Margaret will be talking about humanism and anything else that Lesley asks her on BBC Radio Suffolk today. If you miss it, you can listen again.
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Had an email today (Sunday) from an East Anglian Daily Times journalist, wanting comment on Delia Smith’s claim that “we are somewhat under the cosh” on her website – does she mean Christians in general, or just Catholics? Devout secularists? What are they? Didn’t read the email until after 10pm, probably too late for the paper, but replied anyway. It gets sillier by the day.
It’s interesting that Delia, a CAFOD ambassador, should think it appropriate to use her cookery website to air her persecution complex. Perhaps she imagines that cooks don’t include atheists or secularists? And what has any of this to do with Lent? Atheists happily donate to charity all the year round; we don’t need to be reminded.
New Humanist magazine reports on Delia’s fighting talk too, with a reference to the story in the Daily Mail.
Julian Baggini is co-founder of The Philosophers’ Magazine and author of ‘Atheisn: A Very Short Introduction’ (OUP). His series ‘Heathen’s Progress‘ that began last year in The Guardian’s Comment is Free section is worth reading. The latest part, ‘Yes, life without God can be bleak. Atheism is about facing up to that‘ firmly removes any comfort blanket you might be clinging to, and is bracingly honest. It ends:
I think it’s time we atheists ‘fessed up and admitted that life without God can sometimes be pretty grim. Appropriating the label “heathen” is part of this. Heathens are unredeemed outcasts from heaven who roam the planet without hope of surviving the deaths of their bodies. They may have values but they are not secured by any divine source. Yet we embrace this because we think it represents the truth. And so we don’t just get on and enjoy life, we embark on our own intellectual pilgrimages, trying to make some progress in a universe on which no meaning has been writ. The journey can be wonderful but it can also be arduous and it may end horribly. But there is no other way, and anyone who urges you to follow a path that they promise leads to a bright future is either gravely mistaken or a charlatan.
The Society campaigns to encourage high standards of written and spoken English, which have been found to be lamentably low among school-leavers and even university graduates. One of its principal campaigns is for better and explicit English language education and regular constructive correction of errors in English language in schools.
It’s our AGM with the usual reports and election. We’re hoping that members will have lots of bright ideas for the coming year’s activities. If there’s any time left over, we’ll find a way to fill it with stimulating something or other.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, has said that plans for gay marriage were a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”. He’s a funny idea about what “human right” means. Article 16 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights says:
(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
Nothing there about gender, though they probably didn’t consider it necessary when it was written.
The other week it was the Coalition for Marriage, backed by Lord Carey (former Archbishop of Canterbury), who said that legalising gay marriage would be “an act of cultural and theological vandalism”. In response, Ben Summerskill (chief executive of gay, lesbian and bisexual charity Stonewall) said: “Our strong advice to anyone who disagrees with same-sex marriage is not to get married to someone of the same sex.”
The coalition’s website warns,
If marriage is redefined, those who believe in traditional marriage will be sidelined. People’s careers could be harmed, couples seeking to adopt or foster could be excluded, and schools would inevitably have to teach the new definition to children. If marriage is redefined once, what is to stop it being redefined to allow polygamy?
If you’d like to blow a collective raspberry at the silly old bigoted duffers, click here to sign the Coalition for Equal Marriage’s petition. You know it makes sense, unlike the Cardinal and his Lordship.
Ekklesia: “… equal treatment of others is not simply a legal requirement but a Christian obligation”
The liberal Christian think-tank Ekklesia reports on a claim by Christians in Parliament and the Evangelical Alliance UK that British Christians are victims of prejudice, and finds that they’re seeking to retain privileges rather than submit to equal treatment with everyone else.
Simon Barrow, co-director of Ekklesia, commented:
Initial impressions from this report are that it raises significantly more questions than it answers. For example, it seems to assume that most people who are convinced Christians automatically share, or should share, a range of prejudices – notably against LGBT people – which make them unwilling to comply with requirements to act in a non-discriminatory way in the provision of public services. This is not the case. Many Christians from all traditions believe that equal treatment of others is not simply a legal requirement but a Christian obligation.
He has railed against the evils of religion, and lectured the world on the virtues of atheism.
Now Richard Dawkins, the secularist campaigner against “intolerance and suffering”, must face an awkward revelation: he is descended from slave owners and his family estate was bought with a fortune partly created by forced labour.
One of his direct ancestors, Henry Dawkins, amassed such wealth that his family owned 1,013 slaves in Jamaica by the time of his death in 1744.
Must be short of some real news. I’ve written to the Telegraph as follows:
If Richard Dawkins’ ancestors were slave owners, they were only following a biblical example.
Leviticus 25:44-46 – “However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.”