Feb 112013
 

So, the Pope is to “resign” – not “retire”, note – the reasons for which are not yet explained. Is it too much to hope for his resignation note, and reasoning, to read along the lines of:

I’m really most awfully sorry that I spent decades as a malingering evil fucking cunt, covering up the systematic rape and torture of defenceless children, accumulating power and vast wealth, lying about condoms and encouraging the spread of a pernicious, cruel, avoidable disease like HIV, subjugating women – forcing them to give up control over the reproductive cycle and thus remain second class citizens, slandering gays and lesbians and treating them as barely human; I realise, suddenly, how evil I have been and what an absolutely horrific waste of life mine has been, and can’t continue in this disgusting manner”?

Probably.

What about: “sorry”?

Probably.

Ah well, I’m sure that this can continue the reflection of badness on the church. Yay.

Dec 032012
 

Ordinarily, I post these as they are … this time, I need to pass comment. For reasons which I understand, though with which I vehemently disagree, the editors of Gscene chose not to publish my article as originally submitted, even after having requested substantiation of my comments and claims. While they are understandably hesitant to invite legal challenge, I care not. Therefore, I present the original text I submitted, along with the actual published article, with particular attention being drawn to my paragraph relating to the “roman catholic church” – which I did not capitalise for a reason, the content of which has been diluted so far that it’s practically homeopathic and which offends me in its insipidness, and also to the paragraph regarding islam, again neutered like a bad dog, and this time edited so that it no longer even makes sense!

 

 

Canada Dry

And so man* created gods in his image. Unfortunately, that image is a jealous, violent, ill-educated, petty, belligerent, cruel and evil one. Not the better angels of our nature by any means.

Am I being unfair? Intemperate? I don’t think so … I can think of nothing that has caused more misery, suffering, hatred, distress, death or disfigurement in the whole of human history. Religion has – not just permitted, but – required; slavery, objectification of women, vilification of those of other or no religion, wars of aggression, loathing, ethnic cleansing, beating and murder of homosexuals, beating and subjugation of children, racism, cruel – nay criminal – mutilation of genitalia, xenophobia … the list is practically endless. No other aberration of reason and humanity can make such expansive and loathsome claims.

Born in the time of our utter ignorance of everything, offering facile (and fraudulent) claims to answer the difficult questions of existence, presenting false, shallow solace to those who are in pain, salving the pricked ego of those who’ve considered the possibility of “no more me”, religion has absolutely nothing going for it, save vague concepts of tradition, comfort and respect.

The leader of the roman catholic church is the criminal head of the world’s largest paedophile ring and protection racket; it’s only the mantle of religion, claiming as it does incomparable privilege and exemptions, which prevents this vile subhuman monster facing the punishment for his decades of crimes against humanity.

Those of the muslim faith, calling for the death of (admittedly rather bad) filmmakers and their supporters, stoning gays, throwing acid into the faces of women – nay, girls – “suspected” of looking at men in the “wrong” way, baying for the death of people who do nothing more than draw pictures, wallowing in their sheer pig-ignorance; were it not for the “shield of faith” which requires we respect their beliefs, they’d be viewed for what they are – barely more than animals.

In the USA, otherwise normal Americans who shoot and kill doctors in the name of the sanctity of life, previously loving parents who throw out their own children as being “better dead than gay”, a credible candidate for the Presidency who believes in magic underwear and that Native Americans are a lost tribe of Israel (while an atheist is nigh unelectable); these bizarre, illogical conditions couldn’t exist absent the entrenched, privileged position of religion!

The litany is near endless. Religion makes its hay by valuing and prizing ignorance, eschewing reason and the search for knowledge, refusing to acknowledge that it is a world view, and making pseudo-factual claims about, well, everything and that as such it should be subject to the same evaluation of the evidence as any other such world view. Those of us who adhere to the view that, actually, no, if you believe in the power of intercessory prayer, or that the mind is separate from the brain, or that there is a “part” of you which continues after death, or that evolution is inaccurate, or that the earth is about 6,000 years old, then such beliefs should be challengeable (and challenged!) and tested are told that we are being disrespectful.

Why, yes. Yes, yes we are. Utterly disrespectful. So … what? I suffer at the hands of the brainless being disrespectful towards me; I’m a gay atheist – while there are certainly groups who suffer more disrespect, nonetheless I receive more than sufficient denigration from the religious. Which is their right; I may – and of course do – disagree with their beliefs and attitudes, but their right to hold their pernicious, antediluvian views is something I hold nearly sacred. As is my right to challenge it. Why the road doesn’t run two ways, I do not understand.

Or, perhaps I do. My views stand up to scrutiny, and I am able to defend them using logic; the corollary being that I will change my views if the evidence requires it. The views of the religious are nothing more than wishes and hopes, will o’ the wisp fantasies, castles of credulity, precariously balanced upon foundations of faith. As such, there are no arguments which can reasonably be brought to bear. There is no logical recourse for faith, belief, religion.

Perhaps the greatest mind of recent time speaking on the issue of religion and its maleficent influence in and on the world was, now sadly the late, Christopher Hitchens. A couple of his quotes may serve in a few words to state what I’ve tried to say in many:

“I am absolutely convinced that the main source of hatred in the world is religion, and organised religion.”

“Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did.”

“Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.”

My own modest attempt at a pithy epithet: “Religion is the single greatest crime we have committed against ourselves.

 

So, to conclude, no, “jesus” most assuredly does not have a place in my heart, and religion can take a long walk of a non-existent pier; you can take “christmas” and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine; I’ll see my family around that time, because it’s nice to do so, and let’s face it, there’s nothing else to do anyway. But, religion?  Keep the fairy tales for the children, and let’s all grow the fuck up.

*Sexist pronoun excused on basis of poetic requirement.

 

 

 

 

 GScene - December 2012 - Canada Dry - Religion

 

Nov 102012
 

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day / Armistice Day / Veterans’ Day. In the UK at least it’s become expected that one will wear a Red Poppy, to show one’s support of our former and current armed forces, and the sacrifices they have and do make, including far too often their lives. So much an expectation that it attracts comment – and attack – if those in public life don’t wear one.

Imagine a chat show host, a newscaster, politician, sportsman … anybody in the public eye who dared not to wear one; the criticism and vitriol which would be brought to bear don’t even bear thinking about. In which light, I was hugely gratified to see Frankie Boyle on the Jonathan Ross show recently, wearing a white poppy. Someone who is already such a target has little to lose; I like to think also that he genuinely supports the goals to which it pertains.

Reason one . . .  loathing compulsion and in-group mentalitites. 

 

“The Glorious Dead” . . . what an horrific concept. Dead isn’t glorious; it’s dead. Gone, no more to participate in the world, nothing further to contribute, you’re rotting in the ground, or scattered to the wind, and everything you ever could have done has either been done, or left forever undone. That’s not glorious.

Neither, I’m afraid to say, is the manner of their deaths. Oh, the causes may be just, and laudable, but sitting for months in a rat-infested trench, watching your extremities rot off your still-living body, starving to death, taking occasional shots at people a hundred metres away who are far more your equal than opposite; that’s not glorious. Bombing civilians, and destroying centuries of history and beauty, whether in Dresden or Coventry; that’s not glorious.

Sending an entire generation of American youth off to fight a non-extistent enemy in Vietnam, burning villages alive, raping and pillaging as though it were the 11th Century in Europe; that’s not glorious.

Guiding bombs into Baghdad, twenty years apart, by laser; that’s not glorious.

The sooner we start to acknowledge that it’s not glorious, or wonderful, or admirable, to go to war, but rather that it’s a failure of the entire human species, and while it may grudgingly sometimes be necessary, it should be a last after last after oh-good-grief last resort, the better for us all. We shouldn’t idolise the victims of our going to war, whether the “enemy” or our own troops; we should pity them. Teaching (mainly boys) children to aspire to this monstrosity is one of the most vile, obscene, unconscionable acts perpetrated against our future.

Reason two . . . glorification of violence 

 

Personally, I purchase a packet of White Poppies every year from the Peace Pledge Union.

From their website:

“War is a crime against humanity. I renounce war, and am therefore determined not to support any kind of war. I am also determined to work for the removal of all causes of war.’ So why, in the 21st century, with all our skills, knowledge and resources, are we still waging war?”

I’ve been accused of supporting pie-in-the-sky idealism, told that conflict is an innate part of human nature, that war will always be with us, that “if you’re not with us, you’re against us”, etc. Well, I certainly won’t argue that conflict isn’t part of human nature – so are any number things which we choose to abhor in modern society. Surely we could add conflict to that list? We acknowledge but resist it? As for idealism, well so what? Whoever really achieved anything by aspiring to the obviously and easily achievable? I want the seemingly impossible; I’ll work for it. As for ”if you’re not with us, you’re against us”, see above re “in-group mentalities”.
Reason three . . . there IS an alternative
White Poppy Wreath
——————————————————–

Unabashed promotion – click if you like!

 

 

 

Oct 162012
 

The following was initially written in response to someone’s saying they didn’t know who these two were. Then I thought, actually, it kind of stands on its own as a very brief tribute to them both. So here it is …

Christopher Hitchens was probably the most eloquent, erudite and unapologetic opponent of organised religion ever. He was a genius, a genuine renaissance man and polymath, and your life is immeasurably impoverished by ignorance of him and his work. 

Richard Dawkins is an eminent evolutionary biologist and wildly published in both scientific and more general media. His ‘popular science’ works on evolution as incredibly accessible and information while his diatribe against organised religion “The God Delusion” is a deserved best seller.

Nov 142011
 

… at best. At worst, he’s deliberately misunderstanding and misrepresenting an issue, framing a genuine concern for animal welfare as “an(other) assault on religious freedom in Europe“.

Never mind that Europe is probably the freest place in the world in which to hold, practise and preach your particular brand of self delusion. Sorry, religion.

Never mind the genesis of the kosher and halal rules are, at best, confused.

Never mind the fact that there are glaring errors in the definition of “clean” and “unclean” animals (really, the hare chews the cud, does it? Morons!).

Lyons expounds here upon his opinion that the Dutch ban on kosher and halal slaughter is “[t]aking a knife to liberty and tolerance”. Because, of course, the Netherlands are well known for being a repressive, restrictive and illiberal state. Yes, that seems right …

Taking it as a given that there is a “recent intolerant trend in Europe against religious minorities”, without providing the slightest evidence for this (hint: there is none), he proceeds to rape reason with Godwin, equating the Dutch law promoting animal welfare with – wait for it – the Nazis. Observing quite accurately the fact that “the last time kosher slaughter was banned in the Netherlands was during the Nazi occupation” he proceeds immediately to call this an “embarrassing parallel for modern-day Dutch politicians”.

Well, no, it isn’t. Because, you fucking idiot, the Nazis banned kosher slaughter because it was, y’know, FUCKING JEWISH and the Dutch ban is because it’s FUCKING CRUEL! Does that distinction escape you, Lyons?

His piss-poor potshots against our oh-so-illiberal intolerance continues:

“While such restrictions are often imposed in the name of modern, liberal values, they are their very opposites. A free and open society should be able to tolerate a diversity of beliefs and practices, even when they are at odds with the views of the majority.”

Ok, almost completely right. Just remove “practices”. Believe what you will; fine. Do what you will; not fine.

I may believe that stabbing all people with brown eyes through the very centre of their foreheads with a silver plate cake slice will guarantee their eternal bliss. In no way should there be any legislation in place to prevent my so believing.

However, if I were to act upon that belief … well, you see where I’m going.

The bottom line: we are obliged to respect people’s right to hold whatever beliefs they wish (or have been inculcated to believe). We are NOT obliged to respect those beliefs themselves. And we are absolutely not obliged to accommodate practices which are in conflict with what we as a society have come to see as acceptable.

Cruel, painful, agonising slaughter of animals to comply with the archaic, barbaric strictures of an Iron Age, bucolic belief system which, even at its inception was unsophisticated, ill-informed and idiotic compared to the many far more advanced societies around it, is wrong. Simply, and utterly wrong.

The Dutch are to be applauded.

The rest of us are to be upbraided for not having done the same.

The proponents of kosher or halal slaughter are to be ignored, or mocked, or both.

And Rob Lyons is a fucking moron, who is to be ignored. And preferably never published again.

 

Jul 182011
 

A report at Irish Central tells us today that Irish Priest will refuse to recognise and obey a new piece of legislation which requires them to report certain issues to the police which are revealed to them during confession, specifically child abuse. Which anyone of even a moderate level of common sense would presumably see as, at best, a good start.

But, of course, the priests consider that minimal requirement an affront to their religious freedom. In which case, please, by all means, be affronted, but fuck your religious freedom; I would sooner every single catholic on this planet be convinced they are going to burn in hell than that one innocent child be RAPED, SODOMISED, ABUSED by an adult in whom they are told to put their trust.

Of course, the monkey-monks see things differently;

Father P.J. Madden, spokesman for the Association of Catholic Priests, however, insisted that the sacramental seal of confession is “above and beyond all else.”

 Fuck you.

Thank goodness, at least, that the Irish government appears to have found its balls and is seriously using them now. No more pussy-footing around, the gloves would appear – for now at least – to be off:

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said on July 14 that canon law can not supersede state law.

Minister Fitzgerald said the government was firm on this point.

Good; be firm!

Don’t let them fight their evil little propaganda war against you and get away with it. Throw the fuckers in jail at the first sign of breaking this law. Because claims like the following – from David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute – fraudulent, misrepresentative lies, that raise fear and pedal panic, are only going to increase:

” … such a law is very unlikely to lead to a single conviction and, at a maximum, will be counterproductive and will make society less safe, rather than more safe.”

You fucking lying fuck. Fuck off!

Throw them in jail, or throw them out of the country.

St Patrick didn’t throw the snakes out of Ireland, the saints, the priest, the church – they are the serpents, and their pestilential influence should be at an end.

Jul 082011
 

Just a quick throw out to the world, that 11 July (Monday) is the International Day Against Stoning.

You can read about it here.

An excerpt of what can be done:

  • Standing in a city square with a photo or poster of Sakineh, tweeting, or organising an act of solidarity or a flash mob to raise awareness and attention, and posting your actions on Facebook;
  • Sending letters of protest to the Islamic regime of Iran;
  • Writing to government officials, heads of state, MEPs and MPs calling on them to intervene to demand Sakineh and her lawyer Houtan Kian’s release and to cease recognition of a regime that stones people to death

 

Please do something – get involved in some way – as small or large a gesture as possible. Given that Iran is now executing an average of two people per day, anything to fight this regime’s evil is a good thing.

 

Jul 062011
 

No. 

Well, that was easy.

Actually, I do have a reason for the post. There is an article from his smarminess Rabbi Shmuley Boteach at the Huffington Post with the same question as its title. I imagine it is unnecessary to state that he reaches a different conclusion to me.

His opening salvo about Britain includes:

“Its principle religious exports today are thinkers who despise religion. From Richard Dawkins, who has compared religion to child abuse, to my friend Christopher Hitchens, who titled his 2007 book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, the British have cornered the market on being anti-God … “

 

Neatly ignoring Sam Harris, and the fact that, although he is British, the vast majority of Hitchens’ work, life and outlook has been in the US of course, the Rabbi begins to draw a distinction, which he considers the beginning of his coup de grace, between the dangerously secular and skeptical Brits and good and godly Americans.

A smattering of (frankly rather encouraging) statistics regarding the relative degrees of religiosity in the US and UK later, and he continues:

“Europeans are in the habit of making fun of American evangelicals as backward religious knuckle-draggers who believe that Adam and Eve ate apples with a talking snake. “

 

Well, yes. Those of them who do believe that are asking for ridicule, and far be it from us to deny them!

“But for all this condescension, evangelical Christianity in the United States represents the single largest voting block in the world’s sole superpower.”

 

And this is a good thing, Rabbi?! The fact that over 22 MILLION people make decisions on their votes in the temporal world on the basis of their spiritual beliefs is incredible, if not downright bloody frightening!

Moving on, the Rabbi further develops his “argument”:

“My British friends argue that the demise of religion is a good thing, proving sophistication in sharp contrast to the religious hobos of America who speak in tongues and talk to dead people. I beg to differ.”

 

Well, colour me fucking stunned.

The Rabbi disagrees that the demise of religion is a good thing; oh really? The fact, Rabbi, that you disagree with it is not an argument in and of itself!

“… historian Paul Johnson makes the case that the remarkable growth of the U.S., from pioneering backwoodsmen to the most powerful and innovative nation on earth, was largely fueled by religious fervor.”

 

Yup. No – or little – argument there. I’ll also grant that the vast majority of art, literature and architecture (to name but three areas) throughout history have been influenced or caused by religion. That doesn’t make it either (a) right or (b) good. Neither does it make it relevant or helpful in modernity!

“From the piety of the pilgrims to the faith-based values of the country’s founders ….”

 

OOOOH! You cheeky bugger! You don’t just get to slide that claim in!

There’s strong evidence that majority of the founders of the US were either atheist, agnostic or – at most – deists. “Faith based values?” Bollocks! More like the beginnings of a concept of rights inherent to humanity, not derived from some supernatural hobgoblin!

“British influence in the world has, in contrast, gone off a cliff over the last century. And while there are many factors in this decline, I would argue that the new, militant atheism that is becoming characteristic of Britain is a key reason.”

 

Ok then, if you “would argue” it’s a key reason, please do so. Don’t state it baldly, as though it were a brute fact, and expect us all to accept it blindly; we’re not in the synagogue now, Rabbi!

Note, not just “a reason” or “a factor” but “a key reason”. As though no other factors could even come close! Never mind the collapse of empires worldwide, emancipation of suppressed peoples, devastating wars in Europe, reassessment of ownership of natural resources …. et cetera ad infini-fucking-tum!

“Atheism is a philosophy of nihilism in which nothing is sacred and all is an accident. While it has some brief, flashy moments, life is purposeless and meaningless.”

ARGH!!!

Learn what the FUCK atheism IS and ISN’T!!

And until you do, please stop fucking writing about it!

” … life is purposeless and meaningless. There is no soul to illuminate and no spirit to enliven — just dead, decadent flesh.”

 

FUCK OFF! You can’t state that as a “fact”! I’m an atheist – as people may have gathered – as are many of my dear friends. Our lives have great purpose and meaning and, while we don’t accept the soul, our lives are “enlivened”!

(Aside: is the Rabbi advocating necrophilia? If not, how to reconcile flesh which is both dead AND decadent?!)

“… poetry and faith are shallow distractions masking the inevitability of our certain demise.”

 

Faith, yes; poetry, however, is not shallow, nor a distraction. Please stop trying to conflate YOUR prestidigitations with art and beauty.

You lie to and abuse people; poetry elevates.

” … women are genetically programmed to seek out billionaire hedge-fund managers … “

 

Rabbi, please call Richard Dawkins and ask him if women can be genetically programmed thus! Seems unlikely to me …

And it goes downhill from there.

So, Rabbi, NO!

NO!

Godlessness is NOT dooming Britain; in fact, it’s our only hope. Godliness, however, may be dooming the whole of humanity.

 

May 162010
 

Hmmm …. was somewhat relieved in the aftermath of the election, and the cobbled together coalition, that there was no sign of Chris Grayling MP or Phillipa Stroud in the cabinet. Perhaps the Lib Dems really were exerting a moderating influence on the “same old nasty party”.

Not, apparently, so. Without fanfare, announcement or acknowledgement of what utter shits the two of them are, he is appointed a Minister of State and she becomes a “special advisor”, both reporting to Iain Duncan Smith.

These sickening homophobes don’t deserve even to be heard by government, let alone to be active at its heart. Please, visit my petition to remove them and sign it!

Mar 252010
 

I know, I know … it goes against the received wisdom. We’re supposed to revel and rejoice in the rebirth around us, cautiously emerging from the dark, cold days of Winter, blinkingly staring into a new year’s sun. But it’s precisely that cyclical aspect of it which drags my mood down to the depths, without fail, each and every year. Like Sisyphus, ceaselessly rolling the boulder up the hill to no avail, we trudge on year after year. Whatever promise the onset of Spring and then Summer claim to offer us, the only thing that is really being offered is the arrival of another Winter and then … again … another falsely optimistic Spring. Eternity without the possibility of parole.

This ties into my issues with mortality and religion/spirituality/bullshit. I don’t believe in the soul. And my rock solid certainty in the facts of physics means that I can’t believe in the soul. But more than this, I know that essentially the two options for the universe are contracting back into a point of singularity where time and space cease to exist, rendering the notion of “after” the end of the universe meaningless and nonsensical, or continually expanding forever, long past its heat death, where matter is undifferentiated and energy nonexistent, an eternity of beige.

What has all that got to do with Spring? Well, in my head, everything. Every year it brings back to me the essential pointlessness of it all, and makes it harder and harder for me to strive towards anything knowing that ultimately, however ultimate that point may be, it will result in nothing. The tallest monument, the finest portrait, the most beautiful heart-rending symphony … all of it is meaningless.