Monthly Archives: February 2008

Which is the way to god please?

A few weeks ago Hemant posted about a German children’s book, which he termed “the god delusion for kids“. A couple of days ago he posted that the book is now available in English for free. The pictures can be viewed separately here.

The book tells the story of how piglet and hedgehog find a poster which says “He who knows not God, is missing something!”. So piglet and hedgehog go on a journey to find God and in the process  talk to a rabbi, a bishop and a mufti. In the end they decide they weren’t missing anything in their lives after all.

The books aims are to make children realise they are not missing out on anything without religion and God, and that respect has to be earned, not assumed.

Some people have stated the book badly caricatures the three religions and their leaders. Personally I thought it was hilarious and had some very valid messages.

Download yourself a copy of the book and have a read, make sure you look at the accompanying pictures. Piglet looks a tad worried in this one:


Happy reading, let me know what you think.


Filed under atheism, atheist, beliefs, books, religion

Let us bow our heads in thanks for atheists

From the Kansas City Star comes an excellent article praising atheists. With headings like:

Atheists are well-behaved.
Atheists make good neighbors.
Atheists will not infringe upon your life uninvited.

You know you are in for some good reading.  I particularly liked the ending statement:

Right-wing Christianity shook the atheist community out of its complacency with its relentless rhetorical badgering and attempts to co-opt the country.

There’s truth and irony in that, the more the right-wing fundies bleat and moan, or attempt to force their ideals on the rest of society, the more the atheist community is likely to speak out against them.

Thanks to PossumMomma for the heads-up.


Filed under atheism, atheist, christianity, news, religion

Tagged. sort of

Plonka is spreading the page 123 meme. Seeing as he thanked me nicely for putting him on to Windows Live Writer (review shortly), I thought I’d do his tag.


1. Grab the nearest book (that is at least 123 pages long).
2. Open to page 123.
3. Go down to the 5th sentence.
4. Type in the following 3 sentences.
5. Tag five people.

To start with, there are quite a few books in the bookshelf next to me. They are mostly IT books, but I’m sure you are not interested in page 123 of any of my old MCSE study guides, or any book on programming or Web Design, so I didn’t pick any of those. The rest of the books are my atheist book collection (see side bar) but I couldn’t decide which one to choose. So I changed rule 1 to grabbing the book I’m currently reading – The Golden Compass.

I have the version, which has all three books of the His Dark Materials trilogy in one volume. I’m actually part way through book three already, and have enjoyed it immensely so far. Anyway here are the sentences:

“There may be others, but that’s the one I’ve seen.”
“I bet there’s one in Bodley’s Library in Oxford,” she said.
She could hardly take her eyes off Farder Coram’s daemon, who was the most beautiful daemon she’d ever seen.

So that’s it. I’m going to ignore rule 5, but if any of my readers want to tag themselves, go right ahead, just send us a trackback.

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Filed under atheism, atheist, blog, meme, Tag, Tagged

Census Submission – follow up

Got an interesting email today regarding my submission to the ABS for changes to the religion question in Census 2011. This is the full text of the message:

Dear Census Client

Mr Brian Pink, the Australian Statistician, recently highlighted to the government that the ABS budget situation for 2008-09 and beyond involved insufficient funds to sustain continuation of our current work program and provided us with no capacity to take on additional work.

Last week Mr Pink confirmed that we would not be able to obtain relief in the 2008-09 budget, and indicated that the ABS would need to cut work programs as a consequence. We regret to advise one of the work programs affected is the Census Program.

The impact on this program is that the questions for the 2011 Census of Population and Housing will be comparable to those asked in the 2006 Census. This action will not compromise the integrity and quality of ABS Census data.

We are not expecting changes or disruption to the ongoing output schedule of products and services from the 2006 Census.

While the number or frequency of some statistical products may reduce marginally, the ABS will still produce an extensive range of statistical information.

ABS thanks all who have made topic submissions for the 2011 Census. These submissions will be reconsidered as part of the consultation process post 2011.

For further information please telephone 1300 175 070 or email

Yours sincerely

Paul Lowe
Population Census Branch

So, it seems it was all a waste of time. Someone, somewhere, has decided to cut funding to the ABS. So the ABS has decided to cut the Census 2011 program, in particular submissions for changes to it.

The ABS web site doesn’t seem to have a report about this, but the Census 2011 links have all disappeared.

I’m at a bit of a loss what to say or do. I may consider writing to the Federal Government expressing my concern that a valuable service such as the ABS has had its funding cut, but I don’t know if it’s worth the effort?


Filed under ABS, atheism, atheist, census, census 2011, government funding, politics


I knew this was coming when I read Thinkers’ Podium blog recently. When you frequent each other’s blogs and see one of them start a meme, you just know eventually you’ll get tagged. So, not surprisingly, I’ve been tagged by AV at Five Public Opinions with the “Give three reasons why you Blog” meme. I’m always slow in responding to these memes, maybe because it’s more personal, introspection has never been one of my strong suites. Anyway here goes:

Firstly, I’d like to point out I partly answered this back in October 2007, when I’d been asked “why do you do it?“. My answer back then, and still is, is:

to reduce the negative impact religion has on everyone’s day-to-day lives

So on to the three reasons:

  1. To have a voice. I’ve always been a bit opinionated, and happy to jump in with my ‘2 cents worth’. My opinions have not always been well thought out, or based on facts, but I still like to say them. Which leads to point 2.
  2. To improve my thinking and writing skills. Both Thinker’s and Five said much the same thing. The more I blog, and comment on other blogs, the more I have had to really think about what I am saying, and, where possible, research my material beforehand. I’m still learning, and realise I may never reach the high level of essay writing I see on other blogs, or comments I see here and elsewhere, but I’ll keep trying.
  3. To get the message out there. I first started this blog (just over 5 months ago) as a bit of a ‘something to do’ exercise. I wanted to assist, in some way,  in the promotion of atheism. Since I’ve been blogging I’ve come to realise how much sway the religious community has over so many things. I’ve always been of the opinion that ‘the more the merrier’ and think that the more atheists speak out, the more it will be realised how many of us there actually are. This, I hope, will lead to my original answer from why do you do it.

OK, now to the formalities:

Rule 1) List three reasons for your blogging.

Rule 2)  List the rules.

Rule 3) Tag three others with the meme.

In accordance with rule three, I tag WineyMomma, Australian Atheist and Fiery.

I know not everyone is into memes so there’s no obligation to commit to this tag. Though, I’d be interested in Winey’s answer as I don’t think her motives will be as similar as Thinkers’, Five’s, Australian’s, Fiery’s and mine.

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Filed under atheism, atheist, blog, meme

A Big Day in History

Well, that was a big day in Australia’s history yesterday. The Australian Government finally apologised to the indigenous community for the Stolen Generations.

I’m sure there are going to be lots of news sites, blogs and forums discussing this, and from responses I’ve already seen, it’s going to be a hot topic for a while. 

If you are interested in seeing the videos of Rudd’s speech, or reading the text of Rudd’s and Nelson’s speeches, most of the major newspaper sites have them. They are also all available, directly or via links, at Five Public Opinions.

Leave a comment

Filed under politics, sorry, Stolen Generations

Census 2011 – Religious Affiliation

As discussed the other day, on my Christianity – a declining population blog, the last census showed 18% to 30% of the Australian population were non-religious. I discussed how there were problems with the wording of the current census question which could result in a higher percentage of religious people than there actually are.

Today I submitted my suggestions to the ABS for changes to the Religious Affiliation question in the upcoming Census 2011, including some reasons why. A copy of my submission is available here, feel free to copy any of it if you also want to send a submission to the ABS (try not to use my exact wording). You have until 31 March 2008 to send submissions. I encourage you all to get involved, your answers don’t have to be as wordy as mine.  🙂


Filed under atheism, atheist, census, census 2011, religion

Happy Darwin Day!


Happy Darwin Day all.

What is Darwin Day?
From the official Darwin Day Celebration website:

Darwin Day is an international celebration of science and humanity held on or around February 12, the day that Charles Darwin was born on in 1809. Specifically, it celebrates the discoveries and life of Charles Darwin — the man who first described biological evolution via natural selection with scientific rigor. More generally, Darwin Day expresses gratitude for the enormous benefits that scientific knowledge, acquired through human curiosity and ingenuity, has contributed to the advancement of humanity.

Break out the Bubbly and party hats, cheers to all the other bloggers out there celebrating today.

Apart from this notification I won’t be posting anything else today, I’m busy working on my submission to the ABS re the religion question in Census 2011. See post Christianity – a declining population. I’ll post a copy of my submission once it’s done.

Please let me know if you find any good Darwin Day blogs.

1 Comment

Filed under atheism, atheist, Charles Darwin, Darwin Day, Darwin Day Celebrations, Humanist, science

Why are we paying to teach ID?

The SMH has been headlining the weekend news with stories of taxpayers over funding private schools to the tune of $2b (yes, that is two Billion dollars). As if that isn’t bad enough, it turns out that some of this money is going to schools which teach Creationism and/or Intelligent Design! Sean the Blogonaut has been discussing this problem at his blog.

I provided Sean with the links to the applicable SMH articles, which make quite interesting, and somewhat disturbing, reading:

Taxpayers owed $2b

Loophole keeps schools in clover

Opinion – In black and white, the unfairness of school funding

The Government needs to plug-up these loopholes and stop providing so much money to private schools.

The opinion piece, and one of the letters to the editor, question why nothing has been done about this. One would think the current Government could have a field day blaming the previous government for this fiasco. Then making themselves look good by fixing it. It’s been two days since the report in Saturdays SMH was released and not a peep out of the Government. Is it because a large portion of this money is going to the Catholic school system?


Filed under atheism, atheist, christianity, creationism, ID, news, politics, private school funding, religion

Christianity – a declining population.

A century ago nearly everyone in Australia was Christian, today only 64% are. We know this thanks to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) which yesterday released the Year Book 2008, based on 2006 census figures.

Today the Sydney Morning Herald had an article on this which highlighted the increase in the percentage of people who stated they had no religion or declined to respond.

The following table shows the religious affiliation as a percentage of the population (rounded out).

Religion 1901 1971 2006
Catholic 23 27 26
Anglicans 40 31 19
Other C 34 28 19
Total C 97% 86% 64%
None 0.5 6.5 18
None Stated 1 6.5 12
Total None 1.5% 13% 30%
Other R 1.5 1 6

Other C – Other Christian religions
Other R – Other religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam)

Note: 1971 was the year the instruction ‘if no religion, write none’ was introduced.

In the 2006 census approximately 10% did not provide an answer, which I have to assume makes up 10 of the 12% in the None Stated category?

This is a copy of the question as it appeared in the 2006 census:

I have a few problems with this question, in that some non-religious people may mark other and enter humanism (as per example), or some other non-religious title. This may then get marked as the person being religious. I don’t like how the question assumes you are religious, and I also don’t like how several religions are highlighted, even though they may be predominant ones.

Would this question be better if it was worded:

19 Are you religious?



19a If Yes please enter religion in the boxes provided.


I prefer this method as it makes the person think, it’s so much easier just to tick a box. If people actually have to think what religion they are supposed to be, some of them might realise they aren’t actually religious,

Might this encourage more people to answer No to the question? Would people who were born into a specific religion but who are not actually religious be more prone to answering No?

What do you think?

The next census is in 2011 and we have until 31 March 2008 to submit suggestions or recommendations.

Should we atheists/agnostics/freethinkers/humanists/secularists band together and submit a revised religious question to the ABS for the next census? I strongly believe that the more people realise how many non-religious people are out there the more we will be taken seriously and religious views will have less impact on government decisions.

I know I don’t get a huge readership so please spread this blog around. I’ll be hitting up Australian atheist sites, forums and blogs over the next few weeks to see if we can get some action with this, so please assist.

I’d be happy to do the work and submit the idea to the ABS if sufficient feedback warranted it. Alternatively some of the atheist, humanist and secular societies might want to take this submission process on?


Filed under atheism, atheist, census, census 2011, christianity, religion