Friday, 11 April 2008

More JibJab madness

Hitchens didn't have anything to say in the Dawkins Rap, but this more than makes up for that.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Finally, a use for churches

In the art section of today's G2 magazine, was an article on a novel use for an old church in Holland. The 13th century Dominican church in central Maastricht, which until being converted into a bookstore was nothing more than a bike store, is now more popular than ever.

Isn't this a fantastic afflatus for utilising what would otherwise just be wasted space? I love the idea, as a bibliophile, that the towering spire of a church seen from a distance, could be a sign of learning and entertainment, and not just a testimony to human superstition. This may become a steady European phenomenon as more and more churches fall in to disuse with levels of religiosity plummeting in Europe.

But could you imagine this happening in the US?

Friday, 7 December 2007

This is VERY funny

Found this article randomnly. It's very funny, if you've ever wanted to know what the 9 most badass bible passages are.


Wednesday, 28 November 2007

God's Timeline

Whilst returning home two days ago, I noticed this flyer on one of the noticeboards near my house. Unfortunely I missed the 'debate', but I was intrigued to find out what position was being taken, though my instinct pointed towards creationism.

Well what would you know, my instinct was right. The church has a page where you can listen to some talks by the eminent Paul Garner. I haven't gotten round to listening to them (thank you very much dial-up), but I'm sure they'd be worth a laugh.

It's a common strategy for creationists to try and make a big thing of the scientific credentials of their speakers. here we have Paul Garner with BSc (Hons), FGS (which I thought at first meant For Gawds Sake). But no, turns out he has the BSc for Environmental sciences (Geology and biology) and he's a fellow of the Geological society. How I don't know. However his next club is a little more predicatable.

The BCM have a page on their beliefs. Basically they're a bunch of young earthers. Really it dulls the brain. But we do find common ground on one point:

We reject the ‘two books’ concept which suggests that God’s revelation in nature can be approached independently from God’s revelation in Holy Scripture. We reject the idea that knowledge may be divided into ‘secular’ and ‘religious’ truth.

They're right. Knowledge cannot be divided into secular and religous. There is only the truth. And it certainly isn't what they think it is.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Two months later, and a unrelated rant

Well, it's been over two months since I wrote anything here. Two months seems to be a reoccuring time period of my blogging breaks. Hopefully I will be able to actually stick with the damn thing this time.

Anyway, what better way for me to start again then with one of my favourite activites: ranting. Nothing like a good rant to get me back into the blogging spirit. However this has really nothing to do with religion, hopefully some more of those will come later. No this has to do with tabbed browsing.

Now for those of you who don't know (and are probably still using steel and flint for fire-lighting), tabbed browsing is fantastic. It allows for multiple websites to be opened in the same browser window, bypassing the horrific clutter found with opening new windows for each page. It is not unusual for me to have up to 20+ websites open at one time, which would be impossible to navigate normally. So tabbed browsing is a real blessing.

So imagine my frustration when I find a website which doesn't agree. It decides that tabbed browsing is too good for me., 'No you can't open that window in a new tab. I want you to use a new window. Tabbed browsing is far too good for you. Look at you. You can't read all those websites. No it's a new window for you, I'm afraid'. It's like the past few years of web browsing advancement have been conveniently forgotten, and some idiot is trying to sell me Netscape Navigator as the browser of the future.

This ties in with my hatred of computers telling me what to do, or what they think I want to do, one of my pet hates about Windows. "No Word, I don't want you annoying steel wire shit telling me how to write a letter. No I don't want to send an error report to Microsoft, I want an application that doesn't think it has the right to boss me around and then sulkily crash when I finally get my way".

I could probably continue this rant for much longer, and probably will at some point, but you get the picture.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Fucking ridiculous

Over at the Spanish Inquisitor, John P wrote a good post about Kenneth Foster, and the complete unfairness of his death sentence. Though I have recently heard his sentence has changed to life imprisonment, the entire thing is a fiasco.

However it did remind me of a story I read before that made me think the USA must truly be mad. The story is about a girl called Nicole Dupure. She is one of 2,270 children sentenced to life imprisonment without parole in the US. Tried as adults in an adult court, they will never be set free, and will live the rest of their long lives behind bars.

Nicole's story is unbelievable. It amazes me that any country that could call itself just, would allow it. Here are the relevant paragraphs:

At school she [Dupure] had aspirations to become a medical lab technician, specialising in the treatment of heart defects. Her background was far from typical for a lifer - no criminal record, no history of alcohol or drug abuse, a high school graduate with mainly B grades. Her next step was to be college.

A chance encounter when she was 17 changed everything. She was working in the holidays to earn petrol money at a grocery store near her home in Michigan's St Clair County. There was a 19-year-old working there called William Blevins who was funny and charismatic - they started dating. "I wasn't able to see the warning signs. My mum did. She said he didn't seem like a good kid and I shouldn't be around him as he would bring me down. I didn't listen to her. I thought like any teenager that she just didn't want me to have a boyfriend."

When Blevins was thrown out of his home by his parents, Dupure, by then pregnant, left home to be with him. "I just didn't want him to be alone," she says. They went looking for a motel room to rent. On April 23 2004 they stopped off at Big Boy, a fast-food restaurant she knew well because it was near the apartment of her great-aunt's best friend, Shirley Perry. Perry, who was 89, used to babysit for Dupure when she was very young; Dupure and Blevins had been to her flat several times, offering to help her with shopping and odd jobs.

At this point the official version parts company with Dupure's. In court, the prosecution alleged that the teenagers plotted together to kill Perry for her money. They took just $30 from her flat to pay for motel fees and two milkshakes at Big Boy. Dupure actively participated in the murder, striking the old woman on the head with a cooking pot and fetching the kitchen knife Blevins used to kill her.

Dupure insists she was not in the apartment at all, but waited in the restaurant, oblivious to the events unfolding, while Blevins went off on his own. What is certain is that Blevins murdered the old woman, stabbing her several times and strangling her. Under police questioning he admitted it, saying he acted alone. But shortly before he went on trial he changed his evidence and put Dupure alongside him at the scene of the murder. In return, the prosecution agreed he should be given the lesser charge of second-degree murder and avoid lifelong incarceration. Under cross-examination, he conceded to the jury, "I never had intentions to pin it on her until I ran out of options."

Blevins got 20 to 50 years, with the hope of reducing his sentence through good behaviour. Dupure got life without parole, with no forensic evidence tying her to the crime and entirely on the strength of Blevins' testimony.

So the real murderer, who admitted to killing Perry alone, changed his evidence to pin Dupure to get a reduced sentence. Dupure, with no evidence other than the accusation by Blevins, who had an obvious incentive to accuse Dupure, gets life without parole. What the fuck is up with that!? How could anybody with an ounce of a brain not see the obvious bullshit.

There are only five countries which mete out this sentence to children: Israel, South Africa, Tanzania, Somalia and the US. The first three together have only 12 prisoners with this sentence. The US has 2,270.

If you wish to read the full article, it can be found here.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

The Daily Wail stands up for God

The Daily Mail, that infamous tabloid, has decided to stand up for God. All those mean atheists have been giving him a hard time recently, and the Mail has decided they must step in to stop this deity bullying. Now I don't usually read articles in the Daily Mail, frankly because hitting myself over the head with a brick is more enjoyable, and far more enlightening, but I thought I would cross into the void and see if there was an sense. What do you think I found?

The article starts off with the depressingly common fallacy of equivocating Dawkins and Hitchens to the militants blowing themselves up. As I wrote in the comments (which may not be there as the Mail reserves the right to disregard comments that don't agree with them),

The article is unfair to call Hitchens and Dawkins militant atheists. Militant is a term that has connotations of violent attack, whereas Hitchens and Dawkins have only attacked religion with words, in a book. Also the idea that they "want to destroy the faith of believers.", is inaccurate. Once again it gives the connotation that they wish to enforce their views or others, whereas they are both against this, and indeed Dawkins says in his book he wishes to raise 'peoples consciences'.

Then that old chestnut is put out to roast. Yep you guessed it, Hitler and Stalin were atheists. Ooh isn't atheism bad. This is what I wrote in my comment:

The idea that Nazi Germany was an atheist state is ludicrous. It could be argued strongly that Hitler was a Catholic, or at least believed in some kind of god or 'providence'. Also most Germans at the time would have been Christian.

Stalin was an atheist, but the idea that the horrors of the Stalinist regime were done because of atheism is ridiculous. Stalin was a paranoid, violent control freak. He replaced the religion of the USSR with his 'Cult of personality'. Religion was just another threat.

And that was all I was able to write. The Mail only gives you 1000 characters to be censored by them, which at least saved me wasting my time writing a longer comment to them.

However I digress. They do agree with me by saying that,

It is not difficult to show the absurdities of the Old Testament myths

but they go on to spoil it by saying

But Hitchens and Dawkins fulminate as though every believer has to accept wildly improbably episodes as 'gospel' along with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, which are the heart of the matter.

But they do! It's the book of their god, is it not? How dare they pick and choose from the word of their god! And what about Judaism and Islam? I'm pretty sure the 'teachings of Jesus' are not the 'heart of the matter' to them.

We have another fallacy creep up when they compare the Bible to the Illiad and the Odyssey.

Does he refuse to read the Iliad and the Odyssey because Homer's existence is uncertain historically, as is the siege of Troy? [On Hitchens]

The thing is nobody is saying that the Illiad and the Odyssey are the words of an almighty god, who must be obeyed, unless a fiery pool is your delight.

And of course no tirade against atheism wouldn't be complete without a tirade against science would it? Well what do you expect from the paper that stirred up bullshit about the MMR vaccines?

Now most of us believe in science. We are happy to pay homage to the saints of scientific breakthrough - to Pythagoras (sic) and Archimedes, to Galileo and Newton, to Darwin and Einstein, Crick, Watson and the rest, remembering always that their work was bound to be superseded by those who came after. The final Theory of Everything seems as far away as it ever did.

Oh and atheism is nihilism, if you didn't know:

As for the other great question - what is the point, or purpose, of it all? - the current answer from science is that there isn't one. Dawkins again: 'The universe has no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.'

So atheism is a belief in pointlessness. As Hitchens observes, the views from the Hubble telescope are more awe-inspiring than any medieval vision of Hell.

Damn these guys are good. However, what is more nihilistic then saying everything is pointless, unless it has a purpose? I do not need the stars to have some ulterior purpose, for me to admire the sheer beauty and vastness of them.

And again we have the accusation the atheists are aggresively attacking believers. Why is it that criticism of religion is treated as a personal affront? If you are really secure in your beliefs, why would criticism effect you? Have you no good arguments for your beliefs?

For the grand finale, we have their trump card. The one man willing to stand up and combat Dawkins and his ilk, and fight the good fight. This atheism killer is none other than.... Alister Mcgrath? Really? Is that the best they could do? Him? Oh dear.
I will point to Tobe's review of 'The Dawkins Delusion' over at A Load of Bright on why I mock McGrath so.

And finally there are the commentators. Only five last time I checked, but all but one supporters of this kind of drivel. One of them, Mike, annoyed me with his little remark against evolution, I wish I had had the space to post a comment against what he said. This is what I would have said:

To Mike: Evolution put falsely is 'survival of the fittest'. The term is no longer used in modern evolutionary science because it is a bad description. Survival of the stable is a much better description, as those who are adapted to their environmental niche, are more likely to propagate and pass on their genes. You say if we are just intelligent animals we should act like Ghengis Khan. Well I have to say I have never seen an animal act like Ghengis Khan. The variety of animal behaviour makes this statement ridiculous. If we're all just animals, why don't we act like starfish and eat through our arse? Some people are already half-way there anyway.

But I guess he is just ignorant of the facts, and I shouldn't read to much into his comment.

Why don't any readers go to the website and try to register your comments. I suspect if enough people try they may not censor them all.

But frankly I've wasted enough time talking about this rubbish, though I guess writing this was somewhat cathartic. Apologies if you don't enjoy rants.