On this date in 1951, English-born stand-up comedian, writer, playwright, secularist and atheist Patrick Condell was born. Born into an Irish Catholic family living in South London, Condell was educated in the Church of England schools, where he was treated differently from the other children. "I found myself segregated in assembly and shunted into another room while everyone said their morning prayers. I didn't mind. The whole pantomime seemed hollow to me even then. Once you become aware of the gulf between what people profess to believe and how they actually behave, it's hard to take any of it seriously" (Time Out London, magazine interview, 2006). Working various jobs, including six years in Canada as a logger, Condell started performing stand-up comedy on the London Alternative Comedy circuit in the 1980s. In 1991, he performed with the Cutting Edge Team at The Comedy Store, winning the "Time Out Comedy Award" that year. Between 1991 and 1994, Condell was a regular panelist on BBC Radio 1's "Loose Talk," as well as continuing to perform between 200 and 300 gigs around Great Britain. Feeling the need for a break, Condell began writing for other people, as well as writing some plays. In 2006, Condell performed a stand-up show entitled "Faith, Hope and Sanity: A Few Jokes About Religion Before It Kills Us All," a comedic vehicle for his nonbelief.
"I set out to write a show in order to say something, rather than just as a vehicle for stand-up. It seems to me that fundamentalist Christians, jihadist Muslims and settlement-building Jews are causing more than their share of trouble in the world. World events are being driven by people with apocalyptic delusions, while here in Britain a paralyzing liberal guilt allows religious bigots to use intimidation and violence to stamp out free speech. If you can't get laughs out of all that, you can't get them out of anything" ("Time Out London," interview 2006). In a 2007 presentation at the Beyond Belief symposium, Sir Harold Kroto, recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, used one of Condell's YouTube videos, in which he was "trying to find something good to say about the three major religions." Condell has two video sites where he has posted 39 proatheist/antireligious monologs, tallying up to 8 million hits. Condell's "The Trouble With Islam," has reached over two million hits on the worldwide web, proving "there is an enthusiastic audience for comedy ideas and opinions which are routinely censored out of existence in the UK's mainstream media, thanks to misguided political correctness," Condell has said (The Freethinker, Feb. 27, 2008). Condell concedes: "I admire anyone who's genuinely trying to achieve spiritual enlightenment and live a peaceful life. But religious dogma is a barrier to that. The last thing a dogmatist wants is for anyone to be enlightened, any more than a pharmaceutical company wants anybody cured" ("Time Out London," interview 2006). Asked what we can do to resist the growing influence of religion, Condell responded: "Use their tactics if you feel strongly enough. Make a nuisance of yourself. Make an official complaint. Take it to a tribunal. As an atheist you're part of a minority whose beliefs are constantly ignored and marginalised while religious prejudice is pandered to and encouraged, and you have every right to be offended by that . . . Remember, one person on their own can't do much, but a million people each doing a little every day can change things very quickly" (An Interview with Pat Condell, The Freethinker, Feb. 27, 2008).
“Religion disapproves of original thought the way Dracula does sunlight.”
—Pat Condell website: www.patcondell.net
Compiled by Jane Esbensen
© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.
Sir Hermann Bondi
On this date in 1919, Hermann Bondi (later knighted in 1973) was born in Vienna, Austria. He graduated from Trinity College with a degree in mathematics in 1940. Bondi worked as a university lecturer at Cambridge University from 1945 to 1948, a professor of mathematics at King’s College from 1954 to 1971, and master of Churchill College in Cambridge from 1983 to 1990.
Bondi was an astronomer, mathematician and cosmologist who is renowned for his studies of relativity and black holes. He was one of the developers of the steady-state theory of the universe, which proposes that matter is constantly being created and that the universe had no beginning in time. (The steady-state theory has since been replaced with the big-bang theory.) Bondi discovered the Bondi Accretion, the Bondi Radius and Bondi mass. His books include Cosmology (1952), The Universe at Large (1961), and his autobiography, Science, Churchill and Me (1990). He was also the director of the European Space Research Organisation from 1967 to 1971, and the Chief Scientific Adviser for England’s Ministry of Defence from 1971 to 1977. He married Christine Stockman, a fellow physicist and humanist, in 1947, and has two sons and three daughters.
Although his family was Jewish, Bondi was a strong humanist who never “felt the need for religion,” according to a Sept. 13, 2005 Telegraph article. Bondi co-founded the British Humanist Association and served as its president from 1982 to 1999, and was president of the Rationalist Press Association from 1982 until 2005. According to a Sept. 23, 2005 letter in The Guardian, Bondi donated half of the money from a large award he received to the Atheist Centre in Andra Pradesh, India. D. 2005
“Our humanist attitude should therefore throughout be to stress what we all have in common with each other and relegate quarrelsome religion to the private domain where it can do [less] harm.”
—Hermann Bondi, April 1995, speech titled “Ethics, Science and Humanism” (quoted on the International Humanist and Ethical Union website, June 1, 1995).
Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor
© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.