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Showing posts from December, 2009

Tree 7,000 years older than the entire universe...

...if you are a Young Earth Creationist who dates the entire universe as approx 6,000 years old. Go here . At 13,000 years, tree is world’s oldest organism. It began life during the last ice age, long before man turned to agriculture and built the first cities in the fertile crescent of the Middle East. It was already thousands of years old when the Egyptians built their pyramids and the ancient Britons erected Stonehenge. The Jurupa Oak tree first sprouted into life when much of the world was still covered in glaciers. It has stood on its windswept hillside in southern California for at least 13,000 years, making it the oldest known living organism, according to a study published today. “Ring counts show that the Jurupa Oak is growing extremely slowly. At its current rate of about one twentieth of an inch [of growth] per year, it would have taken at least 13,000 years for the clone to reach its current size. And it could be much older,” said Michael May, a member of the research t

Results of debate in Malawi

Thanks to George Thindwa for this... WHICH IS GOOD FOR MALAWI- SECULAR HUMANISM OR CHRISTIANITY- RECEIVED ACROSS THE COUNTRY Debate took place on 27th December 2009 in Lilongwe, Malawi These are the phone-in text messages that were received on the debate. (The English translation is in brackets where caller used local language) 1. I am glad God is in control during this debate – Mr Weston-Time: 27/12/2009 20:14:37 2. Christianity is real and acts as a safety valve, without it there could be total uncontrollable murder, theft, etc. If we revolved from monkeys, who created monkeys then? I'm Thakatwayo Mbizi, Mzimba District (north). 3. Humanism is a disgrace to our Christian country. ALLEN. time: 27/12/2009 20:17:44 4. Humanism: can change our country to better a Malawi, we are ready to welcome the humanist; they should be some sought of changes. Joel Twanjo Chihana, Karonga district. 5. To claim there is no God is to play god. To suggest that human beings are a product o

Seeing Angels

Very irritating Emma Heathcote-James on angels. Chris French does his best given the biased format of the programme ... BBC Radio 4 "Beyond Belief" 28th December 4pm (available for one week). Below is a quote from programme from Father Gregory Hallam, Greek Orthodox Priest and believer in angels. Chris French was challenged by Hallam to say what would count as evidence of angels (Hallam perhaps implying that Chris wouldn't allow anything to count as evidence - i.e. that there are no angels is a "faith position" for Chris) - Hallam asked Chris "What actual evidence, Chris, would make you change your mind?" - and Chris suggested we could get objective evidence of angels if e.g. under controlled conditions they provided information to those who claim to communicate with them that could be checked and which could not have been acquired in any other way. My problem with your answer Chris is you are subjecting th

Archbishop of York condemns Ugandan anti-gay bill

The Archbishop of York has condemned proposals in Uganda to put to death gay people who have sex with a minor. John Sentamu, who was born in the African country, said anti-homosexual laws being debated were "victimising". A private member's bill going through Uganda's parliament would see gays and lesbians sentenced to life in prison if convicted of having sex. Continues ...

No sequel to "Golden Compass"

Catholic League's Bill Donahue claims credit for getting the Phillip Pullman sequel film pulled. POST SCRIPT: A pertinent question, I suppose, is: how would Bill Donahue react if atheists had boycotted and lobbied re. the first Narnia film - succeeding in getting sequels stopped - on the grounds that such films are Christian propaganda (C.S. Lewis was a fairly conservative Christian, Aslan represents Christ, the White Witch Satan, etc.) and, in particular, that the films represent those who fail to follow Aslan/Jesus - i.e. atheists - as morally weak and/or depraved and evil creatures in the grip of The White Witch/Satan. If he would be somewhat disgusted (and I think he'd have a right to be, to be honest - damn, I' d be disgusted at such petty-minded, bullying censorship from atheists!), how would he square that with his crowing over (he claims) his success in getting the Pullman sequels stopped because of their supposedly implicit anti-religious message? Is it OK to

Anti-Homosexual rallies in Kampala (received today)

Folks, homophobia is the greatest test humanists are facing today in Uganda. As I write this piece, demonstrators - a bunch of youth led by Uganda's thieving and hypocritical pastors are- covering the entire Kampala city with vehicles loaded with mega speakers and hundreds of youth shouting all sorts of insults at the Danish embassy, very near to my office, they are doing this to all foreign embassies that have recently come out to speak for tolerance and a need to observe human rights laws. Two days ago, leading law dons in Uganda held a joint conference with anti gay legislators and the conference become an arena in which the legislators warned that the law is to be passed and all of us who in one way or another are promoting human rights and calling for a review of the anti homosexuality bill were warned of the impending dangers. Friends, its going to be hard to research, write a book or even be associated with gays as the bill makes it criminal. I am writing a book on homosex

Uri Geller crystal pendulum dowsing set

Late birthday present from Nigel and Anna. Let you know how it goes.....

Xmas Greetings

"Lo! An Angel Appeared!" self portrait circa 1984.

History of Humanism - for comments

HISTORY OF HUMANISM The roots of modern humanism run at least as far back as the Ancient world. The kind of “big questions” humanism addresses – such as, “Does God exist?”, “What makes for a meaningful life?”, and “What makes things morally right or wrong?” – are questions humanity has been asking the world over for millennia. In many times and places, both the approach taken to answering such questions and the non-religious answers given have been similar to the approach taken and answers given by humanists today. As we are about to discover, modern humanism is able to draw on a rich and long intellectual legacy. Ancient Indian thought A sceptical attitude towards religious teaching is a feature of some early Indian writing. One of the Upinashads even questions whether the god Brahman exists. Later, a sixth century B.C. Indian school of thought - the Carvaka system - did not merely question whether there was a deity, it positively asserted that there was not. The the Carvaka sy

Only 14.6% of professional philosophers are theists

David Bourget and David Chalmers have released the results of the largest survey of professional philosophers ever conducted . Some interesting results: 72.8% atheism 14.6% theism 12.5% other 49.8% naturalism 25.8% non-naturalism (but not necessarily supernaturalism) 24.2% other Of course, quite what any of this shows re the truth of any of these beliefs, if anything, can be debated.... nb see this earlier post.

The "Gagging Christians" Xmas competition

We are often told that "secularists" want to prevent religious point of view being expressed in the public sphere, or religious arguments being used in public debate. I recently commented on Jonathan Chaplin's claim that: Many secular humanists argue as if faith-based ideas should play no role in democratic discourse What secularists do want is a level-playing field, so that religious points of view are not given a privileged role by the state and/or public institutions. So secularists are typically against, for example, the state insisting every state-funded school should have an act of collective worship "of a broadly Christian nature", automatic allocation of 26 seats in the House of Lords to those of a particular faith, state funding for religious schools (that discriminate against pupils and employees based on faith), but not, say humanist schools. Yet all these privileges currently exist. They also object to, e.g. state protection of the right to wear

The American Muslim

Interesting site .

The Nigerian witch hunters take legal action

CFI Anti-Superstition Campaign in Africa Takes a Surprising Turn December 04, 2009 Witch Hunter Sues Humanist Activist in Attempt to Quell Criticism New York, NY December 4, 2009—The Center for Inquiry (CFI), an international organization that fights for science and reason, launched an anti-superstition campaign in May 2009 to highlight and combat the abuse of alleged child witches throughout the African continent. Now witch hunter Helen Ukpabio, head of the Liberty Gospel Church in Nigeria and a frequent target of criticism by CFI, has filed a lawsuit in Nigerian federal court against Leo Igwe, CFI's representative in Nigeria. A mob of about 150 members from Ukpabio’s Liberty Gospel Church attacked Igwe and others during a “Child Rights and Witchcraft” event in Calabar, Nigeria on July 29, 2009. At the end of the frightening event, Igwe found his eyeglasses smashed and his bag, phone, camera and a copy of his planned speech stolen. Police finally broke the mob up and arrested

Daily Mail plugs my book

The Daily Mail, "Christmas Books" - best of the year's books for children - liked my "intriguing book that encourages children (and adults) to think". (Friday Dec 4th). So I must be doing something wrong... You can buy it here half price.

Jonathan Chaplin misses his secular target

In today's Face to Faith in the Guardian , Jonathan Chaplin says: Many secular humanists argue as if faith-based ideas should play no role in democratic discourse, religion should be privatized and the public square secularised. They make three main points. None of them stand up. His piece is a very nice illustration of an ambiguity anti-secularists regularly play on, and which I've noted before . I know of only two secular humanist thinkers that believe that the expression of religious points of view should not be permitted in the public sphere (say "God is great" in public, or give a religious justification for opposing abortion, and they think someone should immediately start shoving socks in your mouth). This is a tiny minority of secular humanists. It is certainly not the view of this country's main secular humanist organization: the BHA. Call this strong secularism . On the other hand, pretty much every secular humanist believes that the state, and stat


CFIUK/SPES PRESENT MONSTER VS. ALIENS DAY Saturday 6th March 2010 UFOs, The Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot Come hear and question some of the world’s leading experts on notorious monster and alien claims. Nick Pope ran the British government's UFO project at the Ministry of Defence. Initially sceptical, his investigation into the UFO phenomenon and access to classified government files convinced him that the phenomenon raised important defence and national security issues, especially when the witnesses were military pilots or where UFOs were tracked on radar. Nick is recognised as a leading authority on UFOs and the unexplained. Adrian Shine is head of the Loch Ness Project, and the world’s leading expert on the monster allegedly lurking in the Loch’s murky depths, and will be casting a sceptical eye over the evidence. Paul Vella is Britain’s leading expert on Sasquatch, and will be taking a close, sceptical look at the main areas of evidence including photographic, histor


CFIUK/SPES PRESENT TRICK OR TREATMENT: ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE ON TRIAL A day discussing alternative medicine, with speakers: SIMON SINGH, author of Trick or Treatment, currently being sued by British Chiropractic Association ANDY LEWIS, runs Quackometer on the web PROFESSOR JOHN GARROW, founder member of the charity "HealthWatch" which promotes proper testing of the health claims of all therapies, alternative or orthodox. Saturday, 30th January 2010 10.45am-3pm Venue: Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL – Main Hall. £10 on the door. Free to Friends of CFI UK, PLUS GLHA, SPES, BHA, NEW HUMANIST SUBSCRIBERS. To book go to and hit button "support cfiuk" and follow instructions. Credit and debit cards welcome. Alternatively send a cheque payable to ‘Center for Inquiry London” to: Executive Director Suresh Lalvani, Center for Inquiry London, PO Box 49097 Centre for Inquiry London N11 9AX, and include names of those coming, phone

VSI Humanism, chpt 3 PART 2 (from comments)

Evidential problem of evil: conclusion We have been looking at the evidential problem of evil – which constitutes perhaps the most powerful argument against traditional monotheism. The particular version of it presented here, which is based on an analogy with the problem of good, has been developed by a number of philosophers, including Peter Millican, Steven Cahn and myself. Of course, it would be silly to claim to have shown there is no God in just a few pages. I certainly don’t make any such. The aim has merely been to illustrate just how serious a threat the evil god challenge presents to the rationality of Theism. Notice that my focus here has been on God with a capital “G”. The problem of evil may constitute powerful evidence against a good God, and the problem of good powerful evidence against an evil god, but there are many other god hypotheses we might consider, none of which are threatened by these particular arguments. I don’t happen to believe there exists, for example,