After three appearances, I’ve decided The Big Questions is harmful and exploitative

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I was on the telly yesterday. It was my third appearance on BBC1's The Big Questions, which means that Twitter has finally tired of making jokes about my hair. As usual, my Twitter timeline after the show was full of appreciative Tweets and new followers, and I'm sure the same was true for my debating opponents. That's the way the show works: people tune in to listen the people they agree with, shout at the people they don't, and have their prejudices confirmed. And that's why I'm not sure if … [Read more...]

Sorry, Tim Minchin, the Bible just doesn’t say that about rape

Tim Minchin at TAM 2009. Photo by Prokrastinuft.

I love Tim Minchin. If I start watching him on YouTube, an hour will disappear. And my favourite Minchin tune is "The Good Book". I love that it can be found by Googling Minchin's name along with "This song requires a boot". I love that it nails the absurdity of those who believe that the Bible is not only infallible but also all-sufficient—that it contains the answers to all of life's questions. And I love how he incorporates blistering piano playing like it's no big deal. Here it is:At … [Read more...]

Does creationism = homophobia? Creationists think so.

A bigot in 2012. Photo by John Foxe, public domain.

In January, I claimed creationism is inherently homophobic and misogynistic. Not everyone agreed; there was some discussion over whether I'd committed a logical fallacy. But I'll tell you who hasn't challenged my argument: creationists. They're in no rush to admit to being misogynists: they claim their particular brand of paternalistic sexism—'complementarian' gender roles—is in fact kind to women. But they're queueing up to admit that their belief in creationism excludes gay people.Last Mond … [Read more...]

Indoctrination as a wedge strategy: faith schools and foot-in-the-door techniques

Photo my Marcus Quigmire.

My last post on indoctrination, Children are not that gullible, which makes indoctrination even more odious, was an unexpected hit. I had no idea people would be so interested in the psychology of indoctrination. So here's a follow-up, about how the psychology of Foot in the Door techniques helps explain the exaggerated religious commitment you see from some religious school leavers.In 1966, Jonathan Freedman and Scott Fraser published the results of a psychological experiments that has … [Read more...]

Gay people are humans. Bob Jones III needs to acknowledge this.

Some human beings holding a sign. (Image public domain, author unknown)

Some commenters just don't get why I am not happy with Bob Jones III's slippery non-apology for saying gay people should be stoned.Todd Ferrell comments: Sometime I think the gay community wouldn't know an apology if it slapped them in the face...what do you want...him on a cross. Our validity comes through Jesus Christ alone - not Bob Jones or anyone else. Let it go! Yeah, let it go, gays! It's not like anti-gay rhetoric has real-world effects or anything. It's not as though 2013 saw a … [Read more...]

Why Bob Jones III didn’t actually apologise to gay people at all

Pictured: An utter bastard

As is widely being reported, Bob Jones III, former chancellor of Bob Jones University (BJU) has issued an apology for saying that gay people should be stoned to death. It is being less widely reported to whom he addressed his apology (hint: it wasn't gay people), nor that in the course of this apology he managed to refer to gay people as "sinners"—three times. Far from making amends, Jones has produced a masterclass in dog-whistling to your supporters while pretending to apologise for saying so … [Read more...]

Culture war lost as Christians discover puns


British webzine Christian Today has just run a very important article. It's called Ten Christian T-shirt Puns to Save the World. Evangelicals know they possess the only answer to our eternal destruction, and it's nice to see that they're taking their responsibility to rescue us from hell seriously.I've said it before: evangelicals don't really believe in hell. If they did, they'd be trying harder to save us. On the evidence of these T-shirts, they aren't trying at all. This one shows the … [Read more...]

Another ACE school bites the dust: this is the beginning of the end

black vultures

A journalist called me this morning, interested in writing a story about Dover School for All Nations, the failing ACE school who got trashed by Ofsted last year. She asked if I could send her the report, so I clicked on Ofsted's website, and saw this:It's closed. The website is down, and the 13 pupils on the school roll at the time of inspection will have to go elsewhere. It seems DSFAN has not survived the kicking it took from Ofsted.I'm an equal-opportunities opponent of ACE; I … [Read more...]

“Can I introduce you to Jesus?” “NOPE!”

Ronny and Ace

This image of Accelerated Christian Education's arch villain, Ronny Vain, has been doing the rounds on social media after hitting the front page of Reddit (comment thread here).The boy on the left, Ace Virtueson, is ACE's model student. Everything he does is perfect (in ACE's parlance, it 'reflects the character of Christ'). Ronny, on the other hand, never does anything good. None of the ACE characters could be called three dimensional, but Ronny's whole existence consists of (a) rejecting … [Read more...]

Vote for the #Ockham awards, see ACE get battered in London, and more!

Jonny Scaramanga receives the 2014 Ockham Award for best blog from Nathan Phelps. Photo by Zooterkin, used with permission.

Much excitement to share with you today:First up, you may remember that last year this blog won The Skeptic's Ockham Award for best blog. Nominations for the 2015 Ockham Awards are now open, and I should remind you to go and do your bit to recognise the world's heroes of skepticism. The official announcement from The Skeptic is particularly good because it says nice things about me (I'd pretend to be embarrassed, but you've all worked out I'm mostly just a walking ego by now). This year, we … [Read more...]