Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Religious Cheats Won't Own Up

Religious and ethical think-tank Theos have a moral dilemma. On Saturday I spotted that they had changed their views on the Atheist Bus campaign, as expressed in their smug press release. As a courtesy I sent them an e-mail linking back to my post. They haven't acknowledged it. I think that we can take it as read that they know what they have done is wrong, but they are ashamed to admit it.

That's fine. I had also copied in The Telegraph, Fox News, The Guardian, The Times, The Independent and Sky News who had all quoted verbatim from their press release. I also tried to e-mail Ariane Sherine at The Guardian, but the message bounced. I later found her blog and posted there.

Of course, not owning up is a behaviour you would come to expect from a group whose identity is forged around an immature belief. So perhaps it is just to be expected. More and more I am coming to understand "believers" to fall into a pattern similar to "immature", agnostics are in the teenage or "questioning" phase, and atheists falling into the "mature" or miserable old fart category. How we ended up in a political settlement where the immatures hold sway remains a mystery to me.

I don't know whether getting Theos to own up remains an objective worth pursuing. I had thought that I could e-mail the three directors of Theos whose e-mails are quoted on their website. Should a child be confronted by their own misbehaviour? Am I their parent? Perhaps I have more interesting things to get on with.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Atheist meme

I came across an example of an atheist meme, set by what appears to be a devout Christian. Thought it would be worth the challenge.

Jim Jordan's questions in italic bold, my replies indented.

Why are you obsessed with theism?

Good point, I've got to go and fix a broken floorboard. Can't resist your challenge first though.
Regarding God-belief that does no harm to you, why do you oppose it if you do?
I've lost the thread of your question. Can you put this on in English?
Are you atheist or an anti-theist?
Don't you find labelling people a bit tiresome? Try taking people as you find them.
If you had to choose what percentage odds there is that God exists, what % would you pick?
I rarely gamble. Probably about 100% less than you.
Are Christians hypocrites? If so, then do you mean to say that Christianity is false or that hypocrisy is true?
Don't know. You probably know more Christians than I do. Why don't you ask them?
How can anything be "morally bankrupt" in your worldview? How can anything have lasting meaning without God?
Those Christian hypocrites you mentioned are morally bankrupt. I've no idea what "lasting meaning" means, is it why you are so afraid to lose God?
Why do atheists lament "losing their faith"?
Never heard of it, so no idea.
Why do you fret over false Christianities at all, shouldn't you celebrate them?
The ways of an atheist are very mysterious, a bit like God really, only more real.
If a religious belief is false but gives you a sense of fulfilment, why would you abandon it or deny it to anyone?
In my case I'd have to convert to Christianity first then abandon it. This sounds too much like hard work. You can believe what you like, but if you want to be treated as an adult you have to grow up.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Scoop: Theos Upgrade Atheist Bus from Stunt to Campaign

Religious and ethical think-tank Theos have upgraded their assessment of Ariane Sherine's "atheist bus" campaign from "stunt" to "campaign". Initially Paul Woolley, Director of Theos, patronisingly said:
"At first, we almost felt sorry for the campaign, as its difficulties showed that there were not many atheists in Britain, and certainly not many who were willing to put their hands in their pocket. But when we saw the message, we couldn't believe it.

...

"Stunts like this demonstrate how militant atheists are often great adverts for Christianity."
(My emphasis). But without telling anyone, and with the benefit of hindsight, he later changed his statement to a rather more upbeat:
"We've donated the money because we think the campaign is a brilliant way to get people thinking about God.

...

"Campaigns like this demonstrate how active atheists are often great adverts for Christianity."
(Again my emphasis). Furthermore, Theos have dropped their overall view that the campaign "is so bad" in the light of the ££££s raised so far because they have amended from:
The campaign is clearly anti-religious, but its message 'There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life' is so bad that Theos believes that, like the Alpha posters it attacks, it will benefit the cause of religion.
to:
The campaign is clearly intended to be anti-religious, but its message ('There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life') will, claims Theos, encourage people to think, like the Alpha posters it seeks to attack.
As an aside, Theos have clearly demonstrated they have a role to play in developing campaign techniques. Thanks for your help in sending the atheist bus message all round the world. Atheist bus supporters have been quick to adopt Theos' ethical lead of donating to a rival campaign with a pithy message. Unfortunately the atheist comments sometimes lack the sophisticated qualities of Theos' well-funded PR campaign. (Example from JustGiving Alphaposters: Sir Cliff - 24/10/2008 - £2.00 - C'mon all you Christians! Let's be 'avin' you! What you've contributed so far wouldn't fill a colostomy bag!).

The ethics of changing your press releases is of course quite shady, so who better to ask about this than morality "experts" Theos. I'll drop them an e-mail and I should get a reply before the weekend is out because they are known to work on Sundays. At the time of writing it is not known whether one of the benefits of religion is that you are allowed to re-write history, or whether this is a case of the omnipresent Google catching out the God squad.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Two Cheap Day Returns on the Atheist Bus, Please!

Once you have spotted that arch-Thatcherite blogging solicitor Donal Blaney doesn't quote any sources whilst spouting his bile, it's fairly easy to wind him up. In a disjointed and rambling post Blaney takes his Tory colleagues to task for believing that US Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin is a Christian fundamentalist.

The first commenter here, Dave Cole, picks up on two episodes in Palin's religious career, one of which Blaney retorts is a "fake". A quick reading of the of the article which Blaney cites indicates that it is in fact the Pastor who is the fake, the one who gave Palin a blessing to protect her from witchcraft, and that Blaney has got his wires crossed.

Blaney doesn't enjoy having the weakness of his argument revealed, and he quickly resorts to sarcasm and then insults.

Here he is accusing me of holding a "warped" set of views following my assertion that witchcraft doesn't exist.

Blaney appears to have great difficulty in arguing coherently with those who hold opposing views. To me it is quite astonishing that he holds down a job such as a solicitor, and yet he has never learnt the ability to use facts to support his arguments, and to keep a level head when people challenge his assertions. He has reached adulthood with the debating skills of a teenager, and now armed with a computer and even a merit star from his peers (his blog is described as 21st in the Total Politics list of "Top 200 UK Political Blogs") he is ready to spout his nonsense to the world at large.

And then along came the atheist bus!

I must admit I don't like advertising - I'd actually prefer it if buses didn't have adverts on the side - but if we are going to have ads, let's see one that supports rationalism. And thinking!

Author and scientist Richard Dawkins has been rightly asserting that the notion of "god" is a delusion. A persistent delusion, and one with a universal appeal, but a delusion none the less. His books have invigorated atheists to assert their rationalist position. Blaney, as mentioned above, lives in a world where his ridiculous assertions that people need to pray in order to be "protected from witches, the devil or any other form of evildoing" largely go unchallenged. Supposedly we are meant to "respect" his childish beliefs. Let's put religion back into it's rightful place: stories for those in their formative years.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Poisoned Arrow Crosses the Atlantic

Spotted recently on Iain Dale:
Those nice people at NBC have just emailed me the embed codes for Sarah Palin's appearance on Saturday Night Live last night. Enjoy... [source]
Not particularly offensive, but if you're in the meedja, it's always nice to big up your connections. It prompted one observant reader, Charlie Root, to write:
wow those good people at NBC EMAILED you the embed codes.

I just got them off the SNL website like everyone else...guess you must be REAL important hey? [source]
Provoking this rebuke from Dale:
God I sometimes hate the idiots who waste everybody's time posting comments like that. Why don't you just piss off somewhere else and pollute another blog?

The mentality of wasting your time posting such acenine [sic] rubbish is what gets me. [source]
Just to let Charlie Root know that I for one enjoyed your intervention, and from the vitriolic sentiment it elicited from Dale, it wasn't a waste of anyone's time. Dale says his blog is about "Politics, Gossip, Humour and Commentary" and I can't see how your comment falls outside any of that. For Iain's benefit, the mentality was that of someone who spots a pompous twit and decides to call them out on it.

One tip for Dale: when likening those you disapprove of to an ass, use of a dictionary is appropriate.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Pissing in the Wind

I've had a little break from blogging. I came to realise that writing a blog was somewhat akin to taking a leak from a hilltop on a windy day. With enough piss, and plenty of wind you might just hit someone else. But don't expect them to be pleased!

I used to write Lobster Blogster. The writing was mine, but almost all the images were pinched from elsewhere on the internet. It was chaotic and off-beat, a bit like my own personality. Finally I lost the keys. It wasn't a great loss: I needed a break.

I came across a line in Bob Piper's blog about a "Tory Dipper". I thought it would make a great name for a blogger, so I adopted it for a while. The principal objection came from my wife, who had previously been quite happy to be The Future Mrs Lobster, now found her sobriquet would be Mrs Dipper. It would have to go.

Along the way I decided to join the Sunlight Cops. I was so pleased to have joined that I indulged in a little bit of late night spamming and upset poor Tim Ireland. He didn't seem to enjoy the picture of Beaker I had chosen, nor my motto that I wanted to "put the fun back into Conservatism, just like Norman Tebbit in the eighties", and he complained. I was throw out, and discovered that Tim is a dreadful bore. Well it's all a good learning experience, anyway.

If you delve into Wikipedia you will find that Pogsurf has been labelled as a sock-puppet and a vandal only account. Just for the record, Jimmy Wales edits his own profile on Wikipedia, and made his money from Bomis, a pornographic search engine.

So just at the moment when technology allows you to have a bit of fun, invent yourself a new profile, and write your own history, along come a group of thrusting nerds who want to label you a sock, a troll, or whatever. Hey, identity nerds, get over it!

Personally I have always tried to avoid indulging in name calling, abuse, and even impoliteness. But it seems quite easy to collect abusive labels from others around the net. On the Reviews gadget of this blog there are three examples, and one rather creepy person who "knows who you are". In my book however, sneakiness, sarcasm, rudeness and other such methods are perfectly acceptable for exposing pompous twits and their silly ideas. So if you are a sock-puppet, a troller, a pain in the neck or even an awkward git, please find a very warm welcome to my new blog.

If on the other hand you are a bit precious, a bit smart, or god-forbid, a Tory, beware! I'm coming to get you!!!