philosoraptor42: (Default)


Some "big news" recently that the woman who worked for British Airways who had already won a ruling to allow her to wear a cross in the workplace, has now taken that same case to the European Court of Human Rights and proven that she has the same right there too.

Cue ridiculously misleading headlines:
The Independent: "Christian woman wins landmark discrimination case."
("Landmark"? Seriously?)

The FT: "BA employee wins right to wear cross."
(She already HAD that right. FFS!)

And of course, the Daily Fail: "'Thank You Jesus' Christian British Airways employee tell of joy as after European court finds she DID face discrimination over silver cross."
(Thanks Jesus! You've allowed a court to re-state the obvious! Well done!)

What most of the coverage is failing to make clear is that there were in fact FOUR court cases being brought before the ECHR and the other three ALL LOST their court cases.



One of those who lost their court case was Gary McFarlane, a relationship counsellor who refused to counsel gay couples because of his religious views. I previously posted an interview with him here (shocked at the lack of opposing voices provided in the interview, but fairly pleased with the amount of pressure placed by the interviewer himself).

The other two were:
- Lillian Ladele, a chaplain who refused to perform civil partnerships. It has now been decided that her wish to discriminate on religious grounds does not trump gay rights or the requirements of her employers.

- Shirley Chaplin, a nurse who had refused to accept the option of wearing a cross a different way in her workplace, such as in the form of a lapel pin. She lost the case that wearing the cross on a chain, which is against the uniform rules for nurses in UK hospitals, was a necessary part of her freedom of religious expression in the workplace.


Andrew Copson, as always, delivers some proper common sense below:


(video link)


Side-Note
Interestingly, a google image search for "ECHR religion rulings" mostly comes up with images related to a case from 2010 where a woman was unable to get her abortion within Ireland in spite of a risk to her life. There were a lot of protests against the ruling by anti-choicers, but perhaps if Ireland had taken that case a little more seriously (since unlike the above, it actually contradicted their own rulings) Savita might still be alive.




(cross-posted to atheism)
philosoraptor42: (Default)


(video link)

This time Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the representative of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland decides to come out with the same BS that we've seen in the past. He says that Christians are being persecuted for wearing crosses in public.

0:31 Beginning of relevant report.
2:24 Interview with Andrew Copson on the issue.

Andrew Copson from the British Humanist Association strikes again. Once again he explains very clearly and diplomatically why the latest "Christians are being marginalised" story is BS. (His phrasing: "their claims have very little basis in fact" rather than "they are making s**t up".)

Also liking the new beard. :)

Cardinal O'Brien has previously claimed that when the New Labour government were in power there was "a systematic and unrelenting attack on family values". Why's this? The introduction of civil partnerships, allowing adoption by same-sex couples, allowing embryo research and not passing a law to lower the legal time limit in which an abortion may be carried out. He also referred to the Equality Bill as "legislation which would completely and permanently undermine religious freedom". And now he has the audacity to push the lie that Christians' rights to wear crosses are under attack. Ugh!

(cross posted to [livejournal.com profile] atheism )
philosoraptor42: (Default)
John Milbank was a theology lecturer I came into contact during my degree. His Radical Orthodoxy movement apparently had a major following in academic circles, though there appeared to be very little mainstream knowledge of it. More recently he's been putting forward a number of articles into major news sources. He released a couple of articles in The Guardian's "Comment Is Free" section including one advocating "Red Toryism" (i.e. I want to vote Conservative yet still call myself a lefty) and another (which really infuriated me) advocating a new feminism biased in favour of men *facepalm*

So what's he done now? Well it turns out he's really pleased about certain recent comments by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but he doesn't think she quite kisses Christianity's arse enough. So he's published a new public article. this time on abc.net.

I don't know if John Milbank mistook extracts from Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book "Nomad" for an individual article or whether he is simply treating them that way. In any case the extracts on that website are no longer available, but I was able to find a cached copy of them which you can find in my un-edited post about this along with a copy of John Milbank's reply. Click here for my original un-edited article.

So how does John Milbank's article frustrate me? Let me count the ways....




1. The Enlightenment was Christian...
Read more... )

2. Christianity is the source of feminism...
Read more... )

3. TRADITIONAL Christians are NEVER biblical literalists...
Read more... )

4. Science was nurtured by Christianity and is the direct result of monotheism.

Read more... )


5. Christians have historically been against forced conversions...
Read more... )

6. In various theocracies and dictatorships around the world Islam has an unfair privilege. Why don't we give the same unfair privilege to Christianity in the west? (Also, Christians don't get enough opportunities to proselytise. Blah Blah Fatwa Envy Blah Blah...)
Read more... )

7. Muslims will prefer Christianity if they are properly informed, whereas they tend to choose Islam because they are coerced.
Read more... )

8. Muslims ought to be apolitical mystics. Christians on the other hand...

Read more... )

9. Rowan Williams advocated "parallel legal jurisdictions"...
Read more... )

10. Rowan Williams and Tariq Ramadan are idiots - therefore that whole Christian proselytising scheme...Read more... )

11. "The lamentably premature collapse of the Western colonial empires."

Read more... )

Bits I actually agreed with

Read more... )

Some silly links


Read more... ) (Cross-posted to atheism)
philosoraptor42: (Default)
John Milbank of the Radical Orthodoxy movement has written a new public article. After publishing an anti-feminist tirade (requesting that we set up a new feminism biased in favour of men) on The Guardian's "comment is free", John now writes in response to an extract from Ayaan Hirsi Ali's new book on ABC.net.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali's extract on that website is no longer available, but I was able to find a cached copy of it, which is copied under the cut. John Milbank quotes a chunk of it, so instead of posting that same chunk twice you will find it bolded in my copy of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book extract below.Read more... )

So, I was surprised to find that, after an introduction which I found deeply dodgy, there are some parts where John Milbank talks a bit of sense. I guess he's less likely to have an article brim-full of fail when he's discussing religion rather than feminism. Below I have bolded parts which I find particularly dodgy and, in places, I have included links which I believe aid refutation of those statements (and I shall explain those links below). Those parts I find myself agreeing with or approving of are underlined as well as bolded, because I don't feel it is fair to only point out the bad points while ignoring the better parts.


Christianity, the Enlightenment and Islam
By John Milbank
ABC Religion and Ethics | 24 Aug 2010



Ayaan Hirsi Ali doubtless shocked many of her admirers and detractors alike when she concluded her recent article on the ABC's Religion and Ethics website, "Seeking God, but finding Allah," by praising Pope Benedict XVI's stance on Islam and calling for an alliance between atheists and what she calls "enlightened Christians" in their struggle against a common foe.
Read more... )

My Response

Read more... )
Another writer has also noticed the issues with John's article, decrying his article as "a throwback towards the more obscene forms of Orientalism and colonial arrogance".

Also there's another criticism of John Milbank here (on a different issue).

And he's found on a list of University Professors who have supported 9/11 conspiracy theories.

And if this didn't amuse you enough, here's a link to an old post of mine where I typed out a definition given by one of his Radical Orthdoxy contemporaries, Catherine Pickstock, of the concept of "transcendence".

philosoraptor42: (Default)


Well the big news is that Stephen Hawking has finally refuted all those religious apologists who were fond of quoting his final line from "A Brief History of Time": "For then we would know the mind of God".

"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going," added the wheelchair-bound expert.
...
"Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist," he writes in "The Grand Design", which is being serialised by The Times newspaper.
In response to this The Times decided it was a good idea to invite Richard Dawkins to debate this. They decided to put Dawkins up against their religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill. Richard Dawkins can feel like a bit of a broken record at the best of times, but putting him against Ruth Gledhill was particularly pointless.

I have posted about Ruth Gledhill before when I noted a couple of previous articles of hers:

1 - "Catholic Church No Longer Swears By Truth Of The Bible" - In the older of the two, she reports on a reminder by the Vatican that they have no problem with the theory of evolution and are able to accept certain passages in the Bible as symbolic. Her response? The Vatican is now clarifying which bits of the Bible are right and which bits are wrong.

I feel the need to place the important bits of this article under the cut because, what with The Times now making the public pay for access to their site, there may come a time when you cannot use the link to the article anymore:
THE hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.

Read more... )
2 - Children Who Front Richard Dawkins' Atheist Ads Are Evangelicals Rather handily, in this case pretty much all the problems can be seen in the title. The advert under discussion is the following one from the BHA:

"Please Don't Label Me. Let Me Grow Up And Choose For Myself."

Just to confuse things there are two major atheist/agnostic lobbying groups in the UK. There's "The Secular Society" and "The British Humanist Society". The former is only intested in atheism, whereas the latter is concerned with the wider issues of "secularism" (e.g. issues like ensuring fair hiring practices for people of all faiths and none). No, I did not just get those mixed up.

So perhaps unsurprisingly, the BHA organised a campaign noting that children should not be used for the promotion of a particular belief system because they are too young to make such decisions. Gledhill's response? Well you've already seen it. She claims that these children are being used to promote atheism (um, no they aren't), but actually they are "Christian Evangelical children" (oh my goodness, you couldn't have missed the point more if you tried).

Their father, Brad Mason, is something of a celebrity within evangelical circles as the drummer for the popular Christian musician Noel Richards. ... He said that the children’s Christianity had shone through. “Obviously there is something in their faces which is different. So they judged that they were happy and free without knowing that they are Christians. That is quite a compliment. I reckon it shows we have brought up our children in a good way and that they are happy.”
...
The British Humanist Association said that it did not matter whether the children were Christians. “That’s one of the points of our campaign,” said Andrew Copson, the association’s education director. “People who criticise us for saying that children raised in religious families won’t be happy, or that no child should have any contact with religion, should take the time to read the adverts.

Perhaps before choosing your article heading, Ms. Gledhill!
“The message is that the labelling of children by their parents’ religion fails to respect the rights of the child and their autonomy. We are saying that religions and philosophies — and ‘humanist’ is one of the labels we use on our poster — should not be foisted on or assumed of young children.”
So yeah, Gledhill isn't really someone you should expect a high level of debate from. In fact Hannah Devlin, who chairs the discussion, seems to do a better job of getting some clear answers out of Dawkins than Ruth Gledhill manages later:
14:34 Hannah Devlin:
To kick things off, I'd like to ask Richard what he makes of Hawking's thesis. Is this the new Darwinism?
14:35 Richard Dawkins:
Only the new Darwinism in the sense that it finishes off God. Darwin kicked him out of biology, but physics remained more uncertain. Hawking is now administering the coup de grace
14:36 Richard Dawkins:
It is not like Darwinism in any other very strong sense.
Read more... )I get the impression that Devlin was deciding what comments would be displayed, so Tim H was being specifically put forward as a question from the floor. Sure, not much that's terribly challenging here and Devlin clearly (and mistakenly I feel) expects more interesting ideas to be raised by Gledhill later on.

Anyway, this is where Gledhill arrives and makes the statement which Pharyngula quotes and ridicules. These statements actually originate from an interview with David Wilkinson. Thanks to "Rupert Murdoch's Greed" (TM) you will need to subscribe to The Times if you want to read that. Fortunately, there is a site with some videos where David Wilkinson sets out his view on the "fine-tuning argument", not as an argument, but as a "pointer" to the truth of Jesus and Christianity (I'm not fantastic with google searches, so it took me a while to find that link btw) The basic gist of his position is that the set of events which took place in order for life to come about make us want to make shit up to explain it and making shit up is a sensible decision. Anyway, moving on...:
14:43 Ruth Gledhill:
Tim, I just interviewed David Wilkinson, principal of St John's Durham and astrophysicist, and this is what he said (full interview at my Times blog Articles of Faith):
The science Stephen Hawking uses raises a number of questions which for many opens the door to the possibility of an existence of a creator and for many points to the existence of a creator.

'One would be the the purpose of the universe. Although science might discover the mechanism, we are still left with the question of what is the purpose.

'Second is where the laws of physics come from. Science subsumes the laws but we are still left with the question of where the laws come from.

'Third is the intelligibility of the universe. It strikes me as interesting that Stephen Hawking can make it intelligible. Albert Einstein once said that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. For many of us who are struck by the intelligibility of the physical laws, the explanation is that the creator is the force of rationality both for the universe and for our minds.

Dawkins' Response To Statement One:
Why on Earth should anyone assume that there IS a purpose?

Read more... )

Dawkins' Response To Statement Two:
Even if we are left with that question, it is not going to be answered by a God, who raises more questions than he answers.

Read more... )

Dawkins' Response To Statement Three:
What would an unintelligible universe even look like? Why SHOULDN't the universe be intelligible?


Hannah Devlin taking questions she's selected from the floor: Ruth, Richard, I'd be interested in your views on philc's point - is religious belief irrational? If not, why?

Read more... )


The debate goes on longer than this, but then again this re-organising thing is a bit too much of a time-waster, so I'm going to stop there. I kinda feel sorry for Gledhill on this point. It's irritating for me seeing Dawkins pulling "my belief that I am Napoleon" out of his old bag of tricks again, so it must be even worse for someone who disagrees with the point behind it. That said, her response is quite vacuous to the point where I'd actually have been more impressed with "oh don't be so daft Richard" as a response. If the only thing you know about God is that you are not it, you aren't really in a good position to be a religion correspondent (not that this comes as any surprise).

Still, one last thing that could do with a quotation is the following point where Dawkins' decides to betray Islamophobic sentiment (and annoyingly Gledhill isn't interested in responding to it, never mind tackling it).

Comment From Jerry Coyne: Question to Ruth: If faith helps you, then does it make any difference to you whether what you believe about God, Jesus, the Resurrection, and the like is true? Devout Muslims, for example, are also consoled by their faith, but their beliefs about Jesus, Mohamed, etc. are completely contradictory to those of Christianity. Both can't be true.

Richard Dawkins: Quite right, Jerry. And even if there is some similarity between the Abrahamic religions, the Greeks believed just as sincerely in their pantheon. I agree with Dan Dennett that universal education in comparative religion would be a hammer blow to religious faith.

Ruth Gledhill: Jerry, in some liberal theological circles, it is not regarded as impossible that there is truth in both Islam and Christianity.

Richard Dawkins:The Islamic penalty for converting to Christianity is what, Ruth, perhaps you know?


And the Jewish penalty for having anal sex with another man is? I mean seriously, what was he trying to prove?
philosoraptor42: (Default)
I've mentioned on a number of occasions now how awesome and brilliant I think Andrew Copson from the BHA is. Thankfully his awesomeness shows no sign of slipping and recently he's provided this neat little gem about Britain's Humanist Heritage.

Honouring our humanist heritage

We hear a lot about Britain's 'Christian heritage'. But so many of our pioneering thinkers and artists were humanists

Pat statements about Britain's "Christian heritage" trip easily from the lips of Christians and non-Christians alike and these claims can sometimes be ludicrously expansive. I am used to sitting on a panel with some bishop or other to be informed that – although it may surprise me – democracy, volunteering, human rights, justice, the rule of law, freedom, equality, schools and hospitals are all artefacts of our Christian heritage. And motherhood. And apple pie.

No one can deny that Christianity has had an effect on our national culture. But there are obvious and serious flaws in such an account of British history (Christian opposition in Britain to many of these "good things" in the past for example, or the fact that pre-Christian and non-Christian societies seem to have achieved many if not all of these advances at various times without the spur of a belief in Jesus). It's a useful corrective to this overweening narrative that the theme of this year's Humanist Week is "humanist heritage".
Read more... )

x-posted to atheism
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Presumably by now everyone's heard of this somewhat underwhelming advert from the BHA:



Some people have asked, "so how do you expect us to bring up our children without passing on our own beliefs" which naturally fails to note that the poster quite clearly includes HUMANIST CHILD. Andrew Copson is eloquent as ever in his explanation of how these people have missed the point:
"You have to wonder why these commentators can't just agree that there is an extreme of presumption which is coercive and should be avoided." said Andrew Copson. "People who criticise us as if we'd said that children raised in religious families couldn't be happy or that no child should have any contact with religion or learn anything about it at all should take the time to read the adverts and think about their message rather than rely on their own assumptions.

"The message of the posters is that the labelling of children by their parents' religion fails to respect the rights of the child and curtails their autonomy. We are saying that religions and philosophies (and 'Humanist' is one of the labels we use on our poster) should not be foisted on or assumed of young children and that young people have the right to choose for themselves in line with their developing capacities as they grow. That's very far from saying that any possible reference to religion should be prohibited in the home!"


I say underwhelming since it's not entirely clear from the advert what scenario might arise where a child is overly identified with their parents religion (rather than simply brought up being taught their parents' beliefs). That being said, a rather apt demonstration has been forthcoming anyway......

This advert has clearly confused a number of different people who were all expecting something self-serving from the BHA. Their decision to advocate strict secularism rather than priveledge for their own belief system (like religious groups prefer to do) has bowled many people for six. However, none have managed to make such an enormous gaffe in their criticisms than Ruth Gledhill from The Times:
With the slogan “Please don’t label me. Let me grow up and choose for myself”, the youngsters with broad grins seem to be the perfect advertisement for the new atheism being promoted by Professor Dawkins and the British Humanist Association.
Except that they are about as far from atheism as it is possible to be. The Times can reveal that Charlotte, 8, and Ollie, 7, are from one of the country’s most devout Christian families.
Their father, Brad Mason, is quoted as saying:
“It is quite funny, because obviously they were searching for images of children that looked happy and free. They happened to choose children who are Christian. It is ironic. The humanists obviously did not know the background of these children.”
While Gerald Coates, the leader of the Pioneer network of churches, is quoted as saying:
“I think it is hilarious that the happy and liberated children on the atheist poster are in fact Christian.”
[personal profile] cyranothe2nd provides the perfect response to all this and I couldn't really improve on it if I wanted to:
Yes, yes it is ironic, you f*cking idiots! The whole point of the ads is that they aren't Christian children-they are children of Christian parents.
Well, this isn't the first time Ruth Gledhill has said something idiotic. One of the first articles I came across from her was in response to a statement from the Vatican re-asserting that Darwin's theory of evolution poses no problems for them. The headline for the article was: "Catholic Church No Longer Swears By Truth Of The Bible." *facepalm*

(via Exchristians)
philosoraptor42: (Default)

A case has recently gone to the UK supreme court that a school called the Jewish Free School (JFS) uses racial discrimination in its selection procedure. The BHA have intervened in support of the prosecutors, insisting that racial discrimination should never be accepted, even with religious reasons involved. Interestingly, this turns out to be a result of the idiocy of Jonathan Sacks again.

The child's father was Jewish and the mother converted to Judaism. As such, the child has a Jewish mother and is eligible. The mother is a practicing Jew and the whole family attend synagogue so there is no reason to dismiss on the grounds of religious observance. Nevertheless, the Chief Rabbi ruled that the mother did not truly count as Jewish because she converted via a Masorti synagogue. Jonathan Sacks apparently doesn't count Masorti conversions and thus by the same reckoning the child does not count as Jewish either. The obsession over the place where the mother converted rather than both her and her son's religious conviction makes this a clear case of selection based on racial rather than religious grounds.

Also rather cool, Accord Chair, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain declared: “This is a defining moment. For too long state-funded faith schools have had a free hand to discriminate. This will be a big first step towards creating faith schools that serve the community around them, not just themselves.”

(Oddly it seems that the intro to the interview with Andrew Copson was quite biased in favour of Benjamin "at the cutting edge of fighting assimilation" Perl's side of the argument. It claimed that the idea that admitting a Jewish boy with a devoted Jewish convert mother was devastating to the Jewish community. Wtf? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGvBsxx9itc )

(Via BHA)

(Via Ekklesia)

Profile

philosoraptor42: (Default)
philosoraptor42

August 2014

S M T W T F S
     12
345 67 8 9
10 1112 13 141516
171819 202122 23
24 2526 2728 29 30
31      

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 24th, 2017 12:47 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios