the secular atheist sees no reason or evidence for belief in a god or gods
The Secular Atheist

Women die because of religion in Saudi Arabia

6 January 2017

"I got into an accident in a taxi, and the ambulance refused to take me to the hospital until my male guardian arrived. I had lost a lot of blood. If he didn't arrive that minute, I would've been dead by now," tweeted 19-year-old Saudi Arabian female teenager.

In December 2015, women were allowed to vote and stand in elections in Saudi Arabia for first time in the modern history of the kingdom. The religious establishment opposed the move with the Grand Mufti describing it as "opening the door to evil", while women's rights campaigners said it heralded a turning point for women's rights in this tightly regulated absolute monarchy. In the same year, a gender gap index by the World Economic Forum ranked Saudi Arabia as among the worst countries to be a woman, placing it at 134 out of 145 nations. Did the election signal an improvement in the status of women in Saudi Arabia, or was it window dressing?

Read the full article

Witches burned alive by Christians

6 December 2016

x There are still countries in the world in 2016, where people and children are tortured and killed sometimes by burning because they are considered to be witches, in the name of christianity. The justifications are the same biblical arguments that the Catholic church when it burned witches during the Dark Ages.

In Kenya in 2013, there were confirmed reports of suspected witches being burned alive x by their local christian communities with the support of friends and families. In cases in Nigeria, the accused have been children as young as 2 and 3 years old, who are cruelly tortured and killed because of what the bible says about witches.

The witch burning is not even carried out in secret in many of these places. In Papua New Guinea, photos emerged of a woman tortured to confess ...

Read the full article

Nepal police investigate death of girl banished for menstruating

20 December 2016

Police in Nepal are investigating the death of a 15-year-old girl who was banished to a poorly-ventilated shed because she was menstruating. They say the girl suffocated after lighting a fire to keep warm.

Under an ancient Hindu practice, called chhaupadi, women on their periods are impure. It was banned in Nepal in 2005, but continues in remote western areas.

The body of Roshani Tiruwa was found by her father last weekend in a mud hut in the village Gajra, in Achham district, 440km west of Kathmandu.

Some communities in remote areas believe that they will suffer a misfortune such as a natural disaster unless menstruating women are secluded. While in isolation they are denied their usual intake of food and are prohibited from drinking milk.

Read the full article

Christmas is for atheists too

26 November 2016

I love Christmas, and I am an atheist.

I have been told more than once by an angry christian that I have no right to celebrate Christmas. They then proceed to tell me that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus and unless I am a christian, I have no place enjoying the holiday. How I respond depends on the kind of day that I am having but if it is not a good day, they usually leave silent and chastised.

Christmas does not originate from Christianity, in fact, it was celebrated before Christianity was invented. It is a remodelled pagan festival thanks to the conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine's mother. Rather than introduce a new celebration, he took an existing festival and declared it the birth of Jesus. It caught on and with several additions, Christmas trees due to Queen Victoria's husband and German tradition and a bearded, red cloacked Santa as a result of a Coca Cola advert, persists to this day.

Read the full article

MP says Government's silence over Louis Smith heralds "unwritten blasphemy law"

15 December 2016

Conservative MP Charles Walker has sharply criticised the media for unleashing "a torrent of venom" against Louis Smith, and said the Government was "nowhere to be seen" when it should have been defending free expression.

Mr Walker said the Government's silence over the hounding and death threats against Louis Smith "heralds, de facto, the reintroduction of an unwritten blasphemy law, enforced by threat and thuggery."

He said the episode "shamed our nation and its laws."

"In our liberal and open society, freedom of worship marches hand in hand with the freedom to lampoon religion. Quite simply, that is the deal."

Read the full article

Was Muslims Like Us a helpful portrayal of Islam in the UK?

14 December 2016

If you wanted a show that represented all Muslims, proportionate to their population, you might be disappointed. But if you are a reality TV show viewer - where you expect cringe, controversy and a tad of sensationalism, with editing for maximum viewing pleasure - there were insightful moments that illuminated the tensions in Muslim communities.

How should we best deal with the far-right English Defence League? Should it be through compassion and humanity, like Bara, as he hugged the EDL member; or through the honesty and integrity of Nabil who believed we have to stand up to racism ? Both have their place. The former can be successful in individual cases, such as when a York mosque defused an EDL protest with tea, biscuits and football; and the latter reminds me of the necessity of not allowing hate to be normalised by showing strength, such as the anti-apartheid struggle.

Read the full article

Featured News


Book Review

x

50 Reasons people give for believing in God by Guy P. Harrison

Many books that challenge religious belief from a skeptical point of view take a combative tone that is almost guaranteed to alienate believers, or they present complex philosophical or scientific arguments that fail to reach the average reader. Guy P. Harrison argues that this is an ineffective way of trying to encourage people to develop critical thinking about religion. In this unique approach, Harrison concisely presents fifty commonly heard reasons that people often give for believing in a god. Then he raises legitimate questions regarding these reasons, showing in each case that there is much room for doubt.

From religion as the foundation of morality to the authority of sacred books, the compelling religious testimony of influential people, near-death experiences, theories from ...

Read the full article


About me

I describe myself as a secular atheist hence the name of the site. As an atheist, I am active in my opposition to religious privilege and intolerance especially when it comes to religion trying to enforce its values on all society such as the denial of equal rights for the LGBQT community and placing limits on women's reproductive rights.

I sometimes describe myself as a secular humanist because humanism matches my beliefs most closely. As a humanist, I am totally committed to human rights as defined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. I am proud to have been a member of the British Humanist Society for many years now.

Lastly, I am a parent, a husband, a teacher, a mentor, a friend, and a Bridge enthusiast (although not very good at it). I enjoy sharing my thoughts and ideas, and this site is one of my outlets to this end.

Thank you for visiting, and thank you for reading.

Ken Surridge

x


"If there's no God, how do you explain ______?" My snide response.

"Well, can you first explain what comets are?"

"Everyone knows they are objects made of rock and ice that orbit the sun."

"But not long ago, you Christians claimed they were messages from God. At that time, we atheists insisted that, while we didn't know what they were, we had no reason to think they were messages from anyone."

"Sure, but...."

"And back then, a Christian would have demanded of the atheist, How do you explain comets? The atheist would have said, I can't explain it, but I know it isn't magic. It doesn't matter what you want me to explain, because you Christians have thought like ignorance-loving children throughout history. We are the ones who embrace knowledge, while you cling to unjustifiable belief in magic. What about earthquakes, hurricanes and solar eclipses? You Christians lied for centuries about knowing what caused these things, all while we atheists chose honesty instead, saying, 'We don't know what caused it, so don't pretend you religious people do either.' And, we were right, of course. So whatever it is you want me to explain, I got one thing to say: It ain't magic."

Ban the Burka?

19 December 2016

x

Every fibre of my body rebels against legislating to limit people's right to choose how to live their lives. However, despite that, when it comes to the Burka and the Niqab, I think there are good reasons why it makes sense to ban both of them.

As an active atheist, I am strongly opposed to religion, but I am just as firm in my support of human rights. I will thus criticise religion as vociferously as I will defend a person's right to choose and practise their religion, with one and only one caveat - the practise of the religion must not infringe others' rights.

To be clear, I do not advocate banning any other form of Islamic dress, just the Burka and the Niqab. I have issues with the Hijab, Chador, and Dupatta because of what they say about gender equality, but nonetheless, I believe they should remain a matter of personal choice.

Read the full article


Is there sufficient evidence for God's existence?

What would a court record of Jesus's execution prove, beyond that someone called Jesus, believed by his followers to be the son of God, was executed? We already know that his followers believed him to be the son of God. A court record of the execution would confirm that he existed, but not the existence of a god for him to be the son of. So no, that wouldn't do it.

Again, a new contemporary source referring to Jesus would only support his existence, not his identity nor the existence of a god. So that wouldn't do it either.

Same goes for a document written by Jesus himself, EVEN IF it could ever be shown to be genuinely by him, which it almost certainly couldn't.

As for your other examples. Proof that we were created, for instance. Well, for starters, what might such proof possibly look like? It is certainly conceivable that we would find something that would challenge our current understanding, but how would that prove a creator rather than simply flag up another question to which we don't currently have an answer? The lack of an answer for something doesn't have to mean that Goddidit!

In any case, even if there WERE something that pointed incontrovertibly towards a creator, why should that mean it was a god who did the creating? Why couldn't it be a super-intelligent alien civilisation that did it? For the record, I am not for one moment suggesting the existence of a super-intelligent alien civilisation, merely pointing out that God is not the default explanation!

God speaking to me personally? Well, we already know that the brain is very suggestible and that it can create very powerful illusions, even when not under the influence of drugs. So no, that wouldn't be reliable evidence either. Besides, who's to say that, if there WERE a real voice, it would have to be a god and not that super-intelligent alien again?

What might be evidence? Well, if prayer were consistently shown to work, that would get me thinking. Especially if, say, Christian prayers were always answered but Islamic/Hindu/Jain prayers were not. (Though even so, it could still just be a super-intelligent alien civilisation having some fun at our expense.) In reality, every properly conducted study has shown that prayer does NOT work - there is no correlation between prayer and outcomes.

Perhaps if this supposed God were to tell us something that we did not already know and which we could then test for ourselves and see that it was true: a cure for some currently totally incurable disease, for instance. (Carl Sagan wrote amusingly of the way alleged messages from God or aliens are invariably of the banal variety: "Be kind to one another", "War is bad"; and never anything IMPRESSIVE, such as how to cure cancer or a comprehensible explanation of quantum mechanics or proof of Goedels Theorem.) But this, too, would only be evidence of a superior intelligence, and it could just as easily be those super-intelligent aliens again.

Actually, that isn't true. It would be FAR MORE LIKELY to be super-intelligent aliens than God. Why? Because we know of natural processes by which intelligence forms on Earth (i.e. as a result of evolution by natural selection), and it therefore wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that something either identical or very similar to evolution by natural selection had been at work on another planet in this vast universe, and had been so for longer than here on Earth and had therefore resulted in super-intelligence that might appear truly god-like to us inferior beings. It would still have been an entirely natural process.

But there is NO mechanism we know of which could possibly give rise to a god. The Christian claim that God was simply always there just won't wash: there's no reason to believe it, it's simply special pleading, dreamed up, invented, imagined, as a way of trying to prevent the rest of the story simply falling apart. It has nothing whatsoever to support it beyond the wishful thinking of those who want to believe the rest of the story.

So I find it impossible to imagine what proof there might be for God, because it would always be possible to imagine a far more plausible naturalistic explanation (and, for the reason given above, even the most outlandish naturalistic explanation will always be more plausible than an uncreated god).

I can't prove that there isn't a god either, of course; but there is absolutely no good reason to believe in one, and that's why I don't. I don't believe in a super-intelligent alien civilisation either, by the way: it's just a less preposterous hypothesis than an uncreated god.

The Secular Atheist is a site for news and views on atheism, secularism and humanism