Educated for murder

This piece first appeared in the May/July 2016 issue of the Australian Humanist, and is reproduced with permission. The late Mohammed Emwazi (nicknamed Jihadi John) greatly enjoyed his hobby, which was beheading people. Any infidel would do, though the people he really loathed were naturally former Muslims, guilty of apostasy. Where was he “radicalised” into […]

My Path from Rome

OH, YES – I once had an orthodox creed. I was brought up in a devout Roman Catholic family, and had an old-style convent education – and throughout my childhood and adolescence I was a steadfast believer. That was in the days (before the Second Vatican Council) when the Catholic Church was still Catholic and […]

Mother Teresa – Sacred Cow

THE Beeb’s television documentary, Nobel 1979 (shown February 10, 1980), predictably concentrated on the peace prize laureate, Mother Teresa of Calcutta. And the good lady, equally predictably, used the opportunity of her globally reported speech of acceptance in Oslo to spout anti-abortion propaganda. While she was denouncing abortion as the greatest evil of our time […]

Perpetual progress – is it possible?

I ATTENDED the 82nd Conway Memorial Lecture, given on June 26, 2014, by Lisa Jardine, CBE, one of Jacob Bronowski’s four daughters, under the title “Things I Never Knew about my Father” – just as I had attended the 45th lecture of the same series, given sixty years ago by Bronowski himself, under the title […]

Life, the Universe & Everything

“WHY is there something rather than nothing?” Cribbed from Leibniz, this question is often posed by theologians – especially, in my experience, by the intellectual Catholic “order of preachers”, the Dominicans. If you reply “Why not?”, they will insist that when something is not self-explanatory – that is, it exists but does not have to […]

God’s biography

God has been so damned preoccupied keeping the universe ticking over that he never found the time to pen his biography. Barbara Smoker kindly decided to do the job for him, and this is her submission to the The Universal Dictionary of Biography. Age: Eternal. Full Name: God. This generic personal name signifies that God […]

The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief

THE fact that I contributed one small article to this massive work hardly debars me, I think, from reviewing it. Owing little to A Rationalist Encyclopedia (1948) by Joseph McCabe, the book under review is edited by Tom Flynn, who also edits the American journal Free Inquiry, and it is the direct, expanded and updated, […]