someone with a handicap. The cut pays for their tax breaks.

    The Autumn Statement can be summed up quite simply; the rich don’t have enough money and should be given more…. the poor have too much money and should have it taken away. Actually, it can be summed up with even fewer words; the Tory extreme economic agenda has failed. Miserably.

    Jobseeker’s Allowance,
    Employment and support allowance,
    Income support,
    Maternity,
    Paternity
    Adoption pay,
    Child Benefit….
    Will all rise by just 1% over the next four years. That is effectively a massive cut. But that’s not all. The link to inflation will be broken with a new ‘Welfare Uprating Bill’ to be introduced shortly. The reason for this is that current legislation means certain benefits, by law, much rise in line with prices. By effectively abolishing this, using new legislation, it means that any future link between benefits and inflation, must be introduced through new legislation, four years from now, in 2016. I cannot imagine a future Tory government agreeing to that idea. The link between welfare and inflation may now be lost forever. A massive change to the welfare system. A system of protection for the most vulnerable, destroyed in one sentence of an Autumn Statement, by far-right economic agenda that did not gain a mandate in 2010.

    Further, the link to inflation using the CPI instead of the far more generous RPI was reason enough for the Institute For Fiscal Studies to claim responsible for a projected rise in child poverty. Osborne has removed it entirely. For child poverty, the removal of the link to inflation at all, is a massive blow.

    Osbourne used the predictably right winged example of scroungers, or “people in bed, whilst hard workers are out earning” to justify the cut. I’m not sure how that justifies a cut in maternity allowance. Child benefit affects ‘hard working’ people as well as the unemployed. And the unemployed is not simply another word for scrounger. They are unemployed, because the most incompetent government in living memory actively sought to plunge the country into a double dip recession, followed by a stagnant economy. They are the pawns in the Tory game. And they are being punished for it. Meanwhile, whilst Starbucks are in the news for both aggressively avoiding tax, and punishing their workers with contract changes…….. corporation tax is slashed by a further 1%. Welcome to Corporate England. Apparently having the lowest Corporate tax rate in the G7 was not enough. It needs to be lower. Much lower….. a quarter lower since they came to power, just two Make no mistake, the Autumn Statement was a huge hand out to the wealthiest, and a huge grab from the most vulnerable. By 2016, the annual loss per family with two children, will be £315.40 a year.

    George Osborne stood up to the dispatch box to announce that his plan has not worked. But to fix the plan that has not worked, he announced more of the same failed policies. Austerity will now last until 2017-2018. A year longer than previously stated. In March the OBR predicted that the UK economy would grow by 0.8% this year. The Chancellor today announced that the OBR had revised that, and the economy will have infact shrunk by 0.1% this year.
    In fact, the OBR is excellent at getting figures widely wrong. Here, OBR forecasts for 2012 over the past two years:

  • June 2010 – 2.8% growth for 2012.
  • November 2010 – 2.6% growth for 2012.
  • March 2011 – 2.5% growth for 2012.
  • November 2011 – 0.7% growth for 2012.
  • March 2012 – 0.8% growth in 2012.
  • December 2012 – -0.1% growth in 2012.
    How are the OBR taken seriously? Why do the media insist on quoting them, they are simply adding to the horrendous incompetencies of perhaps the most delusional and incompetent Chancellor in history.

    Further, GDP growth has now been downgraded every year until 2018.
    Unemployment is set to rise alongside.
    In fact, here are the Governments own stats on unemployment (downgraded, like every thing else Osborne has predicted).

    Unemployment-500x91

    What this shows is unemployment will not be down to 2011 levels until 2016. This cannot be blamed on Labour any more, nor is it natural. It is by design.
    And here is the evidence that the highest burden, will be placed on the

    We must also point out that whilst the Tory benches cheered with delight at the £5bn promised for infrastructure programs (an admittance that government investment CAN work), they appear to have ignored that two years ago, £22bn cut in investment projects, and has just announced a further 1% cut in departmental budgets.

    Here is how the OBR predicts the changes through the Autumn Statement will fall.
    121204tax-1
    – It shows a horribly regressive pattern, with the bottom 10th of Britain losing 1.75% of their net income. The bottom 3 deciles, getting just horrendously hit by Osborne’s destructive and failing policies. Whilst the middle income bracket also tend to lose out, they lose out far less…… those be the swing voters. The lowest 10th, have actually seen their net income fall over the entire past decade. Now, it will fall again. This, Osborne claims is Britain “on the right track”. According to Poverty UK the “income of the richest tenth is more than the income of all those on below-average incomes (i.e. the bottom five tenths) combined.”

    When 2015 comes around, we can expect Tory supporters of economic neoliberalism to vote Tory regardless of the fact that their agenda has led to a rise in the National debt, a rise in borrowing, a rise in unemployment, and, well, no positives whatsoever. But those on the centre and centre-left politically should never forget that none of this would be possible without the Liberal Democrats. They should be destroyed at the next election.


  • The Gems of My Family Tree: The ‘transcendent genius’.

    December 2, 2012

    600 (1)Meet The Reverend Governor Thomas Mayhew. He was born in Wiltshire in England, in a town called Tisbury. He then emigrated to the American Colonies in 1631, where he established the first English settlement in Martha’s Vineyard in 1642. When the settlers started to build their colony, they came across a population of about 3000 Native Americans. Mayhew insisted that whilst he was governor at least, there would be no mistreating the Natives. They were to be dealt with as trading partners and treated respectfully. From that time, the Natives of the area lived peacefully, and intermixed socially with the new settlers at Martha’s Vineyard; a situation that was absolutely unrivalled anywhere else in the colonies at that point. A native named Hiacoomes befriended Mayhew, and taught him the language of his people. Together, they talked history, and Thomas taught Hiacoomes the Christian heritage of the white settlers. Hiacoomes became the first Christian Native American Minister.
    Curiously, after his son Thomas jr dies young, the Governor (he is still known as the Governor, to this day) starts to get paranoid. New visitors arrive from overseas, and he views everyone as a threat to his power. And so he decides he wants to run the Island as if it’s his own country. He assigns himself the role of Chief Magistrate without assistants, and he makes a large number of the population of Martha’s Vineyard sign a Submission to his rule. This was the closing years of Feudalism, and Thomas was losing his land rapidly. There was a brief respite, when in 1671 a council in New York granted Mayhew the title of:

    “…Governor for life, Chief Justice of the Courts of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Lord of the Manor of Tisbury and collector and receiver of the customs for the Vineyard.”

    His power lasted until his death a couple of years later, and slowly the Feudalism regime fell.
    I think, despite his later years, the work Thomas and his son undertook to ensure that the Native American tribes in the area were not disturbed, and were treated fairly, is hugely ahead of its time given the context of the rest of the colonies and the mistreatment of the natives. It is testament to this, that when King Philip’s War broke out, the Native tribes of Martha’s Vineyard did not spring up to fight in the uprising against the Colonialists with their fellow tribesman.
    Thomas Mayhew is my first cousin, nine generations back.

    His grandfather, also named Thomas Mayhew is my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather (that’s great x9 grandfather).

    It is amazing what little gems you find when you research your family tree.

    And so it continues, to my favourite distant relative of them all…….. Dr Jonathan Mayhew.

    Reverend Governor Thomas Mayhew of Martha’s Vineyard had a son, also called Thomas.
    Thomas had a son called John Mayhew.
    John had a son called Experience Mayhew.
    Experience had a son called Jonathan Mayhew.
    And Jonathan Mayhew, was referred to as “the transcendent genius” by …… President John Adams.

    So, my great x9 Grandfather, is also the great x4 grandfather of Jonathan Mayhew. Without Thomas Mayhew marrying Alice Waterman in 1534, there would be no me, and there would be no Jonathan Mayhew.

    f0301 Jon Mayhew was born in 1720 in Martha’s Vineyard. He died in 1766, a decade before the beginning of the American Revolution. But, his influence cannot be underestimated. He was a strong supporter of the separation of Church and State despite being a Minister at the Old West Church in Boston. He was a liberal Christian. One of the first in the new World. For this liberalism, the Boston Association of Congregational Ministers refused to allow him to join. Mayhew was preaching individual liberty in religion and conscience, preaching salvation by character rather than purely on faith, and fighting the dogmas of the day. In both 1750 and 1754, whilst opposing the Stamp Act, Mayhew argued for American Rights and freedom from British tyranny.

    There are many history websites that make the claim that during the sermon, Mayhew uttered the phrase that became perhaps the most famous of all revolutionary phrases:


    “No taxation without representation.”

    – I am unable to verify that Mayhew coined the phrase in Boston, but will keep looking into it. If it’s true…. that will make my life.

    In 1750, Mayhew writes his most important and influential work. Some argue, it is the catalyst for the American Revolution. “A discourse concerning the unlimited submission and non-resistance to the high powers” is written and preached 100 years after the execution of King Charles I.
    Here, he argues for the Right of a collective of people to break away from their King, stating that violent revolution is a:

    “reasonable way of vindicating their liberties and rights; it is making use of the means, and the only means, which God has put in their power, for mutual and self defense. It would be stupid, tameness, and unacceptable folly, for whole nations to suffer one unreasonable, ambitious and cruel man, than to wanton and riot in their misery.”

    – Mayhew makes the convincing case that the King does not derive his powers from divine right, and that only Paliament, and thus, the people gave power to the King originally. He argues that government is only legitimate if allowed legitimacy by the people. Once the ruler acts against the will of the people, he is a tyrant, and it is perfectly reasonable, and crucially, does not go against the Christian faith, to oppose and fight for liberty from the tyrant. It is easy to see how this text influenced the Revolutionaries, by uniting both political and religious justification for rebellion against the crown.

    President John Adams, reflecting on the influence of the discourse by Mayhew, stated that the sermon….

    “…was read by everybody. A great influence in the commencement of the Revolution. Dr. Mayhew seemed to be raised up to revive all the animosity of the people against tyranny within Church and State and at the same time to destroy their bigotry, fanaticism and inconsistencies. This transcendent genius, threw all the weight of his great fame into the scale of his country.”

    – Adams goes on to say that Mayhew is one of six men responsible for the American Revolution. Writing to Thomas Jefferson, Adams says that Mayhew’s writings were such an influence:


    “that the Substance of it was incorporated into my Nature and indelibly grafted on my Memory”

    Mayhew was a friend of American Founding Father Samual Adams. He talked freely and openly with James Otis Jr, And quite beautifully, Robert Treat Paine, Massachusetts Representative at the Continental Congress, and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, said of Mayhew, that he was:

    “The father of civil and religious liberty in America.”

    – Thomas Mayhew quite clearly played a spectacularly important role in radicalising New Englanders and promoting revolutionary ideas such as individual liberty, and the duty to resist and fight tyranny, in the decades leading up to the American Revolution. It amazes me, and humbles me, that without his great x4 grandfather…… I would not have been born either.

    It is both amazing, and inspiring when you trace your family history back and find interesting and exciting names that helped to influence the course of history.
    One of our family (also a direct descendent of Thomas Mayhew – my great x9 grandfather) told us never to research the family tree. I am still not sure why. Perhaps it has something to do with three brothers being in the exact area of Whitechapel during the Ripper murders. Hmmm…..