"Religion is a hypothesis about the world: the hypothesis that things are the way they are, at least in part, because of supernatural entities or forces acting on the natural world. And there's no good reason to treat it any differently from any other hypothesis. Which includes pointing out its flaws and inconsistencies, asking its adherents to back it up with solid evidence, making jokes about it when it's just being silly, offering arguments and evidence for our own competing hypotheses...and trying to persuade people out of it if we think it's mistaken. It's persuasion. It's the marketplace of ideas. Why should religion get a free ride"

Greta Christina

Monday, 21 November 2011

Another Prospective Free School Wants to Teach Creationism

...and so it continues. Christian Family Schools Ltd (and if that title doesn't scare you I don't know what will) is bidding to open a free school in Sheffield with an unashamedly creationist agenda.
One would hope that Micheal Gove will reject this for the same reasons he rejected the application from The Everday Champions Church that wanted to start one in Newark. However it is clear that a strong enough signal failed to get through on that occasion. If the government insists on pursuing this flawed policy, it needs to make an explicit declaration that creationist dogma will be an automatic fail for such bids. At the moment it seems to be pursuing an "each case on it's merits" policy, which just gives the impression that there is a half open door to be be pushed at. It needs to be shut, quickly and firmly.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

U.S Bishops confuse privilege with liberty

Catholic Bishops in the U.S are fighting back. They are responding to the increasing acceptance of gay marriage in various states, and the requirement that their adoption agencies respect those unions with a ‘Religious Liberty’ Drive.Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York says
We see in our culture a drive to neuter religion […] well-financed, well-oiled sectors [are trying] to push religion back into the sacristy.
In fact all that is happening is that secular society is changing around them and rather than impinging on their religious “liberty” it is containing their previously enjoyed privilege to be bigots for Jesus.
In its frantic scramble to reclaim some moral high ground in the midst of the constantly evolving child abuse scandal it is choosing as its battlefield the rights of the LGBTQ community to a family life and the reproductive rights of women. It is demanding exemption from the laws that enforce those rights so that they can continue to oppress and discriminate against women and gays on spurious religious grounds.
I suspect that they are on the losing side of history on this, just as they were in their suppression of science in the past. But that doesn’t mean that they have no influence in the short term. Secular freedoms are ironically hard won in America, largely because for a modern secular democracy it is socially conservative with a high degree of religiosity. The message will be heard in Washington, particularly among Republicans with an election year approaching and recent victories in health reform (which includes access to contraception and abortion) and gender equality could easily be reversed.
We must not let the church redefine religious privilege as religious liberty.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Encouraging signs of a secular Tunisia

It this is true then the Islamist party that is set to form Tunisia’s first post Arab Spring government is setting a great example for the rest of the region.
According to Ennahda party leader Rachid Ghannouchi the new constitution will focus on “democracy, human rights and a free-market economy”. He says:
“We are against trying to impose a particular way of life,”
We can only hope that such an attitude becomes the norm for Libya and others and that the revolutions do not become hi-jacked by more extreme elements.
Secular democracy is the only way to ensure freedoms and opportunities for all members of society and the west should do all it can to encourage this attitude to become a trend.