We are all looking

No matter the tribe, no matter the time our minds have invented stories to explain who we are and why we exist. It is science that has enabled us to do away with humano-centric stories and slowly walk a path that talks about existence without making it all about humanity.

I think thats why so many religious people fear science, because they are scared of being meaningless given that meaning to them means making them something individual and special. They want the story to make them something more than the are not show them how more everything else is.

Science has a magnificence that eludes the vain

A Battle for Ignorance

We spend a lot of energy fighting to keep our beliefs. Fighting to go on doing what we have always done. It might be the remnant of deep learning; those first lessons are designed to keep us alive. So, no matter where we go or where we live our childhood haunts still have a special ambiance. Those early foods remain our favourites.

First ideas have the same quality. They are friends no matter how absurd they become or how dangerous to others. We see this most clearly in chauvinism, but it exists in how countries see themselves, how tribal customs work and how religions entrench themselves in communities.

Anyone who has not changed their minds is liable to have never had an original thought.

What are Gods for?

I have repeatedly heard theists asking to whom does one look for authority if one does not believe in god? They think that each person may have their own ethical code and no one will agree on behaviour without a religion.

Firstly, let’s be fair, no one does anyway even with religions. Secondly, and far more importantly, since non believers accept that all holy writ has been written by people, and since in simple conversation you can find everyone agrees on some very basic rules it becomes obvious that god is there to keep people faithful to the ethical code they know to be correct.

That they slip all the time is, of course, equally obvious but the basic rules on living together have been pretty much the same since tribes started to farm – don’t kill each other, don’t steal from each other, be equitable and fair in all your dealings. If you need god to tell you this, you have not been given a brain.

Fearing Banality

I think the universe is far more interesting than we are. It is also true to say that, as far as we are aware, the Earth has the only self-aware animals that exist. If the Universe is self aware in some form we have yet to discover how or in what manner. Though in all honesty, we don’t have  a very clear description of self-awareness anyway.

That said we have tried with religion, nationhood, philosophy and time keeping to gain a foothold on who we are and as far as I can tell, we have utterly failed. The foundation stones are all set incorrectly. Just as we can understand more of the universe by investigating ourselves and restricting all theories to those that result in life, so, too, by only looking at ourselves we will never get the better picture.

Religious people suppose that a universe without a god is impersonal and indifferent. Their gods are banal and impossible but they blind themselves to this fact. However, we don’t know for sure what the universe is, so why assume?

The variety of possibilities is exhilarating.

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.

The Science In Religion

There are many books looking at belief vis-a-vis science and trying, desperately at times, to marry the two together. Only because so many people cannot bare to be without their belief. But there are a few very important ways in which the two are similar.

We do not know if other animals have as intricate thought processes as we do, but we do know that we have the greatest ability to shape and change our environments. That sets us apart. The ‘being apart’ from all other life as the basis for self-examination is shared by religions and science.

The idea that we are the only animal that is self-aware offends anyone who works or lives with animals and is rather ridiculous – a fox eating off its foot in a trap to get away must obviously be self-aware otherwise it wouldn’t know it was trapped. But this self awareness gives us an idea we are set, or placed, in the universe. Although they differ on that place radically this is also an idea shared by religion and science.

Being apart and having self-awareness suggests to the religious that we have a destiny and to scientists that we are ‘a way for the universe to know itself’. Both see value in our being able to do something significant.

I am of course highly agnostic,  and if pushed would say I am atheist, but even I believe in knowledge and my ability to interact with the descriptions of nature that we have created. That interaction is what life, science and belief are all about.

Solving Murders

There are hundreds of shows on TV around the world involving murder – the vast majority of these shows solve the murder clues and catch or kill the murderer. We can leave aside the known double-standards human beings have in defining murder with murder (when it comes to war and killing animals,) because the reason why we watch these shows is because murder fascinates us. It isn’t the causes and reasons for the murder that fascinates us, these are just the riddles and murder cases are just another excuse for riddle solving which we love to do. What fascinates us is death.

In particular making the dead somehow talk,  giving us an association with the dead by coming to understand who they were, what their names were, and finally why they died, because there always has to be a why. If you think about it, this is a perfect extension of faith, because our gods who have designed this world, murder us by our natures and we long to know why.

Religion is not a show but it is a riddle, filled with inconsistencies which we spend generations explaining because nature and faith do not agree. This planet is not run on ethical grounds; if it were life feeding on life would not be a core principle of nature, but gods all run on honour and ethics.

We hope to have an answer at the end of the show, I don’t believe we will unless silence can talk to the deaf, blind and dumb.

Running Without Satire

There are those who think Candide is a huge satire poking fun at writers and society at one and the same time. Which, seeing as most great writers have been somehow outside mainstream society, is quite an interesting conceit and once which Voltaire is easily capable of managing. Gulliver’s Travels has long been the bane of English students who have to write the same things about it thousands have written before about how it pokes fun at the foibles of the British.

Less understood would be the advance of a dissertation on the satirical nature of so called’ holy texts’, but if like me you take religions to be commentaries on human nature the idea that the associated holy texts are satirical to some degree naturally follows. This is most easily seen in the way in which  priests can turn stories to humour with ease whether commenting on eating habits by discussing the feeding of the five thousand, or commenting on anger when discussing Moses breaking up his first draft of the ten commandments.

In fact there is so much humour and sub-texts in holy texts that prists are endlessly finding new things to say. Of course they do not talk about satire because they think there is something unerringly ‘true’ in their beliefs, but once the shackle of belief has gone then laughter at the absurd things people believe follows. Human beings are after all animals who have a high opinion of themselves and believe the myths they make-up about themselves. What could be more satirical than that?

Ethics and Fantasy

There are two broad aspects to all religions. On the one hand there are the stories and texts that tell the story upon which the religion is based and which form the ‘holy writ’ of the original event or events. On the other are the works, redactions and thoughts, of the theologians and others who have studied and thought about these original works. And the reason these other works exist is because the high degree of fantasy, oral tradition and sometimes plain obscurity of the original fantasy stories need to be ‘interpreted’ and discussed for ‘modern’ generations of followers. Hence the rise of the traditionalists.

This is the point where human actions meet religions and ethics are born. It is a tragedy, but obvious in the extreme, why ethics has become bound up with religion but it is equally obvious that ethics is a human discussion we have with ourselves that has nothing to do with religion. It is absurd to think that killing is anything but objectionable, theft anything but divisive,  intolerance anything but unacceptable; without any reference to a god’s prescriptive ordinances.

Religious ethics are in fact, human ethics filtered through a belief system. And it is dangerous nonsense for atheists to throw out the ethics with the religion. Without religion we still have to work with other people, work with nature and understand ourselves.

If ethical behaviour is not a description of our lives we are as much hypocrites as the religious.


This morning is very bright and sunny, chilly to the skin and the leaves are all massed along the sides of the road and strewn across the fields. The grass is so wet it is more like paddling than walking but the sun was just at the right angle for me to catch the spider webs thrown across the narrow road. Normally I would duck under them and let the first cars break them but there were many today I did just walk on.

I had a long conversation with myself as to what I would do with  huge amounts of money and realised that I didn’t want personal jets and private yachts. Strange because I always thought I would but then I realised as one gets older and that wisdom hits home, a selflessness coems. It isn’t that the ‘things’ money buys are not enjoyable and make one look good, it is that priorities change as one ages from looking good to doing good.

Looking good is the stuff of youth because youth is the stuff of sex. The pretty houses and well dressed look prettier themselves to prospective partners. As one gets older and those things become unimportant, what one sees is the world of pain and if one had the power to do something about that . . .

I also realised after years of thinking about it that the great ideal of Jesus dying on the Cross is nothing to do with a deity forgiving sins. The honest wisdom in the story is that we can do good, heal and forgive, without dying and without charge.

And Man Created Fire

There is a great yearning inside humanity for warmth. Warmth keeps us alive, makes us feel good and cures many aches and pains. Warmth is our emotional friend. And a certain amount of artificial warmth is always beneficial whether it be a log fire or a warm hot water bottle to warm your feet. But too much warmth is our enemy, too much fire destroys what we have built. too much warmth makes us ill.

In all things as the Eastern religions tell us, balance is necessary. And this is very true but we do not even take that philosophy far enough because balancing the ‘things’ of life and our daily routine is not to balance everything. There should be balance in our thoughts. For every belief we hold we should hold the counter belief, if both are beliefs. We should learn to  understand and to not be able to understand. As the Universe of matter is mirrored by the atomic universe of particles so our beliefs are mirrored by our natures.

There is no escaping that ideas of beliefs are inventions – if they were not inventions they would not be beliefs but facts – and we have yet to learn that too much believing is harmful.

Balance what you think you know, what you don’t know and what you cannot know.

The High Places

Religiosity is on the increase in every part of the world apart from Western Europe.

Many years ago I thought of making a series about ‘The High Places’ and why so many religions across the world went ‘up’ mountains to worship their gods. If this had been the only thing religious people did it would have been the perfect description of being visited by aliens millennia ago and the primitive human beings seeing the space ship take off associating the sky with gods forever more.

Thankfully the same feeling is generated in dark, cavernous places such as those used by various Oracles in the time of Greeks.

It isn’t so much the inaccessibility or loneliness of these places that works on the  potential numinous of such places, as their being out of the day-to-day. Human beings are a species of open plains, seas and valleys. Mountains get colder as you go up and caves get darker as you go down. They are not first choice of places we like to live. And worshiping gods in and on them takes a bit of effort, which  gods seem to appreciate.

And you may ask since I believe in the profound idea that human beings are given to worshiping because of our natures and not because of any real divine being existing, why I pick up on this? Because in this Western Europe is once again leading the world.

There is a scientific renaissance coming in this century which will leave religions without even their perceived preeminence in ethics. Religions are becoming purely metaphysical.

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