Hello world!

This is the blog of the manicstreetpreacher.  I am principally interested in the effects of religion upon world history and current affairs, but I also mix it up with non-religious issues.

My main inspirations are the “Four Horsemen”: Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris.

The content of this blog mainly comprises my thoughts on books and articles I have read, films, lectures and debates I have watched, and most importantly conversations and debates I have had.

Feel free to post on a thread and start a fight!

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8 Responses to “Hello world!”

  1. Rob Stroud Says:


    Hope you’re having a pleasant and constructive debate with Peter tonight that is not in the style of aggression and vitriol of much of the polemic we see surrounding the new atheism. I do prefer the more gentlemanly erudite kind of debate that has more light than heat!!



    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      Hi Rob

      The debate went really well. The film society filmed it and we will be putting it up on youtube once it’s all edited together. I’ll email you the links as soon as.

      People seemed to have enjoyed themselves and I got a lot out of it. As to the vitriolic polemic of the new atheists, I think this perhaps rubbed off on me a little(!), but it stayed within the bounds of robust, intelligent debate. Judge for yourself when the tape comes out.

      See you at LHG any time soon? We’re having a screening of the film “The God Who Wasn’t There” for our meeting next month and have a (hopefully!) fab new venue a few doors down from the usual place, The Vines, who have given us their private function room, so there won’t be as much noise from the main bar.

      All the best


  2. Steven Carr Says:

    ‘vitriolic polemic of the new atheists’?

    They are amateurs compared to the New Testament authors, who throw around phrases like ‘synagogue of Satan’, ‘dogs returning to their vomit’, ‘hypocrites’ , ‘vipers’, ‘fools’ as though it were the most natural thing in the world to call other people vile names.

  3. natalie Says:

    Hi Ed
    Marvellous to see you at the University on the 19th February – you were forceful but controlled, polite and precise! And your story about the bloke on the train, goes to show the dreadful impediment that religion can be to human relationships. adelante! (go forward in Spanish – or onward and upward., or something)

  4. Brian Says:

    Hi Ed,
    I saw you tonight at the Inter-faith dialogue debate- ‘vitriolic polemic of the new atheists’ sums it up just concisely!

    I have a prodding question that I did ask at the debate but which you seem to skirt and get bogged down on the details of an example (admittedly bad one) I used in the question. The question: ‘On the existence of God and the evidence from personal experience’. Now there is an argument that states that personal experience is just that- personal experience, and nothing more, i.e it has no significance to any other person beside the one who has experienced it. However there are numerous Christians whose life previously have been like high speed trains headed for the cliffs. Through a spiritual experience they are then hit by a colossal force that veers them off their ‘reckless path of certain destruction’ to one where they become constructive, positive members of society. This force they attest as God- and it might as well be, cause I have met 2 of these people who had been written off by society and family but had a total transformation after these experience. It is these personal individual experiences/ encounters that I feel Christianity is about.
    The question is: Why would you not accept this as strong evidence for the existence of God e.x for a man who was a wretched drunk- who has a spiritual encounter and immediately rectifies the wrongs in his life- and not drink again?
    Why does the atheist look only towards emperical, scientific (sometimes pseudo-science experiments and research) or logical evidence to answer a metaphysical question that transcends science and logic?

    The precursor above on personal experience is only an example of an alternative way of knowledge ( of course there are many other), the bible states: “by their fruit you shall KNOW them” i.e the Christians who have truly encountered Jesus.
    Why have scientific evidence and logic- just thinking- been exalted so much in atheism. This to me simplifies human existence as solely being something that can be explained by thoughts and science?

    I hope you could give this some thought now that you are away from the instant responses required from debate Q&A sessions- and kindly post or email me a response


  5. manicstreetpreacher Says:

    Hello Brian

    Apologies if I avoided your question on the night. The sound from the audience mikes was variable to say the least and I couldn’t resist the chance to give the vile Mother Teresa both barrels!

    My thoughts on religious experience are that if you are going to grant the good experiences, you have to concede the bad experiences. Just because a person has a vision of Jesus, the Virgin Mary or the archangel Gabriel does not mean that they are real and all visions of Mohammed, Krishna and Zeus are delusions. In all probability they are ALL delusions. The hard-wiring of human brain can easily produce such hallucinations in its never-ending search for patterns and meaning.

    The elderly gentleman who stood up and shared with us his experience of salvation in Jesus has no basis for claiming that his experience is grounded in any metaphysical or spiritual reality and therefore all similar life-affirming experiences from other religions should be filed in the drawer titled “mind-torched whack-job”.

    Once you grant this stuff, once you concede the first premise, you open the door wide open for people to dictate the lives of others purely on the specious assertion that they have a one-to-one with the creator of the universe and therefore have a hold over what food you can eat, who you can go to bed with and in what position and which hunk of desert on the Mediterranean you can and cannot live.

    What basis is there is say that the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe’s visions of Jesus ordering to murder his female victims women are less valid than someone who has JC telling them to come off drugs or stopping beating up their wife? If George W Bush was really ordered by God to invade Iraq, it’s a crying shame that the Almighty didn’t let slip the inconvenient fact that there would be no weapons of mass destruction lurking there.

    The God Hypothesis fails on every count because there are no observable consequences of it. Religious people ought to cleverer, more successful and happier than atheists, but there is no evidence for that and quite a lot of evidence against. I would have thought at the very least my antagonists on the night who claimed to have a hotline to the big guy in the sky would have better things to do than argue in front of a bunch of students

    I agree with Sam Harris’ assessment of “spiritual” and “mystical” experience in the penultimate chapter of The End of Faith. There is a range of human experience that is usually the exclusive property of religions, which science is only just coming to terms with. A person can go into a cave for a year, practice meditation, have the most awesomely powerful experience of their lives and emerge as a different person, but that doesn’t mean that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin and rose from the dead three days after being nailed across two planks of wood. These experiences can be understood at the level of neurology, but there doesn’t have to be anything supernatural about them. This is an area that has been too long neglected by science and I hope that the tide is changing.



  6. openlyatheist Says:

    You were in a debate, manic? Lemmie see! 🙂

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      Actually, it’s more “listen” than “see”.

      For Premier Christian Radio’s Unbelievable? I debated Christianity theologian Andy Bannister on the historicity of the Gospels and the morality of the New Testament. You can download the podcasts on my afterthought post here. Make sure you read everything as I unmask my opponent’s flagrant dishonesty and misuse of sources, not to mention his highly edifying reply.

      A few weeks later, I debate Prof Meic Pearse on the causes on global conflict. There’s no accompanying post yet, but the podcast is here.

      I debated Christian apologist Peter S Williams at Liverpool University on “Does the Christian God exist?”. It was videotaped by the film society, but the reels have never seen the light of a projector. Read my afterthought pieces on the debate and Williams’ previous books and public speaking here, here and here.

      A few weeks later I spoke at an Islamic Society hosted event again at Liverpool Uni. Never again! Read my afterthought piece and open letter to the Jewish speaker. Slavery is a mistranslation of the KJV my foot!

      I also debated Pastor David Robertson, author of The Dawkins Letters for Premier, along with convert to Christianity, Richard Morgan. See my post. The first debate made it onto the Dawkins’ website and the Dawk himself commented that I was most certainly not boring! 😮

      Finally, I asked a question at Dawkins’ and A C Grayling’s debate on atheism as fundamentalism if you scroll down to the tape on my afterthought piece.



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