Tag Archives: Religion

Science and Reason

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Image result for universe images

Two words put together to convince us that the universe and all it contains relies on observable data. Through analysis of this information, we are supposed to come to a reasoned understanding of how things work and what they mean. Sounds reasonable and logical. Take raw data and arrive at unbiased conclusions based purely on what we see.

Problem is, at this juncture in human history, we have become so steeped in our cultures’ myths and legends that it is nearly impossible to come to a consensus that is reasonable. Add to that the general mental health of any population, various psychoses and just plain ignorance and you have the making of a hodge-podge lodge. We all live in a stew of our own making, a stew made up of every ingredient we find around the place from potatoes and carrots to licorice and peanut butter.

I say this because I am concerned. In an age when we have advanced scientifically and technologically, building on gathered information over the ages, we still act like superstitious ancients trying to appease whatever force may be out there that might harm us, while forcing others to join our cults of superstition and therefore, ignorance.

Fear breeds all kinds of phobias. I have battled mine my whole life long. When I left my corner of what we have come to know as organised religion, the powers-that-be sent me away to be psychologically analysed. I was diagnosed as having a rapid cycling bipolar condition after a week of 7 different experts evaluating me separately then together.

My superiors took the results and decided that my condition was not psychological but due to sin. My aim here is not to explain myself or gain sympathy and outrage. I have lived with the condition all my life as far as I know. It was good to put a name to what was happening to me. When I share this aspect of my life with people….not everyone, but you’re in….I get 2 reactions. The 1st is from those who don’t believe there is any such disease. The 2nd believe everyone has some form of depression or other mental illness and so I am just one of the broken mob.

If we all suffer, that means everyone from world leaders, politicians, doctors, preachers, CEOs and teachers to Sam the rubbish man is broken in some way or another and this brokenness runs the world, as far as human involvement is concerned. Scary eh?

Along with all the conspiracy theories, flat earth believers, corporations, moon landing deniers, religious fanatics and assorted psychopaths we are left with the rest of us. I try to remain optimistic about the rest of us, the few. But I may have to leave it to you because I can’t trust me not to absent myself from those who would dare to make things right in a world of unscientific pronouncements and unreasonable propositions.

Flat earth theorists are as adamant about being right as someone who says the universe is some 13 billion years old. We can believe what we want you see. Some just to be different. Some for 15 minutes of fame. Some not to give in to reasonable thinking. And some because they believe their deity has decreed it. A common bumper sticker in North America reads, ‘God said it, I believe it, That settles it.’ There is no arguing with that. Remember the poster in America during the War in Vietnam (yes, I’m showing my age)? ‘My country right or wrong.’

Once loyalties have been struck, not even evidence that refutes such bold statements means anything to the holders of beliefs of their own making. The world is what we make it, not what it is. We all do it because in the end, nobody has a clue what is really going on. We just make stuff up to suit our conditions, even the ones who consider themselves to be reasonable, scientifically minded people.

For millennia we have implanted our own morals and ethics into each other until most of what we come up with is conjecture at best, silly at worst. Quantum physics has given us a look into a universe we hardly recognise….if Quantum theories can be believed. What holds everything together? Is there a purpose to the universe? Is there any true meaning to it? Some keep looking for a Superstring theory that will knit it all together. Some give up or don’t bother with all that because they know the answer. ‘God said it, I believe it, that settles it.’

To question that would unravel the God theory piece by piece as it has over the last centuries. The defenders of faith are no different to the defenders of the flag, except at least you can see a flag. No one has ever seen this being that is supposed to rule the universe. But such belief in the human context is much stronger than doubt. And since we really can’t prove anything definitively, God lives on in the hearts and minds of avid believers just as there was once an idea called Rome.

I tend to live, as much as possible, like this is my last day on earth. As I write this, 3 lovely Springer Spaniels are sitting around me. They rely on us to look after them. They aren’t mine, they belong to good friends. Buster, the eldest of the Springers, was abused as a young dog. My friends rescued him and have given him a good home. Buster doesn’t trust males as a rule because one treated him so badly. But we have built a rapport over time. He trusts me. He is curled up beside me now. He is content. Doesn’t believe anything. Just wants to be treated with kindness. The other 2 are rescue dogs too. As long as they are fed, walked and have a safe place to rest, they are content. Good word that. Content. Happy is overused. Content is where it’s at.

Don’t get me wrong. Let’s keep searching to unlock the secrets of the universe, just not in an arrogant way where we have to be right and someone else wrong. Try to be content with what we have as long as there is food, shelter, places to walk safely and good companionship. Sound reasonable? I’m sure the universe can accommodate that. If it can’t, what’s the point? I know….kindness. I’m certain of it.

 

 

 

JAMES for PM

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I have met some real characters in my life. My best friend would tell you I’m one of them. Most of them I’ve got to know after spending time with them. My boat neighbours Eddie and Mimz are real characters, formed by the trials, tribulations, adventures and sensitivities their lives have led them to. My best friend is a character. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Except that she’s a character in a good way as are our boat neighbours.

We’ve all run across bad characters, sociopaths and even psychopaths. I have known a number of the former and a couple of the latter. Dangerous characters in so many ways, many of which are undetectable by normal characters. A normal character is a person who is crazy but has learned to curb the crazies and has great empathy for all the other crazies around them. We support each other rather than use each other….mostly.

I knew a man, a character par excellence, the mayor of a town I used to live in, who proposed that prozac ought to be put in the water system of our town to chill everyone out. Not a bad idea I thought at the time. He was a good politician because he told me of his plan in confidence, never making it a public statement. And, after all, most of the world relies on one drug or another to get them through the day. All I need is a small pork pie, a hunk of cheese, an apple and a glass of wine. And music.

I like rebels. Not destructive ones mind you. I like the kind that stand against the system when it has become lax, lazy, fat and even corrupt or just too big for its own hat. The rebels that I like in particular are the comic sort, the ones who tell it like it is but who also make us laugh while doing it. There are some clever clogs out there. Astute, funny, fearless types that make us think as well as laugh.

So, I was sitting with my best friend and neighbours Eddie and Mimz (she of marinagate and Cagney and Lacey fame) by their boat in Cassiobury Park a while ago enjoying a glass of wine in the sunshine, when two men walked by. As they passed, one of them turned sharply and called back to us, “Did you vote?” Stunned silence on our part. “Pardon?” Eddie asked. “Simple enough question mate. Did you vote?” My best friend and I indicated that we had. “Did you vote for Corbyn?” he asked. Silence on our part. Didn’t stop him from carrying on….”Well, if you didn’t, you should’ve.” he said.

“They’re all rubbish.” says Eddie, “All politicians. Liars, the lot of them. Don’t matter who’s in, they all promise the moon and give you nothing in the end.” Well, that set old James off. Back he trots with his friend in tow and begins a 4 hour tirade on the evils of the powers-that-be, the NHS (National Health Service), the invasion of foreign workers (with a tip to their industriousness over British workers), the lazy and disrespectful youth of Britain, foreign policy, the price of things, greed, sloth in general, the righteousness of Corbyn (the Labour Party leader who gave Theresa May and the Tories the fright of their life in the recent general election), the lack of justice….well, you get the idea.

He did it all in a machine gun verbal delivery that left us breathless and by hour 3 quite ready to do him in. But we didn’t. We listened politely and laughed at his take on things, which were, as I said earlier, quite humorous. At the end of each topical diatribe, he would end with, “And you know what they can all do with that? They can all f..k right off!” It became a theme. I’m no prude. I would have written the word fuck, but I felt it might be a smidge indelicate given the wide group of readers you’ve become.

And, I must say, most of what James had to say rang true with the 4 of us. His powers of observation dazzled us. He had that old kind of cockney wit that said it like it is and makes no apologies for it. Well stated, quite pithy in parts, great delivery and passion behind it all. I told him his talents were wasted. He ought to go down to Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park. He’d be a hit there. James said he would have to decline on the grounds that only old geezers with a grudge and religious nuts ended up there. “Besides,” he said, ” you’re not allowed to curse or swear. That’d do me in right there. And you mustn’t say anything against her Maj. Well, she can f…k right off with the rest of them.”

With all due respect to the Queen, James had a point. Really, what has she to do with his life on a daily basis? James relies entirely on the people around him to give him support, be trustworthy, keep him safe and feed him. James, you see, lives in a place that looks after those who have broken down mentally….at least as society sees it. Rather than deal with the growing number of people in Britain with mental issues, the government feigns doing something by coming out with pamphlets warning us to be aware of this or that mental condition and to seek help. They don’t say where or how long you have to wait to be seen. And, bless her, her Maj can’t do anything about it….or can she? Does she? If she does, James doesn’t know about it.

So, they can all just ‘F’ right off. Maybe James should be the Prime Minister and the Royal head of state all in one. Couldn’t do any worse and we’d all have a lot of laughs. Anyway, after 4 hours of James’s platform, he said his goodbyes. His mate, an Iraqi who came here a number of years ago to escape the madness in his own country and ended up going mad here, had gone 2 hours previously. He’s obviously had heard it all before from his mate. I wish them both well. I’d vote for James. And if you think I’m crazy too, you can just….well, you know.

The Truth Will Out

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The Truth Will Out

I have not always told the truth. I try. I really do. But every so often I find I have to make stuff up in order to amuse myself if no one else. It’s more imaginative fiction than truth-telling. Telling lies is in another realm altogether. We’ve all told them at times, some bigger than others. But lies they are. You know what I mean….paying compliments you don’t mean, why you can’t be at that function when you really can and so on. You know them all. We call them white lies. Doesn’t matter. The word lies doesn’t get removed. I’ve told some big ones too. Mostly to my parents (who are both gone and are not going to read this). As we all do. When I was 25 years old my mum was quite ill. I was in her room one day and she asked, with those pleading eyes that said I’d better be truthful, “Larry, have you ever kissed a girl? I’m serious. I want to know.” I said, “No mum.”

I have been known to embellish a story or two, here and there. Who hasn’t? The history books we used in school have been doing the same for centuries. Both heroes and villains have been made out of story enhancements. Legends arise from exaggerated tales of daring do and self-sacrifice. Most of the real heroes you’ll never read about. Hollywood is an enormous purveyor of taking real life stories and turning them into blown-up versions of the truth. Whenever they print ‘Based on a true story’ at the beginning of a movie, you know it means ‘We’ve stretched the truth to make a better story’….one they can sell. Watch ‘The Blind Side’ then read about the real man behind the story. He doesn’t like the way he was portrayed. Not really who he is, he says. Hollywood lies to tug at our heartstrings.

Once-upon-a-time I was a Christian missionary….back in my religious days….trying to convert Muslims to Jesus. Why? That’s what I thought I knew at the time. Before I went overseas, I had a Jewish boss at lace where I worked. When I told him I was leaving the business to become a missionary to muslims, he offered to support me financially. He hated Muslims so much that he was willing to back a Christian to save Muslims from Islam. That is the truth. No exaggeration. But I digress. One of my fellow missionaries and I got into an argument one time about American news broadcasts. She was from Philadelphia. She had said that all you get from Arab news transmissions were lies. I said all news services slant the news one way or another to suit their purposes, even in America. She shot back that all US news networks tell the truth because they were not allowed to lie. Fox News. I rest my case.

The man who tried to teach me Arabic at the mission centre, a former Syrian army major, told me the following joke:

A man died and went to heaven. As he sat waiting at the pearly gates, he noticed a tree over the way covered with bells instead of leaves. Every so often a bell would ring. Sometimes a couple at the same time. The man turned to St. Peter, who stood behind a podium in front of the gate ready to grant access to new arrivals, and asked what kind of tree this was and why the ringing bells. St. Peter told him this was the lying tree. Every time someone on earth told a lie, a bell would ring. Suddenly, the whole tree shook and every bell was clanging. The noise was deafening. “What on earth is that?” the man asked. “That was the Syrian News Broadcast” replied St. Peter. Brave joke from a Syrian about his own country.

Sales people have told me lies. Politicians certainly have. Friends lie to me sometimes and I have lied back. My kids have lied to me and I’ve told them a few porkies (Cockney rhyme….pork pies, lies) as well. I try not to, but sometimes it’s easier. I guess it goes back to getting our hands caught in the cookie jar. We’d rather lie or transfer the blame than accept what is and face the consequences. We don’t want to be in trouble, look bad or to be found wanting. We’d rather smooth over a tricky situation than complicate it further. No one really wants to hurt someone else’s feelings. So we lie. It’s a part of life. You’re a liar if you say it’s not.

I prefer imagining to lying. A good story told that tells the truth using fiction grabs me every time. It’s usually a good tale about good versus evil that works for me….Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or even one of Joseph Conrad’s books do a great job of it. The whole Harry Potter series is another contemporary example. Fanciful rather than trying to tell a real or a ‘true’ story. That’s the way to do it. The caption over my Blog page reads, ‘Where Reality Meets Imagination’. Where truth can actually be stranger than fiction, but fiction feeds reality. Besides, truth is in the mind of the beholder, just as with beauty. We interpret everything we see and do and experience. Our individual personality filters dictate the outcome of our thoughts and feelings.

I’m not talking about deliberate deception here. That’s a human trait that can have quite sinister results, unless you’re at war. But war is an entirely different subject and not one I care to engage at this point. Though war fascinates me, it mostly horrifies me. And the term ‘a just war’ is a lie too….in my opinion. There you go, you see. My truth is my opinion. And I don’t pretend to have all the facts of every situation and issue to know the truth about anything really.

So, imagine a world as John Lennon sang where none of the things that have created nastiness exists. See humour in the darkest places. Never take yourself too seriously but take everyone around you very seriously. Not everyone sees humour in dire situations. Not everyone can be funny for whatever reasons. Not everyone is who he and she says they are. Not everyone lets us be who we are. Guile is everywhere. Trust is hard to come by. But somewhere along the line, in the greater scheme of things, the truth will out. The truth, after all, is out there. Ain’t that the truth.