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Pledge “church-and-state”

"I will arrange for my MP to receive a copy of Richard Dawkins' book "The God Delusion" but only if 645 other people (one per UK constituency) will do the same for other MPs."

— J Christie

Deadline to sign up by: 31st March 2007
826 people signed up (181 over target)

Country: United Kingdom

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Religious and faith-based organisations have a privileged position in the UK, often being granted special status under the law, and exemption from legislation which other organisations must adhere to.

I do not believe churches should be given special status - indeed they ought to play by the rules like everyone else. Faith should not exempt one from being guilty of (for example) discrimination.

Motivation for this pledge originally came when I heard that head of the UK Catholic Church, and subsequently other churches, had asked the UK parliament to exempt their adoption agencies from being forced to consider applications from homosexual couples equally. This issue has thankfully been put to rest, but many other examples exist.

Richard Dawkins, as Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, is well placed to make this argument, and his book "The God Delusion" (costing 9 pounds on-line) does so convincingly.

By pledging, you agree to purchase a copy of this book, and have it delivered to your MP of choice. An up-to-date list is being maintained at http://www.jamiechristie.com/cands/. Pledge here first, and then browse that list and choose your MP, and email me your choice.

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Comments on this pledge

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  • I like Rich Boakes's last paragraph, where he takes the political view that the pledge was to highlight to MPs 'that the lobbying power of the religious unions is unrepresentative and undemocratic' - yes, indeed. He then moves on to the wider question: 'Prof. Dawkins's book provides a good basis for beginning to question all faiths and their effects on society..'. I was addressing this wider question when I said that atheists 'will need to do more than deny the existence of god.' It seems to me both a question of personal responsibility and a precaution against breakdown in society. Surely we do have some responsibility for this?

    Apology accepted, James Burgon. I see Dawkins's book as a catalyst for thought, it will go on spreading meanings, but is not 'sacred text'.
    Irene Coates, 7 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Irene Coates -- As 'sacred text' is usually of a religious nature, then of course Richards book should never be thought of as 'sacred'. However, it is a book that has given me personally a sense of belonging just as 'sacred text' must do for religious people, by giving a growing group of people the security of a very real common belief.
    If there is such a thing as a non- religious 'sacred text', then this book is it for me. I treasure its content!
    catherine souter, 7 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • catherine souter - yes, fair enough, so do I treasure the text of The God Delusion, as I have Dawkins's The Selfish Gene, they are both very useful books. However, they are both 'crossing' books, we are changed by them and must continue our journeys, taking something of them with us, as we do for other books and people we meet. Life is active, not static. So I hope you do your own writing, as I have done, and meanwhile wave a friendly hand. Irene
    Irene Coates, 7 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • "The God Delusion is the most popular reading choice for Labour MPs."

    Or are they just a bunch of cheapskates?

    Only kidding! Way to go folks! - MPs and pledgers alike.
    Daniel Allen, 7 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Folks, I have had an idea (yes, actually) for Stage Two in this campaign to bring science in focus in preference to religion. I think my brain has not got the god-spot, but I should like to know for sure, how can I do this? Many people would like to know if they are free of it, and for those that are without it there is no point fooling about with religion, It may be that half? or three quarters? of the population are free of it - right, have children with those that haven't got it, and we have science and evolution on our side - how about it? Irene
    Irene Coates, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Love thy neighbour as thyself.
    Daniel, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • -----------as the terrorist said, just before he blew himself up and killed hundreds of innocent people around him!!
  • Nice one, catherine souter. I am looking forward to the time when forms that at present ask: "What is your religion (if any)?" ask instead: "Have you got a god-spot?' My reply is No, though I would like to take some sort of scientific test to find out. I am not sure what Peter Hodge would answer.
    Irene Coates, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Dear Peter Hodge, Please give us a detailed explanation of the "DIVINE CREATION" that has an element of evolution occurring later. How is this possible using logic?
  • Sounds like a bit of a 'hodge-podge' theory if you ask me.
  • My dear Irene
    I am so surprised that you are having so much trouble understanding there being an original creation and then a system of gradual evolution. It really is quite simple when you think about it.

    In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. This was a fully functioning universe. Gradually, over time variations on the original creation occured. We can see these around us every day. The pets in our home, the animals in the field, the plants in the garden. These have all shown slight differences.

    In these days these are caused deliberately in order to develope an improved more productive strain. This is evolution in progress. Observable, repeatable, scientific, for which there is a great body of evidence. No problem.

    What we do not have is any proof whatever of a change from one kind to another. Dog's have always been dogs. Fish have always been fish.
    Cows have always been cows etc. etc. Quite simply the fossil record does not support gradual change from kind to kind. As Dr. Mark Ridley, a Palaentologist at Oxford wrote in the New Scientist in June 1981, "No real evolutionist, whether gradualist or punctuationist, uses the fossil record as evidence in favour of the theory of evolution as opposed to Special Creation."

    I hope that clarifies the matter. But I won't hold my breath, as, 'none are so blind as those who do not want to see!'

    Pete
    Pete Hodge, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Catherine
    Excuse I am laughing so much at your little word play on my name. But I have used it before, so it is already an old joke.

    So, isn't it fun. Creationists are asked for an explanation as to why they believe what they do, and when we do, it is rejected out of hand. To avoid repetition I refer you to my reply to Irene Coates above.

    Pete
    Pete Hodge, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Catherine
    My oh my, I do seem to have upset you.
    So, evolution is not about one kind changing by gradual changes into another. Well, that's a new one. So, evolution has changed has it?

    So, let's see, accepting that premise, that evolution does not mean that, could you explain, in words of one syllabal, just how we are supposed to have moved from the single cell in some 'primeval soup' into present day man?

    Years ago, in the distant past, I had a coloured chart hanging on my bedroom wall. It was the Evolutionary Tree. IT really was qquite attractive, wth the gradual branching out of the various phyla branching out. There was the progress of the fish through to amphibian, to land animal, to the various types of vertabrates and even, through a number of branches to man. I used to look at it, and believe it. And then I began to apply some logic. It can't work!
    Let's take logic. If all life came from a single spark of amnio acid or whatever. Then from that first reference point, came all the flaura and fauna seen in the world today. But now you are telling me that evolution is not about changing from one thing into another. And I'm the fool?

    Sorry, I actually can't take you seriously anyway,as your language - I haven't been called a 'twit' in years - shows that you do not have a firm belief in what you say. If one has to reduce their arguments down to the level of insult and ridicule, then you lose your argument.
    I might not be an intellectual heavyweight, but I do think things through without a bias or bigotted position to uphold. It is for this same reason that so many of Richard Dawkins peers reject his remarks.

    One thing is for sure, I have no doubts whatever that about 10,000 or so years ago, God created the entire universe in six periods of twenty-four hours. the evidence we both look at can support that contention. Just as it can support evolution, if we ignore certain parts of it.

    Pete
    Pete Hodge, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • @peter hodge:

    "What we do not have is any proof whatever of a change from one kind to another.[..] Quite simply the fossil record does not support gradual change from kind to kind."

    You'll need to define precisely what you mean by 'kind'. In any case, the fossil record very strongly does support change from ancient fish to land going creatures (including cows). Google Tiktaalik for instance. Further, every fossil found and every organism that lived was a 'transitional form'. This fact is self evident to anyone with a basic understanding of evolution.
  • But 'bitbutter,' Catherine says "And by the way, you have completely misunderstood the meaning of evolution!
    Even young children know that one type of animal CANNOT change into another!
    Where did you get that idea from? I think you have now shown everybody what
    a fool you are, and also given us an insight into how religious minds think!
    Completely illogically!" And you tell me, "In any case, the fossil record very strongly does support change from ancient fish to land going creatures (including cows)."

    Which one of you is right? Is either of you right? Maybe neither of you is right?

    Re, 'kinds,' okay, use species. Not the best, but is perhaps more understandable to the non-religious mind.

    More to follow...
    Pete
    Pete Hodge, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • ...continued.
    Okay we have, evolution does not/does mean transition from one species to another. Let's ask some evolution scientists their view.

    ""Whatever ideas authorities may have on the subject, the lungfishes, like every other major group of fishes that I know, have their origins firmly based in nothing." (Quoted in W. R. Bird, _The Origin of Species Revisited_ [Nashville: Regency, 1991; originally published by Philosophical Library, 1987], 1:62-63)"

    "firmly based in nothing." Sounds interesting!

    Next,
    "The fossil record had caused Darwin more grief than joy. Nothing distressed him more than the Cambrian explosion, the coincident appearance of almost all complex organic designs..." (Gould, Stephen J., The Panda's Thumb, 1980, p. 238-239)."

    "The fossil record had caused Darwin more grief than joy."

    I have many dozens more quotes of evolution scientists before me. All say the same, 'The evidence isn't there.'

    And I'm the 'fool?' Better the fool than to be the 'fooled.'
    Pete
    Pete Hodge, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Quote mining and feeble arguments from authority aren't up to the task of opposing the masses of mutually supporting evidence, and _the total lack of any contradictory evidence_ for the theory of evolution. You're really wasting your time, as I suspect I might be in answering you.
  • This is an argument that will not be solved here, or perhaps anywhere at any time.

    As long as faith remains a position reached not by logic but by instruction, our logical arguments will continue to be hackneyed and passed back to us.

    The fossil record is not the only evidence to support the theory of evolution, but that is not the point.

    If you choose faith, you choose to make assumptions NOT based on evidence. Religious people ought to at least have the courage of their convictions and not try to spin science to support their illogical beliefs.

    All scientific evidence can be 'spun' to support religion, but the more important point is that these twisted fragments do not join up to give a cohesive picture. If you follow 'god supporting' evidence to it's conclusion, you can always find the inconsistency in there somewhere.

    This isn't really the forum for this discussion. Peter is not here to debate, just to 'troll', so I suggest we stop feeding! (Though I know I have just done so...)
    Alice Davey, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Mr P. Hodge just wrote, About ten thousand years ago, god created the entire universe in six periods of twenty four hours!!!!!!
    This is hilarious!
    Pete, so sorry to confuse you, but gradual evolution of different species began many MILLIONS of years ago, and there were many BILLIONS of mutations very early on which led to the animal species of today.
    Animals once had a common ancestor, but this was not yet as any kind of recognisable 'animal' species.
  • continued...
    All life originated as you know from simple organisms, and because of this simplicity, mutations were much easier.
    Simple life became more and more complex, until species started to become divided into specified groups. These differences in species made the definite divisions that determined which types can compatibly breed with each other. Splitting the groups of species in this way ensured that no further change of that species was possible. Humans are not compatible with any other species for mating purposes, and that ensures we remain totally human, this goes for all other animals of a specific type.
    It is at a very early stage of all lifes evolution that changes occur, and once all possible mutations have occurred it is up to each type of life to strive for its own survival. Only superficial adaptations and learned skills are possible once the species has been determined and developed fully. Breeding also alters species somewhat, and hybrids often occur within a single species.
    When a species is successful at survival, it remains. When it is not successful it becomes extinct.
  • continued.. [final say on the matter]
    Billions of early mutations may have failed to survive, but billions have been successful, and humans are of course among the most succesful. No animal can change into another once it has become a distinctly seperate species. Only slight modifications can occur through random mutations which are mostly accidental and may not be beneficial.Humans are no different from other animals in the way they evolved, and there was never a 'couple' placed manually 'ten thousand years ago' in a garden in old Iraq, whom then went on to populate the world.
    Sorry for the twit remark, but you are so annoying! And you still haven't said what god actually is? Do you always avoid answering this question?
  • In the opening paragraph of Stephen J. Gould's "Evolution as Fact and Theory", he refers to the evolution as "one of the best documented, most compelling and exciting concepts in all of science".

    Yeah, that's only a selective quote too, just like the one above proffered by Pete Hodge. The difference is that I'm not stripping away its context to twist the sense of what's being said.

    The quote comes from the first paragraph of the essay, which you can read in full here:

    http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/g...
    anonymous contributor, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Now now, people:
    Debate = good.
    Full and frank exchange of views = good.
    Name calling = bad.

    I've pulled a few comments containing personal insults from this thread, and will do so to any others judged to be abusive.

    As has been said several times, a comment thread on PledgeBank isn't the ideal forum for a long debate. If someone would like to suggest a suitable forum, everyone can head over there and continue where you left off.

    Thanks for using PledgeBank. Come back soon!


    Tim
    PledgeBank.com volunteer
    Tim Morley, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Why do atheists assume that christians are incapable of regarding the bible as an ironic document?
    John, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Ah!! - a rationalist Chritian! - a contradiction in terms?
    check out
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ni/2007/10/th...
  • "Why do atheists assume that christians are incapable of regarding the bible as an ironic document?"

    Um... how does that sentence make sense?

    If your faith is based on a holy book, you kind of have to believe in what it says...
    Alice Davey, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • One believes in the message not the facts....or are you the sort of person that sees no value in the greek myths and legends? Icarus flying too close to the sun....provides a valuable message, even to-day, but surely nobody takes that story literally......Alice,If you think that the bible must be taken literally then i suggest that you provide strong evidence for your lack of evolution!
    john, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • You know John I think your right when you said that no-one takes the Greek myths and legends literally, but a few people used to, the Ancient Greeks for example. You see it was only after another religion replaced this one that they were just considered stories and (unless we can prevent it) the same thing will happen to Christianity when its replaced with the next ‘enlightening’ story (maybe a holy CD-ROM or flash drive this time instead of a book to kept up with times).

    Plus your not really a Christian if you only like the morals of a story and don’t actually believe it happened. On that logic why not worship ‘Lord of the Rings’ or ‘Harry Potter’, their both books and teach good over evil. Sesame street is good to, you learn good morals and the alphabet.
    James Burgon, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Sorry, a little side note on the pledge. Has anyone seen the new paperback edition of ‘The God Delusion’ with a free Christmas card saying ‘O come all ye faithless’. Really brightened up my day, maybe we should all send Dawkins one this year to show our support.
    James Burgon, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Hello.

    It saddens me that so many of you don't beleive in your Heavenly Father who ( however we were created) loves every one of you.

    I will tell you to watch this space, for revival is coming to these lands. At the end of 2008 you will see what I mean.

    I am pleased that you have sent the God delusion to MPs. This book has not challenged my faith as I have a real life frienship and relationship with God and I know He is real.

    My only prayer would be that you could enjoy the same freedom and peace that I have.

    God bless all of you and I pray that all of you will come to know Jesus ( God in Human form) and come to understand the free gift all of us are offered!
    God bless
    Rebecca
    Rebecca Evans, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Hello again Rebecca,

    "I will tell you to watch this space, for revival is coming to these lands. At the end of 2008 you will see what I mean."

    Care to elaborate? I'm intrigued. What exactly do you expect to happen by the end of 2008?

    Nic
    Nic Shakeshaft, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Someone said above:

    No-one takes the Greek myths and legends literally, but a few people used to

    Can you refer me to some materials?

    It must have been completely obvious that there was no palace of the Gods at the top of Mount Olympus - or was it?
    The ability of religious people to blind themselves to the truth is astounding. I'd love to know more about it.
    Religion isn't stupidity - it is the deliberate half conscious suppression of your own reason.
    Dan Allen, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Dan Allen, I said that

    ‘No-one takes the Greek myths and legends literally, but a few people used to’

    And as I also said, they were the Ancient Greeks. There is no need to refer you to any materials, go online, to a library or bookshop and look for Ancient Greek Religions and you bound to find something (well if the last two are any good you will), there is also a revival in these beliefs. However, you might have to go online to read about those (www.hellenion.org, as a start before you ask) and even they might have to admit that there is not a palace of the Gods at the top of Mount Olympus.

    From you post it sounds like I disagree with you, however I don’t. I am in full agreement (however I do view it as stupidity as well). I thought I made that clear but I must have been wrong. Sorry.
    James Burgon, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • what you "science" guys fail to realise is that back in the day YOU would have towed the party line, and been the flat-earthers...you sound like the spanish inquisition!....People did take greek myths & legends seriously...THEY STILL SHOULD as they contain manifest truths which you ignore at your peril.....these science posters think that religious people are stupid and ignorant and can't distinguish between moral truth, metaphor and actuality. You sound like an-uneducated bunch of arrogant bullies.
    john, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • You don't quite get this "science" thing, do you John? I'll try to make it easy for you and just quote Sagan:

    "In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time someting like that happened in politics or religion."
    clive, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Joh T think you're making a mistakes there.
    You're probably a very liberal Christian who doesn't realise that there really are people daft enough to take the Bible as a literal documentary statement of fact.
    We have Pete Hodge here who believes the world was *really* created in seven twenty four hour periods. Not an allegory, not a metaphor but a little statement of fact about the real world.
    Incredible I know. But these people are real. I also think you'll find they are the uneducated ones.
    Dan Allen, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Interesting you'll also find that there is no time in recorded history where the informed believed the earth was flat.
    The Greeks even measured its circumference.
    OK, so the people who wrote the Bible thought it was flat (Daniel 4:11) but you have to forgive them. It isn't as though they had access to some higher authority for information while writing it!
    Even the Christians (always backward when it comes to science as you know) knew this by the Middle ages.
    I've click the link above for an article on this.
  • Sorry, the link is below in my name.
  • John: when science bashing I really wouldn't bring the flat-earth thing into it if I were you. It's a fairly recent concept and the founder and President of the International Flat Earth Society, Samuel Shenton, was a devout Christian.

    When science delivered the killer blow to their theories in the form of photos of a spherical Earth taken from space, he claimed that they were a hoax. And that's the difference between us "science" guys and you "blind faith" guys.
    clive, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Clive with two degrees in the physical sciences I do get the science thing, but unlike you I have an open mind. science IS an inherently biased system ( I should hesitate to quote that nutcase Sagan if I were you). science is often not only blind faith BUT deliberate , although well-meaning deception (Sound familiar?). here's a little thought experiment for you......oh no I'd be wasting my time YOU HAVE ALREADY DECIDED......your arrogance astounds me.................Oh and by the way th biological sciences and medicines are little more than witchcraft! ..the so-called scientific method threw out a whole raft of knowledge because they couldn't prove it scientifically......the only real progress in medicine has been by engineers.....oh and if it had been been left to that great scientist Fleming, we still wouldn't have re-discovered(sic) penicillin....each week I have a good laugh at the utter bilge published by geneticists et al....keep up the good work chaps, and your pretence at objectivity...hope the publishing bias works out for you
    John, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • TWO degrees? Well why didn't you just say that to start with? Can't stop now people - got to buy me an ad hominem awayday special for the big ole Elipsis Bus on the road to Damascus. Beep beep!
    clive, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Science does have bias and deceit. It is human endeavour after all.
    However religion is pure bias and deceit. I has no objectivity or truth in it whatsoever.
    Science overall has delivered massive benefits to the whole of humanity and continues to do so.
    Almost no aspect of your life isn't enhanced by science.

    Religion is an intellectual and emotional prision that in the end only serves itself.
    Religion intereferes with and harms almost every aspect of society. Including holding back science.
    If you're insisting on an either/or then there is only one side to be on.
    Dan Allen, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • John, quick question. If doctors are blasphemous witches dose that mean if you or someone you loved got cancer or was hit by a car you would pray instead of going to the hospital, or would you just visit an engineer.

    Seriously dose anyone take this person for real, he must just be making this up for a laugh because he doesn’t make any sense. He says that science is closed minded and biased and religion is not, he regards the bible as an ironic document but believes in witchcraft, he has two science degrees yet seems to hate science and scientists guts. I mean come on, he contradicts himself every time.
    James Burgon, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • Please keep the comments civil, folks -- this is a place for discourse, not personal attacks.
    Heather (PledgeBank admin team), 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • The religious nutters are just that - nutters. We need to ridicule them every moment of our lives.

    We atheists need to wake up and recognise that what these people represent and preach is intellectual dumbing down of the masses. Humanity can never come close to reaching its potential (which ought to be limitless)if it boters to give air-time/debate-time/credence to people who believe in the sacredness of humancrafted texts.

    Im going to recommend a simple pledge. Pledge to ridicule religion every time it appears anywhere in your life. Of course I would not advocate intolerance of any kind - people are free to believe what they like - but they are not deserving of my respect. What do you think? Do you really trust a man to run your country if he believes a dead guy got up and walked after three days? Or walked on water?

    Peraps take a look at a fledgling atheist community at http://www.care2.com/c2c/group/Atheist

    and perhaps listen and laugh with Pat Condell's Podcasts
  • There is a petition on the Number 10 site - disestablish the Church. Here is the link:
    http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/churchofengla...

    OK, the petitions site is a bit of a sham, and they'll never do it, but every little helps.
  • "The petitions site is a bit of a sham" -- depends what you think it's supposed to be. It's not direct democracy, where signing a petition actually gets laws directly onto the statute books, but I do think it's useful to get some dialogue going between people and government that isn't filtered through the media, and that's exactly what happens with the bigger petitions. *And* the dialogue is public too.

    If you take the case of the biggest petition to date -- the anti road tax petition with 1.8 million signers -- I think we can safely say that the petition and the publicity it drew was instrumental in the shelving of a 5 billion pound government project.

    Now, whether the project should have been shelved or not is an entirely different debate, but I think it's a good indication of what can be achieved with a good petition and lots of support.
    Tim Morley, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • I didn't mean it's 100% a sham, just a bit! I have been reading some of the govnt responses to petitions and they mostly ignore the key question and skate around the issues. Typical politicians' tactics. Here is an example:
    http://www.pm.gov.uk/output/Page14536.asp
  • Ah, fair enough then. That's probably much closer to the truth!
    Tim Morley, 6 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • But I would still like you to sign my petition!
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