Tag Archives: London

Saying it with flowers

The opening ceremony for the London Olympics seemed to raise more political/ideological issues than usual. Which is a good thing.

But this was one result. The anonymous placing of flowers at the grave of Emmeline Pankhurst in West Brompton cemetery near Earl’s Court in West London. She was a leader of the British suffragette movement which helped women win the right to vote.

Not in response to Danny Boyle’s amazing presentation itself (although it did include this among other humanitarian issues) – but to the fact that for the first time all the competing teams include a female athlete.

What a nice thought!

Thanks to tweeted about the flowers.

American Imams supporting evolutionary science

London Imam Usama Hasan

New Scientist has reported a campaign for Islamic teachers, or Imams, to sign an open letter declaring that there is no clash between their religious faith and evolution (see American Muslim clerics sign up for evolution).

The text of the letter is:

Literalists of various religious traditions who perceive the science of evolution to be in conflict with their personal religious beliefs are seeking to influence public school boards to authorize the teaching of creationism. We, the Imams of the mosques, see this as a breach in the separation of church and state. Those who believe in a literal interpretation of scriptural account of creation are free to teach their perspective in their homes, religious institutions and parochial schools. To teach it in the public schools would be indoctrinating a particular religious point of view in an environment that is supposed to be free of such indoctrination.

We, the undersigned Imams of the mosques, assert that the Qur’an is the primary source of spiritual inspiration and of values for us, though not for everyone, in our country. We believe that the timeless truths of the Qur’an may comfortably coexist with the discoveries of modern science. As Imams we urge public school boards to affirm their commitment to the teaching of the science of evolution. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.

Sign Up Now!

If you are an imam and would like to sign The Clergy Letter Project’s Imam Letter, please fill out the form by clicking here.

The Imam Letter, follows on from the similar Christian  Clergy Letter which was launched in 2006 and now has 12,725 signatures. Three years ago the Jewish Rabbi Letter, which has 476 signatures, was launched.

This letter is topical and I hope it is successful. Back in March a London Imam, Dr Usama Hasan, who is also a physics lecturer at Middlesex University and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, was threatened after presenting a lecture on “Islam and the theory of evolution” at his East London mosque, Masjid al-Tawhid. (see Acceptance of science – dangerous for some and Imam fears ‘nutters’ could kill him for preaching evolution).


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Putting the Pope in his place

I watched the twitter messages coming through this morning from participants in the London Protest the Pope Rally. Seems to have been a lot bigger than expected. Original projections were for 2000 but during the rally the police reported 15,000 and organisers were claiming “almost 20,000.”

Many of the messages indicated that participants were actually feeling proud to be British, for a change. And that the rally was a welcome breath of rationality in a sea of sycophantic media reporting during the pope’s visit.

Just picked this video up from Jerry Coyne‘s blog Why Evolution is True (see Dawkins vs. Ratzi). It’s Richard Dawkins‘ speech to the Rally at Downing Street.

This man is amazing. Not only is he a terrific writer and his academic talks spellbinding. He also turns out to be an excellent rally speaker. Brief, too the point and humorous.

He really put’s the Pope’s diversionary and hypocritical tactics into context.

Well worth watching.

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Mapping modern science

Crispian Jago at the  Science, reason and critical thinking blog has produced an interesting map of the last 500 years of modern science. As he says by “gross over-simplification, dodgy demarcation, glaring omission and a very tiny font” (see Map of Modern Science). With a subject this complex compromises are inevitable. Nevertheless the map is quite an achievement. Click on the image to see it full size.

Based on the London Underground design each science has its own line and stops are for named scientists. The stations link to information about the scientist.

The author acknowledges “the result is too crude for serious science historians.” However Crispian hopes “the output retains enough honesty to make it a useful starting point for the exploration of the history of science to the interested layperson or intermediate geek.”

The history and procedure for constructing the map is described in On the Origin of the Modern Science Map.

Certainly looks interesting enough to browse for useful leads.

See also Crispian Jago’s Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense.

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“Probably” no God – probably acceptable

Debate around the ‘probably’ in the London atheist bus adverts is interesting. First, some background.

Arian Sherine raised the issue back in June with her Guardian article Atheists – gimme five:

“Yesterday I walked to work and saw not one, but two London buses with the question: “When the son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). It seems you wait ages for a bus with an unsettling Bible quote, then two come along at once.

The errant capital letters weren’t the only disturbing thing about this (Faith Hill or Faith Evans?). There was also a web address on the ad, and when I visited the site, hoping for a straight answer to their rather pressing question, I received the following warning for anyone who doesn’t “accept the word of Jesus on the cross”: “You will be condemned to everlasting separation from God and then you spend all eternity in torment in hell. Jesus spoke about this as a lake of fire which was prepared for the devil and all his angels (demonic spirits)” (Matthew 25:41). Lots to look forward to, then.”

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