Homophobia in Africa

It can be very depressing to read the news. The ethics and legality regarding homosexuality should be one of the simplest questions to resolve. No one’s personal autonomy is undermined and it has no negative effects on anyone who isn’t involved. It’s an entirely ethical practice and there is no reason for it to be illegal. Yet that’s the case in so much of Africa, with Nigeria recently making it illegal for homosexuals to even hold a meeting. A Ugandan anti-gay law was recently blocked by the President, which sounds like a positive step. However, it turns out that he blocked it because he thinks gays are defective and need to be helped to overcome it rather than being thrown in jail or killed. And, in Zambia, the government has rejected calls to provide condoms to prisoners to prevent the spread of STDs, asking, “What are they going to be used for?” The power of wilful ignorance. Continue reading

And how do they know that?

Angel (Source: Wikimedia Commons (Brosen))

A very important question to consider, or actually ask, when someone tells you something is, “How do they know that?” This is important because it can give you an idea of how likely that person is to be correct and how much you can trust them. If someone were to come up to you and say, “Your wife is cheating on you,” you wouldn’t immediately take that to be true. And how much trust you put in those words would differ if the person knew because they had dreamt that she was cheating on you, because they heard she was cheating on you from someone else or because they had video of her cheating on you. The video is tangible, objective evidence to support the assertion that she is cheating on you and the quality and amount of supporting evidence is key. Continue reading

BCCSA gets its theology wrong

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) was recently called on to make a judgement on the second season of the award-winning documentary Shoreline. When discussing cannibalism, one of the presenters said the following:

In other cases, eating people might be a way of gaining access to some special element, some special essence of the victims. Christians for example eat the blood and the body of Christ so they can absorb some of his purity and godliness.

This evoked a number of complaints with complainants saying that the show was factually incorrect as the ritual of Communion was a purely symbolic act. When the broadcaster responded it agreed that communion was purely symbolic, even in the case of Catholic transubstantiation (the only time it was mentioned) and said that the offending sentence will be removed from future rebroadcasts. The BCCSA accepted this as a genuine error and, with future broadcasts being edited, saw no reason for an apology or further measures to be taken. (Full judgement available here.) Unfortunately this judgement is incorrect as, for many Christians, Communion is not merely symbolic. Continue reading

The barbarity of religion

It is sad that so many people in the world grant religions a cloak of respectability which they just do not deserve. Whatever good they may provide through charity work or support systems is no doubt completely overshadowed by the harm they do in impeding education, preventing equal rights, stifling free expression and acts of cruelty to both humans and other animals.

The supposed good religions do through charity is vastly overestimated and in any case counteracted by their tax-exempt status in many parts of the world. The Council for Secular Humanism has a report containing an analysis of the charity of religions in the United States. Continue reading

Apparently I need a lesson in respect

I noticed today in the Claremont/Rondebosch People’s Post there is a letter that singles me out by name. It’s on page 12 and, surprisingly, is available online. It’s not a great interface and I don’t think it will be there after a week so I’m including the full text below.

Thanks, Farieda and Karima. Atheists like Red Bull and Jason Bosch need lessons in respect from Muslims, Jews and Christians alike. Our faiths created science, Jason. “The fool says in his heart: ‘There is no God.'” Einstein, Kepler, Newton, Arab mathematicians and astronomers were not fools, Jason.

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