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If you receive the National Secular Society‘s weekly email, Newsline, you’ll already have read this message:
Why we need you to commit to your principles
A message from Terry Sanderson, NSS President
We know there are millions of people in this country who would prefer religion not to interfere in their life and to stay where it belongs – in places of worship and in the homes of worshippers.
There is a definite feeling of discomfort abroad about the way that churches, mosques, temples and other places of worship are putting out tentacles that reach into all our lives – whether it is into our children’s education (another huge increase in the number of ‘faith schools’ is on the way), our taxes (why do churches get special tax privileges, like reduced VAT, when the rest of us are shown no mercy?), our hospitals (why is the NHS paying the salaries of clergy when hospitals are going into administration?), our legislature (why are Church of England bishops involved in making laws that we all have to live by?), and our media (why is religion given such special consideration by the BBC – especially when religious programmes have so few listeners or viewers?).
Leading Australian Young Earth Creationist Ken Ham is visiting Ipswich for an Answers in Genesis conference on 8 August. Ham says that “maths is fundamentally Christian” (not sure what he means by that), that there were dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark but their average size was about the same as a sheep (explaining how there was room), that the universe was created about 6,000 years ago and that Noah’s flood occurred about 4,500 years ago in the year 2348 BC. This is despite gaining a bachelor’s degree in Applied Science, with emphasis in Environmental Biology, through the Queensland Institute of Technology and, in order to begin teaching science in Australian public schools, a diploma in Education from the University of Queensland.
It all goes to show that you can give a young man a science education, but it doesn’t make him rational.
If anyone fancies going to the St John the Baptist Church in Cauldwell Hall Road, Ipswich, on 8 August and asking Mr Ham some questions, please let us know.
Illustration: 19th century engraving of dinosaurs, minus ark.
The BHA reports:
A group of creationists has gained approval from the Government to open a fully state-funded Free School in 2013. The group are behind the plans for ‘Exemplar – Newark Business Academy’, a revised bid from the same people who proposed ‘Everyday Champion’s Academy’ last year. Everyday Champion’s Academy, which was formally backed by Everyday Champions Church, was explicitly rejected due to concerns surrounding the teaching of creationism.
They confidently claim that the Loch Ness monster disproves Darwinism and that there is clear proof of creationism. But that has not stopped a set of controversial Christian qualifications – used by dozens of British private schools – being described as comparable to international O and A levels.
The International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) has been rubber-stamped by a government agency, even though it is based on a curriculum that says the Bible is the “final authority” on scientific matters. It has prompted outrage from secular campaigners, while schools following the curriculum have come to its defence, saying that it is “academically very sound”.
As you’ll see from yesterday’s comments on our blog post from last year about the Scout Association’s promise to “love God”, the issue is still topical here in the UK. Today there’s news from Australia that the Girl Guides there will no longer have to promise allegiance to God and the Queen, though Australian Scouts have yet to catch up.
The BBC reports:
Girl Guides in Australia will no longer have to pledge allegiance to the Queen and God and will instead promise to serve the community and Australia.
They will also pledge “to be true to myself and develop my beliefs”.
Leaders said the move, which follows a two-year survey of members, was designed to make Guiding more modern and relevant and boost membership.
We recently reported on how Sanal Edamaruku, President of The Indian Rationalist Association, is facing arrest for offending Catholics by proving that the source of “holy water” from a crucifix was, in fact, a leaky pipe. They had been drinking the filthy stuff.
New Humanist magazine reports that, yesterday, Delhi police officers went to Sanal’s house to arrest him, but he wasn’t there. When he returns, he’s likely to be arrested. If you haven’t already signed the petition calling on the Catholics to drop the complaints, please click on the above link to sign it.
In the latest New Humanist magazine, philosopher Julian Baggini says that one of religion’s attractions to the religious is that it offers hope, and asks if living without religion means living without it.
Most atheists accept that “Hope is essential to life,” as AC Grayling put it to me, “a beautiful, central thing in all our lives.” Philosopher Nigel Warburton, recalling the inscription “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” at the entrance of Dante’s Hell, told me, “Hell is not having hope.” But both reject the claim that hope requires religion. “It’s not that atheists don’t have hopes,” says Warburton, “they just have different hopes.” Among these Grayling lists hopes “for the improvement of mankind, for greater justice in society, for more people to love more other people”.
Maybe one of the problems with religion is that it offers hope based on totally unrealistic expectations?
Well worth listening to for the history of secularism in the UK. Click here to listen on BBC iPlayer.