Humanists go on a parliamentary offensive…

Will Crawley has sparked a small fire on his blog over the story that all Northern Irish MPs will receive a copy of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. Courtesy of an appeal on the excellent Pledgebank website. The 109 MLAs are a bit beyond the scope of the pledge, but Will’s asking for what book you would choose to send your MLAs

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  • Christopher Eastwood

    There is such hypocrisy in those circles where Evangelism is viewed as a legitimate pursuit in our society (e.g. the act of leaving Gideon bibles in hotel rooms) but where this sort of activity is denounced as “obsessed atheists trying to shove their beliefs down other people’s throats”. “Spreading the word” is beyond reproach, the righteous prerogative of any Christian person, especially considering our “freedom on speech” in a democratic society. How quickly respect for such freedom evaporates when the message is contrary to “the truth”…

    “The truth”… lol… moving from hypocrisy to arrogance, and the second criticism of the reactions to this non-story. The interesting thing to note about critiques of “The God Delusion” is how quickly they descend into either sentimental pleas not to offend those who “aspire to greater things” or ad hominem attacks on the author himself. This fact may say more about the veracity of the book’s claims than anything else.

    Bit of a waffle; apologies…. you ask which book would I choose to send my MLAs? Not sure exactly, but something that at least raises their consciousness. From what i’ve seen they need it, believe me. It most certainly wouldn’t be the Bible, that’s for sure ‘-)

  • wayicit

    I would send them all a copy of Abused Men – The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence by Philip W Cook (ISBN : 0-275-95862-0). It is about time that the political system took on the hardline feminist claim that domestic abuse is only about men abusing women. Erin Pizzey, founder of the domestic abuse hostel movement, says “I am grateful to Philip Cook for writing Abused Men. This is a brave book…..[The Author] brings to bare in this book his knowledge as a journalist and his evident care and compassion for all victims of domestic violence.”

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ for starters…..
    and how about Isaiah Berlin’s ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’.
    There’s also Frederick Nietzsche’s ‘The Anti-Christ’ and Arthur Schopenhauer’s ‘World as Will and Idea’ for the pious and religiously minded.’
    And of course not forgetting Plato’s ‘The Republic.’

  • George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ for starters…..

    Wrong book Gréagóir, 1984 is the Orwell that every politician should read…

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Oh, I agree Sammy, I should have mentioned that as well.
    But you do know the subtext of ‘Animal Farm’ too? ‘All animals are equal except some animals are……etc’

  • I would have said Animal Farm too in an attempt to stop them getting ideas above their stations. It wouldn’t work, of course, but at least I would have tried 😉

  • Greenflag

    ‘The Roving Mind ‘ by Isaac Asimov and no it’s not science fiction .

    And two books on Irish History written by two Englishmen!

    The Green Flag – Robert Kee
    Ireland’s Holy Wars – Marcus Tanner

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    I’ve read ‘The Green Flag’ by Robert Kee. A good account of Irish Nationalism. There was a good TV series Kee made about Irish history in the 1970’s too.

  • Some enlightening reading for Edwin Poots might be a copy of “The Maze” by Will Hobbs…

    For Reg Empey (having seen David defect today), A copy of “Absent Lord” by Lawrence Babb…

    And finally for Paul Berry – A copy of ” State of Denial” by Bob Woodward

  • abucs

    I trust Richard Dawkins book will be available in the medium of Irish ??

    Parity of esteem and all that. :o)

  • Greenflag

    Greagoir Frainclin,

    Kee’s book deals with Irish Nationalism from the 18th century up to 1923 whereas Tanner deals with the history from a religious denomination aspect in the main . Both books complement each other with Tanner’s covering the period 1500 to 2000.Tanner IMO brings out the ‘actuality’ of the struggle/struggles between the Catholicism of the Old English and native Irish as against the Established Church and Presbyterians . It’s the best book I’ve ever read on the 500 year long ‘denominational’ differences within Ireland and between Britain and Ireland .

    BTW – Kee was in the RAF during WWII and was shot down over Germany . He spent the rest of the war in a a German POW camp. .

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Thanks for that Greenflag. I’ll check out Marcus Tanner’s book.

  • Aldamir

    Is Kee’s stuff not a bit dated today? When he wrote it Irish history was in the grips of the nationalist v. revisionist controversy. Today everyone is a revisionist….

  • Greenflag


    ‘Is Kee’s stuff not a bit dated today?

    Not at all . More relevant than ever to judge from this excerpt from his first chapter.

    Treaty Night

    ‘For more than forty years after that night in Dec 1921 Englishmen gradually allowed themselves to forget that there had ever been an Irish question —- But in the late 1960’s Britain and the rest of the world were startled by events in Northern Ireland which , violent , unpredictable and sometimes incomprehensible seemed to most people to strike like a bolt from the blue . But they had not come from the blue .They had come out of Irish history.

    Englishmen had let themselves think that they had solved the Irish question. Inasmuch as the Anglo Irish Treaty had removed from England the most complex emotional problem in her long domestic history , this was true . But it had solved the problem for England , not for Ireland . The chief fault of English government in Ireland had always been not that it had oppressed her but that it had ignored her problem’s until too late . Now (1970’s) the untied ends of England’s ‘Treaty ‘ settlement have returned to trouble her .”

    One could just as easily posit when the ‘untied ends ‘ of the present power sharing in NI will unravel again ? Substitute Northern Ireland for Ireland in the above excerpt and Kee’s statement would still hold IMO.

    Whether the unravelling will take place in two or twenty or forty years from now I don’t know but unravel it will .

  • 109 MLAs Mick? Are you including Eileen Bell?

  • allybalder

    I think you’ll find Humani are just giving one copy of TGD to each party – it will then be passed on to someone in the party who can read!!
    I just wonder if any of those who criticise the book choice have read said book?

  • Pete Baker


    If they haven’t, they can get a flavour of said book here

  • allybalder


    Alliance Party welcomes Dawkins
    17 Apr 07, 10:21 PM No, they haven’t enrolled Richard Dawkins as a new member. Alan Watson from the Northern Ireland Humanists tells me that Stephen Farry, the North Down Alliance MLA, will accept a copy of The God Delusion on behalf of the Alliance Party, at 11am on 8 May at Stormont, just before the new Assembly meets for the first time. Will the other parties also nominate a representative to accept their copies of the book? Will there be a Humanist photoshoot?


    Excellent book, I recommend it to all.

  • “The little book of calm” Should help with the battle a day thing or failing that the ni phone book, that should remind them to get some work done!

  • despair squid

    Rather than The God Delusion, better would be Breaking the Spell by Daniel Dennett. Dennett isn’t as shrill as Dawkins and does want dialogue with believers (if only to tell them that they are wrong).

  • Resolve

    Although I suppose it is universally-applicable, [i]Breaking the Spell[/i] was clearly written with a U.S audience in mind. For this reason, it’d hardly be the most appropriate book to recommend to elected officials of Northern Ireland. Excellent read, though. Dennett is the man!

    On the evolutionary origins of religion, the most insightful book i’ve read is Scot Atran’s “[i]In Gods We Trust[/i]”. Prospective readers beware – it is a very heavy read… but oh so in-depth. Anyone who saw the videos of last year’s “Beyond Belief” conference will recognise the author’s name.

    As regards Dawkins’ tone (apparantly “shrill”), what is wrong with being arrogant when you’re right? If someone wants to pull him on the logical consistency of his arguments, i’ll be the first to consider those points of view. But, in finding no such inconsistencies, why would one be sensitive to the tone? Why, except for the sort of wooly sentiment Dawkins predicted would be the reaction to his book. Case in point – Professor Alistair McGrath of Oxford – anyone who has heard his recent debates with either Dawkins or Dennett will recognise that this same [i]wooly sentiment[/i] forms the substantial part of his defensive engagement with anyone who dares inject common sense into this tired debate.

  • abucs

    For some balance perhaps also the recently award winning philosopher Charles taylor. :o)