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Thought for the Day.

Eddie Mair | 17:01 UK time, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Media Guardian reports that the BBC Trust has "rejected calls for non-religious contributors to be allowed on Radio 4's Thought for the Day."

We'll talk more about this on the programme tonight. As Media Guardian notes, iPM, the programme that starts with its listeners, talked about this in January.

You can hear the full 22 minute discussion between the Rev. Prof Alister McGrath and Prof AC Grayling here.

Read what the Radio 4 Controller wrote (and listener reactions) here.

And if you're really keen there's even more here.

The BBC Trust ruling is here.


  • 1. At 5:24pm on 17 Nov 2009, newlach wrote:

    This decision has come as no surprise to the many people of no religion who must endure this proselytising every morning.

    Information on the Queen's University of Belfast website tells us that Dr Chitra Bharucha, who chaired the committee that considered the non-editorial aspects of the complaint. has made: "a high level contribution in the areas of health, art, education and RELIGION".

    An impartial chairperson?

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  • 2. At 5:27pm on 17 Nov 2009, davmcn wrote:

    I wasn't listening too closely, but did that man say there going to be a tax on religion?

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  • 3. At 5:28pm on 17 Nov 2009, Looternite wrote:

    #1. newlach
    Yes I agree with you. Also who else was on this panel.
    This is not a suitable part of "Today" unless it covers all faiths and none.

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  • 4. At 5:33pm on 17 Nov 2009, Liz Verran wrote:

    A pity that Paganism was referred to so disparagingly! I myself, a witch, have been interviewed on Broadcasting House and a leading Druid speaks regularly on Sunday. It seems that pagans are allowed on R4 but not on the Today programme. I have heard from a mole that Religious broadcasting, based in Manchester, is more open-minded than editors of the Today programme. I wonder why?

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  • 5. At 5:34pm on 17 Nov 2009, smee wrote:

    I honestly think it shouldn't be part of Today but should instead be a separate programme. It might be nice to have some philosophers too, actually. An alternative Point of View if you will.

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  • 6. At 5:34pm on 17 Nov 2009, Looternite wrote:

    This is a clear case of discrimination and time for the Equality Commision to investigate.

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  • 7. At 5:37pm on 17 Nov 2009, nikki noodle wrote:

    "We're all individuals!"

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  • 8. At 5:39pm on 17 Nov 2009, Timothy Hilgenberg wrote:

    I quite like Thought of the Day, most of the time there are some nice ideas to mull over, however I do think it should not be limited to a particular segment of faiths or groups... and a few more controversial ideas would be much more in keeping with the Today programme :-)

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  • 9. At 5:39pm on 17 Nov 2009, Martin wrote:

    Having just listened to the controller on PM, I am very disappointed with his narrowminded view. He said it was 'good enough' and covered 'sufficient' of the audience!

    The Beeb should look to employ senior managers who have a much wider ambition than this obstructionist! This debate has been narrowed to suggesting that only those who have an imaginary friend can possibly have a 'thought' which might cause the listeners to Today to think about an issue in an original way. Very narrow minded - like the 6 faith spokespersons normally employed to do the spot!

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  • 10. At 5:39pm on 17 Nov 2009, peanutvendor wrote:

    Its about time this issue was addressed. It's an insult to all of us who choose not to have a religious faith to assume that we are in some way incapable of moral or ethical thought.

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  • 11. At 5:39pm on 17 Nov 2009, D D Robson wrote:

    I rather like the religious bias on TFTD. It's more entertaining. Like being a fly on the wall of the asylum.

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  • 12. At 5:41pm on 17 Nov 2009, ybborb wrote:

    This is an old chestnut and has been aired on R4 before. I seem to remember a BBC spokesperson on the today programme a couple of years ago defending the current policy.
    The main thing that infuriates those of us with agnostic leanings is the fact that organised religeon has for very many years claimed a monopoly on good, thereby decreeing that those of us outside are "bad". A close study of the history of religeon has great difficulty in sustaining this concept of good.
    When the spokesperson appeared on the today programme, what did she say? "The thought for today obviously has to be a good thought and so it needs to be religeously based." At a stroke reinforceing that which we find most offensive.
    It would appear that the current ruling has trodden the same path!

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  • 13. At 5:42pm on 17 Nov 2009, Carl wrote:

    I really can't see why religious people have the monopoly on Thought for the Day and as the name implies, speakers should be allowed to come from all walks of life so long as they have something legitimate and helpful for everyone to ponder on during the course of the day. What I find even more amazing is that we are in the 21st century and so much attention is still paid to something that doesn't even exist!! We might as well be talking about fairies and goblins etc.

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  • 14. At 5:44pm on 17 Nov 2009, peterdavidson1 wrote:

    I hate gardening, so I would ask the BBC to cancel all its Radio 4 Gardening programmes. Why should non-gardeners be discriminated against by several hours of gardening broadcasts every week? This is the same logic to that used by the anti-religious contributors to the Thought for To-day discussion. For goodness sake, the broadcasts only last a few minutes each day and many of us enjoy them.

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  • 15. At 5:45pm on 17 Nov 2009, waspie wrote:

    Although I believe there probably isn't a god, I don't particularly object to Thought for the Day - it's my cue to jump into the shower. I figure that if there is a god, he won't mind as 'cleanliness is next to godliness'.

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  • 16. At 5:46pm on 17 Nov 2009, Looternite wrote:

    I am sure that The Prophet Dawkins can give us a "Thought for the Day" as good if not better than many of the religious speakers.

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  • 17. At 5:46pm on 17 Nov 2009, Sheelagh Stewart wrote:

    I have radios all over my house. In the loo, the kitchen, the bedroom - you get the picture. And Radio 4 is always on. I love it. The news the comedy the comment - you get the picture. I also sleep with radio 4 and its sister World Service whispering in my ears. The radio goes off every morning without fail for thought for the day - as I cannot bear the unctious male voices that simply do not represent my reality. I listen to Lionel Blue and that's all. Not only do you not do anything but religion, it appears that (Lionel Blue apart) you don't really do tolerant (lots of misogynists and plenty of homophobia), you don't do representative (no quakers, no wierd sects and definitely no agnostics let alone atheists or humanists) but you do argue that this works. Incidently the only other time I turn the radio off is on Sunday mornings when I thank God (or would if I believed) for the World Service. If it were down to me I would remove religion altogether, especially Christianity, but maybe I'm extreme. So I'd settle for a good compromise, the six majors - plus some minors (Quakerism etc) and some nons - atheists and non-pluses - humanists. How about it BBC?

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  • 18. At 5:50pm on 17 Nov 2009, lydia darby wrote:

    I do not follow any faith but I find thought for the day very inspiring. The speakers all talk about being kind and looking after one another. I wish people would just listen to the words spoken and let it be!

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  • 19. At 5:56pm on 17 Nov 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    Gosh! You really do read our posts!

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  • 20. At 5:57pm on 17 Nov 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    If atheists are allowed, where do we queue up?

    Eddie! Shameful comment about being on the blog only if there's nothing better to do.

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  • 21. At 5:58pm on 17 Nov 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    'Thought for the Day' plays an important part in my morning routine. It is always a signal for me to head for the shower and miss this tedious slot.

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  • 22. At 5:58pm on 17 Nov 2009, watriler wrote:

    It is not just TFTD but the whole christian dominated thing as I wrote in the letter to the BBC:-If religion is the opiate of the people then the BBC is the nation’s pusher.

    This letter from a licence payer challenges the corporation’s patronage and promotion of the exceptional volume of radio and television time allocated to organised religion generally and Christianity in particular. Uniquely the BBC routinely hands over control of both presentation and content to these private minority interest organisations.

    The extraordinary quantity of Religious Broadcasting is neither required nor even legitimised by the BBC Charter. I draw your attention to that document’s section (4) listing the “The Public Purpose”. There is nothing in this component of the Charter that clearly implies an obligation for the BBC to so generously facilitate the promotion of organised, mainly Christian religion.

    It seems as if the Corporation has yet to disestablish itself from the early influence of its founding Reithian Presbyterianism. An anachronism made all the more embarrassing by the recent flirtation of the Archbishop of Canterbury with state disestablishmentarianism.

    The BBC has no right in our essentially temporal society in inducing its audience into Christian dominated religious exposure. The heavy burden of the Corporation’s legacy in this class of broadcasting is particularly clear when the Church itself becomes news. Nowhere is this more exemplified than the extraordinary broadcast prominence given to the recent Church of England’s sad and contemptible medieval style debate on gay priests (see also the earlier women clerics’ version).

    The BBC’s taste for imposing religious views on its audience – sometimes covertly- is best exemplified by the Radio 4’s “Thought for the Day” which in truth is religious and overwhelmingly Christian thought for the day. In this prime time listening spot various priestly speakers awkwardly or disingenuously contrive to lead listeners into god waffle by hijacking and re-packaging a current news topic.

    Although few people are fooled it is shameful that the Today programme is denied a pristine opportunity for concise and penetrating analysis of current topics and social issues free of political and religious dogma – “Critical Thought for the Day”

    The pretence of the Corporation’s religious neutrality is crudely exposed by the bombardment of Christian worship on Sundays when the Corporation feels safe to dispense with any vestige of commitment to religious diversity not to mention reflecting the essential secular nature of 21st century British Sundays.

    Everyone should have the right to participate in religion and have religious belief but it is not the role of the BBC to sponsor these in its mainstream broadcast schedules and especially when favouring one particular religion that is in evident decline.

    If the BBC believes it is obliged to subsidise religious broadcasting they could always find some partime space on the Long Wave or DAB or even the Internet. Why not jointly fund with pan national religious bodies a dedicated religious station.

    Better still just treat religion and its followers no more than as newsworthy as other activities and institutions.

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  • 23. At 5:59pm on 17 Nov 2009, weecrusty wrote:

    I listen to the Today programme every day and frequently sigh when the "Thought for the Day" slot is announced as it is so often full of sanctimonious twaddle. I wish it could be scrapped altogether.

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  • 24. At 5:59pm on 17 Nov 2009, danensis wrote:

    I'm a Quaker, would you all please be quiet for an hour or so?

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  • 25. At 6:00pm on 17 Nov 2009, Lepus_Madidus wrote:

    I have it on good authority from a colleague, that Santa has replaced God. Santa is the threat used against those kids misbehaving in supermarkets.

    Are there more Jedis than Scientologists?

    When some people believe in politicians who are we to doubt religions?

    Thought for the Day is reassuring and uplifting? Can't Radio 4 buy in Pause for Thought on Radio 2 than is repeated twice within 3 hours on Radio 2 in the middle of the night. It's broadcast on the Janice Long show and then repeated on the Alex Lester show a couple of hours later. There's a causal link between being awake in the middle of the night and verging on ending it all?

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  • 26. At 6:03pm on 17 Nov 2009, normanmugabe wrote:

    God wants His Church to “dwell together in unity”; (Psalm 133)—to be of “one
    spirit” and “one mind”, “likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord,
    of one mind”; (Philippians 1:27; 2:2)—to “speak the same thing” with “no
    divisions”... “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same
    judgment”; (1 Corinthians 1:10). He wants His people to be “as one man”, (Ezra
    That is, He wants deep Family unity. TFTD panders to quite the opposite. As it is open to some comers as opposed to all comers, I see no reason why humanists should be excluded. A muslim from Bangladesh can address his like-minded friends but a humanist from Godalming may not? That is the kind of intellectually-challenged logic that has brought the BBC to the politically correct place it has sunk to over the last fifty years.

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  • 27. At 6:04pm on 17 Nov 2009, Gill wrote:

    I love hearing the views of other faiths and appreciate how much common ground we share.Though a Christian, I particularly enjoy listening to Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sachs. It is just a few minutes where people, who look to a higher being than ourselves to guide the way we live our lives, can celebrate just that, despite our different faiths (which of course aren't the same). We are bombarded everywhere with what humanists and atheists think (and very depressing it can be too!) but people of faith don't always enjoy that freedom in the same way. Can't we keep our little oasis?

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  • 28. At 6:04pm on 17 Nov 2009, Idcam wrote:

    I think it's helpful to know that people who share my faith (in the non-existence of any gods) will continue to be barred from speaking on TFTD. That way I know that I won't have missed anything worth hearing.

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  • 29. At 6:08pm on 17 Nov 2009, nikki noodle wrote:

    Have you heard this one?!

    So, I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said "Stop! Don't do it!"
    "Why shouldn't I?" he said.
    "Well, there's so much to live for!"
    "Like what?"
    "Well... are you religious?" He said yes.
    I said, "Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?"
    "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant ?
    "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"
    "Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"
    "Baptist Church of God!"
    "Me too! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you reformed Baptist Church of God?"
    "Reformed Baptist Church of God!"
    "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?"
    He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!"
    I said, "Die, heretic scum", and pushed him off.
    (Emo Philips)

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  • 30. At 6:18pm on 17 Nov 2009, colin wrote:

    i honestly can`t understand what religious people fear from a non religious person speaking on thought for the day, are not all people allowed to view their point of view?

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  • 31. At 6:27pm on 17 Nov 2009, SteveK wrote:

    Radio 4, Please don't get rid of thought for the day. My radio alarm switches Radio 4 on at 7.15 and it is only at 7.50 that I turn off the radio and get up to go to work. If you had something interesting rather than annoying on at 7.50 I would stay in bed listenning, well until the shipping forecast anyway (if you still do that at 7.55) which is equally not interesting although less annoying!

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  • 32. At 6:40pm on 17 Nov 2009, PJB_TT2 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 33. At 6:55pm on 17 Nov 2009, James_Francis wrote:

    Surely, the only criterion for thought for the day should be the quality of the thought. It should be intelligent, insightful and pertinent to today's issues. It should be open to anybody with such a thought. By restricting this to commentators with a religious burden diminishes the slot. Come on BBC, let's go for quality. Not superstitious twaddle.

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  • 34. At 7:01pm on 17 Nov 2009, David wrote:

    How very disappointing. I thought there was a chance for change but it is business as usual with one cumbersome establishment body supporting another dinosaur. I like to hear the opinions of people I do not naturally agree with, we are all the poorer for this exercise in censorship.
    As a humanist I feel offended by being excluded from this privileged platform. It feels like we are being told that we are not good enough to be heard.
    I am fed up with religious people being given free reign to express views about the world that are completely unsupported by any common sense experience and at the same time insulating themselves from challenge. I wonder sometimes if they listen to themselves and realise how strange, extreme and unlikely is their worldview. It’s time to take the gloves off, if they won’t join us in the discussion, regrettably we are going to have to shout a bit louder. In future I will take every opportunity to oppose the platitudes and self-righteous meanderings and take the trouble to counter any religious views expressed in public by those I meet.

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  • 35. At 7:01pm on 17 Nov 2009, Kael Hunter wrote:

    Dear Feedback,
    The overall quality of radio four broadcasting is intelligent, appealing, interesting and of a high calibre. (With possible exception to the Archers… I jest.) All efforts are made to make the programming balanced and fair in all but one respect. I must admit this is based solely on my own personal observation in obviously a purely audible sense of coarse but I have seen over the last three or four years that I have regularly listened to Radio 4 programming a large bias toward religion.

    No where is this more evident than “Thought for the Day” although a lot of other programs are just as biased such as for example many “Moral Maze” programs. “Thought for the Day” simply happens to coincide quite well with my alarm clock so I rarely miss it and I must remark that not once have I heard the opinion of any one with a rational, measured outlook on the world and no religious basis for this world view. I must admit I do have a rather low opinion of most if not all religions which is in itself an entire other topic for discussion and I do have a very low tolerance for preaching and wilful ignorance so I am more than aware I may be accused of being intolerant but as I have already stated I am intolerant of preaching and ignorance I will simply take comments stating that fact as evidence that who ever made said comment has either:

    A) Not read my comment in it’s entirety before making a reply.

    This makes you wilfully ignorant I’m afraid as the information has been presented to you and you have chosen to not read it.

    B) Not understood what I have said.

    Simply read the comment again and ask for clarification should that not resolve your issue.

    I’ll continue to my point now.

    “What special insight into the world do those of religious connotations have over and above those of the growing number of Atheists in society?”

    When this question is inevitably answered as “none” (as public declaration that “God” has spoken to you in a literal personal way [i.e.: “I saw “God” he told me X”] is cause for being sectioned under the mental health act.) I would then like to go on to ask:

    “So why are the opinions of a growing community rarely (if ever) represented in Radio 4 broadcasting?”

    Just because people like myself do not believe in certain Bronze Age myths our opinions and outlooks on the world around us should not be any less valued. Indeed as a point for discussion I would actually argue the to the contrary due to the clouding effect religion seems to have on the human mind.

    I would like to close by thanking you however for as mentioned the otherwise high quality broadcasting that Radio 4 and the wider BBC represents.

    Best Regards,
    Kael Hunter

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  • 36. At 7:07pm on 17 Nov 2009, Keith Maunder wrote:

    Dear iPM

    I agree with your correspondent who said that surely the present arrangement breaks BBC guidelines by allowing one sector of the community to put their point, but not the other.

    Personally I detest all forms of theistic religion (it is anachronistic, ridiculous and encourages conflict) and for years have been turning off the radio every morning when Thought for the Day comes on preceded by the words "And now the Rev...." or "the bishop of ...." or, even worse, "Lionel Blue!!!!" (not just because of his religious beliefs!)

    Given the choice I would have no religious broadcasting on the BBC, particularly the Sunday Service, which comes at a time when I should like to lie in bed listening to something interesting, or at least entertaining.

    Please feel free to quote any part of this, should you want to.

    Keith Maunder

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  • 37. At 7:21pm on 17 Nov 2009, Kael Hunter wrote:

    I made some edits to my original E-Mail complaining about "thought for the day" (above) to make it slightly more comment board friendly and also add a section on why comments from people calling my intolerant would be discounted.

    As you can see it was originally Started "Dear Feedback" as I originally sent the complaint to them however I meant to more that header prior to posting.

    I just wanted to point that out before some body points out this is not Feedback. =)

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  • 38. At 7:50pm on 17 Nov 2009, Brian Quinn wrote:

    With Prayer For The Day (Radio 4 at 5.43 every morning) we know what we're in for.
    If the BBC insists on only allowing religious people to present Thought For The Day they should at least be honest enough to label the product 'Religious Thought For The Day'.

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  • 39. At 8:00pm on 17 Nov 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    nikki, that's rather unlike you and, I thought, decidedly unfunny.

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  • 40. At 8:06pm on 17 Nov 2009, vera whitfield wrote:

    A committed Christian,I have always enjoyed Thought For the Day irrespective of the speaker.I would welcome comments and views of a wider range of people however.In opting to listen,the individual does not have any obligation to agree with the speaker,but should I feel respect the individual's right to self expression.In my view any faith which does not open itself to scrutiny/questioning is not worthy of the title. I believe in and follow Christianity from choice. This is not to say that I do not ever question or struggle with some of the issues which arise in my life as a result of my following Jesus Christ and attempting to put what he preached into daily practice. Having a forum on a national network where people can air their different philosophies, be they Christian or otherwise, provided they are expressed with respect for others whose views may well differ can perhaps make a valuable contribution to a better understanding of differences which in the past have led to unnecessary prejudice not to mention loss of life. Christianity certainly does not have the monopoly on morality integrity, intelligence and common decency.

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  • 41. At 8:09pm on 17 Nov 2009, 3Dots wrote:

    I had lots of things to say abotu Mr Damazar's comments about why non-religious people should not be on TFTD as I disagree with them strongly.

    However, as having non-religious people would bring some down-to-Earth sense to the whole thing I'll say good on Mark for refusing the majority and keeping it religious alone...it means that I will get my daily dose of 'Platitude of the Day' fully translated into normal English on the website of the same name.

    I'll out a good laugh in front of fair balanced BBC programming every time.

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  • 42. At 8:38pm on 17 Nov 2009, TheWildOracle wrote:

    I believe that thought for the day so far has had an excellent balance, giving thought provoking comment without ramming the religion down your throat. I do believe firmly that religion should be the entrance fee as many non religious people can have an insight into life and would make a valid and valuable contribution.
    What we must not see is thought for the day becoming a soap box for religious fanatics to try to convert people to their beliefs.
    The best thoughts are those that ask questions without being judgemental.
    I must say that I have been most impressed by the sikh contributions

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  • 43. At 8:51pm on 17 Nov 2009, Thruns_Guinneabottle wrote:

    A secular "Thought for the day" would not be much of an advance on what already exists. It will undoubtedly degenerate into more moralising and exhortations to indiscriminate love and tolerance and goodwill to all men - in other words the usual bland platitudes but without reference to God.

    That is not good enough.

    What is required is that all religions and their followers be ridiculed relentlessly as believers in fairies, elves and hobgoblins etc. Far from offering respect to all religions, they should be shown no respect at all. There is not the least shred of evidence in support of any kind of deity, and of course the followers of each religion KNOW there is no shred of evidence for any religion, save their own. It is only recently that Christians have embraced other faiths as of somehow equal value, but this is only fashionable liberalism. The Christians of yore would expect the worshipers of false gods to burn in hell, and would have said so, gleefully. It is also worth noting that today's Christians' desire to accord legitimacy to all other religions is a modern aberation, and it is NEVER reciprocated.

    We must treat all religions with the contempt which we would feel if they tried to tell us that their particular god had the head of an elephant. Actually one of them does.

    We don't want to JOIN religions in their ridiculous radio Four proselytising. What we need is to stamp all this nonsense out.

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  • 44. At 9:40pm on 17 Nov 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    Lady Sue (39) - You and I usually share a sense of humour. I'm not sure what you didn't like about Nikki's story. I thought it both funny and pertinent.
    It reminded me of the story of the chap confronted by hooded men in a backstreet in Belfast in the bad days of The Troubles.
    'Are you Catholic or Protestant?' they asked him.
    'I'm a Jew',he replied.
    'Aye. But are you a Catholic Jew or a Protestant Jew' they responded.
    I think both stories illustrate the intolerance and the absurdity of religious factions.

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  • 45. At 10:02pm on 17 Nov 2009, Glickstein wrote:

    Why on earth would a non religious person want to paticipate in a slot about an invisible friend? I personally find it offensive that air time is wasted on such trouble makers.

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  • 46. At 10:08pm on 17 Nov 2009, GiulioNapolitani wrote:

    Since I realised that I won't catch any irrational beliefs as a result of listening to "Thought for the Day", I have had no problem with it at all. I do wish that the excruciating "Sunday" programme would be replaced with a proper news and current affairs programme, though.

    The tortuous twisting of current affairs stories to a fit religious agenda on Radio 4 versus Premier League football trivia on Fivelive does not make for an enticing listening choice on a Sunday morning.

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  • 47. At 11:05pm on 17 Nov 2009, Sid wrote:

    ... and do you know, in a very real sense, I think he does ...

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  • 48. At 11:31pm on 17 Nov 2009, Idcam wrote:

    One thing that I do wish is that people would stop equating the words "faith" and "religion". Although, as an Atheist, I have no religion, that does not mean I have no faith. Just because I prefer to place my faith in rational beliefs rather than mythological or fanciful ones does not mean I have none. I have loads of faith and I apply it to all kinds of stuff. Even my atheism eventually ultimately comes down to a process of faith. I have a faith; it is called Atheism, and I am fully committed to it.

    Just wanted to say that.

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  • 49. At 11:38pm on 17 Nov 2009, johnforeverargue wrote:

    The presumption in the current format of the 'Thought for the Day' programme that human morality and ethics are the sole preserve of the religious is incorrect and insulting to the large number of people who are god-free. The editorial staff of the BBC continues as policy to permit the existence of this programme as the exclusive preserve of speakers who are convinced they have an invisible friend, and deny any contribution or challenge by god-free speakers.

    There is something essentially wrong and contradictory here with the principles and logic in the thinking of the BBC's editorial staff since it considered it an obligation firstly to give the BNP airtime and secondly to allow the views the BNP expressed to be challenged.

    If the programme is to recover any credibility a revised and up-to-date position is required to embrace the full spectrum of views held and must include an appropriate balance of secular contributors.

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  • 50. At 01:26am on 18 Nov 2009, johncam wrote:

    I find the "god spot" quite insulting and I change channels when the babble is happening. I literally sigh deeply as I drive and was thinking of writing to the BBC before this discussion came up. I can see I am not alone.
    I think if a person wants to listen to god speak then they are quite welcome to in their own time, but to have it rammed down our throats every day is insulting.
    I am old enough to have made up my own mind about religion through free thinking and free will over 47 years. I have decided there is not a god and yet I do not go preaching that all the time. If a person feels good when they listen to this nonsense then I will not stop them. However I have the intelligence to realise that the religious don't like any dissent in the ranks, and complain when they can't be heard. Look at the "Life of Brian" when it came out to see what I mean.
    It is like a man with a megaphone in shopping precincts on a Saturday,they have to shout their message, whereas most people want to have their own beliefs and go about their everyday business.
    Get rid of this religious claptrap once and for all and let us listen to what we want to hear.

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  • 51. At 05:50am on 18 Nov 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    44 Preston (and nikki): I'm familiar with the Jewish/Protestant/Catholic joke and on re-reading nikki's it wasn't the illustration of "the intolerance and the absurdity of religious factions" (which I totally agree with in both instances) it was the sudden abrasiveness of the language in the punchline. I'm not normally so 'sensitive' and can only think that, as nikki is usually such a 'gentle' poster, on reading it yesterday the final line simply came as a shock. On reflection, my reaction @39 was probably an 'over-reaction'.

    As for 'Thought for the Day' - get rid of it.

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  • 52. At 07:35am on 18 Nov 2009, Thruns_Guinneabottle wrote:

    Gill at 27

    Do not confuse a crocodile infested swamp with an oasis.

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  • 53. At 08:28am on 18 Nov 2009, VincentB wrote:

    Although it's an anachronistic and generally aurally-invisible slot, I'm not bothered about who appears on Thought for the Day. I'm a passionate 'unbeliever', but most speakers don't offend because they're well-meaning enough, if rarely inspirational (and occasionally bonkers).

    So carry on as you are, I say ...with one exception. Please don't let the terrifying Anne Atkins appear on TFTD again.

    I'm sure it's all been said before, but somehow she manages to simultaneously both jab and wave her cold, smug, aggressive, absolutist, pious, humourless, twisted finger to a sinful and bewildered audience that just doesn't understand or see the truth in the way she sees it. It just isn't polite.

    Hers is the only voice on Radio 4 that has me jabbing the off button at the first syllable. I once tried listening to a whole one - I wouldn't recommend it.

    Fair enough if you want to continue the ban on humanists, atheists, antitheists, pagans and Jedi knights, but please God/BBC Trust, shine a bit of light on our lives and please ban Anne too. Think about that today.

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  • 54. At 08:50am on 18 Nov 2009, Looternite wrote:

    I've had a 'thought for the day', today.
    Since the "Today" prog is usually unending doom and gloom. Therefore, replace the religion with something cheerful and uplifting eg: the sound of laughing babies, uplifting music, cheerful poem, clip from a past comedy, a joke or (controversially for the BBC) a positive story.

    This would cheer up people as they go to work and maybe there will be an uplift in productivity.

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  • 55. At 09:16am on 18 Nov 2009, Sid wrote:

    Another vote for the abolition of Anne Atkins.

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  • 56. At 09:32am on 18 Nov 2009, gossipmistress wrote:

    I didn't hear yesterday's programme and can't be faffed to click on all the links above, but I think it's misguided and blinkered of the BBC not to allow other people to participate in Thought for the Day. Do they think that only religious people can come up with thought-provoking ideas worth sharing? What on earth are they afraid of? And how do they choose which religious groups to include and which to exclude anyway. Wake up BBC and listen to your listeners!

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  • 57. At 09:37am on 18 Nov 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    Lady Sue ((51) - The final line coming as a shock is quite usual in an Emo Phillps story. I knew who the author was before seeing Nikki crediting him at the end of his post. He's quite well known for this type of humour.

    He supplied one of my favourite one-liners - "I'm not Catholic, but I gave up picking my belly button for lint."

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  • 58. At 10:14am on 18 Nov 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    Preston, I'm not familiar with Emo Phillps but looked at your link so now know who you are (both) talking about. Emo's version was 'scum' free. Glad nikki credited him.

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  • 59. At 10:18am on 18 Nov 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    Sid (55): I haven't heard Anne Atkins on TFTD for ages (not that I always hear it, mind!). I'd rather got the impression that she'd gone on to 'grander' things and is a bit of a celeb.

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  • 60. At 10:32am on 18 Nov 2009, davmcn wrote:

    PF 57, Talk about odd people, I haven't seen Emo Phillips for years.

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  • 61. At 10:37am on 18 Nov 2009, davmcn wrote:

    PF 44, When I was in the hospital recently, the girl filling in the form asked me what my religion was. I said Protestant. I looked at the form later and noticed that she had put C of E because she couldn't spell, or didn't understand, protestant. She also misspelled mt wife's name.

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  • 62. At 10:48am on 18 Nov 2009, davmcn wrote:

    My thoughts for the day:

    pd1 14, I hate people who put numbers after their names and think they should be banned from the blog.

    SS 17, We have slates on our roof. They keep the rain out better than radios.

    d 24, I went to an Evangelical Quaker church for years. We swung quietly from the chandeliers.

    I hate people who think they are the judge of what is funny/not funny, should be allowed/banned, or offensive/not offensive.

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  • 63. At 11:28am on 18 Nov 2009, Liz Verran wrote:

    DAVMCN Re hospital records - they only have a short drop-down list to select from. I'm an Unkown cos there isn't anything like pagan there. I'll change to Hindu next time, cos that's the only selection with goddesses in it.

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  • 64. At 11:49am on 18 Nov 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    dav@61: "She also misspelled mt wife's name." Who is mt?

    "Hate" is a fairly powerful word to use dav - I can only presume the strength of your feeling comes from a sensitivity concerning so many of your own posts perhaps not quite passing the 'funny' meter?

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  • 65. At 1:03pm on 18 Nov 2009, timek wrote:

    bbc please get rid of TFTD, or at least let John Humphreys ask questions of the speakers

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  • 66. At 1:11pm on 18 Nov 2009, basil Shapleski wrote:

    If people who do hold to a world view that there is no God and want to have their thought for the day. Then I think that is valid. Because it shows the listeners which view gives the greatest hope. Either a hope based on this life, which is temporal and short lived. Judging by the countless people in the news, misery seems to be all around. Or the Christian hope based on something that is permament and everlasting, where all pain will cease, for the Christian. The contrast would be interesting. But then the humanist should give air time to creatists to present their view rather hearing the constant barrage of "billions of years ago". Evolution and the age of the earth is still just a theory. So can we listen to other theories so people can make a reasoned judgement. Which I assume is why the humanist want to give their thought for the day

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  • 67. At 1:19pm on 18 Nov 2009, vainly_here wrote:

    Sorry, I haven't had time to read all the above.
    Most of what I hear on TFTD is pretty feeble. It is certainly no advertisement for organised religion, and often makes me cringe. Anne Atkins and the Chief Rabbi are the main exceptions. What I ponder is whether an atheist thinker would actually try to proselytise. I get tired of having atheism and evolution rammed down my throat, actually. Someone earlier mentioned tolerance - better not invite Richard Dawkins, then!

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  • 68. At 1:20pm on 18 Nov 2009, Thruns_Guinneabottle wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 69. At 1:20pm on 18 Nov 2009, Lord Nathan wrote:

    Thought for the day:

    There is an old time toast which is golden for its beauty.
    "When you ascend the hill of prosperity may you not meet a friend."
    -- Mark Twain

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  • 70. At 1:40pm on 18 Nov 2009, nikki noodle wrote:

    Being even-handed for a moment. Two amazing things:

    1. the number of non-religious people on this thread who think they have NOTHING to learn from the major religions;
    2. the number of relious people who think that they have nothing to learn from other views.

    ah well. live and let live.

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  • 71. At 2:00pm on 18 Nov 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    Vyle: I agree with you that most of what's on TFTD is "pretty feeble" and often makes me cringe too. However, I've been an atheist since I was 11 years old (younger probably but I can pin-point it to my mother's funeral) and can safely say I've never tried to ram it down anyone's throat.

    nikki: I'm not saying I have "nothing to learn from the major religions". However, I feel Betrand Russell summed it up fairly well when he said, "Religion has done a little bit of good and a great deal of harm".

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  • 72. At 2:04pm on 18 Nov 2009, Fifi wrote:

    If PM is working on this story, may I suggest contacting the Sea of Faith network. (You can, if all else fails, find them via the book of faces.)

    They're a non-denominational international group which includes humanists, quakers, atheists, pagans, agnostics, christians, hindus, moslems, academics, educationalists ... and quite a few Church of England clergy who struggle with the literal-belief aspects of their faith.

    An interesting lot. I've advised them (being agnostic myself) that they will continue to have a declining membership if they use the word 'faith' in their name. But genuinely lovely people, very welcoming and broadminded, and great company.

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  • 73. At 3:12pm on 18 Nov 2009, Keith Maunder wrote:

    basil Shapleski wrote that the "Evolution and the age of the earth is still just a theory." This may be true but the evidence to support it is overwhelming. I find it hard to believe that any sane person could say the same about the Holy Scriptures on which the Christian religion is based and for which there is absolutely no evidence. They were written at a time when there was almost no understanding of the natural environment. This included our weather, the fact that the earth is a sphere orbiting the sun and all other natural phenomena such as gravity, the universe and life in general, of which we now all have some understanding and take for granted. At the time any misfortune, disaster, or even a particularly happy event, was God's doing. We now know differently. At least most of us do.

    It may be comforting for some to cling blindly to "the Christian hope based on something that is permanent and everlasting, where all pain will cease, for the Christian." But this must be an illusion and is based on the imagination, dreams and writings of primitive people who were trying to make sense of their environment and to give hope and succour to the suffering. At the time it was, perhaps, understandable - but now?

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  • 74. At 3:50pm on 18 Nov 2009, vainly_here wrote:

    Keith (73) It may surprise you to know that at least one person has read a book by Richard Dawkins and as a result believes in God.

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  • 75. At 3:53pm on 18 Nov 2009, vainly_here wrote:

    The other day I saw part of a service on the TV (something to do with those fallen in war) and I felt truly grateful for the Church of England.

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  • 76. At 4:04pm on 18 Nov 2009, Keith Maunder wrote:

    Vyle (74) Of course it would surprise me, but then I find it impossible to understand how anyone could believe in God. I, too, have read Dawkins, but he did not alter my beliefs as I was already an atheist.

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  • 77. At 4:19pm on 18 Nov 2009, Alan wrote:

    Should the BBC not reflect as much of the audience as possible?

    As a non-theist I can tolerate those that have a belief in supernatural forces but I do feel totally betrayed by the BBC when those that might want some evidence for the supernatural are disenfranchised.

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  • 78. At 4:31pm on 18 Nov 2009, davmcn wrote:

    nn 70, Learning from fairy tales isn't the same as learning from Bertrand Russell.

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  • 79. At 4:37pm on 18 Nov 2009, davmcn wrote:

    lv 63, Are you saying that Protestant isn't on the list? How about Jedi? A lot of people put that on the census questionnaire. Apparently, my wife's name isn't on the drop down list of names either.

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  • 80. At 4:47pm on 18 Nov 2009, davmcn wrote:

    lv 63, PS A nupdate: My wife tells me that the notes are handwritten, so no excuse for the non-Protestant thingy.

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  • 81. At 5:18pm on 18 Nov 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    dav@78: Good God (no pun intended) - does that mean you are actually agreeing with Moi?

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  • 82. At 5:37pm on 18 Nov 2009, Looternite wrote:

    #74. Vyle Hernia
    Please do not take the Prophet Dawkins's name in vein.

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  • 83. At 5:52pm on 18 Nov 2009, davmcn wrote:

    Ln 82, Is Dawkins the Prophet related to Nathan the Prophet here, better known as Lord Nathan?

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  • 84. At 6:18pm on 18 Nov 2009, Looternite wrote:

    83. At 5:52pm on 18 Nov 2009, davmcn
    The Prophet Dawkins was appointed by God to promote the truth about evolution.

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  • 85. At 7:52pm on 18 Nov 2009, Thruns_Guinneabottle wrote:

    Yes The word "Anachronistic" describes "Thought for the Day" exactly.
    The idea must date from a time when the wireless was intended to provide an uplifting experience and moral guidance for the plebs, and that a Christian sermon was just the instrument to do it with, even though for most of history, the sermons were delivered in a language none of them could understand. How uplifting that must have been.

    Today, we realise that radio is primarily entertainment, and instead of looking up to religious leaders, we now mostly despise them as pedlars of superstition and ignorance. I am heartened to read how many of the bloggers here are not merely atheist, but militantly, evangelistically so. Keep up the good work.

    I would not pick on Anne Atkins as peculiarly awful, though I may be wrong on this. For me, the really irritating speaker is the one who begins every sentence with an audible inrush of breath. It is clearly an affectation.

    This comment was previously number 68, which was removed by the moderators. It broke the House rules. I went on to say that I particularly disliked broadcasts for a particular religion, and then say why. I will not specify that religion, because being explicit was undoubtedly the reason for the referral to the moderators. This happened so quickly after I had written it, that I assume that some scanning software found key words which raised the alarm.

    So it is fine to write rudely about Anne Atkins (blog number 53 et seq)
    but do not write dispragingly about this particular other religion. I will leave the readers to guess which one.

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  • 86. At 8:02pm on 18 Nov 2009, 3Dots wrote:

    Why should we have non-religious input into TFTD? it is to show that we are not just vassals of some god, that we get through life making our own decisions and lving with our own successes and failures.

    For too long we have been putting down our success, failures and how we should act to gods and devils. We, as human beings, do amazing feats and acts of self-sacrifice some people do these things 'in the name of some god' but they are really doing it because they want to and can, human are amazing beings which is why are where we are now. We need to instill this this self-belief in people that they *can* succeed believing in themselves rather than putting everything into the hands of some fickle being that allows us to fail or succeed. We fail and succeed because sometimes life isn't fair and sometimes we just do great things...and once we realise that we do not need to believe in mythical beings and we do these things ourselves we may well move the human race and this world into a more enlightened time and a time when we do not blame the bad things on devils or gods.

    Let's be proud of doing things because we can not because we are allowed to.

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  • 87. At 8:31pm on 18 Nov 2009, nikki noodle wrote:

    @78 Dave: hmmm, let me think about that; learning is learning in my book. And it might be that the morals I draw from aesop's fables are as instructional as the learning from B Russell.

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  • 88. At 10:15pm on 18 Nov 2009, DoctorDolots wrote:

    29. nikki noodle - you can be on thought for the day any time!

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  • 89. At 10:22pm on 18 Nov 2009, DoctorDolots wrote:

    70. nikki noodle - since religion is rammed down everyone's throats at school and beyond, most people here will have already learned all there is to learn from religion, and moved on. They don't need a mini-sermon from a patronising expert on the afterlife [now there's a redundant occupation] every morning. Lionel Blue's voice makes me queasy.

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  • 90. At 10:23pm on 18 Nov 2009, John Stretch wrote:

    It's déjà-vu all over again. We had this debate in January. The secularists won every argument, but Mark Damazer blithely ignored them.

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  • 91. At 10:59pm on 18 Nov 2009, Thruns_Guinneabottle wrote:

    Good to see Bertrand Russell getting a word in. From beyond the grave.
    So here is a little gratuitous information about Bertrand Russell.

    Bertrand Russell was a great thinker, but he got an awful lot of things wrong. He developed logic in a twenty year effort, in the early years of the twentieth century, to place mathematics on a completely solid foundation. Then in the 1930s, the (by then) American logician, Godel showed that such a quest was futile. Whatever basis you try to develop mathematics from, it will always be incomplete.

    This seems not to have been the devastating blow to Russell that you would think it should have been, given his personal investment. But by now he had become a popular philosopher, with a lucrative line in lecture tours, especially in the USA. He preached free love and socialism, though to his credit, he did not think much of Soviet Russia.

    During both world wars, he was a pacifist, and spoke on public platforms against mobilisation.
    However, after the second war, he briefly advocated using nuclear weapons to attack the Soviet Union, before it acquired the technology and used it to threaten us (which in due course, it did). He then reverted to pacifism, and was active in CND, a movement which must, ironically, have encouraged the Soviets to believe that it could subdue the west by its own military might, untroubled by pacifist qualms. Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to see the Soviet Union collapse as a result of the west’s military strength (which the Soviet Union could not compete with), rather than as a result of the west’s disarmament. But this is another example where Russell was demonstrably wrong.

    In the last decade of his life, (his nineties) he came under the influence of his secretary, who manipulated the old man according to his own Trotskyist beliefs, and borrowed Russell’s name to promote his own agenda. It is likely that much of what Russell said and did during that decade was under the influence of this slimy Trotskyist.

    His personal life was characterised by utter selfishness, amassing and discarding several wives and lovers. It was enough to mess up the heads of his children, and his de-stabilising influence even affected his grand children, one of them publicly burning herself to death in a Cornish village.

    But he did get religion right. He grew up in the care of a pious Aunt, and grew to detest her religiosity and her religion. He read Spinoza at the age of fourteen, and became a lifelong unbeliever.

    All in all, I reckon Russell was a bit of a mixed bag. Even his disquisitions on science and philosophy are not much regarded today. It seems as if his enormous talents and energy (an incredible zest for work) all went off at half cock.

    At least he was an atheist, but then you don’t have to be a genius to see that religion is a tissue of lies, to be discounted at all times. Especially the particular time of ten to eight every morning..

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  • 92. At 09:49am on 19 Nov 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    Perhaps this is the appropriate thread for talk about National Philosphy Day?

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  • 93. At 09:50am on 19 Nov 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    ... or even Philosophy.

    I'll see your Bertrand Russell and raise you a Jean-Paul Sartre.

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  • 94. At 10:02am on 19 Nov 2009, davmcn wrote:

    nn 87, Sounds like sour grapes to me.

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  • 95. At 10:30am on 19 Nov 2009, davmcn wrote:

    Of course there is always Monty Python's Philosophers Song on youtube.

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  • 96. At 12:10pm on 19 Nov 2009, Thruns_Guinneabottle wrote:

    Big Sister,
    You can keep JPS. But I wouldn't mind a crack at S de B.

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  • 97. At 12:29pm on 19 Nov 2009, Nick Cook wrote:

    I’ve long thought, and indeed I’ve written to the BBC to suggest, that in the name of honesty ‘Thought for the Day’ should be renamed ‘Religious Thought for the Day’ if it is to stay as it is. However after listening to ‘Thought for the Day’ this morning (Thursday 19th Nov) with Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner I think today’s spot, in particular, should have also been preceded with an announcement, similar to certain other privileged broadcasts, of the form “there now follows religious group broadcast on behalf of the Jewish faith”.
    Today’s theme was “'Mitzvah' is a command to act” certainly seemed to me to be thinly veiled propaganda promoting Judaism as a wonderful caring faith that has concern for others built into it but I find it difficult to reconcile Laura’s charitable words with the reality of what is happening in Israel and the surrounding region in the name of Judaism; the wall, the land gabbing, the situation in Gaza etc. The message I see is that Israel will live in peace with their neighbours as long as they agree that what Israel does is right, because the Bible says so, although to be fair by no means all Jews/Israelis agree with this view. To put this into context, the Bible is a book that was written when the most advanced form of transport was the horse (or donkey) and cart and the most advanced warfare technology was probably the bow and arrow and the people who wrote it didn’t have the concept of electricity let alone how to make a nuclear power station etc. I’m not saying that there are not any perfectly valid moral values enshrined in Judaism, possibly most other religions too, but there is also a large amount of other ‘stuff’ which has no place in a world where we understand so much more than we did a couple hundred years ago, let alone 2,000, and most of these valid points would probably be supported by people of no faith any way. Accordingly if ‘Thought for the Day’ is to remain as it is could it please focus on thoughts for today, i.e. relevant to the 21st century, and avoid the promotion of religious faiths and ideologies. Alternatively non religious organisations should have an equal right of reply, after all non-believers in the UK outnumber many of the faiths (evidence suggests all but Christian) represented on this program, in many cases by more than 10 to 1.

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  • 98. At 1:31pm on 19 Nov 2009, Scotch Get wrote:


    I, too, listened to this morning's Thought for the Day.

    The lady did not mention the State of Israel. Not even once. Nary a hint.

    She did make the point that in Jewish law actions are at least as important as faith.

    In other words, don't only ask the Almighty to alleviate people's hunger, go and feed them.

    This is not "thinly veiled propaganda" This is the Law of Moses.

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  • 99. At 3:11pm on 19 Nov 2009, Thruns_Guinneabottle wrote:

    I was not paying attention to the lady rabbi, as is my wont. But as for the law of Moses (who he?), I prefer the law of Malthus. In the end, the human population will outstrip any provision of food you care to make. I believe that happened in Ethiopia. In the 1980s wealthy pop singers came out of their mansions to urge their rather less well heeled followers to cough up money to end the famine in Ethiopia.

    And now the spectre of famine hangs over that country again. The difference is that now there are twice as many mouths to feed. Go do as the lady bids you. Take them food. Let them live. Let them breed. In thirty years there will be twice as many hungry people again.

    All biological populations tend to increase exponentialy (ie 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 faster and faster) until they are constrained by their environment. The constraint is usually that they have gobbled up all the available food.

    If anything shows that we are not a species which has a special relationship with a benign creator, it is that we are experiencing just this same reckless increase as all other biological populations, and we shall ultimately exhaust our capacity to produce food. Then there will be a catastrophic collapse. I believe there are probably four billion too many humans on the planet for our own good.

    The trouble with this silly rabbi woman, and most religions, is that she thinks humans are special, and should be exempt from biological laws. In fact we are merely specially destructive. Unfortunately in our own selfish population growth, we are pushing every other species to extinction.

    Religion is not just nonsense. It is dangerous nonsense.

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  • 100. At 3:51pm on 19 Nov 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    Thruns@99: Some of what you say makes sense but: "I believe there are probably four billion too many humans on the planet for our own good."

    This came up not too long ago, same attitude different blogger but my response remains: what do you propose? Shooting the ones you don't like?

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  • 101. At 3:53pm on 19 Nov 2009, davmcn wrote:

    NC 97, I think the BBC should Bar Mitzvah.

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  • 102. At 5:27pm on 19 Nov 2009, Dan Hawcutt wrote:

    My problem with the Thought for the day in it's current format is that it fails a reversibility test. If there was a prime time slot for advocates with no-religious faith presented every day, saying how great atheism is and pointing out what a valid lifestyle choice it can be, with no religious equivalent or comeback, then there would (rightly) be an outcry. I can see no rational reason for not allowing members of the national secular society, humanists, druids, member of the church of the flying spaggetti monster, etc, to provide a "Thought".
    My problem is that although I am very aggravated by the decision, the rest of the Today program is sufficiently good that I will not turn over the station. Unless Anne Atkins is on.

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  • 103. At 5:59pm on 19 Nov 2009, Thruns_Guinneabottle wrote:

    Lady Sue,
    I am merely telling it like it is.
    What do I propose? By which you mean "Can we avoid the impending catastrophe?"
    My answer is probably not. It is too late.
    It may already be "Sauve qui peut". And in some cases it may involve some people shooting others in order to secure their resources. Even to secure water. Put like that, does "shooting" sound so preposterous?

    There are some actions which are positively UNhelpful. For many years after the war, "Food Security" used to be a policy of UK governments. Then we joined the Common Market, where very temporarily, there was a superabundance of food, and this policy was abandoned.
    We are now at the mercy of world markets, in which wealth, and its associated buying power is steadily transferring away from us to China and others to a lesser extent. Looking at Europe in isolation, I would have said, a few years ago, that instead of trying to increase food production to meet growing populations, Europe was in the happy position of experiencing a population which was likely to shrink towards a number which can be fed from sustainable levels of agriculture. And this was particularly true of Britain. The places where population growth was out of control was the perpetually hungry third world.

    Unfortunately, the forecast is now that, like the third world, the population of this country - already unable to feed itself from its own resources - is set to rise to even more unsustainable levels. The office of population statistics says seventy million in twenty years, and it will carry on growing beyond that (which they don't tell you). Apparently, all we have to do is create a new Birmingham every two years. So we will have an increasing poulation, but we will be taking Birmingham sized areas of land out of agriculture.

    How has this dramatic reversal of population decline come about? This is where the moderators sharpen their pencils, because we have erected laws and an entire morality which makes it very difficult to tell the truth here. But here goes anyway. About half of the increase will come from further immigration, and the other half will come from those immigrants who are already here, and have a higher fecundity than what we might call the native population.

    I have heard Government spokespersons say that they do not believe this statistic. Well this is so horrifying a prospect that they would say that, wouldn't they? The trouble with Governments and immigration, is that Governments have ALWAYS told lies about immigration. It is the only way they keep immigration off the political agenda to the extent that it does not yet decide general elections.

    But my concern with the UK, or even with Europe may be considered parochial. Elsewhere, the aid agencies are already scurrying from crisis to crisis, and that has an interesting effect in itself. Suppose that there is a famine in East Africa. Oxfam (or some such) appeals for funds and buys the necessary basic foodstuffs to distribute in East Africa to avert the famine. They have thus entered the global market for food, and were able, because of the appealed for funds, to increase the demand for food, whilst supply remains constant. Does this not tend to push up the price of food on the world market, taking it beyond the reach of those who, previously, could just afford to buy it.

    That is an amusing unintended consequence of food aid. The real pity is that no matter how hungry they get, their libido always semms to be tha last thing to suffer.

    This reply will probably NOT provide you with the optimistic solution you were looking for. So I will not also add my views on climate change.

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  • 104. At 01:34am on 20 Nov 2009, welshman76 wrote:

    After 43 years on this planet, my religious disposition is one of a practising Atheist. Every morning I get up and look forward to listening to the Today program. But find myself switching to good old Terry Wogan on Radio 2 once 'thought for the day' rears it's head. I switch over because of its religious bias. I have tried to listen to the 'Thought for the day', but find myself always getting annoyed that it is very 'one sided' with religious undertones to the monologue. It is very sad that there are a huge number of non-religious, insightful and eloquent commentators that cannot be allowed to give voice via 'Thought for the day'. It is very short sighted of the BBC. All I will say is I will continue to switch over to an alternative channel until the BBC relents on its policy. Judging by the vast majority of comments contained within this blog, I shall not be alone in boycotting this section of the programme.

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  • 105. At 09:09am on 20 Nov 2009, gcdavis wrote:

    Why atheists are so obsessed with Thought for the Day

    All religions claim to know the truth because in a variety of ways it was revealed to them by god. This motivates them to claim to have moral authority not just over their own followers but also over the rest of us. This may be of little consequence if their morality was based on natural humanist principles that we both shared, unfortunately it isn’t.

    Each religion brings to the table its own set of prejudices ranging from intolerance to bigotry as part of their moral authority. In Islam the killing of apostates and often of homosexuals and adulterers too along with the attitude towards women is sickening. The Catholic Church has been involved in an obscene attempt to cover up the abuse of children by its clergy and it would rather see millions of its congregation die of HIV/Aids in Africa rather than change its policy on contraception and the use of condoms. It has amassed a vast fortune and yet passes little of it on to the needy. Judaism maintains that it has a god given right to an area of the Middle East where others have lived for centuries and underpins the state terrorism that Israel has displayed in their recent destruction of Gaza.

    And yet religion is good for us.

    That the establishment is still in the thrall of religion is astonishing until you look a little closer, For the politicians it is their grovelling pursuit of votes that motivates them but for others it is the cosy familiarity of Bishops smothering us all with pious words and incantations of Gods love, But for the BBC an organisation that many of us are tremendously proud of, that has been the source of creativity and innovation for most of my lifetime to succumb to such intellectual and moral cowardice is deeply saddening.

    So the reason why this five minute slot in the midst of a three hour news program causes such controversy is that by excluding the atheist/humanist voice it is saying to us (who probably make up a large proportion of listeners) that you have no contribution to make. We will continue to give a platform to speakers who believe that their faith gives them an insight into the human condition and ignore the eminent and authoritative individuals waiting for the opportunity to offer their thought for the day; you atheists have no right to speak of such things because you have no god.

    That’s why we are angry!

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  • 106. At 10:23am on 20 Nov 2009, davmcn wrote:

    w76 104, What will you do when Wogan disappears?

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  • 107. At 12:24pm on 20 Nov 2009, Keith Maunder wrote:

    gcdavis - 105. A very well presented and reasoned submission. Well done. I agree entirely. I just hope the BBC will take notice. They should conduct a poll of their listeners.

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  • 108. At 5:00pm on 22 Nov 2009, Lord Nathan wrote:

    Thoughts for six decades...


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  • 109. At 7:04pm on 22 Nov 2009, Whisht wrote:

    it struck me that "thought" for the day is about just that. Not a "belief" of the day.

    The "thought" of a believer is as relevant as a thought by a non-believer - the value being in their intelligence and eloquence.

    Can we not just have a "thought" for the day, as the title suggests? As long as its intelligent, eloquent, provoking and compassionate I really don't care who its from.

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  • 110. At 7:10pm on 22 Nov 2009, Whisht wrote:

    I've seen it written that atheism is a 'belief' or 'faith' as much as a belief in a god is a 'belief' or 'faith'.

    I don't know if I agree or not, but does this mean that a King Charles would be a Defender of Faith for believers and non-believers in a god? Perhaps this would lead to both 'sides' feeling more comfortable, that they have a monarch defending them.

    or.... maybe not....

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  • 111. At 12:27pm on 23 Nov 2009, PJB_TT2 wrote:

    Should political parties be given air time? Although discredited, 'Ever expanding Economy Capitalism' and 'Communism' are both faith based religions with purported high morals and claimed general benefits. Both believe in personal sacrifice and due reward; 'Capitalists even believe in a resurrection as proof of concept.

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  • 112. At 2:12pm on 23 Nov 2009, Keith Maunder wrote:

    My thought for the day:

    I had my own "Thought for the Day" this morning, lying in bed, and it was about Religion. It suddenly came to me that if religion were to be regarded as a form of potential pollution we could view it from two vantage points. At its most innocuous it can be compared with garden compost; relatively harmless garden and kitchen waste which, if properly treated, can be beneficial and benign. At its worst it is comparable to poisonous chemical or nuclear waste - toxic and dangerous. The only difference is that normal pollution is absorbed into people's bodies and poisons them, whereas religion seeps into peoples' minds.

    At the Garden Compost level it could be the gentle, kindly beliefs of say Christians who believe in Christ's teachings (love thy neighbour, do unto others ..., forgiveness, love etc.) which do no harm and are mainly philosophical in nature and are the sign of a kind, and caring person. (Such beliefs, I would add, are not the sole prerogative of Christians and can equally be held by atheists, agnostics and those of other religions). At this level there is no problem, but as the religious beliefs become more fervent they can become incompatible with one-another, even when the "believers" believe in ostensibly the same deity, or set of deities, as in the case of Northern Ireland. The pollution can become even more destructive when different ideologies try to co-exist. Historical examples are numerous and include Hindus and Sikhs along the Indian/Pakistan boarder and Muslims and Christians in the Bosnian War.

    The problem is set to grow however. This due to two factors:
    1. The migration of the supporters of one religion into the territory of another. This is happening all over Western Europe with the influx of Muslims into a traditionally Christian environment.
    2. The steady movement towards a "Global Village" where differing religious views are not separated in the way they once were. Christians in America are exposed of the actions of Muslims in the Middle East, almost as if they were neighbours and Muslims are aware of the westernisation of their countries and communities by the influx of Western values; businesses, films and television.

    As we get away from the purely Philosophical acceptance of the more sensible teachings of religion we enter sinister territory. As beliefs become more dogmatic and founded on the blind acceptance of the teachings of religious texts, texts which were written in less enlightened times when our knowledge of the natural environment was extremely sketchy, we enter a world where reason plays a subservient role. At this point religion becomes dangerous and divisive. It is no longer there for the benefit of mankind as a whole, but only for the benefit of true believers. In short, it becomes toxic and corrosive and, beyond providing a crutch for people who can't survive without it, it serves only to create artificial barriers between peoples. The more "fundamentalist" people become in their beliefs, the greater the potential harm it creates. The influence of fundamentalist Christians, and the Jews in the USA (and the support for the Fundamentalist Jewish state in Israel) together with Britain's slavish and ill advised (some might say stupid) acceptance of America's lead, were the cause of the attack on on the World Trade Centre and the subsequent invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. The continued presence of the West in these two countries and our perceived support for Israel, perpetuates and exacerbates the risk of further terrorist attacks on the West (not the opposite as we are so often told by our political leaders). All this is brought about by a slavish acceptance of religious teachings, coupled with a deep suspicion of other religions. Not surprisingly these patterns of behaviour fuel the suspicion and hatred in the Muslim world and bolster the recruiting power of their fundamentalist elements.

    In my opinion all such beliefs should be kept, as far as possible, out of politics and out of public life. This includes the BBC.

    Imagine if, in contrast, we had not invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, but had instead sent in peace workers and financial aid to Afghanistan and tried to start a dialogue based on ethical principles of caring and understanding, how much better things might have been.

    Of course we have no alternative but to accept that some people find it impossible to live their lives without adopting some form of religion. I wish they didn't, but clearly some do. Moreover a proportion of these people clearly find it necessary to follow the fundamentalist route. That is they believe blindly in the more bizarre teachings of their particular faith. In Christianity this would include a belief in the Virgin Birth and that Jesus was literally the son of God sent down to earth to save our souls and that failure to follow Him would be a clear route to Hellfire and Damnation. It might also include a rejection of the theory of evolution. In Judaism it would include such things as a belief that the Jews are God's chosen people and that Palestine was given to them by God. It is beliefs like these that I would classify as Toxic Waste.

    Clearly we cannot stop people clinging on to what I, and many like me, would consider to be dangerous and corrosive beliefs. What exacerbates the problem, however, is to allow these these beliefs to be aired and supported in public. Like all forms of pollution, beliefs such as these should, as far as possible, be kept apart from the population as a whole and the more extreme they are, the more the the rest of us should be protected. In short we must cut down on pollution and foster a more forgiving and charitable approach.

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  • 113. At 07:26am on 26 Nov 2009, Thruns_Guinneabottle wrote:

    Keith Maunder

    I like the idea of religion as a form of intellectual pollution. Its rapid decline in our country must have begun at about the time that the "Clean Air Act" began to end the recurrent smogs which were the physical analogue of religious belief.

    The almost universal distaste for religion recorded in the comments on this blog would have been unimaginable much before the 1950s. So I view this sharp decline in religion since then as a very definite sign of human progress.

    It has, however, been a long time coming. The first faltering steps must have been the break with Rome - the Reformation - in the sixteenth century, and especially, the invention of the Church of England under Henry VIII. You might see this as the replacement of one evil by another. But the very fact that the Church was torn asunder, must have been the fissure which has subsequently weakened religion's grip on the human mind. This weakening is certainly true of the Protestant churches and of the Church of England in particular. Charles Darwin's struggle to escape from his religious upbringing has been widely celebrated this year. But would Darwin have been able to reject religion at all, if his own religion had been fortified by the more mindless certainties of the Catholic Church?

    So I see this slow start to the decline of religion and the rapid acceleration since the 1950s as an indication that the process might be exponential (to some extent) and lead to its imminent extinction. I remember my own optimism about this even as a child in the 1960s. In those days,I also mistakenly thought that behind the iron curtain, this wonderful outcome had already been achieved. The end of communism is to be celebrated, of course, but my pleasure at that is tempered by the resugence of religion (especially the old Orthodox Church). I find the come back of religion rather depressing.

    And you mention the other depressing development. Just as the Church in England experiences an all time low in Church attendances and in its national significance, our idiot politicians have arranged for the establishment of foreign religions in our midst, and particularly Islam. This seems like a huge reversal to human progress (in this country), especially as laws have even been enacted to give protection to Islam, although sneekily, these laws were expressed obliquely. Islam is a religion far more primitive and disagreeable than the Catholicism we escaped from nearly five centuries ago. And it has no redeeming features, such as art or music.

    Let us remember that the immigration which led to the establishment of this alien religion was itself opposed by the great majority of the electorate, and it was achieved by deception and trickery.

    This trickery still goes on today. It is not long since the Home Secretary tried to exclude the Dutchman, Geerd Wilders from this country. Why did she do that? Geerd Wilders' own country faces the same rise in Islam from immigration as our own. His solution is to outlaw Islam in the Netherlands. He upsets muslims. Moreover he is widely supported in his own country.

    Geerd Wilders is the way forward.
    We need him on "Thought for the day".
    I see him as a continuation of the religious dissent which started with Martin Luther

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  • 114. At 08:29am on 06 Apr 2010, Hughgbson wrote:

    As a regular R4 listner, Thought of the day is always a letdown. The BBC seems determined to maintain the secular Christian slot, in which case it should be "Sermon of the day". Such a pity other philosphical viewpoints cannot be aired too, like Spinona's Patheism, aspects of Buddism or any of the more interesting Greek philosophical viewpoints.
    For the first 20 seconds of "though of the day", the text is usually well written and thought-provoking. There is then a 2 second silence, followed by "Jesus tells us in....." at which point I am sure there is a county-wide groan throughout the land.. Pity we cannot keep the preaching to the Pulpits.

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