Christmas Rituals, and who are they for? Saturday, Dec 19 2015 


Sorry another long and serious one.  If that’s not for you kitty pics are here:
https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=kitty+pics&safe=off&rlz=1C1GGGE_en-gbGB487GB488&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi9hqvo5ujJAhULHxoKHasLDMwQ_AUIBygB&biw=1299&bih=683#safe=off&tbm=isch&q=kitten+pics+cute

A number of people are posting a poster on Faceboom “That time of year where Christians and Atheists suspend their belief systems to celebrate paganism.’  And it is annoying me in its inaccuracy.  I ignored the first few, but I really need to respond, especially as they are also the people who post ‘Co-exist’ posts.  And yes, I know 600 word replies on Facebook are the height of idiocy.

While many of the traditions established around Christmas, and to a lesser extent Easter, are co-opted from pre-Christian Germanic culture and religious rites, they have been re-purposed to represent Christian ideas and ideals, and so no longer have their original meanings.

For instance the Christmas tree was introduced to Britain by Prince Albert, and is an old Germanic custom. In its translation to Victorian Britain, it lost what ever remnants of the old meanings it had in Dark Age Germany. It was then exported around the world via the British Empire, already stripped of any pre-Christian meaning

To state that Christians are becoming involved in worship on non-Christian entities is misleading at best, and more likely disingenuous- the Christmas rituals that copy non-Christian have acquired a meaning of their own, so the original ideas have been forgotten.  Take for instance eating horse meat.  Why do they eat horse in France, yet to find it in mince in Britain is considered disgusting?  Because British tribes sacrificed horses to their gods, and thus the practice was suppressed by the Church to stop people keeping the association with the ‘Old Gods’.  In France and Belgium this did not need to happen, so horse meat continued to be an acceptable food: in fact a French chef will tell you the real crime of Findus was to ruin it by putting it into lasagne. (In a reverse example very few people know the actual reason the Bride wears white to her wedding- instead it has acquired a mythos that was not present.)

Incidentally ‘pagan’ means ‘person who does not follow an Abrahamic religion’, and thus includes Hindus and Sikhs – the word has been co-opted by those who think it is all about druids and stuff like that, or whatever.  It only means pentagrams etc because THEY have changed the meaning (sound familiar).   Following rituals that Christianity co-opted from other religions does not mean the person is not practicing their Christian beliefs, it means they attach their belief system to those actions, and the actual roots have become unimportant.  They are not following paganism, in the same way the ritual of ‘warming the pot’ is no longer needed, but still carried out by some, unaware of its root.

Likewise I am asked how an atheist can celebrate Christmas.  To start I find the word ‘atheist’ misleading – people don’t use the word ‘afairyist’.  Atheism is not a belief in no gods, it is no belief in any gods.  We don’t describe children as becoming “asantaists” – they don’t go round actively not believing in Father Christmas.  You can call me a Humanist – Humans definitely exist, I just wish they would do better.  Why celebrate? Why not?  As I wrote a week ago it is a European tradition, because nights are long and days are cold (maybe not this year!)  You gather with friends and family to share time, and reaffirm our basic humanity.  Self harm in prisons increases this time of year.  They have access to religion, they don’t spend much time with loved ones.  If it was about the religion than the family it wouldn’t be a problem.

I’ve been to church weddings – nobody assumes I am a Christian because of that.

Celebrating whatever you celebrate this time of year using symbols that may (or may not) have originated with a different culture 3000 years ago doesn’t stop you being whatever you think you are.  So please stop trying to claim other people’s actions unrelated to your beliefs as some sort of victory.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité Saturday, Nov 14 2015 


Liberty.  Equality. Brotherhood.

The French national motto.

In the wake of Friday perhaps we should make a concerted effort to make it mankinds.

You’ll notice those three words contain no mention of any higher power.  Nothing not achievable by man.

What you want to believe in private is up to you.  But don’t expect others to believe it.  And certainly don’t bring it into the public arena.  Stop justifying your actions because of some mysterious invisible force.

Not just hurting people, but rejecting truths because they don’t fit in with your Big Book of Stories.  that isn’t just killing people because they said something rude about people who may, or may not, have lived hundreds of years ago.

It’s about punishing those who have broken the rules laid down by a supernatural being.

It’s about ignoring science that doesn’t fit in with those Stories.

It’s about insisting your beliefs have some sort of special place in society, that some rules don’t have to apply to you.

I don’t care if you believe in Gods, Goddesses, Tree Spirits or mice in a teapot orbiting on the other side of the sun.

If you can’t do the right thing without being told to by something supernatural, you may want to take a good long hard look at yourself.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

We don’t need anything else.

I High-Fived a vicar Sunday, May 17 2015 


Highlight of the weekend – it’s not something you do very often.

I ran a quiz for the local church last night. Although the building is 13th century, very traditional Church Of England, the vicar is from Florida You have to feel sorry for him at things like this. He always gives his full support even though he is often lost and bewildered, and I have heard he has problems at these Anglo-centric quizzes. So I wrote a round specifically for him.  (I say specifically, the questions were general enough for people to know.)

Question 3
In January 1861, Florida declared its secession from the Union and became a founding member of the Confederate States. However, in what previous decade had it joined the United States? It wasn’t a founding member.

He had to think hard, but he got correct answer – I’ve never seen anyone so excited when quiz answers are given!  OBVIOUSLY I had to High-five him.

Atheist Morality Monday, Feb 9 2015 


I am moral because I choose to be. I choose to treat others well, and I try to. Not because I am scared, but because I believe it is the right thing to do. When I am not moral, I choose not to harm other because in the heat of the moment I lose my reason, but fear lawful retribution. When I am calmer I realise my thoughts were wrong, and consider ways to keep emotional control. I am moral so as not to hurt others.

When they are moral it is because they are scared of retribution. There does not have to be a reason to be moral, apart from they are following rules. Not because they believe those rules are in themselves moral, but because they have been told these are the rules they must follow. They do not question those rules, because to do so would deny that their god is greater. To question this would be against those rules – the moral do not question god, the immoral are punished. Thus they are moral so they do not get hurt.

Who is the more moral? He who acts not to hurt others, or he who acts to avoid being hurt?

Devrions-nous être Charlie? Tuesday, Jan 20 2015 


George Galloway has described Charlie Hebdo as “a racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag.  Typical of Gorgeous George he ignores everything that he can’t get angry about, that doesn’t prove or argue with what he believes.  He ignores the magazine’s continued and long standing criticism of the Catholic Church, for instance.  Like the Pope he blames the victim.

To stand with Charlie Hebdo isn’t flowers on a celebrity’s grave, an act of condolence of a stranger.  It is to make a stand against those who say “You may not say anything about my religion, because I will be offended.”  That attitude would be unacceptable with any other notion: caricatures of politicians aren’t stopped because those who believe in their policies profoundly are upset.    Criticising someone’s home town may be downright rude, but isn’t something that can never be said.  Yet religeon demands this pass – despite not only the followers of Abraham splinting into three sects that not only disagree vehemently with each other, they can’t even agree among themselves what they believe, yet attack anyone who questions their world view as intolerant.  Einstein may not have liked Niels Bohr’s sub-atomic theories, but he did admit their correctness when proof was shown.  He didn’t feel the need to set off a bomb.

This is the response I put on HuffPo UK

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Gay Marriage, Atheist Marriage and the Church. Sunday, Mar 4 2012 


Once again a celebate man in a dress tries to tell the world we have to believe his mythology

From the BBC today

The government’s plans for gay marriage have been criticised by the most senior Roman Catholic cleric in Britain.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, said the plans were a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”.

He said the idea of redefining marriage, which David Cameron has said he supports, would “shame the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world”.

Full article here

Dr John Sentamu, Arch-Bishop of York said similar on the 1st Feb.  They are, of course, both wrong.

Oddly they both say they agree with Civil Partnerships for the gay community.  Do they know the legal difference between a Civil Marriage and a Civil Partnership? It is Absolutely Nothing (apart from the second word).  Both partners have EXACTLY the same rights as people in a marriage. Legally they can’t be called ‘marriages’, but everyone does – ‘civil partnershipped’ is such an awkward phrase.

At this point I’d like to give a belated ‘Congratulations’ to Suzie, a friend of mine, who proposed to her girlfriend on Christmas day- two years to go and I’m already looking for a new suit!  Here’s the thing.  They haven’t been going to civil partnership fairs, they haven’t been looking at civil partnership dresses, nor trying to find an affordable civil partnership photographer.  Guess which word is used instead?  It turns out they are the same events as straight people go to.

I asked the LGBT rep at work how the gay community felt about the legality of the word ‘Marriage’.  She said while they would prefer the word ‘Marriage’, it is the only difference, and the Gay community have better things to try spend their time on.

So what the clergy are arguing about is a word.  They want it to keep it associated with religeon.  Orwell pointed out in ‘1984’ if you control language you control the way people think.  They seem to want to redefine the history of marriage.

Modern marriage in the UK is a reletively recent phenomenon – the law was tightened up in 1753, mainly to stop disputes about who was actually married to who. Before then it wasn’t uncommon for a couple to just live as married, often after a short informal ceremony along the lines of ‘Oh well, if you really must’, though with no legal rights, and every one in the village knew they were ‘married’. (Today’s fact, many of these informal marriages were ‘solemnised ‘ by the couple jumping over a broom, hence the phrase ‘living over the broom’ for an unmarried couple living together.)  Sometimes a ‘wandering priest’ would give a blessing, though this still had no legal validity. Basically the law of 1753 said “You have to tell everyone in advance what you are going to do, where you intend to do it (in case of objection) and sign a legal document to say you have done it.”  It was less about religion, and more about record keeping.  Every village had a church, so the bureaucracy was already in place.

Which brings me on to Civil Marriage.  In the UK a civil marriage ceremony may make NO reference to religeon (one couple were told they couldn’t have ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams playing at the ceremony).  If two atheists who can’t have children get married it is still ‘a marriage’, not a ‘civil partnership’.  The Church knows that the boat sailed long ago on that one, and don’t object.

So exactly what ‘values’ is calling it Civil Marriage, rather than a Civil Partnership undermining?  It can’t be religeon – there is no religeous test for marriage.  It can’t be parenthood, there is no requirement married couples have children.

So, Cardinal, how is gay marriage a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”.  Exactly how are you being subverted?  If it is a “universally accepted human right”, then how is denying it to gays making it a “universally accepted human right”?

Or is the clue in the word “grotesque”?  Could it be that O’Brien (who was against civil partnerships) and Sentamu find the whole ‘gay thing’ just a bit icky?

Dear Ireland Monday, Jul 13 2009 


From Ireland’s new ‘blasphemy law’

Section 36

(1) A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000. [Amended to €25,000]

(2) For the purposes of this section, a person publishes or utters blasphemous matter if (a) he or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion, and (b) he or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.

As Les notes at StupidEvilBastard.com, this part of the bill makes it illegal to criticize any religion either verbally or in writing.

SO. Here goes.

There is no evidence of any god, Abrahmic or otherwise.

There is no evidence that anything in Genesis is true.

There is no evidence, indeed no reference outside of the Bible, of Jesus Son of god.  There may have well been a wandering rabbi/heretic called Jesus, but the Romans never mention him.  Don’t quote Pliny and Josephus, they talk about ChristIANS- it’s like says seeing Tom Cruise in a movie proves Scientology is correct.

You may be interested to know I have seen it argued that ‘Jesus’ was a name of a number of Jews, and had no special connotation- this is why Pilate is so careful with asking the crowd who to release, maybe Barabbas’ name was also Jesus (Bar Abbas=son of Abbas).

Whatever the truth of 2000 years ago, that cracker and wine certainly doesn’t turn into his flesh and blood.

Denying contraception on the basis of religious texts from thousands of years ago is evil,  using them isn’t.

Ditto “Teh gays”.

While I’m about it.

There almost certainly is no god (see above re lack of evidence), not even Allah.  Ergo Muhammed was not his prophet. (Cos there is no prophet Atheism; boom-boom. I’m here all week).

And Wiccans- No, you are not a Witch of any sort, black, white or spangly (A “Do what?” possibly, but not a witch). There is no Earth spirit.

MOST IMPORTANTLY.

It is wrong to hate someone because of a belief in something that isn’t your belief. 

Now as an atheist I don’t care what you do in the privacy of your own home or place of worship.  However

  1. Don’t expect me to fund it through taxation.
  2. Don’t expect me to agree with you, and if I spot a flaw in your religeous arguement dont expect me to gloss over it if you rely on that flaw.
  3. Don’t assume that you get extra rights because of your belief. (well ok- in Ireland you do, but don’t expect me to agree with that).
  4. Don’t expect me to be quiet if you want it taught as ‘Scientific Fact’ in schools.
  5. or indeed want your private beliefs to be considered more protected than my private beliefs

See, depite what you may think there is no such thing as a Militant Atheist- Not even Richard Dawkins.  We don’t go around pushing newspapers through doors asking “Have you heard the Good News about Science?”.  We don’t stand in town squares reading bits out of ‘Origin of Species’, or complaining when science shows that something we believe in isn’t true.

I’ll admit I was put out when Pluto was declared ‘not a planet’, but that is emotional attachment to a world view that proved to be wrong.  Einstein felt the same way when Nils Bohr showed some of Einstein’s theories to be wrong. But it is just that- emotional attachment to a childhood. I’m never going to go there, and classification is an artificial Human construct. I am certainly not going to support a crusade or jihad demanding it be re-instated as a planet.

Now Ireland; I’ll admit the fact the Irish Sea is between you and me has made me a bit braver in posting this: I’m assuming you won’t go for the whole extradited thing via the EU (though I must say that is actually worrying me a little).  But what are you going to do if the University of Dublin comes up with a bit of research that proves something that offends your Catholic mindset?  Declare Science blasphemous and demand your fine?

Worlds Worst definition of ‘Mixed Marriage’ Tuesday, May 26 2009 


Those who know Scottish football know that [Glasgow] Rangers is a Protestant club, and [Glasgow] Celtic is a Catholic club, and this is part of their fierce rivalry.  I’ll let you absorb that.  The SPORTS club you follow depends on which particular interpretation you put on the SAME MYTHS.

Now consider the story of Kevin McDaid, the man in Northern Ireland apparently beaten to death in a sectarian attack by Rangers supporters after the team won the League over Celtic.

He was beaten to death, murdered in a brutal way, because his religeon was identified with the opposing club.  Not because he was a Celtic Fan.  Not because he was a Catholic. No, it was because his religeon was identified with the opposing team from a different country.  The man didn’t come into it at all.

Sectarian violence: arguing about who is more right when worshiping the same freaking God.

In the immortal words of Les at http://stupidevilbastard.com/ “What the Fuck is wrong with you people?”

And here is the final twist of the knife.  His wife is Protestant, and so, because this is Ulster, it is described with a perfectly straight face, as a ‘Mixed Marriage’.

Oh for fucks sake Christians. Grow up.

Not an Atheist Sunday, May 3 2009 


I don’t like calling myself an atheist. Atheism has the idea of rejection behind it, and I do not think too many atheists actually REJECT a god, but rather they do not come to a god in a first place.  We reject the notion of teaching/arguing there is a god, but then we also reject the idea of pixies and pink unicorns running the universe, but no one would ever label themselves as an apixiest or anunicornist.

I’ve decided to use ‘Humanist’ more often- because I know that is one set of Intelligent Designers who CAN change the planet, for good or ill.

God Hates Christians Wednesday, Apr 29 2009 


Swine Fever/Pig Flu is close to becoming a pandemic, just 100 days after President Obama took office and started to reverse the lunacy of Bush II, and three US states recognise gay marriage.  So when do we start getting the religious loonies over there saying “IT’S A PUNISHMENT FROM GOD!”. 

Please, Please, PLEASE tell us it is a punishment from God, because I want to get in the queue (hell, I’ll start the queue) to point out Muslims and Jews consider pigs dirty creatures, and they would not have been intensively farming them, unlike CHRISTIAN Mexico, causing this problem.

Oh No- If only Obama REALLY WAS Muslim, and REALLY INTENDED to force you all to become Muslims, maybe you would all be saved by Allah. (Yeah, I know, there are cases in the Middle East now, but hey, when did the Religious Right let the facts stand in the way of a good rant?)

Islam beats the Pope in “idiotic religeous outview” competition. Tuesday, Apr 14 2009 


When the Pope lied about condoms making AIDS worse, he wasn’t personally infecting people- he was right that carriers do have a choice about sex, no matter how blinkered he is on the practicality.

The Taliban will happily pull the trigger because of their pretend sky-fairy.

 

Taleban ‘kill love affair couple’

The Taleban in Afghanistan have publicly killed a young couple who they said had tried to run away to get married, officials say.

 You will note from the BBC article

“Three Taleban mullahs brought them to the local mosque and they passed a fatwa (religious decree) that they must be killed. They were shot and killed in front of the mosque in public,” the governor said.

At least the ex-nazi in a dress hasn’t actively encouraged murdering people.  It is time Islam dragged all of itself kicking and screaming into the 20th century. Bastards.

To be fair to Catholics, it’s not just them… Monday, Mar 23 2009 


… who are still rooted in medieval nonsense,

A group of hard-line Saudi clerics urged the kingdom’s new information minister to ban women from appearing on TV or in newspapers and magazines.

Complete article at AOL

FSM only knows what would happen if they read Jesus and Mo

Catholic Church still rooted in… Oh, you know how it goes by now! Tuesday, Mar 17 2009 


Pope Benedict has said that the distribution of condoms is not the answer in the fight against Aids in Africa.

According to AOL

“You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem,” he told reporters on board a papal flight to Africa, where he is to tour Cameroon and Angola.

Or from the BBC

Speaking en route to Cameroon, he said distribution of condoms “increases the problem”.

Words can not express the jaw-dropping stupidity of these pronouncements.  But then if you are stupid enough to believe birth-control is evil you end up trying the most unbelievable arguments to defend it.

An Angry Man in Corduroy says it best. Tuesday, Mar 10 2009 


After Marcus Brigstocke, what more is there to say?

(Audio from the BBC’s ‘Now Show- Radio 4)

Elitest Bastard (aka Hussar goes off on one) Tuesday, Mar 10 2009 


See that blue button with Richard Dawkins on it?  Click on it (not yet- I haven’t finished ranting at you) and you will go to the Carnival of the Elitist Bastards.  Who?  A bunch of bloggers generally pissed off with everything being so damn stupid.

Why am I proud to be an elitist?  The question should be why are you so unconcerned not to be?

We are people who are just annoyed that there is a movement against intellectualism.  I am sick and tired of being clever being seen as somehow a bad thing.  Someone who can kick, throw or hit a ball gets paid millions of pounds, while those who actually work worry about the recession.

People revel in not being good at maths.It’s seen as something funny.  I know I’m good at day to day maths, but I am amazed how many people don’t understand basic principles.

“How does this affect you?”  you say “why should you care?” Because a dumbed down population affects the economy and the planet.

People who don’t understand basic maths GET TO VOTE, often based on what they think will be best for the economy.  They can’t do percentages, for FSM’s sake, how are they supposed to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of a Keynsian solution?

It is a fact that people, all of us, even Stephen Hawkins, are stupid to one degree or another.   We are very good at ignoring evidence that doesn’t back up our personal beliefs.  Jeremy Clarkson doesn’t like the fact that cars are contributing to destroying the planet. Solution? Insult environmentalists.  Republicans don’t like the fact that Neo-Con ideas have screwed up the market. Call Obama a socialist. The Religious Right don’t like the fact that science shows the Bible isn’t literally true. Solution? Attack anyone who relies on evidence rather than 4000 year old fairy-stories.

And where does it leave us? Click on the break, and I’ll tell you. Forcefully. (more…)

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