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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”).


May
10
comment What is a Christian's justification for a legal prohibition of homosexual marriage?
@AffableGeek. This site has an excellent definition of Christianity.
May
10
revised Is there any biblical support for copyright law?
Retagging.
May
10
comment Can a non-Christian sell his soul?
Did you try asking Hemant Mehta?
May
9
comment Is there any biblical support for copyright law?
@Marc. Also, even if a work is designed primarily to spread a message, copyright law can be of assistance with that. If you're spreading a message, you may not want altered versions of your work to be distributed. Licenses such as CC-BY-ND depend on copyright law.
May
4
comment Are birthday celebrations ungodly?
@Nok. I'm an ex-JW, and don't recall them mentioning Job in their discussions of birthdays. They do, though, mention Christmas. "If we shouldn't celebrate Jesus' birthday, surely we shouldn't celebrate our own either." My birthday was last week. I went on an adventure weekend at Killary Harbour. Great fun.
May
4
comment Are birthday celebrations ungodly?
@SonicTheHedgehog. The dance of the seven veils, of course. Though personally I prefer Oscar Wilde's take. Very very dark. (Though a production of the opera I once saw on television had her kissing the severed head of John the Baptist, in an image which I'd thankfully forgotton till your comment brought it back to me.)
May
4
comment What is the Catholic position on Exodus 20:4?
Sounds like whoever assigned that one to the Catholics was trying to make some sort of point. I hope you thanked the priest for being patient in the face of such blatant rudeness.
Apr
28
awarded  Convention
Apr
27
comment Why is Christianity so popular in (South) Korea?
You sound like there's two options: atheism or Christianity. This is surely a false dichotomy.
Apr
26
comment What is the Christian perspective on deceptive brain messages?
Greg, no, I've not read the book; just that excerpt. I didn't say it was pseudoscience. I just said it sounded like it. And referencing scientific studies is something most pseudoscience does. Does he reference them honestly? Working that out would take quite a bit of research effort.
Apr
26
comment How diverse or united is Christian history on the imagery of “Father” and “Son”?
Many people will say that God is "beyond gender" (which is a reasonable assumption), and yet go on to use exclusively male language. This has unfortunate implications and unintended effects, which the feminist language is directly intended to redress. Usually, the feminists are merely making explicit what is already an implicit doctrine. That people feel uncomfortable with that is an interesting window into their own biases.
Apr
24
comment What is the Christian perspective on deceptive brain messages?
You call this book an example of "modern science". Is it? And if it is science, why does it read so much like pseudoscience?
Apr
23
comment The Grace Gambit
@MarcGravell. Zoroaster wasn't a deity: he was a prophet (and quite possibly one of the first monotheists). The deity is Ahura Mazda. Get your mythologies right!
Apr
23
comment How do Creationist Christians respond to the evidence for Evolution?
Well, the "documentary" Expelled is known to be fraudulant, quoting many of its interviewees out-of-context. This is, in fact, an excellent example of how Creationists react to Evolution: they lie about it.
Apr
20
comment Are High School Pride Pep Rallies anti-Christian?
@ThomasShields. Agreed. Also, "having her repent afterwards" sounds like an uncomfortable degree of attempted mind control. Slightly creepy.
Apr
19
comment How do Christians exercise self-control in the abstinence of food during fasting?
And, having made that comment, I then went on to do precisely that, not eating from one lunch to the next. This was not intentional.
Apr
19
awarded  Pundit
Apr
16
comment How to handle a wife according to the bible?
"It may be good to ask her on what basis she believes Hinduism is true and why she believes Christianity is false." Why assume she believes that? Her approach to religion may very well not be belief-centered. Different people approach religion in remarkably different ways.
Apr
16
comment How do Christians exercise self-control in the abstinence of food during fasting?
Be very careful with health concerns. I could do that fast easily (I have been known to do so, simply because I was distracted and didn't get around to eating). For others, it could be quite damaging. Everyone's different. Don't try to be a hero about it: that helps no one.
Apr
16
comment Does following Christian spiritual law extremely, cause one to sin more?
@Jason. Yep. Priests raping children was not, actually, particularly common or a special scandal. It happens in all sectors of society, and was not markedly more common in the church. (Other forms of abuse, in church-run schools and disiplinary institures, up to outright slavery in Ireland's Magdaline laundries was a different matter.) The scandal was not in the rapes. The scandal was in the cover-up. And that's a rot which runs all the way to the top.