The Essential Atheism

There are many reasons for people being agnostic and / or atheist. I actually quite like the Gnostic way of thinking thought it was seen as a heresy by the early Christian church and believers were hunted down and killed. Nice.

But in the main by atheism is heavily reliant upon what religions tell me their god is, because it is obvious such a god cannot exist. That a god may exist in a metaphysical sense cannot be disproven or proven,  but when people start to tell you what god is, that is when their foolishness becomes evident.

If you believe god is all powerful and all good, you are wrong. No all powerful, all good god could make it a principle of nature that life feed upon life, with all the bloodshed, pain, sorrow and death that such a principle necessarily embraces. And this is one of hundreds of flaws in the arguments of those who presume to describe what god is and what god thinks. If you are going to believe in a  god, stop making it into a religion. That is your big mistake.

Angels And Devils

We cannot go as far back as the first intellectual discussions human beings had about the world, but as far back as we are able to go we find reflected in our beliefs the dichotomy between good things happening and bad things happening. Born from the experience of everyday living and from the observation that luck exists, that some people survive  and some do not with no discernible reason why one is chosen over another. This is an observation still relevant today.

The idea that the good things and the bad things are presided over by some agency with greater powers to guide events is a logical step and therefore the first gods like Moloch needed to be appeased. And so we see the beginnings of the whole idea that human beings have no power, a principle which science challenges by telling us that what we really lack is knowledge. We all know today that burning a baby in front of a stone statue will not help us one whit with anything, but we still know there are good things and bad things that can happen with seemingly no logic.

The reason it still persists is the idea of self – we all live inside our heads and have a very clear idea of self – but nature does not. Just as we can kill a cow and eat it and say ‘there’s another one over there’ so it makes no difference to nature and  so nature can kill one person and still know there are others ‘over there’.

Nature knows us only as a species, not as individuals.

This Mobile Living

There is a scene in the book ‘How Green Was My Valley’ (I believe) in which the protagonist walks with a  girl from another village and gets home late to find his male relatives sitting with their boots on waiting for trouble. The reason being that the girl comes from the next valley and they expect her menfolk to be after a fight to teach them a lesson for touching their women.

We live in a world where ‘globalisation’ may actually mean something, and yes it may generally be bad, but it is the first time in history we can look to visiting everywhere if we have the money. But there is that tension about the next valley still in our veins. There is that feeling that for all the harmonisation the county , State, province next to ours is different. We can go all over the world working but we may not stay in the countries other than ours without feeling we are alien to the culture.

And the reason for this is because we are educated into a narrow view of culture. In fact none of us should point fingers but all of us should know that we, being human, have been and are on a journey in which all cultures our our human heritage. My fellow humans sacrificed children to gods, built the pyramids, conquered empires, enslaved each other and created poverty. My fellow humans are today fighting to the death in unnecessary wars.

This planet is our inheritance and fighting over it as we do will only leave us poorer. To be truly intellectual we have to be wholly ethical because it is where we are the same, in the being human, that we are bonded together.

Lions And Lambs

I am surprised that people universally seem to think animals are stupid. I am sure this is to do with the fact that we have an immeasurable sense of our importance – we have created religions in which we are just off centre of most important beings in the Universe (we have to put god there first, sadly) and we seem think the world has been put here for our pleasure.

Then we go about overlying a synthetic value system (economics) upon a valued system (nature) and proceed to destroy so much that now we argue about what can be saved. We talk endlessly about the possibility we may destroy ourselves before we find out all there is to know about the universe, we are so mindless we have to have leaders because we could never govern ourselves and all the time we denigrate animals.

I am not sure of course but I think the Earth would continue to thrive without human beings, and all the animals would continue on their merry way and prosper without human beings too. The only benefit to nature in having an animal that can build vessels that will leave the planet is to save the nature that has evolved on this planet once it falls into the sun. What a shame to have made that animal so ignorant all it will take with it is what it can eat.

And what it needs to seed new worlds but if we ever find a planet like Earth we won’t bother to take anything. Now that’s thick.

Seasons

As everyone knows by now winter has come early to the UK and far from me at the moment, people are struggling to get through the snow and ice to school and work. In the old days when communities were communities, people just closed the front door and gathered around a fire and kept warm eating, singing and fighting. With the dawn of the nuclear family and family members living far from each other, work is a better alternative.

There is no place for seasons now, our seasons are unified throughout the year and depends upon doing much the same thing every week and every day, even our holiday destinations have become earmarked and traditional. There is no way to find that secluded beach on a balmy shore without owning it. Well there is but you have to be ‘in the know’.

Weather, far from being something to enjoin, has become something we fight, too much sun or too much snow, they are antipathetic to what we want to do which is to go to work. Except of course for the rich who own the seasons, have all the clothes for them and find they can have winter or summer whenever they feel like it.

We are all rich on this planet, just some don’t have much money. The changing seasons should bring about a change in mood and effort but no longer do. That is our loss.

After The Rain

I know people in the USA have had severe hurricanes the past week and usually when it hits the East Coast,  bad storms sweep across Cornwall, and sure enough we had some  wild weather with masses of rain; to be expected at the tail end of autumn. It cleans the trees and brings down the last of the leaves ready for winter.

The hill on which I live is left a mess of mud, leaves and twigs and even the odd branch.  It all turns to a mush and as people like walking this hill they have to skip some places if they are not wearing the right shoes. Several years ago they sent a mechanised road sweeper up and down the road and it looked lovely and I smiled as it was back to normal within three days.

I have often worried how people come down from cities into the countryside and start to want there to be less cows’ mess, less smelly manure put on fields, fewer dirty clothed farmers walking into the local shop to buy lunch, and above all dogs that do not mess the roads. They are the same people who drive the roads like maniacs and don’t want to give way to horse riders.

Nature is a very messy yet beautiful system. In the mud after the rain there are worms to be saved, and bluebells washed out of the hedges to be planted.  Above all the next season of mess is lying low in the cold ready to grieve those who don’t care for them next year.

When It Is Too Late

There has always been much discussion about forgiveness. Even when people come down on the side of being unforgiving they usually do so from a deep sense of injustice or hurt and see the lack of forgiveness as justice. After all countries are appallingly bad at forgiveness which is why they go to war so readily. But then you cannot institutionalise forgiveness, can you?

Some laws are written to set a standard after which someone is deemed to have ‘served’ a term punishment. But just because they have been imprisoned and set free does not mean the State has forgiven them. Penalties are not there for someone to redeem themselves, that is done, if at all, on a wholly different level.

Because to be forgiven you have to learn to forgive, you have to be a person capable of seeing not only what you have done but what others do and to understand why they do so. Redemption is not about a god dying on a cross or about you dying to yourself and being reborn, it is about what these things represent: realisation. Understanding that a selfless world does not exist and will not exist until human beings create it, which is our supreme challenge.

It is probable that we need to evolve into such a world and not make it because our ‘nature’ will not permit our reason to override it. But I wonder if future generations could forgive us our laxity and selfishness and I wonder how many of us are sophisticated thinkers enough to care whether they do or not.

Area Code

It is strange to think that the United Kingdom, with thousands of miles of coast and sea view properties, has given an postal area code to every inch of sea. Almost as strange as through International treaty having three miles of the Atlantic all the way round as a buffer zone in which everything becomes governed by UK Law. I wonder if the currents think about that.

For all our thin layer of control it is at once frightening and comforting that nature take absolutely no notice of us at all. Nature is such an almighty power that we are to her as, playthings who can upset her, endanger parts of her but do absolutely nothing substantive to alter her courses. We cannot dig a trench deep enough or a damn high enough to truly be masters.

And this is comforting when you think of all the men and women who try to be masters of other men and women. When you think how egoistical power makes people and the character types who pursue power with all their might and cunning. Just Canute’s unable to make nature bow by an inch to their will.

When human beings finally stop trying to own everything and realise they are wholly owned by nature, a little bit of wisdom might penetrate our sordid and destitute civilisation.

Terror

The terror in Western history is associated with the time in the French Revolution when the guillotine was used to murder around a thousand people. But terror has a far longer and more unsavoury history in human society. It has been a determinate for change and one of the factors behind our need for Community.

To be a naked human being alone in this world is to be one of the most vulnerable animals on the face of the Earth with no sharp teeth, no claws and no skills that give us mastery of one particular environment. It’s a strange place for any animal to have evolved into, unless early on to protect itself it had other avenues available to it, and we had each other and brains that were slowly manipulating the world around us.

But a vast amount of the those tools we made are, were and will be, weapons. It is testament to the difficult Universe in which we live that we can be killed so easily. Even many clothes are merely protection from the elements, and shoes protect one of the most vulnerable and yet useful parts of our motive system. To be so weak in the face of such strength from other life, must have instilled wariness, caution and justifiable fear into all of us.

And yet we have become the most fearsome animal of all, and our terror today lies in the fear we have for each other. Fear that become hatred. In the past we have dealt with animals we do not like by taking them to extinction. We would do well to remember that is our default position, when considering with whom we are enemies.

The View

You know it well of course, you look over a house and one of the first things you look at is the view from the windows. It is deeply within us to look out, like our ancestors crossing vast stretches of tundra, we look not only to see what is around us but also simply to look. We are used to seeing.

I know we all assume it is mostly because we need to see what may be threats, as castles have been built in the places from which they can see most of the land around. But we have become in doing this, used to views. Views which simple take your breath away, the vastness, depth and beauty of nature not just at your feet but set out before you as if to entice and compel you to view yourself.

There is a beautiful place in Cornwall, one of many, where you can stand when the tide in, on the flat, huge rocks. Behind you is over one hundred metres of sheer cliff. In front of you is the Atlantic Ocean.  Very few people dare to stand on those rocks or even know you can and the feeling of nature’s strength and our own tininess is inescapable.

I think people living in cities are suffering from a  claustrophobia they don’t even realise.

Dr Doolittle

I was a reader, and still am a fan, of Hugh Lofting’s Dr Doolittle books. Apart from the sheer fun of using giant moths to fly to the moon and huge snails to cross the seabed, I just liked the idea of being able to talk to animals. It’s an idea that has followed me most of my life especially with my dogs who do talk to me in their way, mostly with body language and those long stares when brown eyes remind me the door is closed and they need to go out.

That animals have a language of calls and with Whales even a deeper language, I have no doubt just as I am pretty sure most of what they talk about is the horror of human kind. They don’t have a philosophy but then, maybe not having one is also having one – as is the way of philosophies. I am sure though a lot of the fear animals show us it not ‘natural’ but learned. Just as the Dodo was no match for human predation because it did not know it had to be scared, so animals that know humans fear them.

Which is why, of course, those we are kind to, show less fear than those to whom we are unkind. But in this, like everything else, my experience of the world is a direct result of everyone else’s actions. Animals fear me just as much as they fear the hunter.

The Storm Will Pass

I am told over in the USA some States are into their season of storms and with the usual trained expectations of the populace people are preparing. Although most people will just put up the shutters and tidy the garden afterwards, around the world and through history people have faced storm, flood, eruption and plague and tried to piece their lives together afterwards.

This year the last of the living British soldiers from World War One died. Throughout my life I have always wondered why we have no commemoration to the dead from the Napoleonic Era, a time when England lost one half of its male population over a decade or so. A far larger percent than was lost in World War One though not as large a number. But had we remembered maybe other wars would not have happened.

We are very good at preparing for what we know but we often forget from one generation to the next, we are not as good at remembrance as we should be because we always think we have got it under better control. That past generations were more ‘backward’ than we.

The real problem for people is that experience becomes a story, and a story becomes an embellished tale and before you know it floods are things we tell our children about as part of a myth. We do not recall the heartache of Pompeii or the horror of earthquakes in China three thousand years ago. We have no memorials to the names of the dead.

It is not very intelligent to only remember what we have lived through.

What Is Beauty?

We are not obsessed by beauty but we are very attracted to what we perceive as beautiful. I first realised this forceably when watching a programme about Madagascar and the lemurs and the different status of lemurs amongst the local population. There came on screen a black lemur that was a little ugly in the face and my mothers aid ‘ I bet they don’t like that one’, and sure enough the narrator explained that this lemur was seen as bad luck.

This natural antipathy towards things that we perceive as ugly is not wholly irrational as some things we are attracted too – most notably plants – are actually dangerous so instinct sometimes has to play a part in our survival even now. But the transference of this instinct to cover everything that is not beautiful to our eyes gives handsome people unfair advantages and ugly people unnecessary pain.

I suppose it is too much to hope that the aura of beauty and wealth vanish from the human psyche and people use their reason, just as I suppose peoples could treat all nature with respect and not just the fluffy, licky bits. Sadly though I think our instincts are too strong for us and in as far as we are today in the West, prone to listening to Hollywood stars more than philosophers and going for the telegenic more than the wise, we do ourselves a disservice.

Beauty though was a lovely little pony mum named on the moors nearh ere two years ago. See, even I succumb!

The Passing Rain

We all have our comfort zones. Those places that take us away from ourselves for a while, or place us in the middle of ourselves without distractions. Wholly dependent upon character they are a haven, a solitude, an outlet and a reorganisation of the brain to complete or attempt to complete the other things we have to do. Even sleep can be seen as a comfort zone as a friend at boarding school used to tell me, ‘bedtime’ was the very best time of day.

We can argue I suppose as to why comfort zones are needed, respected and desired and wonder what on earth we are doing not to inhabit them all the time, but I think living is not about comfort but the striving for comfort. Not about the knowledge we seek but the seeking and what we do when we have it. The journey as much as the destinations.  It is all in the balance, and those moments of reflection and change help our balance.

The reason politics doesn’t work well is because of its lack of balance.

So when the rain passes as it is today after glorious weeks of sunshine it it not something to draw out complaints, but something to cherish for its own sake. For giving the day a different complexion and adding to the contours of our lives. For telling us that change is nature’s habit, and we are in her comfort zone.

Early Morning Meeting

It was bright and warm again this morning. There were a few lazy clouds in a mostly blue sky and the sunshine was just beginning to warm my face. The field had been cut last week and I climbed over the metal gate to see a fox on the far side.

It was sniffing around, probably fairly young; as I walked along the side of the field opposite. the fox didn’t see us. My rough collie, looking a little foxie herself, padded towards the fox, stopped veered back to me walked along with me, padded towards the fox, veered back to me and did this for half the length of the field. The fox never saw either of us. Just went on sniffing in its own little world.

And even more surprisingly a rabbit was moving, and yes it was a long way from the fox, but even so foxes come in pairs in this field but it seemed utterly ignorant that a few seconds run from it, its worst enemy after man was enjoying an after-meal investigation of the ground. I assume it had eaten for it took the longest time to notice it was not alone.

They have hunted foxes in the UK since they ran out of warthogs and wolves which they hunted to extinction. Some people only want to share the world with animals they can eat. But sharing life is the most precious of all things.

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