catholic by birth; scientist by choice; sinner by merit. gaidhlig-speaking neuroscience student at oxford. likes to question everything! @di_macd

Why (ironically enough) I am not an "Internet Atheist"

As I now actually have serious nationwide campaigning responsibilities, I’ve decided to move off Tumblr to a “proper” blog on wordpress. I thought I’d begin with a statement of intent, to explain why atheist (shorthand for atheist, humanist and secular) activism is necessary in the UK, and why it is different from so-called “internet atheism,” I haven’t had time to sort my theme and widgets out yet so the blog looks pretty shabby, but I think this longish essay is a reasonable defence of my new role, although its certainly coloured by own political views.

Candide: Thoughts



You know, it’s rather odd how some things work out the way they do. The reason why I love studying Neuroscience (and why I’ll love practicing medicine) is because it’s simply fascinating and mysterious that we are assembled the way we are.

For instance, we have neurons that…

Huh. I was reading this as a ‘this is why I don’t believe in a higher power’ post right up until it said ‘this is why I believe in a higher power’. 

Wow, I didn’t even notice that last line… I was just wowing at the cool science and lack of knowledge (more discoveries left for me!). They haven’t explained why it makes them believe in a higher power, unless its nothing more than an argument from irreducible complexity - the brain is so complex, it needed a designer. Also, on rereading I’m noticing that they’re using our present lack of knowledge on these topics as evidence of some mysterious power. 

I find it interesting that, reading and reblogging quickly, I focussed on interesting science facts and didn’t even notice the argument behind the post. I didn’t even notice the last line. That probably says something about how when we read, we let what we take in and remember be influenced by our prior expectations as to what a post in the neuroscience tag is gonna be about…

Atheists more distrusted than rapists?



“atheists are, alongside rapists, the most distrusted group of people.” Maybe in your privileged world, they are. Um, have you heard of race?

There a number of independent studies that have shown this to  be true. I know it sounds surpising, but here are the links, so u can see for yourself:
Scientifc American article on a University of British Colombia study:
The original paper:
Here is an article on a University of Minnesota study, it states the conclusions, but I can’t find the original paper:
I’m sorry but this isn’t my “privileged” world. These are peer-reviewed studies carried out with the highest degree of scientific and statistical reliability. Of course there ia a degree of uncertainty in the sample, but it is only small, or else the papers wouldn’t be published. If you can provide me with some studies that point to race being the greatest indicator of distrust, I would be quite happy to read them.
On another note, we must always remember that the modern USA was willing to elect an African-American president, but never an atheist one. This is just anecdotal evidence, so we can’t read to much into it, but I think it gives some backing to my point, However, as I say, better to read the studies.

I hate people. People are more willing to trust those who believe in the supernatural than those who follow a more scientific standing?

Well, I think the fact nearly half of all Americans surveyed find atheists the least trusted people stems from the idea that not believing in God means you have no basis to act morally. If that were true, then I can understand why they distrust atheists policy-makers or doctors…

Of course this isn’t true. We know very few moral decisions are derived from authority. The neuroscientist Joshua Greene has done some excellent work to show that moral decisions are usually instictive and driven by emotional involvement with the concerns of others. And when we do try and reason through our moral decisions, rarely is quoting an authority sufficent justification. Even when Christians interpret the Bible and decide that Old Testament commands to stone adulterous women ought to ignored, they are appealing to a set of moral concerns, over and above that supposedly provided by God. They are depending on a moral sense we all have, atheists included.

Moving on, I think the person who replied to me was just basing her objection on the commonsense notion that most Americans would distrust black people - I mean, we know there is racism, and we know crime-figures are high in the ghetto, so it would be reasonable to believe many Americans were prejudiced against their fellow black Americans. Of course, gathering the data has shown that intuition to be unwarranted.

(via bhamiseanlochlannaichaonuair)

Masturbation is now illegal in Wilmington City, Delaware...






“[E]ach ‘egg person’ and each ‘sperm person’ should be deemed equal in the eyes of the government and be subject to the same laws and regulations as any other dependent minor and be protected against abuse, neglect or abandonment by the parent or guardian,” says the resolution. “[L]aws should be enacted by all legislative bodies in the United States to promote equal representation, and should potentially include laws in defense of ‘personhood,’ forbidding every man from destroying his semen.”

…”However, any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child,” reads the amendment.

I am completely dumbstruck by this.  Are people that upset over abortion that they would actually go this far to stop it?  I just… words fail me.

If I lived in Wilmington City, I would be in jail for life for how many times I would have broken the law today.

Everyone should just go there and jerk off in the street.

Stupid rules made by even more stupid people.

This was a satirical resolution proposed by female councillor Loretta Walsh in protest at the current battle over women’s healthcare access. It passed 8-4 in favour. It’s a joke guys!

You all need a lesson in government, for how much you complain about it.

A “resolution” is much different than a bill. It consists of a series of premises (whereas blah blah blah) and culminates in one or more resolutions (be it resolved blah blah blah.) It is non-binding. They’re often used to test the waters for future bills, pass ceremonial measures, formalize unspoken rules or attitudes in the legislature, or be satirical.

Also, city councils have no authority to pass this type of regulation.

As is evident in my comment, I do know what a resolution is. What I find remarkable is how when something conforms to people’s expectations (i.e. americans have crazy fertility laws and stuff) they swallow it immediately and start moaning, without checking the context of the quote or its source. It’s funny how quickly the version of the story people expect to see spreads through Tumblr, everyone accepting it as fact, and whining without bothering to check a reputable news website… I mean, how lazy!

(Source: bussyqween)

Anonymous said: Tell me about the history of the philosophy of science in scotland regarding the politics of religion and the gaelic language.

Not sure if this a troll, but you inspired me to write up a post on Gaidhlig, science and religion which you might be interested in:

Preachers Who Are Not Believers - research by Dan Dennett and Linda LaScola

When we had RE with Ms Johnson in like S2 she made us memorise the order of books in the old testament and the order of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. :/

I asked my dad, and in spite of four years of priest school, he got it wrong first time…

Just because God exist doesn’t make him right…

If the God of the Bible existed, I’d do my best to make him not exist.

If he knew everything and could do anything, I know I’d probably fail. But hey! Better to die than live under that kind of tyranny.

If he had the power to create me with the free will to defy him, he has the power to take that free will away. That’s a worthless form of free will!

If he was all-good and loved me, I still wouldn’t forgive him. Because, you know what, my mother loves me and would do anything in her power for me, but we still don’t let her have the power to do whatever she wants for me, do we? We value our independence!

A benevolent dictator is still a dictator.

I don’t believe in God, but let me tell you this, if a scientific experiment proves tomorrow that the God of the Bible is real, it doesn’t follow logically that I need to worship him. There’s truth in that adjective God-fearing. If God is real, I’d be really afraid, because no matter how good his intentions, no matter how much he loves me, that much power concentrated in one person can’t be good.

God is the ultimate police state. He see and hears everything. God is the perfect totalitarian. He has complete control.

What life would be worth living if it’s not your life to live? If your life is just in the hands of God?

If you can show me God exists, the first thing I’ll do is make the Case For Satan!

How Satan May Seek To Destroy You This Week – rewritten by reason!

He is the serpent, the Great Dragon, Beelzebul, the ruler of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the evil one, and the adversary. He is Satan. And—if you are a follower of Jesus Christ—he hates your guts with a passion. Like a roaring lion he is prowling about seeking to destroy you. How can you stand firm and resist the devil so that he will flee from you? First, do not be naive; you must consider his ways.


1. He may slander God to you in order to cast doubt on God’s goodness and shipwreck your faith (Gen 3:4-5).

He may offer criticisms and arguments against the existence and benevolence of God, as part of a healthy debate.

2. He may corrupt your mind and steer you away from the simplicity of Christ and His gospel (2 Cor 11:3).

He may help you realize that not everything in life is simple or black and white, and that you need to really think through and analyse things to get to the truth.

3. He may wrestle against you, fighting against your progress in Christ (Eph 6:12).

He may challenge you in order to help you see whether you really believe what you say you believe.

4. He may tempt you to commit sexual immorality against your spouse as a result of neglecting the intimacy of the marriage bed (1 Cor 7:5).

He may help you realize that you love somebody else, and that it would be best for both parties if the relationship ended, you both moved on and maintained a cordial friendship.

5. He may harass you with some form of fleshly affliction (2 Cor 12:7).

He may make you realize that true beauty isn’t skin deep.

6. He may blind the spiritual eyes of your unsaved family, friends, and neighbors so that they may not see the glory of Jesus in the gospel (2 Cor 4:4).

He may help your family, friends and neighbours not to believe blindly in the Bible, and instead create an atmosphere of independent thinking in your community.

7. He may keep your unsaved acquaintances in bondage to sins that hinder them from coming to God (Gal 4:8).

He may help your two best mates from the pub realize that they do in fact love each other, and even though you tell them it’s sinful, they enter a civil partnership, and live happily ever after. 

8. He may smite you with physical disease (Luke 13:16Job 2:7).

He may smite you with a vaccine.

9. He may murder you (Ps 106:37Jn 8:44).

He may offer you the option of choosing to die rather than putting yourself and your family through the grief of suffering from the pain of a terminal illness.

10. He may sow tares [counterfeit Christians, sons of the evil one] within your assembly of believers in order to deceive and create disunity (Mt 13:38-392 Cor 11:13-15).

He may sow questions in the minds of the believers in order to create an interesting variety of opinions.

11. He may lead you toward theological compromise by causing you to be friendly to false doctrine and its teachers (1 Tim 4:1-3).

He may help you reassess your beliefs in the light of new evidence flooding in from that new-fangled thing they call science.

12. He may persecute you for your godliness (Rev 2:10).

He may disagree with you.

13. He may tempt you to do evil (Matt 4:11 Thess 3:5).

He may offer you a big red juicy apple as part of your five-a-day.

14. He is—at this moment—prowling about seeking to capture and destroy you, chiefly through pride (1 Pet 5:6-8).

He praises you for your hard work, giving you the weekend off, instead of condemning you every Sunday.

15. He will most assuredly slander you before God in heaven (Rev 12:10).

He may try to tell the apparently all-knowing God that he knows you better.

16. He may ask God for permission to sift you out for concentrated attack and temptation (Luke 22:31).

He may ask the apparently all-good God if he is allowed to do bad things to you.

17. He may use the power of suggestion to move you away from the will of God (Matt 16:21-23).

He may attempt to steal you from the apparently all-powerful God.

18. He may try to cripple your effectiveness through confusion, discouragement, and despair (2 Cor 4:8-9).

He may open your eyes to the fact that world is a complex place and that you need far more than a dusty old book to live a happy life.