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Mark Steel on Creationism; Vindictive Design, not Intelligent Design

Have just discovered a piece that Mark Steel wrote for the Independent in January 2009, taking the mickey out of the Creationists and Intelligent Design, which he suggests is more like “Vindictive Design”, since a god who designed some of the stuff we have to put up with can’t have been very intelligent. Steel wrote:

… if all species were designed, it was hardly done by someone intelligent. If it was, how do you account for the parasitic wasp that lays eggs on its prey so they hatch and eat its victim while it’s still alive?

More to the point, why are your most sensitive nerves at the end of your toe, where they’re most likely to get walloped? Why are men’s nuts in such a vulnerable location, ay? Bloody vindictive design that is. Why do dogs do the squashiest, most unpleasant turds that hide in the grass and spread themselves in the indentations on the bottom of your shoe, but don’t start smelling until you get indoors and then render the place uninhabitable until you’ve left every window open for a month? Why, why, why?

All good questions. If you’d like to read more about the subject, go to our We’re All Monkeys page.

Ipswich Science in the Pub

They’ll be discussing the upcoming season of talks, and it’ll be an opportunity to bring along a bit of science.

Are you a Kiva lender?

KivaHave you heard of Kiva? Kiva is a non-profit organisation with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Using the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. There are currently 597,615 members of Kiva, and 16,319 of them are part of the international Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious lending team, demonstrating that we’re all part of one human family. All you need to do to join is loan someone $25. When it’s repaid, you can relend it to someone else. Simple, isn’t it?

East Africa Crisis Appeal

DEC East Africa AppealOver 10 million people are at risk in East Africa due to conflict and some areas being affected by the worst drought in 60 years. The DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal will support the work of its members in affected areas of Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan. Your donations can help provide life saving aid such as food, water, care for malnourished children and medical treatment.

Please click on the image to donate now to the East Africa Crisis Appeal.

In the past, some atheists have said that they won’t respond to DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee) appeals, because some of the aid organisations involved have a religious ethos. Surely what matters is that the money goes to people who are already in the field, and who can use your money for life-saving work as fast as possible? When people are starving, they’re not worried where their food is coming from. However, if you would prefer to send your money through an organisation that is entirely non-religious, look for Action Aid, Merlin, Save the Children, the Red Cross or Oxfam.

Hygiene lesson

Hygiene talk

Our man in Ghana took this photo while his colleague Nicholas was talking about hygiene to school students. Nathan says, “I took the picture but I was giving the talk as well. We hope to develop an awesome double act.”

Humanism is not a dogma or a sect

There is no humanist creed, no set of beliefs to which every humanist has to subscribe. Humanism is not a dogma or a sect…as human beings we can find from our own resources the shared moral values which we need in order to live together, and the means to create meaningful and fulfilling lives for ourselves.

Steiner in Suffolk?

SteinerSuccessive UK governments have been mucking about with our education system for decades, but it seems to have been almost completely dismantled the previous Labour government, which introduced specialist schools,and academies, and the current government. The comprehensive system may not have been popular with everyone, but it was possible to fix it without destroying it in the process. Nowadays, the emphasis is on parental choice, which usually means that those who shout loudest get the most and their choices aren’t necessarily informed.

The Conservative’s Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, who’s never been short of an opinion or invitations to appear on the telly, has a thing about “free schools”; schools free to more or less do what they like, at taxpayers’ expense. Toby Young, also famous for being famous, is their champion, which ought to be enough to make most people think twice, if not several times, about the soundness of the concept. The Free School movement originated in Sweden, where it hasn’t been the huge success that its enthusiasts would like us to think it is. The main beneficiaries seem to be children from more privileged backgrounds, who have all the advantages anyway. In the UK, the idea has been seized upon by religious organisations, so there’s concern about what children will be taught and about children being segregated by religion, at public expense.

Now a group of parents and teachers want to open a free school in Suffolk based on the principles of Rudolph Steiner, the Fullfledge Ecology School.