What’s so good about atheism?

Over at The Guardian, their chirpy resident science blogger, GrrlScientist, is mocking “Christianese” – whatever the hell that is. I have no idea. Hit the link and watch the video. I was baffled and bored within 78 seconds.

I ended up wondering, what’s the point? GrrlScientist seems to think she’s helping illustrate the “childish silliness of Christianese to all of those who aren’t Christian”. With this in mind, I hit play expecting a witty and astute dissection of some of the creepier sayings favoured by over-zealous bible-bashers. What I saw was… well, something that made me feel uncomfortable.

Don’t get me wrong. I like sarcasm. I love funny voices. I joyously giggle at the hypocrisy of religious fanatics. I’ve no problem saying I’m a proud atheist. Hey, I even find Richard Dawkins tolerable.

But this video hit a nerve. It really made me think about the amount of time smug secularists spend sniping and sneering at those they see as sectarian simpletons.

I’ve a lot of time for weighty intellectual debate about religion and its net value to society (if any), but I’m beginning to understand why armchair Chomskys and rentagob Russells are so reviled outside the rationalist enclave.

And no, if you’re reading, it’s not that you’re too controversial and iconoclastic for our feeble brains to handle. You’re just really rather tedious. Not to mention capable of pointless, repellant pettiness.

Religion may be “poison”, as Christopher Hitchens argues, but most people who consider themselves religious are totally undeserving of the level of inane scorn represented by that rubbish video.

Sadly, most pro-atheism content I see online is like this. It’s nothing positive, it’s just slagging off those dumb-ass Jesus-folk. There must be more to the secular utopia than this.

If championing the strengths of the enlightenment is so important to respectable atheists like GrrlScientist (as it should be), I’d like to see them spend more time talking up their values, instead of taking the piss.

Here’s a challenge for you all: without even mentioning religion, I want you to tell me what’s so good about atheism?

Ed West hates teenagers, gays and making a coherent argument – loves sardine cities and tradition

In the words of The Joker, “I have found myself an enema”.

Performing a spot of research into accurate, rational arguments for and against so-called eco-towns, I stumbled upon this nonsensical article by social commentator for The Telegraph, Ed West.

To quickly nip that article, titled “For a greener Britain, we should build jails not eco-towns”, in the bud: West argues that we’d be better off living in ‘compact cities’, but that this would require people behaving better, so cops should be harassing teenage gangs (presumably including all young people hanging around in groups – as socialising young people are wont to do) and, basically, do their job by arresting criminals. Which I tend to assume they’re doing. When someone argues that police should be arresting people who are committing crimes, the suggestion is that they’re not. No matter what political party is in charge, I’m fairly confident the police will still be aiming to arrest criminals, meaning this is usually a pretty accurate indicator that the person making the point hasn’t really got one.

Ed West’s view of the world appears to be diametrically opposed to mine. Just some of the more obvious signs of the anti-Crunk are as follows:

  1. A rose-tinted view of a mythical social golden age – usually combined with an assumption that the time we’re living in represents the worst things have ever been
  2. Nothing threatens the security of the country more than our children (well, other people’s children). Despite rising test scores, they’re also dumber than ever. Conversely, they’re being taught too much about certain subjects (sex), which somehow means they’re making less intelligent decisions about certain things (sex).
  3. It’s not racist to think that immigration is the second worst thing ever. It’s not homophobic to think that homosexuality is the worst thing ever.
  4. People getting married and staying married will solve all of our problems.
  5. Vague, contradictory, anti-human dogma that is thousands of years old should forever be our primary source of moral guidance – and screw any culture whose own thousand-year-old dogma challenges that.

Ed West’s latest twisted post is a bitter rant against the below quote by Terry Prendergast who works for Marriage Care (an agency associated with the catholic church):

“Statistically, children do best in a family where the adult relationship is steady, stable and loving. Note that I stress adult, not married, since there is no evidence that suggests that children do best with heterosexual couples.”

This seems to make sense to me. To Ed West, however, “what [Prendergast’s] saying is untrue”. He doesn’t really explain why this comment is untrue, he only references a study showing the better lives of children raised by married couples compared to those raised by single parents. Which, when you think about it, clearly supports Prendergast’s opinion that a steady, stable and loving relationship works best. I would like to know if a study comparing children raised by non-married couples in a long-term relationship with single parent children would show similar results. Prendergast seems to think it would, I would tend to agree and consider it obvious, while West doesn’t actually formulate any argument against this. On what grounds then is he claiming the statement is untrue?

The rest of the article does nothing more than quote further extracts from the speech, assuming the reader will disagree without offering anyone with an open mind an argument of why they should. Pointless.

Clearly, the most contentious part of the speech was the second sentence, that there is no evidence suggesting children do best with heterosexual couples. Presumably, this was the more ‘untrue’ part of the speech and is what really gets West’s goat… Here are some extracts from West’s article which lead me to believe this:

“In double-blind test after double-blind test all studies have shown that children in old-fashioned marriages have an almost unassailable advantage over those in “non-conventional” set-ups.”

“Children do best educationally, behaviourally and in every other sphere when raised by two original biological, married parents.”

Let’s be clear that those studies are only comparing married (i.e. “stable”) units with broken families (what West misleadingly terms “non-conventional”). I should point out that the findings of these results have been challenged anyway. Regardless, West is twisting these studies to argue against the claim that there is no evidence to suggest same-sex couples raising children will be any worse at it than heterosexual couples. Twisting is right because that’s not what the studies show at all.

When challenged more about the same-sex issue in the comments section of the blog, West completely contradicts himself:

“In terms of gay couples its hard to do stats because its an entirely new area…”

So, is he saying there is no evidence!? That’s exactly the statement he’s claiming is untrue! To be fair to the man, I’ll quote the rest of his comment in full:

“…But children do far, far better when they’re brought up by two biological parents who are married. No other family model comes anywhere near, which is why his speech is so dishonest. His/her parents being married (currently not an option for gay couples, admittedly not their fault) is the key factor in determining a child’s future wellbeing.”

Currently, the only statistics are looking at two biological parents, meaning any question of sexual preference can not be commented on – unless to say there is no evidence! And, to labour a point, the stats are comparing a stable relationship with broken families – which is not the “family model” Prendergast is suggesting as “the best”!

West should have no argument here, as a careful analysis of his position shows he actually agrees with the statement. What’s obvious is that questioning the institution of marriage and supporting the suitability of same-sex parents counters West’s personal, prejudiced opinion and he is instinctively compelled to oppose on dubious, religious ‘moral’ grounds rather than from a position of logic, rationality and humanity. I think it’s remarkable he managed to write that entire blog post without engaging the higher functions of his brain once.

In summary:

  1. Prendergast said that the best environment for a child to be raised is by loving adults in a stable relationship.
  2. He also said that there is no evidence that heterosexual relationships are better.
  3. West said both these statements were untrue.
  4. He then reels out statistics comparing children raised in stable relationships (represented by married couples) with children raised in unstable relationships (separated parents).
  5. When considered, these statistics can be seen to not counter Prendergast’s first claim – and could be seen as supporting it.
  6. He uses these statistics to suggest children who have been raised by same-sex couples will be worse off.
  7. He later admits that there is no evidence to support this view – thereby agreeing with Prendergast’s second statement.
  8. Any extrapolation from the aforementioned studies concluding that non-heterosexual couples will raise their children in an environment worse than heterosexual couples is completely misleading – the studies only compare stable with unstable relationships and in no way look at the impact of sexuality.
  9. Ed West is a tool.

Until next time…

8 things I might’ve written about over the last three months if I could’ve been bothered

Blogging is exactly like watching a US TV series, listening to indy music or doing something special at tiny, nauseating milestone events in a relationship. If you keep at it, it’s the greatest, most rewarding thing in the world. However, if you pause for too long, it’s all to easy to stop giving a shit and forget why you were so fussed about it in the first place. I mean, Travis!? The only half-decent song on The Man Who is the secret track and I can not be arsed to listen to 3 minutes of Slide Show followed by 4 minutes of silence. Bastards.

Well, that’s just one of the reasons why I haven’t updated Crunkfish in such a long, long time. To make up for this blip in my otherwise extremely blippy posting rate, I’m condensing all the nerve-pinchingly exciting stuff I might’ve considered blogging about over the last three months, but never did because (when it comes down to it) I simply couldn’t be bothered, into one overly long list. Indulge, young patrons of the inane.

1. Backdated Movie Reviews


In an early effort to encourage some blogging, I bought a subscription to ilovefilm.com. The promise to myself was that every movie would be reviewed. This was broken quicker than the one I gave my girlfriend about not digging out great lumps of snot from my nose and wiping it on the side of sofa. Sadly, my first attempt (an intelligent critique of Die Hard 4.0) was so curmudgeonly cynical it depressed me even more than Justin Long’s face. A succession of stinkers didn’t help things (worth mentioning the honourable exception of The Devil Wears Prada – ah, that reminds me, I think I need to add “banging on about how much I love Anne Hathaway” on to this list) and so I ended up not really bothering. A new promise will be that the next movie review I write will NOT rely on sarcy comments and crude similes. Saying that, my last cinema trip took me to Transformers 2 and what Michael Bay doesn’t know about story-telling, character, emotion and, well, good directing, he more than makes up for in gargantuan action sequences that offer the depth of a brownie’s vagina – without offering any satisfaction.

2. Geek Fury

Over the past few months, I’ve been growing increasingly frustrated by the nonsense buzz surrounding Google’s Android operating system. I own a Google phone and it’s alright – definitely deserving of some noise, particularly some clamour over when another update will arrive that fixes some of the more obvious annoyances and preferably gives it a prettification. However, I don’t understand all this hype around rocking Android on a bloody netbook. For the non-geek, Android is an operating system for a touchscreen phone that offers a messy, bloated, impossible-to-navigate app store selling mostly pointless and overpriced apps useful only on a mobile phone. It seems to offer nothing for a netbook. Stop it.

3. My mates have released a new EP!

My buddies, making up the crunktastic two-piece Apologies, I Have None, recently released a new EP, Two Sticks and Six Strings. In the words of Flood and Drought: “They are friendship, freedom, fun and passion and their music personifies this ethos. This EP is flesh and bone and this band is testament to the candor and mettle that turns van wheels, stokes throats and moves cold feet across this country chasing the map.” Great work, guys.

4. Plenty of fucked-up shit from Cracked.com

Every day I don’t write a post is a day when I don’t share some brilliance from the warped mind-stems of the Cracked word pits. Case in point: The 5 Most Baffling Sex Scenes in the History of Fan Fiction. Where else on the internet would you find such a lovingly crafted article about insanity like this:

Tom [Riddle – AKA Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter] remembered how good he’d felt the previous night, how good Indiana’s [as in Indiana Jones’] cock had made him feel. He gave Indiana a lopsided grin. “We could play cards. Or we could discuss music.” He got up on his knees and pushed Indiana down on the sand. “Or we could make magic,” he whispered, slipping his wand from his pocket.

[Hmm…this article seems to have been taken down – probably due to the intensely disturbing nature of the content. Not put off? View the cached page here]

5. Banging on about how much I love Anne Hathaway


*Sigh* she’s just so lovely. My thesaurus broke trying to find the right words to describe her. An understated icon-in-the-making? A future Mrs. C. Fish? Maybe. Though I don’t really agree with marriage. Do you have to be gay to have a civil partnership? That’s discrimination that is. Sorry Annie, I love you but I don’t think I’m ready for that kind of commitment. One day, people will talk about this great love that could never be…


6. Dangerously stupid Americans in a position of authority and influence

7. Atheist Activism

Let’s face it, God probably doesn’t exist. To clear this up, I say probably in the really rather strong sense to mean the existence of a God character is hugely unlikely and massively illogical. I know many people who agree with this view and yet they persist in granting unnecessary levels of respect to religion. Sure, there is a bit of a conflict between the liberal “respecting other cultures and all that shit” stance and the atheist “you believe in, like, an invisible space-dwelling, super Dumbledore?” view, but I’m fed up of otherwise rational people conceding secular ground to the religious types. Try this on for size: religion deserves no more respect and sensitivity than any other opinion, belief, passion, fashion, trend, or fad. Even hard-bitten atheists would reluctantly accept that it’s acceptable for religious studies to be taught in schools. Fuck that. I had to do R.E. for much of my secondary school and there was absolutely no point, other than to try and grant some sort of respectability and authority to the Bible. I want to be more of an Atheist Activist and make more of an effort to kick religion in the nuts.

8. fuckyeahskinnybitch

An almost bottomless supply of hot sluts in fine cuts – passed on by STNF. Fuckyeahskinnybitch really shows off the primary purpose of Tumblr – skinny bitches. Fuck yeah.

I’ve got another 14 things I wanted to get through in this post, but I guess that’ll have to wait for another time. Coming soon… Another 14 things I might’ve written about over the last three months if I could’ve been bothered.

The Top 5 Rape Scenes in The Bible

The Old Testament has brought us many great things – most of which escape me right now, so I’ll just focus on rape. I thusly present a countdown of the five best rape scenes to feature in the Bible.

5. The Sodomites attempt to sodomise some angels

This is a great story, but I’m forced to rank it only at five as the rape is only threatened and not actually carried out. What’s so great about this scene it’s a duo of angels who are threatened with a good old-fashioned gang-rape. What makes this story even better is the way in which the hero tries to appease the attackers. Let’s just say he shouldn’t be expecting a Father of the Year mug any time soon…

We join our heroes after God has decided to destroy the city of Sodom. A pair of angels have arrived in Sodom to rescue Lot (nephew of Abraham) and his family. As the angels wait in Lot’s house, the men from the city gather outside his home…

(Oh, before reading on try to get your head around some of the language you’ll encounter in these Bible passages. Most notable is the use of ‘know’, though I’m sure you can figure that one out in the extract below. ‘Take for your own/wives’ is also an interesting euphemism I suppose. More interestingly are some of the chilling phrases used, but I’ll try to point these out.)

But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:
and they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.
And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,
And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
(Genesis 19:4-8)

Yep, Lot offered his two virgin daughters to the assemblage of sodomising Sodomites in an attempt to avert the buggery of the angels. I think the plea to “do ye to them as is good in your eyes” is particularly interesting given who he’s talking to. Seriously Lot, do you really need to encourage them? Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on whose side you’re on) this wasn’t enough to satiate the lustful appetite of the horny Sodomites, who were clearly hankerering for some hot angel ass. God came to the rescue however, strking the attackers blind and giving Lot, his family and the angels the chance to escape. For the record, this may be the only documented example of God averting, rather than supporting, rape.

Oh, we’ll be rejoining the dysfunctional family unit that is Lot and his daughters later in this list…

4. Moses pissed at non-raping soldiers

Moses, one of the most famous of the Old Testament prophets, was also a bit of a bastard. Well, if you take into account the extract below, he was a complete bastard. God had instructed Moses and his followers to attack and destroy Midian; which they did, killing all the men, burning all the villages, and capturing all the women and children. This wasn’t quite what Moses had in mind, however…

Moses, Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the community went to meet them outside the camp. Moses was angry with the officers of the army—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—who returned from the battle.

“Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them. “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the LORD in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the LORD’s people. Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man. (Numbers 31:13-18)

Ahhh, the old carrot and stick approach. That Moses knew how to lead. With one hand he chastised his men and gave them more work, with the other he gave them virgins to rape.

3. “Go and lie in wait in the vineyards”

Murder, pillage and rape seems to be a surprisingly common theme in the Old Testament – you know, the scriptures of the Lord intended to teach us the proper way to behave – but we all know how to do that! What we really need is some guidance for the difficult questions. Like, what if we were not able to capture enough women for our soldiers to have one each to rape, what would we do then? Does the Bible offer any advice? Of course it does…

The soldiers of the Lord invaded Jabesh-Gilead and did the usual thing like we’ve seen with the Midians – killing all the men, boys and women who’ve “known man”, while keeping the virgins for their “wives”. Unfortunately for the Israelites, there were only 400 young virgins in the whole of Jabesh-Gilead (which is still more than what you’ll find in my hometown) meaning some men were without wives. Solution?

Then they said, Behold, there is a feast of the LORD in Shiloh yearly in a place which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.
Therefore they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards;
And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
And it shall be, when their fathers or their brethren come unto us to complain, that we will say unto them, Be favourable unto them for our sakes: because we reserved not to each man his wife in the war: for ye did not give unto them at this time, that ye should be guilty.
And the children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of them that danced, whom they caught: and they went and returned unto their inheritance, and repaired the cities, and dwelt in them.
(Judges 21:19-23)

Hmmm…the solution seems to be: “There’s an innocent village over there. If you hide out in the vineyard, waiting for the daughters of the villagers to come a-dancing and a-celebrating (at a feast in honour of God, I might add), you can simply take them for your own!”

What I really like about this is the response for when the fathers of the kidnapped daughters complain. It seems to be along the lines of: “Oh come on, give us a break. We promised these guys a virgin each, so just hook us up right? If you don’t, these guys won’t be getting their virgins and it’ll be all your fault. Do you want to explain that to these armed soldiers? No? Thought not…”

2. “Humble ye them”

This is strangely similar to the tale of Lot and the angels I included as number five in this list. For some reason, in this case, God choses not to intervene and the results are far, far nastier. Least of all because of the haunting phrase “humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you”.

A priest and his concubine were travelling in Gibeah where they stopped to spend the night in the house of an hospitable old man. As they were eating, drinking and making their hearts merry, the men of the city surrounded the house, beat at the door and demanded the old man release to them the priest so that they may ‘know’ him (waggle eyebrows knowingly). The hospitable old man doesn’t want anything bad to happen to his guest and so offers a (depressingly familiar) compromise…

Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.
And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly.
Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.
But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.
(Judges 19:22-25)

I find the euphemisms used in this passage beyond chilling. The concubine went through that hideous ordeal purely for the sake of saving the priests arse – you’d think he’d be sympathetic and grateful wouldn’t you? Nope. The story gets worse…

Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light.
And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.
And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.
And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.
(Judges 19:26-29)

Fucking hell. This woman was gang-raped to death over a night and then cut up into pieces by the priest. What the fuck is that all about? Why does that story tell us!? Mental. Ok, here’s a lesson you can learn from this: if you see a rape victim lying prostrate on your doorstep, try to say something more sensitive than “Up, and let us be going”.

1. Return of Lot (or: if you thought the last one was fucked-up, you aint seen nothing yet…)

Yes, Biblical rape gets even weirder as we return to Lot and his still-unspoilt daughters (no thanks to him) who are now hiding out together in a mountain. I should probably mention at this point that, shortly after the events in Sodom, God turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt. Just so you know.

And thus it is just Lot and his two daughters hiding out in the mountain with no other man or woman in sight. Now, I know what you’re thinking but this is the Bible – surely, Lot doesn’t rape his own daughters!? Well, actually no he doesn’t…

And Lot went up out of Zo’ar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zo’ar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.
And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth:
come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.
(Genesis 19:30-36)

And so Lot was raped by his own daughters. Deservedly number one, I think.

Vatican’s ‘new’ sins ensure Seven sequel will not be as good

Pope silly hat

I had assumed the Vatican had spent the last few years quietly encouraging the spread of AIDs in Africa, only emerging from their shadowy chambers to condemn anything that challenges their dogmatic belief system. As it turns out, my assumptions were as misguided as their faith as the Vatican announced that they have been busily drafting a new set of social sins – presumably to prove to people that they still give a shit.

I’m not sure if this new and improved list is intended to replace the old one, or if it’s merely pointless. One thing’s for sure though, the list really is pointless. And, as LVHRD.ORG point out, there’s actually only five sins in there. Oh, Vatican you cheeky bastards! We paid you for seven!

1. “Bioethical” violations such as birth control
2. “Morally dubious” experiments such as stem cell research
3. Drug abuse
4. Polluting the environment
5. Contributing to widening divide between rich and poor
6. Excessive wealth
7. Creating poverty

A friend of mine once aimed to break the old seven sins before lunchtime – with these funky, modern ones I just don’t even see the point in trying. Except for the one about unprotected sex. Trust me, first-timers. It feels soooo much better.