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Comments by mmurray

Go to: The godless guru

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 13:16:34 UTC | #951438

Go to: Effect of the concept of hell on children

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 60 by mmurray

Comment 59 by Furious Duane :

This is why I worry about having children in Australia. Recently there has been talk about pushing religion onto kids in the public schools, while kids not wanting to do this would be segregated and not taught anything let alone biology or evolution. I asked my wife and she agrees even though she is Agnostic this would damage a child beyond belief. I think because of the rise of Atheism, the church is panicking and wants to indoctrinate children as early as possible in order to increase flock numbers and turn them into sheeple.

I know various religious groups have been pushing for more religious instruction but I don't believe students won't be taught biology or evolution. I've not heard of any plans to stop teaching biology or evolution in science classes. I also honestly doubt the religious instruction will have any effect on the vast majority of students particularly those who have atheist parents. My son came home from his first week at school and asked "whose gwod ?". He always was a little hard of hearing.

The main problem I can see is keeping the religious, like the evangelicals who run the chaplaincy programmes, away from the actual teaching. It should be taught as comparative religion with an emphasis on how many different kinds there are.


Wed, 01 Aug 2012 11:59:26 UTC | #950354

Go to: Loss within the truth

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by mmurray

Recently, however, being a parent to two wonderful kids and married to a beautiful wife it's hit me that beyond this reality I will never see them again. While I've accepted this as fact for some time, it's as if a profound sense of sadness has descended upon me.

This is true. But it is also true that you lose them as they are "now" every day because tomorrow they have changed. One minute your children are babies keeping you sleep deprived and before you know it they are young adults. Make the most of every minute you have with them.

I know the answer is to love and cherish them with all that I am now, and believe I will, but it has made me wish that the fallacy that is religion were true.

To be honest I never really understood how the "happy ever after in heaven" bit was going go to work. It sounds fine until you give it more than 30 seconds thought. I don't miss it because I never thought it solved the problem.


Tue, 31 Jul 2012 08:22:45 UTC | #950332

Go to: Against All Gods

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 76 by mmurray

Comment 50 by Maariya :

Comment 47 by mmurray I think she's gone. Which gives an opportunity to all break into song ...

I have not yet gone.

Good. Sorry I am late replying but I'm in a different minute time zone to most everyone else.

The things that became common knowledge came through religious teachings so at the beginning these things were not common knowledge. There are also theories in science which cannot be proven to this day. Lets take for example the devastating theory of evolution, thus because of such theories is it wrong to disregard science as a whole?? l

Depending on what you mean by proof you can't usually prove scientific theories. Real proof is something you can only really do in formal systems like mathematics and logic. But what people usually mean by a scientific theory being proved is that they have gathered lots of evidence, tested the theory over and over again against evidence that seems to contradict it and modified and honed it until it passes all the tests they can throw at it. That is what the scientific method does. Tests your ideas against evidence. You have to do it carefully as we humans are very good at ignoring evidence that doesn't support our theories.

And before you judge religious literature you may find it more helpful it you read it fully rather than to listen to it on the news as the things that make the headlines usually are nonsense, thus consider educating yourself before in the religions you claim are not true.

I've read a lot of religious literature. Both before and after I became an atheist in my mid teens. As others have pointed out don't make the mistake of thinking people here don't know about religion. Some (of the lucky ones) have been raised atheists from birth but most of us have fought our way out of religion at some (often great) personal effort and cost.


Sun, 29 Jul 2012 03:26:49 UTC | #950265

Go to: Against All Gods

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by mmurray

Comment 41 by Steve Zara :

Comment 12 by Maariya

If one took something so seriously then they wouldnt attempt to critically examine it, because its religion not science.

Religion isn't science, but believers are people. Science can, and does, study people. The idea that religion is beyond science doesn't work because believers aren't beyond science, and the reasons for beliefs and the very nature of belief itself can be investigated, and they certainly should be because religious belief is an important and interesting aspect of human nature.

I think she's gone. Which gives an opportunity to all break into song ...

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her
Many a thing she ought to understand
But how do you make her stay
And listen to all you say


Sat, 28 Jul 2012 07:47:26 UTC | #950210

Go to: Against All Gods

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by mmurray

Comment 12 by Maariya :

Science however is an open belief system i guess thats what makes it so rational and open to criticisms, then again it has to be an open system as it is still learning things already known by religion.

Could we have some examples of such things ?

Thanks Michael

Fri, 27 Jul 2012 07:46:21 UTC | #950140

Go to: Oxford Gift for Poor Students

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by mmurray

Comment 12 by Mark Ribbands :

Were I in charge, there would be a £15,000 threshold then 20% (flat) income tax thereafter, plus 15% VAT. No other taxes at all. CGT and IHT abolished. Sack the huge bureaucracy that supports the current, absurdly complicated, system.

Except that would be a 20% tax on a person's taxable income. So you have to have someone whose job is to decide what a person's taxable income is. For suckers like me on a salary that is easy. For people with a lot of money or money tied up in businesses there is usually great scope for varying what your taxable income is. I think you would quickly find you where rehiring the huge bureaucracy to sort this all out. Of course you can simplify business taxation as well by removing all the deductions. Just don't plan on holding office for to long!


Sat, 14 Jul 2012 01:20:01 UTC | #949150

Go to: Oxford Gift for Poor Students

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by mmurray

Comment 10 by irate_atheist :

Splendid news. It's always good when someone supports the Universities, either of them.

There's another one ?


Sat, 14 Jul 2012 01:11:09 UTC | #949149

Go to: No religion is Australia's second most popular religion

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by mmurray

Comment 10 by GoldenRule rules! :

I am very suspiscious of the 2011 census figures for Religious Affiliation.

I have always felt that to hide the true Islamic population of a country would be entirely consistent with Stealth jihad prior to springing the trap.

If Muslims are approx 4-5% of our current population (the generally accepted figure), then where is their figure in the results? Especially considering 2 points, 1. there are results as low as 2.8% for another group and 2. there is a whopping 27.5% of the population that has not answered the religious affiliation question.

See for yourself:

That's really interesting. Where did you find the 27.5% figure ?


Sat, 07 Jul 2012 11:05:09 UTC | #948722

Go to: Prayer at a working lunch?

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by mmurray

I have never understood saying grace. Given that a large number of people in the world are starving what exactly are you saying? "Thanks oh omnibenevolent god for not letting me starve like you let those other guys starve" "Thanks oh ombibenevolent god for being nice to me while you are being horrible to everyone else" ?



Sat, 07 Jul 2012 04:31:45 UTC | #948714

Go to: Moral compass: a guide to religious freedom

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 263 by mmurray

Comment 259 by VrijVlinder :

Yes they have them and they are mostly black.

Did you let that page load ? There are lots of coloured ones and some with cartoon like patterns.

You could have a great time with a Star-Wars theme on these but I guess that would a bit more than their religion could tolerate.


Sun, 01 Jul 2012 10:09:50 UTC | #948390

Go to: Moral compass: a guide to religious freedom

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 262 by mmurray

Comment 258 by xmaseveeve :

Mike, Comment 257,

Was it black? I've seen cute kids in bunny ear hats. What made it a hijab? I'm confused. I just object to faces being covered, especially if it is for a purported reason which only applies to women and girls.

Hi Eve

No it was pink of course. I can't be sure it was really a hijab but her mother had a hijab on and it looked like a typical Malaysian/Indonesion hijab which is basically a headscarf. It's not unusual to see Malaysian (or maybe Indonesian) students who dress just like westerners except for the addition of a coloured head scarf. There is an example here from a shop in Java (Indonesia)

Would Muslims have the sense of humour to stick bunny ears on a junior hijab? Would it not be blasphemous?

This is apparently a serious theological question :-(


Sun, 01 Jul 2012 10:02:30 UTC | #948388

Go to: Moral compass: a guide to religious freedom

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 257 by mmurray

Comment 251 by xmaseveeve :

I would ask one question about a bunny-ear burka. Does it cover her face? Simples.

Nope it was a head scarf. Hijab I guess or whatever the Malaysian/Indonesian equivalent is.


Sun, 01 Jul 2012 04:54:22 UTC | #948382

Go to: Moral compass: a guide to religious freedom

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 231 by mmurray

Comment 229 by xmaseveeve :

Comment 225, Sample,

Mike, it is imperative that we make a distinction between the hijab and the various face veils. As long as vision is not obscured, and women are educated to take vitamin supplements, I see nothing wrong with a Dracula cloak and a headscarf. (Goths wear worse. Hell, they even wear crosses!) Go figure. Nowt queer as folks.

True. I always get hijab and niqab mixed up. Should have consulted the Beebs.

I saw a little girl here recently being pushed around in a stroller by her parents. She had a hijab with bunny ears on it. I googled to try and find a picture but all I can find is discussion about whether or not a hijab with ears is haram because it is a representation of an animal. Does that mean you can't have chocolate easter bunnies in Islam ?


Sat, 30 Jun 2012 12:44:21 UTC | #948349

Go to: Moral compass: a guide to religious freedom

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 228 by mmurray

Comment 226 by VrijVlinder :

@Michael: I know that the niqab is a virtuous option and it is not obligatory."

I think the choice of her words is conflictive. Virtue, what is it really? Aristotle would say it does have to do with politics.

I would have thought a Catholic analogy would be that going to mass everyday is not obligatory but going to mass once a week is. At least it used to be when I was a kid. Going to mass everyday is however virtuous.

None of these women has a valid well constructed argument. The use of words like modesty and virtue are smoke and mirrors.

But of course they don't have well constructed arguments. They are just ordinary people and kids. Most ordinary Catholics I know couldn't construct any kind of argument about any of the bits of religion they follow and believe are important.

I mean come on these people have to have some real intellectual deficiency/problem !!

Like I say they are just kids who haven't thought any of the issues through. I wonder with the kids if it isn't a way to give your parents a great scare.


Sat, 30 Jun 2012 10:06:29 UTC | #948346

Go to: Moral compass: a guide to religious freedom

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 225 by mmurray

I'm deeply conflicted over banning the burqa. So let me throw in this to be contradictory

It's a point made repeatedly by the scores of Muslim women in London I interviewed. At Friday prayers in the East London Mosque, dozens of women and girls from Somalian, Bangladeshi, and Pakistani heritage arrive in a diverse array of Islamic dress.

A group of teenage Bengali-speaking girls, all wearing hijabs (headscarves), skinny jeans and high-street dresses, giggle in a collective huddle when I ask why they choose to wear the headscarf. "'Cos we're Muslims," says 16-year-old Zainab Zaman, suppressing a "durr!". "And you can tell that instantly. That's our identity, it's who we are."

Mishal Akhtar, 23, a part-time hijab wearer who works for a fashion magazine, believes wearing a headscarf can "actually be a bit punk. In your teens, in London, it's fashionable and cool — it's another accessory. It also marks you out and makes you belong at the same time. So yes, the appeal is really obvious."

Fatima Barktulla, 31, a cheery pregnant mother of three boys who was born and grew up in Hackney, elaborates: "I started with the hijab, but when I got married I wanted to wear the niqab It isn't a rejection of society, or an attempt to be different. It's not a political statement either."

Does she feel it might be perceived as such? "No woman I know who wears a niqab is doing it to make a huge point. It's a personal, spiritual conviction. And I know that the niqab is a virtuous option and it is not obligatory."

Barktulla, an Arabic studies lecturer, says that taking up the veil simply allows her to feel closer to God. "It doesn't contradict my being British either," she insists. "I love this country — it's my home. Mine and my husband's parents come from India but it's alien to us.


Sat, 30 Jun 2012 02:33:34 UTC | #948341

Go to: Moral compass: a guide to religious freedom

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 204 by mmurray

Comment 202 by VrijVlinder :

Did you know that when they go to the beach with the family they still have to be inside the bur-qua? I am not sure if they make a water sports version of it. ....but I have seen them in the water with it on.

Yes you can but not covering the face.

The burqini looks a bit like the recommended wear for avoiding skin cancer in Australia.


Fri, 29 Jun 2012 09:38:56 UTC | #948317

Go to: Moral compass: a guide to religious freedom

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 113 by mmurray

Comment 88 by xmaseveeve :

What is the point of spending money on cctv, if people can cover their faces? Should police discount Muslim women (who may not even be women) when examining cctv footage? How are these obliterated persons to be held to account for their movements, or be asked if they witnessed anything? Are they to be considered part of western society at all?

Are they ever stopped and searched? Should police ignore suspicious behaviour if the person is wearing a burka? If police tracked down a Muslim woman suspect seen on cctv, would there be riots if she were taken in for questioning?...

Wouldn't it be easier just to have the same law for everyone, and say that, in a free country, to protect the freedoms of others, you must not deliberately and unnecessarily hide your face in public?

Sorry to head off in a non-burqa direction but how does living in a free country fit in with covering the place with CCTV ? Obviously there are enormous advantages in being able to find CCTV footage if you are robbed or assaulted. But we might well pay a price for this at some point in the future when the government has the capacity to track the movements of anyone at anytime. I think it's a pity that this is happening in many countries without any real public debate.


Wed, 27 Jun 2012 05:51:46 UTC | #948176

Go to: The Dawkins Challenge

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Comment 89 by blitz442 :

This truly a case of the blind leading the blind.

And we all know what makes them go blind.


Tue, 26 Jun 2012 12:57:48 UTC | #948115

Go to: Moral compass: a guide to religious freedom

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 52 by mmurray

Comment 49 by VrijVlinder :

Yes Red the issue is that I am not telling them they can't the law is. Why ? because their face needs to be seen if not by the public at large then by the authorities. Passport pictures require a face picture for identification purposes.

But you can put in place processes to deal with this. Many countries have them already. You don't need to ban burqas just because occasionally an official representative of the state needs to look at your face. I'm not necessarily opposed to a burqa ban but this is not the argument for it.

If they are covered, may as well be a picture of their dog !!

Are they likely to have a dog if they are strongly Islamic ?

We are all subjected to showing our face in any society and specially in the USA. In Mexico you can't go into a bank wearing a hat or sunglasses I am sure they would expect a woman in a full covered bur-qua to show her face. Another reason why these women do not go to the bank either.

When people start robbing banks wearing burqas then this would be an argument for banning burqas in banks but not in public.

Again this is not the argument for banning burqas.

Note that if a woman is forced to wear a Burqa that is a different matter.

They are forced and in the cases where they claim to want to just shows how deep the oppression goes. Just like indoctrination. You break a person's spirit and they accept anything done upon them even turn it into a good thing to convince themselves. It is a human weakness to accept oppression and is a result of mental emotional damage. People do it to survive difficult situations. They convince themselves that it is their choice to be oppressed. Then it is not oppression in their mind.

Some women use it as a coping mechanism for poor self esteem. They can cover up what they don't like about themselves. This is not religious it is psychological .

I'm not sure I want to live in a society where someone else gets to decide how well I'm coping. It sounds too much like being at school again.


Tue, 26 Jun 2012 01:33:14 UTC | #948081

Go to: Moral compass: a guide to religious freedom

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by mmurray

Comment 13 by nick keighley :

no.This isn't true. The banning of crosses seemed purely arbitary. Employers exercise a great deal of control over their employees as it is. This arbitary extension of power is unwarrented.

When were crosses every banned ? The examples, like BA, I have heard of were bans on jewellery being visible to the public. Standard employer uniform policy. No arbitrary extension of power. No brave new world.


Sun, 24 Jun 2012 23:03:43 UTC | #948024

Go to: Moral compass: a guide to religious freedom

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by mmurray

Is it legitimate for a state to ban the burqa?

The arguments on both sides are more complicated than presented here.

Should an employee be allowed to wear a cross at work?

In almost every case the answer should be “Yes”. There may be a pragmatic case for, say, banning loose chains that in certain workplaces may be dangerous; but it is difficult to see what right an employer has simply to ban the wearing of a cross as a religious symbol.

The question is not clear. Does the employee wish to wear it visible or not ? An employer has the right to demand that staff follow a uniform policy. If that policy says no jewellery then that includes representations of torture implements.

but it is difficult to see what right an employer has simply to ban the wearing of a cross as a religious symbol.

Really ? Your first commentator got it in one. Many employees are the public face of their employer. The employer might quite legitimately want that public face to be neutral from a religious and political perspective. That's one of the reasons employers want uniform policies. For example if I go to the bank to borrow money to set up my new business selling Islamic head scarves I might well feel uncomfortable if the person making the judgement on my loan is wearing an I Love Jesus badge.

Should a Catholic adoption agency be allowed to turn away gay prospective parents?

If the agency receives public funding, or performs a service on behalf of the state, then the answer is “No”. It would then be legitimate for the state to insist that the agency does not discriminate, despite Catholic views on homosexuality. If, however, it is a private agency – if it is simply performing a service for Catholic parents who subscribe to its views on homosexuality – then the answer should be “Yes”.

Adoption is always going to involve the state as it requires the state to agree to the adoption. So the second case should never occur.

Should gay marriage be legalised?

Yes. .... What the state should not do is to force religious bodies to accept or consecrate gay marriage.

Nope. You already covered this in the adoption agency example. The religious body is performing both a religious and a state marriage in one because it has been given a license by the state to perform marriages. With that license comes a responsibility to obey the state's rules about discrimination. Of course it can always refuse the license and perform only religious ceremonies that confer no legal marriage on the participants.


Sun, 24 Jun 2012 09:57:28 UTC | #947996

Go to: Moral Clarity and Richard Dawkins

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 253 by mmurray

Comment 252 by tomasfritzhansen :

I use objective/subjective in the normal sense.

Gravity is attractive: objective

I like oatmeal: subjective

Sorry to barge into the middle of a conversation but surely whether or not you like oatmeal we could check with some kind of brain scan to see if the right parts of the brain are activated when you see pictures of oatmeal or eat oatmeal. Maybe you mean "Oatmeal is nice to eat: subjective"??


Sun, 24 Jun 2012 09:42:13 UTC | #947995

Go to: Where do atheist morals come from?

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 108 by mmurray

Comment 106 by parkerjwill :

As others have pointed out, the better question is, Where do morals themselves come from? It's of no ultimate value to seek an answer to where Marry gets her morals, or where Tom the Chimp gets his, because this question is relative - it will repeat ad infinitum: Where does Marry and Tom get their morals?

No. Compare what happens if we substitute something a little more obvious:

Where do opposable thumbs themselves come from? It's of no ultimate value to seek an answer to where Marry gets her opposable thumbs , or where Tom the Chimp gets his, because this question is relative - it will repeat ad infinitum: Where does Marry and Tom get their opposable thumbs ?

In the case of thumbs the answer is clear. As you go back along the line of ancestors opposable thumbs will change into something else. Something less complex as the animals become less complex and arms change to fins and we head back to the first chordates.

It's called evolution. Things change and develop. The basic instincts underlying morality just as much as thumbs, feet, hands, eyes ...

There is no "ad infinitum" or infinite regress problem here.


Sun, 24 Jun 2012 05:43:20 UTC | #947990

Go to: A Religious Military? Spiritual Fitness Test or Rationality Fitness Test?

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by mmurray

Dammit. I think me and Muscardinus avellanarius got sock puppeted. Is that a verb ?


Sun, 17 Jun 2012 12:46:52 UTC | #947746

Go to: The Dawkins Challenge

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 84 by mmurray

Comment 83 by katy Cordeth :

The doctrine of transubstantiation, like the Trinity, is a load of rubbish of course but it is clear that the RCC says that no physical change occurs in the bread and wine. So in your scenario the RCC would expect the same outcome as you and I do. You can't prove anything about the doctrine of transubstantiation by physical tests on the bread and wine.

Some insight into the miracle of the change in the bread and wine can be found in the Book of Spock where He says

"It's change Jim, but not as we know it."


Sun, 17 Jun 2012 08:48:37 UTC | #947736

Go to: RDFRS Store - Sale and New Products

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by mmurray

Double helix ear rings. Nice.


Sat, 16 Jun 2012 14:26:38 UTC | #947702

Go to: Why smart people are stupid

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 76 by mmurray

Comment 75 by Quine :

I find this thread to be an embarrassment to the RD website.

What's the old movie where a brother and his younger sister are sitting in the back of a car eating chocolate bars. The brother keeps breaking the bars in two unevenly. He then bites off the end of the longer piece to even them up and passes one piece to his sister. His sister is completely happy with this sharing process. This seems to be about where we are !


Sat, 16 Jun 2012 04:53:22 UTC | #947663

Go to: Why smart people are stupid

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 73 by mmurray

Comment 67 by Ignorant Amos :

The riddle that isn't there....MadPuzzler is right.

This is one for Michael methinks.

I think MadPuzzler's problem is English not maths. I'd like to be a fly on the wall of the bar when he orders "a beer" and complains that he only got one.


Sat, 16 Jun 2012 03:55:33 UTC | #947659

Go to: Why smart people are stupid

mmurray's Avatar Jump to comment 72 by mmurray

Comment 69 by MadPuzzler :

@mmuray "BAT - BALL = $1"

You are assuming the difference must be (versus at least must be). The truth is the problem only says more than. 1.00 more than. It doesn't say it must only be 1.00 more than.

This is why I say now in regard to Occam's razor, only we can get it wrong, and if we do we shouldn't feel blame.

Nope. If you say BAT is more than BALL sure. But if you say BAT is a $1 more than BALL you mean that BAT = BALL + 1. That is what the "a" is telling you. It's like if you walk up to the bar and say "I'll have a beer" you don't expect to get more than one beer you expect to get exactly one beer. That is how the English language works.

Otherwise you would have to say something like

The cost of the bat is at least $1 more than the cost of the ball.

Is English your first language ? (No offense intended.)


Sat, 16 Jun 2012 03:44:21 UTC | #947658