Paris Award

Talks, Articles 




Articles & Talks


Precis is talk given on the question:

"Why is there something rather than nothing?"


Collected Poems


Who's Who entry for God

Lecture to the Ethical Society, 13 January 2008

Foreword to   'Our Pagan Christmas' 



In  25 May 2006 Barbara Smoker  took part in the Oxford University Union Debate on the motion that

"Free Speech should be moderated by respect for religion". 


Why I Am An Atheist

(First recorded on the BBC in June 1985)



The Sin of Obedience


Quotations -

'About Barbara Smoker' in

Women Without Supersititon: "No Gods, No Masters"



Death of the Pope's Pet Gorilla

BARBARA SMOKER digs up an old Vatican gangster


So You Believe in God?

First written in 1974 and still distributed by the NSS






B u t t e r i n g  U p  t h e  M u s l i m  V o t e


probes the terrorist mind-set

and puts the Mohammed cartoons in perspective (2/2006)

  •  The Political Limits of Free Speech
  • Animal Welfare and Halal
  • The Fate of Free Speech in BritishUniversities
  • Political (Parliamentary) Appeasement 2005/6
  • Mixed Messages
  • The Cartoons 






Paris Award

Talks, Articles 





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'Lost' my faith? Not me!

A contributor to the NSS website who recently complained of the way he was often described in the media as having 'lost' the faith he was born into, asked for a stronger word. I replied,

 "We atheists have definitely not 'lost' our immature beliefs: we have outgrown them, confronted them, retracted them, spurned them, vetoed them, shaken them off, abrogated them, repudiated them, quashed them, shed them, rebuffed them, overcome them, invalidated them, abandoned them, rescinded them, expelled them, scrapped them, dropped them, discarded them, renounced them, rejected them, cast them off, disowned them, disdained them, ditched them, overturned them, dispensed with them, dumped them, remedied them, counteracted them, rectified them, overhauled them, transformed them, modernised them, replaced them, survived them, regurgitated them, even 
abjured them... Just a few suggestions."

Barbara Smoker

From the Ethical Record – Journal of the South Place Ethical Society - October 2012


'Who's Who' -  entry for God


Age: eternal. The generic personal name signifies that God is the One True God -- though some devotees obfuscate "One" as Three-in-One. Paradoxically, he (an honorary male) is a self-confessed "jealous god".

Nevertheless, for the sake of company, and to boost his self-esteem, he created lesser spirits programmed to form a celestial choir and sing his praises in perpetuity.

However, for divertisement and sheer devilment, he allowed one of them to rebel against him and become the Prince of Darkness.

Even so, eternity hung heavily on God till he thought up the beguiling pursuit of physics. So he inaugurated the "laws of nature" together with space, time, and matter. A big bang, and the first wave/particle became an expanding universe.

On one small planet of a nondescript sun in an inconspicuous galaxy, he conjured up creatures with evolving consciousness, to a level where they can amuse him with speculations as to his existence and attributes.

Recreation: Devising local disasters (known as "acts of God") -- thus testing the tenacity of belief in his benevolence, in spite of the overwhelming evidence against it.

Address: Everywhere.










'Freewill v Determinism'


Opposing Hume's deterministic view,

Freewill for humankind did Kant infer

To justify God's ire when people err.

Which view is true? Has Hume or Kant won through?

While we may choose to do what we prefer,

We cannot choose what we prefer to do.


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Living Relay

In this, the only world we know,

as people come so people go.

Not one alive was living when

Charles Dickens held a restless pen,
yet, as a child, I met a man
who'd known him. Such a living span
takes only two: if six we link ...
then Shakespeare dips a quill in ink.

If twenty-one? Mohammed gives
to scribes a screed, through which he lives.
Choose thirty ... join the multitude
for which Christ Jesus conjures food;
on thirty-six, with Plato feast;
two more for sages of the East.

Count forty-three ... hear Homer tell

the Trojan tale he'd heard as well.
One hundred, say ... salute the day
when writing starts, with signs on clay.
Two thousand ... and we're face to face
with founders of the human race.

Yes, each has been and each has gone; yet ... each a torch has handed on.


Barbara Smoker

This poem (probably the only one ever written with the aid of a calculator) won a prize in the Literary Review monthly competition, but has never appeared elsewhere.

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National anthem

There have been many appeals recently for a new British national anthem, the belligerent xenophobia of the present wording being increasingly at odds with modern sentiment.

The most widespread proposal is Blake's "Jerusalem", which certainly has a better tune - but, again, the words are far from ideal: it is exclusively English; the opening verse is based on a silly Christian legend; and "dark satanic mills" are happily a thing of the past. Anyway, changing the tune of a national anthem only leads to confusion - especially in the Olympic Games - so we really are stuck with the traditional tune, however unloved; but not with the words.

I would therefore suggest a new lyric to fit the old tune. Here is my own stab at it.     (Sing it, to get the rhythm.) Can any reader improve on it?

Britannia's people, we,
Bound to her rule, yet free,
Since it is just.
Newcome or British-born,
Great Britain is our home,
Her human rights our own -
Hold them in trust.

Yes, it is a bit over-stated, but that is in the very nature of patriotic anthems.

I would not, of course, expect it to be adopted officially overnight.

However, on the evolutionary principle, when a new alternative to

some outworn usage becomes available, the better often - gradually -

ousts the worse.



A pope conferred on Henry Eighth

The style "Defender of the Faith".

On his accession, Charles the Third

Struck out the "the". (Explicit word.)

So now all cultures worship share,

Reciting unspecific prayer.

Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews-

One's private doctrines each may choose.


Thus: Paradise? Reincarnation?

Universal Affirmation

Leaves the details up to you.

Select your end -- or blend the two.


Theology is out of date;

There's no more argument, no hate.

Now only atheists demur -

And even they the truce prefer.



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Paris Award