The first piece of note is a defence of Clifford Longley, a ‘distinguished religious affairs commentator’, who made a complaint to the ASA about the atheist bus campaign which turned out to be cut and pasted, almost verbatim, from a Creationist website.
The complaint itself consisted of quotes from prominent scientists, twisted from context to make their views appear supportive of Longley’s position. One of the scientists involved has refuted Longley’s conclusions, and another scientist quoted by Longley turned out never to have existed in the first place. From the Heresy Corner, which has covered this story:
Longley reproduces, a lengthy quote from ‘Dr. Dennis Scania, the distinguished head of Cambridge University Observatories’. The only trouble is that there is no such person. There was a Dr Dennis Sciama, now deceased, at Cambridge, who is presumably the source of the quote; but Longley didn’t see the need to check the facts behind his internet source before going to the ASA.
You’d think Handy Andy would have the sense not to get involved in this debacle but no, without fear of embarrassment he has leapt to his friend’s defence. Again, the Heresy Corner has taken this apart. From Brown’s article:
In [Longley’s] defence, I would say that he has not spent much time on the web, and was ignorant of the long history of viciously argued warfare over creation and evolution on there and of the habit of judging content by the site on which it appears.
To which the Heresy Corner responds:
Right, so the old buffer is unaware that not everything on the Interweb is of equal validity. Let’s hope he doesn’t stray onto any 9/11 troofer sites in the wee small hours, or he may end up reporting the BBC to Ofcom for assuming that Al Qaeda had something to do with the attack on the Twin Towers.
And shouldn’t a distinguished religious affairs commentator have at least some knowledge of the evolution/creation debate?
Brown’s second piece, via Butterflies and Wheels, is another classic. In it he goes to great lengths to explain why the atheist bus campaign is silly and irrelevant, so silly and irrelevant that he apparently needs to devote acres of webspace to denouncing it.
Indeed, if Brown was merely making a fool of himself before, he now appears to be undergoing some sort of intellectual collapse. The bus campaign has sent him into a tailspin of frenzy. I can’t fisk his article because I have no idea what he is trying to say. I doubt if even he could tell us what he is trying to say.
Did the slogan have to be so fatuous as ‘don’t worry’? The only people not worrying now are those who get all their news from the sides of buses. The idea that we should stop worrying is quite as irrational right now as anything urged by religions. The American empire is melting along with the world economy; if the economy survives and with it our prosperity, the icecaps will melt instead and that will be even worse. Most of the people now alive in the world have never known times when they should worry more – so being told not to worry because there probably isn’t a God is about as useful as being told that Jesus will come back and make it all all right.
Blaming the world’s troubles on religion is as irrational and detached from the evidence as anything that the religious believe.
Well that’s a stab at coherence, at least – although no one would argue that religion is the only cause of suffering in the world. Yet he’s right, there are things to worry about, but can the weight of your worry change the world? No. Change and solution come from action, not endless personal anxiety.
And even if the world is as doomed as Brown thinks it is, even if we can do nothing to change it – then surely the right attitude is to enjoy our lives while we still can.
The only proportionate Christian response to the bus has come from Southwark Cathedral, where the staff have taken in a homeless kitten which turned up at Christmas and named it Doorkins Magnificat. There is talk of making an application to the fabric commission for a catflap.
Nurse, the screens!
The cause of Andrew Brown’s descent into rambling madness