They’ll let anyone do this: Introducing Squawk

Greetings to the League of Reason.

For better or for worse I have been installed as a member of the blogging team. Many of you will be familiar with my posts on the boards, though to date my more significant contribution has been in the live chat.  With this additional role on the blog I hope to stimulate discussion on a variety of topics of interest to members of the league.

But what to do with this first post? Not an easy question to answer, so I suppose I ought to introduce myself to those who have not had reason to interact with me to date. I’m from the UK and was raised as a Catholic in accordance with my Mothers religious belief. I attended faith schools from the age of 4 until 18, one Church of England, the others Catholic. My religiosity throughout that time was inversely proportional to my ability to think critically and my exposure to new information.

As I grew older any notion of God receded into the background. In my early teens I reasoned my way out of organised religion, concluding that no God could possibly condone the sort of service that the church seemed to require. For starters, there was no way that I could sit on those damn wooden benches for a full hour and actually concentrate on the droning priest’s sermon, and the very act of attending church seemed to go against the stuff that was in the Bible anyway: Jesus condemned those who made loud noises about their religion, for example. At that time I became something akin to a deist. God couldn’t be as described by religion, but at the same time it made sense that one existed. The simple fact of existence rather than non-existence along with the seemingly infinite nature of time and space both suggested some form of transcendent being, I figured that the various religions were simply examples of people trying to get closer to this being.

The straw that broke the camels back of my religiosity was the realisation that “I don’t know” is an acceptable, if unsatisfying, answer. Indeed it is the only answer that can be given honestly in many situations. After becoming atheist I didn’t give the matter a great deal of thought until I was introduced to creationism. I had remained blissfully unaware of the phenomenon up until my early 20’s and was simply staggered that anyone could believe such nonsense. On first learning of it I figured it must be some minority cult akin to the flat earth society. My shock on discovering how pervasive the belief is had a profound impact on my life. It transformed my atheism, fairly benign until that time, to anti-theism, a position that grows stronger daily. I find religion to be divisive, intolerant and hateful once you scrape away the respectable echelons of the moderate faithful.

I threw myself into the youtube community and devoured the offerings from all the usual suspects: AronRa, Thunderf00t, Potholer54 and many others. I joined the Richard Dawkins Discussion Forum, arguably the greatest resource on the net and sadly no longer with us, and I witnessed and took part in some stimulating scientific discussion. Through those boards I learned how to do real research, how to dissect a scientific paper, how to spot logical fallacies and indeed how to think critically on any proposition. Reading posts by the likes of Calilasseia gave me more of a science education than anything I received at University and stimulated my interest in biology, in particular evolutionary biology.

On discovering the league of reason I was quick to join and after a few weeks/months of the live chat CosmicSpork made me a chat op. I now spend far more time than is healthy in the live chat, but I enjoy it and learn something most days. At the very least there are a bunch of people who will pick apart any ideas I happen to have which I find extremely useful: If I can’t defend a position it isn’t worth holding. I’m an avid reader of science, with a keen interest in layman’s philosophical discussion. I have no idea what direction my blog posts will take, I know I hold some controversial views and I hope to be able to stimulate some debate.

And so, we begin


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