In December the British Government blocked the legal recognition of humanist marriages because it was seen as a ‘fringe’ issue. Andrew Copson of the British Humanist Association called this decision an insult, pointing out that ‘under this government, Scientologists have been added to the list of religions that can perform legal marriages, joining Spiritualists, the Aetherius Society (which believes in aliens and that the Earth is a goddess), and dozens of other religions. To describe the legal recognition of humanist marriages as a “fringe” issue insults the many couples – much larger in number than these many small religious groups – whose planned marriages next year will not be able to go ahead if Number 10 blocks this change.’ Continue reading
“Do you know of anyone who thinks they or their house has been possessed by a demon?” a Sunday Times journalist asked me over the phone just the other day. Several names popped into my mind instantly but there was no chance that I was letting her have them. “We’ve got about 20 people on a list to speak to about a piece my colleague is doing about exorcisms” she pressed. Despite explaining that I couldn’t put her in touch with anyone I’d worked with or advised over the years because it would be ethically questionable of me to do so she still didn’t get it, so I went into a detailed explanation. Continue reading
Richard Dawkins was right when he recently said that ‘Nothing should be off limits to discussion.’ It was a point he made in a recent blog post following the fallout that happened after he tweeted comments comparing different types of rape and paedophilia. Yet it is also true that no comment made can ever be made away from the context it is made in and without the historic behaviour of the commenter being added to it. The hypothetical questions above would have touched many nerves regardless of who the author of it was- why use rape or child abuse as examples at all -the fact that it was Richard Dawkins saying it made all the difference here.
‘The philosophy of Atheism represents a concept of life without any metaphysical Beyond or Divine Regulator. It is the concept of an actual, real world with its liberating, expanding and beautifying possibilities, as against an unreal world, which, with its spirits, oracles and mean contentment, has kept humanity in helpless degradation.’ – Emma Goldman
In her essay The Philosophy of Atheism Emma Goldman groups religion with other man-made systems of domination. The essay came to mind recently while reading an Alternet article by Alex Gabriel titled 10 Ways to Make Sure the Atheist Movement Is Not Just for the Wealthy. His experiences with religion were much harsher than mine and the piece is eye-opening to a whole new experience of discovering atheism. One in which the author and his family would have been unable to leave the church if they’d wanted to because of how much they depended upon it for support. In his article Alex tells those claiming to offer ‘alternatives to church’ to offer more, writing: Continue reading