Thursday, 14 January 2010

Fringe on Fox

I watched one of the best episodes of Fringe I've seen last night. It was an "Unaired" episode I found. It was called Unearthed, and should have been shown as part of Season 1 last year.

So I wondered, as no doubt so are you now, why wasn't it shown? There was never talk of it being canned like so many other wonderful sci-fi series last year. Having watched it for about ten minutes or so, I started to hazard a guess as to why it hadn't been shown. ten minutes before the end I knew for certain!

The story is about a girl that is pronounced brain dead. The mother decides to switch off the life support, and the girl promptly dies. During the surgery to remove her organs, the girl wakes up, spouting an alpha-numeric code. Standard Fringe plot so far. As we'd expect, the team get assigned to investigate the phenomenon at hand.

Without listing any spoilers, as it's well worth a watch, I will reveal why I believe this episode wasn't aired. Being an atheist ("No, I'm shocked!" you cry) I noticed straight away the last rights being performed on the girl before the life support was switched off. The mother was Catholic. As the plot progressed as I have already described, the mother protested to the team's help with her traumatised daughter and their investigation. In true suspicious style, often seen in people of faith protecting their children (or at least that's what they think they're doing) the woman asks "Are you a religious woman, Agent Denham?", she replies "No.". "Then I imagine that you sit in judgement of those of us who rely on faith to guide our decisions about what's best for our loved ones". I was in complete shock! No more than people with faith sit in judgement of us, believe me!!

In moving on the plot prompts discussions of faith and leans slightly towards advocating scepticism (given we are dealing with a series primarily based upon the ties between one world and a parallel one, not really shocking!), a questioning of scientific methods, and an outright accusation of being false, when the scientist suggests a paranormal theory THAT IS BASED ON THE EVIDENCE AT HAND (in Fringe world anyway!).

Obviously the challenging of religious folk in not something that Fox are willing to stomach in their series. It is common, these days that we witness such cowardice in religious discussion. I fear that one of the main reasons for this is companies such as Fox being unwilling to start the discussion off in the first place, just in case some fundamentalist gets offended and switches off their TV. I am all for tolerance of beliefs, but not for tiptoe-ing around them, especially when a majority belief system such as Atheism, or Humanism depending on your preference of term, is frequently side-lined and undermined by those organisations whose power is simply a nostalgic nod to what once was so important.


Saturday, 9 January 2010

Saturday Funny

and on the 6th day...My day off ;-)

Watched this last night and Dylan Moran does a great job of summing up religion and completely writing it off at the same time! Hilarious!


Thursday, 7 January 2010

An Unreasonable and Intolerant Church

I was appalled reading an article in The Times telling of Lord Carey's call for a "reasonable limit" on migration to the UK.

He goes on to explain that allowing too many migrants plays into the hands of the British Nationalist Party. But surely stopping entry does that in itself??
He says;

"If we don't do something about this, we play immediately into the hands of the BNP. That is very clear indeed. They are working and exploiting frustration, a sense of alienation on the part of white working class people who are saying 'our jobs are being taken by people from abroad'."

Hmmm, and the church would never exploit someone's frustration or alienation in order to gain a follower? I smell hypocrisy.

He also states;

"They have got to understand our commitment to the English language and espouse it, and they must understand our history..."

Oh really? Would Jesus have turned away somebody who did not speak his language when in need of shelter? Is this the religion you are so proud of?

Carey is part of a parliamentary group calling for these limits. The group states its concerns around the detrimental effect to quality of life in Britain that an increased population would have. Obviously it is something to be monitored, however, lets turn the tables for a moment, shall we? Say there is a major catastrophe from which a major percentage of the British public must flee. Would we not all hope that other countries would be willing to accept us? Should we not be free to migrate as circumstances require, without countries being self-protecting?

If the Church is willing to turn their backs on people who, a large percentage of which at least, have a genuine need to come into the UK, then how can it maintain its elevated ethical position? I think this is an extremely poor show and goes only to prove that goodness and morality are NOT borne purely of faith.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Evict the Bishops

I really wish I had more leave left this year so I could attend this!

Evict The Bishops

The Labour Humanists have put a panel together to debate the future of the "Lords Spiritual" in the House of Lords. It features David Aaronovitch, Polly Toynbee, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens (Bishop of Leicester and Convenor of the Lords Spiritual), Jonathan Bartley (Co-director of the Christian think-tank Ekklesia) and Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Slos. The Rational Association are flogging this one so sure to be a few famous atheist mugs there too!

It is on the 27th January 7.30pm, is free but need to book (see link above for more details). Please do attend anyone who is willing and able, and give 'em hell from me!!! Literally.


Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Do We Really Need Religion?

Reading Theology for Atheists, article in the The Guardian by Nathan Schneider, it struck me that Atheism is being portrayed as without a philosophy of its own. The article talks about how theology is relevant to those who do not believe, and even suggests it is required for social harmony;

"Theology, perhaps, provides a point of access to these ambivalent powers in human nature and the chance to carefully, thoughtfully mobilize them anew."

The article seems to portray atheism as being mostly without passion, or at least, unable to express its morality with conviction. But do Atheists really need religion?

I haven't been to any atheist meetings (not counting Nine Lessons...), not am I part of an atheist group or organization, however I know that they exist. I also read the thoughts of my fellow atheist bloggers and can vouch for their "ambivalence". The National Secular Society, the British Humanist Association and the Rational Association all have many campaigns for the good of society in general. You will find few societies that are more vocal in freedom of speech and human rights causes than the aforementioned.

However, is it a niche area, a clique, if you will, that is too closed to general society? I had never heard of any of them before I strengthened my convictions and came "out" as an Atheist. But why would that be, with such avid supporters in the science world and comedy scene? The philosopher Colin McGinn in The Atheism Tapes documentary talked of a post-Atheistic society, in which the question of God doesn't even arise, except for in contemplation of the past. Are we moving closer to this, hence the lack of "campaign", so to speak?

The answer is, I feel, censorship. The reason we don't hear of Atheist groups, is that all attempts to advertise get banned. (My outrage at this is stoked further by the fact that in my town there are billboards advertising the local lap-dancing club, but at least the atheists aren't plastered across buses anymore!!) It would provoke outrage for anyone to question another's religion in public, unless it is theist to theist, at least, and even then, all bets are off when it comes to Islam!

So I say NO! We don't need theology, religion or god to be good and be passionate about being so. All we need is the freedom to speak up!

Monday, 4 January 2010

Sunday, 3 January 2010

"Creationist" Britain

"The real problem for public understanding, as anyone knows who has done any science writing, are the millions of people whose position is that they don't know, don't care, and don't want to do either."

Andrew Brown, writing in The Guardian (full article here) about how he suspects Britiain's 25% populace of "Creationists" aren't such due to religious conviction, but more due to a lack of giving a damn! "6,000 years, 6 million, 6 billion, it's all the same to me, is Corrie on yet? We've missed X Factor!!" No, I think you missed a chromosome actually.


R.I.P. The Craic, Long Live The Fundamentalists!

The Irish Blasphemy Law which came into effect on the 1st January 2010 looks like a great help towards many a cause. As long as free speech and critical thinking aren't too high on your agenda, that is.

Sigh, we edge another step closer to fundamentalism...

I wonder what Dara O'Briain thinks to it, as he did a wonderful stint at Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People this year. Part of his act revolved around how Irish comedians get most of their material from taking the pee out of Catholicism, so I'll expect the Irish Comedy scene to go very quiet for an extended period whilst they re-write their material! At least for the home audiences. And the Irish invented the Craic! What next??? Teaching Intelligent Design in their schools?


Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year

Having returned from a very long night of celebrations last night, all I have to say today is;


I am going to sleep now, yes, now. May your hangovers all be as bad and as longlasting as mine apparently is.

New Year's resolution is going well though. Have expanded my readership by flattering my best mate into being my critic.
Muhahahaha! Now if only I had more friends....