Don’t like the UK election result? Here’s what you can do about it.

FPTP explained

Today, my Facebook timeline is, um, less positive than usual. There are several statuses that contain more swear words than all other types of word combined. Most are lamenting the election result and predicting dire things for the next five years.I'm not sure about the political leanings of my blog readership, but I suspect they're similar to my Facebook friends'. If I'm right about that, we're a bunch of people who believe we can change things for the better. We are optimists. We know the w … [Read more...]

A ceasefire: I am pausing my campaign against Accelerated Christian Education

Pause button

Sorry for the recent silence. I spent the first three months of this year working hard to increase my blog audience, and now I've frittered that away with two weeks of silence. Hopefully some of the new readers will stick around (hi!), but I imagine most will head off to other Patheos blogs which are actually updated from time to time.As my longtime readers know, I'm currently doing a PhD. I've spent the first two years of this procrastinating (this blog has been an effective outlet for … [Read more...]

Noah’s Ark Found, Says Scottish Education Committee Member


Gust post by Paul Braterman.Yes, today is April 1st. No, this is not a joke.The Reverend David Fraser sits as a full voting member on the Education Committee of Clackmannanshire County Council. So if you live in Clackmannanshire, he helps decide educational policy for your children, and if you teach in Clackmannanshire, he is, in a sense, your boss.Be afraid. Be very afraid. What you see next is straight from the Reverend’s Church’s web site. And there’s worse to come. … [Read more...]

Your Quaint, Silly, Ridiculous, Little Faith Is Not Lovely to Me

Blind leading the blind

Christians say that atheists misrepresent faith when they criticise it. Hoping to avoid this trap, I visited my Patheos colleague Tod Worner's blog, where he had a post entitled "My Quaint, Silly, Ridiculous, Little, Lovely, Lovely Faith". It's a title that seems almost designed to draw derision from atheists, so I won't bother.What interests me is this: You see, the myth, the fairy tale, the lark I believe in says something just a bit more complex, offers something a touch more ext … [Read more...]

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

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 23.57.36

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...]