Religion - Intro Notes - Back to Index



On June 18, 2004, an unusual new landmark was unveiled at CERN, the European Center for Research in Particle Physics in Geneva - a 2m tall statue of the Indian deity Shiva Nataraja, the Lord of Dance. The statue, symbolizing Shiva's cosmic dance of creation and destruction, was given to CERN by the Indian government to celebrate the research center's long association with India.


Highly recommended essay - The Teafaerie does not believe in discarnate entities.


h+ magazine has published an article on The Psychadelic Transhumanists - featuring Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna, Mark Pesce and Eric Davis.


Glen Jenvey confesses that he wrote fake Islamist postings which formed the basis for Sun front page story.


An atheist summer camp in Somerset is offering children aged seven to 17 a "godless alternative" to religious camps traditionally run by the scouts and church groups.


The European Church of the Subgenius presents X-Day End of the World Show Spectacular!:

UFOs from another planet are coming to destroy the world at 7am, on July the 5th. There is only one way to be saved: come celebrate with us all night long. We will have comedy, preaching, bands, DJs, and will end the show with THE COMPLETE DESTRUCTION OF THE WORLD.


Glen Jenvey is mentioned again in a post about the violence which occured on the recent anti-Muslim "March for England" in Luton.


The bells of Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral are to ring out to John Lennon's anti-religious anthem Imagine.


It seems that someone called Glen Jenvey has been stirring up hatred between Jews and Muslims by planting false stories on extremist websites in the name of "Abuislam" and then using these stories as "evidence" of threats against prominent Jews. This all came to light thanks to invesigtive work by Tim Ireland, who has become the target of desparate smear tactics by Jenvey - Obsession Pundit Glen Jenvey in Meltdown.


The athiest bus slogan that might have been.


I just read an excellent piece on Atheists and Anger from October 2007 on Greta Christina's Blog.


Back in February, The Times Religion Correspondent Ruth Gledhill felt compelled to write an article for her column that I missed at the time. It was in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's apparent endorsement of the idea of adopting aspects of Sharia Law into British Law. Ms Gledhill mentioned existing cases where Muslim men in Britain who tire of their wives are getting them locked up in mental hospitals by railroading them through a procedure where they are seen only by Muslim men. And now there is talk of introducing Muslim legal procedures too - Has the Archbishop gone Bonkers?.


Believe in God? The Rational Response Squad say they can fix that.


There is a book by John Gorenfeld called Bad Moon Rising: How Rev. Moon Created the Washington Times, Seduced the Religious Right and Built an American Kingdom.


If you are looking for an atheist FAQ you could do worse than look at Sam Syreeni's A Blunt Atheist FAQ.


Ekklesia is a progressive UK think tank on theology and public life, and is one of the highest ranked religious sites in the UK according to Alexa.


On June 11, 1963, Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk from the Linh-Mu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam, burned himself to death at a busy intersection in downtown Saigon, Vietnam..


Do you know all the "Ten Commandments"? I don't but then I don't believe in the existence of their alleged source so there is no compelling reason for me to learn them. I am more likely to commit to memory "Ten Intentions for a Better World" which I just discovered at The Intenders of the Highest Good.


Dutch Muslims have criticised a government proposal to ban women from wearing the burqa or veils which cover the face in public places.

This whole issue is receiving a lot of attention in the UK too, and quite frankly there is a hell of a lot of nonsense being spouted on all sides. Some people seem to think if someone claims that their religion requires them to do X then a national law forbidding X would contravene basic human rights. But what if X involves human sacrifice as an extreme example? Or what (as with Rastafarianism) it involves use of a sacrement (cannabis) which is a banned substance? So either it is legal to cover your face in public or it isn't, and making exceptions for particular religions is clearly wrong. So for example, there is already UK legislation which gives police the power to demand that people remove face coverings in certain situations (it is part of one of the anti-terrorist bills). Leaving aside the question of whether or not the police should have such power, what if they try to apply it to a Muslim woman who is covering her face? And if she is covered by a religious exemption then I could just say that my religion requires me to cover my face in certain situations too, and if they forced me to remove my bandana but not the Muslim woman to remove her veil then I could rightly claim religious discrimination. Surely the police should not have arbitrary power to decide that one person's religious motivation is valid while another's is not?


Apparently "The 8th Gate Activation of the 11:11" will occur on 2007-02-11 at Master Cylinder in Mallorca, Spain. I have no idea what that is supposed to mean, even after reading NVisible, but it sounds cosmic.


Beleaguered Yazidi find peace high in Iraq's northern mountains.


The American Heritage Dictionary defines creationism as:

Belief in the literal interpretation of the account of the creation of the universe and of all living things related in the Bible.

The Jargon File defines creationism as:

The (false) belief that large, innovative software designs can be completely specified in advance and then painlessly magicked out of the void by the normal efforts of a team of normally talented programmers. In fact, experience has shown repeatedly that good designs arise only from evolutionary, exploratory interaction between one (or at most a small handful of) exceptionally able designer(s) and an active user population - and that the first try at a big new idea is always wrong. Unfortunately, because these truths don't fit the planning models beloved of management, they are generally ignored.


Check out the results of a survey which asked participants whether they agreed with the statement "Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals."


X-Day took place during the week of June 28th through July 5th. Aside from the Escape Vessels of the Sex Goddesses failing to show up once again, this was (apparently) one of the most enjoyable, exciting, and Slackful X-Days of all.

While on the subject of Subgenii, here is Rev. Ian Stang's history of Magdalen's custody court case.


Rachael Bevilacqua, put her 10 year old son on a plane to visit his father, as she had done many times before, and he never came back. The father had filed for full custody during the visit and a judge granted it without contacting her. What terrible crime could she have commited that would cause Judge James Punch to take such drastic action? Apparently in the Theocratic States of America, any involvement with the Church of the Sub-Genius nullifies your constitutional rights.


Judging by the other book of his I have read, Daniel Dennet's Breaking the Spell promises to be a good read.


I somehow got into an "argument" with a Christian in alt.discordia which rapidly became an excercise in frustration. My protagonist goes by the name Timothy Sutter and when I decided to do I little research I found that he has the distinction of being number 13 on the Alt.Atheism TwitList.


In December last year, Sam Harris published An Atheist Manifesto on his truthdig website. The site accepts comments and many have commented.


Rick Strassman is the author of a book called "DMT the Spirit Molecule".


CLEVELAND, Ohio, January 5, 2006: The Church of the SubGenius has announced that the end of the world will take place on Wednesday, July 5, 2006. In preparation for the fulfillment of this doomsday prophecy, the Church is requesting that all of its members participate in a bizarre religious ceremony taking place in upstate New York, during the final weekend before the arrival of the apocalypse.

For more information see the X-Day Web site.


Fundamentalism is hampering global efforts to tackle climate change, according to Britain's top scientist.


The website of the British Reclaiming Community is down at the moment and on further investigation it seems they have let their domain registration expire. Here is the worldwide Reclaiming website.


Campaigners against new religious hatred laws have unveiled a compromise plan designed to ensure people can still ridicule and criticise religion.


Have you been touched by his noodly appendage?


Sam Harris fears that religious fundamentalism is tightening its grip in the United States and has written about The Politics of Ignorance in the Huffington Post.


The Church of Reality has something to say on all sorts of ethical and moral issues. If I had to identify with a Church this would be a possibility - but fortunately I don't.


Monica Mehta reviews a radical new book which debunks the concept of marriage as a time-honoured institution.


How do you go about creating a new religion? Well it seems that the Universist Movement is an attempt to do just that. I don't have a religion and am not about to adopt one, but as religions go, Universism seems less fucked up than most.


Salman Rushdie has written an excellent opinion piece in the Toronto Star called Just give me that old time atheism!


The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) has a useful page about the International Day Against Homophobia. The first such day will be observed on 2005-05-17, the 15th anniversary of the day the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.


I was just reading Bertrand Russell's famous essay Why I Am Not A Christian.


There is an excellent article in Harpers by Garret Keizer called Life Everlasting, which is about the religious right and the right to die.


The Roman Catholic Church in Italy has spoken out against what it says are "shameful and unfounded lies" in the best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code.


There was a recent Guardian article about the connection between the education secretary Ruth Kelly and the secretive Catholic sect Opus Dei.


What exactly qualifies as a religion? Last night on the train I started chatting to a stranger (because we both had the same problem of having bicycles to manoeuvre) and within seconds I could tell he was trying to sell me something. Turns out it was a program called Landmark Forum.


Counterpunch has an article called Faith-Based Sex in which the Rev. Dr. Susan Block declares "verily, we are all children of sex".

Following a philosophical debate, Steve Ash wrote an interesting piece called Symposium of the Gods.


Independent faith schools have been singled out by Ofsted chief, David Bell, for not doing enough to promote the "wider tenets of British society".


About a week before Christmas someone gave me a printed copy of Our Pagan Christmas by R.J.Condon, late Vice-President of the National Secular Society. A few days later I quoted a paragraph about Mithra in a thread on alt.discordia and someone called Roger Pearse responded by calling it "garbage". I got into an argument but it turned out that Roger is rather well informed on the subject and has assembled an impressive collection of literary references to Mithras, one of which is a link to a fascinating page about The "Mithras" Liturgy.


I mentioned a while back about how the date of Easter depends on the lunar cycle. The US Navy explains it in detail!


The Hollywood adaptation of Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials, in which two children do battle with an evil, all-powerful church, is being rewritten to remove anti-religious overtones.

The Church of Euthanasia is seriously twisted:-)


Millions of people in the United States of America are justifiably concerned about the rise of the religious right in the Republican party, and TheocracyWatch is keeping its beady eye on the "dominionist movement". Of course there is still a long way to go before things get as bad as they are in Iran for example, where the Iranian Secular Society faces what many would consider to be an insurmountable task.


I just realised that I missed a Church of the SubGenius Devival at The New Foundry on Saturday.

Sam Harris is the author of a book called "The End of Faith". Sam is a fellow atheist who offered to engage The Raving Atheist in a written dialogue regarding the scientific validity of studying spiritual experience. The Raving Atheist then invited three other atheist bloggers to join him in the grilling. Here is part 1 of the interview.


The first national framework for religious education has been published and the National Secular Society have called it a "charter for indoctrination".


Britain's ancient laws of blasphemy and blasphemous libel are likely to be repealed under proposals being considered by the home secretary.


Irvin Baxter's Endtime Ministries presents "World Events From A Biblical Perspective". At the "Endtime Store" you can purchase things like the "Salvation Package DVD" or subscribe to "Endtime Magazine" which is claimed to be the world's most widely read prophecy magazine. Beam me up Scotty!


British Reclaiming Community is a group of people from across the British Isles, coming together to unify spirit and politics in a life-affirming spiritual tradition known as Witchcraft.

The Apologetics Index provides extensive information from a Christian perspective on world religions, religious cults, sects, new religious movements, alternative religions etc.


Crazy train or emotional subway attack - how show tunes defeated bible bashers on New York subway.


The Landover Baptist Church has been "Guaranteeing Salvation Since 1612" - except that it hasn't because it is what we call a spoof.


I found an interesting list of predictions of the end of the world.


Many religions have their own particular way of viewing or measuring the passage of time. The lunar cycle varies in its importance amongst religions, with Islam considering it particularly significant. Even in Christianity, the date of Easter each year depends on the lunar cycle. There is a rather nice Lunar calendar available at Moonwise.

Speaking of Easter, I once watched an excellent program about hares. I think it was probably the one mentioned by Maddy Prior in the sleeve notes of her album Year. She says that she wrote The Fabled Hare song cycle for a television wildlife program, and goes on to say:

The hare has deep mythological significance and is known in Chinese, American Indian as well as European stories. It was the symbol of Aestre, the pagan goddess of rebirth, before Christianity became prevalent in these islands, and as the old religion was overturned so its gods and symbols became associated with the devil and hares were thought to be witches "familiars". This piece of music opens with a spell reputed to be used by Scottish witches to change into hares to travel undetected.

Anyway, the connection is that the word "Easter" is derived from the name of a pagan goddess, and the Easter bunny is a mutated descendant of the fabled hare.


A Roman Catholic archdiocese in the US is to declare bankruptcy because it cannot meet the cost of claims by people allegedly abused by its priests.


I Googled for "misapprehension" and found that the first of over 50,000 results was a paper titled Coherentism: Misconstrual and Misapprehension, which concerns itself with the nature of belief. In fact the article is so esoteric (some might understandably characterise it as gibberish!) that I had to check that it was not a spoof. It does appear to be quite serious though, in comparing some of the ideas of Alvin Plantinga and John Pollock.


I have just been reading The Management of Religious Diversity in England and Wales with Special Reference to Prison Chaplaincy by James Beckford (1999).


Flicking through a copy of some tabloid rag or other in the staff room at work recently I noticed a photo of a celebrity with a bit of red string tied round her wrist, which apparently indicated her involvement with something called "Kabbalah". The Kabbalah entry in Wikipedia is highly informative, but not exactly relevant to the modern "celebrity sect" that operates through the the Kabbalah Centre, about which the Rick A. Ross Institute has compiled extensive information. The primary text of Kabbalah is the Zohar, which the Kabbalah Centre offers for a "mere" 415.00 USD.


As a committed atheist I was putting off the moment when I knew I would have to bite the bullet and create a "Religion" section on my website. In the end though I needed a place to organise my thoughts on the subject - I just have to make sure I don't get carried away now! Ian Gregory 2010