Books on God and Religion

On Thursday, Jo, one of the great commenters to this blog, asked my a couple of questions on the nature of the Almighty, which I tried to answer as best I could. I offered to put up here a few books, which might help people trying to explore for themselves the theological and philosophical ideas and debates about the nature of God, faith, religion and so on. I set up this blog about a decade and a half ago to defend Christianity against attacks by the New Atheists. I don’t really want to get sidetracked back there, because some of these issues will just go on forever if you let them. And I’m far more concerned to bring people of different religions and none together to combat the attacks by the Tories and the Blairites on the remains of the welfare state, the privatisation of the NHS, and the impoverishment and murder of the British public, particularly the disabled, in order to further enrich the corporate elite. Especially as the Tories seem to want to provoke war with Russia.

But here are some books, which are written for ordinary people, which cover these issues, which have helped me and which I hope others reading about these topics for themselves will also find helpful.

The Thinker’s Guide to God, Peter Vardy and Julie Arliss (Alresford: John Hunt Publishing 2003)

This book is written by two academics from a Christian viewpoint, and discusses the Western religious tradition from Plato and Aristotle. It has the following chapters

1. Thinking About God – Plato and Aristotle
2.The God of the Philosophers
3. The God of Sacred Scripture
4. Religious Language
5. The Challenge of Anti-Realism
6. Arguments for the Existence of God
7. The Attributes of God
8. Life After Death
9. Miracles and Prayer
10. Jesus, the Trinity, and Christian Theology
11. Faith and Reason
12 Attacks on God, Darwin, Marx and Freud
13 God and Science
14 Quantum Science, Multi-Dimensions and God

God: A Guide for the Perplexed, Keith Ward, (Oxford: OneWorld 2003)

1. A Feeling for the Gods
God, literalism and poetry, A world full of Gods, Descartes and the cosmic machine, Wordsworth and Blake, the gods and poetic imagination, Conflict among the gods, Friedrich Schleiermacher: a Romantic account of the gods; Rudolf Otto: the sense of the numinous; Martin Buber: life as meeting, Epilogue: the testimony of a secularist.

2. Beyond the gods
Prophets and seers; The prophets of Israel and monotheism; Basil, Gregory Palamas and Maimonides: the apophatic way; Thomas Aquinas: the simplicity of God; The five ways of demonstrating God; Pseudo-Dyonysius the Areopagite; The doctrine of analogy; Three mystics.

3. The Love that moves the sun
The 613 commandments; Pigs and other animals; the two great commandments; The Ten Commandments; Jesus and the Law; Calvin and the Commandments, Faith and works; Theistic morality as fulfilling God’s purpose; Kant, the categorical imperative and faith, God as creative freedom, affective knowledge and illimitable love.

4. The God of the Philosophers

God and Job; Plato and the gods; the vision of the Good; Appearance and Reality; Augustine and creation ex nihilo, Aristotle and the Perfect Being; Augustine and Platonism; Anselm and Necessary Being; Evil, necessity and the Free Will defence; Creation as a timeless act; Faith and understanding.

5. The Poet of the World

The timeless and immutable God; The rejection of Platonism; Hegel and the philosophy of Absolute Spirit; Marx and the dialectic of history; Pantheism and panentheism; Time and creativity, The redemption of suffering; History and the purposive cosmos; Process philosophy; The collapse of the metaphysical vision.

6. The darkness between stars

Pascal: faith and scepticism; A.J. Ayer; the death of metaphysics; Scientific hypotheses and existential questions; Kierkegaard: truth as subjectivity; Sartre; freedom from a repressive God; Heidegger and Kierkegaard: the absolute
paradox; Tillich: religious symbols; Wittgenstein: pictures of human life; Religious language and forms of life; Religion and ‘seeing-as’; Spirituality without belief; Non-realism and God; The silence of the heart.

7. The personal ground of being

God as omnipotent person; The problem of evil; Fichte, Schelling, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche: beyond good and evil; Omniscience and creative freedom; God: person or personal; Persons as relational; The idea of the Trinity; The revelatory roots of religion; Conclusion: Seven ways of thinking about God.


Teach Yourself Philosophy of Religion, by Mel Thompson, (London: HodderHeadline 1997)

What is the philosophy of Religion?
Why study religion in this way?
What is involved?
The structure of this book
What this book aims to do.

1. Religious Experiences
Starting with experience
What happens when you experience something?
What is religious experience?
Induced religious experiences
Charismatic experiences
Some features of religious experience
What can we know?
Authority and response

2.Religious Language
A private language?
Knowledge and description
Faith, reason and beliefs
The rational and the non-rational
Interpreting language
Cognitive and non-cognitive
Language games
The limitations of language

3. God: the concepts
God as creator
Transcendence and immanence
Theism, pantheism and panentheism
Atheism, agnosticism and secularism
Nietzsche: God is dead
Secular interpretations of God
A postmodernist interpretation
The Christian concept of God: the Trinity
Beliefs, language and religion
Religious alternatives to theism
Basic beliefs

4. God: the arguments
The ontological argument
The cosmological argument
the teleological argument
the moral argument
the argument from religious experience

5. The Self
Bodies, minds and souls
Knowing our minds
Joining souls to bodies?
Identity and freedom
Life beyond death
Some conclusions

6. Causes, providence and miracles

7. Suffering and evil
The challenge and the response
the problem
God as moral agent
Suffering and the major religions
Coming to terms with suffering
The devil and hell
Religion and terrorism

8. Religion and Science
The problem science poses for religion
the key issues
the changing world view
the methods of science and religion
the origin of the universe
evolution and humankind
Some conclusions

9. Religion and ethics
Natural law
absolute ethics
Morality and facts
How are religion and morality treated?
Values and choices

Postcript, Glossary, Taking it Further

God and Evolution: A Reader, ed. by Mary Kathleen Cunningham (London: Routledge 2007)

Part One

1. Charles Hodge ‘The Protestant Rule of Faith’
2. Sallie McFague ‘Metaphor’
3. Mary Midgley ‘How Myths work’
4. Ian G. Barbour ‘The Structures of Science and Religion’.

Part Two
Evolutionary Theory

5. Charles Darwin, ‘On the origin of species
6. Francisco J. Ayala ‘The Evolution of life as overview
7. Michael Ruse ‘Is there are limit to our knowledge of evolution?

Part Three

6. Genesis 1-2
7. Ronald J. Numbers ‘The Creationists’.

Part Four
Intelligent Design

10. William Paley ‘Natural Theology’
11. Michael J. Behe ‘Irreducible complexity: Obstacle to Darwinian Evolution’
12. Kenneth R. Miller, ‘Answering the biochemical argument from Design

Part Five

13. Richard Dawkins, ‘The Blind Watchmaker’
14. Richard Dawkins, ‘God’s utility function’
15. Daniel C. Dennett, ‘God’s dangerous idea’
16. Mary Midgley, ‘The quest for a universal acid’
17. Michael Ruse, ‘Methodological naturalism under attack’.

Part Six
Evolutionary Theism

18. Howard J. Van Till, ‘The creation: intelligently designed or optimally equipped?’
19. Arthur Peacock, ‘Biological evolution-a positive theological appraisal’
20. Jurgen Moltmann, ‘God’s kenosis in the creation and consummation of the world’.
21 Elizabeth A. Johnson, ‘Does God play dice? Divine providence and chance’.

Part Seven:
Reformulations of Tradition

22. John F. Haught, ‘Evolution, tragedy, and cosmic paradox’
23. Sallie McFague, ‘God and the world’
24. Ruth Page, ‘Panentheism and pansyntheism: God is relation’
25. Gordon D. Kaufman, ‘On thinking of God as serendipitous creativity’.

The Jimmy Dore Show on the Smears against Corbyn for his Response to Salisbury Attack

Mike over at Vox Political has already put up a piece commenting on the Tory and right-wing Labour attacks on Jeremy Corbyn for his response to the government declaring that Putin is responsible for the nerve gas attack in Salisbury on Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Corbyn stated in his speech that he totally condemned the attack, but wants absolute proof that Putin is responsible before blaming Russia and retaliating. This is just too much for the Tories, who when they find themselves confronted by a real statesman, rather than someone who just sabre-rattles and strikes nationalistic poses, immediately start lying. So the Labour leader has been vilified as Putin’s puppet, and for failing to condemn Russia for the attack in Salisbury. Despite the fact that Corbyn has condemned the attack. And the Beeb in their coverage was absolutely delighted when they showed the Tories cheering on the Labour backbenchers, who attacked Corbyn. This must have been music to the ears of their news editor, Laura Kuenssberg, who presented that piece. But Mike’s article shows how Corbyn is absolutely right, along with the support he has amongst thousands of people online sick and tired of Tory and Blairite lies, people who also make extremely good arguments in the Labour leader’s favour.

In this piece from the Jimmy Dore show, the American comedian and his co-hosts, Ron Placone and Steffi Zamorano, also discuss the smears against Corbyn. They make the same points Mike has made, and then apply it to the situation in America, where the Republicans and the Corporate Democrats are doing their level best to smear Bernie Sanders. And so Sanders has been reviled as racist, misogynist, wearing expensive clothes, you name it, they’ve flung it at him. This is, Dore states, how the establishment deals with anti-war progressives. It’s also, as they point out, the way the Democrats are attacking Trump. He’s being attacked as Putin’s puppet by that section of the Democrats that is now even further right than the Republicans.

He goes further, and describes his own vilification and smearing by his right-wing opponents. He has 300,000 subscribers to his channel, which is much smaller than The Young Turks’ 3 million. But he’s been smeared, his videos edited to make it appear that he’s saying things he isn’t and misquoted. He states that mostly he doesn’t respond to the smears, as this would elevate them and bring them to more people’s attention. With the exception of the Washington Post, when he decided he’d have a little fun. He makes the point that when Bernie announces his candidacy for the presidency, the abuse against him is going to make that against Corbyn pale.

Dore also makes the point that all this material from the intelligence community, like MI6, which supposedly points in the direction of Putin, really isn’t convincing either, given the way the intelligence services lied about there being weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And Steffi Zamorano also finds it very strange that the British government is leaping to attack Putin, but has declared that everyone in Salisbury is safe, and has not called the incident a terrorist attack.

Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, who was sacked and smeared because he was too honest, is also very critical of the identification of the nerve agent used in the attack. This has been identified as Novichoks, a toxin created by the Russians. But he presents evidence that casts considerable doubt on that identification, and the assertion that the Russians must be responsible. He concludes

1) Porton Down has acknowledged in publications it has never seen any Russian “novichoks”. The UK government has absolutely no “fingerprint” information such as impurities that can safely attribute this substance to Russia.
2) Until now, neither Porton Down nor the world’s experts at the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were convinced “Novichoks” even exist.
3) The UK is refusing to provide a sample to the OPCW.
4) “Novichoks” were specifically designed to be able to be manufactured from common ingredients on any scientific bench. The Americans dismantled and studied the facility that allegedly developed them. It is completely untrue only the Russians could make them, if anybody can.
5) The “Novichok” programme was in Uzbekistan not in Russia. Its legacy was inherited by the Americans during their alliance with Karimov, not by the Russians.

His article on this explicitly compares it to Saddam’s non-existent WMDs. See:

Some of the commenters on this blog have also pointed out that with an election coming up, and May seven points behind Corbyn, she definitely needs to start sabre-rattling to get the nationalists on her side. Plus, international tensions are delight to the arms industries, who want to sell more kit to our forces. And Porton Down, our chemical weapons research centre, has now been £50 million to build a new research factory. Which is just amazing, considering the government is pleading that there isn’t enough money to support the NHS, the sick, disabled, unemployed, the poor, schools or provide anything like the funding a really civilised society needs.

And as for supplying money to Porton Down, this comes rather late. As Mike points out, Labour set up a special regiment to deal with chemical weapons attacks. But this was closed down by Cameron in 2011.

And the backbench Labour rebels, who were attacking Corbyn seem mostly seem to be members of the Labour Friends of Israel. So the Israel lobby in the Labour party is seizing its chance to attack Corbyn, and try to get back into power that way. More smears by those, who manufactured the smears that Labour is full of anti-Semites and Nazis. I suppose I really shouldn’t be surprised. They’re very strongly connected to the corporatist Blairites, and it was Blair, who put pressure on MI6 to ‘sex up’ the dossier so it would provide a pretext for the Iraq invasion. So more lies from them.

Putin is a thug. In Russia he actively stamps on and persecutes opposition parties and politicians. Journalists and other critics of his regime are regularly beaten, and many have died in very suspicious circumstances. 14 other Russians have also died in similarly suspicious circumstances over here. But we have to be absolutely sure that he is responsible, not jump to conclusions, and make sure our response is proportionate and reasonable.

But May’s hysterical nationalism will play well with the jingoistic hordes of the Scum, Fail, Express and the rest, who will even now be salivating at the thought of making her into another belligerent Thatcher. Even if that means precipitating another, dangerous crisis in international relations.

Physics Textbook on Cosmology and Gravitation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 15/03/2018 - 10:20pm in

M.V. Berry, Principles of Cosmology and Gravitation (Bristol: Institute of Physics Publishing 1989).

Yesterday came the news of the death of the great British physicist and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking at the age of 76. Hawking had suffered for most of his adult life from motor neurone disease, since he was diagnosed with it in his early 20s. He was given only three years to live, but instead managed to live out a very full lifespan working on his theories of the origin of the universe and Black Holes. He was a great ambassador for science. His book, A Brief History of Time, was a bestseller when it appeared in 1980s, although he admitted that it was probably a book few finished. And he showed that it was still possible for a disabled person to do cutting edge research, provided they had the necessary technical and medical support. In his case, it was his wheelchair and the machine that allowed him to speak, first of all by keying in the words, then by twitching just a single muscle. Some of the praise seemed a bit too fulsome to me. Like when they started saying that he was the greatest scientist since Newton and Einstein. I don’t think he was. And Hawking on his own didn’t unlock the secrets of universe or Black Holes, as the Beeb’s presenters also claimed. As for his great sense of humour, well, it existed, as his appearance on shows like The Simpsons demonstrated, but my memory of it is marred by him turning up with the TV critic, Victor Lewis Smith, telling fart jokes and laughing on the 1990s series, Inside Victor Lewis Smith. But it really was inspiring to see how he was a great hero to the ‘A’ level students at a science fair yesterday, and how he had inspired them to become interested in science.

One of the complaints Richard Dawkins has made about popular science programmes is that they’re too ‘dumbed-down’. He points out that they have to have lots of explosions, and they mustn’t include equations, in case that scares people off. There’s a lot with which I don’t agree with Dawkins. I’m not an atheist, and have argued on this blog against him and the other militant atheists. But he is right here. Scientists writing the popular science books have said that they’ve been told by their publishers to leave equations out, because every equation in a book damages sales.

I think this is the wrong attitude to have. It’s why I’ve put up this piece about the above book by M.V. Berry. It’s an undergraduate physics textbook, which does contain the fundamental mathematical equations for this area of physics. Its contents include

1. Introduction

2. Cosmography
2.1 What the universe contains
2.2 The cosmic distance hierarchy and the determination of galactic densities
2.2.1 Parallax
2.2.2 Distance from velocity measurements
2.2.3 Distance from apparent luminosity
2.2.4 Weighing galaxies
2.3 The red shift and the expansion of the universe.

3. Physical base of general relativity
3.1 The need for relativistic ideas and a theory of gravitation.
3.2 Difficulties with Newtonian mechanics: gravity
3.3. Difficulties with Newtonian mechanics: inertial frames and absolute space.
3.4 Inadequacy of special relativity.
3.5 Mach’s principle, and gravitational waves.
3.6 Einstein’s principle of equivalence.

4 Curved spacetime and the physical mathematics of general relativity.
4.1 Particle Paths and the separation between events
4.2 Geodesics
4.3 Curved spaces
4.4 Curvature and gravitation.

5 General relativity near massive objects
5.1 Spacetime near an isolated mass.
5.2 Around the world with clocks.
5.3 Precession of the perihelion of Mercury
5.4 Deflection of light
5.5 Radar echoes from planets
5.6 Black Holes

6 Cosmic Kinematics
6.1 Spacetime for the smoothed-out universe
6.2 Red shifts and horizons
6.3 Apparent luminosity
6.4 Galactic densities and the darkness of the night sky.
6.5 Number counts

7 Cosmic dynamics
7.1 Gravitation and the cosmic fluid
7.2 Histories of model universes
7.3 The steady state theory
7.4 Cosmologies in which the strength of gravity varies

8 In the beginning
8.1 Cosmic black-body radiation.
8.2 Condensation of galaxies
8.3 Ylem.

Appendix A: Labelling astronomical objects
Appendix B: Theorema Egregium
Solutions to odd-numbered problems
Useful numbers.

there’s also a bibliography and index.

I’m not claiming to understand the equations. I struggled at both my ‘O’ level maths and physics, and what I know about science and astronomy I learned mostly through popular science books. But in the mid-1990s I wanted to see at least some of the equations scientists used in their explorations and modelling of the universe. One of the popular science books I was reading said at the time that this book was at the level that people with ‘A’ level maths could understand, and this didn’t seem quite so much a jump from my basic maths skills. So I ordered it. I’m afraid I can’t say that I’ve read it properly, despite the fact that I keep meaning to. Some of the equations are just too much for me, but I can follow the explanations in the text. I’m putting this notice of the book up here, in case there are any budding Stephen or Stephanie Hawkingses out there, who want to go a bit further than the pop-sci explanations, and see for themselves what the maths behind it all is like.

The Beeb also said in their eulogy for the great man, that Hawking hoped that the people reading his A Brief History of Time would come away with one point, even if they hadn’t finished it: that the universe is governed by rational law. Actually, this ideas isn’t unique to Hawking by a very, very long way. It actually comes from the Middle Ages, and is the assumption that makes science possible. Hawking was an agnostic, I believe, and many scientists are atheists. But this assumption that the universe is governed by rational laws ultimately comes from Christian theology. The founds of modern science in the Renaissance pointed to the passages in the Bible, in which God’s Wisdom creates the universes and establishes the boundaries and courses of natural phenomena, like the tides and stars. And the anarchist of science, Feuerabend, pointed out that the assumption that the laws of the universe all form a consistent whole come from Christian doctrine, quoting the 13th century theologian and philosopher, Thomas Aquinas: ‘We must believe that the laws of the universe are one, because God is one.’

Hawking has passed away, but it’s clear that he has inspired many more people to become interested in this rather arcane branch of the sciences. I hope this continues, despite the Tories’ attack on education and science and research for its own sake.

The Death Toll of the American Empire

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/03/2018 - 7:29pm in

I was reading one of the book reviews in issue 59 of Lobster yesterday, when I was struck by this little piece of information. The article included an estimate of the number of people, who have been killed worldwide, thanks to the Americans propping up a series of extreme right-wing and Fascist dictators as part of their global war on Communism. The number of people these butchers may have murdered is somewhere from eight to thirty million.

One of the very strong arguments against Communism, at least in its Leninist/Stalinist/Maoist variety is the number of people it’s killed around the world. And the strongest argument against Fascism is also the number of people those regimes have murdered, for no reason other than their ethnicity, political convictions or that they were simply disabled and so ‘unworthy of life’. The death toll inflicted by American imperialism, however, puts the US well into the league of murderous global states.

But this imperialism is still being promoted as giving the world freedom and democracy, despite the fact that it manifestly doesn’t. It gives instead its victims nothing but slavery, torture and death, all for multinational corporate interests.

One Eighth of Bristolians Living in ‘Fuel Poverty’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/03/2018 - 10:16pm in

‘Points West’, the local BBC news show for the Bristol region had a little report Wednesday night on the number of people in Bristol living in ‘fuel poverty’. This term, they explains, applies to anyone, who pays more than ten per cent of their income in heating costs. And there are 25,000 of them in Bristol. This is one-eighth of the city’s population. This is higher than in the surrounding country districts, but nationally about 11 per cent of the population are hit by it. They programme then interviewed some of the people, who had a choice between heating their homes, or eating.

They also talked to a Tory MP from over the other side of the country, who is trying to introduce legislation to improve matters. This won’t address issues like low wages and benefits, which are the root cause of this. No, he just wants to make sure everyone has proper loft insulation. David Garmston, the interviewer, tried to press him about the problem of low incomes, but he refused to be drawn, merely saying that he thought that Theresa May was concerned about this issue, and returning to his main concern of getting people cheap loft insulation so that everyone has it. And there the interview ended.

1/8 of the population of Bristol, or indeed, anywhere else, in fuel poverty is too many by far. The Tory’s plan for everyone to have state-sponsored loft insulation is a good starting point, but it’s only a starting point, not a solution.

And I don’t believe that Tweezer or any of the other Tories have any interest in the plight of the poor or those on low-incomes. Indeed, Tory policy for the past eight years or so has been solidly based on keeping wages and benefits low. Wages have either been frozen, or when they have been raised, the increase is deliberately set below the level of inflation. Benefits are being cut, and new ways invented all the time to throw the poor and disabled off them.

May and her squad of privileged thugs have promised that they’ll introduce a cap on energy prices, but this will not arrive for several months. Always assuming that it will arrive at all. The Tories have form for broken promises, and this is going to be one of them. I think they only made the promise because the problem of fuel poverty was too great to ignore, and that Corbyn and the Labour party had promised to solve it by renationalising part of the electricity grid. The prospect of any assault on the precious free market and private industry absolutely terrifies them, even when it is absolutely obvious to anyone not blinded by Thatcherite ideology that the free market doesn’t work. And so to stave off the threat of nationalisation, they’ve had to make a few promises of their own to regulate energy prices. Promises that I doubt they have any intention of keeping.

It’s been estimated that if the electricity network had been kept within the state sector, electricity prices would be 10 to 20 per cent cheaper.

This could all come back in Corbyn gets in and nationalises the grid. Which will mean cheaper electricity for consumers, but reduced profits for the energy companies, who donate to the Tory party, on whose boards no doubt many Tory MPs sit, and whose interests the Tories are keen to represent, against the wellbeing of the rest of us.

Don’t believe Tory lies. If you really want to see fuel poverty reduced, vote for Corbyn and the renationalisation of the electricity industry.

Dick Coughlan on the Rise and Fall of Katie Hopkins

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 22/02/2018 - 6:30am in

This is a long piece posted on YouTube from Dick Coughlan’s ‘Left-Wing Propaganda’ podcast, where the comedian and vlogger against racism, sexism and anti-gay prejudice comments on Katie Hopkin’s final departure from mainstream British media.

Hopkins was the loser on British version of The Apprentice, who then went on to make a career out of being a right-wing, racist, corporate loudmouth. This is the woman who said she wanted helicopter gunships to shoot down the immigrants crossing the Med in boats, and who sneered at the father of the little boy, whose body was washed ashore in Turkey after one of them went down. She’s a prize, nasty piece of work. But one no longer welcome in British media. She lost her job with the Daily Mail the other day, and has now gone off to join Rebel Media. They’re another far right outfit with a nice line in racist, anti-immigrant politics. They’re Canadian, and if she moves to that country, it’ll be highly ironic, as she’ll be an immigrant. And way back in the 19th or early 20th century, the descendants of the original European settlers in Canada were campaigning against the influx of large numbers of new immigrants from Britain. But all this will be forgotten, as the new breed of extreme nationalists in Europe and America simply hate non-Whites.

Coughlan goes through the various newspapers and organisations that I have picked her up and then sacked her, or released her, because her views were just too toxic even for them. The Heil is simply the latest. She’s also been given the heave-ho by LBC and the Scum amongst others. He also talks about some of the monstrous comments she’s made, and her foot-in-mouth appearance on Philip Schofield’s show on ITV. This was in a piece about children’s names. Hopkins stated that she wouldn’t want her child going to school with children named after places, because it gave the messages that the parents were low-class and uneducated. Or words to that effect. Schofield then pointed out that she’d called her daughter India. To which Hopkins replied that ‘India is not a place.’ Really? That must surprised the nearly 1 1/4 billion people, who live there, as well as all the people of Indian descent over here!

As for being sacked from the Scum and the Heil, how right-wing do you have to be? The Heil is the newspaper, which ran the headline ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’ praising Mosley and the BUF to the skies, when they were goose-stepping around in the 1930s, and in whose pages the father of the current editor, Paul Dacre, ranted about how wonderful Adolf Hitler was. The Mail has been consistently anti-immigrant, with a vicious hatred of the unemployed, the poor and disabled people on benefit, as well as unmarried mothers and anybody else they think is a threat to Tory values.

As for the Scum, that paper’s notorious for its racism. Always has been. Way back in the first years of this century, Private Eye published a piece stating that the Scum had been judged guilty of racism on 19 occasions by the Press Complaints Commission, as was. It comes to something indeed when Hopkins is far too toxic even for them.

Anyway, she out of British media. At least for the time being.

Eugenics in Japan: Records of Forced Sterilisation Programme Discovered

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 22/02/2018 - 5:49am in

This is another excellent piece of reporting from RT, which shows once again why it’s miles better than the Beeb and other establishment news services. This is a report from their Ann Vuger on the recent discovery of documents pertaining to the programme of forced sterilisation of the congenitally mentally handicapped in Japan. This was pure eugenics, as was made very clear in the title of this vile piece of legislation. It declared that it was ‘to protect the purity of the Japanese race’. It did not occur during the wartime Fascist regime, but ran from 1948 to 1996.

I think the operation was supposed to be consensual, but 16,500 people were sterilised without their consent.

The video contains testimony from one of the victims of the programme. This is a woman, who was falling behind at school. So her teacher and a government official forced her father to sign the papers for her sterilisation. The only thing the woman herself knew about it was when she woke up after the operation.

The sister of another victim also describes what happened to her. She states that her sister was forcibly sterilised as a congenital mental defective. In fact, the girl had been left brain-damaged by another medical procedure when she was aged two. And this was just one, of many false diagnoses.

Both these people had their identities changed and faces obscured for the cameras to protect them.

The programme also features Katsumi Yamamoto, Chief Executive and psychologist of the Tokyo Board of Public Health, who strongly condemns the programme and speculates about the existence of further files.

After the end of the programme, the records on it were destroyed, but as this shows, some have survived. It is hoped that the discover of these papers will help the victims in their campaign to sue the government for compensation.

This should delight the Tories’ Ben Bradley. After all, it was he, who wanted the unemployed to be forcibly given vasectomies to stop them breeding, along with a number of other highly offensive views. And Toby Young, a Tory journo who also delights in writing offensive articles, also attended a eugenics convention.

The eugenicists aren’t just in Japan. They’re right here in Theresa May’s Tory party. And they want to kill the poor and disabled.

Valuing Women With Disabilities

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 21/02/2018 - 11:02pm in


disability, Women

Valuing Women With Disabilities: Infantilised, Medicalised, Pauperised? Disability is too often framed as separate and foreign to what matters for women (Frances Ryan). The relative absence of disability in the politics of the feminist movement, as Rosemarie Garland Thomson suggests, means ‘that feminist assumptions can fail to take into account disabled women’s situations’ because ‘some of the differences that disability provokes can complicate feminism’s understanding of female bodies and the oppression of them’. This leads Susan Wendell to posit that: 'we need a feminist theory of disability. Both because 16 per cent of women are disabled, and because this oppression of disabled people is so closely linked to the cultural oppression of the body'. The seminar asks has the feminist movement and its scholarship too often forgotten disabled women? How do we ensure scholarship, across the humanities and social sciences, takes an intersectional approach to understanding multiple identities and experiences of women with disabilities from Black and Minority Ethnic communities?
In this seminar Dr Helen Brookman celebrates the work of Anna Gurney, a pioneering nineteenth-century scholar of Anglo-Saxon, who became a wheelchair user following an illness in childhood. Dr Brookman examines the impact Gurney's disability had on her scholarly praxis and considers the implications for writing the feminist history of scholarship.
Julie Jaye Charles FRSA SARSM is Chief Executive and founder of Equalities National Council of Disabled People and Carers from Black and Minority Ethnic communities. For 30 years, Julie has been deeply involved in developing Black (BME) community driven strategies directly on improving the well-being, representation and social inclusion of those communities. She will discuss her vision of working with government to recognise and abolish the multiple inequalities and social exclusion which form the many barriers that undermine the value of BME disabled people and carers, across the spectrum of Health, Social Well-being and Care, Housing, Employment, Volunteering, Education, and Crime.

When To Engage With Harmful Ideas

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 20/02/2018 - 12:46am in


disability, Ideas

Are some ideas so harmful or offensive that scholars should not work on them, or even bother to respond to them? And if so, how do we figure out which ones?

University of Virginia professor of philosophy Elizabeth Barnes takes up these questions in “Arguments that Harm—and Why We Need Them,” an essay published yesterday at The Chronicle of Higher Education (possibly paywalled).

Barnes, author of The Minority Body: A Theory of Disability, writes:

I think about this issue a lot, in no small part because of the amount of time I’ve spent engaging with the work of the Princeton philosopher Peter Singer. If you’re an academic who works on disability, the name “Peter Singer” immediately resonates, and immediately signals contention. Singer thinks that the lives of people like me are (“on average”) less valuable than the lives of nondisabled people. He thinks it would have been permissible for my parents to have had me killed as an infant, and better (“on average”) if they could have replaced me with a nondisabled alternative. I find all this offensive, to say the least. Yet unlike those who think that Singer ought to be treated as a pariah, I engage with him and his work on a regular basis. Yet I struggle to explain why.

She clarifies that her interest is in whether and how academics should respond to such ideas:

When I talk about engaging with ideas, I mean taking ideas seriously—discussing and citing them, having them presented at conferences, responding to them in print or at symposia, and so on. There are separate questions that arise, such as whether academic freedom should protect them (surely it should), or whether they should be taught in the classroom (surely that depends on all sorts of complicated factors, including the size and level of the class, the students enrolled, your pedagogical aims, and your teaching style). And there’s also the issue of how non-academics respond to scholars who defend controversial ideas. (Disability-rights organizations regularly protest Singer’s public lectures, for example.) Here, though, I want to focus specifically on how scholars interact with ideas that many consider harmful or demeaning.

Part of her essay explains why it is reasonable for certain populations to fear the harm that would follow from widespread acceptance of certain ideas, and why even the discussion of such ideas can be difficult:

People who deal with the everyday reality of disability really do have reason to fear the claim—especially when it’s defended by one of the most influential public intellectuals in the world—that disabled lives are less valuable than nondisabled ones. Likewise, queer people really do have reason to fear arguments against marriage equality, and Muslims really do have reason to fear claims that Islam is fundamentally illiberal. To pretend otherwise is to discount the power of ideas… 

When professional norms dictate that you sit quietly and listen while someone says that your life is worth less, or that your child’s life is worth less, that’s hard. It doesn’t make us delicate snowflakes to acknowledge that difficulty and pain. So, contra the liberal ideal, I think we do have things to fear from the open discussion of some ideas. And the things we have to fear aren’t really about “offense”—they’re about harm.

Barnes will grapple with Singer’s arguments but she won’t, she says, take seriously “an argument for the moral goodness of rape,” for example, nor take steps to see that such an argument is engaged with. How should we determine whether to engage with such ideas? Barnes argues for a kind of cost-benefit analysis:

I can’t see how the benefits of discussing [the pro-rape argument] outweigh the harms. Perhaps the argument is clever or original, but let’s be honest—there’s a limited amount of intellectual value in any one argument. If I want to take up a challenging and interesting argument, I can pick one of the thousands of other challenging, interesting arguments out there. So the benefits of engaging with a pro-rape argument are minimal.

The harms, though, are not. Taking seriously an argument that justifies rape has the potential to cause intense pain to victims of rape, not to mention the potential to promote rape. Citing ideas, discussing them, responding to them is a type of scholarly currency. It’s academic signal-boosting. A pro-rape argument isn’t an important “option on the table” in debates about sexual ethics unless (by repeatedly discussing and citing it) we make it one. So the only reason to take it seriously would be the pure intellectual interest of the argument. But whatever minor intellectual value there might be in entertaining an argument that justifies rape, it isn’t worth the callous disregard for the real suffering of real people.

Singer’s views are different though, since even when not explicitly endorsed by people, they are, Barnes writes, implicit in speech and behavior that is quite common. Potentially harmful anti-disability views are thus already on the table, and because of Singer’s stature, they are already taken very seriously. The typical costs of engagement are already being borne, so the marginal costs of Barnes’ engagement are negligible. And if she can show how widely accepted potentially harmful ideas are flawed, the benefits of engagement could be significant.

Academics are “people who think hard thoughts and try to change minds and change culture,” she writes. We should be willing to “take on a measure of discomfort,” if we can, to argue for change for the better.

The whole essay is here.

[note: Many university libraries subscribe to The Chronicle. If you are paywalled by the link, consider trying to access The Chronicle as you would any other online journal, through you university library’s website.]

Robert Rauschenberg, “Erased de Kooning Drawing”

The post When To Engage With Harmful Ideas appeared first on Daily Nous.

Head of Jewish Labour Movement Conned Jewish Charities Out of Tens of Thousands of Pounds

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 10/02/2018 - 3:27am in

The Yiddish word for thief is goniff. And this is richly ironic, considering how the Jewish Labour Movement has smeared innocent, decent people as anti-Semites, simply because they criticise Israel. I think a touch of schadenfreude, the delight in the troubles of others, is well deserved here.

Yesterday, Mike put up a post commenting and reporting on a story in the Jewish Chronicle that Jeremy Newmark, the head of the Jewish Labour Movement, appears to be guilty of fraud. An internal audit of his management of the Jewish leadership Council when he was chief executive has revealed that he deceived that organisation, and the Jewish charity Chabad, of tens of thousands of pounds.

Newmark stood as the Labour candidate in the last election for the Finchley and Golders Green ward, which he narrowly lost. However, the trustees of the JLC, which includes the now chief executive of the Tory party, Sir Mick Davis, decided to hush up the report and not inform the police in order to avoid a scandal. Newmark left the charity in 2013, and the trustees kept the report into his embezzlement suppressed for the past five years.

Mike in his article makes the point that it seems from this he was right to refuse to go to a training weekend organised by Newmark’s band of merry libellers. He also wonders if the trustees’ decision means that they too were also complicit in his crimes. He naturally also raises the question of what the Jewish Leadership Council and Chabad think of all this. And then there’s the question why Newmark was allowed to become a Labour candidate, when his boss was a prominent Conservative.

In addition to all this, Newmark perjured himself at a meeting of an employment tribunal, and there’s the issue of £3,000 taxi fare to be sorted.

Mike concludes that

All in all, Mr Newmark seems an extremely shifty character, doesn’t he?</strong>


Well yes, although Newmark refuses to accept any guilt. No, there was no wrongdoing involved. He just left the charity because he was ill with diabetes. This always seems to be the answer of politicians and businessmen when they’re caught with their hands in the till or committing some other serious wrongdoing. No, there’s absolutely nothing to see here. No crime has been committed, and the management board or the Prime Minister has absolute confidence in them. Then you find that a couple of days later that they’ve resigned at the request of the very same management board or prime minister, who they claimed was so confidently backing them.

Newmark certainly comes across here as the type of shady character, who used to beat up other pupils at school for their dinner money. And given his light fingers, I doubt many people would want him dealing with any money in whatever organisation he decided to become part of.

But perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at Newmark’s crimes. The Labour party organisation of which he’s the head, the Jewish Labour Movement, is a nasty outfit that uses underhand tactics to smear decent people, who have fought anti-Semitism and racism all their lives, of anti-Semitism. Remember how they smeared Jackie Walker last year at the Holocaust Memorial Training Day. This was supposed to be a ‘safe space’ where those involved could air issues in secret, without fear of criticism or abuse. Walker, the daughter of a Jewish Russian father and Black American mother, who met on a civil rights march, was smeared because she dared to say that she did not accept their definition of anti-Semitism. This is a very convoluted piece that includes as anti-Semitic criticism of Israel. In fact, as Mike has pointed out, criticism of Israel is immaterial to anti-Semitism. It simply means hatred of Jews simply for being Jews. This is how Wilhelm Marr, the founder of the Bund der Antisemiten in Germany, who coined the term defined it in the late 19th century.

But because Walker disagreed with their definition, and is a critic of Israel and its brutal ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, they recorded her comments and then made them public in order to smear her as something she clearly isn’t. Walker is half-Jewish by descent, and Jewish by religion. Her partner is Jewish, and her daughter attends a Jewish school. It is a gross libel to call her an anti-Semite, just as it is smear Mike and so many others.

As a result, Walker has been subject to horrendous abuse, including comments from Jews that would certainly be classed as anti-Semitic if they were made by gentiles. She has been sent hate messages from people saying that they wish she had been killed in the gas chambers during the Holocaust. As has Tony Greenstein, that other long-time Jewish critic of Israel and anti-racist, anti-Fascist activist.

The Russian proverb has it that a fish rots from the neck down. So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by the deceitful, libellous conduct of the Jewish Labour Movement if its leader is an unconvicted fraudster. It may thus be a good opportunity to investigate his running of this vile organisation, to see if he has similarly mismanaged it and embezzled it of monies. Quite apart from its policy of smearing thoroughly decent people for purely political reasons.

And it may also be time to ask very serious questions about that other libellous Zionist organisation, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. They are also guilty of libelling decent anti-racists, including Mike. They are utterly unscrupulous in their conduct. The organisation purports to be a charity, but seven of its eleven patrons are members of the Tory party. A glance at the contents of their website shows that it has done comparatively little to tackle anti-Semitism in the Tories, or has done much to combat the real, frightening anti-Semites in the Nazi fringe. Like the viciously anti-Semitic banned terror group, National Action, who do believe the stupid, murderous lies about a Jewish conspiracy to enslave and destroy the White race, and whose literature boasts about and advocates the Jewish peoples’ wholesale murder.

Instead, most of it is criticism and smears of Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum.

The Campaign is nothing less than a political pressure, and as such is very definitely not entitled to charitable status. There is therefore a petition and other moves to have this revoked.

These people have the same morals as Newmark and his gang in the Jewish Labour Movement. So we are entitled to ask if they share their same contempt for the law, and are stealing money from their supporters and funders.