What Christians believe about evolution and the supposed naivety of atheists

This is well worth reading re that Observer article claiming atheists stupidly think Christians are creationists.


It is understandable that Christian commentators want to denigrate atheists. A common tactic is to claim that atheists think that most Christians are Biblical literalists and thus only criticise fundamentalist and literalist religion. The atheist is thus painted as naive, not very thoughtful and a bit ignorant. The tactic also implies that atheists have not managed to produce significant critiques of liberal religious theology.

This is mostly wrong; atheists are well aware of liberal theology, and nowadays most New Atheistic critiques address liberal theology (literalist theology is simply not a worthwhile target any more; I can’t think of anyone bothering since Tom Paine’s Age of Reason, as long ago as 1807).

But, Christians like to think otherwise, as exemplified by an article this Sunday in The Observer by “leading Catholic commentator” Catherine Pepinster.

The article is summarised by her Tweet:

The article itself states that:

According to the…

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What is the Community Quiet Zone?

What is The Community Quiet Zone?

This is an initiative involving Regent Street and Denmark Street in Oxford OX4. The aim is to effect a change of culture that will help make these vibrant streets a cleaner, greener and more pleasant place to live.

Current issues

These streets contain very high-density accommodation, with up to 11 people occupying just one terraced house. This has contributed to some social problems, including:

Noise and ASB (anti-social behaviour) problems

Regent Street has 42 houses yet is home to 165 students (20 more than will live in the new St Clements Student Hall of Residence, which has an on site full-time warden, night foot patrols, CCTV, a declared “zero tolerance” policy on noise, and requires permits for parties).

Many of the student residents are well-behaved and considerate. However, there is a perception among a minority of students arriving each year that Regent Street in particular is a “party zone” in which regular late night noise, drunken behaviour, etc. are the acceptable norm. See our street diary from last year to get an impression of noise and ASB problems.

Houses are often passed on each year by e.g. the members of sports clubs, some of whom demonstrate a sense of entitlement to behave in ways that cause families, workers, and other students living in these streets immense stress.

This is a culture we would like to change.

Waste management, etc.

High-density short-term letting results in a yearly turnover of residents who have little awareness of and often little interest in maintaining a clean and tidy environment. The council has expended considerable resources, particularly since the beginning of this academic year, on encouraging residents to put out their waste in appropriate bins and in a timely fashion. This has had a positive effect but has been very expensive and time-consuming to maintain.

The yearly cycle

The above problems are cyclical, and exist almost entirely in term time (see our street diary to confirm).

This cycle of problems, followed by reactive measures from council, police, Universities, etc. repeats from scratch each year.

The CQZ proposal – changing the culture

This is a pilot project for this small, vibrant community. The proposal is to brand these two streets a Community Quiet Zone or CQZ. The zone will strongly encourage people to rent within the CQZ if they are interested in living in an area that is comparatively peaceful, tidy, and well maintained. The zone will seek to attract tenants for whom mutual respect between residents, and concern for other residents, is a priority.

The first stage involves erecting streets signs designating the area a CQZ and getting the various stakeholder institutions to back the idea – in particular the police, the City Council, the local MP, and the Universities. Initiatives to raise awareness about the zone will be introduced (e.g. encouraging letting agents, the Universities and so on raise awareness about this positive change to the character of this area.)

The second stage involves the stakeholders brainstorming and collectively implementing ideas on how to make other changes, including possible physical changes, to the streets to improve waste management, safety and security, to further change perceptions, and so on.

Note the CQZ proposal is an entirely positive initiative.

The CQZ is also pro-active rather than reactive. Reactive measures in the forms of house visits, fines, other disciplinary action, and so on, while appreciated, have had limited effect, always come too late, and need to be endlessly repeated again from scratch each year as each cohort of students is replaced by the next.

The CQZ idea is to change the culture even before new residents arrive, so that fewer reactive, punitive measures will be necessary.

The CQZ does not involve introducing yet more threats, fines, and other punitive measures currently employed by the various agencies. Rather, it offers an attractive carrot that can be placed alongside such existing sticks.

We believe many students and others will be drawn to living in a community for which mutual respect a cleaner, greener and comparatively peaceful environment is a priority.