Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Burnee links catch-up


Due to the usual mad scramble up to the festive season, this blog has been ... quiet. So it's time for a bit of a round-up before launching towards the new year.

Why skeptics should pay close attention to Wikipedia « Skeptical Software Tools

How Scientologists pressurise publishers | Books | guardian.co.uk

Fred Edwords: The atheist bus campaign comes to America's capital | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

New Statesman - Democracy not fundamentalism

Daylight Atheism > Rapture Bonds

Daylight Atheism > Rick Warren? Shame On You, Obama!

Terry Sanderson: If Rowan Williams hasn't come out in favour of disestablishment, it's because he knows it would kill his church | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Presto! Your belief is… | Edger

The Freethinker › Islington Council did not discriminate against Christian registar
This is a good result - at least until the appeal ...

Medicines that contain no medicine and other follies

No More Atheophobia

Not, you'll have noticed, an exhaustive or balanced list of links - but I've been busy, you know?

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Neil Gaiman on Freedom of Speech

From the blog of Neil Gaiman, British writer of fantasy and comics, comes this impassioned response concerning the need to defend freedom of any and all speech, even speech you vehemently disagree with:

http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/12/why-defend-freedom-of-icky-speech.html

As a Brit living in the US he's acutely aware of the differences in legislation between the two countries:
I loved coming to the US in 1992, mostly because I loved the idea that freedom of speech was paramount. I still do. With all its faults, the US has Freedom of Speech. You can't be arrested for saying things the government doesn't like. You can say what you like, write what you like, and know that the remedy to someone saying or writing or showing something that offends you is not to read it, or to speak out against it. I loved that I could read and make my own mind up about something. (It's worth noting that the UK, for example, has no such law, and that even the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that interference with free speech was "necessary in a democratic society" in order to guarantee the rights of others "to protection from gratuitous insults to their religious feelings.")

Monday, 1 December 2008

The Resurrection is true because ... well, it just is!

I'm beginning to perceive a pattern in Christian theology, as manifested in some debates I've heard recently,* and that is the total reliance on the Resurrection of Christ. Both Wilson and Lennox placed ultimate importance and authority on the 'fact' of the Resurrection. Wilson, particularly, begged the question by saying, basically, that if you believe in the Resurrection you have to believe in all the other miracles in the Bible. But at no time in his debate with Christopher Hitchens at the Westminster Theological Seminary did he explain why he accepted the 'truth' of the Resurrection in the first place. (I strongly suspect that, if pressed, he'd claim it was true because it was in the Bible.)

Hitchens was genial but incisive, and on great form, though a lot of what he says in these debates is no longer new to me. Of the so-called New Atheists he's probably the most willing to debate anybody anywhere, and it's understandable that his thesis is familiar to anyone who's heard him debate on several previous occasions. Nevertheless, when his form is this good he's a special pleasure to listen to - literate, erudite and pointedly wry.

*Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson
(via RichardDawkins.net)

John Lennox and Michael Shermer
(via eSkeptic)
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