Rabbi Lionel Blue 
Monday, 16 February, 2009, 08:21 AM
Rating 1 out of 5 (Hardly platitudinous at all)

I'm 79 you know. My nose is knackered, my back is bent and the only person who knew my computer password has died. What I need is a nice holiday, but I won't be indulging in sun, sea and sangria. No, I'm going with Club Retreat 75-90. Yes, it's time for one of this programme's regular plugs for the Retreat industry, like here and here. They have all sorts of things on retreat: bread, marmalade, slippers, hot water bottles, cocoa, brandy and other people who are looking for bread, marmalade, slippers, hot water bottles, cocoa and brandy. What more could you possible want? And in the long stretches of time where there are no activities of any kind you can either talk to plants or to the Invisible Magic Teapot.

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Church Embraces Gravity 
Sunday, 15 February, 2009, 06:46 AM
By Steve

A leading official declared yesterday that Newton’s theory of gravity was compatible with Christian faith, and could even be traced to St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas, neither of whom floated above the ground. “In fact, what we mean by gravity is that things fall downwards,” said Archbishop Gianfranco Bleedinobvius, head of the Pontifical Council for Scientist and Heretic Burning. The Vatican also dealt the final blow to speculation that Obersturmführer Benedict XVI might be prepared to endorse the theory of Intelligent Falling, a theory which advocates a “higher power” responsible for the complexities of things hitting the ground when dropped.

Organisers of a papal-backed conference next month initially proposed to ban Intelligent Falling from the event, as “palpable bollocks”. Intelligent Falling would be discussed at the fringes of the conference at the Hogwarts University, but merely as “something for thick people to cling to”, rather than a scientific or theological issue.

Marc Leclerc, who teaches natural philosophy at Hogwarts, said “It is I, Leclerc. No scholar can remain indifferent to the anniversary of Newton’s birth. There is, however, no question of celebrating it, given that we’ve been implying he is a mad heretic for centuries now. It's time for a rigorous and objective valuation. We need a proper hatchet-job this time.”

Newton’s theories have never been formally condemned by the Catholic Church, Archbishop Bleedinobvius insisted, although this was an oversight. As long ago as 1950, only several centuries after Newton published, Pius XII described gravity as “too obvious a thing to ignore without seriously damaging our credibility.” John Paul II said that it was “more than a hypothesis that things fall downwards”.

Father Giuseppe Watta-Nitti, Professor of upward-falling Theology at the Pontifical Cro-Magnon University in Rome, said it was time that theologians as well as scientists grappled with the mysteries of the nose on your face. Upward-fallism remains powerful in the US, notably among Protestants, where its followers object to gravity being taught in state schools.

Commenting on the papal conference, a spokesman for the Church of England said, "Yeah, whatever they say, we think that too."

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Reverend Lucy Winkett, Canon Precentor of St Paul's Cathedral  
Saturday, 14 February, 2009, 09:40 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Yes - I'm still stuck in this god-forsaken, sleep deprived, Saturday morning graveyard slot.

Today I want to talk to you about food, but I'm supposed to make this stuff topical, so where better to start than with our Neanderthal ancestors [Ed - I don't think so]. Astonishingly, after reconstructing their DNA, scientists have discovered that Neanderthals ate food too. Neanderthals had to run around a lot looking for food, burning off all the calories that they consumed in eating the food. Nowadays we're much more civilised and just drive to McDonalds. Of course this makes us all big and fat, but that's not our fault. It's all the fault of those inconsiderate Neanderthals for giving us their genes. Many people don't have cars. Some don't even have McDonalds and still need to run around looking for food using their Neanderthal genes. This is called being immoral.

This all illustrates the importance of food. Religion thinks food is important too. Which just goes to show how right religion is. Don't worry that your genetic makeup makes you want to consume excessive quantities of meat, fat and sugar. That's just the way the Great Celestial Teapot made you.

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Shaikh Abdal Hakim Murad - Muslim chaplain University Cambridge 
Friday, 13 February, 2009, 08:19 AM
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Hurrah for Great Britain and the people of Hartlepool! When France, Turkey, India and Greece all selfishly refused to dismantle the Clemenceau because of narrow minded concern for the safety of the local population, the brave people of Teesside stepped in to show Johnny Foreigner how it's done. All the asbestos that those lilly livered foreign breakers yards couldn't handle will be safely removed by we British and carefully dumped in a big hole in the ground. With tiresome predictability, the usual bunch of rent-a-mob protesters have objected, but I'm a Shaik and I can tell you that they're wrong. Not only will the breakup of the Clemenceau create 100 jobs, it will do so in a good cause: recycling, thus making Great Britain the top recycling nation and greenest country on Earth.

People of faith like me (and some others apparently) are increasingly beginning to realise that the profligate consumption of non-renewable resources can't last forever. As the Holy Koran says, "In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful, demons shall flay the skins of those who do not sort their rubbish and place it in the appropriate coloured wheelie bins."

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Rev Dr. Peter Hearty on Radio! 
Thursday, 12 February, 2009, 08:21 AM
I'll be on BBC Radio Scotland this morning, live and uncensored, sometime between 9 and 10 am arguing against creationists. I'll also be recording a debate with Perry Marshall who claims there is clear evidence that DNA was designed by God. This will be broadcast on Premier Christian Radio on 21st Feb.

I'm told you can hear previous debates I've had here and here.
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Rev Dr Dr David Wilkinson, Principal of St John's College Durham 
Thursday, 12 February, 2009, 08:09 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Happy 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin everyone! Everyone, that is, except all those nasty atheists who use evolution as a stick to oppress nice people like me. As a Rev. Dr. Dr. I just want to point out that I'm not one of those silly people who thinks the world is 6,000 years old. They're just a bunch of loonies with totally irrational beliefs. Not like me. I'm a Rev. Dr. Dr. and I accept the evidence for evolution. I'm totally rational and sensible. All the clever believers, like me, accept evolution. In fact we've always accepted it, many considering Genesis allegorical even before Darwin.

As a totally rational and sensible Rev. Dr. Dr., what I want to know is, why did the Great Celestial Teapot not make the world a bit nicer? I mean it all seems terribly wasteful and cruel. Maybe that's the only way the Teapot could figure out how to create Rev. Dr. Dr.s? How do I reconcile this seemingly cruel world of nature with my belief in a loving Teapot? It's simple really. The loving Teapot sent his only China Cup to save us. The China Cup had His handle cruelly broken off to redeem our tea leaves. If the Teapot could do that to His China Cup then he isn't going to have any qualms about having a bunny rabbit torn to bits or inflicting a fatal illness on an innocent child. The solution is that the loving Teapot's a complete bastard really.

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Akhandadhi Das - a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian 
Wednesday, 11 February, 2009, 08:10 AM
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Many people don't know that life, family and friends are more important than possessions. As a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian, I'd just like to point out that life, family and friends are more important than possessions. Some Australians have also discovered that life, family and friends are more important than possessions. As Someone from the Hindu scriptures once said, life, family and friends are more important than possessions. And now in a different language: rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, which means that life, family and friends are more important than possessions. The lesson you should learn from this is that life, family and friends are more important than possessions.

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Right Awful Anne Atkins - Agonising Aunt and Vicar's Wife 
Tuesday, 10 February, 2009, 08:11 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

It's 7.45 in the morning. You're probably having your breakfast or on your way to work. What better time to talk about sex. The best book I ever read was 'A History of World Underwear'. It taught me everything I ever needed to know about sex. We Christians are big fans of sex, except in the movie Titanic, which was totally spoiled by having some sex in it. Any objective reader of history will see that Christianity has always promoted every kind of sex you can imagine: group sex, gay sex, polygamy, oral sex, bondage, free sex, anal sex, prostitution, orgies, masturbation. You name it, we Christians have been in there encouraging everyone to have a go. Christians talk openly and freely, without inhibition or guilt, about sex. We've even got an entire book of the bible devoted to love poems: an explosion of sexual erotica.

Are you enjoying your sausage?

I don't think I'll quote from Leviticus or St. Paul this morning. Now that I've dealt with how tolerant and liberal we Christians are regarding sex, I'd just like to add that this proves eternal life exists. Life was created by the Great Celestial Teapot, and we will all spend eternity drinking Darjeeling and munching on buttered scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

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Thought for The World 
Monday, 9 February, 2009, 03:27 PM
Just a reminder that the HSS have their own Thought for the World which launches today both at its own site and on The Guardian's Comment is Free, where it will run for two weeks.

They're asking people to sign their petition asking the BBC to open up TFTD to secular voices and to donate a small sum so that Thought for the World can run all year round.

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Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Conner, the world's leading collector of Irish names 
Monday, 9 February, 2009, 03:18 PM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

[ Ed - This is a special guest contribution from Steve.]

This week, we will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of the man who removed god from his last hiding place in all scientific enquiry. It is silly to think that there is a conflict between science and religion. I mean, who could ever imagine such a thing, apart from almost all the popes over history who have imprisoned, tortured and horribly executed any scientist who disagreed with them.

For example, Young Earth Creationists believe that what is written in the bible (twice) is actually true, and so they find themselves in dispute with both science and logic. But surely it is ridiculous to believe literally in a talking snake, a woman built from a man's non-missing rib, or a man rising from the dead and wandering round for a couple of months.

No, the purpose of the more ridiculous bits of the bible is to speak of the relationship between man and god. It's a metaphor, see. Any time some filthy atheist points out that men can't fit in a whale's belly, or that no-one lives to be 900 years old, simply shout METAPHOR at them, and smile smugly.

(Of course, some bits are literal, like the bit about homosexuals. Don't ask me how I know which bits are literal, I just do.)

The bible helps us to understand the nature of god. Like the story of Job, a perfectly reasonable man whose life god decided to ruin as an experiment. Or like the Great Flood, when god killed everyone irrespective of how good and innocent they might have been. Or like the tale of Abraham and Isaac, in which god established that a truly good man would cut his own son's heart out because he was asked to on a whim.

Scientists have to look beyond the question "how?" to the question "why?", to the question of meaning and purpose. So, while a scientist is content to describe the moon, its nature, its origin and everything else about it, we must also ask what is the purpose of it being there. Is it to give us light at night (except when it isn't there)? Is it there to look nice in an otherwise bland and uninteresting sky? Is it a source of cheese?

Christianity can help with the pursuit of science, by encouraging scientists to ask these "why" questions. They must ask about the purpose of all things, such as sprouts, Hollyoaks, and malaria.

What science needs is religion to guide it, both in the direction of good things, and away from the direction of things tricky for religion. Without religion, science will definitely become an instrument of oppression. There have been many times in history when scientists have been the main cause of oppression. Like the Inquisition, in which priests and monks found themselves forced to use the hideous tools of torture that science had provided with no prompting from anyone.

As St. Augustine says, "Let us seek with the desire to find, and find with the desire to seek still more, but if we find out too much, let us stop, and hide the results under the carpet."

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