Monday, April 28, 2014

A post Rowan Williams country

I see that the ex-Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams has chipped into the recent debate about secularism in Britain and the whole are we a "Christian nation" or not (and what would that even mean anyway). He seems to be agreeing with the secular position, i.e. that Britain is *not really* a Christian nation any more (regardless of what outdated polls say) and that our culture has moved on. Unfortunately the current Arch-Bishop, Justin Welby decided to side with the Conservatives, an odd position given the disagreements he seems to have with them regarding things like austerity and gay marriage, for me this schism between the ex-Bishop and the incumbent one is illustrative of the problem, i.e. Welby can't bite the hand that feeds him!

I was pleased last week that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg came out and said in a radio interview that he thought Britain should separate Church and state as have most other modern states. This is a view I share, unfortunately a lot of religious commentators including PM David Cameron himself were quick to dismiss this idea although none that I saw came up with any particular logic or reason for opposing it other than the usual "it's always been this way therefore we shouldn't rock the boat", which is never a good reason for anything in my opinion. I even saw someone attempting to argue that establishment ensured tolerance and freedom of religion, the exact same thing that a secular approach to religion pioneered by the founding fathers of the USA (i.e. Government favouring no single belief over any other) was invented to do.

If you look at the picture above, which shows the evolution of religion since pre-history, you have to accept that establishment is tantamount to claiming that one little bubble on this diagram should be inextricably bound to your system of government and given unfair advantage over all of the other bubbles (and no bubble at all!), regardless of any democratic process. I fail to understand how this can be part of a "free" society, if anything we should have regular (every 10 years) referendums on this just as much as we should about the EU, proportional representation or any other significant matter that involves who holds positions of power over us, elected or otherwise.

It's been quite interesting and refreshing to have these topics aired in the mainstream media for a change, the weakness of the pro-establishment argument has been quite conspicuous for me and there seems to be an overwhelming air of defensiveness in their demeanour. Many of the articles I've read have simply attempted to close the debate down with arguments from authority and have shown a complete lack of will to compromise in any way. I get the feeling that they sense this authority diminishing, which I believe is progress.

Fun run fun

My family badgered me into doing a 5K charity "fun-run" on Saturday; I had planned on having a lazy morning but they were all doing it and needed a lift so I was faced with an hour of standing around in a field (in the rain) waiting for them or getting my pallid English legs out, they shamed me into joining them. I'm really glad I did it was great fun, a cross-country run around Swinley Forest, up hill and down dale and in every gulley was a pool of glorious mud fuelled by constant downpours of heavy rain! Once we'd cleaned the mud off our trainers, dried off and warmed up a bit we spent the entire afternoon curled up on the sofa drinking hot cups of tea, watching Pixar movies and eating the last of the Easter eggs, hard to beat I reckon.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

We're all deluded, some more than others.

I see that the spat over David Cameron's remarks about Britain being a Christian country continues to roll on today, two senior Conservative MPs have supported Cameron by saying that anyone who thinks Britain isn't a Christian country is deluded (I imagine they're all sniggering behind their hands on the back pew about the choice of words on that one - see above) The article invokes images in my mind of Monty Python sketches, those guys captured the true absurdity between the divisive, blood thirsty and primitive underpinnings of three desert dogmas and the meek, jam and scone munching church of England establishment, one cross each, first on the right and definitely no stone throwing until I blow this whistle!

The article in the Telegraph missed the point of the secular protest against Cameron's comments by a country mile in several places, not only is it factually incorrect it's also a big straw man, Dominic Grieve said,

"Atheists who claim that Britain is no longer a Christian nation are “deluding themselves” and must accept that faith has shaped this country’s laws and ethics."

And here is a quote from Richard Dawkins the author of the God delusion which as we know is the holy text of all "new atheists" (that's sarcasm for all you evangelical literalists out there)

"he would consider going into a church, and would miss ‘aesthetic elements’ such as church bells if they were gone. And he said he was “grateful” to Anglicanism which he claims has a “benign tolerance” - enabling people to enjoy its traditions without necessarily believing in them."

This sounds pretty much like "acceptance" that Britain has a Christian heritage if you ask me, I hope that in his day job Grieve takes more care to actually read legal case notes before passing judgement than this. He also claims that Atheism isn't making any progress in the UK, the data would suggest otherwise. There has been a well documented and dramatic decline in church attendance and general religiosity over the last 50 years in this country, if Mr Grieve is denying this then clearly his perspective begs the question, who is really deluded here?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


I love the way that many Christians seem to believe that saying all cultural and religious (or none) groups of people in our country should be treated equally under the law and that elevating one particular group over everyone else (for whatever reason) is divisive (by definition!) is somehow "militant" and warrants hate mail; where exactly do these Christians think British secularists should go?

I also love the way that moderate Christians seem to quite rightly disown such hate mongers when the poo is being flung around and they are in the public eye, but quietly accommodate them when it comes to matters concerning the census, is cherry-picking one of those "Christian values" that I hear so much about?

Reasonable question

Things just seem to work better when we keep religion out of politics...

Friday, April 18, 2014


Saw this, had a chuckle...

(Click the image for a bigger view)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Go Dave, go...

Looks like UK Atheists and secularists have a new mission, get rid of the current Tory government!

Cameron has been doing a blatant bit of  vote scrounging lately by sucking up to the (Christian) religious lobby and espousing the wonders and societal benefits of being a Christian, well, we've had 2000 years of that crap Dave and we still have paedophile priests, gender discrimination, religious cronyism, segregation, religious sectarianism, anti-science loons among many other negative things, and yet we still can't figure out how to feed, house and educate everyone properly, hardly a success. If you want to believe in  fairies then fine, but keep it to yourself and don't claim that there's anything special about Christians, it simply isn't true.

In an article for a religious publication he said the following,

"Crucially, the Christian values of responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility, and love are shared by people of every faith and none - and we should be confident in standing up to defend them,"

Now I'm no politician but let's remove ONE word here and you tell me if it still makes sense?

"Crucially, the values of responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility, and love are shared by people of every faith and none - and we should be confident in standing up to defend them,"

As usual Occam's razor dispenses with the unnecessary parts of this hypothesis.

It seems obvious to me which of these statements is more befitting the leader of a multi-cultural, multi-faith secular country where more than 40% of the people aren't religious. Cameron claims that Britain is still a Christian country, but in what way is Britain still a "Christian country"? Just because we used to be ruled (at the point of a sword) by supposedly Christian Kings and Queens does that mean we are permanently shackled to these ancient and outdated ethics? are we still a Pagan country? A Norman country?

I've been on this planet long enough now to realise how politics works, I understand the need for lobbying but unlike most truly theocratic states, here in the UK there is a mechanism by which we can remove politicians with whom the majority does not agree. It's about time the secular majority in this country, religious or otherwise, stand up for the principals it wishes it's Government to promote and enforce NOW AND IN THE FUTURE, without preference or deference being given to one particular segment simply because of historical facts or religious beliefs.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

You've got the music in you..

Here's a rather alarming thing; the sign in the picture below was snapped at a school in Leicester! Is this conducive to the kind of tolerant, inclusive and thoughtful society it would be good to build, or is this a recipe to create little pockets of backward and discriminatory ignorant people who are nuclei for hate and intolerance? As the great Hitch once said "religion poisons everything".

Of course if we're talking about One Direction then fair enough, as you were...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Signs of intelligence

Here's Tuesdays religious loon for your delectation, a self appointed prophet called John Hagee claiming that God is controlling the Sun and the Moon to create the eclipse yesterday which was visible across the USA.

The fact that all we need are the laws of physics and a bit of mathematical skill to predict celestial movements seems to have passed him by, clearly his brain (and presumably those of his congregation) is fixated on first century mid-Eastern mythology and judging by the elaborate graphics in his videos and the weight of his suits it's a valuable disability to have in Texas. I love the way this prediction business can be enjoyed by everyone though, I'll even go out on a limb here and confidently predict that around 3 pm today God will make me fancy a cup of tea and a digestive biscuit. Later on this evening he'll make me sleepy and eventually he'll make the hands on my wrist watch both point upwards at the same time, so watch out all you sinners out there, pray for forgiveness and send money!

Friday, April 04, 2014

Interpreting the Bible

I thought I'd have a go at Bible interpretation since it seems to me like anyone can do it and people are obliged to "respect" the results no questions asked!

Leviticus 18:22 "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination."

Clearly what this means is that if you're in bed with a fat woman who asks you if she's fat then you may lie and say "no". On the other hand if you're in bed with a fat man and he asks you if he's fat God commands you to tell him he's pie munching blob and to make fun of him for the rest of his life.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The worst of news

We had some really bad news this morning, one of our close friends was diagnosed with cancer, the man has it bad and the prognosis isn't good; he's been told to "get his affairs in order", which as we all know is a another way of saying its time to leave the party. What's worse is that he's only 40 and has two kids the exact same ages as ours. As with most people in his situation he now has one of those impossible choices to make between aggressive chemotherapy to live a little longer and letting nature take its course; feelings of numbness and sorrow are overwhelming in our house today.

fucking cancer.