Spot On!

I know this is a few weeks old now, but he is spot on with most of what he has to say here.

Suspension of Critical Thinking, A+, & Why I’m Done with It.

Groupthink: thinking so dominated by the desire to maintain unanimity of thought in a group that critical thinking is suspended or rendered ineffective. (Chaplain, 2010, p.201)

Extrajection: attributing one’s own characteristics to another. (Chaplain, 2010, p.169)

Projection: 1. attributing one’s own traits, attitudes, or faults to others… 3. a prediction beyond the given data.  4. perceiving one’s personality traits, needs, desires, goals etc. in unstructured stimuli, such as ink blots… (Chaplain, 2010, p.358)

Psychological warfare: a general concept referring to all attempts to weaken the enemy’s ability to wage war by weakening their moral, with corresponding attempts to strengthen one’s own war potential. (Chaplain, 2010, p.366).

Groupthinking and extrajection…

In the last few months (and even years in some cases), I and others have been both witness to, and on the receiving end of all four of the above.  It seems a vast number of the Atheist movement are unable to exercise the same level of critical thinking that we demand from others or even mock people for apparent lack thereof.  This is not restricted to one side of the ‘A+?’ battle of wills, with one side declaring that what ‘A+’ is demanding (yes,demanding) already exists – humanism – and they do have a point, with some sneering before hearing them out, and the other side bull-headedly declaring that A+ stands for positive social justice and asserting that all who oppose or criticise them in any way are anti-social justice.  These assertions are rubbish.  For a start we only really have people’s online personas to go by.  We don’t really know any of the people we meet online.  We just have to trust, they are who they say they are and hope they’re not some cyber-stalking head-case.  So, that said, assuming we ‘know’ the politics of an individual that we meet, by sheer chance, based solely on a few comments made on a forum is utterly absurd.

This is where the groupthink has kicked in.  Anything less than 100% support to either side (in some cases) has become, to some, tantamount to an outright betrayal of  the ‘movement’ and condemnation of all ideas.  This is not the case as one can agree on principal with an idea and yet have qualms over the finer details.  The slightest criticism now results in slurs against characters, accusations of trolling,  and ‘questions’ about one’s moral integrity (you know, the same conduct that we condemn when we get it  from religious trolls that post on atheist threads). That’s one hell of an assumption to make about an acquaintance that you wouldn’t recognise in the street, and in most cases those making those assumptions and hurling labels around as epithets are the first to call people out when they are on the receiving end.

It is both naive and asinine to assume (or assert) that just being an atheist equates automatically to being ‘nice’.  It is equally naive to assert that those who choose not ascribe themselves to any particular cause or label are bigoted.  I have always had a humanistic outlook.  It’s how I was brought up.  I’m vocal about a number of issues about because I have neither the time or resources to apply that in a physical sense, but what I do is no less valuable an action than physically going out and ‘doing the work‘.  Many charities (such as which I’ve been supporting Hemley on since day one) rely strongly on volunteers giving up their time to raise awareness in whatever ways they can, while other’s volunteer for the on site grafting.  Nor I do not think other humanitarian causes are less worthy of attention: I have merely had to narrow down what I do and others are free to follow their own causes: it’s not a competition.

I’m all for positive action to achieve REAL social equality but we cannot expect everyone to jump to and support every cause and project around especially if there is a ‘by fair means, or foul‘ clause attached to it.  THAT does not sit right with me.  It should be ‘by fair means, or not at all‘.   If we cannot do it honestly, then how are we fit to criticise other injustices? Just because an individual does not support our chosen project or cause, it does not mean they are lacking in empathy or necessarily ‘against’ us, or any number of negative connotations someone might dream up and hurl at someone else in order to defend their own position.  That is NOT debate.  That is NOT discussion. That IS browbeating and guilt tripping and those who engage in the practice should feel thoroughly ashamed of themselves.  Character is judged through action, and actions like that, I find sickening and I will not be a party to them.  Nor will I be tricked through, omission of information, into putting my name to a project which cannot live by its own standards of behaviour.  People will have their own reasons for joining in or not joining in: none of us are accountable to any but the laws of the lands we live in, and our own consciences. We give to charity and volunteer our time in other ways but must we therefore leap on the A+ bandwagon? No. It’s up to the individual and nobody has the right to guilt anyone else out of following their own conscience in favour of some hair-brained agenda or other.

When somebody disagrees with a course of action, or claim being made, it does not make them a libertarian or right-wing, or anything else: all it means is they disagree.

This is war psychology and it generally paired with projection as a result of group think, when other members cannot think of a valid counter-argument.  As we know, groupthink situations occur when there are a minority of critics/proponents of a course of action within a group situation and the majority is determined to either force, or not to allow, a change in either action or attitude.

Generally, on the online forum situations, it comes in the form of accusations of dishonest motives and projection undesirable traits such as aggression and other trolling behaviour, which weren’t actually there but were attached to the accusation in order to justify discounting any criticism.  It is used to attempt to discredit opponents and avoid giving an answer which might show the user of this tactic in a less than favourable light, rather than admitting that the criticism might actually be valid.  Other group members will chip in to argue the toss and try to bully any and all opposition (which is usually in the minority) round to their way of thinking by hurling labels around, and making negative assertions about their character.  When this fails the aggression is projected back on to the critic and they are threatened with banning (rather than just banning them) in an attempt to silence them and claim a virtual and public victory.  Any supporters of the minority voice are equally shouted down.

Suspension of Critical Thinking, Failure to Adhere to Equal Standards, & General Lack of Consideration for Others (when no longer convenient to need)…

It seems that the first project of A+ is in the planning stages: transcription of atheist podcasts and videos for the deaf and hard of hearing.  It’s a good idea.  My one concern when I first learned of this project, via Greta Christina’s blog, was that the producers of these videos and podcast would be consulted (a fair few in the atheist community are in strong disagreement with the A+ movement – or their conduct toward critics – and may understandably object to their work being tampered with by the off-shoot group).  I wanted to be sure, so I could make an informed decision before offering my assistance and then having to withdraw it after a disagreement, that if a video-blogger’s or podcaster’s decision was ‘no‘ then their wishes would be respected as they have a justified say over who does what to their work.   I did not suggest transcription should not be done. In fact, I repeatedly stated the that the project was a good idea.

My support for the idea was consistently ignored in favour of trying to shut me down with accusations of  ‘derailing‘, ‘dumping on a project‘, ‘being aggressive‘ (I was on the receiving end of the aggression btw), ‘sarcasm‘  (I’ll give them that one) etc.  Yes, I am sarcastic at times,  especially when pointing out such blatant hypocrisy.  Okay, it’s not a problem which has occurred yet, however I work on a philosophy that prevention is better than cure.  If you pre-empt potential problems and plan for their avoidance (like not deliberately circumventing people’s personal autonomy over their work, for instance), the problems are less likely to occur.  I can see their attitude of “we’re going to do this regardless of what anyone else thinks, and if a few people’s rights get trampled on, it’s for the ‘greater good’, so they and everyone else can stop whining” is going to cause them a great deal of problems.  I will say this, if the A+ers truly care about social justice as much as they claim to, then the protection of everyone’s rights should be paramount to their concerns: they don’t get to ignore inconvenient truths whenever it damn well suits them.

The people orchestrating the project seem to disagree with the importance of a private person’s authority over their work. They ‘won’t let the project be bullied like that’ (because producers objections to their work being co-opted without their prior knowledge or against their wishes is obviously ‘bullying’ behaviour, isn’t it. The same way objecting to having bogus religions (tautology, I know) down our throats is ‘persecution).  By that they mean they aren’t planning on giving people even the opportunity to refuse participation, but instead to just charge ahead regardless and impose it on people whether they like it or not. Besides any legal considerations, asking first is just a basic common courtesy that any of us would expect to be treated with. What is so heinous about asking for some simple good manners to be exercised? Do they cost anything? No. Do they hurt? Not the last time I checked.

They have decided that their project is for such a good cause that it trumps the rights of any objectors and that this web-page has given them a legal free-pass to transcribe the work of private individuals with or without their permission. Never mind that the site refers to in-video closed-captioning* (rather than full and separate transcription located elsewhere and out of their control) of commercially produced video media, and says nothing at all regarding podcasts or radio broadcasts. Add to this the fact that those, referred to in the article, who objected to the legislation were registered entertainment companies. They were not private individuals expressing their own views on blogs on the internet.

*Doesn’t YouTube already have an automatic in-video closed-caption function anyway?

Other Sources

Well said, Jen!

How I Unwittingly Infiltrated the Boy’s Club & Why It’s Time for a New Wave of Atheism | Blag Hag, is the latest post by FTB’s ‘Blag Hag’.  It is well-reasoned and clearly articulated.  I would like to write my own thoughts but have no wish to flood her comment thread with a lengthy answer.  I feel that would be rude of me.

Here goes.

Firstly, I am aware that many among us do not believe there to be an atheist movement, as such. That’s fine, but a lot of us do feel that our collective group has become such a movement (me being one of them) for real equality, and that should be acknowledged too.  I don’t pretend to represent anyone, nor do I assume that anyone is trying to represent me.  I use this blog as a place where I can say things as I see them.  If people want to listen or agree with me, that’s great.  If they don’t that’s also fine.  What none of us get to do is prescribe a set way of seeing things and then go about, shunning, ridiculing, harassing, belittling those who disagree with us.  Isn’t that something else ‘we’ claim to be against?

There are many issues requiring attention, none of us have the time, energy or inclination to follow all of them, but ‘we’ are not the only group who cares.  Nor should we by any means polarise ourselves into one-issue-activists, limiting ourselves to single causes, and turning an otherwise noble concern into some sort of bizarre competition.  It’s not productive and, as much as I hate to say this, it makes us all look ridiculous.  ‘We‘ fight hard against the idea that we are all petty, angry, amoral people, with no inclination or reason to think beyond ourselves and the issues that affect us directly as individuals. So why, within our own movement, can we not apply that same attitude?  When we criticise other groups for in-fighting and hypocrisy, can we not just take a non-rose-tinted look at our own collective behaviour?  It’s simply illogical to assume that we are immune to the same group dynamics as every other.

Not being the ‘all men are predators and therefore a threat‘ type of feminist has earned me a certain degree of contempt, as if I am somehow being half-arsed about it.  The sad fact is that the moment that women openly own the term ‘feminist‘ a they get a great deal of grief from both people within the ‘movement’ as well as from without.  My own creepy cyber-stalker (just as a for instance) is just the ‘one-issue only’ anti-feminist type mentioned in the linked post and above. It’s the reason he’s hounding me. He’s the sort that believes in the non-existent level ground, so it’s okay to hound women online, because he believes that’s what gender equality means. Women might well be more equal before the law than they were 30 years ago, but socially that equality is just a veneer hiding something very ugly and it’s not limited to the atheist movement, it’s everywhere.

If we are going to try to claim the moral high-ground in the ‘good behaviour stakes’, over the religious fanatics we stand up to as a ‘movement’, then we really need to clean up our own act (as that same movement) and stop trying to pretend that it’s not happening, stop attacking the people who speak out when it does, stop attacking the deniers because they are lucky enough not to have been through it and are in a privileged position so cannot empathise with those who have,  and actually sit down and have a reasonable discussion about what can be done without having a dig at rival bloggers at every given opportunity over a disagreement. It has been noted by members our ‘group’ that some of the most hateful and spiteful comments have come from bloggers complaining about said abuse, against even the most innocuous reply.

We should have realised by now that Atheism doesn’t automatically lead to humanism.  We keep saying that atheism says nothing about a person other than their lack of belief in god. Ayn Rand was an atheist, and still managed to be a hateful, selfish bitch. Why is it such shock, then when we find out that not everyone in our group is a nice, reasonable person?  It’s because we keep repeating to our selves ‘we’re better than them, we’re not like the (insert religious group)‘ as if that will magically erase what’s happening right under our noses.  Because what’s happening here in our own group, isn’t ‘as bad’ as the worst extremes we hear of in the news, it gets dismissed as somehow irrelevant and those who do complain get dismissed as overreacting whiners.  THAT IS NOT ON!  The ‘ignore it, they’ll go away‘ comments aren’t helpful or productive either, because of what is NOT happening.  What is not happening is bullies and stalkers – as well as the people who go along with them – being called out and exposed.  It puts all the responsibility on the person being targeted to be ‘the bigger person’.  It’s a couched ‘stop whining and go away‘.  It essentially lets bullies off scott-free while those they target are subjected to further dismissal, abuse and ridicule, and it ultimately empowers the bully to continue.

The general atmosphere of nastiness is not called for. And, as I said, yes I have been on the receiving end of it. Some of the deniers though (not all of them men), are in the privileged position of not having been on the receiving end and so, in their view, there is no problem to address. When your home address is published online by a rival blogger (totally disregarding your right to privacy), or you are receiving rape and death threats (nothing merits that) for objecting to a pathetic chat up attempt, a woman has every reason to be furious. If someone impersonates you in fake profiles, continuously emails you to gloat, starts blogs about how ugly you are and uses stolen photos of you, you have every right to be angry.  Blogging does invite comment but it is NOT, under any stretch of the imagination, granting ‘consent’ to harassment or to become a  punch-bag for verbal or other abuse, any more than my walking down the street or waiting for a bus or train ‘invites’ lude gestures, comments and cat calls from strangers.  That sort of thuggish behaviour is not a compliment, its sexual harassment and it’s very intimidating especially if I’m out with my two small children. If that had been something I had been subjected to at a workplace, I would be within my rights to complain and expect to be taken seriously, so why should any women have to ‘put up with it’ in the street or at events?  In an ideal world women wouldn’t have to deal with it at all and wouldn’t  have to keep reminding the world that we are people, regardless of where we happen to be at the time.

The hypocrisy is glaring, that if and when women behave (it does happen and its equally – not more – vulgar and unattractive) in the same appalling way (gestures and shouting across the street etc), social convention means that not only are the women and the behaviour denounced and decried from all quarters – especially in the male dominated tabloid press and popular media – but feminism and feminists automatically get the ‘blame’. Meanwhile, men behaving in such a way is STILL largely accepted (on a social level) ‘as ‘par for the course‘, or ‘just one of those things‘ and that we should just grin and bear it, and pass it off as ‘men being men‘. Or, in even worse cases, it is even cheered on as some applause-worthy display of masculinity.

Not all men are like that. My husband isn’t, nor are the men in my group of friends, family and loved ones. Am I to arrogantly assume that they and my male readers are somehow the exception to a rule? No, but nor are you responsible or accountable for the actions of your entire gender. All ‘we’ can do is call out shitty behaviour where and when it occurs, put the deniers (politely) in their place, because rudeness is not going to make ‘us’ any better than the perpetrators of the abuse we criticise, and try to police ourselves, as individuals, not to allow disagreements, which do happen, to descend into petty, tit-for-tat squabbles.  If the elevator issue of last year had been allowed to simmer down, maybe it would maybe have remained a slight overreaction (but it was no less alarming, considering  what her talk had been about) to an ill-considered chat up attempt.  It hasn’t been allowed to, and given the level of animosity toward women who call harassment out, and as people are STILL having a go at Ms Watson long after it should have gone to rest, yes, she has my sympathy and support.

Fanstastic. Informative, interesting and well argued as always.

Futile Democracy

I have previously pointed out – here – that one of the major inaccuracies in the entire Bible is the suggestion that the Ten Commandments – the very foundation of Christianity – are unique to Christianity, or originated with Christianity. They didn’t. They originated with a pre-Pharoah tribe of Egypt called the Kemet, whose concept of truth, law and justice was consolidated into a theory called ‘Ma’at’. The ten commandments of the Bible are derived from the 42 principles of Ma’at.

But what if the glaring lie that the ten commandments were uniquely handed to Moses at the top of Mount Sinai, was not the biggest inaccuracy in the Bible? What if the biggest lie in the Bible was that Jesus existed at all?

Biblical historians generally agree that a man named Jesus probably did exist. Though, they never tend to give any strong evidence for his existence. Nothing written…

View original post 3,629 more words

Slaves at the root of the fortune that created Richard Dawkins’ family estate – Telegraph

Slaves at the root of the fortune that created Richard Dawkins’ family estate – Telegraph.

Richard Dawkins and Long-Dead Ancestor, Henry Dawkins...

“The ancestors of Richard Dawkins, the atheist campaigner against superstition, intolerance and suffering, built their fortune using slaves, it has been revealed.” Daily Mail style Headlines from the Sunday Telegraph

For starters, none of us are responsible for the actions of others (aside from the children in our care and that is relinquished once they are 18) – least of all our long dead ancestors – any more than we are entitled to take personal credit for their innovations.  For The Telegraph to take this stance, they must have been REALLY desperate for something to print.  How on earth did this epitome of demagogic hackery get past the editor of a national broadsheet?  Were they asleep on the job?  I was aware of this article prior to it’s release, as many others who read the RDF website were, and he reported the aggressive and accusatory approach of the ‘news-gatherer‘.  If the Telegraph values it’s reputation at all, it will offer a front page apology to Proff. Dawkins (for this shameful attempt to slander his character) written by the journalist who wrote it, retract the article and discipline the editor.  The comments on the Telegraph article have been disabled.  I wonder why.  This is NOT an awkward truth.  He has done nothing wrong by being related to a property owner; one among hundreds who owned slaves nearly 300 years ago.  For people to arbitrarily declare that he personally owes an apology for historical events, is both crass and and parochial and indicative of a much bigger problem.

“Plantation owners were not the only customers who wanted to buy slaves. Many people in the cities of North America, including New York, Charleston and Providence in Rhode Island on the east coast, employed enslaved Africans as domestic servants, sailors and construction workers.” – Portcities Website, ‘Plantation owners’

Lets go through some of it shall we?

Before I start, I am by no means justifying the existence of slavery.  I find the idea of owning someone abhorrent – and the fact that it continues to this day, even more so.  What I aim to do in this post is clarify the events without applying a my 21st century ideals.

The first mistake that should be mentioned is the deliberate omission from popular history of where and how the slave merchants obtained their stocks.  European access to Africa was extremely limited.  Where colonies of British and European settlers existed, they were confined to a handful of  coastal areas of West Africa and solely at the pleasure of the African Tribal leaders.  Africa is a continent, not a single country, a fact which the ignorant (the writer of the article), seems blissfully unaware of.  The individual kingdoms had their own leaders, their own customs, and where European presence was met with hostility and deemed unwelcome, this was not the universal rule.  The neighbouring kingdoms also had their own conflicts and tensions, so when the Europeans came along they saw an opportunity to gain an advantage over their neighbours through trade.

“He has railed against the evils of religion, and lectured the world on the virtues of atheism.

Now Richard Dawkins, the secularist campaigner against “intolerance and suffering”, must face an awkward revelation: he is descended from slave owners and his family estate was bought with a fortune partly created by forced labour.” 

The mistake people commonly make is confusing simplicity for stupidity.  The second mistake is to apply modern standards, and impose modern motives to figures and events of the past.  The Africa of the 17th and 18th century was extremely simple in comparison with Europe but that does not make them ‘primitive’ or inferior.  As I said, each region had its own laws and customs.  One of those customs was to either kill or enslave criminals (all crimes were capital) and prisoners of war. If they had a harvest to collect, prisoners would be put to work, if not, they would execute them.  What the Europeans did was alter the equation.  The letters of Lieutenant John Matthews of the Royal navy provide first hand evidence (4), that the presence of European traders on the coast, willing to buy slaves, inspired some African leaders to lead raiding parties into other villages for sale to slave traders on the coast in exchange for gunpowder, weapons and other items which would add to their prestige and give them an advantage over their neighbours.  For those demanding monetary regress between the descendants of planters, traders and slaves are extremely remiss in their adamant claims that blame lies entirely at the feet of the planters and their descendents.

“One of his direct ancestors, Henry Dawkins, amassed such wealth that his family owned 1,013 slaves in Jamaica by the time of his death in 1744.” 

“The Dawkins family estate, consisting of 400 acres near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, was bought at least in part with wealth amassed through sugar plantation and slave ownership.”

 The Beckford family (5) were also made extremely rich by their sugar plantations. In fact they were the richest family in England for the best part of 200 years.  They did not do what they did illegally.  At the time their actions were all legal and considered acceptable.  As did, the Dawkins family.

“Over Norton Park, inherited by Richard Dawkins’s father, remains in the family, with the campaigner as a shareholder and director of the associated business.”

“Professor Dawkins, the atheist evolutionary biologist and author of The Selfish Gene, claimed associating him with his slave-owning ancestors was “a smear tactic”.

“One of the most disagreeable verses of the Bible – amid strong competition – says the sins of the father shall be visited on the children until the third or fourth generation,” he said.”

Even if inherited sin was not a disgusting guilt-tactic cynically adopted by the early church to maintain fear and through fear, control, the fact that 6 generations have now passed, cannot have escaped the ‘reporter’s’ notice.  It holds individuals responsible for actions they could not have possibly had anything to do with and condemns infants to answer for, and somehow atone, for the sins of not only their parents but their grandparents, great grandparents and great, great grandparents.  This so-called journalist has appointed himself judge in this instance and demanded, that Dawkins answer for the ‘crimes’ (I will reiterate, that owning slaves was a legal and common practice in the 18th century).

“In 2010 Richard Dawkins wrote an obituary for his father, describing how John Dawkins had inherited Over Norton Park from a distant cousin and how the estate, in the Cotswolds area of outstanding natural beauty, had been in the family since the 1720s. He omitted, however, to mention how previous generations made their money.

And why should he have done?  What business is it of ours?  If it had been him, personally, owning slaves and profiting from their labour, we would probably be rightly shocked. It wasn’t him.  It was the 18th century and most of the wealthy landowning class, DID earn their money that way. It wasn’t shocking.

He quoted Scripture – disparagingly – to insist: “I condemn slavery with the utmost vehemence, but the fact that my remote ancestors may have been involved in it is nothing to do with me.

“One of the most disagreeable verses of the Bible – amid strong competition – says the sins of the father shall be visited on the children until the third or fourth generation.”

Audibly irritated, he added: “You need a genetics lecture. Do you realise that probably only about 1 in 512 of my genes come from Henry Dawkins?”

Well the reporter called his house (twice) and accused him of being guilty of enslaving a thousand people who died 3 centuries ago.  Who wouldn’t be ‘irritated’?  For the last time, Dawkins is NOT responsible for the actions of  his ancestors.

“”For goodness sake, William Wilberforce may have been a devout Christian, but slavery is sanctioned throughout the Bible.”

Richard Dawkins’ sister Sarah Kettlewell, 67, is thought still to live on the estate, which has a farm shop and pedigree cattle. According to Companies House records which list Professor Dawkins as a director, Over Norton Park Limited made a £12,000 profit last year.”

For those outside the UK, £12,000 is less than one person would earn on minimum wage in a year. And weren’t most people Christians and church-goers in the 18th century?

He insisted: “The estate is now a very small farm, struggling to make its way, and worth peanuts. The family fortune was frittered away in the 19th Century. Such money as I have is scarcely inherited at all.”

He earns his money from his work as a biologist, writer and public-speaking.  The little his family estate is worth or makes is shared among his other relations.  I fail to see a problem with this.  He’s doing nothing illegal.

He is now facing calls to apologise and make reparations for his family’s past.

Esther Stanford-Xosei, of Lewisham, south London, the co-vice chairman of the Pan-African Reparations Coalition in Europe, said: “There is no statute of limitations on crimes against humanity.

“The words of the apology need to be backed by action. The most appropriate course would be for the family to fund an educational initiative telling the history of slavery and how it impacts on communities today, in terms of racism and fractured relationships.”

The revelations come after a difficult few days for the campaigner.”

Only due to the fact that few hacks in the media and (several in the cabinet), have been making claims that not only fly in the face of reason, but are completely devoid of truth.  Baroness Warsi, an unelected, token Muslim woman in the Conservative party, is not unknown for her spurious claims about non believers and has made no effort at all to listen when corrected.  Her comments, and Cameron’s,  about this country being ‘Christian’ and needing a resurgence of religious fervour is, in my view, a sinister distraction tactic.  I have little doubt that Cameron knows that his party is in trouble with public opinion.  He backed Osborne’s economic austerity measures and they have made the situation far worse and is now attempting a policy of divide and rule among believers and non-believers in order to retain favour with the white, male, business owners.  He has even put in plans to force people on JSA to work for nothing, or risk losing the £53 per week they live on now.

To add inventive this scheme, big companies are also exempt from offering any of the benefits or rights that their other employees have (including minimum wage).  The only thing that will do is allow businesses to take on unpaid temporary staff on a continual stream and avoid paying contracted staff overtime.  The only people who actually gain are the board members and the shareholders.  While slavery is being brought back by stealth and Cameron systematically dehumanises the poorest of the British public, the trash-news aided and abetted by the Telegraph find it prudent to publish the family history of a specific prominent figure who speaks out against religious privilege in an attempt to deprive him of support.  It doesn’t bode well…

On Tuesday 14 February, some critics branded him “an embarrassment to atheism” after what many listeners considered a humiliation in a Radio 4 debate with Giles Fraser, formerly Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, in which the professor boasted he could recite the full title of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species”, then when challenged, dithered and said: “Oh God.”

Critics of the movement have always found an easy target in the shape of  Professor Dawkins and other outspoken atheists, viewing any opposition or contradiction to their beliefs as the height of rudeness.  The only thing we can do as a movement is to continue to push back and hold our ground.  It’s worrying enough that the British PM has begun pushing his Christianity and encouraging others to push theirs while complaining they are being marginalised by equality laws, but how long will it be before non-believers are more stringently penalised?  Our tax-funded faith schools already have the right to exclude the children of non-believers.  Let me make one thing quite clear, preventing one group of people from discriminating against another does NOT under any stretch of the imagination, amount to oppression, marginalisation, or persecution.  It amounts to fairness, where all people have equal rights under the law, without exception or privilege.

From the sublime to the ridiculous…

It gets worse.  On the 14th of February The Telegraph published and article applauding a former cleric and ‘Thought for the Day’ know-it-all, for rendering Professor Dawkins ‘speechless’ when he could not roll of the top of his tongue, the full title of Charles Darwin’s (going to be the name of my 3rd child if I have a third) ‘Origin of Species’.  It’s ‘On the Origin of Species by Process of Natural Selection‘ but as most copies are printed with the shortened title, including mine, it’s not surprising that most people don’t know it.  The fatuous challenge was issued after Dawkins pointed out that most people who call themselves Christian, cannot name the first book of the bible which is true.  However the point is more than about knowing what something is called.  It is about understanding the content.  The Rev. was not ‘stylish or mature.  It was a simple case of playground ‘I know you are, but what am I”, posturing. The second article uses their favourite ad hom – ‘militant secularists -against those of us who object to having the superstitions of other people foisted upon us by means of legislation.  When religious institutions start paying tax and making a real contribution to society, they can then start having a say on political reforms. Untill such time, can they shut up.

“We all hear about Muslim leaders issuing fatwas against homosexuals, preaching hate and the extermination of the Jews. But who hears of an Imam who is a credit to their religion?

And yet the extremists are merely a flipside of the atheists. Their actions, too, are entirely negative, aimed at winning plaudits from fellow atheists and in the process poisoning the rest of society against them.” – Stephen Pollard of The Daily Telegraph

The telegraph and the Independent have both gone downhill. It seems nationalist anachronistic crap now qualifies as reasonably objective and fashionable journalism to papers more concerned with sales than with quality and they are fast losing all credibility.

Related articles and Sources…

  4. Matthews. J (1787-8), ‘Letters of John Mattews‘ in Gibbons. R (ed.) ‘An Anthology of Primary Sources‘, Manchester University Press, New York, (pp. 266-270).