The Increase in UK Faith Schools Limits Choice For Parents

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Support the campaign – say no to faith schools

End it – don’t extend it

 


Publicly funded religious schools, or ‘faith schools’, currently make up around a third of our education system. This limits choice for parents who do not want a religious education for their children, or do not share the faith of their local school.

 

In order to ensure everyone’s right to freedom of religion and belief is respected, we believe all publicly funded schools should be fully inclusive and equally welcoming to children of all religion and belief backgrounds.

 

Is Humanism a Religion

The beginnings of Humanism

Ethics and relationship to religious belief.

“modern, organized Humanism began, in the minds of its founders, as nothing more nor less than a religion without a God”

Continue reading “Is Humanism a Religion”

Self Indulgent Arrogance

Is Religion Human Beings Biggest Arrogance? Or is having no Faith even worse?

Axiological, or constructive, atheism rejects the existence of gods in favor of a “higher absolute”, such as humanity. This form of atheism favors humanity as the absolute source of ethics and values, and permits individuals to resolve moral problems without resorting to God. Marx and Freud used this argument to convey messages of liberation, full-development, and unfettered happiness.

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Born to prejudice?

 

One of the most common criticisms of atheism has been to the contrary—that denying the existence of a god leads to moral relativism, leaving one with no moral or ethical foundation, or renders life meaningless and miserable. Blaise Pascal argued this view in his Pensées.

French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre identified himself as a representative of an “atheist existentialism” concerned less with denying the existence of God than with establishing that “man needs … to find himself again and to understand that nothing can save him from himself, not even a valid proof of the existence of God.”

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Athesim delusion?

Sartre said a corollary of his atheism was that “if God does not exist, there is at least one being in whom existence precedes essence, a being who exists before he can be defined by any concept, and … this being is man.”

The practical consequence of this atheism was described by Sartre as meaning that there are no a priori rules or absolute values that can be invoked to govern human conduct, and that humans are “condemned” to invent these for themselves, making “man” absolutely “responsible for everything he does”.

 

The Starry Messenger

Galileo

The Galileo affair was a sequence of events, beginning around 1610, culminating with the trial and condemnation of Galileo Galilei by the Roman Catholic Inquisition in 1616 and 1633 for his support of heliocentrism.

In 1610, Galileo published his Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger), describing the surprising observations that he had made with the new telescope, namely the phases of Venus and the Galilean moons of Jupiter. With these observations he promoted the heliocentric theory of Nicolaus Copernicus (published in De revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543). Galileo’s initial discoveries were met with opposition within the Catholic Church, and in 1616 the Inquisition declared heliocentrism to be formally heretical. Heliocentric books were banned and Galileo was ordered to refrain from holding, teaching or defending heliocentric ideas.

Galileo went on to propose a theory of tides in 1616, and of comets in 1619; he argued that the tides were evidence for the motion of the Earth. In 1632 Galileo, now an old man, published his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which implicitly defended heliocentrism, and was immensely popular. Responding to mounting controversy over theology, astronomy and philosophy, the Roman Inquisition tried Galileo in 1633 and found him “gravely suspect of heresy“, sentencing him to indefinite imprisonment. Galileo was kept under house arrest until his death in 1642.

Galileo began his telescopic observations in the later part of 1609, and by March 1610 was able to publish a small book, The Starry Messenger (Sidereus Nuncius), relating some discoveries that had not been dreamed of in the philosophy of the time: mountains on the Moon, lesser moons in orbit around Jupiter, and the resolution of what had been thought to be very cloudy masses in the sky (nebulae) into collections of stars too faint to see individually without a telescope. Other observations followed, including the phases of Venus and the existence of sunspots.

Galileo’s contributions caused difficulties for theologians and natural philosophers of the time, as they contradicted scientific and philosophical ideas based on those of Aristotle and Ptolemy and closely associated with the Catholic Church (despite their being pagans). In particular, Galileo’s observations of the phases of Venus, which showed it to circle the sun, and the observation of moons orbiting Jupiter, contradicted the geocentric model of Ptolemy and supported the Copernican model advanced by Galileo.

Jesuit astronomers, experts both in Church teachings, science, and in natural philosophy, were at first skeptical and hostile to the new ideas; however, within a year or two the availability of good telescopes enabled them to repeat the observations. In 1611, Galileo visited the Collegium Romanum in Rome, where the Jesuit astronomers by that time had repeated his observations. Christoph Grienberger, one of the Jesuit scholars on the faculty, sympathized with Galileo’s theories, but was asked to defend the Aristotelian viewpoint by Claudio Acquaviva, the Father General of the Jesuits. Not all of Galileo’s claims were completely accepted: Christopher Clavius, the most distinguished astronomer of his age, never was reconciled to the idea of mountains on the Moon, and outside the collegium many still disputed the reality of the observations. In a letter to Kepler of August 1610, Galileo complained that some of the philosophers who opposed his discoveries had refused even to look through a telescope:

My dear Kepler, I wish that we might laugh at the remarkable stupidity of the common herd. What do you have to say about the principal philosophers of this academy who are filled with the stubbornness of an asp and do not want to look at either the planets, the moon or the telescope, even though I have freely and deliberately offered them the opportunity a thousand times? Truly, just as the asp stops its ears, so do these philosophers shut their eyes to the light of truth.

Geocentrists who did verify and accept Galileo’s findings had an alternative to Ptolemy’s model in an alternative geocentric (or “geo-heliocentric”) model proposed some decades earlier by Tycho Brahe—a model, in which, for example, Venus circled the sun.

Galileo became involved in a dispute over priority in the discovery of sunspots with Christoph Scheiner, a Jesuit. This became a bitter lifelong feud. Neither of them, however, was the first to recognise sunspots—the Chinese had already been familiar with them for centuries.

At this time, Galileo also engaged in a dispute over the reasons that objects float or sink in water, siding with Archimedes against Aristotle. The debate was unfriendly, and Galileo’s blunt and sometimes sarcastic style, though not extraordinary in academic debates of the time, made him enemies. During this controversy one of Galileo’s friends, the painter, Lodovico Cardi da Cigoli, informed him that a group of malicious opponents, which Cigoli subsequently referred to derisively as “the Pigeon league,” was plotting to cause him trouble over the motion of the earth, or anything else that would serve the purpose. According to Cigoli, one of the plotters had asked a priest to denounce Galileo’s views from the pulpit, but the latter had refused. Nevertheless, three years later another priest, Tommaso Caccini, did in fact do precisely that.

the american particle physicist Victor Stenger

Victor John Stenger is an American particle physicist, philosopher, author, and religious skeptic.

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Following a career as a research scientist in the field of particle physics, Stenger is now associated with New Atheism and he also writes popular science books.

As of July 2013, he has published twelve books for general audiences on physics, quantum mechanics, cosmology, philosophy, religion, atheism, and pseudoscience, including the 2007 best-seller, God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist. His latest book is God and the Atom: From Democritus to the Higgs Boson (2013).

 

He is a strong advocate for removing the influence of religion from scientific research, commercial activity, and the political decision process, and he coined the popular phrase “Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings”.

Victor J. Stenger was born on 29 January 1935 and raised in a working-class neighborhood of Bayonne, New Jersey. His father was a Lithuanian immigrant and his mother was the daughter of Hungarian immigrants.

He is also a regular featured science columnist for the Huffington Post.

 

 

 

The design argument – Existence of God

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Designed by Coleyartastro/castthefirststone

One of the oldest and most popular arguments for the existence of God is the design argument: that order and “purpose” in the world bespeaks a divine origin.

 

Hume gave a criticism of the design argument in Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.

 

Firstly, Hume argued that for the design argument to be feasible, it must be true that order and purpose are observed only when they result from design.

But order is often observed to result from presumably mindless processes like the generation of snowflakes and crystals. Design can account for only a tiny part of our experience of order.
Second, that the design argument is based on an incomplete analogy: because of our experience with objects, we can recognize human-designed ones, comparing for example a pile of stones and a brick wall. But in order to point to a designed universe, we would need to have an experience of a range of different universes. As we only experience one, the analogy cannot be applied.

Next, even if the design argument is completely successful, it could not in and of itself establish a robust theism; one could easily reach the conclusion that the universe’s configuration is the result of some morally ambiguous, possibly unintelligent agent or agents whose method bears only a remote similarity to human design.

Furthermore, if a well-ordered natural world requires a special designer, then God’s mind (being so well-ordered) also requires a special designer. And then this designer would likewise need a designer, and so on ad infinitum. We could respond by resting content with an inexplicably self-ordered divine mind; but then why not rest content with an inexplicably self-ordered natural world?

Finally, Hume advanced a version of the Anthropic Principle. Often, when it appears that an object has a particular feature in order to secure some goal, it is in fact the result of a filtering process. That is, the object wouldn’t be around did it not possess that feature, and the perceived purpose is only interesting to us as a human projection of goals onto nature. This mechanical explanation of teleology anticipated the notion of natural selection.

 

In astrophysics and cosmology, the anthropic principle (from Greek anthropos, meaning “human”) is the philosophical consideration that observations of the physical Universe

must be compatible with the conscious and sapient life that observes it. Some proponents of the anthropic principle reason that it explains why the Universe has the age and the fundamental physical constants necessary to accommodate conscious life. As a result, they believe it is unremarkable that the universe’s fundamental constants happen to fall within the narrow range thought to be compatible with life.

The strong anthropic principle (SAP) as explained by Barrow and Tipler (see variants) states that this is all the case because the Universe is compelled, in some sense, to eventually have conscious and sapient life emerge within it. Critics of the SAP argue in favor of a weak anthropic principle (WAP) similar to the one defined by Brandon Carter, which states that the universe’s ostensible fine tuning is the result of selection bias: i.e., only in a universe capable of eventually supporting life will there be living beings capable of observing and reflecting upon any such fine tuning, while a universe less compatible with life will go unbeheld. Most often such arguments draw upon some notion of the multiverse for there to be a statistical population of universes to select from and from which selection bias (our observance of only this Universe, apparently compatible with life) could occur.