Latest posts on Christian Aid

Why 'Christian Hate?'? An introduction to the blog

Places Christians shouldn't go A quick tour of Christian Hate?'s case against Christian Aid

Christians and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Read all my posts on this topic

Friday, October 27, 2006

There is no God and Richard Dawkins is his prophet

In which the author of the Summa Atheologica is caught with his trousers down. A snippet from a debate on Irish radio:-

Dawkins: [...] I do not believe we are controlled wholly by our genes. Let me go back to the really important thing that Mr. Quinn says.

Quinn: How are we independent of our genes by your reckoning? What allows us to be independent of our genes? Where is this coming from?

Dawkins: Environment, for a start.

Quinn: But hang on, but that is also a product of, if you like, matter, OK?

Dawkins: Yes, but it's not genes.

Quinn: OK, what part of us allows us to have free will?

Dawkins: Free will is a very difficult philosophical question, and it is not one that has anything to do with religion, contrary to what Mr. Quinn says.

Quinn: It has an awful lot to do with religion, because if there is no God, there is no free will, because we are completely phenomena.

Dawkins: Who says there is no free will if there is no God? That is a ridiculous thing to say.

Quinn: William Provine for one, whom you quote in your book. I have a quote here from him. Other scientists as well believe the same thing, that everything that goes on in our heads is a product of genes, entity, environment and chemical reactions, that there is no room for free will.

And Richard, if you haven't got to grips with that, you seriously need to, because many of your colleagues have, and they deny outright the existence of free will, and they are hardened materialists like yourself.

Tubridy: OK, Richard Dawkins, your rebuke to that note if you wish.

Dawkins: I am not interested in free will.

(read the whole thing here and here - via)

So much for Dawkins denouncing religion as the root of all moral evil (God as “misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully”). As it turns out, it doesn't bother him that morality may be just as illusory as he says God is. Which of course it would be if we had no free will. To quote Bertie Wooster, one looks askance at this kind of in-and-out running. At least, one does if one believes one can meaningfully talk about virtues and that consistency is one of them.

One of Frau Grumpy's favourite theology professors simply says that atheists are lazy and stupid. Now there's a debate I'd pay good money to listen in on...

New kid on the blog

By popular demand (well, he keeps pestering me) Mr Grumpy joins me from today as a contributor to the blog.

If you're not interested in his off-topic ravings, fear not. Thanks to the wonders of Blogger Beta, every post will get a 'Cyrus' or 'Mr Grumpy' label, so you can filter him out by going to But if you use the site feed I suspect you're stuck with him.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Unseen helper

Isn't it nice when you find that somebody else has taken care of one of those tedious little jobs that you never get round to? Like rationalizing the irritation you feel whenever you read a piece by Karen Armstrong in the Grauniad. So thanks, Norm; I don't suppose you fancy cleaning the fridge for me, do you?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Al-Quds Day counter-demo: I was there (almost)

Foiled again! By the time I'd caught up with the last-minute change of venue a couple of posters were all the evidence left that anything had happened.

The organizers claim a turnout of around 250 - other events in Berlin on the same day, including a counter-demo against a neo-Nazi rally, may have had some adverse effect on the numbers. Plus people going to the wrong location...

Harry's Place reports entertainingly, if that's an appropriate word, on the goings-on in London. A propos the sane and moderate gentleman from the MCB, I have a link to a blog called MCB Watch, which started promisingly last year but then went dead. Somebody really ought to have a go at reviving it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Baroness Tonge and Christian Aid

Most of what is rotten in the state of Christian Aid is encapsulated in the Jewish Chronicle's revelation (read it via Engage) that Baroness Tonge was appointed as a trustee of the charity in April.

Admittedly, in April her foray into conspiracy theory at the Lib-Dem conference still lay in the future. Nor had she written to the Independent complaining about the effectiveness of the Israeli security barrier in excluding terrorists. But she had already been sacked from the party's front bench for her comments expressing 'understanding' for Palestinian terrorists.

It's a little odd that the appointment of a trustee first becomes public knowledge when a newspaper reveals it five months later (there's no mention of it on the CA website). Not exactly a great example of transparency.

And what of the CA spokesman's damage limitation exercise?

'The areas on which she was speaking are outside the remit of a development organisation which deals with issues of poverty and humanitarian relief.'

Oh, yeah? Sorry, but this is not a branch of the Missionaries of Charity we're talking about. In reality, as CA inform us on their FAQ page...

'Does Christian Aid get involved in politics?
'Christian Aid is never party-political, and always works within the law. But we believe that it is our duty to address the causes of poverty. Many of these causes, such as debt or trade, are essentially political or economic in origin.' which end they spend 12% of their income on 'campaigning, education, advocacy'. As I've documented ad nauseam here, Israel and Palestine feature more prominently in their 'advocacy' work than any other area of the globe, and they spend a lot more time advocating Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories than they do advocating repudiation of terrorism and recognition of Israel by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah. Which, of course, just happens to be the way Baroness Tonge sees things. And she made a direct contribution to CA's advocacy campaign when she visited Gaza as their guest in 2003 (read how this was written up in Christian Aid News here).

So are we to believe all this is coincidental to Baroness Tonge's appointment as a CA trustee? Trustees are officially nominated by CA's sponsoring churches. Since there are 39 of these it could in theory be a distinctly cumbersome process. But anyone with inside experience of the ways of bureaucracies will have little difficulty imagining how the wheels get oiled in practice. If CA were to give the odd informal hint as to who they thought would make a good trustee, matters would be a whole lot more straightforward. And if they had an ongoing relationship with a politician who (a) had some time on her hands having been put out to grass in the Lords and (b) regularly said the kind of thing they like to hear about one of their pet political issues...

OK, I'm speculating. It's time for some real transparency as to how and why Baroness Tonge got the job. This is a woman whose extremist utterances have got her sacked by one party leader and disowned by his successor. The director of the Council of Christians and Jews sees her latest outburst as displaying 'dangerous paranoia'. How can she be a fit person to act as a trustee of a major Christian charity?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Demonstrate against Al-Quds Day

The upgrade seems to have been reasonably painless. It will have at least one benefit for you the reader, namely a subject index - compilation to begin soon.

A date for your diary if you happen to live anywhere near Berlin. Next Saturday (21 October) will be 'Al-Quds Day', when friends of the regime in Iran will take to the streets to demand the destruction of the state of Israel. As last year there is a counter-demonstration, an initiative supported by politicians from all the main parties from the Christian Democrats to the Left Party - details here. Hopefully this time I'll remember to take my camera.

Also as per last year, there's an Al-Quds Day march in London (on the 22nd), but apparently no counter-demo. Wake up over there!

Service announcement

Sorry, the posting break has been rather longer than advertised. Should be some posts this week.

I'll be upgrading to the latest version of Blogger over the next day or two. Apologies in advance if this should temporarily make things worse rather than better - in my experience of software upgrades such things are not wholly unknown...