Link blog: christianity, andrew-wakefield, jesus, ehrman

GMC | Determinations

The General Medical Council ruling on Dr Andrew Wakefield, where you can read why he was actually struck off (via Ben Goldacre).
(tags: medicine mmr uk wakefield andrew-wakefield vaccine vaccination gmc)

Searching for Jesus in the Gospels : The New Yorker

Adam Gopnik writes about the historical Jesus and the Jesus of faith, bringing in people like Bart Ehrman and Philip Pullman. Interesting stuff.
(tags: religion christianity history jesus christ paul bart-ehrman ehrman adam-gopnik philip-pullman)

Failing The Insider Test: The Problem of Hell

One of the reasons I'm not a Christian any more is that I realised the God I was being asked to worship was evil. Jeffrey Amos explains what I mean with great clarity, and also addresses the "ah ha, but how do you know what's evil without God, eh?" argument.
(tags: hell god evil christianity religion morality)

The Swinger « Music Machinery

Turn anything into a jive (well, anything in 4/4 anyway): "The Swinger is a bit of python code that takes any song and makes it swing. It does this be taking each beat and time-stretching the first half of each beat while time-shrinking the second half. It has quite a magical effect."
(tags: music python audio programming software swing jive)
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Link blog: comics, science, journalism, mmr

Liberal Conspiracy » Cameron’s Tory critics are deluded beyond belief

"They cannot see that Cameron had to run the party like that so as to distract attention away from the unreconstructed Thatcherite, homophobic, xenophobic, intensely Euro-sceptic, callous, Christian-fundamentalist loon contingents that make up huge chunks of the Tory grass-roots and Parliamentary party." Spot on, and why I didn't want to vote Conservative despite finding Cameron more impressive than any previous Tory leader: despite the TV debates, it wasn't a US Presidential election, but a vote for a party.
(tags: politics liberal-democrats conservatives election)

Tall Guy Investigates – The Facts In The Case Of Dr. Andrew Wakefield

An informative comic about the MMR scare.
(tags: science comics mmr journalism health autism medicine vaccine andrew-wakefield)
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Link blog: philippa-stroud, sex, homosexuality, fantasy

Why the New Atheists Failed, and How to Defeat All Religious Arguments in One Easy Step

A neat summary of Luke's problem with Dawkins, and what he thinks is a better argument against theistic explanations. Youtube video with a transcript (hurrah).
(tags: richard-dawkins dawkins atheism religion philosophy explanation)

Curing the gays « Derren Brown Blog

Derren Brown (who's gay, and who used to be a Christian): "I have, however, attended these sorts of church sessions and even courses which set about healing the ‘brokenness’ of homosexuality… I read of such things now and shiver."
(tags: derren-brown gay homosexuality christianity religion philippa-stroud sex)

Top Tory Adviser Ran Prayer Group to “Heal” LGBTS

Focusses on why the media have ignored the story. Contains a comment from one of the people quoted in the original Observer article, something which the regular media won't print, apparently.
(tags: philippa-stroud conservatives conservative politics sex religion homosexuality demons)

Erasing David

Ross Anderson on poor operational security in the NHS, made worse by politics: "Last night’s documentary Erasing David shows how private eyes tracked down a target by making false pretext telephone calls to the NHS. By pretending to be him they found out when he and his wife were due to attend an ante-natal clinic, and ambushed him as he came out."
(tags: privacy security nhs ross-anderson health)

A Bit of Fry and Laurie – A word, Timothy

"Berwhale the Avenger, the Weapon of the Chosen One." "He lives far beyond… in Saffron Walden."
(tags: funny fry-and-laurie stephen-fry fantasy parody berwhale)
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The demon-haunted world of the Conservative Party

Via pseudomonas, I got the news that Conservative high-flyer Philippa Stroud founded a church that tried to ‘cure’ homosexuals by driving out their ‘demons’. The Observer quotes a couple of people who were on the receiving end.

If you engage with Christians about philosophical arguments, where, say, God is advanced as the best, most elegant explanation for creation or the order in the universe, it’s easy to forget that both evangelical and Catholic Christians are committed to belief in the existence of Satan and his minions. For some reason, these Christians tend to downplay this aspect of their belief when evangelising. I’ve previously mentioned the slippery slope that someone might go down, from intellectual arguments for deism, to the Christian Trinity, to a pantheon with angels and demons and bears, oh my.

Those Christians who do believe in the Adversary can be further distinguished by how readily they’ll invoke him as an explanation. My former church saw the Prince of this World as primarily a tempter, not as someone who might possess a person: it might be the Devil’s fault if you had, you know, urges, but I don’t recall anyone attributing illness or even homosexuality to the actions of the Beast (as opposed to the generally fallen state of the world).

It sounds like Stroud’s church is a charismatic church, where people expect to have spiritual encounters, both with God and with the Evil One, much more directly than at more conservative evangelical churches.

Christian blogger and author Adrian Warnock tells us he plans to vote Conservative, partly based on Stroud’s influence on the party. He’s not talking about demons, though, but about social justice: both in Warnock’s article and the Observer‘s, it’s obvious that, in Stroud’s church, the hair-raising stuff about demons is married to a genuine concern for the poor, which I think can only do the Conservative party some good.

Still, I can’t help but think there must be alternatives where the party both wants to help the poor and doesn’t have its social policy written by people who believe demons cause The Gay.

Edited: Iain Dale writes that Stroud has been smeared by the Observer, and quotes a statement from her in which she denies that she thinks homosexuality is an illness. I think questions remain, though: after all, the Observer article didn’t say she did think it was an illness, did it?

Edited again: Andrew Brown chimes in with a utilitarian argument for Stroud.

And again: odd that the media isn’t reporting this one, isn’t it? Pam’s House Blend talks about why, and also has this comment from one of the people the Observer interviewed.

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Link blog: conversion, dancing, youtube, liberal-democrats

AlterNet: What Happened When I Went Undercover at a Christian Gay-to-Straight Conversion Camp

Via Metafilter. Comical yet sad stuff: you do end up really feeling for these guys even as you laugh at the silliness of the camps.
(tags: homosexuality religion christianity sex conversion)

YouTube – Latin Technique Class – Cha Cha

Walks and locks. Wish my hips did that…
(tags: cha-cha dancing video youtube)

General election 2010: The liberal moment has come | Comment is free | The Guardian

The Graun comes out for the Libdems. I endorse this message.
(tags: politics uk election guardian liberal-democrats libdems)
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