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It’s amazing what gets reported as news:

THE Catholic Church has revealed how growing interest in satanism and the occult has led to a rise in exorcisms across Queensland.

Well, for starters this statement is a little misleading. To be clear, what is actually on the rise is the rate of exorcism ceremonies being carried out. There is no evidence to suggest that any of these anecdotally reported cases involves anything that could be construed as supernatural demonic possession.

One priest, who asked not to be named for fear of “reprisals”, said he was carrying out at least one exorcism a fortnight.

Reprisals from who pray tell? Satan? Demons? The police? Other, saner priests?

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Firstly, apologies for the gratuitous Monty python quote.

Secondly, Saudi Arabia is planning to execute a woman convicted of being a witch. WTF?

Human Rights Watch has appealed to Saudi Arabia to halt the execution of a woman convicted of witchcraft.

In a letter to King Abdullah, the rights group described the trial and conviction of Fawza Falih as a miscarriage of justice.

The illiterate woman was detained by religious police in 2005 and allegedly beaten and forced to fingerprint a confession that she could not read.

Among her accusers was a man who alleged she made him impotent.

So not only does it look like she was fit up, but the crime is witchcraft. Doesn’t anybody else see a problem with that?

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What were they thinking?

February 13, 2008

Last week I was startled to discover a targeted email from Amazon offering me “New and Notable Releases in Religion and Spirituality”.

Offering to me.

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A Geologic Fancast

February 13, 2008

Fancast coverartGeorge has very kindly posted the fancast that I mentioned earlier on his regular podcast feed.

My part in the production was very small, with that dynamo of niceness, the lovely CarrieP the main creative force behind it all, and a whole lot of content from a bunch of people with more creativity and skill than you could fit in a telephone booth. A big one.

It might not make much sense unless you are a listener of the Geologic Podcast. So if you’re not then then you should ignore this bloody well subscribe and then download the fancast.

You don’t get off the hook that easily.

Paul just sent me a link to the Brick Testament*, which appears to be a version of the Christian Bible comprehensively illustrated with Lego.

Brilliant.


* Warning: Site include NSFW images of of Lego Nudity, Lego Violence, and Lego sexual themes.

The Geologic Universe

February 9, 2008

One of the things I’ve been tied up with over the last month has been my novice attempts at putting together audio content to contribute to a fancast celebrating the one year anniversary of the Geologic Podcast. It’s been something of a steep learning curve, but overall quite rewarding.

The Geologic Podcast is an intelligent and humorous (though often NSFW) layered blend of music, sketch comedy, rants, atheism, skepticism, science and bald jokes. If that’s not enough to get you interested, he’s just posted a video clip for the Assumption. Take a look, it’s brilliant.

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Debating Science

January 29, 2008

I as a general rule, I don’t think that the debate format is appropriate to scientific topics. A debate necessarily has a winner, whose ascendancy is determined by their ability to make a superior argument in the eyes of some theoretically impartial adjudicator. Reality however, doesn’t really care about rhetoric or majority opinion, and neither should science. The debate format is a circus, lending equal weight to opposing views that may or may not merit such treatment and which may or may not fully encompass all of the possible views. It also presupposes that the debaters are themselves qualified to argue their points and that the adjudicating person(s) is similarly competent to impartially weigh the opposing arguments.

As a case in point, consider this debate between Christopher Hitchens and Jay Wesley Richards.

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