Showing posts from June, 2010

T + 641 Enquiry Conference Part Five (PG)

This is the final part of my write up of the Enquiry 2010 Conference and one that highlights two of the most important areas where religious practices have a real and negative impact on people's lives. So even if you haven't been following this series of posts I would ask you to read this one.
It is rated Potentially Gruesome for a discussion of delicate surgical matters.
Maryam Namazie
Maryam gave a very impassioned talk about the rise of Sharia or Islamic Law in the UK. You might be forgiven for thinking that Sharia Law has no relevance to the UK and only applies to countries like Saudi Arabia or Iran, like me, you'd be wrong.
I had a vague recollection of some arbitration matters that could be dealt with under private arrangements such as Rabbinical Courts for religious jews and recall the Archbishop of Canterbury getting into hot water when raising the subject of Sharia Law in the UK. However Maryam's talk really opened my eyes.
The 1996 Arbitration Act allows for par…

T + 639 Enquire Conference Part Four

More write-ups on the talks I heard at the Enquire 2010 Conference
Dr. Evan Harris
Until the recent election Dr Harris was the MP for Oxford West & Abingdon and a prominent figure for science and secularism in the UK parliament. Unfortunately he lost his seat by just 176 votes.
Part of his talk was about the reasons why he lost his seat and how his views on secular and science topics might have affected that. He was subject to some particularly nasty smear campaigns, some more subtle and clever than others, from non-political party organisations such as animal liberationists and pro-life (anti-abortion) movements.
His main regret was that instead of ignoring this negative campaigning, having been advised it would back fir,e he did not start to actively counter it with proper explanations of his position on the issues and the reasons why. He plans to campaign to regain the seat at the next election.
Evan Harris is a very effective speaker and there was a lot of obvious warmth in the ro…

T + 634 Enquiry Conference Part Three

Continuing my write up and review of the talks given at the 2010 Enquiry Conference.
Norman Ralph
Norman was the founding president of the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist & Secular Student Societies and the topic of his talk was "Is Atheism Past it Sell By Date?"
Norman now works in the marketing and customer relations department for O2 and his talk focused on the image that atheism and humanism has and how it might be better "branded" and "sold".
He stated that according to various polls and studies done the typical atheist or humanist is a while male with a good education and probably over 60. However with various studies claiming that well over 60% of the adult UK population have none or no really strong religious views there should clearly be a much wider representation of ages and backgrounds within the atheist/humanist movement.
Andrew Copson commented that membership of the BHA has two real spikes in the age demographic, the under 30s and …

T + 632 Down and Dirty

I went to the Transplant clinic yesterday for the first time since I started reducing my ciclosporin dose and also the first time since my consultant moved to another hospital.
I was seen by one of the other consultants whom I had seen once before when my original consultant was on maternity leave. I asked her, the new consultant, if this was a permanent transfer or if she was just a caretaker manager for me and she confirmed that she will be my consultant form now on.
Sorry if that all seems rather badly worded, it is one of the consequences ensuring the blog remains anonymous with respect to the medical staff and indeed anyone who isn't friends or family. That is fairer to them and gives me more freedom to speak my mind about them as well should it ever come to that. I'm pleased to say that my care has been excellent and I am very grateful for that.
So to the business of the consultation itself. It was relatively short as things are still heading on track and my GVHD is so fa…

T + 630 Enquiry Conference Part Two

As previously advertised here are my reviews and reflections on the talks delivered at the Enquiry 2010 Conference.
Andrew Copson
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanism Association, the umbrella organisation for humanist groups in the UK, gave the first talk at the conference.
Always a tricky spot in any conference Andrew gave an excellent talk about the objections to Humanism which went through some of the principle objections people often raise to the idea of being a Humanist and then in turn provide counter-arguments to those objections.
His style and delivery was light and entertaining whilst being extremely erudite and he was able to easily draw on a vast knowledge of some of the key writers on the subject of humanism.
To paraphrase his definition of what humanists believe:-
There is natural and scientific understanding of the world without recourse to the supernatural or belief in a deity.Humans have only one life and there is no afterlife.Morals come naturally out of…

T + 629 Enquire Conference Part One

There will be a medical update to the blog later this week as this Wednesday I am attending the transplant clinic for what will be the first time since I started tapering off my dose of ciclosporin.
Enquiry 2010 Conference
This weekend just gone I attended the Enquiry 2010 Conference put on by the Chris Worfolk Foundation on the topic of "Atheism in the 21st Century" and held at the Crown Plaza hotel in Birmingham.
One of the main reasons I went to this event was because of the calibre of the speakers they had there, as you can see from the link on the conference website. Professor A C Grayling and Professor Chris French were people I had heard speak on radio on various topics and I donated funds to help the, sadly unsuccessful, campaign to ensure Dr Evan Harris held his seat in the recent election.
As it turns out it was an excellent conference and really opened my eyes to a number of issues raised not only by the people I was expecting to perform well, as it were.
I've spo…