Humbly lovingly thoughtfully crashing the party

Here’s something I hadn’t seen before. I probably could have predicted it if I’d thought about it, but I didn’t, so I didn’t. It’s a website called True Reason, set up to rally Christians to go to the Reason Rally in D.C. next month in order to pester it, because religion doesn’t get to pester us enough already without shoving itself into an event that is not all about religion.

It has a nice line in passive-aggressive pseudo-decency.

This is not a counter-demonstration. We are going there to share Christ person to person as opportunity arises. We will not raise our voices. We will talk with those who want to talk with us. We will offer gifts and materials to all, but we will not press ourselves on those who do not wish to converse. [Read more...]

Narcissus leaves the pool

Some goon was sniping at FTB on Twitter the other day – stupid snipey generalizations that have nothing to do with reality. Why would anyone even bother sniping at FTB in general? We’re not all the same, so what can one say that will be true? We all post in English, mostly. Anything else? We all sleep with our eyes closed? We all eat food and drink water?

Anyway, the stupidest tweet said “narcissism is near a sine qua non for blogging at FtB.”

Oh yes? Why?

No seriously, why? Why more than any other group of bloggers, or just any other blogger? What’s so narcissistic about everyone at FTB? [Read more...]

About us – except for who we are

Ben Goldacre wondered aloud on Twitter why it’s impossible to find out who is behind “Coalition for Marriage.” Why is it a secret?

Good question. What’s up with that? If you have a cause, why be secretive about it?

It’s a stupid “cause,” I must say.

The Coalition draws upon a substantial body of evidence showing that marriage – as it has been understood for thousands of years – is beneficial to society, and that changing its definition would undermine that benefit.

Except that marriage hasn’t been “understood” that way (they obviously mean one woman and one man) for thousands of years. The imbeciles are forgetting polygamy.

Well maybe that’s why they don’t want us to know who they are. They’re sekrit imbeciles.

What we talk about when we talk about blogging

A conversation among FTBers has (by a circuitous route, as is often the case) ended up in a discussion of the weirdness of the interpersonal dynamics of blogging – of the kinds and degrees of intimacy that can be created, and whether they’re an illusion or not.

I think the usual view is a brisk, “healthy,” matter of fact view that any sense of intimacy is an illusion, as is any sense of liking or friendship that may develop over time. That’s not my view. My view is pretty much the opposite, which is that it’s not an illusion at all, and that there are perfectly good reasons for this.

I was prompted to say some of this in the discussion after someone else mentioned that the person you see on a blog is not the whole person. That of course is true (ding ding! body missing! key ingredient of whole person!), but it’s also a little misleading. Yes of course you don’t get the whole person, but in a way you get a lot more of the person than you would in real life except in the most intense of relationships. In real life people don’t just sit around and listen to us blather on uninterrupted for two or three or ten minutes, but when we blog, they do. That too is not “whole” conversation; real conversation is full of interruptions and false starts, and laughter and gestures; but that’s just it – real conversation in real time in real life doesn’t allow for the kind of extended discussion you can have on a blog (or discussion board and the like).

This thought is probably more true for people who like to write and to whom it feels natural – but then so does blogging, I would think.

I would blather on uninterrupted more now but I have eleventy seven things to do so I have to go do them. Your turn to blather uninterrupted.

Former archbishop (ret’d) in Daily Mail

The former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey said, in an article for the Daily Mail, that the proposal to change the status of marriage ”constitutes one of the greatest political power grabs in history.”

The state does not ‘own’ the institution of marriage. Nor does the church.

The honourable estate of matrimony precedes both the state and the church, and neither of these institutions have [sic] the right to redefine it in such a fundamental way.

So who should? Lexicographers?

Whatever. There’s a poll, and the yes everyone should have the right to get married no matter what their sexuality answer is winning by an avalanche. Maybe that’s who gets to redefine the honourable estate of matrimony: people who vote in polls at the Telegraph.

Because Afghans have nothing more important to fret about

Because Afghanistan is so peaceful and safe and prosperous, such a paradise of equality and freedom and happiness, people there have leisure to get wildly upset and furious when some books are accidentally sent to the incinerator in a consignment of waste paper.

US and Nato forces have rushed  to apologise for discarding and possibly burning copies of the Qur’an, as thousands of furious Afghans gathered to protest outside Bagram military airbase.

Some carried ancient hunting rifles and others used slingshots to pelt the outer walls of the airbase with stones for several hours, despite the bitter cold, shouting “down with America” and other slogans.

The crowd swelled to as much as three thousand, and police stationed on roads leading to the base turned back other would-be protesters from further away, according to General Mohammad Akram Bekzad, Parwan province’s police chief.

Because that’s the biggest problem Afghanistan has - a few copies of a printed book being accidentally destroyed.

Justin finds another consignment of atheist-bashing

One Reverend Bryan Griem, writing to the Pasadena Sun:

Look, you just read the stats: “Researchers have found that spiritual people have decreased odds of attempting suicide, and that spiritual fitness has a positive impact on quality of life, on coping and on mental health.” Atheists be damned. They will be. So I really don’t care what they think regarding these tests. I’m tired of having their constant nagging, their constant opposition against God — their evil. They contribute nothing positive in the long run. Their very name, “a” theist, means they are “against,” with a big “no” regarding America’s “creator” and “Nature’s God” (the one mentioned in our Declaration of Independence). I’m frankly sick of them. Why they are here on the In Theory cast is beyond me. It’s like saying, “I have no spiritual input because I don’t believe in the spirit. So here’s my ignorance….”

I wonder what the military puts on gravestones of atheists, a thumbs-down? Listen, all religions are protected by our laws, but atheists don’t countenance America’s documents that mention God. They don’t actually deserve rights that even bizarre religionists have. If it could be shown that people who deny God create military weakness, however small, what should commanders do when choosing a winning military?

Whee-ew. We’ll be damned. We’re evil. We contribute nothing positive. We don’t deserve rights.

Well at least he’s a civilian, so Justin can safely ignore him.

Justin’s post.

It’s only 50 thousand pounds

Those times when news stories read like stories from The Onion…

Like the BBC’s report of the MP who said “sorry” for not mentioning a financial interest while arguing for something that would do that financial interest a lot of good.

Conservative MP and ministerial aide Mark Simmonds has apologised for failing to make clear an interest when speaking in favour of the NHS shake-up…

The MPs’ register of interest shows he is paid £50,000 a year as a strategic adviser to Circle Healthcare. [Read more...]

Up for a prize

Good morning girls and boys, it’s time for Monday’s entries in the “What Week-old Dead Fish Can We Throw at Richard Dawkins Today?” contest.

A big round of applause for Mary Ann Sieghart at The Independent, who wastes no time but gets to the vulgar abuse right out of the gate.

The Church of England couldn’t hope for a better enemy than Richard Dawkins. Puffed-up, self-regarding, vain, prickly and militant, he displays exactly the character traits that could do with some Christian mellowing. In fact, he’s almost an advertisement against atheism. You can’t help thinking that a few Sundays in the pews and the odd day volunteering in a Church-run soup kitchen might do him the power of good. [Read more...]

In a couple of weeks

Meanwhile…see that top banner in the right margin, the one above Rock Beyond Belief? Moving Secularism Forward? I’m a speaker at that. Orlando is kind of far away from everything except Florida, but I’m hoping some people will turn up anyway.

It’s a great lineup.

Daniel C. Dennett, Sir Harold Kroto, PZ Myers, Russell Blackford, Stephen Law, Rita Swan, Anthony Pinn, Victor Stenger, Elisabeth Cornwell, Eddie Tabash, Lionel Tiger, Ronald Bailey, Razib Khan, Jamila Bey, Sikivu Hutchinson, David Silverman, Bill Cooke, Steven K. Green, Ellenbeth Wachs, Ronald A. Lindsay, Debbie Goddard and Tom Flynn.

The following weekend I’m at QED in Manchester.

QED has a blog post about Maryam.