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Showing posts from March, 2010

Ekklesia: Bishops should substantiate or desist over ‘persecution’

Here . In a letter to the Sunday Telegraph today, a group of Church of England bishops and retired bishops / archbishop (Lord Carey; Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester; Michael Nazir-Ali, Former Bishop of Rochester; Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester; Anthony Priddis, Bishop of Hereford; and Nicholas Reade, Bishop of Blackburn) claim widespread discrimination against Christians and that: “There have been numerous dismissals of practising Christians from employment for reasons that are unacceptable in a civilised country.” Predictably it has given rise to yet another misleading Sunday Telegraph headline: “Britain is persecuting Christians, say bishops” This Britain that allegedly persecutes Christians, of course continues to afford many privileges to Christians. It has state funded church schools for example which legally and routinely discriminate in employment against those who aren’t Christians. There would be justifiable outrage if the si

CFI events at Oxford Lit Festival

Ben Goldacre speaking this afternoon for CFI at Oxford Literary Festical to an audience of 500. Any suggestions for next year?

What sort of faith schools are acceptable, if any? Three minimum recommendations

Photo - Grayling, Stanford and myself. Photo courtesy of Chris Street. On Wednesday I had a debate with Peter Stanford, former editor of the Catholic Herald about faith schools, at the CFI event "What sort of faith schools are acceptable, if any?" in the Great Hall at Christ Church. A.C. Grayling was Chair and Richard Dawkins showed up too. Peter (after several goes by me to get him to address the specific recommendations) agreed with my three minimum recommendations that all schools, faith or not, state funded or not, should be expected to meet: ONE. EVERY CHILD SHOULD BE CLEARLY TOLD THAT WHAT RELIGIOUS FAITH, IF ANY, THEY HAVE IS A MATTER OF THEIR OWN FREE CHOICE. Why is this important? Because, for example, a 2007 poll of young British Muslims aged 16-25 revealed 36% thought that that any Muslim who converts to another religion should be punished by death. This should apply to no-faith schools too. Many children feel they are automatically Sikh, Muslim or Cathol

Simon Singh speaking

Simon Singh speaking at the CFI event "Trick or Treatment" at Oxford Literary festival last night. Today we have "Does the universe point to God?" with the scientist the Rev John Polkinghorne and atheist philosopher Prof David Papineau. 2pm in the Big Marquee, Christ Church Oxford. £10 (tickets at venue)

New pharmacy code continues opt-outs over beliefs

Pharmacists across the UK have been told they can continue to refuse to prescribe items that might clash with their personal religious beliefs. A revised code of conduct from the new industry regulator will allow staff to opt out of providing items such as the morning-after pill and contraception. Continues here.

CFI events at Oxford Literary Festival next week

What Sort of Faith Schools Are Acceptable, If Any? Stephen Law vs Peter Stanford Wed March 24th, 6pm. Main Hall, Christ Church. Do faith schools help build communities, or divide them? Do they educate, or indoctrinate? Do they raise principled moral citizens, or dangerous moral sheep? Should a school that discriminates against staff and pupils on the basis of faith receive state funding? Peter Stanford is a former editor of the Catholic Herald, and an award-winning journalist and broadcaster. His biographies have included Lord Longford, C Day-Lewis, Bronwen Astor and the Devil. His latest book, The Extra Mile: The 21st-century Pilgrim, is published in March. Peter had two children at faith schools and is a foundation governor of one. Stephen Law is a philosopher and the author of a book on faith schools called The War for Children's Minds. Stephen will argue that the state funding of faith schools should be abolished, and that every child at every school should be reminded r

Free speech is increasingly under attack in the world's most populous democracy

Free speech is increasingly under attack in the world's most populous democracy. BY SALIL TRIPATHI | Wall Street Journal, Mar 12 2010 Indians boast of living in the world's most populous democracy, and rightly so. Regular elections and vigorous public debate are a rebuke to anyone who thinks that liberty can't flourish in a large, largely poor, culturally and linguistically diverse country. But in one area of life officials' concerns for keeping peace between various religious and ethnic groups is threatening a core freedom: speech. In a little-noticed case on Feb. 26, police in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh arrested Macha Laxmaiah, an author who writes using the pseudonym Krantikar ("revolutionary"), and his distributors, including Innaiah Narisetti, president of the Hyderabad-based nonprofit Center for Inquiry, for "hurting the sentiments of Muslims." Their alleged crime? The distribution of "Crescent Over the World," a book incl

“arrogant&naive2say man over­pwers nature”

Article in Scientific American about nutcase Sarah Palin and End-of-Days danger. I don’t know how many e-mails I have received from children who are terrified that 2012 will somehow involve the end of life as we know it, all because of an unfounded fringe religious prophecy that has received mass-market exposure with the release of a recent Hollywood movie. I have tried to reassure those children (and not a few adults) that this date represents nothing more cosmically special than the year of the next presidential election. Having said that, however, I just realized there might be a genuine connection between 2012 and an end-of-days menace! On the conclusion of the less than stellar Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change in December, ex-governor and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who many think may make a White House run herself in 2012, twittered the world with the following: “arrogant&naive2say man over­pwers nature” Although the Copenhagen conference could

MONSTERS VS ALEINS - Paul Vella and Adrian Shine

Paul Vella and Adrian Shine speaking at Monster vs Aliens. Pictures courtesy of Andrew West. They gave hugely informative and fun talks with loads of images, video and even sound. Nick Pope was also on form. Below is: myself, Shine, Vella and Pope.

My notes from Kingston University debate with Tzortzis.

This debate went pretty well I thought. I went first. It will go up on youtube soon and I will provide a link. Obviously this talk was designed specifically for Tzortzis, having done some research on him. Is God a Delusion? - My notes for the debate (details here ) INTRO Which God? Not Zeus, or Thor, or merely morally neutral god. A very specific God hypothesis. The God of traditional monotheism – as believed in by Jews, Christians and Muslims. All-powerful, all-knowing, all-good. Dictionary definition of “delusion” is “a false belief or opinion” So my AIM is to establish BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT that belief in this particular God is false. I’ll raise two objections. FIRST OBJECTION According to Andreas, my opponent today, God is supposed to be something like a person - an agent. He has beliefs and desires. He is supposed to be intelligent. He listens to our prayers. He performs actions, including the act of creating the spatio-temporal universe. First worry I’ll raise is: c

GUARDIAN: Furious backlash from Simon Singh libel case puts chiropractors on ropes

Furious backlash from Simon Singh libel case puts chiropractors on ropes One in four chiropractors in Britain are under investigation as a result of campaign by Singh supporters, reveals Martin Robbins (in the Guardian). As the British Chiropractic Association's battle with Simon Singh continues to work its way through the legal system, chiropractors are counting the financial costs of a major backlash resulting from a libel action that has left the Lord Chief Justice "baffled". What was originally a dispute between the BCA and one science writer over free speech has become a brutally effective campaign to reform an entire industry. A staggering one in four chiropractors in Britain are now under investigation for allegedly making misleading claims in advertisements, according to figures from the General Chiropractic Council. The council, which is responsible for regulating the profession and has 2,400 chiropractors on its books, informs me that it has had to recruit

Threat issued to me....?

Regarding previous post, I received this comment which was then deleted. I HAVE DELETED THE COMMENT AS IT WAS IN FACT NOT ISSUED AS A THREAT. I strongly suspect this is not from a Muslim at all. Is it a threat? Merely a prediction by a concerned citizen? An attempt to smear Muslims by a non-Muslim (who also thinks it's a mistake to give the other speaker the honour of debating with some minor academic?)? Probably the last, I think.

Is God a Delusion?

Big debate Friday 5th March (i.e. this coming Friday) 2010 5.30-7.30 [CORRECTION NOW STARTS 6PM] Clattern Lecture Hall Penrhyn Rd Kingston Upn Thames KT1 2EE (not too far from rail station) Hamza Andreas Tzortzis vs Stephen Law I am anticipating this will be a largely Muslim audience. PS IMPORTANT IF YOU ARE COMING BOOK OR YOU WON'T GET IN: CONTACT OR