User:Jim Harmes

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I am British and, for 33 years, was a college teacher. I retired in 2004 and, with Nicole, my wife, moved to a village outside Strasbourg, in north-eastern France, where we continue to live very happily. She still teaches at the university, so I am a Kept Man. Tough life. I have been an atheist for as long as I can remember. In Europe this particular aspect of my biography has not, until relatively recently, struck me as of any particular significance but, as I surf YouTube, I become progressively more fascinated by the gruesome ambitions of fundamentalist religion around the world. The fatwa on Salman Rushdie in 1989 forced many of us to rethink our responses to aggressive religion. As a Briton I welcomed multiculturalism and still do, but I now realise that there are some serious sticking points and that threatening to kill people for writing words is one of them. Then, of course, 9/11 has forced millions of people to respond to the threats of militant Islam and, particularly, to the importance of distinguishing people of peace from those bent on destruction. My jaw drops in disbelief at the sheer ignorance of many fundamentalist US evangelists who believe that there is only one book worth reading and, as a result, fail to recognise the significance of the First Amendment to their own Constitution. Beliefs kept within a group of like-minded individuals is one thing, but evangelism necessarily involves spreading the 'word'. When enhanced by money and power, this can represent a serious danger. I had concerns about a country which could elect George W Bush. That the Republicans can be even vaguely interested in people such as Palin, O'Donnell, Perry, Bachmann, Santorum, Gingrich or Romney is really, really scary and they all reflect nasty aspects of Christianity which need to be resisted. And then I discovered The Atheist Experience in Austin, Texas, an island of sanity. There can't be many of their videos which I have missed. I read as widely as possible and enjoy particularly the cool logic of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. I have watched most of their videos; Hitch, of course, is sorely missed. On the 'opposing' side I remain aghast that William Lane Craig is held up as an intellectual champion of theism. It appears to me that his supposed logic is appallingly weak and I have produced detailed critiques of a number of his writings for my own benefit.

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