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I’m Irish, of English parents. I was brought up as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but am now an atheist. I remain fascinated by religion, both those similar to the one I left, and those very different, though I am more interested by the cultural context and the way people approach their beliefs than I am in the actual theology. (From this angle, Liberal Christianity and Liberal Islam are quite similar, and Conservative Christianity and Conservative Islam are quite similar.) Because I am interested in the social context and the interaction of religion and society, I often see religion at its worst, when it is trying to impose its rules on others, being intolerant and sometimes frankly bigoted. As an antidote, to remind myself that religious people are not necessarily evil, I hang around slacktivist (whose writings often attempt to answer the question, Why does the religious right tell lies all the time?) and The Slacktiverse (where people of many religious backgrounds have very civilised arguments, often about literature).

I might describe my own views as empirical materialist (see Tim Minchin: “Storm”), and my philosophy is probably secular humanist (see Tim Minchin: “White Wine in the Sun”).


Apr
5
comment Does transcendental meditation conflict with any Christian beliefs?
It's bound to contradict some Christian belief somewhere.
Apr
4
comment Did Jephthah sacrifice his daughter?
@Flimzy. If my memory is right, Hebrew inflects more for aspect than for tense, so translation can be tricky.
Apr
3
comment What is the relationship between the Catholic churches of various countries?
Now what is it I keep saying about theology being far less important than culture in the discussion of religion?
Apr
2
comment Are there Biblical reasons why a Christian should not believe that Global Warming is happening
+1 for your last paragraph.
Mar
29
comment What is the view of Jehovah's Witnesses on John 18:36 “My kingdom is not from this world”?
@vsz. Thanks. I don't agree with it either: I'm an ex-Witness atheist. But it does, taken on its own terms, make sense.
Mar
28
comment What are the reasons for calling oneself a “follower of Jesus” rather than a Christian?
@Narnian. I suspect we're using different definitions and talking past each other. To my mind, you appear to be denying history. You'd probably see things differently. Never mind.
Mar
28
answered What is the view of Jehovah's Witnesses on John 18:36 “My kingdom is not from this world”?
Mar
28
comment What are the reasons for calling oneself a “follower of Jesus” rather than a Christian?
@Narnian. Christianity is not a coherent set of beliefs. It's a cultural construct. And that construct has been, for much of its life, deeply anti-Semitic. Further, any association between Hitler and Darwin is somewhat tenuous, and certainly far more nuanced than you suggest. That the German anti-Semitism derived from Luther (and the general Christian zeitgeist) is a proposition somewhat more supported by the evidence.
Mar
28
comment What are the reasons for calling oneself a “follower of Jesus” rather than a Christian?
@Marc. Well, the anti-Semitism in Germany that Hitler tapped into did have definite Christian origins. (Luther himself was a notorious bigot.)
Mar
23
comment Are Christians socialists because they are commanded to share their wealth?
"Politically, the LDS Church stands neutral." Is that supposed to be some kind of joke? It's a rather sick one, if so. The LDS Chruch has worked very hard against human rights and equality. They're almost as bad as the Catholics.
Mar
20
awarded  Outspoken
Mar
20
comment Is there any Biblical argument against using “cuss words”?
What did you say?
Mar
20
comment Are Jehovah's Witnesses allowed to marry outside the faith?
@Kezzer. That's definitely true. There can be a strong social sanction. And Witness literature is very good at not actually giving orders as such. (Correspondingly, Witnesses become adept at reading between the lines, and interpreting and enforcing the orders which aren't directly there in the text.)
Mar
20
comment Are Jehovah's Witnesses allowed to marry outside the faith?
This answer could probably do with a glossary. Brother and sister are just terms for fellow Witnesses. An unbeliever is any non-Witness. The World is non-believers in general. The new system is the "new world order" after Armageddon.
Mar
20
revised Are Jehovah's Witnesses allowed to marry outside the faith?
Tidied grammar. Made less definite (changed "will" to "may" in some cases).
Mar
20
suggested suggested edit on Are Jehovah's Witnesses allowed to marry outside the faith?
Mar
19
comment Are Many Christians postmodern in their approach to modesty?
Please define the word postmodern. In architecture, it's a clearly defined term. In any other context, it's a bit of a mess.
Mar
16
comment What does the bible say about homosexuality?
@Richard. Actually, the Genesis account does not refer to homosexuality. It refers to gang rape.
Mar
16
comment Do Jehovah's Witnesses use different language for theological reasons?
Now sources have been added. I'll check them as soon as I get the chance.
Mar
16
comment What symbols are unique to the various denominations?
IHS is Latin, isn't it? Jesus Saviour of Men (where L. homo is gender-neutral, but is traditionally translated into E. as man, which used to be gender-neutral but no longer is).