Monday 20th of March 2023

of false crusades...


Religious leaders have used their Good Friday sermons to launch an attack on what they call a recent surge in atheism.

Thousands of Christians crowded into churches this morning to mark the solemn Christian festival of Good Friday.

Sydney Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen told his congregation atheism is not the rational philosophy that it claims to be.

Dr Jensen told the congregation that atheism is as much of a religion as Christianity.

"It's about our determination as human beings to have our own way, to make our own rules, to live our own lives, unfettered by the rule of God and the right of God to rule over us," he said.

"What we're really seeing, once more [is] an example of the contest between human beings and God over who rules the world."


Who rules the world?: but Pinky and the Brain, of course...


Meanwhile at cover up network:

Pope Benedict's personal preacher has compared criticism of the pontiff and Church over child abuse to "collective violence" suffered by the Jews.

The Rev Raniero Cantalamessa was speaking at Good Friday prayers in St Peter's Basilica, attended by the Pope.

In his sermon, he quoted a Jewish friend as saying the accusations reminded him of the "more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism".

His comments angered Jewish groups and those representing abuse victims.

Father Cantalamessa said Jews throughout history had been the victims of "collective violence" and drew a comparison with recent attacks on the Roman Catholic Church.

He read the congregation part of a letter from a Jewish friend who said he was "following with disgust the violent and concentric attacks against the Church, the Pope...

"The use of stereotypes, the shifting of personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt remind me of the most shameful aspects....


Meanwhile at atheist letter central at the SMH...:

Bishops in glass houses shouldn't bash atheists April 3, 2010

Anthony Fisher's spray against secularism reveals an appalling lack of judgment (''Thank God it's Good Friday: atheism's a dead end'', April 2). One can understand hysteria and panic in the besieged Catholic hierarchy inducing this nonsense, but there is no excuse for a church leader to vilify atheists.

Does he really believe that Nazism, identified by the infamous persecution of non-Christians in particular, was a godless doctrine? Does he really believe everyone who rejects the supernatural for lack of evidence harbours a secret desire for mass murder, gulags and maniacs such as Pol Pot and Stalin?

His ugly pitch is aimed at ignorant ears with the intention of inciting hate. The bishop needs to take a deep breath and try a novel tack: "Speak the truth and shame the Devil."

Peter Robinson Ainslie (ACT)

I await Bishop Fisher's explanation of how the horrors of the Crusades and the Inquisition were instigated by closet atheists.

That was a long time ago, but atheists are persistent. They have now infiltrated Judaism and Islam. Results? The Judaic fundamentalists in Israel push for annexation of Palestine, promised to them by God. Muslim fundamentalists gleefully immolate themselves, taking along unwilling scores, hundreds and thousands to meet God. But the real culprits, if the bishop is right, are the closet atheists in their ranks. Very effective agents provocateurs.

Norman Foo Epping


A list of false crusaders to which Gus could add "Aussie Tony", Bush-the-Lesser and Howard-W-Rattus — "enlightened" religious devotees who LIED so they could go and KILL people in Iraq under false pretenses...


More from atheist letter central at the SMH...:

Anthony Fisher can see the ''Pol-Pottery'' outside his church, but not the tomfoolery within it. My Easter message to him is to ''first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye'' (Matthew 7:5).

John Goldbaum Potts Point

Cardinal Pell's statement that he sees no evidence of atheists involved in community service calls for a response. Community service is not the exclusive province of the religious, just as paedophilia is not limited to members of the Catholic clergy. This atheist, for one, sponsors a project to remove graffiti, just as in the past I was a sponsor of Bushcare. For some years I took part in a charitable project working alongside Masons, Jews and Christians.

Community service attracts volunteers irrespective of their belief structures, and to suggest otherwise is nonsense. Indeed, it could be argued that atheists volunteer out of the goodness of their hearts, rather than an attempt to secure a place in heaven.

Don Wormald Narrabeen

Over the years my developing atheist beliefs have made my stomach churn. Logical as the process was, like many I had an ingrained tendency to respect religious belief regardless of the silliness of it all. Subconsciously I must have been steeped in the fear of some sort of retribution.

Even yesterday morning I was tossing up whether to mow the lawn - after all, it is a special day for Christians and the noise might disturb them. But then I read the hogwash on the front page, full of hate, cruelty and denial, and enough is enough. It is time to move on completely. I mowed the lawn - and that's just the beginning.

Peter Barrett Annangrove


see also of spiders' webs

as you were...

while in a more mudane world:

On March 4, Councilman Caetano attempted to create an incident by blaming atheists for supposedly disrupting Council business simply because they do not say the words "under god" when reciting the pledge of allegiance. In an unexpected break from the usual procedure, Tampa City Council attorney Martin Shelby warned the public after the meeting was called to order (but before the usual unconstitutional government prayer) to respect the right of others to say the pledge with the two religious words added to it in 1954. Caetano added that he wanted people removed if they did not recite the pledge the way he demands.

Atheists of Florida Executive Director Rob Curry, present at this meeting, stood for the pledge and recited it without apology exactly as he has for years: " . . . one nation, indivisible . . ." and noted that this did not prevent anyone else from reciting it as they prefer. That afternoon, he asked the Council if they intend to employ "Pledge Police" in an effort to enforce an unreasonable demand that everyone recite the exact same words in crisp, military precision. Caetano had left earlier in the day, and no other Council members appeared to have any interest in supporting his morning outburst.

bedazzled by a lamp...

Pope Benedict XVI has urged man to undergo a "spiritual and moral conversion" during his traditional Easter Sunday message, as paedophile-priest scandals rock the Roman Catholic Church.

The mass kicked off with an unusual greeting from the dean of the College of Cardinals, who told the Pope, "the people of God are with you and do not allow themselves to be impressed by the idle chatter of the moment."

Cardinal Angelo Sodano was reprising the same phrase the pope used a week ago when he urged Christians "not be intimidated by the idle chatter of prevailing opinions".

The 82-year-old Pope looked to the future in his traditional Urbi et Orbi message.

"[Humanity] needs ... to emerge from a profound crisis, one which requires deep change, beginning with consciences," he said.

The urging came as the paedophile priest scandals cast a pall over Easter, the most joyous day in the Christian calendar commemorating the day when Christ is believed to have been resurrected.


Gus: I agree with the pope. "Humanity needs to emerge from a profound crisis, one which requires deep change, beginning with consciences..." Yes, the profound crisis is to believe in a silly religious dictum... The consciences begin with one's awarness of one's animality and one's awareness of being the product of life's evolution on a small insignificant planet, rather than being the fanciful result of the demotion of forbidden fruit sinners or that of being fallen angels.... All the religious rest is more gooey fairytales for grown-ups who never grew up — fairytales manipulated into dogma and glorious golden rituals to attract lesser humans like moths get bedazzled by an electric lamp.

das Opium des Volkes...

Die Religion ist das Opium des Volkes
Karl Marx:
... Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d'honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.

Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower. The criticism of religion disillusions man, so that he will think, act, and fashion his reality like a man who has discarded his illusions and regained his senses, so that he will move around himself as his own true Sun. . .

Gus: In the words above I would suggest that Karl Marx — presenting religion properties used as an erroneous general theory of this world — recognises the effect of drugs and religion in certain circumstances until humans regain their senses... But humans never do. Humans are lazy when it comes to philosophically absorb reality... Thus humans are constantly under the influence of drugs or under the spell of religion as a way to escape the true consciousness in which the void of the non-inscribed purpose of life is at the centre of us... Most humans need these religious illusions because humans are confused, know too little and want to neatly explain it all... Even under these what should be private circumstances, we in our social constructs extend these illusions to methods of controlling others. To enslave others. Of course, the next reasonable step would be to eliminate suffering and slavery, a step that could appear to have been taken... In fact, we've only shifted the style of the control and have improved the comfort of slavery while we've increased the pain by becoming devotees of the god of credit as well...

We, hopefully may I say most atheists, having no soul by definition, have a good heart in our desire to improve the human condition in which all individuals can enjoy and share the present rather than dream, in squalid hope — hope being the last monster left in Pandora's box —  about the illusion of a future where death is an after-life fanfare of glorious painless whatever forever in return for the addiction. Our atheistic illusions in contrast are small and they are relative to whom we can create in ourselves in the world there is, versus the big lies of absolute hocus pocus that never is nor will be.

If absolute exists then relativity cannot. If absolute ever existed, nothing could have ever changed. Life could not exist. The universe could not exist. Absolute is an imaginary fixed point that takes all the positions. Change only happens via relativity in which there is more void than occupied positions — allowing space and time for change to happen. There is no life without change. Think about it.

Thus religion addicts come in many forms...

From people who cannot separate themselves from the teats of ritualised fear because they have been on it since they were toddlers... We're creatures of habit... The withdrawal symptoms are too painful to let go of the submissive addictive belief... The fear of sin, which one can erase for a small fee — till more of the same sin repeats, usually developing an unwanted understanding of reality or having a glimpse of it, have to be swiped again under the magic carpet of absolution. Offending priests are give a new parish...

And there are the new young pimply addicts who've just been promised 72 virgins in an after-life that does not exist, yet an illusionary better life than their common toil so far. They have been groomed with promises that are so attractive, they're prepared to die and kill to indulge their perverse addiction in a last fix, under the eyes of their drug pushers — from Bin Laden to US Presidents. We have to mention these merchants of drugs, the religion peddlars or religion addicted leaders who profit (in money, in adulation, in control or in perverse ideology) from selling the hits. Some of these monsters take their own swig of religious opiate in an hypocrisy filled hit and, high to the eyeballs, convince themselves (and us) that they are preparing the first or second coming of the idol of their choosing, should wage an undeclared war on Iraq like a crusade... or should brainwash young kids to suicide-bomb for their 16th birthday.
The muddled headed wombats!!!

They should be ashamed of their humanity! But humanity is not one of their concepts because there is no profitable value in intrinsic humanity — it cannot be sold since it is too readily available like fresh air, compared to their peddled glittering heavenly prizes one can never get but aspire to...
Thus most of the religion addicts are also addicted to gambling all of what they have to live with, to loose at these spinning lemons. Some religion addicts are innocuous, some are sneaky and dangerous. The problem is that they don't know they're addicted. The addiction is too comforting, so warm and fuzzy like cocaine...

War on drugs? With morality?... War on silly religious beliefs? No need to: the Abrahamics are warring amongst themselves... War on atheists? they're nuts.

"Atheism as much of a religion as Christianity"??? Idiots... They never understood a bloody thing and they pontificate in golden robes about it...

Die Religion ist das Opium des Volkes....

G'day Gus,As deserved, I

G'day Gus,

As deserved, I make these counter-opinions with great respect to you and the others who have commented.

Firstly:  Re the first section of your post - quote "Dr. Peter Jensen told his congregation atheism is not the rational philosophy that it claims to be."

Webster's Dictionary describes Atheist as "A person who denies all religious beliefs and the existence of God".

As I understand it, that would make only non-believing Christians atheists?  Surely the Jewish faith believes in God especially since history notes that the Hebrews were the first to recognize one God only?

And:  "....unfettered by the rule of God and the right of God to rule over us,".  Surely an agent of the Christian faith does not mean that believers must enter a contest with God?  If one believes in the necessity of a "contest" then one has to have a God to contest with?  Even as the Jewish faith believes that Jacob wrestled with God's Angel and won?  IMHO either belief would indicate at least a doubt at the existence of an "all powerful entity" - wouldn't it?

Secondly: "In his sermon [Rev Raniero Cantalamessa] he quoted a Jewish friend as saying the accusations reminded him of the "more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism".  As I have tried to demonstrate on so many occasions that, the strict description of Semite applies to all ancient Semitic tribes of the desert - including but not exclusively - the Hebrew/Canaanites - so be it.  With respect to the Reverend's comments I hardly think that he meant to be offensive, quite the contrary, he probably wanted the Jewish people on side.  It has been very expensively and widely promulgated that Hitler's Holocaust was against the Jewish people only - that is and always has been false.

Hitler's purge was an attempt by him and his doctrine that they would purify their race and rid Germany and then Europe et al of all the untermenschen. These included Russians; cripples; Gypsies; homosexuals; politicians and traitors to the Reich and of course the Jews.  There is no excuse for the inhuman way these people were treated even as there is no way to excuse the crimes of the Zionists in occupied Palestine. 

But, let us not forget that as Germany's allies in WW I, the Jewish Organizations betrayed Germany's attempt for an honorable armistice, in return for promises from the Brits for a land of their own.  That was the first act of betrayal.

In addition, let us not forget; and I quote from The Clearing House:  Not many people are aware that in March 1933, long before Hitler became the undisputed leader of Germany and began restricting the rights of German Jews, the American Jewish Congress announced a massive protest at Madison Square Gardens and called for an American boycott of German goods.

Thirdly: I have always argued that the Roman Catholic Church has a history of cruelty unsurpassed by any other religion.  It should not be ignored that while Hitler and Mussolini were Roman Catholics and that in itself doesn’t mean much but – when both were blessed by the Pope of that era meant, at least to me, that the previous and subsequent deeds of these two dictators carried with it the seal of the Vatican.  Including Mussolini’s notorious act of binding dissenting Ethiopian politicians hand and foot and throwing them from planes over their cities.

COMMENT: Probably the only thing that I remember Menzies saying that made any sense was [with poetic license) “We have decided that we can not do anything about the subject under debate so, as reasonable men, let us discuss a subject that we can”.

So now let us face the modern world which is only different to the Hitler years in that the South Africans and now the Zionists are practicing the Nazi/Apartheid crimes ALSO against a RACE.

God Bless Australia and let us treat the asylum seekers with more humanity.  NE OUBLIE.




That is brilliant - I will keep it and absorb its truths.

G'day Gus.

Just an aside - since I left the comfort of perminent employment in the Royal Australian Navy, I have become a dedicated Unionist and as such, I believe that the world will eventually have to be socialist to co-exist.  The contest between the haves and the have nots in all world societies can only guarantee the life-style which the elites believe they were born to.

But, back to Karl Marx.  I have not comprehensively read any of his wisdoms but, even the one you have just posted carries, at least for me, a lot of common sense and logic.

In this post, you even surpass that brief article by Karl Marx with your use of that logic in today's and perhaps tomorrow's reasoning world.

You and John will not change perhaps, the bigotry of people that may contribute to this forum but you may change their way of thinking, reasoning and being logical.

Misinformation is the most practiced crime in the modern world.

Don't think for one moment that I do not believe in what I write - I have already been expelled by a very narrow-censored website that is an insult to freedom of speech and only serves to prove that its posts are as dishonest as the MSM.  Why buy the Australian

Cheers Ern G.  NE OUBLIE.

Idiotic rapture

Idiotic rapture

from an otherwise reasonable political commentator, Chris Uhlmann at the ABC...


Jesus was executed for refusing to compromise his beliefs. And it's when he faces the fate which terrifies us most, that a pagan, a Roman centurion, recognises Jesus as Christ.

"In truth this man was a son of God," he says.

Maybe Mark is saying Christ proved everyone has the capacity to be godlike, if we have the courage to embrace the best of ourselves.

That is not a delusion. It's a deep truth. One not dreamt of in science.


Let me repeat here, what I may call Gus' fourth theorem:

If absolute exists then relativity cannot. If absolute ever existed, nothing could have ever changed. Life could not exist. The universe could not exist. Absolute is an imaginary fixed point that takes all the positions. Change only happens via relativity in which there is more void than occupied positions — allowing space and time for change to happen. There is no life without change.

Ipso facto, there is no life without relativity and there is no life with absolute.


"Capacity to be godlike??? A deep truth???"


the false glitter of religion

Let me repeat here, what I call Gus' fourth theorem:

If absolute exists then relativity cannot. If absolute ever existed, nothing could have ever changed. Life could not exist. The universe could not exist. Absolute is an imaginary fixed point that takes all the positions. Change only happens via relativity in which there is more void than occupied positions — allowing space and time for change to happen. There is no life without change.

Ipso facto, there is no life without relativity and there is no life with absolute.

No god.


But there are plenty of people who are pushing the fairy tale or religious belief:


From Madeleine Bunting

Atheists win a battle but may lose the war


Religion has been invigorated by those who came to bury God.

One shelf of my bookcase is now groaning under the weight of its contents. It's the God slot, and in the years since the publication of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion in 2006 and Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great in 2007, there has been an addition every few weeks from enraged philosophers, theologians, historians and journalists, all trying to convince readers of the shoddiness of the New Atheists. Peter Hitchens' Rage Against God was the latest arrival last week.

So, with Easter done and the Catholic Church embroiled in one of the most shaming and tumultuous periods of its history, it seems an appropriate moment to reckon on the progress of New Atheism, and take stock of this curious and - in the early 2000s entirely unpredictable - publishing phenomenon. What have all these books, these tons of paper and felled forests achieved?

Well, the most obvious achievement has been a lot of sore heads. Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens convey the fury of Old Testament prophets, while their opponents struggle in various well-mannered ways to contain theirs. From my rough survey, I would suggest those with philosophical training are the most irritated by New Atheism, while the journalists seem to enjoy the opportunities the row provides.

What staggers the ''philosophers'' (I use the term loosely to indicate writers who use philosophical arguments) is the sheer philosophical illiteracy of Dawkins. As Terry Eagleton puts it in Reason, Faith and Revolution, ''Dawkins' rationalist complacency is of just the sort Jonathan Swift so magnificently savaged.'' Several centuries on, it appears some have not quite grasped Swift's point.


Jonathan swift was a cleric!!!!!! So he was not going to paddle for reality, was he????? He was a satirist as well and he used his writings to promote some screwed up viewpoints... Clever writing, sure, but still screwed up...


from wikipedia

Jonathan Swift (30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745) was an Anglo-Irish[1] satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for the Whigs, then for the Tories), poet and cleric who became Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

He is remembered for works such as Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier's Letters, The Battle of the Books, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, and A Tale of a Tub. Swift is probably the foremost prose satirist in the English language, and is less well known for his poetry. Swift originally published all of his works under pseudonyms—such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, M.B. Drapier—or anonymously. He is also known for being a master of two styles of satire: the Horatian and Juvenalian styles.


Madeleine Bunting is an English journalist and writer who is an Associate Editor and columnist on The Guardian.

Bunting is noted for her advocacy of religious belief from a liberal position and her antipathy to atheism, claiming that atheists' antipathy to religion makes it impossible for them to criticise religion effectively.[2] She has been very critical of abuse committed within the Catholic Church in Ireland. [3]


Gus: why do we have to deal with Bunting's silly comments? Here is more of Madeleine's rant:...


The paradox of New Atheism is that in its bid to make religion unacceptable, it has contributed to making it a subject that is worth talking about again.

In the US there are now hundreds of think tanks, institutes and courses dedicated to the subject; religion attracts a huge number of posts on opinion websites; literary festivals routinely offer several sessions on religion. Books are churned out. Admittedly, the exchanges can be horribly bad tempered, but God hasn't attracted this intensity of debate for decades.


The rise of numerous religious think tanks does not mean they are right... Religion versus atheism is not a contest, nor a war... Just a set of promotions of old and tired ritualised fairy tales versus expressions of natural cosmic reality... One can choose the false glitter of religion as long as it does not stuff up the secular aspect of society, nor destroy humanity's understanding of reality that includes relativity...

Note: atheism is not new, possibly older than the god concept, but atheism has been displaced by the god illusion by deception, in order to allow a few to control most...

there you go...

from Unleashed, Bob Ellis

No-one has yet suggested bombing the Vatican and pursuing the Pope through the sewers of Europe till he is caught and riddled with bullets in order to stop priests buggering choirboys in Boston, Chicago, Dublin and Sydney. But a precise mirror image of this is how we behaved in Afghanistan.

If we bomb it flat, we were told, and pursue Bin Laden through the caves of Tora Bora and the mud huts of Waziristan until he is caught and riddled with bullets, al-Qaeda won't hijack planes and blow up trains any more. And the world will live at peace.

We were told this eight years ago. And we believed it.

It's a curious premise to base a war on, really. Yet no curiouser I suppose than saying Saddam has nuclear weapons and he won't use them if 32 nations invade his country, he will bury them in the sand. But there you go.


It is worthwhile, I think, to make these connections, of how forgivingly we treat the First World rich and the contrasting way we treat the Third World poor. How we treat the crimes of Christians and of heathens in very different ways. It shows how crazy we have lately come to be, and how justly we are despised by the Islamic world, and the Communist world, and many of our former colonies.

If we do this violence to the Taliban for the way they treat their women and children, why not the Catholics too?

Why not bomb the Vatican, and riddle the Pope with bullets as he staggers out of the flames?


absolute idiocy struggles against ethical relativism...

From Ms Devine...


The struggle against religion has taken the form of a new religion. Its new priests "find their greatest ideological enemies in priests, religious brothers, and sisters. They cannot physically destroy them (as was done in communist countries), so they try other methods."

What is the motive: to destroy the credibility of the strongest moral voice left? Would the world be a better place without the Catholic Church? Without Christianity? That is the end point of this game, which should frighten everyone, whether religious or not.


Gus: why do "rabids" like Ms Devine attempt to frame atheists and atheism by using the wrong premise to froth up their silly sauce: "...the form of a new religion. Its new priests...". NO! ATHEISM IS NOT A RELIGION. ATHEISTS ARE NOT PRIESTS!!!! Nor are they prophets!!! I've got the feeling Ms Devine presents her false argument with intent and to me that's one the saddest aspect of an intelligent person — possibly desperate, to make an illogical point to soothe her own tormented questioning mind... unless her brains are permanemtly pre-washed on "zap the non-believers" and kill any ideas that does not have "glorious red-neckery in it". Unless she does it to stir the possum (instigate a debate on a controversial topic, using dubious arguments, hoping to upset someone or everyone)...

Please note, as well, the other debate — about having ethics classes in NSW school — being framed by many Anglicans and other religious figures who forcefully oppose the teaching of human ethical values without the concept of god . They believe that moralisationing is the exclusivity of their gods... It's their exclusive turf, that to own the "high ground" of rectitude. Rot.

Remember this pope, Benedict the maybe-maybenot-Galileo-was-right, when he was cardinal for the-remnant-of-the-inquisition, was in charge of some cover ups with generously twisted forgiveness for the perpetrators, of course... His recent apologetic missive to the Irish people does not make-up for his cover ups of the past. Remembering the problem of kids being used for sex by a few (too many) of the church black sheep goes back 2000 years in the catholic church, for which they started to have inquiries from about 80 AD...

So too, silly and dangerous are the self-appointed "justicerers" from the allah factions. In some of their fundamentalist sectes, kids are bought and sold like cattle, and girls as young as 12 are forcefully married to much older men. The kids do not know better under the illusion of awfully ritualised traditions. All these ruthless and sometimes deadly acts are often performed not so much for the preservation of pure genetic lines but are enshrined in "godly" laws written by old perverts to keep the "loot" of goats within a specific group. Meanwhile some other allah preachers bring deep division in the ranks:


AN AL-QAEDA recruiter, described as the No. 1 terrorist threat to America, was engaged by a Sydney youth group to address hundreds of young people - a decision that has caused deep divisions at one of Australia's largest mosques.

At the same time as Anwar al-Awlaki was advising the extremist later charged with killing 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas, he was in talks with a group, Sydney Muslim Youth, about delivering a sermon to young Australians. He was already well known to security agencies as the spiritual guide to three of the hijackers on September 11, 2001.

''Anwar al-Awlaki is like a virus produced by the body wanting to fight a microbe,'' said Taj el-Din al-Hilaly, condemning the sermon, which was delivered at his mosque by phone link from Yemen.


''The messenger of Allah said … whoever kills a non-believer can meet him''.


Gus: idiot! Anwar al-Awlaki is another "rotter" of people's mind, presenting a simplistic erroneous "morality"— a false godly value — in the elimination of "non-believers" and these include the believers in the other gods, like yahweh...

These fundamentalist brainwashers are no better no worse than the others, who hypocritically, recently supported warriors like Bush and Blair and, in the past, have blessed Mussolini and Hitler — in the quest to "own" the world, or shape the world according to their rules, as long as there is a table set for the godly brainwashers in golden robes. Kings had their throne-"confessors" who cleverly chose when killing was a sin or not — mostly not. These fundamentalist brainwashers may be more dangerous in the immediate, though.


Most atheists do not own — nor do they want to own — the world. Our soapbox is not an altar. We view the universe as a relative environment in which we can survive on a very tiny part, that which led to our existence — if we do not thrash it... Beyond that, we wish everyone well.

We might behave badly sometimes too, but hopefully we will point the finger at ourselves. We do not own morality. We understand the dynamics of pain and happiness within the realm of our animality and we mostly respect the existence of others as much as possible. That is ethical relativism. And this understanding can be complexed by our uncertainty in evolution in which there is no evil nor good, just stupidity and contentment for the stylistic survival of all. And so be it. On the other side, the godly narrative is pure theatre of the absolute absurd where naive illusions are manufactured by "magicians" who sometimes drop their pants.

times, non-memorial...

From TIME magazine


If and when Ben-Tor or his successors locate the archive, the effect on biblical scholarship would be be profound. Instead of relying on half-legible inscriptions and fragments of clay and stone, historians would suddenly have access to huge amounts of information, set down not to advance religious ideas but to record secular events. The historical accuracy of much of the Bible could be settled, one way or the other, almost at a stroke.

Many professional archaeologists maintain that such questions are irrelevant. Says the British School of Archaeology's Woodhead: "I'm not interested in whether there was a David or a Solomon. I'm interested in reconstructing society: what was traded in clay pots, whether the pots or the contents were traded, where the clay was from ... I don't deal with the Bible at all." And even those who do deal with the Bible insist that their emphasis is science, not Scripture. Says Broshi: "Archaeology throws light on the Bible. It has no business trying to prove it."

Yet for ordinary Jews and Christians, it's impossible to maintain scientific detachment about ancient clay pots and fallen stones and inscriptions being dug up in the Holy Land. Hundreds of millions of people grew up listening to Bible stories, and even those who haven't set foot in a church or synagogue for years still carry with them the lessons of these stirring tales of great deeds, great evil, great miracles and great belief. Many may be able to accept the proposition that some of the Bible is fictional. But they are still deeply gratified to learn that much of it appears to be based on fact. Says Harvard's Cross: "To suggest that many things in the Bible are not historical is not too serious. But to lose biblical history altogether is to lose our tradition."


Gus: whether the bible recorded some historical events is not for me to say... Although many of these "events" are bathed in fantasy and imagination — and reported with interpretation, some coming from word of mouth as legends. What I dispute is that the book is presented "as the word of god"... Not on your nellie. Too many inconsistencies, to much gore, too much idiocy in it.

In Paradisium... Lacrimosa... Makes an old atheist cry from torture in paradise... remember the blood rivers of Babylon...

the selfish god porkie...

The outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins has said faith schools should be forced to teach other religions besides their own - as required in ordinary state schools.

"Faith schools should not be allowed to opt out of religious education," he told the Times. "Yet they are given this free pass to do religious education in their own way, which is not inspected by Ofsted."

Religious education, when taught according to the national curriculum, currently introduces children to Christianity plus two other "principal religions". Children must also be introduced to a "secular world view", such as Humanism. Faith schools, on the other hand, tend to only teach children about the religion or sect to which they are affiliated.

Dawkins is currently promoting his polemic documentary /Faith Schools Menace?/, in which he argues for the abolition of faith schools. In the film, he calls such establishments socially divisive and anti-educational.

Dawkins - who has already caused one storm this summer by referring to burkas as "bin-liner things" - believes forcing faith schools to teach RE according to the national curriculum would be the first step towards ending the "wicked"
practice of brainwashing children with religious belief.

On the widespread practice of pretending to find God - which many parents do every year in order to secure their child a place in faith schools, which are often educationally outstanding - Dawkins, the author of books on evolution, such as The Selfish Gene and Climbing Mount Improbable, showed an unsurprisingly evolutionarily adaptive attitude.

"I don't want to cast any blame on them," he said. "It's hypocrisy that is imposed on them by a ridiculous and unjust system."

Read more:,people,news,richard-dawkins-force-faith-schools-to-teach-all-religion-education-atheism#ixzz0x2PTj8IY

making progress...

The universe was not created by God, scientist Stephen Hawking has said in his new book.

Professor Hawking believes the laws of physics were behind the Big Bang instead, in a challenge to traditional religious beliefs.

In The Grand Design, extracts of which were printed in The Times today, Prof Hawking concludes: "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.

"Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.

"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."

The book, co-written by American physicist Leonard Mlodinow and published on September 9, sets out to contest Sir Isaac Newton's belief that the universe must have been designed by God as it could not have created out of chaos.

He cites the 1992 discovery of a planet orbiting a star other than our Sun.

"That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions - the single Sun, the lucky combination of Earth-Sun distance and solar mass - far less remarkable, and far less compelling as evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings."

(Prof Hawking had previously appeared to accept the role of God in the creation of the universe, writing in A Brief History Of Time in 1988: "If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we should know the mind of God.")


Gus: professor Hawking's "conversion" to complete acceptance of relativistic science just brought tears of joy to this staunch atheist's eyes...

of the godless death...

Today and next week we look at the beguiling topic of death.  Oh joy! Oh rapture!

This week will be welcomed by believers and next week will be welcomed by the atheists. I assume that in pleasing both sides I will please no one.

The problem for the godless is that we cannot believe in the afterlife. My feeling is that this makes us more fearful of death than those who are believers (about half of Australians believe in a hereafter).


Gus: crap. To a great extend, the committed atheists are NOT FEARFUL of death. Sure there are atheists who are not committed "enough" and, despite claiming to be "atheists", would be caught in the ambiguous "agnostic" limbo. The question of afterlife still lingers in the subconscious mind of "agnostic" people.

From an early age, growing up in a social environment based on religious dictums we learn to fear death, mostly presented to us as a "choice between heaven and hell" — with the fear of god thrown in...

It can take a fair few years to overcome this ingrained habit but eventually, the committed atheist gets rid of this horrendous concept in order to enjoy "existential" life as we choose.

Some atheists may be selfish to the max, but I believe most atheist are very caring in a discreet, yet very efficient, way. Let's face it, we "have to live" in a social environment and there is no reason to crap where one eats — if you see what I mean. It's best to be gracious and "elegant" about how we do things (adaptive clever stylistic animal) — making sure life is enjoyable despite its inevitable outcome. Sure some believers may also adopt a gracious and elegant way of life but most religions want their subjects to behave in ways that make sure they stay poor and/or submissive. Atheists are free thinkers by excellence. Atheists do not need a dogma, nor a god to motivate their life with a hellish-stick and a heavenly-carrot.

Being an atheist is not easy though and sometimes (often) motivation may be sluggish as one can fail to choose one's own carrot in the social context (without the stick...).

Most atheists would find complete satisfaction in being part of the evolution of life — as ephemeral one's existence is.

Death — termination of existence — is no bother.

Although raised in a religious environment where death had to be feared should one got up on the wrong side of the bed — becoming an atheist long ago, I have never denied nor feared death ever since.


I want to focus on Ernie Becker, who wrote the blockbuster on death in the 20th century – The Denial of Death – which focused on the legacy of life to pacify our terror of mortality.  Posterity and legacy were at the heart of his work.  Ironically, he upped and died, tantalisingly before the publication of his blockbuster – much like the author of the Millennium Trilogy, Stieg Larsson.  Paradoxically, Becker's legacy also transcended his death but he was never to know.


This fear and anxiety has been tested since in hundreds of experiments where the subjects were evaluated after being shown images of death.  These seem to be the general findings:

• We live our lives in our community culture and this provides us with a world that makes sense, gives us meaning and comfort. This culture diminishes the terror of death.  The protection given by the cultural world view is called (jargon alert!) the mortality salience hypothesis;

Gus: the committed atheist DOES NOT (should not) know the fear of death. Sure we like to live as long as possible and there is no contradiction in that — quantitatively and qualitatively. Living in a culture is only a means (often learned/brainwashed) to live in "harmony" with other people of different/similar "beliefs" in the culture in which we are born into. Rarely do we have the choice of becoming an atheist and only a profound awakening against the idiosyncrasy and hypocrisy of religions (both coming from their rigid codes and their dubious flexibility in  "interpretation" and the glorious imagery designed to win our submission and our subscription to the creed).

• The symbols of our culture allow us to not only make sense of the world but build symbolic immortality by things that are esteemed in the culture such as fame, wealth and kids or a literal immortality (belief in the afterworld);

Gus: not necessarily so. The "make sense of the world" through religious eyes is very simplistic and rarely fits reality — scientifically and eventfully.

• Self-esteem is a measure of a human's faith in their cultural worldview. If the culture of the world values them they feel self-esteem.  People with high self-esteem are less anxious about death;

Gus: as an atheist, self-esteem is not a measure of faith in the cultural overview. An atheist knows his/her relative worth in a relative world, which is more important than hoping for the non-existent pie in the sky of an impossible absolute. This relative worth can be improved by stylistic means to better life's comforts..

• If people are reminded of their inevitable death (the so-called mortality salience), then people will need to keep their self-esteem strong and their cultural identification high.  In other words, the fear of death makes people do a couple of things.  It makes them strive for self-esteem by achievement or other sources of self-esteem.  This is very similar to Becker's concept of the immortality project.  And it makes them identify with their group (like the patriotic surge after 9/11 when fear of death from terror grew to hysterical levels);

Gus: the fear of death is non-existent in true blood atheists. It leaves no imprint for our actions, except in the avoidance of danger. The desire to be "part of life"  — by acquiring knowledge, by being curious as well as surviving well while caring for ourselves, others and our environment — enhance our ability to enjoy life without having a ritual or a dogma dictating our self-importance or humility. Foremost, we are because we are.

• And finally, belief in the afterlife diminishes the terror and also diminishes the human need to grab self-esteem or be defensive about our communities.

Gus: wrong! Belief in the afterlife tends to increase the fear of death, via the fear of hell and the fear of god. Faith tends to also increase the intensity of the defense of community — to protect the narrative of the dogma, especially when facing contradicting scientific events or when other faiths are encroaching on the same turf...

All of these findings, while cloaked in academic nomenclature, are basically similar to what many comments to ''Godless Gross'' have asserted.  Belief in the afterlife is as sound a defence against the fear of death as a straight bat.  Heaven makes us happier.  What is your view?  What is wrong with a bit of happiness even if it is on the implausible side?

Gus: total academic nomencla-crap. Heaven only "make us" fanatical about death. Atheism makes us aware of the finality of our consciousness, yet it makes us aware of the importance of this consciousness should we choose to accept it for ourselves without drama nor funny hats nor submissive veils.

a sin sandwich...

The restored grave of the last known "sin-eater" in England will be at the centre of a special service in a Shropshire village churchyard later.

Campaigners raised £1,000 to restore the grave of Richard Munslow, who was buried in Ratlinghope in 1906.

Sin-eaters were generally poor people paid to eat bread and drink beer or wine over a corpse, in the belief they would take on the sins of the deceased.

Frowned upon by the church, the custom mainly died out in the 19th Century.

It was prevalent in the Marches, the land around the England-Wales border, and in north Wales, but was rarely carried out anywhere else.

Believers thought the sin-eater taking on the sins of a person who died suddenly without confessing their sins would allow the deceased's soul to go to heaven in peace.

While most of the sin-eaters were poor people or beggars, Mr Munslow was a well-established farmer in the area.


Gus: the custom — which is no worse than giving the "last rights" — might have been stamped out by the church because it did not get its cut of "mammon spiritualis"... the alms went to the poor directly instead of filling the church coffers...  

see toon at top

I Agree with the Thrust of your post Gus.

Even at my age I can find room in some vacant spot in my brain to allow for reasoning in this modern world and the desperation of the "powers that be" to maintain their control.

While the peoples of the emerging powers search for wealth, it seems to me to be a contradiction that the most dedicated of wealthy religious people always give willingly to the faith of their choice.

By definition does that mean to those people that the more money they pour into their Church will proportionately increase their opportunity for everlasting peace?  In which case their crimes can be proportionately absolved by the “donations”?

The Australian Koories have a belief that when a tribe member commits a crime, one of the punishments is to “point the bone at him”.  And so many times the fear installed in this individual does bring about his demise.  Faith?  Fear? Isn’t that religion?

If it is considered that the “last rights” for example, are worth the lifetime of obedience to that particular faith, then I would imagine those who are blown to pieces in war are being short changed.

Slowly but surely, the elite are being overcome by the “gun fodder” class who sometimes (not yet) realise that their equality depends on their ability to deal with the modern world and its orchestrated wars of choice.

Science has surpassed the faithful beliefs in an almighty being and at last has almost totally accepted the brilliant work of Charles Darwin and other people of sound thinking reasoning and logic - is only now becoming part of the schooling of our otherwise education deprived masses.

My Father died when I was a young man and since then, I cannot abide with anything that represents a cross.  I have no doubt that a religious person could excuse that superstition by means that remind me of the cliché  that “the Lord moves in strange ways”.

If it wasn’t for the fact that these many religions rely on the financial support of the mainly poor and promise that they will be there when the great reaper arrives one could find a reason for their existence.

Surely Gus, with the education of our young people who, quite often, are brainwashed about the fear of death in early childhood, the inevitable will come when the time to die will be accepted as a normal human function - who should have the right to decide when, how and why – of course we know that it will happen, let us avoid as much as possible, the pain that we should have the right to avoid if we can.  NE OUBLIE.





well said .....

Hi Ernest,

Well said.




send in the clowns for god...

... Cos I fuck so hard it'll break their back.

ICP have been going for 20 years, always wearing clown make-up, which looks slightly lumpy because it's painted over their goatees. They've been banned from performing in various cities where juggalos have been implicated in murders and gang violence. ICP have a fearsome reputation, fostered by news reports showing teenagers in juggalo T-shirts arrested for stabbing strangers and lyrics like "Barrels in your mouth/bullets to your head/The back of your neck's all over the shed/Boomshacka boom chop chop bang."

All of which makes Violent J's recent announcement really quite astonishing: Insane Clown Posse have this entire time secretly been evangelical Christians. They've only been pretending to be brutal and sadistic to trick their fans into believing in God. They released a song, Thy Unveiling, that spelt out the revelation beyond all doubt:

Fuck it, we got to tell.

All secrets will now be told

No more hidden messages

…Truth is we follow GOD!!!

We've always been behind him

The carnival is GOD...


And then the reviews came in.

Blender magazine, in its list of the 50 worst artists in music history, call ICP the very worst of all: "Insane Clown Posse sound even stupider than they look. Two trailer-trash types who wear face paint, pretend to be a street gang and drench cult devotees in cheap soda called Faygo, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope are more notorious for their beef with Eminem than their ham-fisted rap-rock music." And their nadir, Blender said, the worst musical moment from the worst band ever, is The Wraith: Shangri-La, the album that climaxes with Thy Unveiling.


Gus: oh boy... the clowns are christianing or the christians are clowning. Either or, it ain't a pretty sight... see toon at top...

atheism in peril...

Palestinian Blogger Angers West Bank Muslims


QALQILYA, West Bank — It is hard to imagine that a dingy Internet cafe buzzing with flies in this provincial Palestinian town could have spawned a blogger who has angered the Muslim cyberworld by promoting atheism, composing spoofs of Koranic verses, skewering the lifestyle of the Prophet Muhammad and chatting online using the sarcastic Web name God Almighty.

But many people in Qalqilya seem convinced that this Facebook apostate is none other than a secretive young man who spent seven hours a day in the corner booth of a back-street hole-in-the-wall here. Until recently the man, Waleed Hasayin, in his mid-20s, led a relatively anonymous existence as an unemployed graduate in computer science who helped out a few hours a day at his father’s one-chair barber shop. Several acquaintances described him as an “ordinary guy” who prayed at the mosque on Fridays.

But since the end of October Mr. Hasayin has been detained at the local Palestinian Authority intelligence headquarters, suspected of being the blasphemous blogger who goes by the name Waleed al-Husseini. The case has drawn attention to thorny issues like freedom of expression in the Palestinian Authority, for which insulting religion is considered illegal, and the cultural collision between a conservative society and the Internet.

While Mr. Hasayin has won some admiration and support abroad — a Facebook group has formed in solidarity, along with several online petitions — others on Facebook are calling for his execution.

In his hometown, the reaction seems to be one of uniform fury. Many here say that if he does not repent, he should spend the rest of his life in jail.

“Everyone is a Muslim here, so everyone is against what he did,” said Alaa Jarar, 20, who described himself as not particularly pious. “People are mad at him and will not respect the Palestinian Authority if he is released. Maybe he is a Mossad agent working for Israel.”

see toon at top...


god-name branding...

Do religious groups have the right to sue you if you use their name, logo or so-called branding color?

Maybe so. On Monday, this blog ran a report that mentioned an Adventists for Life Facebook page for Seventh-day Adventists who oppose abortion.

The SDA headquarters, based in Silver Spring, Md., reacted quickly, asking Facebook to remove the offending page. I contacted Facebook on Wednesday to ask why no one checked with the folks behind the page before killing it. I received a copy of their policy that says once someone lodges a plausible claim of trademark infringement, Facebook removes or disables access, no questions asked.

Mark Price, a Canadian SDA'er who was in charge of the page, alerted the 600 members of the group that he'd been silenced. "The Adventists For Life group is not an organization but an informal gathering of Seventh Day Adventists who are pro-life," he wrote me. "I am very concerned, as you are, about this kind of power that the Adventist leadership have to shut people up."

I called SDA spokesman Garrett Caldwell to see what was up. He told me his organization had complained about trademark infringement; that is, the unauthorized use of the SDA brand.

"We are working hard to try to protect the name and organization associated with the name," he said. "Both 'Adventist' and 'SDA' are trademarked and registered names. We want to make sure the use of the name is connected with our organization."

see image at top...

not so hard labour...

from Chris Floyd

Here is the deep, dark secret at the heart of the socialistic Commie Red Pinko Conspiracy -- the esoteric doctrine kept hidden by hooded illuminati since time out of mind, revealed at last by Terry Eagelton in the London Review of Books:

Marx, too, was an artist of sorts. It is often forgotten how staggeringly well read he was, and what painstaking labour he invested in the literary style of his works. He was eager, he remarked, to get shot of the ‘economic crap’ of Capital and get down to his big book on Balzac. Marxism is about leisure, not labour. It is a project that should be eagerly supported by all those who dislike having to work. It holds that the most precious activities are those done simply for the hell of it, and that art is in this sense the paradigm of authentic human activity. It also holds that the material resources that would make such a society possible already exist in principle, but are generated in a way that compels the great majority to work as hard as our Neolithic ancestors did. We have thus made astounding progress, and no progress at all.

show 'em who's boss...

Displaying crucifixes in schools in Italy does not breach the rights of non-Catholic families, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

The court ruled there was no evidence that a crucifix hung in a classroom would influence pupils.

The ruling overturned a previous decision made in November 2009, which angered the Roman Catholic country.

Friday's decision was welcomed by Italy's foreign minister as a win for European "popular sentiment".

"The decision underlines, above all, the rights of citizens to defend their own values and their own identities," Franco Frattini said, according to Italy's La Repubblica newspaper.

"I hope that following this verdict Europe will begin to examine issues of tolerance and religious freedom with the same courage," he added.

'Historic decision'

The Vatican too welcomed the decision. Its spokesman Federico Lombardi called it "an important and historic ruling".

The original case was brought by a Finnish-born mother-of-two who said public schools in the Italian town where she lived refused to remove the Roman Catholic symbols from classrooms.


In PUBLIC schools???? Not influence the kiddles???? Who are these idiots on the European Court of Human Rights? see text and image at top...

the fatal question for slanted statistics...

Humanists have attacked the religion question in the 2011 census for being "fatally flawed" because it is "highly misleading" and does not help with the planning of public services.

In a British Humanist Association poll, 61% of 1,896 adults in England and Wales said they belonged to a religious denomination or body. When asked in a subsequent question if they were religious, only 29% of the same people said yes.

It also showed that 48% of the people interviewed who said they were Christian believed that Jesus was a person.

Asked how often they went to a place of worship for religious reasons, 63% of respondents said they had not done so in the past year, while 20% said they had never visited a place of worship for religious reasons.

The BHA poll comes days ahead of the 2011 census on March 27, which has estimated costs of £480m and a workforce of 35,000.

Secularists and humanists oppose the voluntary question on religion – featured for the first time in the 2001 census – because they claim the data is used to "justify" religious privilege in state policy on public services.

Today BHA chief executive Andrew Copson said its poll was "further evidence" the census data was "highly misleading" because it gave an inaccurate representation of religiosity in the UK.


see image at top and articles below it...

dinosaurs, religiously speaking...

A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers.

The data reflect a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.

The team's mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one.

The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries.

Nonlinear dynamics is invoked to explain a wide range of physical phenomena in which a number of factors play a part.

One of the team, Daniel Abrams of Northwestern University, put forth a similar model in 2003 to put a numerical basis behind the decline of lesser-spoken world languages.

At its heart is the competition between speakers of different languages, and the "utility" of speaking one instead of another.

exode to mars app, please....

Exodus International has released its new smartphone application now available through iTunes!  Receiving a 4+ rating from Apple (applications in this category contain no objectionable material), this application is designed to be a useful resource for men, women, parents, students, and ministry leaders.  With this app, you will find access to:

Latest News   Twitter   Facebook   Real [sic] Stories   Real [sic] Answers   FAQs   Student Blog   Podcasts   Fact [sic] Sheet   Find Help   Featured Resource   Events   Video   Responding to Bullying


What this does not tell you is that more than 120,000 people have signed a petition denouncing this site as being homophobic. It is.

Meanwhile at

An iPhone app by a religious group that disagrees with homosexuality has gay-rights groups seeing red — and Apple in the hotseat.

The technology giant is well known for policing the applications available to users of its gadgets, weeding out sexually explicit content, offensive speech, hateful images and more. Yet Apple hasn’t weighed in on Exodus International and its app, which advocates “helping” gay individuals via the Bible’s teachings.

“As long as Apple does pick and choose, we think this is one that shouldn’t make it in,” Wayne Besen, the outspoken head of Truth Wins Out, told He argues that the mission of the group and its application contradicts Apple’s guidelines — and constitutes hate speech.

Jeff Buchanan, senior director of church equipping and student ministries for Exodus International, said the app is far less controversial than Besen believes.

“It’s being touted as a ‘gay cure’ app, and nothing could be further from the truth,” he told “We present a redemptive, biblical world view on sexuality … it’s a message of love and acceptance of those that are struggling with same-sex attraction.”

The controversy underscores a larger issue Apple faces with its self-appointed role as morality police. Were the company to pull this religious app because it offended someone, wouldn’t it be obliged to pull every app that promotes faith, yet offends someone, somewhere?

Put simply, to avoid offense, should Apple avoid religion?

Too late.

Ah... I remember the days when the choice was to climb or not the neighbour's cherry tree and get the runs from eating to much of them in springtime... anyway send that "exodus" to planet Mars. It presents another bright and chirpy muddle of illogical ideas for young minds... see image at top...

she who must be obeyed

Some scholars say early versions of the Bible featured Asherah, a powerful fertility goddess who may have been God's wife.

Research by Francesca Stavrakopoulou, a senior lecturer in the department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter, unearthed clues to her identity, but good luck finding mention of her in the Bible. If Stavrakopoulou is right, heavy-handed male editors of the text all but removed her from the sacred book.

(More on See how Americans view God)

What remains of God's purported other half are clues in ancient texts, amulets and figurines unearthed primarily in an ancient Canaanite coastal city, now in modern-day Syria. Inscriptions on pottery found in the Sinai desert also show Yahweh and Asherah were worshipped as a pair, and a passage in the Book of Kings mentions the goddess as being housed in the temple of Yahweh.

J. Edward Wright, president of The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies and The Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, backs Stavrakopoulou's findings, saying several Hebrew inscriptions mention “Yahweh and his Asherah." He adds Asherah was not entirely edited out of the Bible by its male editors.

"Traces of her remain, and based on those traces... we can reconstruct her role in the religions of the Southern Levant," he told Discovery News.

(More on See pictures of colorful religious festivals)

Asherah, he says, was an important deity in the Ancient Near East, known for her might and nurturing qualities. She was also known by several other names, including Astarte and Istar. But in English translations Ashereh was translated as "sacred tree."

"This seems to be in part driven by a modern desire, clearly inspired by the Biblical narratives, to hide Asherah behind a veil once again," Wright says.

Read more:

we knew that... see all articles in this line of blogs.....

polemical atheists excluded...

Vatican reaches out to atheists; Paris initiative aimed at dialogue with nonbelievers

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is reaching out to atheists with a series of series of encounters and debates aimed at fostering intellectual dialogue and introducing nonbelievers to God, officials said Friday.

The initiative of the Pontifical Council for Culture kicks off in Paris next week with panel discussions by academics, diplomats, intellectuals and clergy at UNESCO's headquarters, the Sorbonne and the French Institute.

The initiative, "Courtyard of the Gentiles," refers to the area in the ancient Temple of Jerusalem that was reserved for nonbelievers who wanted to learn about Judaism. Pope Benedict XVI said in 2009 that he thought the Catholic Church should open a new "Courtyard of the Gentiles" so nonbelievers could get to know God.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who heads the Vatican's culture office, told a news conference Friday that the aim was not to convert nonbelievers. Rather, he said, it was to open a two-way dialogue, remove confusion and tackle existential questions like life and death, truth, love, good and evil.

He said he wasn't hoping to engage what he called the more "aggressive, polemical, ironic and sarcastic" atheists who show no interest in getting to know the unknown. Noticeably absent on the list of panelists are the Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens of the world, with whom Ravasi sees little opening for dialogue.

Instead, the panelists include French intellectuals such as Axel Kahn and Julia Kristeva, as well as Pavel Fischer, former Czech ambassador to France.

Benedict called for the creation of the new initiative after visiting highly atheist Czech Republic in 2009, saying a new "Courtyard of the Gentiles" could be a place "where men can in some way latch onto God, without knowing him and before they have gained access to his mystery, which is the inner life of the Church."

"To the dialogue with other religions we must add dialogue with those for whom religion is something unknown, for whom God is unknown and who nevertheless don't want to remain without God but want to get closer to him at least as an unknown," he said then.

Gus: to a great extend, religion is VERY well-known to atheists and most have made a deliberate decision: religion is fanciful and can be destructive. It holds back our better understanding of the universe and of this planet. And religion leads to men wearing some weird looking hats, according to their rank. Women are often excluded from joining this hierarchy...

a secular bible...

In the unholy trinity of professional atheists, AC Grayling has always tended to be regarded as the good cop. Less coldly clinical in tone than Richard Dawkins, less aggressively combative than Christopher Hitchens, Grayling approaches the God debate with a gently teasing charm that could almost – but should never – be mistaken for conciliation. "Yes, I'm the velvet version," he chuckles.

So he insists that his new book does not belong in the same canon as Dawkins's The God Delusion and Hitchens's God Is Not Great. "No, because it's not against religion. There's not one occurrence of the word God, or afterlife, or anything like that. It doesn't attack religion, it's a positive book, there's nothing negative in it. People may think it's against religion – but it isn't." But then he says, with a mischievous twinkle: "Of course, what would really help the book a lot in America is if somebody tries to shoot me."

With any luck it shouldn't come to that, but Grayling is almost certainly going to upset a lot of Christians, for what he has written is a secular bible. The Good Book mirrors the Bible in both form and language, and is, as its author says, "ambitious and hubristic – a distillation of the best that has been thought and said by people who've really experienced life, and thought about it". Drawing on classical secular texts from east and west, Grayling has "done just what the Bible makers did with the sacred texts", reworking them into a "great treasury of insight and consolation and inspiration and uplift and understanding in the great non-religious traditions of the world". He has been working on his opus for several decades, and the result is an extravagantly erudite manifesto for rational thought.

chaos at the pearly gates...

Perhaps predictably given its name, Chaos Theory hasn’t exactly been the easiest thing for most people to understand.

Despite a best-selling book trying to explain what it all means and a couple of block-buster Hollywood films with the theeory as their central premise, the best most of us usually come up with is that it’s something to do with butterflies in a South American jungle somehow causing cyclones half a world away.

That’s not the half of it, says Iraqi-born British theoretical physicist Professor Jim Al-Khalili in this very simple to understand documentary. Chaos theory he says, might also hold the answer to one of the most puzzling questions we’ve ever faced - where did life on earth come from?

Going back to the work of mathematician Alan Turing and following through Mandelbrot’s ‘‘thumbprint of God’’ to the present, Professor Al-Khalili patiently explains how science has ‘‘pushed past religion and philosophy in daring to tackle this most fundamental of questions’’ in explaining where we come from.

see image at top and all stories below it...

singing the traditional big bang...

A British scientist whose work has touched on some of the greatest questions in physics, from the nature of the big bang to the size of physical reality, has won the largest monetary prize on the planet.

Sir Martin Rees, the astronomer royal and former president of the Royal Society, was named as the recipient of the £1m annual Templeton prize in London on Wednesday. He will be awarded the prize by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace in June.

The award has drawn criticism from some scientists, including the Oxford evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, who claim that the Templeton Foundation – which funds the prize – blurs the boundary between science and religion and makes a virtue of belief without evidence.

Set up in 1973 by the late John Templeton, a Wall Street billionaire who described himself as "an enthusiastic Christian", the prize honours a living person who has made "exceptional contributions to affirming life's spiritual dimension". Templeton stipulated that the cash value of the award must always be higher than the Nobel prizes.

Previous winners have included Mother Theresa, the US evangelist Billy Graham, and last year, a molecular biologist and former Dominican priest, Francisco Ayala, who advised Bill Clinton and helped overturn legislation in Arkansas that would have permitted schools to teach Creationsim alongside evolution in science classes.

Lord Rees, a churchgoer who neither believes in God nor subscribes to any religious dogma, said he attends chapel on a regular basis as Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, as part of a "traditional ritual". He also cites the choir – rated fifth in the world by Gramophone magazine – as a reason for his attendance.

The prize is awarded to whomever becomes famous for being a great confusioner of ideas, as long as god features in the soup...

politicanus catholicus...

It sounds like the plot of a Graham Greene novel - an obscure diplomat is despatched to a far-off posting where he happily amuses himself with his own activities before the eyes of the world suddenly bear down upon him.

The American ambassador to Malta, Douglas Kmiec, is to resign his post after being accused by the State Department of devoting too much of his time to penning religious tracts and not enough focusing on his day job.

Kmiec is a devout Catholic intellectual whose support for Barack Obama surprised many in his church before the 2008 election. His appointment as envoy to the conservative and religious Mediterranean island nation was no doubt a reward for these efforts.

US ambassadorships are in the gift of the president and have often been doled out as thank-yous for services rendered during election campaigns.

However things fell apart for Kmiec, who was clearly expecting to spend his time in the Valetta embassy dashing off comment pieces for newspapers - he contributed to the LA Times and Catholic publications - when the Libyan uprising blew up.

Suddenly the world's attention bore down on North Africa. American involvement in the region was naturally expected to be led from its closest embassy to the war zone - and Mr Kmiec emerged blinking into the spotlight.

Perhaps as surprised to find Kmiec in this new role as the ambassador himself was, his erstwhile employers at the State Department sent its Inspector General to divine what exactly the 59-year-old was doing.

The Inspector General reported in February that Kmiec had an "unconventional approach to his role", spending a lot of time writing on the "interfaith initiative" - although to be fair the White House had explicitly sanctioned this aspect of Kmiec's role.

Read more:,people,news,religious-us-ambassador-quits-malta-as-reality-bites#ixzz1Js5gvHPt

gus: the cosmos has no clue about itself...

From Martin Amis

The atheistic position merits an adjective that no one would dream of applying to you: it is lenten. And agnosticism, I respectfully suggest, is a slightly more logical and decorous response to our situation – to the indecipherable grandeur of what is now being (hesitantly) called the multiverse. The science of cosmology is an awesome construct, while remaining embarrassingly incomplete and approximate; and over the last 30 years it has garnered little but a series of humiliations. So when I hear a man declare himself to be an atheist, I sometimes think of the enterprising termite who, while continuing to go about his tasks, declares himself to be an individualist. It cannot be altogether frivolous or wishful to talk of a "higher intelligence" – because the cosmos is itself a higher intelligence, in the simple sense that we do not and cannot understand it.


Gus: crap... Martin, you've misunderstood the whole lot... Refer to Gus' third paradox:

Our individual consciousness is greater than that of the entire universe. One day you may or may not comprehend this postulate...

The point here is that the universe does not know that we exist, nor does it knows that it exists...

of religionism and brickbats...

The monographs on the origins of science by Oxford's Peter Harrison bear this out in compelling detail.

Tamas Pataki is totally wrong to suggest that the Greeks gave us the path of testing, experience and appeal to evidence. They gave us logic, for sure. But it was the followers of the Bible who insisted that logic alone cannot establish ultimate reality by deduction.

What is needed is "experience" - criticizing hypothesis from evidence and so verifying what is, not what ought logically to be. They applied this method first to the historical discipline, giving birth to the modern practice of history through research into primary sources (another story worth telling), and then to the physical world, giving birth to the empirical sciences.

What is perfectly clear is that Pataki's dewy-eyed ode to the wonders of Greek thought and his caricature of the bumbling "soothsaying" of the Jews and Christians owe more to his own dogma than to either evidence or contemporary scholarship on any of the questions he touches upon.

Dr John Dickson is the founding co-director of the Centre for Public Christianity, a Senior Research Fellow of the Department of Ancient History, Macquarie University, and teaches a course on the historical Jesus for the Department of Jewish and Biblical Studies at the University of Sydney.


One can have many titles of directors-that and doctors-this and still be annoyingly annoying... Why do I bother fighting these dorktors in religionism?... I should stay in my little box and enjoy life as it come, letting the illusions of whatever rule the roost. But I can't... I would not be able to live with myself by letting religious crap penetrate the psyche of a nation via a public secular broadcasting unit, under the guise of knowingness.

The good man, Dickson, makes a few dicky shot in the dark and slowly sinks into the quicksands of his religious fervour...

Since 4000 years ago, there has been a few parallel universes that have influenced Western civilization.  For example, christianity itself borrowed many (much of it) philosophical traits from the Greeks and the Romans. The influence from the Greeks and the Romans never left the side table... Christianity also inherited a fancy story-line from the jews... A story-line called "the ancient testament" that competes with fairy tales for children and that peddles much interpretation of funny "facts" if those facts ever happened... Imagination is a fertile ground.

For many years, the influence of christianity was enforced with the church (mostly catholic) aligning itself with kings, despots and emperors... It would not have lasted more than 250 years had this symbiosis not happened. This symbiosis was simple: the church hammered the masses into submission and the kings protected the church, though the church had its own armies... As an example of this one can only study the Cathars. Preceding this time there already had been some mighty free-thinkers all around, including Confucius and Buddha in the east, who did not make much noise, though some of the Cathars beliefs resonated strongly with the philosophical concepts of those — including reincarnation.

Like in Saudi Arabia today — under this catholic/despots alliance then — one would loose one's head for expressing an opinion that was contrary to the official line. People like Leonardo Di Vinci knew well how to navigate this dark side of the moon. They often did most of their arcane and scientific stuff in secret and those who did lift their head above ground, like Galileo, were cut down to size... Some of them believed in god, but most saw through the ruthless hypocrisy and the duplicity of the church...

So more or less, until what has been called "the enlightenment", proper philosophical expression had been reduced to an official whimper, though it was still running like mountain streams and underground rivers. There were witches, druids and all kind of atheist crackpots (crackpots to be eradicated for the church as much as possible)...

Revolution cannot happen unless there is a bit of stirring. Till then, the church and the kings ruled most  souls and able bodies for silly war. No proper science was able to lift above ground apart from a couple of apples falling on Newton's head. But by the end of the 1700s to the 1850s, more and more people were able to bypass the official religious dictum which had decreed that one shall live without understanding the mechanics of the universe nor those that made the seasons... Everything had been god created, of course and the bible was the only book to study in a circular motion.

Greed on a grand scale was the exclusive domain of kings — and of their corrupt entourage — and that of the church... All in all, "compassion" is only a recently revived concept in the church, though it had been promoted by Christ — and by Buddha before him. The main glue that kept the peasants under the thumb was "the fear of god" rather than goodness...

Status quo between greed of the powerful versus the poverty of the unwashed mass is basically the only lesson that Christianity left us with, until it started to be challenged earnestly in the 1820s. "The poor and the meek shall inherit the earth..." Crappy trick. Sure we're still admiring the buildings that the kings and the church left behind — like imposing pox marks on proper philosophical understanding — but the other bit called "morality" has been reunited with its Egyptian, Greek and Roman origins. Not to mention that the ten (there were a few more but those had been redacted) commandments were extracted from Egyptian laws at the time of the desert crossing by the Israelis...

We owe to the Arabic world an incomparable debt: numbers, including the zero. But then when the Arab world was overrun with muslim beliefs, it sank into philosophical vacuum by "studying" the same thing in a circular motion too... Like the Catholics, they placed women at the bottom of the scale, with donkeys and goats.

Thus western civilisation was in an apparent vacuum of thoughts, like the Arabic world... Though there were some inventive clever minds trying to break the shackles...

Then came the carbon revolution... Cheap energy was dug up (of course, dug up by the unwashed in slavery conditions) and a new mercantile activity developed... The ability to produce masses of goods had no choice but to find many more customers. True capitalism was revived, from the days it had been killed by the church when eradicating the Cathars. Serious science overtook the silly teaching of the church. Science does not owe anything to Christianity. To the contrary.

And Guess what? despite a few creationist loopies and religious nuts still out there, our western world is now ruled by science and has been since the beginning of the industrial revolution. The "morality" that had been modified from the Greek times and had become the privilege of finger-crushing inquisition has made room for a more "logical" approach to who we are and whatever universe we are living in. Ethics have replaced morals. And as the world is getting richer, the line that "the poor and the meek would inherit the earth" has lost all its traction. Greed has become the main motivator of modern humanity — that of the West. Now in order to survive, the catholic church and its derivatives mostly peddle "goodness and peace". But even the "goodness and peace" people go to war with the blessing of their spiritual corrupt manipulators...  

Christianity still holds to its dear illusions via theatrical rituals that seem to be overtaken by bigger funny hats... So do the druids whose main festival was highjacked into Christmas... So do witches and the moonies who huddle with funny-farm beliefs while dancing with the fairies...

A mobile phone though does not operate by the grace of god nor by magic. It works because of a greater understanding of what makes the universe tick: matter and energy, which at some level is one and the same in a relative manner. But to be stable at the mobile phone (cellphone for the US consumers) level, some mighty understanding of scientific processes — all that have superseded the genesis fairy tale — have had to be called upon, precisely.

So when one starts to announce "historical facts against atheism schoolyard delusions" to peddle a religious diatribe, one should be aware that one is going to get sharp brickbats from me.

see toon and articles at top...


Please note: I posted this (my) response — to the roundedly (taking information from a one and only vessel) researched diatribe by John Dickson — on the ABC comment page... So far my comment has not appeared after two days. Meanwhile many inane comments have endorsed Dickson's view point while others do not add to the counter-argument as I did. Sure I have used a couple of words that the ABC editor, Scott Stephens (who used to teach theology and has written on subject such as "the dependence of atheism on the christian legacy" — to which I say: crap), might have found offensive : "dorkstor" and "crap"... Yes... my lingo is not very nuanced nor tortuous unlike a bishop's philosophical justification...

apples falling on Newton's head...

I am please to say that after a few days the first part of the article above was posted on the ABC website... But the second gritty portion which continues with "from a couple of apples falling on Newton's head." is missing. I have posted it as a comment to my comment. Thank Auntie for posting some of my rambling, anyway... See what happens....

scold the religious nuts...





By Tamas Pataki


In a recent article, John Dickson chastised me for an array of scholarly misdemeanours allegedly committed in my piece on religious instruction in state schools.

I was dismayed by his article, a composition of misrepresentations, factual howlers, confusions and defective scholarship, marked by a nasty personal edge. But I was even more dismayed by the generally favourable reception from many of its readers who seemed to imagine that Dickson's piece is a work of scholarship that strikes a telling blow against atheist ignorance.

In this circumstance there seems little alternative but to work through Dickson's article systematically and expose its many deficiencies. Unfortunately, given the range of Dickson's errors, this will have to be a protracted exercise.

I want to say a few preliminary words about Dickson's main charge against me, something he calls a "tendency to competency extrapolation," before I turn to deal with the associated issues in more detail. Dickson says that I am "a technical philosopher" with a limited knowledge of historical scholarship. This he thinks is the main cause of my delinquencies.

I am a philosopher who specializes in philosophy of mind and psychiatry with some background in science. But we "technical philosophers" more often than not take a deep interest in the history of ideas, for reasons that will appear presently.

For my part, I have been reading and teaching ancient, and to a lesser extent medieval, thought for more decades than I care to mention. It seems to me that on the key matters that divide us - the relations between ancient thought and Western culture - and on which Dickson thinks that as a Biblical scholar he holds a trump card, he has at best a spotty understanding. I will demonstrate that later, but first I'll start with the minor irritations and work through them more or less in the order they appear.


"we have seen their accounts [Exodus and Numbers] of escape from Egypt, of wandering in the wilderness, and of massive conquests in Transjordan are overwhelmingly contradicted by the archaeological evidence. That may make many uncomfortable, but it is a fact, one from which no open-minded person can escape. There is little real history in these books, although there may be some vague memories of actual events ... [There] is little that we can salvage from Joshua's stories of the rapid, wholesale destruction of Canaanite cities and the annihilation of the local population. It simply did not happen; the archaeological evidence is indisputable ... [T]here simply was no Israelite conquest of most of Canaan ... Most of those who came to call themselves Israelites, and were so designated by contemporary Egyptians, were or had been indigenous Canaanites. There was no wholesale conquest, no need for it."

When he wrote this Dever was one of the key centrists and critics of minimalism. I reaffirm that the best research we have supports precisely what I wrote: I merely stated its conclusions. Dickson's description of my views as "outrageous misrepresentation" and "caricature" is itself an outrageous misrepresentation. I can only surmise that he is unaware of the recent archaeological work.


meanwhile, in polishland...

Vampires, the devil's deceit, and mental illness are among the hot topics for some 300 exorcists who flocked to Poland this week from as far away as Africa and India for a week-long congress.

Held at Poland's Roman Catholic Jasna Gora monastery, home to the venerated Black Madonna icon, this year's congress "examines the current fashion for vampirism in Europe and the world-over, schizophrenia and other mental disorders, as well as the devil's deceit during exorcism," according to the monastery's radio station.

Also attending are "priests and lay people who work with exorcists or who are themselves practitioners in cases which do not involve possession but rather other forms of harassment by evil spirits," Polish exorcist, Father Andrzej Grefkowicz was quoted as saying.

Hailing from India, world-renowned exorcist Father Rufus Pereira, as well as chief exorcist of the Archdiocese of Vienna, Larry Hogan, are among the participants, the radio reported.

The unusual meeting is held once every two years.

The Jasna Gora monastery's Black Madonna icon is believed by many Poles to work miracles.

Legend has it that it was painted by the apostle Saint Luke on a table top from the home of the Holy Family, according to the Jasna Gora website. Records suggest the icon arrived in Poland during the 14th century.

bugger me... and I though these practices had disappeared from the benevolent god's toolbox long ago... Exorcism is cultivated CRAP of course in the most spirtualised of fantasy-land... It would be funny if they did not take themsevlves so seriously... No wonder some of my learned friends could not care less about humanity but themselves... revisit toon at top and stories from top to bottom.

apple and eve on earth......

Apple's known for taking principled stands on all sorts of issues, and now it's taken another by pulling iTunes from the "Christian Values Network." CVN, which operates shopping portal, raises money for various religious groups through product purchases at over 600 participating companies (including Apple). Think Target, Avon, Netflix, Microsoft, Macy's, etc.

But according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), some of the religious groups are "active hate groups" engaged in "anti-gay, anti-women" activities.

Read more:


Meanwhile at the appointment:

As for Father Thomas Reese, SJ, the former editor of America magazine made his own priorities rather clear in fretting to the Philadelphia Inquirer that Chaput would "be a real pain in the neck for the Democratic Party."

Just about every story on the Chaput appointment identified the archbishop as a "conservative" (because he believes and teaches as true what the Catholic Church believes and teaches to be true); just about every story claimed that Chaput was a tough guy when it came to holding Catholic politicians accountable for their votes on abortion and the nature of marriage (while completely missing the fact that Chaput had consistently made genuinely public arguments, not uniquely Catholic theological claims, about the inalienable right to life and marriage rightly understood); and of course every story emphasized abuse, abuse, abuse (as if this were the only reality of Catholic life in America).


But somewhere on the moon:

That, in any case, is part of the story. But when the Lunar Prospector spacecraft orbited the moon in 1998, it found something curious: a bright bullseye of radioactive thorium on the far side of the moon between the craters Compton and Belkovich — a formation that seemed suspiciously volcanic. Now, the next-generation Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has turned its optical cameras on the site and has indeed discovered a vented mountain in the center of the thorium field, suggesting that not only is volcanism responsible, but a particularly rare type of volcanism — at least on the moon — one that produces lighter silicas instead of heavier basalts. What's more, while all lunar volcanoes were assumed to have last stirred three to four billion years ago, this one appears much fresher — just a billion or so years old.

Read more:,8599,2085558,00.html#ixzz1TOl32Le4


But back to earth:

While President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney may have different religious backgrounds, they share a surprisingly similar religious dilemma: most Americans can’t correctly identify their religion, and more Americans than not say that each of these leader’s religious beliefs are different from their own.

Much ink has already been spilled about the challenge Mitt Romney may face because of negative public perceptions of his Mormon faith. But the new PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service, shows that these concerns cannot be looming large at this point in the campaign-only four-in-10 Americans correctly identify Romney’s religion as Mormon. 10 percent identify him as either Protestant or Catholic, and 46 percent say they don’t know what his religious beliefs are.


Meanwhile :

Robbie Williams has been railing against the evils of capitalism on his personal blog. "The system is destined to explode, and I think it's sooner rather than later," claims the singer, who previously expressed an interest in 9/11 conspiracy theories and the illuminati. "If we could get Communism to work without corruption, I'm in... Consume, consume, consume: We're at the tipping point, my friends. Fasten your seatbelt, we're in for a bumpy ride. I'm a socialist capitalist, which leads to guilt..." And the source of Williams's internal capitalist/socialist struggle? "I'm having a bit of a Rolls Royce Phantom issue at the moment... I'd luuuuuurrrvvvveee [sic] one."


"Sacked Catholic priest Peter Kennedy says he hasn't given up on God and prayer, but no longer believes in Jesus. Father Kennedy, dismissed by the church for unorthodox practices, says he now considers Jesus "a fable". The rebel priest made headlines in 2009 when he formed a congregation in exile.

"He was earlier sacked by the church for unorthodox practices such as allowing women to preach the homily and blessing same-sex relationships.Fr Kennedy says he still believes in God, just not a God who intervenes in the affairs of humans.

"It's true I've given up on that sort of a God, that sort of a 'being' that sits up there in heaven somewhere and intervenes in human affairs," he told AAP on Wednesday.

"If you believe in a God that intervenes into human history why didn't God intervene in the massacre in Norway? Whatever God is, God is not that sort of God, obviously. "That's what I'm trying to say."

and if you have time check this out:


Gus is a rabid atheist.

the wrong debate...

There was a particular poignancy to this debate. The audience included Geraldine Doogue and her son, Sam Carroll. As many will know, Geraldine's husband and Sam's father, Ian Carroll, recently died.

Ian was a great lover of ideas and vigorous discussion. Moreover, Ian and Geraldine incorporated, in their own lives, the span of arguments to be canvassed at this debate. Hence, it was fitting that the debate was formally dedicated to the memory of Ian Carroll.

In this spirit, let the proposition be put that "Atheists are wrong":


Peter Jensen, "Why atheists are like flat-earthers"

Tracey Rowland, "Atheists are fundamentally wrong about the human"

Scott Stephens, "The unbearable lightness of atheism"


Tamas Pataki, "The only rational option is to ditch all gods"

Jane Caro, "Atheists are not wrong; not about God, anyway"

Russell Blackford, "On the crucial points, atheists have got it right"


Gus: why use Ian Carroll in this debate: He was a committed atheist. The debate should have been "There Is No God" and discuss the subject from there on, if one refers to Carroll in this "spirit".

I am a rabid atheist.


Why I Am a Naturalist



Naturalism is the philosophical theory that treats science as our most reliable source of knowledge and scientific method as the most effective route to knowledge. In a recent essay for The Stone, Timothy Williamson correctly reports that naturalism is popular in philosophy. In fact it is now a dominant approach in several areas of philosophy — ethics, epistemology, the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and, most of in all, metaphysics, the study of the basic constituents of reality. Metaphysics is important: if it turns out that reality contains only the kinds of things that hard science recognizes, the implications will be grave for what we value in human experience.


Gus: after watching (a bit) the enlightened drivel on Q&A last night — apart from a young cookie who had her feet on the ground — I felt like throwing some shoes to most of the distinguished panellists who were out of their depth..

First, that ghastly Gerard Henderson — who as usual was the chief sophist, this time with balmy sucking up moderation.

Raymond Gaita was below-par but passable... Like Gerard, he's mostly a fence sitter, working for a Catholic University.

The one who appeared to blab the most, like a cockatoo upside down on a wire with no reason, was that other enlightened ghastly fellow called Jim Wallace...

Meanwhile, "Her Catholicalness" Kristina Keneally was barely reasonable within the framework of her beliefs.

The young woman who made more sense was Christina Rad. But then she's a bit green in debates where the old toothless wolves still rule the pack, with sharpened dentures.

Thus there was not a moment on that Q&A session that I could say gave me something to think about except throw shoes...

Of course no-one raise the "naturalism" issue. There was a complete scientific by-pass in the debate unless I missed the bit, since I was watching this cracker of a show "Carlos" on another TV set at the same time...

But then, I'm rabid and an atheist concurrently...

the age of un-enlightenment...

Every state school in England is to receive a new copy of the King James Bible from the government – with a brief foreword by Michael Gove, the education secretary, to mark the 400th anniversary of its translation. In a move intended to help every pupil access Britain's cultural heritage, every primary and secondary school will be sent a new copy of the 1611 translation by next Easter.

The initiative has been criticised by secular campaigners as a waste of money. The National Secular Society said that schools were already "awash with Bibles". It urged Gove to send out a copy of Darwin's On the Origin of Species instead.


Is this a joke or what?

persecution for not believing in a god...

An Indonesian man who said that God did not exist in a posting on a Facebook page for atheists could face jail.

Civil servant Alexander Aan, 31, is now in protective police custody after he was attacked by an angry mob earlier this week.

He may also lose his job over his posting on the social networking site.

Atheism is a violation of Indonesian law under the founding principles of the country.

Indonesia - the world's most populous Muslim nation - recognises the right to practice five other religions aside from Islam, says the BBC's Karishma Vaswani in Jakarta.


see toon at top...

inventing a square wheel...

When he proposes building a temple for unbelievers, de Botton is reinventing a wheel that never really turned. The fad for atheist temples lasted for perhaps 60 years, while places of worship dedicated to something bigger than humanity have been around for thousands of years. There is a nice irony here. For all his loony notions, Comte was more intelligent than most of the atheists who came after him. He saw clearly that religion is an enduring human need that cannot be denied. Yet despite the formative influence it had on writers and philosophers such as George Eliot and John Stuart Mill, Comte's religion of humanity disappeared, leaving hardly a trace.

Read more:

See toon at top and all articles from top down... John Gray's article is a bit lacking with the wrong conclusion but what's the heck...


May be I read Dawkins wrong...


Revelation comes as Richard Dawkins and Archbishop Rowan Williams genially debate religion

BY Tim Edwards 
LAST UPDATED AT 10:08 ON Fri 24 Feb 2012


RICHARD DAWKINS, usually labelled an "outspoken atheist", has raised eyebrows after describing himself as an agnostic and admitting that he cannot disprove the existence of God.

His words came during a debate at Oxford University between the evolutionary biologist and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.


Read more:


I am not surprised but somewhat disappointed. Dawkins should know better than to "give an inch"...

He's turned into a god-like celebrity for "being an atheist" but is now an agnostic because he cannot prove nor disprove the existence of god... No one can for that matter, not even the priestly bishops...

Since (and before) the age of "enlightenment", god has been seen as an (human) "idea" rather than an entity by many great philosophers. The premise here one should ask why would an infinitely good god create a narrative that dwells in demonic crap like that told in the bible and other mad books for a few humans to reach a place of bliss when they cark off from this little planet — a minuscule lost pebble in the greater universe that has no finite edges... Entertain "himself"?... Bored with his own importance? Why would a god communicate "moral" codes that do not make sense to all of humanity at the time, then and now, so he tells some "chosen" sods to spread the message on camel back with punishment and promise land to boot? Totally nonsensical... Why did not Jesus Christ show "himself in Sri Lanka rather than in Israel 2000 years ago? Nonsensical So is the idea of the "church" adding extra moral codes (in relation to condoms and the likes) to satisfy some personal and social bent. 

May be I read Dawkins wrong, but I don't follow. I am a rabid atheist and that's me...

Muslims and Evangelicals -


Muslims and Evangelicals - one may not think that these two groups have much in common. Yet just as Muslims regularly have to fight the prejudice that all people of the Qur'an are fundamentalist extremists, Evangelicals who do not belong to the religious right often encounter disbelief that their religion also comes in a non-fundamentalist form.

I recently sat down with Mustapha Tlili, founder and director of the New York University Center for Dialogues, and Marcia Pally, professor of Multilingual Multicultural Studies at the same university, to discuss some of these similarities.

Professor Tlili's Center was established in the aftermath of 11 September 2001 and has since then devoted itself to promoting mutual understanding between the Islamic world and the West; Professor Pally recently published a study onThe New Evangelicals, in which she gives voice to a growing number of Evangelicals who have turned away from right-wing thought toward a focus on environmental stewardship, poverty relief and immigration reform.

This is the account of our conversation on religion and immigration in Europe and the United States. We discussed historical developments behind the prejudices against Muslims and Evangelicals, as well as possible strategies for countering these preconceptions.

Religions per se have an element of fundamentalism in them. This does not mean all people who adhere to religious beliefs are fundamentalists and extremists. Most would have tolerance imported in the religious behaviour "to a point"... Forgiveness and punishments in all religions are of utmost importance in relation to secular ethics... There can be frictions of incompatibility in regard to dress code, arranged marriages or simple absolution of crimes... We need to be vigilant should we be atheist like me, and watch for distortion of values to favour some ideas that could be truly incompatible in a fair system of democracy...


free bibles to promote murders and slavery...



As Dawkins reveals in today's Observer, support for the Bible plan is justified on the grounds of literary merit and he lists a range of biblical phrases which any cultivated English speaker will instantly recognise. These include "salt of the Earth", "through a glass darkly", and "no peace for the wicked". Dawkins states: "A native speaker of English who has not read a word of the King James Bible is verging on the barbarian."

Rapprochement would seem to be in the air – until Dawkins's thesis is studied more closely. While Gove believes the Bible is a guide to morality, Dawkins is sure it is not. "I have heard the cynically misanthropic opinion that without the Bible as a moral compass people would show no restraint against murder, theft and mayhem. The surest way to disabuse yourself of this pernicious falsehood is to read the Bible itself," he says.

In fact, its pages are riddled with the advocacy of murder, slavery and theft. Hence his support for Gove's plan: opening the Bible is the surest way to put young minds off its contents. From this perspective, the Dawkins-Gove alliance looks dead before it started.


in the name of the sacred download......



People everywhere are file sharing these days, using computers to download music or other materials, often ignoring copyrights. In Sweden, however, it is a religion. Really.
Even as this Scandinavian country, like other nations across Europe, bows to pressure from big media organisations to stop file sharing, a Swedish government agency this year registered as a bona fide religion a church whose central dogma is that file sharing is sacred.
''For me, it is a kind of believing in deeper values than worldly values,'' said Isak Gerson, a philosophy student at Uppsala University who helped found the church in 2010 and bears the title of chief missionary. ''You have it in your backbone.''
Kopimism - the name comes from a Swedish spelling of the words ''copy me'' - claims more than 8000 faithful who have signed up on the church's website. It has applied for the right to perform marriages and to receive subsidies awarded to religious organisations by the state, and it has tried, thus far unsuccessfully, to buy a church building, even though most church activities are conducted online.

Read more:


See image at top... and please help me... I am drowning in cynicism....



quantum gravity inside microtubules...



American Dr Stuart Hameroff and British physicist Sir Roger Penrose developed a quantum theory of consciousness asserting that our souls are contained inside structures called microtubules which live within our brain cells.
Their idea stems from the notion of the brain as a biological computer, "with 100 billion neurons and their axonal firings and synaptic connections acting as information networks".
Dr Hameroff, Professor Emeritus at the Departments of Anesthesiology and Psychology and Director of the Centre of Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona, and Sir Roger have been working on the theory since 1996.
They argue that our experience of consciousness is the result of quantum gravity effects inside these microtubules - a process they call orchestrated objective reduction (Orch-OR).
In a near-death experience the microtubules lose their quantum state, but the information within them is not destroyed. Or in layman's terms, the soul does not die but returns to the universe.
Dr Hameroff explained the theory at length in the Morgan Freeman-narrated documentary Through the Wormhole, which was recently aired in the US by the Science Channel.


Read more:





Of course here may come the cavalry of religious theologian who told us for years that the "soul" exists... The layman term "soul" (who knows where this comes from — from the scientists themselves or from News Limited spin?) is crappy. If that's the only interpretation that comes out of 18 years of solid research by two prominent scientists, well boohoo. It's rubbish. The idea of the microtubules and the whatever in the brains is neat — but totally incomplete and inconclusive... Other physicists have pointed out at "errors" in the concept and presented different models that would make the "microtubule consciousness" as ridiculous as religious beliefs...

For my own interpretations of things, consciousness is the delta (discreet change) of memory. There is no consciousness without memory. All life has a memory therefore all life has a consciousness in relation to the size of the memory — including plants that have no "brains" (no microtubes). The memory is stored in the arrangement of neurones (or arrangements of cells in plants) and when these arrangements are disrupted, then some of the memory is disrupted... as shown in Alzheimer's Disease, or by mind altering drugs. 

And by the way, we, humans, have a memory far in excess of what we need for survival brought by some "accident" of evolution. We thus "create" stuff to fill our empty memory space with stylistic activities that have no relation to survival. Nothing wrong with this, but this leads to a large gamut of interpretations of purpose and values.

There is no soul. Full stop. 


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creationist free schools should be creationism-free schools


The argument that children need to be nourished spiritually and morally as well as educated in the theorems of arithmetic and the dates of history are right: but those who use this argument thinking that only religion provides these things are more wrong than they know. There are rich, deep, powerful traditions of thought and debate about life and how it can be best lived in the philosophy, literature and art of our world, which have no reference to religion, require no “leaps of faith”, and appeal to the clarity of reason and the innate warmth of the human heart as their basis.

Religion is the belief system of our remote ancestors who knew little about the universe, and made up stories to explain it to themselves. It is extraordinary that so many people still live by those stories, so manifestly inadequate as a resource for understanding the world and informing our moral lives. Education should not be narrowing minds into the antiquated moulds of those beliefs, but opening them so that by the bright light of enquiry they can seek and examine evidence for themselves.

A young mind is a beautiful opportunity: receptive, curious, quick to soak up information and techniques; it is something to be treated with utmost respect, not twisted into shapes that conform to antique dogmas, but given every chance to grow and discover. That is what a free school should aim for: an education in intellectual autonomy.

Professor Grayling is founder and Master of the New College of Humanities


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protecting the atheists...



Office of Religious Freedom: A contrivance which will protect neither non-believers nor apostates (Canada)...


Montreal, 22 February 2013 — Atheist Freethinkers (LPA-AFT), an association which promotes secularism and supports the rights of atheists, denounces the creation of the new Office of Religious Freedom, recently announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This Office presents several serious problems.


Firstly, the mandate of the new Office does not explicitly include protection of apostates and atheists against persecution, and there is little hope that it will address the ill-treatment of non-believers as well as believers. In the words of David Rand, president of LPA-AFT, “Freedom of religion is not a fundamental freedom in the same way as freedom of conscience, but rather derives from it. Similarly, the freedom to have no religion and the freedom to criticize religious belief also derive from freedom of conscience. Indeed, without the right to leave one’s religion or to have none, freedom of religion is meaningless.”


The Harper government already displays a strong pro-religious bias and appears to us to care very little about human rights based on its recent actions: reduced funding to groups supporting maternal health including choice on abortion; grants to a homophobic Christian group working in Uganda; the naming of a creationist to the post of Minister of Sciences and Technology; elimination of several offices of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and of the organization Rights and Democracy; and so on. There is every indication that this new Office constitutes yet another measure increasing the influence of the Christian right, while being presented to the citizenry deceptively in the guise of protection of rights.


The best way to promote freedom of conscience is not to promote religion, but rather to advocate secularism which protects this right while assuring that states are independent and autonomous with respect to religions. But the mandate of the Office does not mention this principle and, worse still, the “ambassador” Andrew Bennett named to lead the agency is clearly anti-secular. Bennett is dean of a small Christian college in Ottawa and promotes an increased role for religious faith in government. According to Bennett, secularism in France is “fundamentalist” and our modern rights and freedoms are rooted in Judeo-Christian tradition, completely ignoring the centuries-long history of the struggle to be free from the burden of religious domination.


This new Office is under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Minister John Baird, in a speech in Washington in May of 2012, baldly declared, “We know that freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion.” More recently in September of 2012, in a meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly, the same Baird admitted that “We don’t see agnosticism or atheism as being in need of defense in the same way persecuted religious minorities are.” But the International Humanist and Ethical Union, in a report published in December 2012, described numerous cases of persecution of non-believers around the world. In some countries, atheists and apostates even face the death penalty.


This new Office of Religious Freedom must be denounced as a stratagem to mislead Canadian citizens.

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badly defending some crap in the bible...



The Bible honestly records the practice of slavery, but to see this as an endorsement of the practice, as Kevin Rudd did, is to significantly misunderstand the message of Christianity, writes Sandy Grant.

Last night, on a serious Australia current affairs program, Q&A, our current serving Prime Minister, a self-professed Christian, grossly caricatured the Bible.

A pastor questioned the PM's change of mind on same-sex marriage, pointing out that Jesus says, "A man shall leave his father and mother and be married" - summarising Matthew 19:4-6 - and asked why someone calling himself a Christian does not believe the words of Jesus in the Bible.



Nevertheless, it is true that the Bible also honestly records, and sometimes regulates, the practice of slavery. It is naïve in the extreme - just a poor reading strategy - to assume an endorsement of an institution or activity, simply because it is recorded without particular narrative assessment at one point, or because it is regulated - for what might be called harm-minimisation, or an ethic of retrieval - at another point.

Let's be clear. Even a cursory reading of the Bible would tell you it never says slavery is a "natural condition". Never. Not once.

Any material regulating the practice of slavery needs to be read alongside the extensive material which shows the Bible ultimately opposes slavery.

Canon Sandy Grant is the senior minister at St Michael's Anglican Cathedral in Wollongong


Gus: I have no idea where this fellow gets his opinionated fudgery from, but trying to cover the idiosyncrasies in the bible by using some sordid sophistic argument is crazily devious..

The bible is, like the koran and the tanakh, a book of fiction designed to make gullible people "believe"... The old testament is full of idiotic contradictions ON EVERY PAGE — including the usage (and thus approval) of slavery, with the practice of divinely inspired wars to conquer other people and enslave them — and the practice of bigamy-plus, with more than a dozen wives and sex with official prostitutes, called concubines...

The idiotic belief in the story of the "original sin" is more than beyond the pale — even before science tells us many things about our evolutionary ancestry... The list of crap is long, in these books of crap... One could even mention the marrying of underaged girls as sanctioned in the koran and mention the many duplicitous acts from a "creator" who must have been totally whacko to conceive such nastiness in devils and idiots such as humans.

To have this rather silly article published on the ABC, of course is part of the ABC's war on Rudd, who for once showed some proper insight into the crap of the bible... Of course this crappy article sits next to one from Chris Berg who carries on with his fantasies and pushing his ugly Liberal (CONservative) shopping list...

We do not deserve to be taken for fools, but unfortunately too many of us are... as mesmerised by the merde-och press relentless bombardment of slanted shit.

Tony's cockiness about demanding that "Labor does not commit suicide twice" by blocking the repeal of the carbon pricing, when "he is in power", is an indication of the little vain prick he is...


If you want to read the full fiction by Sandy Grant, find your own link... It would be too silly for me to guide you to it... Read articles from top.

winning our bread…...




In April of 1888, Eleanor Marx and Edward Aveling prepared a speech establishing one of the nineteenth century’s greatest writers as a socialist and identifying his work as a weapon of class struggle. Their subject was Percy Bysshe Shelley, and their audience the Shelley Society — an organization of the poet’s most active and prominent admirers, which had begun to confront the topic of Shelley’s political allegiances and their expression in his work.

Marx and Aveling wrote in response to a fellow member who viewed Shelley’s popularity with working-class readers as an opportunistic offense to the poet’s artistic project — and a threat to the entire craft of poetry. “I think the greatness of his writings,” A. G. Ross had claimed before the society a year earlier, “affords a rough measure of his inability to manage the world’s affairs.” Ross intended to rescue Shelley’s poetry from the “socialism of the streets,” whose tawdry aims of social reform he considered at odds with the demands of the poetic form. Reducing Shelley’s poetry to a blunt instrument of political messaging, he argued, would prevent the appreciation of that poetry on its own terms.

Two hundred years have passed since Shelley’s death at the age of twenty-nine, and in those years, Ross’s worst fears have been realized. Shelley’s verse has filled activists’ pamphlets and speeches, from the Chartist movement of nineteenth-century England to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory strike of 1909 New York and beyond. To express the brutality of tyranny, the imperative of popular resistance, and the material conditions of freedom, two centuries’ worth of working-class organizers have found greatness in Shelley’s writings, and in turn, they have used these writings to shape the world’s affairs.

It’s thanks to these upheavals of street socialism that Shelley’s work has encountered its most lively and insightful interlocutors, those who can imagine the relationship between poetics and politics as something beyond oil and water. And it’s essential that today’s socialists — like Marx and Aveling, and like the hundreds of thousands of working-class Shelleyans in labor movements around the world — recognize the poetic genre as an arena of class struggle.

Read as a set of political statements, Shelley’s work does not present a complete or even coherent playbook for popular resistance. But his ingenious use of the poetic form to attack exploitation in fiery, elegant language and to voice a ringing outcry for solidarity against the tyrant make him indispensable socialist reading. Eleanor Marx rememberedFriedrich Engels saying, “We all knew Shelley by heart, then.” We should still.

“Ye Are Many, They Are Few”

On September 9, 1819, in Livorno, Italy, Shelley sat down to compose a poem. Four days earlier, he had received news of a massacre just outside Manchester, England, in which 420 people were badly hurt and eleven killed. Sixty thousand peaceful protestors had joined a demonstration on August 16 at St. Peter’s Field, calling for universal suffrage and the abolition of the Corn Laws, which drove bread prices to devastating highs. They were met by the Manchester yeomanry, which had been ordered to arrest the protest leaders but instead charged directly into the unarmed crowd — a massacre that came to be known as Peterloo.

“I wait anxiously to hear how the country will express its sense of this bloody, murderous oppression of its destroyers,” Shelley wrote to his publisher, Charles Ollier, on September 6. “Something must be done. What, yet, I know not.” Three weeks later, he finished writing “The Mask of Anarchy” and mailed it to his friend Leigh Hunt, meaning for Hunt to publish it in his paper, the Examiner. Fearing censorship, Hunt withheld the poem. It would not be read in Shelley’s lifetime; Hunt eventually published it a decade after his death.

In “The Mask of Anarchy,” a poet dreams of supreme evil mounted on a pale horse. The figure is deathlike, but he is not Death; he is Anarchy, the state of chaos in which wealth and corruption replace democracy and justice. Before him come the masked figures of Murder, Fraud, and Hypocrisy, each adorned with the symbols of apocalyptic cruelty. Murder throws human hearts to an entourage of seven bloodhounds, Fraud’s tears turn to millstones that crush the children he passes, and after them follow more “Destructions” in the semblance of contemporary religious and political figures.

The motif of disguise allows Shelley to establish a vivid connection between abstract concepts of evil and the architects of human suffering that dominated his political moment. Murder is concealed by “a mask like Castlereagh,” the reprehensible viscount who crushed uprisings and tortured the United Irishmen to protect British rule in the late eighteenth century. In order to entrench his extremely unpopular regime, he bought out the Irish Parliament, securing the votes for its dissolution into the British Parliament. Fraud’s counterpart is Lord Eldon, who launched an outright war against the British working class as attorney general: he suspended habeas corpus, banned political protest, and classified complaints about the unaffordability of food as treason. It’s said that Eldon shed tears as he condemned his victims — the poor, the dissident, the wrongfully accused — to death. Accordingly, Shelley is not subtle in his representation of those tears’ weight on the lives of the innocent.

Shelley’s evisceration of Castlereagh and Eldon in “The Mask of Anarchy” shows that the poet aimed to do more than denounce tyranny and corruption in theory. In her speech for the Shelley Society, Eleanor Marx notes that Shelley “was the child of the French Revolution,” but unlike some of that movement’s other intellectual inheritors — here Marx names Lord Byron — Shelley had an advanced understanding of the material conditions upon which the Revolution’s ideal of freedom depended. Castlereagh’s suppression of Irish democracy, achieved through his vast wealth at the Irish expense, entrenched his power to exploit and terrorize his subjects. Eldon wielded his political power to criminalize public dissent against the starvation and suppression of the working class.

As their real-life counterparts had done in the years leading up to Peterloo, Shelley’s Anarchy and his procession terrorize the English people on their way to London, where lawyers and priests bow before him, recognizing his authority. Anarchy sends his slaves to loot the Bank of England and retrieve the crown jewels, but he is met along the way by Hope, who throws herself before the horse’s feet and summons “a Shape arrayed in mail,” a vision of light that leaves Anarchy dead on the ground. It’s her following speech to “the prostrate multitude” that has become a fixture of socialist literature, and that offers perhaps the finest articulation of class struggle in the poetic genre.

Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number

Shake your chains to Earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you —

Ye are many — they are few.

The refrain of “Ye are many — they are few” at once speaks to capitalism’s great inequality and its great weakness. The political system that allowed for the corrupt consolidation of power under wealthy peers like Eldon and Castlereagh ensured the suffering of millions of working-class people under their heel. Within “The Mask of Anarchy,” Shelley makes barbed reference to the debts incurred by the young, frivolous prince regent, millions of pounds paid back from public coffers. The prosperity of the few depended upon the material exploitation of the many.

“Ye are many — they are few” lands as a battle cry from Hope to the people, as it has landed with centuries’ worth of Shelley’s readers. It is a direct call for mass disobedience against a hostile ruling elite. The people’s power is in their numbers, and their goal is freedom. Because the exploitation that Shelley describes has the character of class-based oppression, the freedom that he envisions is expressed in the language of material conditions. “What is Freedom?” asks Hope:

For the labourer thou art bread,

And a comely table spread

From his daily labour come

In a neat and happy home.

Shelley’s freedom is tangible and intangible. Expressed in the following stanzas of the poem, freedom is the curtailing of power among the wealthy, laws untainted by corruption, the end of wars in which the poor spill blood for the profit of the rich. But the starting place Shelley chooses to explore his idea of freedom is one in which the worker prospers from the benefits of his labor. Other freedoms extend from this immediate right to food and housing, and that stability provides the crucial foundation for human liberty.

The Trumpet of a Prophecy

Shelley himself was unconvinced that poetry held revolutionary potential. In her essay “Poetic Form and Political Reform: ‘The Mask of Anarchy’ and ‘England in 1819,’” Romantic scholar Susan Wolfson notes his shifting views on the topic, particularly his belief that “nothing can be equally well expressed in prose that is not tedious and supererogatory in verse.” Wolfson’s reading of this statement’s inverse, though, suggests a strong case for poetry’s role in social reform: “When poetry is the expression, it communicates something mere prose cannot.”

History tells us that “The Mask of Anarchy,” along with “Queen Mab” and Shelley’s other political verse, conveyed something to working-class and socialist organizers that prose could not. It did not, for example, offer a model for reform or revolution. “The Mask of Anarchy” ends with that ringing cry — “Ye are many — they are few” — but by the poem’s end, the cry rallies its newly awakened, newly militant masses for a peaceful protest that ends in wholesale slaughter. Loathing violence, Shelley envisioned a movement of civil disobedience in response to Peterloo. His Hope urges the people to absorb their tyrants’ attacks, unmasking them as bloodthirsty fiends by offeringthemselves as targets:

And if then the tyrants dare

Let them ride among you there,

Slash, and stab, and maim, and hew, —

What they like, that let them do.

Shelley’s faith in this method of contesting power has certainly not been shared by many of his politically active admirers. They have instead found inspiration and clear, elegant articulation of class struggle in Shelley’s verse, giving that verse a sustained place on working-class and socialist bookshelves. In his People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn documents the use that the women workers of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory found in Shelley’s poetry, strengthening both literacy and political consciousness. Pauline Newman, a union organizer for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU), recalled the presence of Shelley’s poetry at her meetings with fellow workers:

We tried to educate ourselves. I would invite the girls over to my rooms, and we took turns reading poetry in English to improve our understanding of the language. One of our favorites was Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Mask of Anarchy.”

She goes on to cite the poem’s final, ringing stanza — which must have been in the minds of some of those twenty thousand workers, mostly women, who walked off their jobs in the garment industry in late 1909. It was a solidarity strike with the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory workers, who had been on strikesince September to demand safer working conditions, union representation, and fair pay.

The chilling familiarity of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory name tells us that the strikers of 1909 did not win the union representation and the working conditions that they needed to survive on the job. But the shock of the 1909 garment industry strike brought tens of thousands of women workers to an insurgent labor movement, and organizers like Newman turned to Shelley’s words in order to animate their urgent material struggle against the bosses and in favor of the prosperity of the working class.

The resonance of those words has endured through generations of socialist organizers and militants in the class struggle. Jeremy Corbyn ended his 2017 campaign as Labour Party leader by reading the same lines of Shelley that Pauline Newman and her Triangle Shirtwaist Factory comrades had recited to one another more than a century earlier. That campaign, which rejected Labour’s neoliberal turn in favor of a robust democratic socialist platform, did more than earn a larger portion of the votes than it had since 2005. It reestablished Labour as a party of mass politics for the well-being of ordinary people — a program that the party’s more liberal members had fought to prevent and are still fighting against now. Corbyn’s choice of slogan for the campaign — “For the many, not the few” — feels apt, and its wording feels familiar.

Perhaps the element of Shelley’s poetry most certain to strike a chord with a leftist audience is the poet’s ability to mine moments of uncertainty and despair for their potential to yield present hope and a revolutionary future. The final line of his “Ode to the West Wind” leaves an open question: “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” In his political writing, Shelley did not foreclose the possibility of brutal struggle, misery, and suffering in the overthrow of tyrants and the liberation of the working class. He did not even establish the certainty of triumph: Hope “looked more like Despair” as she threw herself to the mercy of Anarchy. We know the gutting cost that the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory workers paid for the greed of their bosses, when in 1909 they fought tooth and nail for the very protections that would have prevented tragedy two years later. They fought not because success was certain but because they had no other choice but to fight.

Shelley did not foreclose the possibility of brutal struggle, misery, and suffering in the overthrow of tyrants. He did not even establish the certainty of triumph.

In other words: our victory is not a foregone conclusion. But it’s the process of gaining consciousness and hearing the incendiary call to struggle that Shelley draws upon as an access point to a better, freer life. Time and time again, from the rooms of Triangle Shirtwaist Factory workers to Labour campaigns and public demonstrations from Tahrir to Tiananmen Square, organizers and revolutionaries have heeded that call in Shelley’s own work, and they have passed it along to us. We often refer to artistic endeavors like poetry as the “roses” that socialist organizing struggles to win for working people. But we can’t forget that poetry like Shelley’s has helped us to win our bread, too, and as our own time pits the many against the few, it is sure to do so again.







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