Raif Badawi is still in prison in Saudi Arabia.

A look at the history of Atheism. Are those that study it religious animals?

This Catholic makes me feel so uncool.

Two humble men had a tremendous meeting.

A steep rise in fundamentalism and religious bigotry in the U.S. armed forces is becoming a “national security threat”. Maybe it’s because they think they are “walking in authority

Fewer Americans now believe in the creationist view of humans.

The reasons for Islamic blasphemy laws are complicated.

It is easy to argue that Christianity stole its ideas about Charity. It should be obvious that morality precedes religion and that virtue is its own reward.

This weeks’ Woo: Could this be the antidote to bullshit health claims?

Climate Change: Scientists have refuted Scott Pruitt in a newly published study.

The evolution of bacteria is captured on camera.

Anti-Islamophobia is a politically correct term for a problem that does not exist.

The Juno mission reveals more of the mysteries of Jupiter.

A Multiverse would reveal the best and worst of all possible worlds.

The Western-Centric nature of Intersectional Feminism by Helen Pluckrose (TA member).

The violence needed to create the first ultraviolet light.

The miracle of understanding Bayes Theory.

Next year I will be holidaying in Montana so that I can shoot Christian cultists.

The oldest artists’ studio is in Ethiopia. Were the Greeks painting frescos before then?

Ten things we did not know last week. Some photographs taken last week.

While you are waiting for the kettle to boil.…..

Coffee Break Video: Some ideas on curing poverty. It is good to attack ideas.

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Have a great week everyone!!

There’s simply no polite way to tell people they’ve dedicated their lives to an illusion.

-  Daniel Dennett

Thank you, Reg!

Nice reading list Reg!

So those folks in San Diego are anti-Islamophobicphobic?  or just anti-antiIslamophobic?

That Catholic article about uncool Atheists was really uncool.  Holy moly that was uncool,

Thanks Daniel and Strega,

I grew up in Catholic Ireland. I never really understood Catholicism as it was only the rituals that invaded into my time. I have tried to make sense of it since by looking at it in more detail but the more I discover the more crazy it appears. I now consider it so weird that I can understand how even Evangelicals dislike it. The belief that they are actually eating the flesh of their god is a serious delusion, especially when washed down with his blood and grovelling on their knees as unworthy sinners while doing so!!

Too many idiots think Islamophobia is a form of racism. Being against an idea not racist.

I get the feeling that Catholicism as as much a product of polytheistic, pagan Roman tradition, as it is a product of Jesusism and Yahweh worship.  When I visited Vatican city, I was amazed at how much it looked to me lie my idea of a vast Roman or Greek temple.  The Pantheon, originally pagan, also transformed amazingly into a Catholic temple.  The gods were replaced by Catholic gods - I mean "saints" sort of like an ancient version of American Gods - but it still seems to me like same book, different language.

Its interesting how many thoughts and expressions get called racist.  Its almost like some people want to find excuses to condemn others, or sometimes manipulate others.  To me, Jim Crow and its descendents are one thing, vile and evil, but someone who has preferences about who they want to date, is something else entirely.

"It should be obvious that morality precedes religion and that virtue is its own reward.

- this is a review of a book I've just read:  "God Created Humanism" by Theo Dobson.  I really recommend it as an excellent history of the Judeo-Christian (and, of course, Greek and Roman) roots of modern secular humanism.  This review points out the weakness of the book: that those moral values didn't just pop out of nowhere, they evolved.  However, as the book points out, the current case is weak for how they might have evolved. 

So in all, it's a brilliant analysis of the whole subject of modern secular humanism and gives a good understanding of it.  It finishes with an interesting piece of theology: on how to have faith when the impulse is to be sceptical.  (Good luck with that.)  But finally, he says that the real logic of religion is in the meaning, which I agree with. 

the real logic of religion is in the meaning….

How is religion built upon logic? What meaning can it give that is more worthy of what preceded it. Christianity keeps trying to take the credit for humanism. I find Christian ideals of morality and ethical behavior to be redundant. The Enlightenment was not brought about by the Church.

As far as I can see, the main strand of logic within religion is the logic of cooperation and mutual thriving, and another is that of personal transformation. 

It seems that the Enlightenment grew from a long tradition of attempting to find rationality within Christianity, among other factors.  There are also ideas of valuing each person going back to Christianity (and I believe Judaism).  Of course, atheists played a part as well.  The idea that rationality only began once religion started to fade away is false: it was within religion all along.  It's just that it's a tough job trying to be strictly rational about religious ideas.  So I think secular humanism was a kind of solution to this rationalising process. 

It would be strange if people had never tried to be rational about religion before the Enlightenment, as we know that human beings are intensely rational creatures. 

Since Christianity was the only game in town, in the West, for 1600 years, it's hard to see how something as major as the Enlightenment can have had nothing to do with it. 

"The Western-Centric nature of Intersectional Feminism by Helen Pluckrose

- I found this article really interesting and thought-provoking.  Maybe Helen would like to come onto TA to discuss it. 

It ties straight into the book "God Created Humanism" - i.e. the relationship between the West's secular humanist values (separation of church and state, freedom of thought and worship, human rights for all) and, basically, the Muslim world. 

It's a very interesting question: what right do we have to expect other cultures to share our values?  In the past, this has mostly been done arrogantly and by force, and so the "brand" has been toxified and it's played into the paranoid Islamic narrative that the whole world's out to get them. 

We could assume, maybe they like being oppressed, maybe they don't want to be free.  However, and I know this is a simplistic and uninformed view, maybe the real story is that it's the heterosexual men who want to hang onto the oppression, because they are the oppressors, and already have their rights: and all the other groups (women, gay people etc.) who seek liberation.  This makes more sense. 

The book shows clearly that for secular humanist values (freedom, human rights) to take root, there has to be an existing, compatible bedrock within that society.  Here, we have the Enlightenment, Christianity etc which gave birth to [modern] secular humanism.  The Muslim world has not had this history.  This implies that the only hope for oppressed groups is to find some formulation that appeals to the Muslim world and is compatible with Islam. 

Thank you Reg!!

The view of Islamic blasphemy laws paints a depressing picture.  Once people think God is on their side, there's no reasoning with them. 

I agree Simon. Maybe it could be argued that once people are convinced that their particular god is real that there is no reasoning with them.

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