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“Absence of evidence where there ought to be evidence is evidence of absence”

Review: The New Atheism – Taking a stand for Science and Reason, by Victor J Stenger. Prometheus Books NY.
Michael Imison

Victor Stenger is an American particle physicist, now retired to Colorado University, where he is an adjunct professor of philosophy. This book is the latest of ten or more well-received popular polemics he has written exploring the interface between physics and religion.

In this work he takes as his starting point the series of best-sellers which started with The End of Faith by Sam Harris (2006) and continued with Dawkins’ The God Delusion, Dennett’s Breaking the Spell, and Christopher Hitchen’s God is not Great. To this group Stenger himself contributed God the failed Hypothesis which reached the New York Times bestseller list in March 2007. It can be said that all these works have a self confident tone which more or less implies that science has settled forever that there is no God (which many of us believe). It should have been foreseen perhaps that this would promote a backlash from the religious and in particular religious scientists anxious to show this view mistaken.

Letter to the East Anglian Daily Times about the Pope’s speech

I’ve written to the East Anglian Daily Times, as follows:

Having just heard the Pope’s speech on arrival in the UK, I’m absolutely furious. It’s bad enough that we’re paying tens of thousands of £s for his promotional tour when the Government’s telling us we’re broke, then one of his minions describes us as like a “Third World country” – ironically, the man’s supposed to be a “diplomat”. Now those of us who don’t have a religious faith are aligned with the Nazis. Coming from someone who was in the Hitler Youth, this is astonishing.

Car stickers show the way

Car sticker

Suffolk Humanists and Secularists members are receiving car stickers this month. They’re printed with an easy-to-remember URL. Anyone who investigates will find it leads them to several sources of information about Humanism (click on the image to see where it takes you). An increasing number of people are either fed up with religion altogether, they’re indifferent towards it, or they’re rather confused. Maybe some of them will be pleased to know that there are many others who feel as they do, and that it’s not difficult to live a good life without religion.

Stickers are free to members or to anyone making a donation. Either click here to pay online, or here to download a membership form for you to post.

September Newsletter out now

September newsletterOur latest newsletter is here for you to download with articles on the Pope’s visit to the UK, an Indian Humanist’s opinion of Mother Teresa, Skeptics in the Pub, and suffering. There’s also news about our next meetings and Peter Tatchell’s forthcoming TV programme.

This is from Denis Johnston’s article on suffering:

We are alive during the first period in history where we’re able to substantially control physical pain—and because we can do that we can also reduce the mental pain associated with having to endure watching the suffering of others.

A song for atheists

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers sing the first song in the Atheist Hymnal.

Some things for the weekend, including ‘No to Faith Schools!’

Richard DawkinsDid you watch More4 TV last week, when Richard Dawkins launched his attack on faith schools? Were you horrified by some of the things that were going on, such as those girls in a Muslim school, who thought the Qur’an’s version of our origins was true, and didn’t believe in evolution? Tom Sutcliffe wrote an excellent review for the Independent (and yes, I’m biased). If you’re a BHA member, you should have had an email from Richard Dawkins today, appealing for funds for the BHA’s campaign. If you didn’t, here’s what he wrote:

I am writing to you today to ask for your help in fighting the expansion of state-funded faith schools. This is not a campaign against religious education (teaching about religion) but against faith schools, which teach a particular religion as the one true faith (indoctrination in religion).
There are nearly 7,000 state-funded faith schools in England. These schools have many special privileges – they can select pupils on the basis of parents’ religious observance, discriminate on religious grounds in the employment of teachers, and teach their own RE syllabus, free of Ofsted supervision and free of any National Curriculum.

Ipswich Skeptics in the Pub – Open Talk Night postponed

Their first open talk night, when three speakers will give a talk on a subject of science, skepticism or general interest.

ISP say,

The format that we’re going to try and keep to is a speaking event every other month, alternating between a guest speaker, and an open talk night, where anyone can take the floor and talk about something that interests them. Non speaking nights will be a casual get together over a beer.

Note: This meeting has been postponed from the 21st.