Monday, January 30, 2012

Busy week

I can't believe it's a week since my last post!

It's been a really busy week for me lots of stuff happening at work, we're expanding, hiring people and setting up a bigger office (knocking a hole in the wall through to the empty offices next door and expanding sideways!) all good stuff but enormously time consuming. There's been a lot of stuff happening in the news to talk about though, every day I've seen something that I felt the urge to scribble about but never quite got around to it, what with work, kids, short days and cold nights this time of year always seems to rush by the quickest.

I noticed that the unholy row over the Jesus & Mo. cartoons has intensified and spread to more universities, the student (Robbie Yellon) running the atheist society at UCL who originally sparked the protests has resigned, it's not entirely clear why but I suspect he got a little more than he bargained for by invoking the wrath of the superstitious in this way. Apparently, due to the screechy whining of a few Muslims, the special (untouchable) status of certain religions is being affirmed by the authorities at UCL, I wonder what's next, a ban on satirical criticism of the Government or the Royal family, what about the English cricket team?

In a linked story Rhys Morgan (above) the teenager blogger and Crohn’s disease sufferer, famous in sceptical circles for taking on a large medical clinic in the USA who peddle "alternative" non-evidence based "cures" for cancer sufferers and charge a lot to do it. After heavyweight threats and legal posturing from the USA Rhys came out on top of his argument with the Burszynski clinic wining much praise and admiration from fellow rationalists around the world. In a show of solidarity with the Atheist students at UCL he also posted the Jesus and Mo cartoon on his (personal) blog only to be formally warned by the head of year at his sixth form college in Cardiff, he now faces potential expulsion unless he removes the cartoon, let that sink in for a second, in Britain in 2012 satire has now overtaken threat of violence as an act for which people can be bullied and excluded from our supposedly secular institutions. I can't help thinking that our ancestors, many of whom gave their lives fighting for principals of free-speech and liberty from tyrannical ideologies (like Islam) would turn in their graves at such a display of spinelessness.

I came across another example of someone wanting to remove the argument from the debate last week. The philosopher Alain de Botton has a new book out called "Religion for Atheists" and has a TED video discussing the ideas in it. He's a good speaker but I can't agree with his conclusions, as far as I can see he's advocating that Atheists should just ignore religious people, stop arguing with them and get on with the business of stealing everything that's (supposedly) good about religion, things like ritual, art, music, morality etc. He calls this "polite difference", but in my view ignoring people and refusing to engage with their ideas albeit in opposition is the opposite of this, but then again I'm far to honest to get into politics. Of course politeness might work if religious people adhered by the same laissez faire principals, but they demonstrably can't, they are compelled to proselytise, interfere and dictate, so the argument is fatally flawed from the get go. In any case I don't see what's so good about religion that I'd want to emulate it; if church attendance statistics are anything to go by then most people these days don't care much for such ritual (at least the ones in Europe who have a free choice), the vast majority of modern music is not religious, the vast majority of art is not religiously inspired any more and as for morality, religions of any hue are demonstrably unnecessary to live a fulfilled, moral and meaningful life. I must conclude that whilst de Botton may of had a point for Atheists living prior to the 19th century, for those of us living in the 21st he appears to be hopelessly out of touch.


sport news said...

This is not the first of your posts I've read, and you never cease to amaze me. Thank you, and I look forward to reading more.

Carmen said...

Great post, thanks for sharing with us.

How is the new office space? Hope all is going well.