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Comments by mr_DNA

Go to: Mandatory religious worship in schools

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by mr_DNA

Yes but its a funny thing. Most people don't go to church weekly, just for Christmas, weddings and funerals. But religion is never discussed in the work place, it's considered off topic. So you might know somebody for years and then suddenly find out they are an atheist as is the case with my sister in law. I don't even know if she realises I am an atheist! Its just something that doesn't come up. I have no idea which of my friends are atheist and that says a lot about how private faith is in the UK. So I find the surveys done by the Guardian and RDF which suggest non belief is actually a large group quite believable.

Wed, 04 Jul 2012 09:51:31 UTC | #948545

Go to: The Ancestor’s Trail – 25/26 August 2012 - with Keynote Address by Richard Dawkins

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by mr_DNA

I really hope this does well and catches on. At four my daughter is just a little too young to understand the concepts and get anything out of it, but that will change so I hope this is an annual thing. The Quantocks is a lovely area too.

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 12:53:47 UTC | #946130

Go to: What Would Darwin Say to Today's Creationists?

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by mr_DNA

A good talk, I enjoyed it. Must have missed the bit where she embraced any theology. After all she was sticking to a talk about how Darwin would feel about modern day creationism if he was somehow resurrected. It was a talk given by an educationalist to students and teachers; not a debate on whether God exists.

I like listen to popular science advocates such as Eugenie Scott or Neil Degrasse Tyson. I understand the educational framework they exist in. They are paid to promote science not attack religion.

I'm sure their personal opinions are different to their public ones.

As PZ Myers says its ok to have different kinds of Atheists. Some bang the drum and others educate and spread reason that way. If you teach science well enough reason might follow.

in the case of an educationalist maybe the latter is a better approach? Maybe starting the lecture by saying "religion is wrong and heres why" would have alienated some of her audience given she was invited to discuss science as a promoter of science?

You know this is eerily reminiscent of my early days when I flirted with the Socialist Worker party at university. What put me off quickly was having to hear other people dissing their friends for not being a good comrade and for many they rated people on the extremeness of their position rather than what they contributed.

Wed, 06 Jun 2012 10:17:22 UTC | #945838

Go to: Evolution skeptics will soon be silenced by science: Richard Leakey

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by mr_DNA

I don't think Leakey is "over-optimistic" about man kinds chance of accepting science over superstition. What he actually says is that accepting the evidence of evolution and mass extinction is our best chance of avoiding climate induced extinction but he is far certain this can be prevented. "We may be on the cusp of some very real disasters that have nothing to do with whether the elephant survives, or a cheetah survives, but if we survive," he warned.

Tue, 29 May 2012 09:47:55 UTC | #944190

Go to: A Year After the Non-Apocalypse: Where Are They Now?

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by mr_DNA

Reading up on the Millerites ( think Camping but on a global scale ) some of them had an interesting way of dealing with "the great disapointment".

"Others acted as children, basing their belief on Jesus’ words in Mark 10:15, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”" That must have been funny to see. Others shaved their heads and declared it was now a Sabbath so they couldn't ever work again.

The fall out was very similar to what has happened in the wake of Campings failed prediction. They split into three camps. Some of whom thought that God had shut the door to salvation despite the no show. Others thought it was a test of faith and others thought the date was actually an event in heaven not earth.

When people start trying to construct ideas about reality based on cyphers and parables the end result is a collective form of insanity.

Thu, 24 May 2012 12:38:30 UTC | #943264

Go to: Moral Clarity and Richard Dawkins

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by mr_DNA

You have to click through to see that this is indeed a repeat of the tired argument you can't be good without God.

"*If morality is merely an illusion, how does this change your thinking about actions like a man forcing a woman to have sex with him, one person killing another person for the fun of it, or the systematic extermination of a particular class of people?"

It cannot be stupidity but deliberate dishonesty that people like this keep straw manning atheists as believing there is no such thing as morality. Just because something is the product of thought processes and not supernatural woo does not mean it is not real in the sense of having symbolic value.Nor does it mean it doesn't relate to physical reality. If I am hungry my hunger is real to me, but that doesn't mean it has concrete reality. The concept is proxy for my reaction to a physical event. In the same way if I want to strive to be fair honest and caring it relates to how I feel about the real physical and mental suffering of others. No supernatural agent required!

Tue, 22 May 2012 10:18:02 UTC | #942790

Go to: Queen 'should remain Defender of the Faith' - BBC poll

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 51 by mr_DNA

Comment 43 by sheepcat :

One of the funniest things around right now is the crazy fact that the UK is quickly turning into a nation of atheists and agnostics even though our church and state are joined, our head of state is also defender of the faith, our national anthem says God 3 times in the first verse and unelected bishops sit in the house of lords.

While across the pond.

There is a rising tide of conservative christian politics even though church and state are seperate, a fact that is protected constitutionaly and any politician who came out as atheist would probably never make it to the top job.

It all seem arse about face. (note for Americans, for Arse, insert Ass)

On a seperate note I would keep the Queen and royal family mostly because they are a bit like castles, in ruins, irrelevant, funny looking but quaint and charming and big draw for tourists.

I also don't like the idea that just anyone should be allowed to be head of state based on their personal merit, and if it was going to be on merit what merit?

Which would anyone British really have prefered in recent years, Tony Blair on their money? Maggie Thatcher? Gordon Brown? I think not.

So keep the inbred loons there I say, it is good to have "better" people looking down on us and doing so well at the things we are all rubbish at like wearing tweed, having lots of hats, shooting things that are furry and move etc.

And to finish, to quote the great Douglas Adams,

Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job

I know he meant American president but do we really want President Cam-moron?

Prove that tourism would dry up if we didn't have the monarchy? Would people stay away because they couldn't see a royal? How many tourists see a member of the royal family now? Paris has twice the number of visitors as London but they are a republic.

As to your objections to a presidency; surely the point is if you get a bad President you can replace them at the next election whilst with a bad monarch you are stuck with them till one of you dies. Furthermore, I can see from your photo you have a young daughter, as do I. If they had the talent why should they not be head of state one day? Why should that be constitutionally forbidden?

What sort of message does it send to young people to have top positions in society based on inherited position and not merit?

If we have institutions based on irrational premises how is that good for our society? Do you like being a subject? I don't. If I commit a crime I am tried by the Queens lawyers. If I want to travel abroad I have to apply to Queens passport agency. I pay my taxes to the Queens treasury and so on.

It may be largely symbolic but the symbol is one of inequality and serfdom. Not the way forward for a 21 century progressive nation.

Wed, 16 May 2012 12:02:38 UTC | #941814

Go to: Queen 'should remain Defender of the Faith' - BBC poll

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by mr_DNA

There have been many polls that show the monarchy does not enjoy an eighty percent popularity so I can only assume this poll is basically BS. I can see the logic of the monarchy wanting to stay as part of the church which historically they set up.

given that the official position of the CofE is that the Queen is 'anointed of God' it would be removing one of the chief reasons for their existence if they were separated from the church. All that would be left is the crazy idea, which you hear repeated like a mantra, that tourism would cease if the monarchy was disbanded.

Sadly, given the success of a recent PR drive by Windsor plc and a unilateral failure on the part of the British media to do anything but brain wash the populace in this Jubilee year I don't see that happening in my lifetime. It is odd though that it is socially acceptable in Britain now to be an Atheist but not a republican...

Tue, 15 May 2012 12:32:16 UTC | #941578

Go to: Open letter and video re threat to GM Research

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by mr_DNA

As has been said the history of crops is the history of mankind. Civilisation only became possible once man learned to selectively breed wild wheat into the nutrious variety we have today.

In the fifties scientists were bombarding wheat with Xrays and gamma rays to produce mutant strains which had beneficial adaptations for the grain (mutogenesis ) We have had gm foods for nearly 20 years and there has never been a report of a harmful outcome; anywhere. My question is what do you think these 'unintended consequences' are? This a study into plant pheromones in controlled settings. What is your worry? Killer triffids?

Mutations happen all the time naturally. Do you worry about what strange plant might appear as a result?

There is a serious side to this. Mankind is fast outstripping his capacity to manage the environment because of headlong population growth. Any way to improve yields in the third world has to be researched to prevent millions dying from famine.

Of course religion is the main culprit for stopping contraception and that should be tackled but science has a duty to help minimise the damage caused by over population.

Wed, 02 May 2012 15:09:53 UTC | #939031

Go to: Great tits join mobs with neighbours they know

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by mr_DNA

Comment 3 by Moderator :

Moderators' message

Is it too much to hope that on a site dedicated to reason and science we might be able to avoid childish comments, please?

To be fair you are really putting us in temptations way here. I was sorely tempted myself to making a shool boys comment ( When nobody had made a comment ) but lost my bottle.

Part of me thinks that this species needs as much laughter as it can get because of its proven value as a de-stresser.

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 15:47:17 UTC | #937243

Go to: My People! My People!! This Witch Hunting Must Stop

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by mr_DNA

This has been going on for decades in Nigeria. However, the catalyst to the extreme violence against children of the last two decades can be traced back to the influence of American Pentecostal missionaries who have been distributing videos and leaflets encouraging the locals in this activity.

My personal belief is that those who can be proved to have done so should be brought before an international court and tried for crimes against humanity. Even the most conservative of estimates suggest that 400 children a year in Nigeria lose their lives after being accused of being a witch.

Theres an interesting link here on the Randi site about pentecostal influence in Nigeria

http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/1592-evangelical-churches-and-the-epidemic-of-witchcraft-accusations-part-2.html

Thu, 19 Apr 2012 08:24:16 UTC | #935655

Go to: How Sexual Prudery Makes America a Less Healthy and Happy Place

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by mr_DNA

Comment 27 by Premiseless :

Comment 25 by mr_DNA :

Well the answer to that has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with parents not supporting what schools try and teach. This applies to a lot more than sex education. Parents ultimately have far greater influence over their kids than teahcers. You might make a case that the parents are pushing their religious views on their kids but I would find that very unconvincing because most families in the UK are not overtly religious especially in state schools.

Think about this. Once society has a rational generation they will more form a critical mass that may be better placed to offer exactly that; a rational approach to sex education, relationships per se and relative choices.

What we are often finding ourselves doing is blaming the problem back on those who inherited problems they simply pass on in some skewed version or other.

Like Richard says, if we get a generation of children growing up with a rational secular education, the cycles will start to break. However, as we see all too often, religion is resorted to as an irrational dominance deserving of rational authority. This tells you something important! Even the leadership (everyone at the very top of society) haven't worked out how to break this cycle without somehow doing themselves a mischief! Therefore they pass on the same poor parenting of religion/reasoning as we are aiming at the long history of parents who suffer its vices, that they pass on. It's a chaos ever waiting to be a chaos.

I agree with most of your points. Society needs to be more rationale and people need a greater understanding of science. However as I clearly demonstrated when it comes to sex education educators are trying very hard to get the safe sex message across. I honestly don't think that in the UK problems around teen pregnancy and STDs can be linked to even the influence of organised religion. I don't think our teens are avoiding condoms because they think they are sinful, but because they either are ignorant of birth control or actually know the risks but do it anyway because of peer pressure. Maybe I am a pessimist but I think you could have many generations of families who educated in secular state schools and the problem would persist.

Just to repeat as RD recently pointed out the UK is not really a religious place and I am talking about children going to state schools here, where religion is only discussed in RE lessons, not in Sex Education lessons.

My contention is that the main driver for this problem lies with attitudes to education rather religion. You could just as easily point out the number of people who develop drug habits or leave schools with no qualifications. Would you lay those problems at religions door too?

I do concede the point that religion undermines rationality though. I am just not sure that it is the only thing doing that.

Wed, 18 Apr 2012 12:15:07 UTC | #935468

Go to: How Sexual Prudery Makes America a Less Healthy and Happy Place

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by mr_DNA

Incidently, for any other readers who buy into the idea that educators in the UK live in fear of reprisals from religious groups and do not practice sex education. You can always check out the Department of Educations website. You can verify for your self that it is a legal requirement to teach and definitely includes a requirement to teach about contraception. This applies to faith schools also.

The link is http://www.education.gov.uk/

Here is a quote from that site.

"This Government remains committed to reducing rates of teenage pregnancy still further and improving outcomes for young parents and their children. This is central to our aim to reduce inter-generational poverty and inequalities. That's why the under-18 conception rate is a national measure of child poverty and one of the three sexual health indicators in the Public Health Outcomes Framework.

The good news is we know what works. The evidence shows that comprehensive education about relationships and sex (SRE), combined with easy access to effective contraception are the two essential ingredients for reducing teenage pregnancy. Every young person needs decent SRE and contraception advice, and we know the vast majority are already receiving it through dedicated professionals like you. We know that your support does help teenage parents' access really good contraceptive advice to help prevent repeat pregnancies."

If you see the reality here you will see that what Strangebrew wrote was false. These are real problems. But the problem does not lie with education. As an atheist I value facts and evidence and will always challenge claims that I know to be wrong and are insulting to thousands of dedicated professionals.

Wed, 18 Apr 2012 11:33:14 UTC | #935457

Go to: How Sexual Prudery Makes America a Less Healthy and Happy Place

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by mr_DNA

Comment 21 by strangebrew :

I see a string of rebuttals but no evidence for your claims which are based on your own perceptions probably gained from the media. Without meaning to be personal your assertions are bollox.

That is the only place kids can get any idea, however wrong and misguided, about sexual relations. Condom use is not highlighted and female contraception revolves around the rhythm or pill method. That is the only information some kids have when they embark on sexual encounters.

That is simply false. Students are told every relevant fact about reproduction several times through out their time in school. They get shown condoms and it is even explained how to use them. As I said they are told of places where they can collect them for free.

Never said they did..OI said they were hamstrung by possible litigation or disciplinary measures. I thought a teacher could accomplish comprehension a little better.

Ok I misquoted on you that because on rereading you said that about the media and implied that teachers held back for fear of reprisals. Again unfortunately, I don't know where you get your facts from. As I stated sex education and health advise is given which basically means this comment is either false or that educators or brave enough to stand up to legal threats. I suspect though you made this statement because you are confusing the US with the UK. I never heard this mentioned once in ten years in the staff room or from any of my colleagues. Can you please cite any legal case where a school or LEA has been successfully challenged in court over the teaching of PSE? You are inventing a rationale for something that doesn't exist.

I was a teacher for many years and I can tell you the problem is more about getting the message of safe sex across.

And why is that not happening?

Well the answer to that has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with parents not supporting what schools try and teach. This applies to a lot more than sex education. Parents ultimately have far greater influence over their kids than teahcers. You might make a case that the parents are pushing their religious views on their kids but I would find that very unconvincing because most families in the UK are not overtly religious especially in state schools.

Wed, 18 Apr 2012 11:00:58 UTC | #935453

Go to: How Sexual Prudery Makes America a Less Healthy and Happy Place

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by mr_DNA

Comment 17 by strangebrew :

Comment 7 by SheerReason

I'm not sure why that is exactly that the UK has much higher rates of pregnancies, abortions etc. than the other European countries discussed in the article. Perhaps someone here could shed some light on the subject?

As Alan4discussion @ Comment 10 replied...religion is really at the base here of the problem And it will get worse.

They constantly foul up any responsible programming in schools for sex education and responsibilities. They do not want kids to understand the modern world...mainly because they have a circa 1950 attitude based on the 12th century...they are not helping in the least.

Now with faith schools they are really in the forefront of misleading and hopelessly dogmatic insistence that sex education must not be taught because it is for parents to do.

Most parents are even less informed then the kids these days... The media are hopeless, often towing the religious line, teachers and educators are hamstrung in what they can actually do or say in class for fear of receiving a disciplinary hearing for obscenity or worse. The peadophilanauts are in a constant crusade against a perceived but remarkably rare occurrence compared to their 'stranger danger' paranoid literature that cranks up the hysteria in parents and society and the media feed into that fear.

In that climate sex education suffers...resulting in a pathetic juvenile attempt involving bunny rabbits and banal innuendo...no wonder the kids giggle and blush at the back, and miss the point totally, there is no mature game plan available in blighty because old codgers in parliament and religious leaders tell the public that it is not needed. About the pregnancy and STI bonanza the only advice involves going to church more often.

Prudish behaviour is enforced from lingerie adverts to museum exhibits, yet the public get all excited and titillated by a 'Burlesque dancer' on 'Britain's got idiots'..(mind you she was good!)

And they love reading about sexy shenanigans & peccadilloes of the rich and demented...on a Sunday morning before church apparently...well those that go anyways!

In short it is a fucking mess...and the statistics are no shock. Britain is a wonderfully pragmatic country with many fine qualities but the lunatics are running the asylum...it will end in tears and it has many times, and will continue to do so until religion and self styled busy body moral heroes are told unequivocally to butt out! Of course in the meantime the kids lose out on valuable and important life lessons.

Sorry, I am not a religious apologist, but what your comments are way off the mark. Everything religion puts into the debate is wrong and unhelpful but you cannot pin teen pregnancy and STDs on religion. I was a teacher for many years and I can tell you the problem is more about getting the message of safe sex across.

These kids do not shape their actions in any way or form based on the views of a church they don't attend.

Educators in state schools do not "tow the religious line", quite the opposite. I was a teacher for years and I can tell you that in state schools the emphasis is on getting a message across about the health consequences of unprotected sex without making a comment about morality. This is why most schools have an open door policy to visiting a health advisor who can offer free contraception and advice in anonymity.

These measures have of course come up for criticism in the right wing press but as yet they have not effected policy.

So to repeat the problem would definitely be made worse if religious thinking made its mark; but the causes are multi-factorial.

If we abolished churches overnight the problem wouldn't go away. We need to be wary of portraying religion as the bogey man responsible for all societies ills and recognise society as a complex structure with many potential causes of harm.

Wed, 18 Apr 2012 09:56:40 UTC | #935442

Go to: How Sexual Prudery Makes America a Less Healthy and Happy Place

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by mr_DNA

Comment 9 by AfraidToDie :

Sheer Reason, perhaps the sheer reason lies in our related histories? Our (US) prudish/religious views on sex originated in Britain. We just took it to a higher and more prudish level. We share the same sexual repressive history and most of us will be scarred for life. We often can blame bad traits on the genetics of our parents, so from the US to Britian I’d like to offer a big sarcastic “thanks mom and dad” :-)

Some of what you say is true however it is a bit more complex than that and the idea that attitudes to morality are heritable is of course silly. For a start I would say that Britain does not have the same religiosity it once had. Church attendance is down to 20% and even those who do attend church would often not regard sex outside marriage as 'sinful'. So in the UK the problem is most definitely not down to prudery. We also have free open access to contraception and the morning after pill so there is no reason for these high numbers. I would probably say that the problem lies with education as a lot of our young people do not bother to use contraception as numerous studies have shown a complete ignorance of reproductive issues among a certain demographic.

Wed, 18 Apr 2012 08:46:23 UTC | #935426

Go to: How Sexual Prudery Makes America a Less Healthy and Happy Place

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by mr_DNA

Comment Removed by Author

Wed, 18 Apr 2012 08:40:50 UTC | #935423

Go to: Dr. R. Elisabeth Cornwell speaks on The OUT Campaign at the American Atheists Convention 3/25/12

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by mr_DNA

I thought this wasn't relevant to Brits until Dr Cornwell started to talk about child care. Then I understood the relevance.

Although the UK is deconverting faster than a dog shedding its self of fleas after a dose of flea powder, child care is one place where the church still gets its clutches on young families. My wife takes our little one round to a group every week and she always comes back with a Jesus related souvenir. I'm told this is because state child groups are not very frequent / handy and that the participants divide inside into theist / non theist groups of friends who don't talk to one another. A rather disconcerting reflection of the wider society then.

Tue, 27 Mar 2012 15:42:17 UTC | #930753

Go to: Marriage - two viewpoints

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by mr_DNA

Comment 14 by Smegmar :

Comment 13 by mr_DNA :

I was being brief.

Fair point.

I was summarising the churches involvement in 'wedlock' in my own country. I think I was giving a fairly impartial account of historical facts. Marriages were not originally carried out by the church and the church did not take an interest in them unless they were aristocracy. To quote :

"With few local exceptions, until 1545, Christian marriages in Europe were by mutual consent, declaration of intention to marry and upon the subsequent physical union of the parties.[24][25] The couple would promise verbally to each other that they would be married to each other; the presence of a priest or witnesses was not required"

That may be true but I believe it doesn't support your claim that "the church did not take an interest in them unless they were aristocracy".

Of course I have an opinion about whether there is a being who creates universes and then cares about the mating habits of a species of ape on an insignificant planet, but I wasn't addressing that point but rather the utility of marriage purely from a legal stand point.

Well, utility... you're probably English.

Smegmar I don't have time to write to write a dissertation. I assume that an intelligent reader would know the history of patronage of the late medieval church and know the interlocking interests of the church and the nobility. To say that the church only cared about the marital affairs of the this class is accurate. Inheritance, power and dynastic alliances were common concerns for the church in a land where a duke might have his brother as his bishop. The church enjoyed significant income from pardons, bequests etc from the nobility, not the peasants! I am speaking in a descriptive manner about the behaviour of the catholic church which was a cause for reaction and revolt in this century because of the perception of corruption and privilege; this is hardly a radical statement.

Marriage does have utility. It should be a fantastic day ( for anybody, not just heterosexual couples ). But you shouldn't lose sight of legal benefits and responsibilities. The problem is that the perception has grown up in popular culture about it simply being an excuse to blow a fortune on frocks and cakes. So I repeat my point. You don't need a priest to marry you but you do need a lawyer to fight your case if you split up. Without the little bit of the paper somebody will likely end up disadvantaged.

Wed, 14 Mar 2012 16:30:29 UTC | #927003

Go to: Marriage - two viewpoints

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by mr_DNA

Comment 12 by Smegmar :

Comment 11 by mr_DNA :

Historically marriage was seen as a contract and sometime in the fifteen century the church started to impose its self as the guardian of marriage as a Christian institution as notions of romance started to take hold.

I don't think that you can make claims about marriage from a historical point of view when it is not obvious for whom was it seen like you say it was seen. It's a difficult and complicated subject. Not something you can deduce from your atheism or dislike of religion.

I was being brief. I was summarising the churches involvement in 'wedlock' in my own country. I think I was giving a fairly impartial account of historical facts. Marriages were not originally carried out by the church and the church did not take an interest in them unless they were aristocracy. To quote :

"With few local exceptions, until 1545, Christian marriages in Europe were by mutual consent, declaration of intention to marry and upon the subsequent physical union of the parties.[24][25] The couple would promise verbally to each other that they would be married to each other; the presence of a priest or witnesses was not required"

This quote is from a history web site not an atheist one and I was not applying a critique on grounds of atheism. Of course I have an opinion about whether there is a being who creates universes and then cares about the mating habits of a species of ape on an insignificant planet, but I wasn't addressing that point but rather the utility of marriage purely from a legal stand point.

Wed, 14 Mar 2012 13:28:56 UTC | #926911

Go to: Marriage - two viewpoints

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by mr_DNA

Comment 8 by AtheistEgbert :

Marriage used to be a vow of loyalty between two people. Now it's been demoted to a contract, and as we know, all contracts require the interference and meddling of a third party, simply because it must! God is of course the most meddlesome of all, followed shortly after by the church and then the state.

I don't think I will ever get married in a legal sense, as I don't need a third party to tell me to be loyal.

No I don't agree. You have it the wrong way round.

Historically marriage was seen as a contract and sometime in the fifteen century the church started to impose its self as the guardian of marriage as a Christian institution as notions of romance started to take hold.

I would have thought the value of a contract would be obvious but I'll state the benefits as I see them. Assuming a marriage doesn't work out or one partner dies or is medically incapacitated ( in a coma say ) there is a good chance legal situations will arise that will require a court to make a decision. Without a contract these situations become less clear cut and become messy. Lots of more work for lawyers without a contract which is great for them but not for the plaintiffs. This also applies to state benefits, pensions etc.

Without a contract you are basically asking the state to make a decision about whether you are part of a partnership or not; which when you think about it is more of a responsibility for the state than being an arbitrator. For me the contract is the main benefit of my secular state marriage. I know that if I die things will be a lot easier for my wife, If I am in a coma she will decide my medical treatment not my family, if my wife dies I get automatic custody of our daughter and so on. I don't see fidelity or any other personal quality that you associate with it as relevant.

Wed, 14 Mar 2012 12:49:27 UTC | #926905

Go to: Antimatter ‘measured’ for the first time, could reveal building blocks of the universe

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by mr_DNA

This is very interesting to me because it lays ground for understanding many as yet understood features of the universe.

You must have heard theists often pose the question "do you believe the universe sprang out of nothing?" Whatever your answer they will respond that something can't come out of nothing from natural laws and the only possible explanation is that there has been a supernatural intervention to make the laws of physics come about ( or variations on this them depending on the articulacy of the speaker).

However energy does come out of apparent non existence all the time. So called 'virtual particles' wink in and out of existence throughout space time. What happens is that a particle and and an antimatter particle are created at the same time and after a tiny interval they collide and wipe each other out.

In certain circumstances ( such as Hawkins radiation from black holes ) this doesn't happen and the universe gains a small increase of energy. Anti matter is mysterious and any further discoveries can only further our understanding of how a universe comes out of nothing.

In any event virtual particles clearly happen because of natural laws not as a result of a magical suspension of natural laws.

I find this useful when confronting the old chestnut of how do you get something out of nothing ( its tortoises all the way down )

Thu, 08 Mar 2012 10:05:00 UTC | #925323

Go to: Secularism v Religion in national affairs - post-Warsi discussion on BBC Newsnight 14/2/12

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 54 by mr_DNA

Grrr Somebody has a well paid job as a journalist and uses the meaningless statement "Everyone is militant" over and over again.

Cut through the bull shit and what they are saying is "how dare these people not recognise the authority of our fairy tale magic". Even by his own logic the bishop was saying that 60% of 70% of the population believe the mumbo jumbo. So on the basis of what is either a slender majority or a minority view point we should base our laws and rights? This is going to make for a stable and happy society? It is precisely this problem that secularism tackles and as RD states secularism is not atheism. So you get an instant understanding of their mind sets when you see they refuse to accept that point.

Thu, 16 Feb 2012 10:45:33 UTC | #918426

Go to: Council prayers ruling starts national debate

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by mr_DNA

Comment 17 by Dr Christopher Shell :

Of course, public opinion is not necessarily informed - but can you first give the statistical source of your report that public opinion was in favour? Cllr Clive Bone's vote is 'more equal' than the vote of Bideford Council as a whole, since he is an atheist seculariser. Would that be the same secularisation which, in its period of ascendancy has never failed to make the following harmful things worse by at least multiple hundreds of percent, and sometimes multiple thousands, than was achieved by Christianity in its own ascendancy period: abortion, divorce, extramarital births, pornography, media swearing, drug use, STIs, promiscuity? Triple champagnes all round.

I notice you lump in a lot of things there loaded with your own ideas about what is good and bad for us. Divorce worse than being married to someone you no longer want to be with ? promiscuity worse than sexual repression?

You also must be quite blinkered if you think that STIs, extramarital births and drug use is more common in secular countries. I suggest you take a trip to Rio and see how this devoutly religious country spends its spare time.

Secularism as we all know is not atheistic any way. Locke's ideas about separation of church and state were meant as an attempt to promote the maximum welfare of its citizens regardless of whatever faith they held.

You seem to be offering us a choice between the risks of personal freedom ( which undoubtedly do exist ) and a return to a bygone age where the church set out all our rules of personal conduct and a few others such as witch burning thrown into the bargain, on pain of well, mostly pain. I think I prefer the first option as if I screw up I have no one to blame but myself.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 16:03:05 UTC | #917217

Go to: "Global Warming Has Stopped"? How to Fool People Using "Cherry-Picked" Climate Data

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by mr_DNA

Depressing.

The bbc is running a forum on Climate Change today. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16906738

The general consensus id that GW is invented as a global conspiracy to control resources. I sit here weeping.

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 13:58:44 UTC | #915275

Go to: UPDATED: Muslims Declare Jihad on Dogs in Europe

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 69 by mr_DNA

Comment 54 by Sample :

Comment 51, mr_DNA, "...nearly agree with the religious view"

I fail to see a rational correlation between an owner's failure to pick up their dog's feces and the religious viewpoint that dogs are intrinsically unclean.

Mike, grrr

Which if you read the rest of my post you will see that I have made the distinction myself. I don't agree with the diktat that subjects are not to be joked about. If I can laugh with my friend about the humorous side of his cancer treatment or my father over his very close brush with death due to a ruptured aorta then I can joke about muslims wanting dogs banned. My personal philosophy is that freedom ends when we start placing limits on what is or isn't the subject for humour.

Thu, 02 Feb 2012 14:34:46 UTC | #913846

Go to: UPDATED: Muslims Declare Jihad on Dogs in Europe

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 51 by mr_DNA

Got to be one of the few times when I nearly agree with the religious view. Dogs might not be unclean but their poop sure as hell is.

I'd like to see more done about fining dog owners who let their pooches do it in public places. Given that the UK dog population has doubled in the last ten years this get to be more and more of a problem in places where people take their dog for walks ( and where I like to run )

Obviously as an atheist I feel that my prejudice has a greater rationale basis than the Islamic one. I don't mind dog owners who pick up their pooches poop but I am tired of having a go at those who don't.

Thu, 02 Feb 2012 13:57:03 UTC | #913820

Go to: Wednesday Religion: Morals in a Time of Secularism

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by mr_DNA

If you don't believe in a God or even if you believe in a Deity but don't think it is in telepathic link with "holy" ones then you must have trouble accepting an absolute morality.

Therefore you must conclude all morality is the product of the society that produced it and is the consensus of the individuals working within the pressures and confines of that society.

So for example for the Spartans it was considered a moral act to throw babies judged too weak down a ravine and homosexualiity between men was compulsory because it was thought to make fighting units stronger. So extreme societies throw up extreme moralities.

When a religious person says it is not possible for an atheist to be moral it is because they do not understand the simple ( and I would say demonstrable ) fact that their morality is a product of their religious society and not an external supernatural influence. Secular societies do not descend into orgies of crime and murder simply because it would not benefit the society, and morals and mores are products of that society.

Another untenable assertion is that an atheist cannot have a conscience. This again I would suggest is demonstrably false. Our consciences have arisen as an evolutionary trait, and probably provides a survival benefit in that it reinforces reciprocal behaviour of benefit to all.

So under no circumstances is morality a product of religion and is entirely independent and possible without it.

Fri, 27 Jan 2012 12:25:15 UTC | #911981

Go to: Look forward to the death of organized religion: Richard Dawkins

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by mr_DNA

Got to be honest, I don't share his optimism. Organised religion is very good at evolving ( ironically ) with the times.

If take a historical perspective this is very easy to observe. It constantly changes to reflect the morality and the prejudice of the audience. Those of you who think that politicians adopt their policies to attract the faithful should take note that religion is of its self extremely political. Always has been. They are power brokers still in most countries of the world. And they know how to keep a grip on power by re-branding and adapting to new ideas.

As science peels away more of the mysteries of the universe, religions will move to occupy the new areas of mystery ( witness the voodoo of Quantum mechanics as a case in point ) Add to that the undoubted weakness of the human brain that has a tendency to see intent and behaviour in random and natural events and you have an audience EAGER to be exploited. As has been said many times people would rather be sold a lie no matter how ridiculous that they and their loved ones will one day meet again in an after life to be than accept the obvious truth.

So I continue to hope for more tolerance in the World for non-believers and for acceptance. Though intellectually I don't think that will happen in my life time. In fact I'm pessimistic. I think we can clearly see the fruits of the age of reason; the aspiration to be rationale and critical; dying in front of our eyes.

I apologise for my pessimism but that's how I see it.

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 17:24:33 UTC | #911115

Go to: God Sent Christopher Hitchens to Hell Because He Loved Him

mr_DNA's Avatar Jump to comment 145 by mr_DNA

Seriously what did you expect from these people? Compassion? We should all rise above this. Don't give them the pleasure of getting angry. Save your energy for convincing the intelligent waverers to dump this bronze age baggage. Not easy to do I know. To be honest I found it harder to keep my cool when the leader of my country announced Britain would be a better place if people took their morality from conversations with an imaginary friend, which he chose to do the day Hitch died.

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 10:01:10 UTC | #900895