This post comes to you in four different parts. Its title refers to them. (Greta and I weren’t just bored one evening.)
1. Updates on atheist condoms at UCL
I posted a while back about the godless students of University College London, and their atheist condom drive. Lots of people voted on which slogan to use, and ‘Nothing gets past reason’ won by a landslide – you can see the finished products below.
They’ve been handing them out at freshers’ fair, and apparently had quite a response! I really hope the idea’s replicated in future by other groups.
2. Come see me speak! (Thursday evening, central London)
That same society at UCL are officially an ‘atheist, secularist and humanist’ group. This week their first speaker event of the term’s a panel discussion, about differences and common ground between those kinds of activism.
I’ll be speaking as an ‘atheist’ representative, and someone who wants to persuade the world out of religion. Elizabeth O’Casey of the National Secular Society will be there too, as will the British Humanist Association’s Richard Norman.
The event is scheduled for 7pm. Here’s a link to the Facebook event, which includes details of the venue. If you’re going to be in London that night and you’re free, come along. It’ll be interesting.
3. Extracts from my interview with Greta Christina
Sometimes, I write articles in The Freethinker. In the upcoming issue I speak to Greta, one of my atheist heroes, about her awesome book, the blogosphere and godless anger. To ‘tease’ the interview, which will be available soon, I thought I’d quote some of her comments from our discussion.
I was reading the Daylight Atheism blog, FriendlyAtheist.com and Pharyngula. Some others. They really had an effect on me, and in particular, I’d always [thought] ‘I don’t believe in God, but there’s no way to prove anything about religion. Why should you get into that argument?’ And these blogs just convinced me that religion is a proposition about the world and we can argue about it just like any other proposition. This idea should not be off the table in public discourse.
The reason I know what kind of questions people are going to ask is, I’ve been on the internet for a long time. I’ve changed my mind about things because of what commenters wrote on my blog, I’ve written on entire topics because commenters suggested them and I’m very familiar with that back and forth – with the kinds of arguments that people will make.
It’s one of the things I like about atheism that we don’t treat our leaders, our icons and our heroes as if they’re infallible. We don’t have to pretend that Richard Dawkins or PZ Myers – or me, for that matter – is infallible, and if we disagree with them we say so. If we think they’re being a jackass, we say so, and we recognise that these are flawed human beings with some good ideas and some bad ideas.
I try to strike a balance, being mocking and angry toward ideas while still having compassion for the people who hold them. It’s one of the things that make anger about religion complicated: the perpetrators of the harm are also its victims, and vice versa.
Children are getting their clitorises cut off. Children are dying because their parents believe in faith healing. Women are getting beaten by their husbands and their preachers are telling them to suck it up, because God says you have to stay in the marriage. Works of art that are hundreds of years old are being destroyed. Gay children are being kicked out of their houses by their families. I could go on and on. I do in the book. If you’re not angry about this, what’s wrong with you? The opposite of anger when you’re faced with these kinds of situations isn’t peace, or calm. It’s complacency.
4. Christianity magazine’s interview with me
After my blogs this summer from Soul Survivor, Christianity magazine got in touch and asked if they could talk to me for their regular ‘Why I am not a Christian’ column. (Previous participants have been Alain de Botton and Marcus Brigstocke.) Click the image to the right to see their interview with me.
I’ll also be meeting Andy Croft for dinner next Friday, one of Soul Survivor’s speakers and probably their resident apologist in chief; I wrote about some of his talks while I was there. I’ll be sure to report back.