6 January 2017
"I got into an accident in a taxi, and the ambulance refused to take me to the hospital until my male guardian arrived. I had lost a lot of blood. If he didn't arrive that minute, I would've been dead by now," tweeted 19-year-old Saudi Arabian female teenager.
In December 2015, women were allowed to vote and stand in elections in Saudi Arabia for first time in the modern history of the kingdom. The religious establishment opposed the move with the Grand Mufti describing it as "opening the door to evil", while women's rights campaigners said it heralded a turning point for women's rights in this tightly regulated absolute monarchy. In the same year, a gender gap index by the World Economic Forum ranked Saudi Arabia as among the worst countries to be a woman, placing it at 134 out of 145 nations. Did the election signal an improvement in the status of women in Saudi Arabia, or was it window dressing?
6 December 2016
There are still countries in the world in 2016, where people and children are tortured and killed sometimes by burning because they are considered to be witches, in the name of christianity. The justifications are the same biblical arguments that the Catholic church when it burned witches during the Dark Ages.
In Kenya in 2013, there were confirmed reports of suspected witches being burned alive by their local christian communities with the support of friends and families. In cases in Nigeria, the accused have been children as young as 2 and 3 years old, who are cruelly tortured and killed because of what the bible says about witches.
The witch burning is not even carried out in secret in many of these places. In Papua New Guinea, photos emerged of a woman tortured to confess ...
20 December 2016
Police in Nepal are investigating the death of a 15-year-old girl who was banished to a poorly-ventilated shed because she was menstruating. They say the girl suffocated after lighting a fire to keep warm.
Under an ancient Hindu practice, called chhaupadi, women on their periods are impure. It was banned in Nepal in 2005, but continues in remote western areas.
The body of Roshani Tiruwa was found by her father last weekend in a mud hut in the village Gajra, in Achham district, 440km west of Kathmandu.
Some communities in remote areas believe that they will suffer a misfortune such as a natural disaster unless menstruating women are secluded. While in isolation they are denied their usual intake of food and are prohibited from drinking milk.
26 November 2016
I love Christmas, and I am an atheist.
I have been told more than once by an angry christian that I have no right to celebrate Christmas. They then proceed to tell me that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus and unless I am a christian, I have no place enjoying the holiday. How I respond depends on the kind of day that I am having but if it is not a good day, they usually leave silent and chastised.
Christmas does not originate from Christianity, in fact, it was celebrated before Christianity was invented. It is a remodelled pagan festival thanks to the conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine's mother. Rather than introduce a new celebration, he took an existing festival and declared it the birth of Jesus. It caught on and with several additions, Christmas trees due to Queen Victoria's husband and German tradition and a bearded, red cloacked Santa as a result of a Coca Cola advert, persists to this day.
15 December 2016
Conservative MP Charles Walker has sharply criticised the media for unleashing "a torrent of venom" against Louis Smith, and said the Government was "nowhere to be seen" when it should have been defending free expression.
Mr Walker said the Government's silence over the hounding and death threats against Louis Smith "heralds, de facto, the reintroduction of an unwritten blasphemy law, enforced by threat and thuggery."
He said the episode "shamed our nation and its laws."
"In our liberal and open society, freedom of worship marches hand in hand with the freedom to lampoon religion. Quite simply, that is the deal."
14 December 2016
If you wanted a show that represented all Muslims, proportionate to their population, you might be disappointed. But if you are a reality TV show viewer - where you expect cringe, controversy and a tad of sensationalism, with editing for maximum viewing pleasure - there were insightful moments that illuminated the tensions in Muslim communities.
How should we best deal with the far-right English Defence League? Should it be through compassion and humanity, like Bara, as he hugged the EDL member; or through the honesty and integrity of Nabil who believed we have to stand up to racism ? Both have their place. The former can be successful in individual cases, such as when a York mosque defused an EDL protest with tea, biscuits and football; and the latter reminds me of the necessity of not allowing hate to be normalised by showing strength, such as the anti-apartheid struggle.
They're heavily veiled, believe in polygamy and have to follow thousands of rules. Yet increasing numbers of young and educated British women are converting.
Rasheed Benyahia was in a hurry. Like so many young adults going places in Britain today, he needed to get a move on.
When he said that he had only himself to blame for the death threats and abuse, he epitomised how morally redundant this whole controversy has become.
The castigation of a British gymnast for 'mocking Islam' is illustrative of a troubling return of blasphemy, argues Stephen Evans.
National Secular Society, 11 October 2016
As someone who works full-time to promote political secularism, to see what is now happening in France defended in these terms is deeply troubling.
The BBC and Demos have published an accidental case-study in why we should all stop using the meaningless and sinister word 'Islamophobia'.
National Secular Society, 18 August 2016
50 Reasons people give for believing in God by Guy P. Harrison
Many books that challenge religious belief from a skeptical point of view take a combative tone that is almost guaranteed to alienate believers, or they present complex philosophical or scientific arguments that fail to reach the average reader. Guy P. Harrison argues that this is an ineffective way of trying to encourage people to develop critical thinking about religion. In this unique approach, Harrison concisely presents fifty commonly heard reasons that people often give for believing in a god. Then he raises legitimate questions regarding these reasons, showing in each case that there is much room for doubt.
From religion as the foundation of morality to the authority of sacred books, the compelling religious testimony of influential people, near-death experiences, theories from ...
I describe myself as a secular atheist hence the name of the site. As an atheist, I am active in my opposition to religious privilege and intolerance especially when it comes to religion trying to enforce its values on all society such as the denial of equal rights for the LGBQT community and placing limits on women's reproductive rights.
I sometimes describe myself as a secular humanist because humanism matches my beliefs most closely. As a humanist, I am totally committed to human rights as defined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. I am proud to have been a member of the British Humanist Society for many years now.
Lastly, I am a parent, a husband, a teacher, a mentor, a friend, and a Bridge enthusiast (although not very good at it). I enjoy sharing my thoughts and ideas, and this site is one of my outlets to this end.
Thank you for visiting, and thank you for reading.
"Well, can you first explain what comets are?"
"Everyone knows they are objects made of rock and ice that orbit the sun."
"But not long ago, you Christians claimed they were messages from God. At that time, we atheists insisted that, while we didn't know what they were, we had no reason to think they were messages from anyone."
"And back then, a Christian would have demanded of the atheist, How do you explain comets? The atheist would have said, I can't explain it, but I know it isn't magic. It doesn't matter what you want me to explain, because you Christians have thought like ignorance-loving children throughout history. We are the ones who embrace knowledge, while you cling to unjustifiable belief in magic. What about earthquakes, hurricanes and solar eclipses? You Christians lied for centuries about knowing what caused these things, all while we atheists chose honesty instead, saying, 'We don't know what caused it, so don't pretend you religious people do either.' And, we were right, of course. So whatever it is you want me to explain, I got one thing to say: It ain't magic."
19 December 2016
Every fibre of my body rebels against legislating to limit people's right to choose how to live their lives. However, despite that, when it comes to the Burka and the Niqab, I think there are good reasons why it makes sense to ban both of them.
As an active atheist, I am strongly opposed to religion, but I am just as firm in my support of human rights. I will thus criticise religion as vociferously as I will defend a person's right to choose and practise their religion, with one and only one caveat - the practise of the religion must not infringe others' rights.
To be clear, I do not advocate banning any other form of Islamic dress, just the Burka and the Niqab. I have issues with the Hijab, Chador, and Dupatta because of what they say about gender equality, but nonetheless, I believe they should remain a matter of personal choice.
Seventh century Arabia was not isolated from the outside world, but quite the opposite. Arabs communicated and traded widely with nearby communities and passing caravans, and learned about the traditions and beliefs of other cultures, embracing and adapting some as their own.
One myth that was commonly accepted was that of creation, in which the sky and earth, each resembling a god, were joined together before their separation by gods. The Sumerians and the Egyptians, each had their own version of the story with their own gods as the players.
Rececently, it has become popular to claim that surah 21 verse 30 refers to the Big Bang.
Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together, before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?
The verse only talks about the earth and the heavens. Overlooking the fact that there is no explanation of what is meant by 'the heavens', this cannot be the Big Bang which was the beginning of the known universe.
In addition, the Big Bang happened 13 billion years ago while the earth only came into existence around 4 billion years ago. They did not happen even close in time. Furthermore, the earth was born out of a Supernova and had nothing to do with the start of the universe. They are unrelated other than in the most tenuous manner.
Finally, the similarity between the Sumerian creation myth and the Quran's version of creation is too great to be coincidental. Given that this myth was believed by many Arabs at the time, it follows that Mohamed was referring to it when he wrote this verse. The fact that Allah shares the beliefs of seventh century Arabs, demonstrates clearly that he is an invention of the time, whether by one or more people is not known.
Only one account of the Sumerian creation has survived. This account is an introduction to the story of "The Huluppu-Tree" (Wolkstein 4).
In the first days when everything needed was brought into being,
In the first days when everything needed was properly nourished,
When bread was baked in the shrines of the land,
And bread was tasted in the homes of the land,
When heaven had moved away from the earth,
And earth had separated from heaven,
And the name of man was fixed;
When the Sky God, An, had carried off the heavens,
And the Air God, Enlil, had carried off the earth . . . (Wolkstein 4)
"An" the male sky god and "Ki" the female earth were separated by Enlil, their son and later the chief god of the pantheon. Enlil thus carries off his mother the earth, taking his father's place in a manner somewhat similar to the way Kronos, in a much later story, usurped his father's (Ouranos') power. But where did heaven (An) and earth (Ki) come from, you may ask? According to another text, it was Nammu, the sea, "the mother, who gave birth to heaven and earth" (Kramer, Sumerian Mythology 39). In a dry climate, water is the ultimate source of life --Diane Wolkstein points out that the word for "water also means 'semen' in Sumerian" (139).