Archive for March, 2009

Religulous

The other day I attended a screening of Religulous, the film where American comedian Bill Maher takes a look at some of the world’s religions. As you can probably guess, the film doesn’t really aim for a balanced approach but is interested in the far ends of the spectrum of belief. In particular, it seems to focus on Abrahamic religions and conflict concerning the Holy Land or groups which are prominent in the USA such as Scientology. I suppose this mainly reflects the audience it is targeting and the groups they will be familiar with. Despite Maher’s confrontational style of humour it turns out that the motivation for the film comes from his own curiosity and questions about religion. So how does it hold up?

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34th Humanist Symposium is up!

The latest edition of the Humanist Symposium blog carnival is up.  This 34th edition has plenty of good reads and a rather lovely introduction from the host Atheist Revolution. It also includes my post ‘What can humanists learn from religion?‘ so go on over and have a read. If you find it interesting and inspiring why not submit something of your own or have a go at hosting it.

Enjoy!

What can humanists learn from religion?

A little over a year ago, I attended a talk by the humanist philosopher Julian Baggini. He was talking about religion: what it offered people and how Humanism measured up to that. I’m not sure I agreed with everything he said that evening but it was a topic that I found myself drawn to periodically because it says so much to me about what I want from Humanism. It is far too easy for sceptics to reduce religious belief to a set of metaphysical ideas and forget the individuals and communities behind the ideas. Beyond the personal belief in a deity or deities, belief leads to a lifestyle, identity and a community. These are very real needs and benefits. Humans cannot live on food, water and shelter alone, we need friends, family, love, art, music, games and meaning. This is a challenge that Humanism needs to embrace.

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One Law for All demonstration

This Saturday was a busy day for London and protests. As well as the Million Women Rise protesting violence against women, there was also the One Law for All demonstration and day of activities. The One Law for All campaign was launched in December of last year and campaigns against the introduction of Sharia courts in the UK. The campaign argues that Sharia law discriminates against women and leaves women and children particularly vulnerable. Citizens and residents of the UK have certain rights and responsibilities and separating out one group by saying that different laws apply to them deprives them of their rights. The One Law for All campaign argues that there should be one law for everyone in the UK.

Visit the One Law for All website to find out more and sign their petition.

International Women’s Day 2009

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the achievements of women, be they political, economic or social. It’s also a good opportunity to remind people of the continued struggle for equal rights and an end to discrimination and violence. I thought I might take the opportunity to mention a few atheist women who nourish my creativity and thoughts.

Ani DiFranco – Fantastic singer-songwriter and activist. Her music is highly accomplished and her lyrics are heartfelt and intelligent.

Björk Guðmundsdóttir – I love her music and her voice. I also love her bold creativity.

Natalie Angier – Prize-winning science journalist and feminist. Her book ‘Woman. An Intimate Geography’ is fascinating and enlightening.

Erika Moen – Her autobiographical comics have spunk, honesty and humour.

So which atheist women would you like to celebrate today?

Is blasphemy coming back?

As Reverend Mother would say ‘when the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window’. Not long after the UK has removed the crime of Blasphemy from its lawbooks, the UN has passed a draft resolution on ‘Defamation of Religion’. The draft resolution was passed on the 24th of November 2008 and calls on member states to amend laws and constitutions to prevent ‘Defamation of Religion’. This would conflict with the rights to freedom of opinion and expression (article 19) and freedom of thought, conscience and religion (article 18) as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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