04 January 2006

Atheists on the March

The first three items are courtesy of contributors to secular newsline. I've added a fourth from the Brights forum.

Luigi Ascioli:
In Italy there is a spat between an atheist who says jesus never existed and a priest who says he's still about. 'Prove christ exists judge orders priest' is the headline in the Times. His book is 'The Fable of Christ'. With regard to the note at the end of the Times article: There are two passages in Josephus that possibly refer to Jesus. One is refers to James, brother of Jesus. The other, quoted from, is a forgery added by Bishop Eusebius to his copy in the 4th century.

Richard Dawkins:
Channel 4, announces a provocative programme: 8:00pm Monday, 9 January 2006. "The Root of All Evil? - The God Delusion". Professor Richard Dawkins, Chair of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, decribes God as the most unpleasant fictional character ever and launches a whole-hearted attack on religion as the cause for much of the pain and suffering in the world. Professor Richard Dawkins, the world-renowned evolutionary biologist, whose atheism has earned him the nickname of 'Darwin's Rottweiler', takes a personal journey through the world's three great monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Dawkins thinks it is time for science to stop sitting on the fence. In the light of overwhelming scientific evidence that, he believes, shows a supreme being cannot exist, and in a world in which religious conflict and bigotry are increasingly centre stage, Dawkins argues that for the good of humanity, religion needs to be challenged and disproved. Never one to shy away from a debate, Dawkins meets leaders from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions to find out how their beliefs fit with modern science's extraordinary knowledge of our world and the wider universe. In the programme Dawkins accuses the religious establishment of preying on people's desire to believe in a greater being; abusing reason and humanity in the process. He asks how they can defend what religion has done, and is doing to us? Source.

David Starkey:
BBC Radio 4 announces a series of controversial debates: "Who killed Christianity?" A five-part series with Dr David Starkey in the chair. Starting Tuesday 10 January 2006, 9:30-9:45am. They debate five historical figures who arguably "killed off 'true' Christianity": St Paul, St Augustine, Martin Luther, Sir Isaac Newton and Pope John Paul II. Despite positive intentions, it is alleged, their subtracting from, adding to, distorting or complicating of the original teachings of Jesus, killed the true message. Source

Sam Harris:
In 'Truth Dig' has issued an atheist manifesto. It extends over four pages, and has already attracted hundreds of comments.

There was also an extensive and sympathetic Dawkins interview in the Education supplement of yesterday's (10.1.06) Guardian if anyone has a copy.
I'm afraid I missed that. Dawkins will be very busy around Darwin Day (12th February), he is giving a talk at the Shrewsbury Darwin Festival on 12th and is involved in meetings in London on the 13th.

The Starkey programme (only 15 minutes) was disappointing, being mainly concerned with fine points of theology, although it does illustrate the convoluted ways of thought of the religiously committed.
There was a brilliant play on BBC Radio 4 at 2:15 this afternoon. I only heard about it at 2:00 and stayed in to listen.

"Dinner in the Iguanodon" was about Waterhouse Hawkins who designed the big Dinosaur statues that can still be seen at Crystal Palace in South London. When they were completed in 1854 he held a feast inside the Iguanodon, for all the bigwig palaeontologists of the day, like Richard Owen.

The story is narrated by Mary Anning, the Lyme Regis fossil hunter whose careful field work brought many of the dinosaur remains to light, but whose contribution was not properly recognised until 1904.

If you missed it, it should be available on 'Listen Again' for the next week.

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