I shall forsake the ministry for what I believe is right – now youre getting it…

Great article in the Herald by Ron Ferguson about the upcoming vote in the Church of Scotland’s assembly as to whether they will start back into the sterotypical Gay Bashing, or keep at least one foot in this century!

The Church of Scotland have always been an oddity for me – clearly, they have a brutal and vicious past, and imposed no less of an iron rod on the backs of everyone living in this country when they had a sniff of power.. but they have matured well enough, and become one of the more moderate church voices.

Of course, my Secret Fundie Informant proclaims that the Church of Scotland are not really Christians anyway – as they don’t follow the 100% bible bashing letter of the law. I can remember that from my own Christian days – every other sect is wrong, and in most cases even worse than the non christians!

Ultimately, it’s better for everyone that this happens – a little short term pain for longer term gain. Why? when christianity shows it’s moderate side, reasonable people can’t help but see the gentle side – it may well be a crutch, but you wouldn’t kick away someone’s crutch now, would you?

In contrast, when the “moderate” churches run back to their roots, and fire up some of that ‘ole time religion with gay bashing, derision and opression of women and all that jazz… it makes it much clearer to see religion for what it is:

medevialism, tribalism, backwards and unpleasant superstition.

Our nation would be better off without it.

Blinking Red Text on a Yellow background – yay!

People with artistic or musical abilities amaze me. My day job is rather more cerebral, and I spend a lot of time troubleshooting problems, coming up with solutions – logical, black box, step by step and above all rigorous “brain work”. Despite this (or possibly because of this, I’m not sure) I’m a fairly hands on person in my social life. I like working with wood, I do my own plumbing, tiling and so on. I mix my own concrete.

I have managed to produce a few things in my life that I am quite proud of – little bits of furniture, an absolutely kick-ass garden shed, those sorts of things.

That being said, I consider myself to be a well intentioned amateur rather than properly skilled – I can draw out a pretty reasonable isometric view of something I want to build, or a fairly accurate schematic, but when it comes to expressive art – sketching, doodling, drawing people, places, things – I probably have not advanced much since primary school days.

The same goes with music – despite many, many piano lessons I remained capable of producing a reasonably accurate but utterly lifeless and mechanical rendition of any music I tried. I just don’t have it in me.

People who can just make music or draw things realistically are just awe-inspiring – an incredible ability.

They are also, as it happens, one of the hardest bits of a campaign to get right – you need good graphics people, people with that natural eye for a good design or layout, the sort of folks that would just never use blinking text on a website.

There are a few new projects being mulled over at the moment, over the Scottish Atheist Council and it’s going to be important to get these things right – that’s why they are looking for some talented people (atheists, naturally) to start putting things together.

If you are (or know of) a Graphics Designer, artist or otherwise “arty” person with an interest in atheist/secular issues, please, get in touch.

It’s funny, because it’s true…

Ten signs that you are a fundamentalist christian. It’s hardly original, having popped up all over the Net, but it gave me a good laugh!

1 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when “an intolerant secularist bigot” denies the existence of yours.

2 – You feel insulted and “dehumanised” when scientists say that people evolved, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that some sky-fairy created us from a handful of dirt.

3 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.

4 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the “atrocities” attributed to Allah, but you don’t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in “Exodus” and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in “Joshua” including women, children, and even trees!

5 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that ‘the Holy Spirit’ impregnated a virgin, who then gave birth to a man-god whose father was happy to see him killed, and who then came back to life and ascended into the sky.

6 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

7 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most tolerant, forgiving and loving.

8 – Modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics all fail to convince you that there is no God. Yet some idiot rolling around on the floor “speaking in tongues” is all the evidence you need to “prove” your God exists.

9 – You define 0.01% as a “high success rate” when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

10 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.

The last one is especially important – I am an atheist, precisely because I have a full understanding of the bible. I used to be a born again christian myself, before I woke up!

A little less conversation, a little more relaxation please

I love flying business class – and here it is, at it’s best. Finished the various bits and bobs of work I had to get done in London today (over in Kingston Upon Thames – a wodnerfully scenic, if bloody hard to drive through bit of the city).

Rather than being stuck in the airport for hours, I swapped to an earlier flight, and got myself comfortably settled in the BA executive lounge – nice!

An interesting day all round really – it looks like the SNP are going to form a minority government with some support from the Greens – a good result in my book. I like the greens – I have my concerns about their energy policy, and have a whole bundle of issues with Public Transport as soon as you step outside of Scotland’s big five urban areas, but I think they are a strong voice for good.

The fact that they are one of the very few parties to take the issue of faith schools seriously is another biggie for me – naturally. I remember the street where I grew up, where my best friend and I were seperated age 5, he was dispatched to the “catlick” school, whilst I went to “proddy” school – we had played side by side, but within two years we didn’t speak to each other.

It doesn’t really matter what the justification for tribalism is – and frankly, I doubt the seperation had anything whatsoever to do with an understanding of the doctrinal differences between Young Mark’s catholicism and my methodism. The division would have been just as complete (and just as damaging) if they had just called them “blue school” and “green school”.

This is an Area where I am in complete agreement with Richard Dawkins – religion is one of the most divisive people labelling systems ever created.

Scotland would be better off without religion. In fact, that’s a good idea for a slogan – watch this space for a new campaign/project.

Rumours of our demise have been greatly exaggerated.

It’s always odd how people fixate on the wierdest of things…

One of my side projects over the past year or so has been the British Centre for Science Education. It’s an attempt to slow down the tide of creationist and ID nonsense pouring into UK schools from (where else) the good ole US of A.

Alongside the research work, digging into the backgrounds and interconnectedness of the players in the UK creationist movement, we run a discussion forum – it was the original focal point for discussions, and served to help pound out the hows and whys of what the organisation stands for.

Enter one David Anderson, or “Nappy Boy” as we affectionately call him, with an attack blog that I have delighted in showing to my friends for the last six months or so. Despite his original self stated “mission” being to convince anyone who would listen that we were not worth listening to, this guy spent days and weeks producing stats on our website, poring over our every update, capturing screenshots like crazy and generally trying to make a nuisance of himself (including being a very naughty boy, and trying to gain access where he wasn’t supposed to!).

Undeterred, we have pressed on, figuring out the good old fashioned way (trial and error!) which projects were worth pursuing and which were not. We got our membership off the ground (quite healthy now!) and started making formal approaches to the various decision making bodies that make and shape education policy here in the UK.

Of course, according to Mr Anderson and his Ill Informed Buddies at Uncommon Descent the thing that really matters is the number of posts in our public forums…

I could try to correct the mistakes, point out that the apparent drops in posts are largely down to discussion moving to the members areas of the forum, and a stricter editorial policy (to put it simply, less tolerance of fundie garbage!) but to be honest, I’m not too worried – if people consider you dead and gone, then they stop paying attention.

In the meantime, we continue with the important work behind the scenes, just as always.