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Bus riders shot in head for not being able to read Qu’ran

Posted by on Nov 22, 2014 in Islam, Religion and Society | 0 comments

Oh dear. Kenya again feeling the brunt of Islamist extremism: Gunmen from the Somali militant group al-Shabab say they have attacked a bus in northern Kenya, killing 28 people. The bus was travelling to the capital, Nairobi, when it was stopped in Mandera county, not far from the Somali border. Gunmen separated out non-Muslims by asking passengers to read from the Koran, officials and witnesses said. Those who failed were then shot in the head.

Catholic Encyclopedia critiqued: The Nature and Attributes of God (Pt 1)

Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 in Atheism, Featured, God's Characteristics, Philosophy of Religion | 32 comments

Here is a broad selection of claims and quotes from the Catholic Encyclopedia article "The Nature and Attributes of God" compiled by my friend Julian Haydon: God is infinitely perfect He is infinitely good, intelligent, wise, just, holy, etc no Theist of average intelligence ever thinks of understanding literally the metaphors he applies, or hears applied by others, to God Thus God is said to see or hear, as if He had physical organs, or to be angry or sorry, as if subject to human passions

Throwing things away and losing memories

Posted by on Nov 16, 2014 in Featured, Random | 2 comments

In moving house I had to clear a lot of stuff up, throw a lot away and generally reassess what is important to me, and what I need to keep hold of. In my loft was a few boxes of memorabilia: letters (remember them?) sent to me from girls (I was at boarding school) throughout my adolescence; gig tickets; trophies; trinkets; bits and pieces from travelling

Who are the true Muslims – all or none?

Posted by on Nov 15, 2014 in Islam, Secularism | 8 comments

The National Secular Society has released this fascinating piece which is relevant and in line with my last substantial post on Islam. Moderate believers argue that Isis has misinterpreted the Koran. But no one can determine who is right or wrong, argues Matthew Syed. Who are the real Muslims? Who are the bona fide, authentic, true-to-the-core followers of the Islamic faith? Now, that might seem like an easy question. Surely, the people who are Muslims are those who say, when asked: "I am a Muslim."

Is there trouble with Islam?

Posted by on Nov 9, 2014 in Atheism, Featured, Humanism, Islam, Morality, Philosophy of Religion | 26 comments

Before I get stuck in, I want to emphasise how I am a liberal commentator and am happy to be shown where I am wrong; I do not want to level accusations at Islam which are wrong and which have developed out of a biased media caricature of what Islam is. It is easy to fire from the emotional hip and to rely on emotional social identity theory of 'us and them' such that I present an attack on Islam which is either straw man or unwarranted. Moreover, there is an issue here with the while notion of causality, something which I have looked at in the post "Have I ever killed someone?" I will not so much deal with that in huge depth here as I want to look at the two ideas in unison in the next post on this matter.

Kurdish Oath

Posted by on Nov 7, 2014 in Islam, Politics | 0 comments

I can't vouch for the authenticity of this, but it seems pretty cool. I found it on a comment on a Yahoo News Article: For general interest I copied down the oath given to a new group of fighters with the PKK. The Kurdish YPG fighting in Kobane are a different organization and their oath may be different, but it is actually many of the same people.

Gould’s NOMA – a thorough analysis (part 1) revisited

Posted by on Nov 1, 2014 in Featured, Philosophy, Science and religion | 6 comments

This post will be split into two parts due to its length. This will allow any posters to be able to interact with certain points as we go. Regards, Andreas Schüler. Can science and religion coexist in harmony ? A favorite phrase of sophisticated theologians™ is – science tells us how and religion tells us why. But it is not only theologians who claim that there can be no conflict between properly understood science and religion because they deal with different questions. Many scientists, and not only religious ones, support this view as well.

Summary of the Star of Bethlehem Conference

Posted by on Oct 27, 2014 in cosmology, Featured, Science and religion, Skepticism | 0 comments

I am flying back home now from the amazing conference on the Star of Bethlehem at the University of Groningen. It was quite the success of collecting experts and scheduling events, including a trip to the oldest working planetarium in the world. This was also my first academic conference in the area of history and biblical studies, and I was surrounded by scholars in Iranian studies, Jewish astrology, Latin literature, ancient science, and of course New Testament studies. And it looks like I did well among this august group. Heck, after my talk a few whispered to me that it seemed like I already answered all the questions about the subject!

My brain

Posted by on Oct 25, 2014 in Random, Science | 45 comments

The other day I was getting really frustrated with my manual coordination. I was leaving school on a Sunday after doing some work and was trying to locate a particular key on a keyring. With one hand. Whilst holding three bags with my other and something under my arm. With something also being held in my mouth. I was attempting to swing various keys around the ring, locating which particular one I wanted out of about twenty keys. The keys kept slipping into the wrong place and I was swearing in sheer frustration.