Religion

The Danger of Claiming That Rights Come From God

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 07/10/2016 - 10:16am in

To many, there's an appeal to the argument that rights come from God. But freedom is much more secure if we realize that rights flow from humanity progress.

Political Progress for Nonreligious Americans

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 08/08/2016 - 4:52am in

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Politics, Religion

Secular Americans have struggled to tear down the "fence of piety" around the political realm. And now they're making progress.

From Beginnings to Hope

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 11/12/2015 - 5:35am in

Can people's natural evil tendencies be overcome? A virtual-machine solution.

Divine synchronicity

Published by Matthew Davidson on Thu, 26/11/2015 - 5:02pm in

Of members of Islamic State:

It struck me forcefully how technologically connected they are; they follow the news obsessively, but everything they see goes through their own filter. They are totally indoctrinated, clinging to all manner of conspiracy theories, never acknowledging the contradictions.

Everything convinces them that they are on the right path and, specifically, that there is a kind of apocalyptic process under way that will lead to a confrontation between an army of Muslims from all over the world and others, the crusaders, the Romans. They see everything as moving us down that road. Consequently, everything is a blessing from Allah.

And of a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church:

As a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, in Topeka, Kansas, Phelps-Roper believed that AIDS was a curse sent by God. She believed that all manner of other tragedies—war, natural disaster, mass shootings—were warnings from God to a doomed nation, and that it was her duty to spread the news of His righteous judgments.

What scares the new atheists | John Gray

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 03/03/2015 - 5:00pm in

The vocal fervour of today’s missionary atheism conceals a panic that religion is not only refusing to decline – but in fact flourishing

In 1929, the Thinker’s Library, a series established by the Rationalist Press Association to advance secular thinking and counter the influence of religion in Britain, published an English translation of the German biologist Ernst Haeckel’s 1899 book The Riddle of the Universe. Celebrated as “the German Darwin”, Haeckel was one of the most influential public intellectuals of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century; The Riddle of the Universe sold half a million copies in Germany alone, and was translated into dozens of other languages. Hostile to Jewish and Christian traditions, Haeckel devised his own “religion of science” called Monism, which incorporated an anthropology that divided the human species into a hierarchy of racial groups. Though he died in 1919, before the Nazi Party had been founded, his ideas, and widespread influence in Germany, unquestionably helped to create an intellectual climate in which policies of racial slavery and genocide were able to claim a basis in science.

The Thinker’s Library also featured works by Julian Huxley, grandson of TH Huxley, the Victorian biologist who was known as “Darwin’s bulldog” for his fierce defence of evolutionary theory. A proponent of “evolutionary humanism”, which he described as “religion without revelation”, Julian Huxley shared some of Haeckel’s views, including advocacy of eugenics. In 1931, Huxley wrote that there was “a certain amount of evidence that the negro is an earlier product of human evolution than the Mongolian or the European, and as such might be expected to have advanced less, both in body and mind”. Statements of this kind were then commonplace: there were many in the secular intelligentsia – including HG Wells, also a contributor to the Thinker’s Library – who looked forward to a time when “backward” peoples would be remade in a western mould or else vanish from the world.

Related: New atheists are not scared, but they are angry | Letters

It’s inconceivable that a professed unbeliever could become president of the United States

If only the world wasn’t plagued by these troublesome God-botherers, they are always lamenting

“It is not only possible, but, on present evidence, probable that most conceptions of the good, and most ways of life, which are typical of commercial, liberal, industrialised societies will often seem altogether hateful to substantial minorities within these societies and even more hateful to most of the populations within traditional societies … As a liberal by philosophical conviction, I think I ought to expect to be hated, and to be found superficial and contemptible, by a large part of mankind.”

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A Vision for Change

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 02/03/2015 - 10:49am in

Quakers Divest from ‘Big Four’ Banks

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/01/2015 - 10:04am in

Behavioral Science and Development Economics

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/12/2014 - 1:11am in

If governments adapt to, instead of resisting, individual bias in decision-making, they can, through small, low-cost, but powerful actions, enable people to make decisions and behave in ways that will lead to their longer term well-being. The WDR15 is a very important contribution that signifies a changed reality is not so far away.

The truth about evil | John Gray

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/10/2014 - 4:00pm in

Our leaders talk a great deal about vanquishing the forces of evil. But their rhetoric reveals a failure to accept that cruelty and conflict are basic human traits

When Barack Obama vows to destroy Isis’s “brand of evil” and David Cameron declares that Isis is an “evil organisation” that must be obliterated, they are echoing Tony Blair’s judgment of Saddam Hussein: “But the man’s uniquely evil, isn’t he?” Blair made this observation in November 2002, four months before the invasion of Iraq, when he invited six experts to Downing Street to brief him on the likely consequences of the war. The experts warned that Iraq was a complicated place, riven by deep communal enmities, which Saddam had dominated for over 35 years. Destroying the regime would leave a vacuum; the country could be shaken by Sunni rebellion and might well descend into civil war. These dangers left the prime minster unmoved. What mattered was Saddam’s moral iniquity. The divided society over which he ruled was irrelevant. Get rid of the tyrant and his regime, and the forces of good would prevail.

If Saddam was uniquely evil 12 years ago, we have it on the authority of our leaders that Isis is uniquely evil today. Until it swept into Iraq a few months ago, the jihadist group was just one of several that had benefited from the campaign being waged by western governments and their authoritarian allies in the Gulf in support of the Syrian opposition’s struggle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. Since then Isis has been denounced continuously and with increasing intensity; but there has been no change in the ruthless ferocity of the group, which has always practised what a radical Islamist theorist writing under the name Abu Bakr Naji described in an internet handbook in 2006 as “the management of savagery”.

Most western leaders reject the insight that destructive human conflict is rooted in flaws within human beings

Aiming to exorcise evil from the modern mind, secular liberals have ended up constructing another version of demonology

“Most Germans, so far as I could see, did not seem to mind that their personal freedom had been taken away, that so much of their splendid culture was being destroyed and replaced with a mindless barbarism, or that their life and work were being regimented to a degree never before experienced even by a people accustomed for generations to a great deal of regimentation … On the whole, people did not seem to feel that they were being cowed and held down by an unscrupulous tyranny. On the contrary, they appeared to support it with genuine enthusiasm.”

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Isis: an apocalyptic cult carving a place in the modern world | John Gray

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/08/2014 - 4:00pm in

History has witnessed millenarian violence before. But Islamic State’s modern barbarism is a daunting new threat

The rapid advance of Islamic State (Isis) through Iraq has produced panic in the west – not all of it irrational. In part this comes from a dawning recognition of the scale of the disaster that western intervention has inflicted throughout the region. By dismantling Saddam’s regime the west broke the Iraqi state. There were no jihadist groups operating in Iraq before regime change. Now the country has been torn apart by one of them. The same is true in Libya, where the overthrow of Gaddafi has produced a complete collapse of government and an “Islamic Emirate” was recently declared in Benghazi. Grandiose schemes of regime change aiming to replace tyranny by democracy have created chaos, leaving zones of anarchy in which jihadist forces can thrive.

Western intervention played an important role in the rise of Isis. By backing the Syrian rebels against Assad – another secular despot – the west gave the group an impetus it would otherwise not have had. With jihadist forces including Isis being funded from Saudi and Qatari sources, there was never much chance of a “moderate opposition” taking over in the event of Assad’s defeat. A radical Islamist regime, another failed state or some mix of the two were – and remain – the likeliest upshot. As things stand, there is not much the west can do to disable Isis in any lasting way. No one can seriously believe that this now self-financing, media-savvy and militarily skilful organisation will be snuffed out by a bombing campaign. At the same time the prospect of being sucked into an unending ground war is deeply disturbing.

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