I don’t wanna be in your gang.

beware… self-involved navel gazing follows…

I have always been an atheist. Even before I knew what the term was, I knew that I didn’t believe in any of the religious teachings that were circulating at the edges of my life.

Sure, I sang along with the nice hymns when Harvest festival came around at school. I actively raided the cupboards for a shoebox of tinned food to be redistributed in our local community and I freaking LOVE Christmas. You’ll find me bellowing HALLELUJAH! in the Royal Albert Hall every year at a sing along Messiah without an ounce of religious belief behind my impassioned performance.  I’ve glued billions of  fuzzy yellow balls onto chick shapes over many Easters and coloured in literally, some, donkeys.

Cultural practices are not the same as belief though. I’m english, white and middle-class… these were the markers in my school year. My termtimes were punctuated by them and I’m not aware of ever having heaped scorn on them. They’re just not things I believe in.

I’ve never really considered myself as aggressively atheistic (full disclosure; I do have a FSM on the back of my car… mainly because I’m daft and love pirates), I went through a period of really investigating all of the major religions and thinking ‘oh, it would be nice to have a pretty symbol and be in a club like that’ but never even being able to entertain the realistic thought of identifying with a set of religious teachings. No-one has ever tried to ‘convert’ or ‘save’ me and I think it’s because people recognise that I’m not going to be convinced. I’m not aggressively challenging people to convert me and I think it would be interesting to see what techniques someone tried.

symbols... duh

oooh… those would look nice as a necklace.

I think that because I’ve never identified with a religious group, I’ve also never felt the need to replace that group in the way that many atheists I know do. The movement from one set of strong beliefs to another and the group affiliation that goes along with it. From Christian with a captial C to Atheist with a big red A and meet-ups rather than churchgoing.

In recent history I fell a bit in love with a rather lovely man who identifies as an Atheist and a Skeptic. He is involved in the sphere of all things Skeptical and encouraged me to investigate further as my way of doing and thinking about things seemed to tie-in quite well with this group of people that he associated with.

I’ve dabbled around the edge of the pool for a while now and I’m sorry to say, nope. I don’t want to play with you either.

Let me be clear who I mean by ‘you’.

Skepchick just really grate. I tried, I really did. I’m a feminist who doesn’t believe in god and who can identify with the ‘Skeptical’ tag when it comes to calling bullshit on alternative medicine, astrology and other such woo. Hooray! I thought, look at these other women with brightly coloured hair and interesting looking opinions. Sorry. I try to avoid discussing Rebecca Watson in general because the Skepchick’s ‘fearless leader’ seems to have an almost mystical ability to create conflict and I don’t like getting into arguments about people I don’t know. Elevatorgate is the best example I can cite as to why I’m not interested in engaging with the Skepchick brand of, well, anything really.

The general collection of Freethought blogs  just feel really rather inbred and cliquey and every time I dip into their collection of blogs they seem to be on the attack rather than reflecting. The whole ‘Atheism+‘ discussion that’s going on at the moment feels like a formalisation of that clique mentality. Hey look, another pretty symbol that would look good as a necklace and a big fat line dividing us from them. Blaurch.

Something about PZ Myers creeps me out. I’m sure that he’s a lovely person and when he writes about science, I really enjoy reading it,  but again… it’s that particular brand of something that I really just can’t mesh with.

I’m not going to turn this into a whingey list of people who don’t know I exist and don’t care that I don’t want to engage with them. I’m just disappointed that I had come to a point where I thought I had discovered a group of like-minded people who looked like fun. Hell, my lovely Skeptic and I were thinking about TAM for honeymooning.

Excuse me for being put off by the general drama and lack of appeal but I’ll be over here just carrying on as I always have. I think that the conclusion I’m coming to is that I should give up on the idea of finding a group of  ‘my people’ where I can snuggle in and wear the nice symbol on a necklace. It’s a bit lonely not having a tribe but I can carry on dipping into blogs and singing Handel loudly without calling myself anything with a capital letter at the start. I’ll just be me, it’s got me this far.

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For balance and rationality.

This is an important site and one that I highly recommend everybody spend 5 minutes checking out.

Hooray for balance and the voice of women being heard in the abortion conversation.

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Suicide is painful.

I’ve blogged about having a good death before but I’m not sure I’ve ever really explicitly stated my views on Euthanasia.

Seems like a good time to make some things explicit.

I support the legalisation of euthanasia.

Actively and fully support.

How could I do anything else? In my world view, a painless death is something that everybody has the right to. That part of the conversation is something that I can’t even understand differing viewpoints about. The regulation of medically assisted death is something that get trickier and the ethical implications of actively assisting someone’s death is clearly a very individual matter.

Individual healthcare professionals make choices everyday about what they, as people, are happy to do on a professional basis. It’s part of what informs your practice and the area that you choose to work in. I would have no problem assisting with abortions as part of my role as a nurse, I also think I would have no problem in being part of someone’s death in a more active way than providing palliative care if it were legal and safeguarded.

That’s me though, those are my beliefs and it would be my choice to be part of those care provisions.

I would never dream of suggesting that euthanasia is something that Doctors, Nurses and other healthcare professionals should be obliged to assist with. I just really, absolutely, passionately believe that it’s a choice that we, as humans, should be able to offer to those who seek it. Whatever you personally feel about the assisted suicide and euthanasia debate, what right do you have to impose a life sentence on another person? Isn’t it the most personal of choices? The most basic of rights? I think so.

As an able-bodied individual, I could actively choose to kill myself at any time. I don’t have a reason to and, I think that if I was considering it, it would be pretty easy to identify it as an indicator of a mental health issue rather than a sensible choice. As someone with full capacity if I chose to end my life, it would be something I didn’t need assistance with.

Tony Nicklinson is a man with full capacity.

A funny, intelligent, articulate man with full capacity.

A funny, intelligent, articulate man with full capacity, a family who support him in his choices and a horrific condition which is the very reason that he wishes to die and also cannot end his life himself.

He also happens to be an atheist so people like the Right Rev George Pitcher can take his ‘greater good’ blather and stuff it.

I support Tony in his fight in the High Court, it’s time to stop denying people their basic human rights under the guise of ‘slippery slopes’ and the spectre of Angels of death. Harold Shipman got away with murder for years with the law as it currently stands, what possible harm would more legislation, monitoring and safeguarding bodies do?

I’m always interested in conversation and differences in opinion but I think that this topic is one of the areas where I become an immovable object.

Good luck Tony.

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On beauty in a Godless world…

Richard Feynman always has seemed to speak the words I have in my head. Here he puts into words the way I feel about experiencing beauty in a world without God. Whenever anyone asks me how I can be moral or fulfilled or truly appreciate the world we live in, I’ll just ask them how they can truly appreciate how amazing the world and everything in it is without removing God from the picture.

 

 

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Dr Richard Kent is made of wrong

So, I was flicking through the god channels the other day and encountered Dr Richard Kent telling me just why evolution is impossible.

As you can imagine, I sat and watched the full hour… mainly with a smile on my face and occasional outbursts of hysterical laughter. It occurred to me, however, that this is absolutely, 100% what many people completely and absolutely believe to be the total truth and that, well… it’s bloody terrifying.

Okay, so the first thing he raises is that he’s a retired medical doctor.

This alarms me in all sorts of ways. I wouldn’t want to work with anyone who truly believed the things he says in his video and then provided medical care because, as you’ll see if you watch it, he doesn’t really seem to understand the scientific process and I would therefore question his ability to, y’know… not accidentally kill patients by misunderstanding medications or something.

The young earth nonsense that he starts off on isn’t really tackled in any depth. He just seems to point out the difference and move on… ‘Yeah, the bible says this and science says that and they disagree.’  Indeed.

Oh but remember, we’ve got a built-in get-out clause here. Anyone who disagrees with the bible is wrong because the bible says so. Also, the devil… what a dick. Not only is he a liar but he’s the father of lies too! He’s his own father, how’s that even possible, The Devil? Answer me that? You can’t can you? Dick.

The 6 different types of evolution that Dr Kent lists are Cosmic, Chemical, Stellar, Organic, Macro and Micro. A large part of the argument that he then proceeds to make against evolution is that only micro-evolution has been directly observed. I believe that he means directly observed whilst happening… at no point does he tackle the, what seems obvious to me, issue that no-one can realistically observe, at first hand, a process that takes such monumentally long spans of time to happen. What science does is look for the fingerprints of these events and they’re all over the place. Hell, I can point you to a Christian website that lists them. You can have your imaginary bearded sky friend cake and eat your evolutionary fact cake too.

Mmm, cake. What? oh right…

So, then the good doctor uses SCIENCE AGAINST US!!! Oh noes! The first law of thermodynamics states that nothing can come of nothing (basically) so, yeah… physics. But the bible says that there was nothing and then God made everything. Right. Those are two different statements, good… let’s compare and contrast and look at some evidence and then have a lovely rigorous debate about it all and come to some kind of logical conclusion… wait, what?

Dr Kent’s argument seems to be to mention something scientific and then say that the bible disagrees and therefore the bible is right. That’s his main argument. His other argument is that Science (SHOCK HORROR) changes its mind about things… it’s, it’s almost as if a collection of individuals come to some kind of agreement about what the most probable explanation for something is based on the most current data and theories and then, *faint*, adjust that thinking should new and compelling evidence come along.

How do these so called ‘scientists’ sleep at night? Don’t they know that certainty is more important than anything?

*facepalm*

So, by this point in the talk, I’ve realised that Dr Kent is an idiot when it comes to a) understanding how Science works b) effectively arguing his point in an organised fashion and c) probably a lovely person but really, really deluded about the world.

I keep watching though, I can’t help myself.

Okay, so entropy… hmm. Somehow he seems to think that this contradicts evolution. Now I got a little bit confused at this point. He actually has a slide that says, and I quote;

‘The atomic bombs added lots of energy to Hiroshima to end WWII and did not organise anything!’

‘Hey guys, I’ve totally got this awesome idea of how to bring about peace’ – Jesus, not helping.

Right. That’s clearly how it works… add energy, get organisation? So, as a closed system (because that’s totally how God made us y’know) we can’t have energy added and therefore, everything’s just going to get less organised and stuff? Hmm. So, if evolution is impossible because things can’t organise in that way, are babies impossible too? Is that why all of those libraries have random heaps of books? Why no-one in the history of anything has ever solved a Rubik’s cube or invented something new? Sorry but I don’t understand your argument.

Ah now, in the next part the lovely Dr Kent completely misunderstands the language being used. ‘Simple’ organisms aren’t simple… they’re infinitely beautiful and wonderful and amazing.

‘they’re not simple Mr Darwin… they’re really, really complicated’

How dare Darwin, without his electron microscope and talking in terms of ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ fail to point out the amazing complexity of all life. Wait, again I’m not getting your argument Dr Kent. So, because the universe that we live in is a complex and amazing thing, evolution is impossible? How about if we change the language a little… how about if it’s ‘less complex’ organisms and ‘more complex’ how does your point stand up now? Oh wait, it doesn’t… BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT MAKING ANY SENSE.

*sigh*

Now follows some absolute nonsense about Zebras learning to fly. If a Zebra was growing wings, its vestigal wings would make it more likely to be eaten by lions and therefore SCREW YOU EVOLUTION mwahahahahah!

He then backs this up by stating that if evolution were possible, there would be lots of transitional life forms in the fossil records… which there are not. Apparently.  *cough* Archaeopteryx *cough*

I can’t even comment on the next part… I’m just going to leave this screenshot here…

Urgh, I’m getting tired now.

He waffles on a bit about how the sun is shrinking and that means that if the earth were as old as Science says it is, we’d have been engulfed in it’s fiery embrace back when the sun was bigger. Also, the earth used to spin really, really fast if it were in fact as old as Science says… goddamn you Science.

But if it’s going that fast… oh, screw you Science, you dick…

Those poor dinosaurs.

By this point, I’m barely even listening… Dr Kent questions why if earth is older than about 6000 years, there aren’t any calender systems older than that. Honestly, how do you even say that out loud and not want to slap *yourself* in the face?

He decides, again, that because Science was wrong about the amount of moondust on the moon, that ALL OF SCIENCE is wrong. Wow. If we’re allowed to start using this as logical argument, I have a few parts of the bible that I’d like to have a discussion about please.

Thankfully, the end is now in sight. Dr Kent has saved up one last whammy though, for those that aren’t yet convinced by his amazing skills as a logician.

No, now, you see, what you’ve done there, Rich, is confuse the word ‘Miracle’ meaning an extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is therefore ascribed to a supernatural cause with just ‘amazing’. Yep, the development of a single sperm and egg into a proper person is amazing. It’s awe-inspiring in fact but, and let’s make this clear, it is not a miracle… it happens every single day. It’s sort of why we’re here in fact.

To be fair to the old chap, he does politely answer the most common complaints on his website and offers some questions of his own to the ‘scoffers’ who find his arguments unconvincing…

Having explained my position, what about yours?

– Are you absolutely certain that you know more than God does?

– Were you there when God created the Universe?

– Are you certain that the Bible is rubbish?

– Are you certain that there is no life after death, and if so, how are you so sure?

Easiest quiz ever.

1. Yes, I am absolutely sure that I know more than a fictional character does.

2. No, because God didn’t create the universe and I’m not billions of years old (thankfully, imagine the wear and tear)

3. Yes, I am absolutely certain that the many-authored, self-contradictory, racist, factually incorrect, sexist, largely plagiarised collection of church approved books commonly known as ‘The Bible’ is rubbish.

4. Yep, I’m certain. As a medical professional I have attended many deaths. There is no release, no flash of heavenly light, no chorus of angels. Just a biological unit stopping in its functioning. I have never witnessed any messages from the dead, coded or otherwise. There is no accurately measured and verifiable data that shows any transference of energy as a coherent unit on death. An afterlife is most convincingly explained as a comfort blanket, a psychological buffer against the reality that we all die and this life, this wonderful and amazing life, is all we get. Isn’t that enough?

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No words, just Burton.

I’m too tired to brain at the moment, Who’d have thought that being a nurse in the A&E department of an understaffed hospital could be such hard work eh? Have a gander at the Dark Shadows trailer instead… I wasn’t sure about this whole project but I’m starting to come around…

We shall return to normal transmissions as soon as possible.

*zzzzzzzzzzzzz*

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I’m older than I’ve ever been and now I’m even older…

2 things.

1) It’s my birthday and that can only be a good thing. Whoop. I’d tell you lots of interesting mathematical facts about my age but that’s more my future husband‘s shtick.

2) If you’re going to be a hipster activist for an organisation with questionable ethics… don’t be a douche about it.

 

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Kony Island.

I used to do a lot of fundraising to help support children and families that had been affected by the LRA and the utter mess of child soldiers, systematic rape and political tensions in the area. Any raising of awareness is a good thing but I would definitely second the call to research where your money is going if you want to donate. Make sure the organisation you fund is one that shares your beliefs about  how to solve a problem, not just that something is indeed, a problem.

Don’t jump on a bandwagon, no matter how good the cause unless you really understand the issues being discussed. That’s my rule.

thefrogman:

Yesterday my inbox was flooded with people asking me to post Invisible Children’s latest video calling for the capture of Joseph Kony. I don’t automatically post things like this just because everyone else is doing it. My gut was telling me there was more to this and I better do some more research before advocating anything.

I’ve been pretty sick this past week and after discovering just how complicated this issue is, my fatigue has kept me from being able to properly wrap my brain around it.

The best I can tell, Kony is certainly evil. We should all be made aware of him and the horrors of child armies. However, whether or not Invisible Children should be the group spearheading this awareness is certainly in question. And by donating to their cause, you might be sending money to aid the Ugandan army.

This is problematic to me. The Ugandan government and their army seem to have a less than stellar reputation. In the past, we have given money, weapons, and training to foreign militaries only to end up fighting against those weapons we gave and those soldiers we trained.

I like the awareness aspect of the campaign, but the solution being proposed concerns me. I’ve always felt that building up infrastructure and improving education are more potent solutions than hunting down and killing villains.

I do hope Kony is captured and pays for his crimes. I do hope this campaign brings much awareness to the issue. But until I have a better understanding of the situation, I don’t think I can recommend donating to Invisible Children.

I do recommend doing your own research and deciding for yourself what is appropriate.

reblogged from Wil Wheaton

edit: this is what I was too lazy to scout for myself… it’s not fun to rip down an online movement coming from a good place but this particular organisation is perhaps not the shiniest of them out there.

This short article is well worth a read too, get informed  then get angry. 🙂

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Fuck you, Jenny McCarthy and your little dog too.

I finally got around to watching ‘The Vaccine War’, an interesting documentary by PBS. Unsurprisingly, it got me angry. Really, really angry. If there’s something that’s guaranteed to get my blood boiling it’s the world of vaccine avoiding parents. I don’t care what your logic is, if you refuse to vaccinate your children using an inert vaccine that’s been trialled and tested and used in the wild with minimal to nil negative side effects then you are guilty of being a neglectful parent. A neglectful parent and a terrible human being. I get so angry about this that I have to pause for breath sometimes and try to moderate myself. Then I think, screw it, and just let rip. Here are some facts…

The MMR vaccination DOES NOT CAUSE AUTISM

You should vaccinate your child against Hepatitis, it’s NOT just sexually transmitted and it can severely limit your life.

Andrew Wakefield has been struck off for good reason. What he did when researching is classed as assault in medical ethics and his findings were fictional. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.

Jenny McCarthy should be ashamed. Generation Rescue is shovelling woo down the throats of parents struggling with a difficult diagnosis and she is the most aggressive and ill-informed of them all. Generation rescue paid for a fucking osteopath to treat a mentally ill woman who was faking dystonia following a flu vaccination. Also,what makes anyone think that getting your tits out professionally makes someone qualified to lecture experts on medical matters? You want to lecture me on how to get my tits out? Go for it. Medical matters? Fuck off.

Can you cure Autism? No. It’s not a disease, it’s a developmental disorder. It’s not caused by a vaccine, and claiming it is is just misdirecting research from where it should be. Helping families accept autism and help individuals with an autistic spectrum disorder to function as an integrated part of society without prejudice against them and with the support they deserve.

Are vaccines safe? Yes. Every treatment comes with a risk, even a paracetamol. Part of being an informed member of society is being able to judge those risks effectively. We even have experts to do this for us and tell us whether the risk is worth the benefit. They’re called experts for a reason.

J. B. Handley is a horrible, terrible human being and I hope that one day he truly realises how much damage he’s done. If I believed in a hell, that’s where I’d hope he was going.

This is the way to correctly look into what is ACTUALLY causing an increase in diagnosed austism spectrum disorders, not a knee-jerk reaction pointing fingers at the nearest thing that you don’t really understand.

How many times do we have to prove them wrong before they’ll listen? A fantastic data set happened to be available to epidemiologists in Denmark thanks to the tracking of individuals healthcare provision and diagnoses. Guess what it showed when analysed? Yep, no strong link could be made between MMR vaccination and the development of autistic spectrum disorders. It feels like waving dinosaur bones under the noses of fundie Christians. If you want to believe in fairy tales, feel free but don’t cause harm to your children or those in the human herd with them by sabotaging what we’ve worked so hard to achieve.

I’m getting dangerously close to just shouting again so I’ll have to stop there but I give you fair warning now. If I ever meet you in person and you tell me that you’ve not vaccinated your child because of side-effects like autism or because your girl isn’t sexually active and therefore doesn’t need a vaccine that could stop her from getting fucking cancer, I can’t promise to be polite. If you open your mouth and tell me that you won’t vaccinate because it’s a third world problem, I can’t promise anything.

Oh and Jenny McCarthy? Fuck you.

 

 

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I just blogged to say I love you. <3

Happy Valentine’s day everybody.
I know that it’s a ‘created’ holiday and I’ve had my fair share of bitter single years trying to loudly convince myself that it’s better being single and not having to play along with all the commercial nonsense, but…

I got chocolates and flowers and the undivided attention of my beloved all day today. We’ve watched too many Saw films and we’re having greasy take-away for dinner.

I couldn’t be happier.

It doesn’t mean that being alone = being lonely or that being single is a problem to be fixed. I’m just completely and obscenely in love with a man who makes everything seem just a little bit better when he’s around and who will stand by my side when the world gets tricksy. He’s my best friend, the sexiest manliest husband in training I know and melts me into little globules when he strokes my face.

I love you James.

Thank you for being mine, today and every day.

This is a well-behaved piggle.

p.s. I’m sorry my pig pee’d on you. ❤

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