As some of you may know, Mr Timonen has joined several atheist forums, presumably so he can invoke the rule that most of them have against the personal abuse of other members. Naturally this hasn’t gone down too well, and even those of us who think the rule ought to upheld are annoyed, but not surprised, by his underhand tactic. Some people have been creative though, and while these videos probably don’t abide by the letter of the rule, they seem to have survived on at least one board. I think they were made by the people who put it on Rationalia (using the names Tigger, Bella Fortuna and Paula there), but you need to be a member to see them in that forum. Here it is for non-members.(In case you don’t know, FUA stands for Forum User Agreement.)
As usual, if you like any of these videos click through and tell the right person.
Well the news that Richard Dawkins is suing his erstwhile protégé Josh Timonen broke a few days ago, and as I expected little information of any substance has been added since. I also expected that the best I would be able to do would be to link to this blog (click here). Thus far, it’s the fairest and most balanced account of what has happened, along with the background of what has become known as “forumgate”, the main reason for the high level of schadenfreude surrounding this affair.
All I can add to CJ’s account really are a couple of personal observations. For a while I was a moderator at the RDF forum, until real life and a loss of internet connection intervened. I could see for myself the disdain for the forum from the technical side, as the forum froze up and made moderating extremely laborious. Attempts to get a reply from those responsible for the “nuts and bolts” of the forum and the website as a whole dragged on for days, sometimes weeks, and were never fully addressed. When I eventually got back on-line as an ordinary member the technical problems had worsened and I can only imagine the long, deafening silences the forum staff (all unpaid volunteers) had to endure from the (highly paid) tech people, including the “talented” Josh Timonen.
It was one of those technical problems, which turned out to be human error, that led to me being asked to join the moderating team. One night I found myself able to access all the behind-the-scenes sub forums. I immediately contacted a moderator and soon the forum was shut down for repairs. For some reason my actions were considered remarkable, though it’s worth noting that CJ acted in exactly the same way. (Presumably he wasn’t asked to join the staff because he’s a Christian and that might have embarrassed Dawkins, though I doubt that Dawkins was asked.) We never got a proper explanation for what had happened; I suspect that those responsible weren’t sure how they screwed up.
Anyway, though my personal memories of the “technical wizardry” behind the RDF forum don’t really add to the discussion of Timonen’s alleged crimes, they may help explain some of the vitriol he is seeing now, from people he never could be bothered with, and who he royally stitched up when it suited him.
One thing I did notice recently was Timonen’s claim that he designed the “Out Campaign” symbol, , and that the intellectual rights for that symbol are his. If that’s an example of his talent as a designer, then he was even more overpaid than I thought. A capital letter “A”, in a font that someone else made, coloured red. That counts as design? Quick, grab your children’s colouring books and copyright them immediately!
It is often said by theists that religion is necessary, else a person cannot have any morality. Leaving aside, for the moment, the fact that many atheists lead very moral lives, often better than their religious counterparts, what is it about religion that is supposed to provide this morality?
For Christians the guidance apparently comes from the bible. Even when the sheer barbarity of some of the stories therein are pointed out to them, the usual answer is “well, it’s metaphorical, you’re not meant to read that bit literally!” Of course, they can never say definitively how one is supposed to identify which bits to read metaphorically, and which literally!
Let’s allow them one example of a story that, if taken as literal fact, is one that hardly inspires confidence in the goodness of the two main protagonists, God and Abraham. God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac’s life; to murder him, in other words. Abraham sets about this task, without any reluctance apparent in the text, and has Isaac on the sacrificial pyre with a knife at his throat, when God sends an angel to stop him.
Now if we are expected to believe that story as literally true, then Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, should be released at once. Who are the police and the courts to say that the voices in his head telling him to kill women weren’t real?
Of course, most Christians aren’t so deluded, and don’t read the story as literal truth, but in that case it must be a metaphor. What is it supposed to mean though? What is the moral of the story? That one should always obey God, no matter what He commands? How is that any different from the literal interpretation? However you read the story, it’s horrible, and as clear a case of child abuse as ever was documented.
No it is, like many other bible stories, a remnant of humanity’s barbaric infancy, and ought to be discarded. Sadly for Christians, the early church fathers chose to include the Old Testament, even having Jesus saying, in the Gospel according to Matthew, (5:18) “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. “
(5:19) “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Sorry Christians, you’re stuck with the whole bible, even the nasty bits.
Just for a change I thought I’d post something a little less controversial, though I’m sure there are some Daily Mail readers who would take umbrage at the sentiment in this song by Mitch Benn. If, however, you like this song click here to go to a site where you can share the video with others, through Facebook and several other outlets.
…I want to send him a Christmas greeting this year showing one of his predecessors with a communicant.
…or maybe this one:(and yes, I know it’s unfair to criticise Ratzinger for having been in the Hitler Youth, but my criticism isn’t serious, it’s a piss-take, unlike his attempt to blame atheists for the holocaust.)
I think it was Sam Harris who said that moderate theists cherry pick their scriptures, and that he has more respect for fundamentalists who accept their dogma in its entirety.
I can accept the first part of that statement, but is the second part tenable? Don’t fundamentalists also cherry pick? Bryan Fisher, speaking for the American Family Association, says that firefighters who stood idly by watching a house burn down because the homeowner hadn’t paid a $75 fee were right, and they displayed “muscular Christian virtues of individual responsibility” as opposed to the “weakened, feminized version of Christianity” supported by people who actually care about others.
Yet I’m willing to bet that Fisher is not averse to eating pork or shellfish, wears clothes that contain mixed fibres, and ignores many other of the standing orders in his instruction manual, the bible.
So the question is not whether a theist is a cherry-picker, but what kind of cherries are picked; the kind that reflect kindness, compassion and honesty, or the kind that reflect a desire to bully and control the thoughts and lives of other people.
It seems that an argument about free speech is to go before the U.S. Supreme Court. It involves the loathsome Phelps coven, the Westboro Baptist Church and the father of a dead U.S. marine, whose funeral the WBC protested at.
As much as it pains me to say this, I think the WBC are right in their free speech argument. That argument gives everyone, of whatever religion or none, the right to express their views, and if that right is taken away from one group (or even one person) it can be taken away from anyone.
On this side of the pond (UK) we don’t have a written constitution, and it can look to us like a very sharp double-edged sword, so a better way of dealing with scum like Phelps, in my opinion, would be to use that other edge, and protest against him and his “church”. Sadly I’m unlikely ever to get the chance of protesting in person, as the Phelps clan is banned from entering this country, but if the ban is ever lifted I’ve got a picture all ready to display. If anyone who can get near the WBC would like to use it, please do!
If you click on the link in my blogroll that has this picture……you may be surprised to see that it isn’t the blog of a godless heathen like me, but of a Christian. You may also be surprised to see a link back here, especially given my sometimes less than charitable opinion of religion.
That link on CJ’s blog is what has prompted me to write today. (He has an annoying habit of making me think!) If you go to that site and let the mouse pointer hover over the link to here, you’ll see the words “Dave gives Bad Religion what it deserves – hard!”
Apart from the undeserved intensity of such praise, I do have a slight quibble with the phrasing of this, mostly because I’m so pedantic! My first thought was “All religions are bad!”
I should say to begin with that I view religion as separate from religious people. I can respect religious people even if I cannot respect the religion or its scriptures. Of course, as I’ve said often before, there are some religious people I can’t respect at all, and a sliding scale of respect for others. CJ is at the top of that scale, in part because he has such a well developed sense of humour that he can link to such a blasphemous site as this!
In fact he is representative of most of the theists I know in real life. It’s only on the internet that he appears to be an oddity, though he’ll deny that last with typical self deprecating humour, and claim to be odd all the time!
In the news media too we see mostly scary theists and the quiet ones who mind their own business and don’t harshly judge those who disagree with them hardly get a look-in.
One who did was Richard Harries who, when he was Bishop of Oxford, appeared on Richard Dawkins‘ programme “Root of All Evil”. It was not so much an interview as a conversation between two old friends, and I still enjoy watching it, especially after encountering some rabidly dishonest fundamentalist on one forum or another. It reminds me that not all theists are nutters, and quite a few are nice, decent, thoughtful and intelligent people. I know I’ve said that before, but with the sheer overkill of the not-so-brights overshadowing them, the decent sorts get tarred with the same brush. Despite broadly agreeing with the idea that “moderates give cover to extremists” espoused by Sam Harris, among others, I think it is manifestly unfair to accuse those who espouse the kindness they see in their scriptures of the barbaric activities that are indulged in by attention seeking brutes.
P.S. Click here to see a provocativey titled, but excellently written post by CJ, which should show why he is one of the most respected theists on atheist forums.
As usual, DoctorE got there first!
Absolutely nothing to do with me (unfortunately) but I think it deserves to go viral. If you like it, please click through and tell the guy responsible. (Double click on the video while it’s playing.)