Richard Dawkins calls for arrest of Pope

Richard Dawkins

‘Richard Dawkins, the atheist campaigner, is planning a legal ambush to have the Pope arrested during his state visit to Britain “for crimes against humanity”.’ (Times.UK)

Update

Dawkins feels this is abit inaccurate:

‘Needless to say, I did NOT say “I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI” or anything so personally grandiloquent. So all the vicious attacks on me for seeking publicity etc are misplaced. The headline is, in fact, a barefaced lie.

Marc Horne, the Sunday Times reporter, telephoned me out of the blue and asked whether I was aware of the initiative by Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens to mount a legal challenge to the Pope’s visit. Yes, I said. He asked me if I was in favour of their initiative. Yes, I said, I am strongly in favour of it. Beyond that, I declined to comment to Marc Horne, other than to refer him to my ‘Ratzinger is the Perfect Pope’ article here: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5341
How the headline writer could go from there to “Richard Dawkins: I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI” is obscure to me.

The history is as follows. Christopher Hitchens first proposed to me the idea of a legal challenge to the Pope’s visit on March 14th. I responded enthusiastically, and suggested the name of a high profile human rights lawyer whom I know. I had lost her address, however, and set about tracking her down. Meanwhile, Christopher made the brilliant suggestion of Geoffrey Robertson. He approached him, and Mr Robertson’s subsequent ‘Put the Pope in the Dock’ article in The Guardian shows him to be ideal:
http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5366
The case is obviously in good hands, with him and Mark Stephens. I am especially intrigued by the proposed challenge to the legality of the Vatican as a sovereign state whose head can claim diplomatic immunity.

Even if the Pope doesn’t end up in the dock, and even if the Vatican doesn’t cancel the visit, I am optimistic that we shall raise public consciousness to the point where the British government will find it very awkward indeed to go ahead with the Pope’s visit, let alone pay for it.’

Who’s Afraid of the Multiverse?

Urbi et Orbi

“In their efforts to solve fundamental problems in cosmology, many researchers have converged on the idea of a multiverse — the theory that a vast number of universes lie beyond the limits of what we can observe.

Because they’re unobservable, multiverse theories are also untestable, blurring the line between science and speculation and making them controversial in the scientific community. Princeton University physicist Paul Steinhardt has called the multiverse “a dangerous idea that I am simply unwilling to contemplate.” By challenging both humanity’s uniqueness and our central place in the cosmos, multiverse theories have also become embroiled in theological debates  — some fear they will join evolution as another battleground in the culture wars.” (Seed)

Towards a Talmudic Ontology of Consensus (by way of demons)

Jerusalem Talmud ma...

‘In his 1978 essay, “How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later“, Philip K. Dick wrote, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” This ontology is challenged by a syndrome recently brought to my attention in a recent post on boingboing.net, “Hallucinations brought on by eye disease,” wherein David Pescovitz writes,

In recent days, both the Daily Mail and Wired.com looked at Charles Bonnet Syndrome [CBS], a disease characterized by bizarre and vivid visual hallucinations. Interestingly, people who suffer from CBS aren’t mentally ill but have visual impairments such as macular degeneration. Even weirder is that the hallucinations often involve characters or things that are much smaller in size than reality.

Read the whole post and follow the link to this article at the Daily Mail on Charles Bonnet Syndrome, and this interview at Wired with neurologist Oliver Sachs. Together, they provide an insight for understanding a particularly fascinating method given in the Talmud for seeing Mazikin (lit. harmful spirits, ie. demons)…’ via Aharon’s Omphalos.

When Jesus met Buddha

Sunrise over Mt.

“Knowing other faiths firsthand grants believers an enviable sophistication, founded on humility. We could do a lot worse than to learn from what we sometimes call the Dark Ages.” — Philip Jenkins, professor of the humanities at Penn State University.

via Boston Globe.

Faith Equals Fertility

Clonmacnoise Co.

“Religious people have more babies than non-believers–and not just for the obvious reasons…

Mary Eberstadt, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, California, has suggested several ways in which the experience of forming a family might stimulate religious feelings among parents, at least some of the time. She notes that pregnancy and birth, the business of caring for children, and the horror of contemplating their death, can stimulate an intensity of purpose that might make parents more open to religious sentiments. Many common family events, she reasons, might encourage a broadly spiritual turn of mind, from selfless care for a sick relation to sacrifices for the sake of a child’s adulthood that one might never see.

Eberstadt argues that part of the reason why western European Christians have become more secular is that they have been forming fewer stable families, and having fewer children when they do. This, she suggests, may help to explain some puzzles about the timing of secularisation in certain places. In Ireland, for example, she notes that people started having smaller families before they stopped going to church …

via More Intelligent Life.

Immaculate perception (or: It’s All in Your Head)

“It had to happen really. After years of religious images seeming to appear in windows, cement, trees and even toast, someone’s ‘identified’ an image of the Virgin Mary in a brain scan.

And from the look of the scan, the Holy Virgin has decided to make a divine appearance in the upper tip of the cerebellum.

Inevitably, the scan is being auctioned off on EBay, although at least on this occasion it’s to help pay for the uninsured patient who has racked up huge bills due to her having the misfortune of being ill.”

via Mind Hacks.

Holocaust: Get Over It

Masada, Southern Israel 1978Masada, Southern Israel 1978

Israel is “held hostage by memory” and should get over the Holocaust, a former speaker of the Knesset says. In a column and a new book, he says Israelis are so bent on “never again” becoming victims that they’ve become blind to injustice or suffering that does not involve Jews. What about Israel’s humanistic founding values?

via Los Angeles Times

I rebelled against the Judaism I was taught in my youth precisely because of the meaninglessness of a religious identity that, as far as I could see, was grounded on nothing but having been victimized.