Thursday 15 January 2009

Ariane Sherine delivers her Thought for the Afternoon on BBC Radio 4

After the successful launch of the Atheist Bus Campaign, and another campaign last week for Radio Four's Thought For The Day to be opened up to non-religious speakers, the BBC has (a) caved in to pressure, or more likely (b) offered a sop to shut the godless heathens up, by allowing Ariane Sherine to present a "Thought for the Afternoon" on the BBC's iPM programme, hosted by Eddie Mair.

Ariane did a good job, with a well thought out thought, nicely presented. But I'll be extremely surprised if "Thought for the Afternoon" becomes a regular spot (and I'll be flabbergasted if Thought For The Day on the Today programme is opened up to secular viewpoints).

iPM website:

Audio available as an mp3 in the iPM podcast feed or as a direct download:

The relevant clip - 9'19" 4.3 MB mp3 - can also be downloaded from RapidShare here:

Saturday 10 January 2009

Apes and Angels - BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play

On Tuesday I was alerted (thanks Dad!) to the broadcast of an Afternoon Play on Radio 4, written by Jim Eldridge:

"A clash over the teaching of creationism at a flagship academy looks set to bring damaging publicity and embarrass the schools minister, who has close links to the industrialist behind the academy."
Available on BBC iPlayer:

If and when the iPlayer link above expires, download the mp3 from RapidShare here:

The play appears to take the side of the school, against a teacher who objects to teaching creationism, but in the words of a well-known UK science blogger, I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Thursday 8 January 2009

Burnee links for Thursday

Fundie Country Music Grandpa Hates You - Skepchick: Critical Thinking at its Finest

Bad Science » The barefaced cheek of these characters will never cease to amaze and delight me.

New Humanist Blog: Atheist Buses finally on the road

C of E leaps onto the recession bandwagon with a ‘prayer for the redundant’

Ariane Sherine: We did it! The atheist bus campaign is bigger and better then ever | Comment is free |

New Humanist Blog: Church removes "horrifying" crucifix

An older article, discovered serendipitously:
Daylight Atheism > The Age of Wonder

Is Dan Barker a fundamentalist? - Skepchick: Critical Thinking at its Finest

No, not in the strict sense. But he is a convert (or rather, a de-convert), and converts tend to be the most "devout". When Dan Barker ceased to be an evangelical preacher and became an atheist, it stands to reason that he would evangelize his atheism. The FRFF sign - that Skepchick writerdd's post is about - is intentionally confrontational, because it's trying to make a point. (It amuses me how often even the mildest expression of atheism is greeted with horror and protest by the religious, when their own public statements can be so inflammatory.)

I've not read Dan Barker's book, but it's on my list.

Your Insurance Rates Just Went Up - JREF

Tuesday 6 January 2009

Atheists no longer freaks of nature?

Last Sunday morning Riazat Butt, the Guardian's religious affairs correspondent, suggested on BBC Radio Four's "Sunday" that in 2009 atheists would no longer be considered "freaks of nature".

The programme is available as a podcast:
(44 min, 20 MB)

or via the BBC iPlayer:
(the relevant section is about 24 minutes in)

Thursday 1 January 2009

Rick Warren? Secularists should be thankful

There's a lot of fuss in the US at present, concerning the inauguration of President Barack Obama and his invitation to Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation. Secularists are understandably annoyed, saying it's a breach of the separation of church and state.

Secularists may also have wondered about Obama's motives in this selection, feeling perhaps that it's an immediate betrayal of the hopes that he embodied - pre-election - for a more rational administration.

But look at it this way: if a presidential candidate had a serious agenda to drastically reduce the influence of religion in government, the one thing that would scupper his or her campaign would be to come out as an atheist. By paying lip service to cosy and comfortable moderate religious values, a candidate is more likely to catch the votes of the religious majority, whatever beliefs (or non-beliefs) may lie in his or her heart. Once elected, that lip service would need to be maintained, to avoid charges of betrayal.

If Obama had not included a religious element to the inauguration, there might have been comments from fundamentalists, but I think the religious moderates would have let it pass. It's because of Pastor Warren's inclusion that the secularists have a legitimate grievance with which to raise their profile and promote their side of the argument. Secularism in America has become a hotly disputed issue, giving all sides the chance to air their views, and those of us on the side of rationality should be thankful.