Most British students favor NUS’s “no platforming” policy

On the sorry state of freedom of speech across UK university populations, and the worrying tendency (I’m not yet sure ‘trend’ would be appropriate) of censoring – whence the neologism ‘no-platforming’ – those with whose views students disagree.

In the words of Noam Chomsky, ‘If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all’.

Why Evolution Is True

Well, the no-platforming policy of British students continues apace. This time it involves rescinding a speaking invitation to the Donald Trump of England—London mayor Boris Johnson (they’re both clowns, but Johnson’s hair is marginally better). Johnson was set to take part in debates at King’s College London about whether Britain should dissociate itself from the EU. Writing in The Sun about how leaving the EU would solidify Britain’s ties to the U.S., he had said this about President Obama:

Something mysterious happened when Barack Obama entered the Oval Office in 2009.

Something vanished from that room, and no one could quite explain why.

It was a bust of Winston Churchill – the great British war time leader. It was a fine goggle-eyed object, done by the brilliant sculptor Jacob Epstein, and it had sat there for almost ten years.

But on day one of the Obama administration it was returned, without ceremony, to the…

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Belief in Absence Vs Absence of Belief

A good explanation of a distinction that deserves to be highlighted.

Matthew Phillips


When encountering claims like “atheists believe x” or “an atheist would say y” I often find myself unable to resist the urge to add my view to the discussion. This generally involves pointing out that atheism is an absence of belief in gods. Responses vary from “you’re a God denier” to “believing there’s no God is the same as not believing God exists”. It seems that although I’m trying to be clear about my view of what an atheist is I could be clearer.

I’d like to start with two quite different definitions of the word “atheist”.


“…a person who believes there is no God.”

Oxford Dictionary:

“A person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods”

To some people these definitions are for all intents and purposes the same but they’re in fact quite distinct. One difference is the notion of lacking belief. I prefer the word “absence” over…

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Freedom Fry


The foam-flecked outrage evidenced in various column inches and online comment sections following entertainer and activist Stephen Fry’s interview1 last week with Dave Rubin for the “Rubin Report” has set tongues wagging almost as much as Fry’s comments themselves. For context, during the course of his interview with Continue reading

Salon pulls out all the stops in dissing New Atheists

Having belatedly stumbled across Salon writer Sean Illing’s critique of so-called ‘New Atheism’ and some of its exponents (‘New Atheism’s fatal arrogance: The glaring intellectual laziness of Bill Maher & Richard Dawkins’, 9 May 2015), I was considering formulating a response, but thought to check the ether for prior and more sophisticated rebuttals.

I’m glad I did, as I found one of the most thorough, most incisive, and most cogent deconstructions I’ve had the pleasure of reading in recent memory.

So, to quote netizens everywhere: I’ll just leave this here.

Why Evolution Is True

If you want to see every shopworn criticism of New Atheism rolled up into one splenetic article, then it’s this one (in Salon, of course): “New atheism’s fatal arrogance: The glaring intellectual laziness of Bill Maher & Richard Dawkins.” The writer is Sean Illing, a graduate student in political science at Louisiana State University, who professes to be an atheist. And, like Maru, this is a box I cannot help but enter.  I will try to be brief, but will probably fail.

So what exactly is the intellectual laziness of Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins? It is one of Illing’s several accusations leveled at New Athiests, which I’ll summarize below:

1. New Atheists are just too stupid to realize that religion isn’t about truths, but about fictions that make people feel good, and structure their lives.  Yes, Illing appears to be a nonbeliever, and sees religion as promulgating untruths…

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