Spirituality does not require religion.

August 26, 2014

Buddhist Temple in Leshan, China.

Buddhist Temple in Leshan, China.

Back in 2010, the culture editor of Jesuit magazine ‘America’, the Jesuit priest Reverend James Martin wrote a book titled ‘The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything‘, in it, he criticises those who consider themselves spiritual, but not religious. I thought I’d offer my criticisms of several points Martin raises.

I felt it worth pointing out first – as a reference – exactly what spirituality means to me. For me, spirituality is serious inner engagement with what it means to be human. Whether we as individuals choose to involve religion or not in our personal journey, we are all spiritual, because we are all flawed and we do not like flaws. As a complex and diverse species blessed with curiosity and a burning desire for definitive answers – this, I believe is the reason for the development of religion – we cannot deal too well with flaws. We want definitive answers now. Prior to the scientific method of inquiry, we invented wonderful tales and myths to explain the seemingly inexplicable – and often terrifying – in a simple way, because we need answers, even when answers seem so complex and far away. It is how we explained volcanoes and earthquakes, rainbows and vast oceans. Not only that, but we evolved as a group species, across habitats, with a yearning for individual freedom, creating diverse social bonds. We are intrigued by beauty, we cry at the pain of others, we try to grasp fleeting happiness and make it last, we have different triggers that anger us, and we have no idea what the hell is going on most of the time, and that’s a frightening idea. We are simply very confused apes. Spirituality is a way we deal with that confusion. Evolved human intelligence has produced brilliant, yet tangled minds that brought great development aiding the survival of the species, but at the cost of inner emotional turmoil that affects us all. Spirituality is simply an individual shaped by the majesty and flaws of human evolution, and by their own experiences and memories, attempting to reconcile those confusions and those contradictions, a sort of unraveling of tangled wires in our minds, by our own minds. If religion helps an individual with that, great. If it doesn’t, that’s okay too.

Martin says:

“Religion can provide a check against my tendency to think that I am the center of the universe, that I have all the answers, that I know better than anyone about God, and that God speaks most clearly through me.”

– For Catholics to speak of their faith as humble, despite having their own city state and a massive palace, takes quite the imagination. And so I would argue the opposite to that which James Martin asserts. Religion does not check a tendency to believe oneself to be the centre of the universe. Quite the opposite, religion teaches that the chosen few are the centre of the universe. We inhabit an infinitesimally small section of time, in a universe so massive in both time and space that it requires great arrogance to believe a small section of a global population on a tiny planet are the ones blessed by a universal creator. We do not know how a universe springs into being. It is religion that teaches us that a personal God did it. A God that created everything specifically for humans, and cares who you have sex with. Indeed, not only are the chosen few the centre of the universe, not only was all of time waiting for over 13 billion years for them to spring up for a few seconds, but the rules of the chosen few must be placed upon those who do not adhere to its beliefs. The shackles of religious privilege in a secular country like the US can be quite clearly observed when we note how long it is taking to afford equal rights to same-sex couples, and the absurdity by which Christian bosses at Hobby Lobby believe the private lives of their employees, are to be linked to God against their will. We see ISIS insisting that their brand of Islam must engulf an entire region, whether the people of that region accept it or not. Martin’s implication that spirituality requires religion, is not humility, nor is it checking a tendency to believe oneself the centre of the universe. It is the exact opposite.

“More problematic than Sheilaism are spiritualities entirely focused on the self, with no place for humility, self-critique or any sense of responsibility for the community. Certain “New Age” movements find their goal not in God, or even the greater good, but in self-improvement — a valuable goal — but one that can degenerate into selfishness.”

– This strikes me as a particularly bizarre passage. The implication is that without a religious base for spiritual development, there can be no sense of humility (again, ironic given the history of the Catholic church), self-critique, or sense of responsibility, yet the goal is self improvement; which requires self-crique, and a sense of humility and responsibility. Critique, humility, and a sense of responsibility are not wholly owned subsidiaries of the religious community, which is why Eastern traditions – like Taoism – do not invoke an all powerful personal God for spiritual guidance. Gautama Buddha rejected the notion of a creator and personal God, and by Martin’s standards, Buddhists are therefore lacking a key ingredient to spiritual development. Critique, humility and a sense of communal responsibility are evolved traits from a communal and individual species, that informs our decision making, our daily interactions, and our progress as individuals and as a species. Without the development of human intelligence from Homo Habilis, through to Homo Sapiens, there would be no religion usurping the legacy of our wonderful ancestry. Religion owes its existence to evolved developments in human intelligence, not the other way around.

“Human beings naturally desire to be with one another, and that desire extends to worship. It’s natural to want to worship together, to gather with other people who share your desire for God, and to work with others to fulfill the dreams of your community.”

– This is true. But it’s not limited to gathering for religious purposes. Spiritual people do not require a belief in God to gather and to share spiritual experiences and stories. Church or Mosque or Synagogue are places that may facilitate that communal sense in-built to human beings, but we’ve been gathering, telling stories, painting art works, playing music, listening to each other and progressing long before the first Church sprang up. Secular atheists do not require the invoking of God in order to gather, to share stories, and to ‘work with others to fulfill the dreams of the community’. We don’t believe in a God, so it wouldn’t aid our spiritual journey to do so.

As an atheist, my spiritual journey is an attempt to understand myself on a deeper level, to progress, to love, to be a better person, to experience beauty, to always question my motives and thoughts, to establish my place within the wider community, and to reconcile conflicts in my life and in my mind. It does not require a belief in God.

It appears to me that the Reverend James Martin has attempted to claim spirituality and the natural human ability for self critique and development, for religion. As religious folk attempt to do with morality, it seems the religious are now taking credit for the evolution of human intelligence. Quite contrary to Martin’s attempts, Christianity simply attempted to anchor the moral musings, as well as spiritual developments of a single time and place – 1st Century Palestine – for the rest of forever. Religion therefore jumped on a moral and spiritual train already speeding along the tracks, whilst implying that they have been driving the train all along.


Creationists: Give equal airtime to P’an Ku.

May 15, 2014

P'an Ku - Creator of the universe, according to ancient Chinese mythology.

P’an Ku – Creator of the universe, according to ancient Chinese mythology.


Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos’ has been given a wonderful new life with Neil deGrasse Tyson resurrecting the popular series this year. But not everyone agrees. As we’re all aware by now, creationists across the US are incensed that ‘Cosmos’ only relies on an abundance of scientific data, rather than Bronze aged myths.

Whilst the complaint appears to be that ‘Cosmos’ doesn’t allow for the possibility of ‘creation science’, they specifically seem to mean Christian notions of young earth creation. As if scientific data, and the Book of Genesis, offer equally as viable explanations. But it seems to me that Christian creationists are guilty of the same charge they throw at ‘Cosmos’. Creationists should also be asking: Why aren’t Christian creationists willing to offer equal air time, and a place on the school science curriculum for the ancient Chinese creator of everything; P’an Ku.

China is rich with beautifully crafted mythology, framing the cultural heritage of one of the oldest civilisations on the planet. In the third century, the Chinese author Xú Zhěng wrote of the creation of the heavens, the earth, and everything on it from a Taoist perspective (A Buddhist perspective of the myth differs slightly). The creator is P’an Ku. As with most creation myths, a great void preceded P’an Ku, until the chaos of that void pulled together to form an egg. The egg lasted for 18,000 years. Inside the egg existed the elements of the universe, working to balance the concepts of Yin and Yang, until they perfectly aligned. Once aligned, the egg began to open and P’an Ku emerged. P’an Ku worked tirelessly with the perfect principles of Yin and Yang to create opposites; wet and dry, day and night, male and female.

The top part of the shell that cracked open as P’an Ku escaped, became the sky. The bottom part of the shell became the earth. Another 18,000 years passed as P’an Ku pushed up the sky, and pushed down the earth, as they grew larger and larger each day. Each day, P’an Ku grew six feet taller than the day before. P’an Ku parted the heavens and the earth (a claim that Muslims – like Zakir Naik – like to believe comes directly from the Qur’an and is evidence of their holy book mentioning the big bang; in reality, it’s a concept that preceded the Qur’an, existing in a plethora of creation myths).

Once the sky and the earth had been created, P’an Ku died. His body fell apart, and collapsed down to the earth. His final breaths became the wind that would forever circle the planet. His roaring voice became thunder. His teeth and bone marrow became metals. His blood became the waters in the rivers; the rivers controlled the earth before humanity. One of his eyes became the sun, and the other the moon. His head became the mountains. This idea of the dead body of the creator becoming a part of his creation, is reflected in the Norse creation myth of Ymir, whose flesh becomes the earth, and his blood becomes the rivers and seas. One must also note the similarity with the body of Jesus becoming the bread, and his blood becoming the wine served at the Eucharist. Unlike the God of Christianity, P’an Ku didn’t create humans, that was left to the Goddess Nüwa; the creator of humanity.

Nüwa was lonely on the earth by herself, so she started to create sheep, and horses among other creatures, to keep her company. After a while, she hand crafted humans out of clay. This process became tiresome, and so Nüwa dunked a vine in clay, and swung it around, with each droplet becoming a human. At times, she continued to hand craft humans out of clay, and those chosen few became the nobility.

And that is story of P’an Ku, and the creation of everything.

Humanity is a wonderfully creative and curious species. The Chinese merged those two together, to form the story of P’an Ku. Creation myths are beautifully creative, and expertly crafted works of art. They exist as an example of humanity’s ceaseless quest for understanding and explanation, in the primitive age of our species. But they are not testable explanations or predictions that can be applied reliably, and so they are not science. This is as true for the myth of P’an Ku as it is for the Biblical creation myth. If creationists wish to see equal airtime given to Christian creation myths as to science, or to be taught as science in schools, there is no reason the curriculum – or ‘Cosmos’ – shouldn’t also include every other possible creation myth – including P’an Ku – throughout history. All the more so, in a secular country.


The magnificent science of 2013.

January 7, 2014

Two extremely bright stars illuminate a greenish mist in this and other images from the new GLIMPSE360 survey.

2013 was a wonderful year for science. Thousands of breakthroughs in medical science, in space science, in technology, and genetics changed human understanding of ourselves and the universe that we inhabit, forever. We are now far closer to treating disease, to understanding our evolutionary journey, and to exploring the cosmos on a scale far greater than we were just twelve months ago. Each breakthrough deserves articles for themselves, but I thought I’d present a few here in snippets, with links to articles that describe the astonishing scientific breakthroughs of 2013 in greater detail. Here is a brief year in science:

January:
After a severe gout infection in his hand, Mark Cahill became the first man in the UK to undergo a successful hand transplant. Here.

In early January a study from Caltech in Pasadena estimated that each star in the Milky Way galaxy alone, contains at least one planet. This further estimates that our galaxy is home to at least 100 billion planets. In just one galaxy. In 1999 the Hubble Space Telescope estimated that there exists 125 billion galaxies. Here.

Also in the UK, a team of experts cured blindness in mice. The treatment – which includes injecting light sensitive cells into the eye and rebuilding light sensitivity – could in future be the launching pad for treating retinitis pigmentosa in humans. Here.

In Bolivia, a team of researchers discovered that injecting certain engineered stem cells in the minutes immediately following a stroke, could significantly aid recovery. The discovery was made after rats suffering a stroke were found to regain completely normal brain function within two weeks, after stem cell treatment. Here.

February:
In early February, researchers made a significant breakthrough in the development of potential treatments for both Parkinson’s and Alzheimers, by finding a way to overcome the problem caused by the blood-brain barrier – a barrier between the blood and the brain that blocks drugs from entering blood tissue. This is a remarkable step forward for the treatment of neurological disorders in humans. Here.

Scientists from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh have managed to engineer 3D printing techniques to create stem cells. The researchers believe it could be the first step in creating brand new organs, without the need for organ donation. Here.

Nasa’s Curiosity Mars rover became the first human machine to drill a hole into the Martian surface, and recover samples for analysis in order to discover whether the planet ever held conditions for supporting life. In March, results showed that the rocks contain oxygen, carbon dioxide and water. A clear indication that life may have once existed on the Martian surface. Here.

Researchers at Barcelona’s Universitat Autonoma successfully cured type 1 diabetes in dogs using a method of gene therapy. To achieve this, a new gene is coded and used to replace a damaged gene. Here.

March:
My particular favourite – red wine makes you live longer. So if any of my readers appreciate me continuing to exist, you should send me red wine. Here.

In March, stem cells taken from mice and humans were successfully used to create new teeth to replace damaged teeth in mice, leading to the possibility of stem cells being used to create new teeth for humans in the future. Here.

In Leipzig, for the first time the full genome of Neanderthal was published, using a toe bone found in Siberia. By understanding Neanderthal’s genome, we get a clearer picture of the genetic divergence between modern humans, and our cousins. Neanderthal’s genome is a window into the history of humanity. Here.

The genetics of oesophageal cancer were more thoroughly understood, in March. Mutations in a number of genes were located that directly match those required for the development of the cancer. This is key to developing treatments to target the horrific disease that kills 400,000 World wide, every year. Here.

April:
Researchers discovered in April, the genetic mutation that can lead to the build up of certain proteins responsible for Alzheimer’s Disease. This discovery significantly aids researchers in developing treatments that target those areas of the brain with a view to understanding, treating and preventing Alzheimer’s on a far more targeted manner. Here.

Kidneys are the organ most in demand across the planet, for transplants. Scientists in April successfully created a lab grown kidney and transplanted it into animals, using stem cell technology. Whilst still in its early stages, this is a major breakthrough in stem cell research. Here.

A safer and easier technique of transforming bone marrow stem cells into healthy, functioning brain cells was produced by the Scripps Research Institute in April. This leads to far better treatment for stroke, and spinal injuries. Here.

May:
Energy efficiency in low grade silicon was improved greatly in 2013. UNSW in Australia developed a technique to better control hydrogen atoms, improving electrical efficiency from 19% to 23%. By October of 2013, the team was aiming at silicon solar cells with 29% targeted efficiency. This also helps to lower costs. Here.

Scientists at UC San Francisco successfully cured epilepsy in mice, opening the way for treatment for the prevention of the causes of epilepsy in humans. Here.

Fossils found in south west Tanzania seem to confirm earlier DNA analysis showing that monkeys and apes diverged 25 to 30 million years ago. By 25 million years ago, the fossils suggest old World monkeys and apes had separated. Here.

Neuroscientists at Lund University successfully prevented early symptoms of Huntington’s Disease in mice, by switching off a mutated protein in the brain. Treatments for Huntington’s is currently lacking, but this research provides the basis for future experiments and eventually treatments for Huntington’s in humans, by showing that symptoms can be controlled by dealing with the mutated protein. Here.

June:
In June the US Supreme Court ruled that a company could not patent genes. It sounds obvious. But that’s exactly what Myriad Genetics in Utah attempted to do. The company attempted to patent isolated DNA connected to ovarian and breast cancer, which in turn meant other groups had vital research frustrated and threatened. The Supreme Court rightfully ruled against Myriad, and research and treatment costs are now expected to fall. Here.

Researchers in London pioneered hologram technology to be used to lecture theatres across the World designed to make is easier for students to understand – through visuals – the huge amount of information they study. The effect is one in which a study subject – such as the kidney – appears to be floating in mid-air and can be manipulated for teaching purposes. Here.

The Israeli company NeuroDerm – a company supported by the Michael J.Fox Foundation – has developed a skin-administered treatment for Parkinson’s Disease, and initial reports are very promising. Here.

In June this year, Bristol-Myers Squibb working on therapies for metastatic melanoma and with a new drug, found that a third of patients were still alive three years later. This is a major breakthrough, because almost 100% of those suffering from the advanced disease in the past, do not survive. The therapy was said to lead to rapid regression of the tumour. Treatments are currently undergoing greater research into why it only seems to help around a third of patients. But the advancement in cancer immunotherapy was named the breakthrough of the year, in December this year. Here.

July:
The London Array. The World’s largest offshore wind farm – with 175 turbines – opens in the Thames estuary in London. It is set to reduce annual Co2 emissions by 900,000 tons; equivalent of 300,000 passenger cars. Here.

New research can now be opened for Down’s Syndrome, after US scientists managed to isolate and silence the chromosome that causes Down’s Syndrome, raising the possibility of future treatment for common symptoms. Here.

One in ten suffer from cat allergies. In July, researchers discovered a protein from cat dandruff that causes cat allergies in humans, and hope to develop a cure within five years. Here.

August:
Perhaps one of the biggest breakthroughs in 2013, came with the clearance of a simple skin patch that works to slowly feed a drug into the bloodstream and regulate blood pressure stability on a level never seen before. The patch has the potential to save millions of lives a year. Here.

Researchers have finally discovered certain processes that lead to mutational factors prevalent in most types of cancer, previously unknown. By understanding the genetic development of particular cancers, researchers in 2013 have opened the doors into future research for treatments. Here.

Using 3D printing technology for stem cells, researchers in Australia have developed lab-grown cartilage, leading to hopes that by 2025, brand new functioning, patient-specific organs will be produced in much the same way. Here.

September:
Scientists announced that a universal vaccine for flu could be available within five years. The flu virus mutates constantly and so is particularly difficult to immunise, but scientists have discovered what they term a ‘blue print’ that could eradicate all forms of the virus. Here.

The World’s first mind controlled prosthetic leg was developed in September. Here.

In New York, cotton-top Tamarins were observed and recorded making whisper-like behaviour The evidence suggests the Tamarins were investigating the threat level from the zoo supervisor, and communicating that information with other Tamarins via whisper. Here.

October:
Researchers at the Stem Cell Institute at the University of Cambridge, and the University of Copenhagen discovered gut stem cells that repair the damage caused by inflammatory bowel disease when transplanted into mice. Here.

A 17 year old girl in China with serious facial disfiguration due to terrible burns had a new face using pioneering technology that used tissue from her chest to craft a new face. She told reporters that the best part of this whole process, was that she could smile again. Here.

A huge leap in harnessing fusion for the benefit of unlimited energy was taken by US scientists in October. The amount of energy created by the reaction exceeded the amount used to cause the reaction. This is a World first. Here.

November:
A brand new way of scanning the heart for early signs of the causes of heart attacks was developed passed early tests. It highlights dangerous areas of the heart most at risk, in far greater detail than ever before. Here.

Researchers at Sheffield University discovered a method to reduce nuclear waste by up to 90%, and safely. Here.

December:
In Montreal, a team of researchers discovered a certain protein responsible for anxiety and emotional memory disorders in humans. They then tested drugs on mice and noted a significant improvement in those suffering with certain anxiety issues. Here.

New research using gut microbes taken from the human gut was found to help reverse behavioural issues associated with autism-like symptoms and reduce gastrointestinal issues that usually accompany autism, when tested on mice. The implication being a greater understanding of autism, and potential future treatment in humans. Here.

Researchers have found the most convincing evidence so far, that Neanderthal buried their dead in Europe, 50,000 years before modern humans came to the continent. Here.

New research found that a drug not yet approved for availability on the NHS is far more effective at preventing breast cancer than any others. The drug is said to halve the likelihood of those considered most at risk, from ever developing breast cancer. Here.

——- In truth, this is all really a very small sample of a few incredible scientific advancements and additions to the library of human knowledge provided by some of the World’s most wonderful minds over the past year. The magnificent science of 2013.


Oprah… Awe is as natural to Atheists as breathing oxygen.

November 1, 2013

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I am quite used to hearing religious folk assert that Atheists do not have an objective moral base for our conception of right or wrong, and it’s so easy to refute, it’s getting tiresome to hear. But a couple of weeks back threw open a new attempt to dehumanise Atheists. This time, from Oprah Winfrey. Oprah suggested that non-believers cannot possibly experience a sense of awe or wonder, and that if you do experience a sense of awe and wonder, you are in fact a Theist. I would like to take the opportunity to point out how desperately wrong she is.

It seems self evident to me that science – the pursuit of knowledge – is itself driven by awe. We are a species blessed with curiosity. Awe is what drives science. Religion is simply a failed science that was used to try to explain the natural World when we had no other explanation. A sense of wonder drove both religion, and science. It is natural to humanity, and does not require faith.

What do you think drove the wonderful Stephen Hawking to dedicate his life to trying to understand the cosmos? Do you not think that he was driven by the awe one feels whenever we stare into the heavens and contemplate the vast blackness of space, our place within it, and the tiny pinholes of light in the heavenly canvas that we now know to be balls of burning gas millions of light years away. I took the above photo, outside of my house. I felt I just had to document how beautiful the night sky appeared to me that evening. In fact, the documentation of beauty is why I take my camera everywhere with me. It is why I can spend hours in an art gallery. It is why music can inspire. It is why the landscape of our breathtakingly diverse planet can drive people to tears. It is why the words of Hemingway can make my heart race and dream of Paris. How humbled we feel. Do you not think that when we consider those balls of gas burning millions of light years away, that we aren’t overcome with a sense of awe and wonder when we remember that the light has travelled so far for so long that many of those stars no longer exist, and that our eyes are therefore our personal time machines? That perhaps one of those balls of burning gas has a planet like ours circling it, with its own inhabitants staring back at us in their own wonder? Why does this need religion?

Is there no excited imagination in dreaming of what it must be like to stand for just a brief moment on the lip of a black hole? The event horizon, upon which light can neither escape the grip of the gravity of black hole, nor is gravity strong enough to pull it in. The moment that time itself comes to a stop. If you were to leave the slowness of time around a black hole, and return to Earth, you would find time has moved faster on Earth, and so whilst a few weeks may have passed to you; days, years, decades, perhaps centuries to those on Earth. Do you not think the knowledge that this actually exists, has us in awe? Do you think that belief in a talking burning bush is what is missing from our lives?

The awe was in the search, but also in the truth of knowing that every last atom that makes up our body, has always existed, since the moment our home sprung into existence at the big bang. We are made from the left overs of stars that have exploded in the very distant past, and those left overs from all over the universe have come together, to form you. You are star dust. Star dust that over time, has developed the ability to know that it exists, to question its existence, to acquire knowledge, to experience love, and beauty, and happiness, to produce incredible feats of art for expression, and engineering. For the brief time that each of us exists, we are a random collection of atoms that have already experienced an incredible history, and we are the universe trying to understand itself. How does this not fill you with awe? Why must you need a story of human sacrifice to atone for sins, to feel a sense of awe? Why can you not experience that in itself?

Does looking out of your window at the colourful tapestry of life, all at the mercy of the unguided design of natural selection, not make your heart race at the majesty of it all? The almost infinite number of ways your genes could have lined up, have lined up in a way that produces you. The history of your family over the centuries, the struggles and hardships have converged, to produce you. You, as a life form, are incredibly unique across the incomprehensible vastness of everything. There is nothing else like you. Your experiences and the way your mind works will never be repeated across the billions of years the universe has left to exist.

How do you not feel humbled, and thankful that our ancestors fought the harshest of conditions, to adapt, to innovate, to conceive of new ideas, to spread to every corner of the Earth and develop art, music and language. Language! A new way to express ideas that doubtlessly contributed to the development of our natural awe and curiosity. The elegance of words have us inspired daily. A single gracefully crafted sentence can change our lives…. “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal“…. and it is humanity that built the structural foundation upon which language could be expressed so strikingly. This requires neither Prophets, nor Gods. It only requires a sense of astonishment at the achievements of mankind since our birth as a species, through Socrates, Al-Biruni, Newton, Darwin, and Einstein, and what we are capable of in the future.

Religion insists that we have the answers. Stop looking. It’s all in this book. To have faith is to look into the mysteries of the unknown and instead of considering all possible avenues of explanation of inquiry – most of which are incredibly beautiful propositions – simply places “God” into the gap. I see no charm in this. The wonderment and the excitement and the emotion is in the search and the truth can be just as stunning – if not more so – than the fiction. If you need faith for a sense of awe, I feel very sorry for you.

Life is a wonderful question, do not settle for “God did it”.


The Madness of Louie Gohmert (R-TX)

September 1, 2013

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Since 2008, the Republican Party has exceeded expectations, in presenting fanatical hysteria as reasonable points of opposition. From descriptions of dreaded, but wholly invented ideas of ‘death panels’, to gay marriage unleashing a ‘generation of barbarians’, we’ve seen it all, and all in less than five years. But one name often goes unheard (at least, over here in the UK), exists on the periphery, yet epitomises the Republican Party shift from centre-right, to far-right-hysteria. And that name is Louie Gohmert.

Louie Gohmert is Texas’ 1st Congressional District Representative. He was re-elected in 2010 to serve his fifth term in Congress. He has a plethora of beautifully ridiculous statements in his back catalogue. We see Satan Worshipping cross dressers make an appearance, terrorist babies, as well as an oil pipeline necessary to ensure reindeer have sex. It’s a very diverse range that Gohmert has so tenderly bestowed upon us. I’ll give you a brief run down of some of my favourite Gohmert moments:

When pressed for his position on – well – any issue, he finds the most extreme position, and uses it to make his case. For example, on the subject of gun control legislation, Gohmert said:

“…and I pointed out, well, once you make it ten, then why would you draw the line at ten? What’s wrong with nine? Or eleven? And the problem is once you draw that limit ; it’s kind of like marriage when you say it’s not a man and a woman any more, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not somebody has a love for an animal?

There is no clear place to draw the line once you eliminate the traditional marriage and it’s the same once you start putting limits on what guns can be used, then it’s just really easy to have laws that make them all illegal.

– He managed, effortlessly, to link a slippery slope gun control argument, to a same-sex marriage slippery slope argument. The fallacious nature of the argument itself would be laughable if it weren’t so horrendously dangerous and bigoted. There is a reason the slippery slope is a fallacy; it is baseless. It is like saying: “Well you eat chicken meat, so why not eat human meat? Where does it end!“.

On gay marriage, Gohmert continues:

“someone who believes in evolution … that throughout the history of the universe, and particularly Earth, that people have come together and born an offspring from different species that has evolved and given us stronger and better species, how does the mating of two males evolve the species upwards?”

– This isn’t an attack on gay marriage, this is an attack on homosexuality itself. It is also a complete misunderstanding of evolution, and sexuality. Evolution isn’t about a species evolving “upwards”. It is simply producing survival and sustaining mechanisms for survival within the current climate and landscape that the species inhabits. There is no direction. Evolution isn’t wilfully trying to produce ‘better species’, just species able to adapt to the surroundings of that particular time.

Secondly, sexuality is a natural spectrum. No biologist, geneticist or evolutionist will tell you that sexuality is a choice. Sexuality is a spectrum not just for humans, but hundreds of species. Female Japanese macaques prefer sexual conduct with other female Japanese macaques, but still mate with males. They are entirely bisexual. It is as natural as the spectrum of eye colour. The very fact that homosexuality exists, means it has an evolutionary advantage. Gohmert misunderstands science entirely.

Whilst on the subject of same-sex marriage, Louie Gohmert – an actual lawmaker – gave us his belief on where such legislation would inevitably lead. According to Gohmert, those supporting same-sex marriage wish to see:

…hire whatever Satan-worshiper, whatever cross-dresser you think might be immoral, that’s against your religious belief. You are going to be forced to abandon your religious beliefs, and we’ve been seeing that with some of the requirements under Obamacare.”

– Yes! Someone had to say it! Obamacare is simply a mask to make Churches hire cross-dressing Satan-Worshippers! It’s SO obvious. Wake up America!
The fact that this man gets the privilege to vote on gun legislation; a vote on the safety of your children in school, is quite frankly repulsive.

On the subject of sex-education, Gohmert said:

“Mankind has existed for a pretty long time without anyone ever having to give a sex-ed lesson to anybody.”

– Humanity also existed for a very long time without Jesus. So naturally we can assume Gohmert wishes to withdraw talk of Christ from the classroom. Gohmert’s argument here could be used to restrict progress in any subject known to man. Mankind existed for thousands of years without airplanes and cars, so let’s scrap them. Progress is defined by moving from a primitive stage to a more enlightened stage of human existence. Sex-education, according to Gohmert is fine as it is. It’s not necessary to educate our children. I mean, it isn’t like we’ve had millennia of Patriarchy, sexual oppression, whilst an old white man’s womb controlling Republican Party continues to push anti-women sentiment, anti-homosexuality sentiment, anti-contraception sentiment, anti-transgendered sentiment, that absolutely leads to sexual discrimination and bullying in school and beyond and perpetual patriarchy. That’s never happened. Why would we need to educate children away from primitive ideas on sex? Thanks Louie!

But there’s one thing missing from his argument to make it typically as far to the Republican Right as possible:

“I was shocked when they were saying ‘no, the children don’t belong to parents, they belong to the state.’ And if any parent said anything in front of their children negative about the wonderful Soviet Union, then we will take their children away and give them to somebody more deserving. And I just thought how horribly shocking that was, that of course parents were the ones who love the children, not the state. And I thought thank God that we don’t have that in our country.”

– Yes! That’s what was missing! Drawing comparisons to Communism! Here, he suggested that sex-ed takes responsibility away from the parents, and places it in the hands of the State. I’m not sure why this only applies to sex-ed, and not, say, geography? And there is no comparison. The purpose of sex-ed is to ensure children have all the available information on their bodies, on contraception, on relationships, on their developments, on the risks and so on. It is not the purpose of sex-ed to take children from their parents, if their parents criticise the President.

In 2010 on the floor of the House, Gohmert told his fellow Representatives, that the terrorists had a new plot. According to Gohmert, he had been given evidence that:

“It appeared that [the terrorists] would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby. And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists. And then one day, twenty, thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life,”

– So, whilst crossdressing Satan worshippers are preaching to Soviet children about sex-ed, terrorists will be impregnating American women with terror babies. Naturally, Gohmert hasn’t produced any evidence to back up this madness, other than the word of his apparent FBI informant. Needless to say, the FBI’s former Assistant Director, Thomas Fuentes responded that there is absolutely no evidence, or even concern, or even a report of any kind, at the FBI of a conspiracy of terror babies. Responding to Fuentes refutation, Gohmert told CNN:

“The explosions wont happen for ten or fifteen years. And then you will be one of those blips – I’m not comparable to Winston Churchill – but the detractors like you are comparable to his detractors.”

– It’s nice of Gohmert to point out that he isn’t comparable to Winston Churchill. But despite all of his assurances of a terror baby plot, he has never produced a shred of evidence. So, that’s GOP men v Al Qaeda men, in a fight for the right to control a woman’s womb.

In the past, Gohmert has also blamed the Aurora shootings on lack of belief in God; he’s demanded an investigation into Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration of the US government; told a woman who aborted a fetus that had no active brain function that she should have carried it to full term; and that he supported the trans-Alaskan oil pipeline because reindeer will have more sex:

“So when they want to go on a date, they invite each other to head over to the pipeline. So my real concern now … if oil stops running through the pipeline… do we need a study to see how adversely the caribou would be affected if that warm oil ever quit flowing?”

Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert is typical of the new Republican right. Amid the occasional hysterically funny sentiments about reindeer oil-pipeline romance, he seems unable to fathom that there is a vast gulf between quantifiable evidence, and what he believes might probably happen, sometime, maybe. The Republican crazy-right are incapable of presenting evidence for their most frenzied arguments. They tend to contradict secure, scientific understanding of the World and of humanity at every possible opportunity, without presenting a thesis or even a shred of evidence as to why the scientific consensus is wrong, and they are right. Whilst I would agree that it is a tactic designed to whip up fear and agitation, I would also argue that politicians like Gohmert genuinely believe what they say to be true, and that is perhaps far more unnerving.

Texas can do better than Louie Gohmert.


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.


Usama Hasan – A hero to the Islamic World.

November 12, 2011

On Wednesday, I met Jesus.
He is a shop lifter from Poland.
He lives in London now.
And his mother is from Stoke.
And yet, amusingly, this isn’t the most ridiculous religious nonsense I have been subjected to this week.

My Atheist entries are usually aimed at either Theism as a whole, or Christianity. I am not usually one to take a shot at Islam, because for some odd reason, I associate anti-Islam sentiment, as being pro-EDL racist nonsense. This worry has faded recently, as I’m happy to admit I dislike Nationalism, and religion in equal amounts. Modern Islam is in crises, which poses a crises for the entire World; this needs to be discussed and debated. We must never be afraid to cause offence through reasoned questioning. Islam is a religion that tends to demand our respect, despite in the large part, not deserving our respect.

On the 28th February, the enemy of critical thought and free inquiry (thus, the enemy of humanity) Islamicawakening.com praised the Masjid al-Tawhid in London, for dismissing the Imam of the Mosque; a man named Usama Hasan.

Mr Hasan was dismissed, for the following reasons:

– He was dismissed, for free thought and critical inquiry. He was dismissed for embracing 21st Century intellectual reasoning, and fact. This, is why religion is dangerous in the modern World. The Mosque would rather indoctrinate its congregation, in 7th Century myths. A Warring-tribesman like mentality. A mentality that holds the concept of Jihad, at its very core. Jihad, is often noted to be a war in defence of Islam. It is a little bit misleading, in that the overriding goal of that rather regressive form of Islam, is defence, by conquest. Close all avenues of critical reasoning within the education system, to perpetuate a single way of thinking; the Islamic way. If people dissent, threaten them. This is “defence”. Let’s take a look at certain Hadith:

Paradise is in the shadow of the swords

– Conquest, central to the passing into Paradise.

Anas b. Malik reported that a person said: Allah’s Messenger, how the non-believers would be made to assemble on the Day of Resurrection (by crawling) on their faces? Thereupon he said: Is He Who is powerfnl to make them walk on their feet is not powerful enough to make them (crawl) upon their faces on the Day of Resurrection? Qatada said: Of conrse, it is so. (He adjured): By the might of our Lord.

– Utter contempt, promoted through fear, for anyone who doesn’t believe. Religion is just a man, with a knife threatening you until you give in.

Someone asked, “O Allah’s Apostle This (ordinary) fire would have been sufficient (to torture the unbelievers),” Allah’s Apostle said, “The (Hell) Fire has 69 parts more than the ordinary (worldly) fire, each part is as hot as this (worldly) fire.”

– Here’s that fear thing again. Fire isn’t hot enough for us non-believers (and we’re still supposed to respect this?)

Islam, if it is to demand respect, needs to modernise. It is at a crossroads right now. There are certainly forward thinking Muslims (Usama Hasan for example) who recognise that dialogue with the Secular World, as well as other religions, and embracing scientific truth, is the way that we progress. Islam can be a source of great scholarly pursuit, as it has in the past, but only if it wins over the minds of those who shout the loudest; the fundamentalists (of which, the number is pretty high). There are two roads; regressive literal Islam, or progressive allegorical Islam fit for the 21st Century. Christianity took a long time to note that its cosmology was vastly mistaken. The Earth is not the centre of the galaxy. It took a long time for Christianity to admit it is wrong. I wonder how long it’ll take Islam to admit that its weak dismissal of Evolution, is based entirely on misplaced belief rather than any sort of evidence. We all have a duty to question, to inquire, to be suspicious of authority and challenge it. That is how humanity moves forward. Islam is working in the opposite direction.

Hasan has had death threats because of his position on evolution. Fatwa’s issued against him. And all the while, it is he who people are condemning. Much like the Danish cartoonists who drew the Muhammad. People tend to blame the cartoonists for being “disrespectful” or Hasan for stirring up trouble or Salman Rushdie for writing a book. Those of us who believe in the methods of the Enlightenment need to stand up and point the finger of blame at the moronic sect of Islamic fundamentalists who seem to be so insecure in their irrational delusions, that they respond to any form of criticism, from a cartoon to actual fact based inquiry like that of Hasan, as a disgraceful attack worthy of death. A writer of a book is not worthy of death. A cartoonist should not be threatened for drawing a picture. We should not be afraid to cause ‘offence’. Offence, in this instance, is a by-word for progression. Hasan has the opportunity to bring Islamic thought into the 21st Century. But apparently, this is unacceptable.

A Kufr was issued against Hasan, which can be seen here. It comes across as a childish prank. It takes a while for a reasonable human being to realise that this is written by grown men. By adults. All because one man actually takes the fact of evolution seriously. One of favourite lines from the Kufr is:

The belief that the origin of man was the apes then this is disbelief in Allah
because it involves rejecting the Quran and what the Muslims have agreed upon, nay, what the humanity has agreed upon, because it is now clear that this view is utterly false devoid of any truth.

– It is clear that belief in a God, nay, belief in a personal God, who stays silent for 200,000 years of human history, and then intervenes by giving a book to illiterate Middle Eastern Tribesman, full of inaccuracies and mistakes, 198,000 years later, and then sits back for 2000 years as competing fairy tales over the nature his existence and his expectations, like a dictator in the sky, like a Kim Jong-Il nutcase, is utterly false and devoid of any truth. To claim that of evolution, and pass that dismissal off as “clear”, is a disgrace. It is beyond stupidity. Why on Earth should I be expected to respect this?

They quote Ibn Uthaymin, to give some sort of credit, or precedence to the issue:

“If he cannot be stopped except by this method, and he further
becomes an active caller to this atheism and disbelief then it is obligatory to execute him because he is an apostate.
And apostate must be executed.”

– This putrid form of Islam must be fought, argued against, and destroyed. It is a cancer. Thankfully, Ibn Uthaymin is now dead. The World is better off without him. The World would be even more better off, without the bile that he represented.

One of the more disturbing features of the Kufr, from Uthaymin:

It is incumbent upon the headmaster to refer his case to his superiors so that he could be kept away from education. It is also obligatory to monitor him outside the school to make sure that he does not mislead others.

– You might be mistaken for thinking this is the edict against Gallileo in the 17th Century, for proving that the Earth is not the centre of the Universe, flying in the face of religious dogma. But no, it is modern day Islam. Do not think for yourself. Do not question. Do not teach children any different to what Islam teaches them. It stinks of insecurity; that, maybe, if left to their own thoughts, humans will shake off the crippling shackles and thorned crowns of organised religion for good. This is unacceptable to organised religion.

One more criticism from the Kufr, is:


Usama Hasan spoke at the launch of two separate secular initiatives, 1) the infamous Quilliam Foundation (headed
by Ed Husain and Majid Nawaz) and 2) British Muslim for Secular Democracy. While at the first launch he
championed what he called ‘Islamic-Secularism’, at the second launch he clearly stated, “Muslims have no problem with political secularism. But we reject a metaphysical secularism that says or pretends that God does not exist” In other words, his Islam has no problems with doing away with the Islamic laws pertaining to marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc, so long as one believes in a God. Hence, his denial of the obligation of Hijab, the punishment for apostasy, and promotion of a new ‘modernised’ marriage contract which neither requires a Wali nor witnesses as stipulated by Islam – the very marriage contract which was referred to, by Sh Haytham al-Haddad, as the ‘Zina contract’.

– What this seems to be suggesting, is that personal belief is a great evil. It must be dogmatic, and forced. Islam, according to certain “scholars”, should rule your life. You shouldn’t attempt to question or hold your own personal belief. It is rigid, an ideology that requires full docile indoctrination and robotic like acquiescence. How vile.

Long gone are the days when Islam was the beacon of scholarly endeavor and innovative ideas. The days when Islam introduced Greek texts to a Latin audience facilitating the Renaissance. Or translating and introducing the thoughts of Aristotle into Islamic philosophy. Or translating the cosmological argument into Arabic. Or introducing us to Algebra whilst Christianity decided it was all heresy (much like Islam is doing now). These days no longer exist. What exists now, is dogma.

When I’m sat in a Church, and I hear the Catholic congregation repeat phrases, or sit in prayer, I get the unnerving sense that this is all just one big horrendous cult, like a dream. I get the same uneasy feeling, when Muslims use the phrase “Mohammad…(peace be upon him)”. It seems robotic, and something I’d expect from the old Roman cults. It is no different, in its essence, to when Aztecs would sacrifice an animal (or sometimes, a human) every morning to make sure the sun rises. This is where it all starts; silly little word games.

Islam today, is like a kicking and screaming child in a supermarket, who wont take no for an answer. It doesn’t like to be challenged. Or told it is wrong, when it is quite obviously wrong.

There are voices of reason though, that must be promoted. Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra, a leading Muslim scholar in Britain, showed his support for Hasan, by saying that it is unnerving that people can quite happily denounce someone as a “non muslim” for simply challenging orthodoxy. He is correct. The death threats have to stop.

British Muslims for Secular Democracy set up a facebook group pronouncing their support for Hasan. They have 900 members on Facebook for their own page, which is great. These are the progressive voices of Modern Islam, that need to be heard, and yet are increasingly silenced by the loud, uneducated, vicious voices.

A very helpful post on the Islamicawakening forum explains the Islamic issue with evolutionary theory:


No matter what the case is, the origin of Bani Adam is not a monkey, it does not go back to the monkey. This is a contradiction to what Allah has informed us about Adam in the Quran, Adam’s creation was very detailed and all of his details in his creation was given to us, it is complete. Nothing about monkeys was mentioned. His creation was clear, he was a human being and all his descendents for 10 generations were human beings. Nothing was mentioned about developing or evolving from monkeys.

So my question is, do we abandon these definitive information, which is no doubt about (from the ulema), about how Adam was created? Do we abandon that because someone (Darwin) said this theory? If someone tells you there is no city called London or Makkah, you wouldn’t entertain him because you know that it exists. So Allah Azza wa jal tells us Adam was from dirt with His own two Hands. The ulema have no doubt about that, the intelligent (the uqela) have no doubt about this whatsoever.

– Allow me to attempt to address this line by line (or there abouts).

“No matter what the case is, the origin of Bani Adam is not a monkey, it does not go back to the monkey.”
– All this, from a religion that claims to preach ‘modesty’. What horrid bullshit. We are not the descendants of any type of modern ‘monkey’. We share a common ancestor. We can go back further, and say we share a common ancestor with absolutely every vertebrate on the planet through the unlikely survival of Pikaia Gracilens (the first vertebrate). This is all important; it progresses our understanding. Evolution is fact. It needs to be taught as fact. I doubt any Muslim would argue that gravity is not true. To argue that evolution is not a fact, is the same as arguing that things wont fall to the ground when dropped. It is absurd. It is ignored for harmful superstition and delusions.The story of human evolution, is also the story of modern biology and genetics. I’d advise any Muslim who strongly believes that Darwin’s beautiful idea is wrong, to pray when you get sick rather than seek medical advice. The great Ukranian geneticist, whom dedicated his life to the study of genetics and evolutionary biology (and so certainly knows more about the way humans work, than the piss poor attempt by the guy above) once correctly observed that:

“nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”

– So I reiterate; if you truly disbelieve evolutionary theory, then stay out of the hospitals and the GPs office when you get sick. Sit at home, and pray. Otherwise, shut up and accept you’re wrong. Very very wrong.

“If someone tells you there is no city called London or Makkah, you wouldn’t entertain him because you know that it exists.”
– Exactly right. How ironic. His religion is telling me, metaphorically that London doesn’t exist. And then using that argument, to make a very weak suggestion. We know that evolution is a fact just as we know that London exists. To say London doesn’t exist, even though it quite clearly does, is exactly what Islam, Christianity, Judaism, are doing, and forcefully.

“Allah has informed us about Adam in the Quran, Adam’s creation was very detailed and all of his details in his creation was given to us, it is complete. Nothing about monkeys was mentioned. His creation was clear, he was a human being and all his descendents for 10 generations were human beings. Nothing was mentioned about developing or evolving from monkeys.”
– Then “Allah” is wrong. More specifically, whoever wrote the Koran is wrong. Allah doesn’t exist. So it would be absurd for me to suggest he is wrong. The desert tribesman of the Middle East, whom wrote the book, were wrong. And unsurprisingly, given that they were writing at a time when the Earth was the centre of the universe, flat, and no one really understood what the hell was going on.

“So my question is, do we abandon these definitive information, which is no doubt about (from the ulema), about how Adam was created?”
– It isn’t definitive information. But he’s right; there is no doubt about how Adam was created. He (along with all other homosapiens) evolved. Absolutely no doubt whatsoever in that one.

We can of course point to this adolescent and miserable time in Islamic history, as a product of Western Imperialism’s support for dangerous dictators who used Islam as a way to control a population and controlled dissent with a steal fist. Or we can blame Israel. Blame can be thrown in any direction. The problem is, that by its very nature, by the words of its book, it is dangerous. If we take Israeli aggression out of the question, if we look at the hypocrisy and downright disingenuous bullshit of British muslims who refer to Iraqi muslims as “brothers and sisters”, the nature of the Koran is war and spreading its message through war. The only way this kind of regressive ideological nightmare can be stopped, is if, as Sam Harris puts it;

Muslims learn to ignore most of their Canon, as most Christians have learned to do.

– Islam really does have a choice to make. It either sticks to the fundamental regressive nonsense of the Koran as literal truth, or it does what much of the Christian West has done, and try to justify hatefilled verses, by claiming that really, they’re just analogies and full of love. Either way, they’re losing.

The form of Islam perpetuated by what is now termed “Islamists”, is simply holding back free inquiry, which progresses human understanding, because it wishes to cling onto an outdated and violent tribal imperialism codified in its Holy book. This requires a backlash from the secular and Atheistic World. It is the reason I am a member of the British Humanist Association. “Islamist” nonsense should be argued against and ridiculed at every possible opportunity.

The sort of religion perpetuated by the Masjid al-Tawhid in London is not personal and it is not about spirituality. It is the dogmatic type, that forces its dangerous fairy tales on its followers and deals harshly with dissenting voices regardless of how sane and correct those dissenting voices are. It is the type of religion that tells people in Uganda that condoms cause AIDs. It throws rockets across arbitrary lines over who should rightfully control Jerusalem. It flies planes into buildings. It cuts pieces of skin off of a little baby’s genitals. It perpetuates the myth that Homosexuality is unnatural (by the way, homosexual behaviour has been noted in around 150 species – including the grayling, the domestic chicken, the African elephant, and the common racoon…… homophobia and the need for ‘Gods’ has only been noted in one species – you tell me which the most ‘unnatural’). It indoctinates at a young age. It held back the enlightenment. It is a fucking curse on humanity.

When one walks through a mental institution and hears men talking to imaginary friends, one thinks “this guy is insane”. But when it involves more than one man, and can issue fatwa’s and make a defiant attempt to block any form of free thought and human progress on pain of death unless it glorifies their dictator of a God, then we’re apparently supposed to give it some credit, respect it, and point the finger of blame at anyone who ‘insults’ it.

Insult it, ridicule it, question it, fight it.

Muslims like Usama Hasan should be held up as heroes of Islam and organised religion, in a modern World. Whilst we may disagree with his belief in a God, we must appreciate that he is supporting a version of Islam based on personal belief, rather than its current guise; conquest.


The Nation is the new God.

October 27, 2011

Throughout my lectures on Nationalism, I am becoming increasingly aware, that if you were to substitute the word “Nationalism” for “Religion”, the context and the surrounding wording, wouldn’t have to be modified, and we’d still end up with a perfectly rational statement.

Like Nationalism, religion relies on the rather solipsistic idea that we as a species are somehow special and important. Nationalism narrows the field down, to those who exist on a specific land mass, sometimes using religion to attempt to strengthen its otherwise weak premise; but religion, whilst casting its net further afield, nevertheless clings to the same arrogant notion that we are indeed special. To illustrate this point, I would ask you to try and locate the August 2010 edition of Scientific America, in which Kate Wong (an evolutionary specialist) shows that around 195,000 years ago, Homosapien became as close to extinction as we’ve ever came. Climate change, she argues, meant that our species had fallen to just 600 breeding couples. Somehow, beyond all comprehension, we survived, and we thrived. Around 50,000 years ago, we left Africa. We ventured into a vast unknown, and we conquered it. We suffered deaths by teeth, deaths by easily curable maladies, we suddenly hit a new phase in human and social evolution, when, on top of the simplistic tools we were devising alongside other species in the homo genus, we began making art, and tools that appear incredibly complex. Humanity, was suddenly starting to show signs of brilliance. But we were still under threat. Climate, Neanderthal, awful disease. They all played their part in bringing us to the edge of destruction many times over. These early humans didn’t care what land mass they were born on, or the colour of skin, or what happened to be your first language. And yet, Christianity seems to suppose that all of that hardship, that hundreds of thousands of years of exploration, disease, creativity and the brink of extinction, was all because the divine wanted to get us to the point where we could be Christians. It seems strikingly awful a presumption, that for 199,000 or so years of our history (it varies, whichever scientist you subscribe to) heaven looked on with indifference, as humanity struggled to survive… by the way, for those 198,000, the most testing in all our history, we managed to get through it without any divinely proscribed ‘objective moral basis’… and only in the last 2000 years, having ignored 198,000 years did it decide to get to know us, by giving a book to a bunch of illiterate warring desert tribesmen, on the same plot of land as huge oil reserves. Did Heaven not think ahead? It seems massively incompetent. The Chinese could read and write at this stage; why not given them the most important book known to man? Silly little myths in an attempt to attract a following.

Nationalism similarly uses easily discredited constructed and largely false myths to attempt to bind people. The rhetoric is very similar to religious rhetoric. It is exclusive, not inclusive. It is divisive, not binding. It can be threatening and forceful when it doesn’t get its own way.

Nationalism requires the individual submit to the will of the Nation. The Nation takes the place of God. The Nation becomes the reason to live. Prior to 1517, Europe cared little for national unity, and more for their submission to the God of Catholicism. Luther changed that, and suddenly people started to question things they’d never questioned before. They had never read a Bible in English. They had never questioned why they had to pay to save their souls from purgatory. From the moment Luther attached those The Ninety-Five Theses to the Church door in Wittenberg, the questioning began; and over the next couple of centuries, religious dogma took a knock that it couldn’t come back from. But people still desired something larger than themselves. This desire started the building of Nations. And the Nation; once drastically unimportant, now became a sort of spiritual haven for people who need to feel like they ‘belong’ to an exclusive club. Suddenly, humanity had a new abstraction that many of its members were willing to die for. The Nation replaced God.

It is both odd and a magnificent appraisal of the brilliance of our species, to me, that humanity desperately needs to look up to something abstract and beyond our realm of understanding, to cope with trying to understand what is essentially a chaotic, uncaring, and amoral universe. We create order, where order cannot be found in reality.

John Armstrong, writing in “Nations before Nationalism” argues that one influence on the emergence of Nations, was the nostalgia for a power beyond the simple State; the religious power of the past. Nations are of course vastly different, to Nations of the past. People try to cling to the idea of a Nation from what they’d consider a Golden age; the defeat of the Armada. The bravery of Boudica. It just so happens that these events took place on the plot of land we were all born on. We had no direct say or participation in them. Boudica certainly wasn’t fighting for England, she was fighting for a tribe. There has never been a time when the Nation wasn’t dynamic and ever changing. And yet Nationalism tries to grip on to a fleeting static moment. Capitalism means that the Nation State will always be at risk. Two competing concepts; Nation States and Capitalism, fighting for the same ground, will always produce division and resentment. Capitalism relies on open markets, on open borders, on little to no regulation. Nation States rely on tightly controlled borders and regulated markets for the sake of the ‘Native’ population. It is a continuous tug of war. The free movement of labour is a disaster for the Nation State.

The open flow of labour is to Nationalism, what the open flow of ideas and free thought is to Religion. Until very recently, free thought was considered heresy.

Religion is used at a very young age to indoctrinate early. The Palestinian Authority in 1994, reissued copies of a textbooks that were just full of anti-Jewish sentiment. A PA TV show for kids, based on Mickey Mouse, called Farfur, teaches kids hate. Kids are taught to pray until there is:

“world leadership under Islamic leadership”

And until that day comes, they must oppose at all times, the:

“oppressive invading Zionist occupation.”

– At my own secular primary school, we were made to say prayer every day and sing hymns. If we refused, we were sent out of the room. We were never taught to question what was being said, and I certainly didn’t hear the name “Darwin” until I was at least 12. Nations, in their quest to fill the void left by a dying God, also indoctrinate kids at a young age; the pledge of allegiance comes to mind. The celebrating of Columbus Day; a day to honour a violent thug who introduced mass genocide to an entire population. A strong educational framework, is vital for the perpetuation of weak National and Religious myths.

We have Deified our National Flag.
The Prophets of the Deified American National Flag, are Jefferson, Madison, Adams and Washington. They are almost worshiped. Their shortcomings and their obvious hypocrisies are ignored. The imagery of “Washington at Dorchester Heights” by Emanuel Leutze, shows an heroic-like stance of the young Washington, like a new age Saint, to be worshiped by everyone as they pledge allegiance. As a young America grew, in a World where religion was still key to political success, we see a whole host of literature combining religion with the new Republic, as if the new Republic were divinely ordained. The marching song of the Continental army, as it fought the British, happened to be:

Let tyrants shake their iron rods
And slavery clank her falling chains,
We fear them not, we trust in God
New England’s God forever reigns.

– Young Nations, in the 18th Century, needed God. But gradually, the Nation replaced God as the abstraction of choice among men.

To back up the authority for their myths and fairy tales, for their incomplete nonsense, and their, quite simply, invented bullshit, both Nationalism and Religion seem to point to an abstract concept, that is largely, and for the most part un-falsifiable. The problem with anything that is un-falsifiable, is that by definition, it is not testable. So, for something to be unable to be put to the test, and yet still used as a way to ‘bind’ and ‘divide’ humanity, it is dangerous. It deserves no power. A good theory is one that is falsifiable, and still manages to stand up to scrutiny….. like Natural Selection. Saying “there is an invisible monkey sat on my shoulder” is not falsifiable, and so any claims on morality, or to authority, should absolutely be considered ludicrous. Nationalism is similar, in that the concept of that which binds us as a Nation, is built on non-falsifiable abstractions. It is a passion for pedigree that has very little evidence to back it up. No nation is a stock of a single blood line, and it is perhaps more true to say that we are separated far more by economics than we ever are binded by Nationality. I can relate far more to a Pakistani gentleman of lower middle class origin, than I can with a a multi-millionaire member of the Tory cabinet, despite being born in the same Country, or even the same city.

The myths – take the legend of St George and the dragon in England – are quite evidently untrue, but for some reason Nationalists will use the imagery to conjure up passion for the ‘motherland’. Religions do the same. It is pretty obvious to any right thinking person, that given the intense lack of evidence other than a book, Jesus was not born to a virgin, nor did he rise from the dead and walk around for a few days. Sam Harris in ‘The End of Faith’ writes:


We have names for people who have many beliefs for which there is no rational justification. When those beliefs are common, we call them religious; otherwise they are likely to be called “mad”, “psychotic”, or “delusional”.

– I cannot argue with this.

Nationalism and Religion; the EDL and the MAC; the British National Party and Extreme Islam; are all far more similar than they’d like to believe. Both thrive, by presenting anything that doesn’t fit the very narrow spectrum of their exclusive club, as ‘other’ and ‘other’ as ‘bad’. The rhetoric is identical, the targeted victims (be them people with slightly darker skin, or people who wish to marry someone of the same sex) will always be presented as a danger to society, whilst the religious or the Nationalistic will always present themselves as the saviours.

The Nation is the new God.


God the predator

April 10, 2011

One of the greatest evolutionary qualities of any animal, is the defence mechanism of the Horned Lizard. It believes it is the top of the food chain, and is blissfully unaware of any predator, until that predator is close enough to cause such powerful distress, that the horned lizard ruptures tiny blood vessels in its own eyes, and squirts blood at the predator. The blood tastes so vile, that the canine predator will immediately run away and leave the lizard alone. The one drawback is that the blood does not affect predatory birds. So the birds will still try to eat the lizard. There has been no evolutionary development within the Phrynosomatidae genus, that can act as a defence mechanism against the predatory birds.

If the Horned Lizard is to be held up as an example of intelligent design within nature, then it would appear that the “intelligent” designer overlooked its need for protection against predatory birds. What a dreadful argument for design. In the same way as the “intelligent” designer, when designing humans, gave us a vermiform appendix whose only purpose is to randomly kill us. Thanks God! The lack of defence mechanism against predatory birds, like the appendix within a human, is a sign of the misgivings of evolution, yet at the same time, pretty strong evidence for evolution.

God, up until very recently, and still in some parts of the World, is a predatory bird that we have no defence against. We are evolving a defence every so often. Society is remarkably similar to the evolution of species. Our defence against the predatory nature of God – whom we have designated as our predator, because we seemingly cannot stand to be at the top of the food chain ourselves – is logic and reason. Christians, Jews and Muslims alike find implausible and repugnant the idea that Mesoamericans were inclined for centuries to brutally sacrifice another human being every morning to ensure that the sun would rise. Even though the logic behind Mesoamerican sacrifice was essentially identical to Christian, Jewish and Islamic worship tradition. The Aztecs believed in the legend of the five suns, whom were gods that sacrificed themselves for the sake of mankind, which sounds eerily familiar to the story of another invented character from history; Jesus. Both Christianity and Aztec Mesoamericans believed the sacrifice made by their God/s sustained humanity’s place in the universe, which God/s created in the first place. The victim of Aztec sacrifice was seen to be “nextlahualli”, which simply means, paying his debt to the Gods. One wonders what kind of God requires his creation to sacrifice each other for the sake of the upkeep of his creation. It seems a little oxymoronic. But similarly, the notion that a God that has created everything (and that everything encompasses itself) would demand prayer five times a day, or driving Pope Urban II to state that war could be not only just and necessary, but also key to the advancement of spirituality, demanding fear and obsessive worship of his “greatness” despite not giving us the opportunity to agree to be born into such a wretched system in the first place. This notion that war is a spiritual necessity is not simply a product of the Papacy of the middle ages; the Orange Volunteers in Northern Ireland are a Protestant Terrorist group. They have threatened to bomb football matches, they have bombed homes of politicians and they are still active today, having sent death threats to head of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams.

On the subject of human sacrifice, the Bible is not immune to such practices. Jephthah in the book of Judges, is keen to sacrifice his daughter, to glorify God. In return for God’s help in defeating the Ammonites, Jephthah says he will sacrifice his daughter as a “burnt offering”. His daughter seems perfectly happy with this deal, but is a little bit sad that she didn’t get the chance to get laid before her dad rightly burned her to death:

When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish. “My daughter!” he cried out. “My heart is breaking! What a tragedy that you came out to greet me. For I have made a vow to the LORD and cannot take it back.” And she said, “Father, you have made a promise to the LORD. You must do to me what you have promised, for the LORD has given you a great victory over your enemies, the Ammonites. But first let me go up and roam in the hills and weep with my friends for two months, because I will die a virgin.” “You may go,” Jephthah said. And he let her go away for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never have children. When she returned home, her father kept his vow, and she died a virgin. So it has become a custom in Israel for young Israelite women to go away for four days each year to lament the fate of Jephthah’s daughter.

– Notice the custom at the end. A needless custom, based on a situation that is nothing short of monstrous and predatory.

The predatory instincts of the faithful play a dark and deadly role in every part of the World. A Muslim friend of mine once told me that whilst his belief is that I am indeed condemned to burn in hell for eternity (apparently, saying that kind of thing, is not as offensive as drawing a cartoon of the Prophet), I don’t believe it so it shouldn’t bother me. What an interesting argument. To ignore the fact that a large amount of the population of the World, who have never met me, never spoken to me, never had the pleasure of eating one of my amazing roast turkey dinners, would take one look at me, and decide i’m heading to a fiery pit, is to perpetuate the awful trait of ignorance. Those people are ignorant to who I am. They have made a conclusion based on nothing but a fairy tale from their book. That is ignorant and preaches non-thinking. That, I cannot abide. Naturally, I believe their distinct form of hatred to be putrid and absurd, it should be ridiculed and philosophically attacked for the bullshit that it is. But he suggested that I shouldn’t care, because I don’t believe in it so it wont affect me. On a very thin reasonable level, this makes sense. To me, i’m not going to a fiery doom. To him, I am. To care about how he thinks of my eternal hell is irrelevant because I don’t believe it, right? Well then the Islamic world should perhaps practice what it preaches in that respect and not demand Fatwa’s be placed on non-believers simply because they drew a cartoon or wrote a book. To call for the death of another human being, because a book was written, is nonsensical and despicable. Religion doesn’t particularly enjoy free speech, because it wishes to perpetuate its nonsense through mass indoctrination, without question. In this respect, it is predatory.

Nietzsche – who incidentally is becoming the hell of my life with politics study – once noted that “God is dead”. The suggestion being that society has evolved to a stage where belief in God is irrational and unnecessary, whereas in time past, belief was essential. A social development that means we no longer need that objective base for our morality that anchored generations previous. I think Nietzsche is wrong. I don’t believe God was ever alive. The belief in God was a forced belief. It was through the threat of eternal hell, and in fact Earthly death for heretics – William Tyndale was famously strangled at the stake and then burnt for daring to translate the Bible into English – ensured that God would live on as a concept, in the minds of the fearful. A lack of belief in a God was punishable by death. A lack of belief in the God philosophically interpreted by the State, was punishable by death. The claim that religion has ever held an objective base for morality is as ludicrous as it is insulting. One only has to review the centuries that religion has had a deep hold over humanity, to note the horrific abuses over such trivial issues. The very first person to be executed for heresy under Christian law, was Priscillian, the Bishop of Avila, in the fourth century. Christianity was still incredibly young at that stage. It was only fifty years previous that Constantine had converted the Empire to Christianity, though he knew very little about the faith. The lack of worship of an Emperor in Rome – the Imperial Cult – would lead to public floggings and executions. It appears that as the Roman Empire was dying, the indoctrinated peoples needed to transfer that obsessive cult worship from the less and less powerful Emperor, to a new single identity, and Christianity provided that outlet. It is no surprise then, that the beatings, and the tortures, and the murders that followed if one chose not to accept the doctrines of the Imperial Cult, would transfer to Christianity also. Suddenly if you did not agree with the Theology of the Church, you were excommunicated at best, and put to death at worst.

Of course now, instead of using the fear of death to ensure blind acquiescence, religion tends to get to people at an early age, and reinforce religious morality as a basis for objective morality. We were told at school that Bible stories helped to teach kids right from wrong. What those teachers left out, were the stories of mass genocide and the systematic abuse of women, by a God who was apparently responsible for helping kids distinguish between right and wrong. A writer for The Sun wrote recently on the news that a primary school in Blackburn will be teaching certain Atheist principles (simple introduction to Darwinism) that:

I think that four years old is too young to be learning about atheism.

At that age they hardly know what Christianity is. I’m sure a four-year-old couldn’t comprehend it.

I am sure it is not appropriate to be teaching, say, Darwinism to infants. In primary schools it is difficult to get youngsters to understand theology and spiritual concepts. Children tend to struggle when you are making the first Holy Communion.

Why is he placing the teaching of Christianity above Darwinism? He is happy to teach kids a fairy story, but wishes to suppress facts that contradict his fairy story? He goes on:

I think it is still important to teach Christianity and other major religions in schools. Christianity is not as strong in schools as it used to be. I don’t think so many young people know the Lord’s Prayer or popular hymns any more.
There used to be a prayer every morning during school assemblies and that has gone now.

– I agree, it is important to teach Christianity and other major religions in school, but it is not right to teach it as unquestionable fact. He makes a major leap from teaching Christianity, as a subject, to then suddenly moaning that the indoctrination of students through morning prayer isn’t as strong any more. It is absolutely necessary to prevent indoctrination of children through morning prayer. To preach Christianity in primary school is to preach the absolute obedience to a heavenly dictator, and to ignore arguments to the contrary. That is wrong, on so many levels. At my primary school, we were forced to say morning prayer, on fear of being thrown out of the room and given lines to write at play time, if we didn’t. The predatory nature of religion.

As it stands, and to my dismay, humanity needs religion. I would never seek to ban anyones faith. I believe everyone has the right to believe whatever they chose to believe, and to practice the traditions and customs of that system of belief in which ever country they see fit. I have absolutely no problem with Mosques being built in the UK, or with the Christian Church bells never ending on a Sunday morning. I was happy to take my shoes off when walking in the spectacular Blue Mosque in the heart of the old city of Constantinople, now Istanbul. But I do hold out hope that one day society will evolve to a state of being in which organised religion is consigned to the bin of undesirable history.


The antonym of reason

February 7, 2011

It is no secret that given my way, I would have chapters from ‘God is not great’ by the wonderful Christopher Hitchens read loudly to school children in early morning assembly, followed by a reading from Darwin’s Origin of Species. Sadly, at my primary school, we had to endure horrid little assemblies that started with prayer, followed by hymns, followed by a Jesus story; all presented as fact, father than fairy tale.

So I took it upon myself, now that I am older – and free to question without being sent out of assembly for disrupting prayer – to send an email to our local council, to raise this with them. I inquired:

I was wondering if you could spare a couple of minutes to answer a few questions I have.
I am an ex-pupil of The Meadows. I am 25 now and studying at Demontfort University. I was talking to another ex-pupil a week or two ago, and we both vividly recall the school assemblies in which we started each one with prayer and hymns. This strikes me as a little odd. I never questioned the religious aspect of what we were being taught. As a kid, I understood the stories from the Bible that our trusted teachers were reading to us, as fact. Why would I assume any different? We weren’t being taught any different.

The stories we were read from the Bible were taught as truth and as factual as 1+1=2. If we did not sit in silence and pray and sing hymns, we were sent out of the assembly. I wondered why this is?

I do not recall hearing the name Darwin until I was at least 12, and even then it was in passing. We were encouraged to read or listen to Biblical stories, which I’ve since dismissed as nonsense, and yet were never introduced to even the very basics of Darwinian thought.

We were taught the Christian way in the truth. Any one of any other religion was sent out of the assembly for prayers and hymns, creating a horrible social barrier that you can’t see past as children, it simply perpetuates the problem of suspicion toward anyone considered “different”.

I also note that the Christian story, whilst not being contrasted with the very fundamentals of Darwinian fact, was also not contrasted with any other form of philosophical thought. We were not taught to question what our headteacher was reading out to us. We were not taught the frankly appalling history of Organised Religion, instead we were apparently a part of that organisation because we were being told that fairy tales were truth without being encouraged and taught to think freely for ourselves, we would be punished if we were to do so.

I was wondering if this was a government policy at the time, or if the school imposed those ideas on us themselves, and if so, do you believe it was the right thing to do?
Thanks for your time.

It is surely a matter of concern when a teacher is imposing religion onto easily suggestible young minds, without teaching them also how to question what is being said? The Jehovah’s Witness kids along with the Muslim children were always sent out whilst prayer was conducted. And as kids, we always viewed them as “different”. This apparently needless social barrier is reflected later in life. Especially in deeply religious Nations. Muslims and Atheists especially in America are treated with fear and a degree of resentment from the Christian Right. I cannot see any purpose in morning prayer and hymns. It certainly isn’t cultural learning, because it espouses the ideals of Christianity above all else.

Anyway, the Senior School Development Advisor for the School Improvement and Performance Service of the Council very kindly got back to me, with:

Dear Jamie

Thank you for your e-mail which has been passed to me for response.

The legislation around assemblies (which is still in place today), is that there should be a daily act of collective worship which should be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian nature in every maintained school, whether it is a church school or not. Therefore, what you describe as practice at the Meadow Primary School would have been following the legislation. There is scope within the law for parents to request that their children do not attend Collective Worship and alternative supervision has to be put in place for these children. In some schools, parents make alternative arrangements for their children to have tuition about their own religions at this time. From your description, I would imagine this was the case at The Meadow Primary School when you were a pupil there.

The collective worship does not form part of the religious education curriculum, although the school can designate assembly time to cover part of the syllabus if they wish. The religious education curriculum is education about different religions and the syllabus is drawn together in each local authority by an independent group of advisers from different religions. Teaching in religious education is intended to inform about different religions, not convert children to any religion. Darwinism is not included as it is not considered to be a religion. Again, there is scope within the law for parents to request that their children should be withdrawn from Religious Education.

The theories of evolution are covered in the Science curriculum, particularly in primary around the way animals and plants have adapted to their environment. At Primary School, “Charles Darwin” might not be mentioned in person (this is not prescribed in the curriculum) but some schools might choose to do so.

In your e-mail you question the school’s practice of withdrawing children who misbehaved from assembly. Every school has a duty to ensure that the behaviour of some children does not interrupt the concentration of others and I presume this is how the school implemented that duty.

You obviously feel strongly about the collective worship and religious education in Primary School and the effect it had on you. Legislation about Collective Worship and the content of the curriculum is set by central government. The Department for Education is currently running a consultation on what should be in a revised curriculum. Although they are not looking specifically at RE, I strongly advise that you consider responding to the consultation with your views of the curriculum, as it is important that young people who have recently been through the education system should have opportunity to contribute. I include a web-link for your convenience, which also contains links to the DfE curriculum review facebook page.

Whilst I appreciated the response, I did get the feeling that she was suggesting that she sees no problem with the balance being tipped too far in favour of religion over the fundamentals of Darwinist thought. The entire study of Modern Biology is based on the concepts discovered by Charles Darwin. In fact, not just Modern Biology, but all the life sciences…

  • Ecology
  • Biocomputing
  • Nanotechnology
  • Botany
  • Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Food science
  • Immunology
  • Zoology
  • Biomedical Sciences
    etc etc etc etc etc.
    Whilst it might be true that the adaptation of plants and animals to their environment was taught…. I don’t remember it, it wasn’t pressed home, it wasn’t explained, and its immense importance on philosophy, science, human development and our ancestral history was passed over because they apparently think it is far more important for us to believe that God put us here; a lie. We certainly never knew that all life is descended from common ancestry; the very fundamentals.

    The problem, as I see it, lies in this line:

    “The collective worship does not form part of the religious education curriculum.”

    The above line is reflected in the legislation that it references.
    The School Standards and Framework Act 1998, section 70, states:

    Requirements relating to collective worship.

    (1)Subject to section 71, each pupil in attendance at a community, foundation or voluntary school shall on each school day take part in an act of collective worship.

    That’s quite a worrying line in a piece of legislation, to me. Why is it considered necessary, by law, for a child to be involved in worship? Why isn’t the child allowed to choose? Surely it is not a requirement of the State to be demanding mandatory religious worship of its children?

    The “collective worship” (what an awful phrase, very cult-like) is not a part of the education curriculum. It stands outside of that. It transcends the curriculum. Something as unimportant as unprovable dogma and superstition is considered strangely important enough to be placed above the curriculum and used primarily for a method of Christian indoctrination, as it was at my school. At the same time, the way plants adapt to their surroundings, is on the curriculum, it is of secondary importance, according to the legislation of the land, and it is all that exists in the way of the fundamentals of Darwinian thought. I see this as a major, major imbalance in the system. Couple this with the incredibly unhealthy concept of Religious Schools themselves, and humanity is always going to be strangled at a very early stage in the development of our minds, by religious dogma.

    “At Primary School, “Charles Darwin” might not be mentioned in person (this is not prescribed in the curriculum) but some schools might choose to do so.”

    – That is absolutely not good enough. His name is far, far more important, to be heard at a young age, than Jesus. There is absolutely no question about that. One of those names probably didn’t exist, and simply speaks of a very narrow spectrum of morality, contradicting himself and prior Christian teachings, endlessly. His words were written down 40 years after he died, and have been rewritten, manipulated and revised for centuries. The other is responsible for the most important discovery that humanity has ever stumbled across.

    The Department of Education issued guidance on collective worship, which states as its objective:

    …. promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and of society.

    – It is true that an assembly is a great way to bring children together, but it shouldn’t be assumed that religion is the basis of morality. There is a quite a formidable case to be made, that says religion has not been a force for moral good in the World, and that by excluding the horrific history of religion, schools are teaching a vast amount of ignorance on such an extreme level. Basing morality on Christianity is an epic over statement, and suggests that without collective worship, children would be unable to taught to distinguish between right and wrong. Morality is not based on religion. Religion attempts to base itself on the contextual morality of a specific time. Morality is simply society evolving collectively, for its own survival and advancement. Christian interrogation techniques of the 1500s would not be considered moral today. The slavery advocated in the Old Testament, is certainly not moral. The imprisonment of George Holyoak for blasphemy in 1843, would not be considered moral now. Religion is a dynamic force that updates along with society, it is not special, it is offering nothing new, and it is still a force for regression. Humanity invented it, so humanity can do without it.

    The guidelines go on:

    It is a matter of deep concern that in many schools these activities do not take place with the frequency required or to the standards that pupils deserve.

    – What is actually of deep concern, is state sponsored fairy tales promoted as truth. What is “collective worship”? What are we worshipping? Can the state prove that was we are collectively worshiping actually exists, and if by some miracle they can justify it, can they prove that the entity they are worshiping is good? Because for every relatively non-violent passage in the Bible, I can pick out another ten that say otherwise.
    They are promoting Christianity for reasons of tradition, and tradition is the absolute antonym of reason.

    I argue that the balance is tipped firmly in the wrong direction. It is the reason why people will still genuinely believe themselves when they say “yeah but evolution is just a theory”….. no it isn’t. The supreme ignorance cannot be attributed entirely to the individual, it must start from a young age. Evolution; and all the wonderful branches that stem from it, such as biology and zoology, are apparently less important than making sure impressionable children believe religion is the foundation of all morality. The early education system teaches that Jesus was born to a Virgin, they he is the son of God and that he died for our sins. It is a very one sided view of history and a vast manipulation of a child’s mind. A mind which is like a sponge at that age, cannot comprehend the illogical nonsense of what their trusted teacher is implying.

    Religious teaching in schools should be limited to cultural studies, not presented as fact.


  • O’Reilly proves the existence of God.

    February 2, 2011

    I quite liked this video.
    It is disturbing to my sense of rationality, that Bill O’Reilly is one of the most watched men in America. In this video, he proves the existence of God (in the illogical world of Christian America, if nowhere else) by saying the the tide goes in and out.
    Just incase the American Right decide my EVIL SOCIALIST ATHEIST agenda is misleading, O’Reilly actually said:

    “I’ll tell you why [religion is] not a scam, in my opinion. Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that. You can’t explain why the tide goes in.”

    It is been quite some years now, since humanity first discovered why the tide goes in and out. We are pretty certain that it isn’t because of a God in a cloud somewhere using a big sea magnet. I am sure I learnt in very early school, that the tide is controlled by the Moon’s orbit.

    Bill then goes on the defensive:

    You’re calling me a moron.

    Yup.
    That’d be pretty accurate.
    Sadly, I’m sure there are a number of American Christians who sat up during this, and said…
    “YAR! That there is one heck of a good case for Jesus, yes sir! He was all like, what about the tides going out and shit, now i’m no racist but that nigra couldn’t god-damn answer him. Fucking Atheists tryna turn my Kids into an-tie Christian, an-tie- Amerkan pro-gay commies”

    Perhaps O’Reilly was suggesting that the moon is ideally placed to create a tide. I doubt he was suggesting that, because, that’s not what he actually said. But for arguments sake, let’s say he was suggesting the ideally placed moon. It is only ideally placed, because we exist. There is no design or reason behind it. It is just there. It isn’t “perfectly placed” because we invented the concept of something being perfectly placed, purely because we’re here. It is rather vain of us to decide that the chaotic universe, and the size and scale of it, exists, purely for us. There is no reason, or logic, or cause, or meaning. It stands to reason that if a Moon is at a certain location, and the planet is at a certain location relative to its star, and conditions for life exist, then life will pop into existence. It is just how it is. It does not mean it was designed that way at all.

    By measuring the total mass of stars and luminosity in our galaxy alone, there are estimated to be 100 billion stars, plus another estimated 200 million Galaxies. A star is like the Sun, so for every 100 billion stars, let’s say there are roughly 5-10 planets around each one. That would produce around 500 billion planets in our Galaxy alone. Is it not reasonable to suggest that one of those 500 billion might have a Moon placed in a position that has an affect on the liquid of its planet?

    How arrogant one must be, to suggest that this was all created for us.

    That being said, conditions on Earth are not perfect for human existence. They are adequate to say the very least. We have natural resources that are running out, not enough food to feed the World and billions of people live in abject poverty for their entire lives, on very inhospitable land. A cyclone is currently tearing its way through Queensland in Australia, only a few weeks after Queensland suffered severe flooding on a scale unknown to locals. If the Earth is the creation of God, for the intention of housing man, then God is a little bit incompetent.

    We are an insignificant, tiny race of apes, in an unimportant dot on the map of the universe. There is no grand design for this tiny little dot.
    Probability is irrelevant. We are surrounded by absolutely no evidence for the existence of God. Saying “yeah, but you can’t disprove the existence of God” is meaningless. If I see a dog, I shouldn’t be expected to accept the possibility that it might be a monkey. Similarly, I have all the evidence for Natural selection, I shouldn’t be expected, when faced with such a plethora of evidence, to say “yeah, but it might be a God.”

    Now, O’Reilly then uses a classic logical fallacy. If person X cannot prove their position, then person Y must be right in theirs. O’Reilly suggests that because Silverman was too stunned by O’Reilly’s intense stupidity that he didn’t answer him in the millisecond that O’Reilly allows his guests to actually speak, that he must therefore not be able to answer, and so he presumes he is correct.

    O’Reilly then goes on to complain that by saying Religion is a scam and a myth (which it is), American Atheists are insulting Americans. This comes about two minutes before he calls Silverman a “loon“.

    O’Reilly would insist he insults no one (except every week, when he refers to someone new, whom he disagrees with, but doesn’t give them the opportunity to argue their case, as a pinhead). Fox News spent most of 2008 attacking President Obama because Obama included non-believers in his inaugural address. The title of the piece just after the President’s speech was “Obama reaches out: addresses Muslims and Atheists in speech“. As if we’re the “other“. As if we, along with the Muslim community are a problem that needs to be addressed. The Fox host (I don’t know his name, but he looks about 12), said:

    “It surprised me when I heard it, it made me do a double take.”

    Why? Because some people aren’t all absolutely mad Christian Right Wingers? Mike Huckabee on that same show, said that Obama had acknowledged that some people don’t believe in anything….. “but themselves”. So, if I don’t believe in the Christian God, I must be a bit of a narcissist and nothing more. Am I unable to believe in beauty? Do Christians have a monopoly on beauty? When I see something beautiful, must I thank Christians for giving me that sense? Am I unable to believe in love? Must I thank Fox News for how I feel about Ashlee? Without Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, would I just be raping and murdering my way through life? Fox went on to ask if it was offensive to include a reference to Atheists in the speech. As if we’re non-human. We shouldn’t be recognised. But if we dare question religion……. we’re the ones being offensive. The mad World of Fox News.

    Here is O’Reilly again, being insulting toward Atheism. Mocking it. Not logically, with well thought out, reasoned Philosophy; just the ramblings of a mad old hillbilly Christian, who has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about, and is just appealing to his very low-IQ’d viewers. Here, he refers to a sign that was shown by Atheists at Christmas, and says “No God, No Problem; be good for goodness sake” (which is a fantastic and optimistic and not in any way offensive at all; sign) a “dopey sign“. He then says:

    “What is it about Christmas they don’t like”.

    What a ridiculous question. Atheists aren’t attacking Christmas. We still celebrate Christmas. We don’t celebrate it for the birth of Jesus. I’m convinced he didn’t actually exist. We celebrate it, because it is a time when all our friends and family have time off work at the same time, we share gifts, we have a family meal, and we create memories and stories for our children. It is a small break from a very rushed life. We absolutely love Christmas. O’Reilly is trying to spread fear and hate. O’Reilly then, quite brilliantly says:

    “Why do they loathe the Baby Jesus”.

    As if we’re all sitting around, throwing darts at a printed picture of the baby Jesus. We get angry when we see the baby Jesus. Some of us can’t control that anger, and we actually vomit.

    He then ponders how Atheists sell Atheism by “running down a baby, it’s just a baby”. That’s not what any Atheist has ever done, in the history of the Catholic Church allowing Atheists to exist without being executed for it. Nor is it what the poster is actually saying, or even alludes to. I’m not sure how more manipulative one massive twat could actually be.

    Some equally as vacant Fox presenter tells O’Reilly that the sign is a:

    “direct and deliberate smear against Christianity”.

    In other words, anything that remotely questions a socially prevailing belief system, must be an attack on it. Atheists should all keep quiet, we shouldn’t question, we shouldn’t be allowed to present an alternative. We should accept that homosexuality is a disgrace because the Bible says so, we should accept that abortion doctors deserve to be shot, we should accept that the Pope shouldn’t be brought to trial for covering up child sex abuse, we should just accept that schools in America teach Christianity as fact and evolution as theory, and just ignore it, because the Christians’ point of view is far more valid and reasonable, simply because it is based entirely on tradition; another logical fallacy.

    She goes on to say:

    “What comes with Christianity are traditional values”

    Really? Is that so? And what are those traditional values? Burning witches? Beheading perceived “heretics”? Hanging gay people? Fucking children? For every positive value one can loosely ascribe to Christianity, it is equally as easy to ascribe a pretty direct link between Christianity and shameful violence and corruption.

    O’Reilly ends the piece by suggesting that Atheists are just jealous because we have nothing, that Christians have Christmas, and we don’t. He asks “what do they have?” and concludes “nothing”. We have wonderment. We have the understanding that nature is so beautiful and creative itself, without the need for a cruel and angry dictator in the sky. We see the stars and stare in awe at how inspiring it all is. We see a slug and admire how this ugly looking thing is so beautiful because it is as evolved as we are. We have Darwin (Not even the baby Jesus is as great as Darwin). But most importantly, we have fact. To quote the brilliant Douglas Adams:

    “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”

    I do not accept what Silverman is saying in the first video. He says that he believes people in America only go to Church because their is a social pressure to announce your belief in Christianity, but most people don’t believe it. I’d say that may be true to an extent, but for the sake of O’Reilly thinking Silverman is being insulting, I can go one better and say that those people actually go to Church because they are brainwashed and deluded; uneducated and illogical; unthinking and weak minded.

    If O’Reilly thinks Silverman is insulting toward Christianity….. he obviously hasn’t read my blog.


    Darwin is greater than Jesus and Muhammad

    November 15, 2010

    A couple of my Muslim friends wont let me touch their Koran. They think that because I don’t believe in their silly little fairy tale, I am somehow unworthy of touching their book of nonsense. It is sacred apparently. I have therefore took it upon myself to ban all my religious friends from touching my copy of The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. I do this, because in the book, Darwin applies logic and evidence to come up with the greatest revelation the World has ever known. This revelation wasn’t given by a vicious dictatorial God/Allah in some obscure corner of a desert to a man from a nation of angry warring illiterate tribes who were convinced for centuries that the Earth was the centre of the universe and executed people for heresy if they thought otherwise. This revelation was given by nature, as pure fact. Fact is something both the Bible and the Koran seem to be lacking, and so I ban them from touching my copy of the Origin of Species, because they are unworthy of reading anything other than pure fiction. They are though, more than welcome to read my copy of The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. Although I fear they may take it literally and start ordering the immediate deaths of anyone who says a bad word against Aslan.

    It is interesting what people find sacred. Religious books, I prefer to laugh at. They are pointless, archaic, and worthy of ridicule. They should not be taken seriously, and people in a position of power should not have to swear on them, when they take office. It is apparently all about devotion to God.

    God, or Allah, or whatever name he has to go by (Apollo, Yahweh, El) is to be obeyed at all times. Prayed too constantly, sang about, worshipped endlessly, feared, loved, and never disobeyed on fear of burning for eternity in utter pain (but he loves you, remember that). God is a dictator. Pretty fucking evil at that.

    The painter Caravaggio, one of my favourite painters of all time, paints a beautiful baroque style piece depicting Abraham on the verge of sacrificing his son Isaac by the word of God, as an angel appears to stop him, revealing it was all just a test to see how devoted Abraham was to God. The contrast of light and dark is beautifully striking in the painting. But the subject of the painting is clearly Isaac. Which is great, because Christians tend to ignore the importance of Isaac in this story. This story doesn’t portray God as all loving, or Abraham as a great devoted Prophet of God. It portrays God as a dictatorial maniac, and Abraham as insane.
    In the painting, as in my mind, Abraham has absolutely no emotion on his face. He is a man possessed. By contrast, Isaac is terrified. His dad has bound his hands behind his back, is holding him face down on a stone alter, and is about to gut him…. because God demanded it. When I have children, if I am told to kidnap my child, tie him/her to a stone alter and stab him/her to death, for God, I will happily tell you, no matter how sacred your God may be, he is a despicable cunt.

    Child sacrifice is prominent throughout the Old Testament. The king of Moab sends a burnt offering of his dead son up to God. It works too, because his nemesis is swiftly dealt with:

    Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt-offering upon the wall. And there came great wrath upon Israel; and they departed from him, and returned to their own land.

    God appears to endorse child murder. As long as it’s in his name. The book of Exodus seems to confirm God’s need for people to kill their children as a sign of devotion to him:

    “You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The first-born of your sons you shall give to me.”

    Less brutal, but just as despicable is both Judaism and Islam’s use of circumcision. I wont refer to it as circumcision for the remainder of this blog, it shall henceforth be known as child genital mutilation. According to Jewish law, a child should be genitally mutilated soon after birth. It is non-negotiable. The child has no say. He hasn’t even decided if he believes the bullshit his parents are forcing on him, before he is mutilated. It strikes me as utterly abhorrent, and worthy of prison (if I were to go out, and cut a bit off a kid’s penis, I am pretty sure i’d be thrown in prison and Daily Mail readers would call for the death penalty to be bought back for monsters like me), but instead, child genital mutilation is entirely legal purely because the cult that practices it, has quite a few members. No evidence for their logic, just strength in numbers. A logical fallacy if ever I saw one.

    Islam is the largest group of people in the World that practice genital mutilation. The BBC website says:

    Some Muslims see circumcision as a preventive measure against infection and diseases.

    A better preventative measure against infection and disease, would be to recognise that the entire study and practice of modern medicine and biology, is based entirely and necessarily on Evolutionary theory, not on out dated, unnecessary, dirty, despicable rituals. Now, people who actively and happily mutilate babies, both Jewish and Muslim, are not bad people. Which suggests that their blind obedience to fairy tales leads them to make utterly absurd decisions. They are influenced by the illogical and the dangerous.

    But that’s what happens when as a divine being, you spend 98,000 years of human existence ignoring them, and pop up in the last 2000 years, with a book of ridiculous rules. A book that you don’t bother giving to a society that has advanced to the stage where its population are largely literate and educated (China), but instead, you give it to crazed uneducated, illiterate tribesman in the middle of the fucking desert. God massively misjudged his original audience.

    On the website Bible.ca, they have a page called “Darwin was wrong”. I read the first two paragraphs and sat wondering how anyone could be so ignorant and ridiculous. Then I noticed they were religious Americans. So I put 2 and 2 together.
    Their website says:

    If a fair maiden kisses a frog which instantly changes into a handsome prince, we would call it a fairy tale. But if the frog takes 40 million years to turn into a prince, we call it evolution. Time is the evolutionist’s magic wand. Fairy tales come in many forms!

    – Apparently a talking snake in a magical garden of a man made out of dust and a woman made out of a rib of the man does not come under the whole idea of ‘fairy tale’. How ironic. Secondly. That isn’t what evolution says at all. No one has ever suggested a frog can become a human. A frog is just as evolved today, as you or I. A frog has adapted to its surroundings, and thus survived, and evolved to deal with change. 99% of all species throughout time have not been as lucky. I would happily start believing in God if a frog suddenly became a man. Stop misrepresenting Darwin, you absolute cretins.

    Darwin’s theory of evolution says that over millions of years simple life forms (one celled creatures) slowly evolved into complex life forms (fish), and that one kind of animal evolved into another kind (ape to man)

    No one has ever said a chimp suddenly became a businessman or politician (although George Bush exists, so I might be wrong). Man has simply adapted to changes in surroundings and climate over the millions of years of time on Earth, to situations and to the necessity of survival. We have evolved both biologically and socially over many millions of years. We are descended from the ape family, but we did not suddenly become human from ape, in the same way that your great grandad did not suddenly become you.

    It isn’t even a debate any more. It is fact. Evolution is a fact. Natural Selection is the theory, the model behind Evolution. But Evolution itself is fact. Religion should be neglected; pushed aside as dangerous dogma and outdated superstition that has no place in the modern World.

    I am taking quite a swipe at religion today. Most people on here know I hate religion and all it stands for. I hate its divisive nature. I hate its indoctrination of children. I hate that it has held science and discovery and human advancement back centuries. I hate its power. I hate when its members start getting violent and demanding special attention. I hate that I will get death threats to my email if I say “Isn’t God/Allah absolutely inhumane and a little bit shit“. I hate that I am supposed to respect religion. I don’t. It disgusts me. I say this, because both the books of Christianity and Islam condemn me, for being Atheist.

    I was actually quite reassured when I read this verse in the Koran:

    You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I have given you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brain, and you are responsible for using them.

    On the surface, this seems like the most important, and logical verse, in any religious book anywhere. It seems to be suggesting that you are your own person, free from the influence of others. Think for yourself. Come to your own conclusions. Don’t be dictated too. Almost Atheist thinking right there in the Koran.
    So, following that rule, I have verified for myself, after reading the Bible in its entirety, and much of the Koran, as well as The Origin of Species, God is not Great, The Selfish Gene, and knowing that my dog is the result of mixed breeding, and that I am losing my hair at 24 years old, just like my dad did…. that the Koran and the Bible are both entirely nonsensical, and Evolution outranks them both. Great. I used my own evidence. I did what the Koran told me too. Allah must love me for this.

    ” If you encounter those who disbelieve, you may strike the necks.”
    – Koran 47:4

    “Lo! the worst of beasts in Allah’s sight are the ungrateful who will not believe”
    – Koran 8:55

    “That (is the award), so taste it, and (know) that for disbelievers is the torment of the Fire.”
    – Koran 8:14

    “But as for those who disbelieve, for them is fire of hell; it taketh not complete effect upon them so that they can die, nor is its torment lightened for them. Thus We punish every ingrate. And they cry for help there, (saying): Our Lord! Release us; we will do right, not (the wrong) that we used to do. … Now taste (the flavour of your deeds), for evil-doers have no helper.”
    – Koran 35:36-37

    Oh….erm…… okay. So, what the verse about thinking for yourself actually meant was: Think about it, but then agree with Islam, otherwise you’re going to burn in hell, tortuously for eternity, after my followers kill you. Whilst burning in hell, we will then cry for help, from the very entity that condemned us in the first place.

    The Bible isn’t much easier on us evil non-believers (by non-believers, I mean, intelligent people). Deuteronomy suggests that not only should those who don’t believe in the Christian God be put to death, but the entire town in which an Atheist (or believer in another Faith) lives, should be exterminated.

    Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock.
    – Deuteronomy 13:13-19

    They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.
    – 2 Chronicles 15:12-13

    Forgive me if I fail to respect religions that condemn me to the worst kind of punishment possible. I am clearly their enemy. So fuck them.

    God/Allah/Hitler (they are all very similar) demands complete obedience. Which begs the question, what the fuck is the point of life? I despise these doctrines, and yet I’m supposed to follow them avidly or be eternally punished? What a horrible life. Atheism does not demand anything of the sort. We do not claim that you have to be moral because you might be punished in an afterlife if you aren’t. We say morality is based on social evolution and the need to survive.

    We as a species are incredible. Morality comes from us, and nothing else. We do not need a vengeful lunatic fairy in the sky to make us perform good deeds. We do it for the sake of good, not for the sake of God. We do not need silly superstitions and rituals in an attempt to please a vindictive bastard in the sky, in the hope that we might go to a nice place when we die. Humanity is great. The discovery that Darwin made, is far more stunning and awe-inspiring (as well as truthful) than anything religion has ever had to offer. The name “Darwin” should be taught to children and heard in classrooms across the World, years before the names “Jesus” and “Muhammad” are uttered.

    I would like to see Temple Mount in Jerusalem destroyed and replaced with a statue of Darwin, because Darwin makes the prophets of the two warring religions, look like amateurs in comparison.