Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

The Christian Ideology of New Atheism

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 | Humanism

Last month, Michael Burgess gave a talk to Leeds Atheist Society on “The Christian Ideology of New Atheism”. The video will be available on Worfolk Lectures at a later date.

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Disproving God With Philosophy

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013 | Humanism

Last week at Atheist Society, Heini presented a talk entitled “Disproving God With Philosophy”.

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Good and Evil in the Gospel Myth

Monday, March 25th, 2013 | Humanism

For the March meeting of the Humanist Society of West Yorkshire, Jim Hatfield presented a talk entitled “Good and Evil in the Gospel Myth”.

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Andrew Copson in Leeds

Sunday, March 24th, 2013 | Events

Recently, Leeds Engage hosted Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association. It was a good talk, as we would expect from Andrew, though it would have been nice to see more people there – I don’t think Leeds Engage spoke to Atheist Society as they had 25 people at an attend the night before, and only a few of us turned up to this.

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Guilt tripping

Friday, July 27th, 2012 | Thoughts

A few months ago, I wrote about how one of religion’s most insidious evils is the way it controls its own members through guilt. Since then, I’ve referred to what I call guilt culture in several blog posts. However, I can’t remember where I wrote the original post. It doesn’t seem to be on my blog. Or on my computer. I just don’t know where it is. So I’ve decided to re-write my thoughts again, albeit it in a shorter form.

The most successful religions maintain an absolute grip on their adherent’s lives. A believers whole existent revolves around the faith they follow. This is often associated with cults but can equally be observed in the practising mainstream followers as well.

To maintain this grip, they really have to get you over a barrel. Luckily (for them, not for us), they found an extremely effective way to do this – buy attacking us for just being who we are. There are lots of examples of this, but the best one is the way they try to control our sex lives.

We’re biologically wired to want to have sex. That is just who we are. It’s not just us – all animals are. We couldn’t survive through evolution by natural selection by any other means. We are attracted to other human beings and natural driven to procreate so that our genes can further their own selfish ends.

But the Church says no! You shall not be free to go to bed with whoever you want. You must only do it in accordance with our rules. These rules are as follows: 1. No sex before marriage (our special concept of marriage that is, in our Church). 2. No sex with members of the same sex, even if you’re attracted to them. 3. No enjoying sex, it’s only for creating children to further the religion.

So lets recap. We’re expected to deny ourselves our basic, biological urges and if we should fail to fight human nature, then we’re guilty of sin. That seems quite hard to avoid.

But it gets better (I use the term better very loosely). It turns out that just having the thought, it just as bad as doing the act itself! Not only are you not allowed to go to bed with who you please, when you please, just thinking about doing something naughty with someone else you find incredibly attractive is a sin too!

Inevitably, the believer commits a sin they don’t have a choice about it, they’re a human, they find other humans attractive, they’re biologically wired to want to procreate. They sin.

At this point, the Church is on hand to remind them that they are a bad person and should feel guilty for letting God down. You know, the all-knowing God that made them and knew they were going to do exactly that. Luckily, there is a way to redeem yourself. You can buy your way out of sin – and of course, there is only place in town selling it…

So the Church keeps its followers in a state of perpetual guilt, feeling that they have left a non-existent man in the sky down for just being who they are, and that the only way to redeem themselves is to band over thousands of pounds a year to the Church.

If anyone other than a religion tried to enforce such torture on a person, the United Nations Human Rights Council would be screaming from the rooftops.

Religion and sex

Monday, July 16th, 2012 | Photos

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Apparently, google thinks that pornography and church go rather well together.

Religions and cults

Friday, June 8th, 2012 | Religion & Politics

Recently, The Big Questions aired an hour long one topic episode asking “is there a difference between a cult and a religion?”

Of course, there is a difference – size. If you’re a large organisation you are described as a religion, if you’re a small one, you’re described as a cult. That is the sarcastic way of saying there is no difference. Which was the general consensus on the show (both the “cult member” guests they had on, and the impartial guests) with the exception of a few religious figureheads.

The general agreement was that cult isn’t a black or white test, it’s a scale, with lots of different characteristics, of each different groups conform to different characteristics, some to many more than others.

Two of the biggest defining characteristics of a cult that kept coming up in the discussion were child abuse and penalty clauses for leaving. I find these two very interesting as the sticking points for whether an organisation is classed as a cult or not due to how closely the major religions match up to such characteristics.

I’m sure no one needs reminding that child abuse is simply endemic in the Catholic Church. Right up to their leader, God’s representative on Earth, Pope Benedict has been involved in trying to cover up child abuse. But they are far from the only example – both the Muslim and Jewish faiths continue to cut out and mutiliate small children’s genitals[1]. Worst of all – they’re proud of it! They define it as their culture to cut apart a defenceless child’s private parts in the name of religion. It’s physically sickening, and it happens on a worldwide scale.

Shunning those who leave is also equally endemic in the major religions. Just try marrying someone who isn’t Jewish[2] in an Orthodox Jewish environment. It won’t end well for you. Oh, and did anyone forget that the punishment for apostasy in Islam is death[3] [4]?

It would seem that one of the main differences between a religion and a cult is whether a group gets away with it’s child abuse and psychological abuse of its members, past and present.

Humanism: The National Scene

Sunday, March 11th, 2012 | Humanism

Last Thursday, I headed down to the Humanist Society of West Yorkshire to see Dan Bye, council member of the National Secular Society, present a talk on Humanism: The National Scene.

I saw Dan speaking last year at Leeds Atheist Society on faith schools and it was a great talk. Thursday was no less interesting, with Dan giving an excellent overview of the non-religious movement in the UK and reminding us that we actually have it better now than we ever have had in our lifetimes. Religion is shrinking and public debate is on the rise.

A Muslim in Paris

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 | Religion & Politics

I recently returned from Paris (I’m not bragging or anything), and one thing I noticed was that I only saw two people wearing the hijab (Islamic headscarf) the whole time I was there (four days). I saw nobody wearing a burka either, though that is to be expected given it is now illegal in France.

One explanation for this could be that there are simply very few Muslims in Paris, but given the multicultural nature of any large capitol, that seems unlikely. A more likely explanation, at least if I was to take an educated guess, is that the French have managed to create a society in which is the Islamic community does not feel oppressed (and therefore needs cultural signifiers such as head scarves) and is able to integrate. Perhaps we’ve simply got it very wrong in the UK, and the segregation many communities are seeing, is the result.

Islam is a religion of peace

Monday, February 6th, 2012 | Humanism

I attended Leeds Atheist Society last week. At the event, they were screening the Intelligence Squared debate, “Islam is a religion of Peace”, which is available to stream online if you haven’t seen it.

Overall, though, I’m not sure I would bother. The arguments weren’t put particularly well on either side, although perhaps slightly better for the side against, which swung the audience from being slightly for the motion, to significantly against. I get the feeling that Ayaan Hirsi Ali, as great as she is, is primarily on there because she is an ex-Muslim who isn’t afraid to speak out, rather than the cogency of her arguments. Douglas Murray was a better speaker for against, but didn’t say too much. Despite the victory, I cannot help but feeling that if the late Christopher Hitchens had been with us, he could have delivered a simple unbeatable defence.

What was far more interesting was the discussion afterwards, in which I thought the arguments put forward were far stronger than those featured on the debate. I find arguments such as The Qur’an being directly the word of Allah and the fact that it’s very hard to misinterpret all 524 verses of intolerance in The Qur’an far stronger arguments than anecdotes about how a small minority of Muslims blew up the London underground or the Twin Towers.

Because of course, this is a very small minority. Yes, they were clearly Islamic extremists who perpetrated 9-11, but this was a handful of people in a country which has millions of Muslims – the majority of Muslims are peaceful people.

But it clearly isn’t because of Islam, it’s in spite of it. To understand this, you can’t judge the entire world population of Muslims by the actions of a small radical minority. You can only say this is accurate because when you go back to the core of the faith, you find facts like The Qur’an having 534 intolerant verses, and only 75 verses containing good stuff. Or look at Sharia law states which still have appalling treatment of women, homosexuals and non-Muslims.

It’s important to remember that when discussing such topics, we’re not talking about whether Muslims are peaceful. That is obvious – the overwhelming majority of them are, and although there is a radical minority, this is true of many groups. But the question of whether Islam is peaceful is a question and answer that is detached from the attitudes of the people that identify with it. Unfortunately, the answer here is far less reassuring.