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The Big Questions Round-Up: Glen Carrigan and Phil Ashburn

The Four Godless Gs of the Apocalypse

The Four Godless Gs of the Apocalypse

We’re back on The Big Questions tomorrow at 1000 for perhaps one of the most important issues of our time – Human Rights.

Last Sunday, Phil Asburn from the AHS Society at UCLan and myself appeared on The BBC’s The Big Questions to discuss some very big questions indeed: Should religion stay out of politics; Is the death penalty ever justified; Should Sex and Relationship Education be Secular? The episode culminated in nothing less than Godless Spell Checker shouting “Dogma” and me being rather polite to a bishop… sort of! Watch the show aired on 03.05.15 here.

One viewer even pointed out that a few of us were the 4 Godless Gs of the Apocalypse, perhaps a good omen for reason? We’d prefer to call it non-divine intervention though.

Tune in on Sunday when Andrew Copson, Maryam Namazie, Peter Tatchell and others discuss the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Religious Rights. Iram Ramzan, Lejla Kurić Godless Spell Checker (Stephen), Phil Ashburn and I are also there!

Also, look forward to our podcast rounding up the two episodes on Monday 11th with Phil AsburnIram Ramzan, Lejla Kurić.

Follow us at: @CarriganGlen and @PhilAshburn

@bbcbigquestions  ‪#‎BBCTBQ‬

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Charlie Hebdo and Blasphemy: Pick Up Your Pen, Not Your Sword

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In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, January 7, 2015 in Paris, many opinions abound, and it becomes difficult to offer any unique insight of one’s own without being drowned out, or indeed, wondering if you should offer anything at all.

Opinions range from outright disgust and condemnation to stating that the cartoonists deserved it. But there also exists a slightly more insidious view:  that of condemning the killers and also condemning the cartoons. I have no doubt that people who say something along the lines of “While I condemn the killing, nobody should insult the Prophet” think they’re protecting all Muslims and their sensibilities. They’re also justifiably protecting themselves from reprisals. But perhaps this view deserves scrutiny in itself, and Tehmina Kazi does an excellent job of simply explaining some of the misconceptions that create such a position.

I would urge us, if we haven’t already, to think before acting, and to consider whether protecting rotten behavioural yardsticks such as blasphemy, even with the best of intentions, is the right thing to do. After all, lampooning religion isn’t done to upset the religious, but to challenge bad ideas.

Continue Reading this article at Atheist Republic.

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Extended Materials

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Nonreligious Ex-Soldier Denied Chance to Lay Remembrance Sunday Wreath

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I was once asked by the Stockport Humanists if I could present a wreath at the official Remembrance civic ceremony. I was extremely happy to help and also honoured to be asked to take part in a day that has particular importance to me and all other serving and non-serving military personnel past and present. Imagine my surprise to be contacted a little later and told that I was not allowed to lay a wreath as an official part of the ceremony to pay my respects. Certain individuals and organisations including The Rt Revd Robert Atwell have the opinion that “we remain clear that this is a religious ceremony and wish it to continue as such” (Jan 14th 2013). This is also particularly galling when bolstered in a recent telephone conversation by the words of one local Councillor who exclaims that there was “no stomach” to take on the church.

Continue reading this article at Atheist Republic.

Grateful to have recieved a response from Mark Hendrick MP with regards to this article.

Also on: Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science

UK Law Society Withdraws Practice Note on Sharia Succession

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“The UK Law Society has rescinded its practice note relating to the drawing up of Sharia compliant wills. Such wills stated that “illegitimate and adopted children are not Sharia heirs. … The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir. … Non-Muslims may not inherit at all. … a divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir. …” This has been welcomed by many as the UK’s legal sector finally making a statement against the practicing of Sharia in Britain.

The campaign against the guidance included groups such as South Hall Black Sisters, One Law for All, and equality and social justice campaigners across a diverse scope of representation, from LGBT rights activist Peter Tatchell to feminist comedienne Kate Smurthwaite”

Continue reading this article at Atheist Republic

 

A Religion of Peace or War: Both Actually.

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Calling any religion, a religion of peace is a problem. We might wish they were, and our media takes every opportunity to tell us that they are despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, but that isn’t the same as it being true. Blanket statements to the effect that they are, negate any need for criticism or improvement and for this reason are not just misleading, but dangerous. Tony Blair would have us believe that violence in the name of religion is  an ‘abuse of religion’ and a ‘perversion of faith.’ This is probably a well intentioned attempt at preserving community cohesion, but it’s anything but true as Ian Reader, a Professor of Religious Studies at Lancaster University succinctly points out. Such sentiments enable the ‘moderate’ believer to rest easy, knowing that they’re unlikely to have to change their opinions, but then the fanatic can equally believe that they don’t need to either, because after all, theirs is a religion of peace too.

Freedom of Religion, and Freedom from Religion

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The NUS And Islamic State: Why Islamophobia And Imperialism Shouldn’t Mean Pacifism.

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The National Union of Students (NUS) won’t condemn Islamic State (IS), because it would be Islamophobic to do so, despite the proposal being tendered by a student of Kurdish descent. This tells us quite a bit about ‘Islamophobia,’ and the associated post-colonial rhetoric that stifles discourse on these issues, ultimately forcing people to be tolerant of the intolerant… lest they be branded intolerant. It also tells us that gross generalisations occur on both sides of an argument even by those claiming to be addressing them. Read the rest of this entry

An Evening of Science and Reason in Pictures

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Top TV Scientist Draws a Crowd at UCLan

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Glen Carrigan, Masters by research student UCLan School of Psychology, palaeontologist Dr Robert Asher, associate lecturer in computer aided engineering at UCLan Matt Dickinson and Television presenter Dr George McGavin.

Written by: Rachel Atkinson, 09 June 2014, original article.

The BBC’s Dr George McGavin was the headline speaker at a science event.

One of the country’s top entomologists drew a crowd at a public lecture at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Television presenter Dr George McGavin, who is a regular contributor to the BBC’s One Show, was the headline speaker at the Evening of Science and Reason.

He was joined at the free student led event by Dr Robert Asher and UCLan’s Matt Dickinson. All three talks were designed to highlight scientific discovery and ethical living in a modern world.

Dr McGavin, who has recently presented Monkey Planet for BBC1, gave a talk entitled Insects: Sex, violence and a cast of billions. Dr Asher, a palaeontologist specialising in mammals, presented Evolution, Reason, and Religion and Matt Dickinson talked about The Science of Superheroes.

Organiser Glen Carrigan, who is a Masters by Research Student in UCLan’s School of Psychology, said: “An Evening of Science and Reason was a huge success. With Matt Dickinson showing us how his fully functional iron man helmet worked, Dr Robert Asher weighing up his religious belief whilst being a palaeontologist and Dr George McGavin telling us how much sex insects have whilst he threw melons around the room, there truly was something for everyone.”

“I set up this project in order to stimulate scientific and ethical debate, and feel that this aim was definitely achieved. We hope to hold more events like this in the future and wish to thank all of our guests and fantastic volunteers for coming along.”

Cameron The King: We’re Christian, or if not Christian, just not non-religious. God Forbid!

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Cameron The King

David Cameron has recently been playing politics with religion, namely by calling Britain a Christian country and elucidating an ambition to “expand the role of faith based organisations,” and I thought it was Chris the King, not Cameron! It cannot be doubted that much of our culture, art and history derives from Christianity, but to call the country Christian is nonsense, perhaps post-Christian would be better. This has led to Cameron’s assertion being challenged by many concerned members of the public.

This country has many faith groups and those who have none; the latter are usually wholly overlooked though. The 2013 British Social Attitudes Survey records 48% of the entire nation’s population identify as non-religious [Edit: YouGov poll 2015, 62% non-religious]. Add all of the Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Baha’i and other religious communities – and non-religious – to this and it is extremely divisive to claim that somehow Christianity must maintain its prominence in Great Britain. But, I’m not angry about it, honestly, because that would make me one of those ‘angry atheists,’ and we all know that they’re just too angry.

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Gay Marriage and apriori bigotry

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Credit; Jim Meehan

Update, 18/07/2013; Equal Marriage Bill to recieve Royal Assent.

A land mark case for equality and testament to the values of fairness, equality and democracy. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was passed in the House of Commons on February the 6th 2013, 400 votes to 175, a majority of 225.

As well as an achievement for society and homosexuals this is especially poignant for those whom like myself, adjusted their views on homosexuality as a youngsters when presented with evidence to the contrary of an erroneous and pernicious opinion.

It was almost impossible when I was at secondary school, not to hear the word gay used as a byword for bad. “That’s a bit gay” was a phrase uttered constantly often in situations having nothing to do with the matter! I once kissed a girlfriend and heard someone behind me say “gaaaay.” Not sure how that works but it happened. And thus a dangerous and devisive connotation is embeded into the mind.

Your opinion, just like mine is not of interest when the facts are weighed, especially if it stems from a religious proclivity seeking to enforce inequality and deem homosexuals to be sinful. The archaic religious attitude to legislate in the name of an imprimatur fiction and a blatant ignorance of data contrary of this most noxious view has done harm for a very long time. It may be tough to accept, but your opinion on such matters or scriptural “authority” is not a reason to keep a group of people from the equal status and rights they deserve.

Think about it, to judge a person based on their sexual orientation, is to judge someone for what they are, not what they choose. And even if they did choose to be gay, it shouldn’t matter to you who they choose to love, it’s about autonomy, and they’re not asking you to join in. We have, most of us, moved away from racism, nobody would dare discriminate on the grounds of race and rightfully so.

To deny homosexuals the right to marry is a prejudice commensurate with racism in this day and age, and those that hold such beliefs should have them vilified and marginalised in a society that strives for equality.

It is of tremendous significance that this bill passed now, as it points to a fairer and more realistic, equal, and practical Britain, casting off antiquated values and preposterous beliefs in favour of reason and parity for all humans. It is my most fervent hope that we  never see the recrudescence of such insulting judgements of people who are in the end homo sapiens like the rest of us.

An interesting article; Whitehead, L. R., & Baker, O. J. (2012). Homosexuality, Religion and Science: Moral Authority and the Persistence of Negative Attitudes. Sociological Inquiry, 82(4), 487-509.

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