Archive for the ‘reason’ Category

where is god

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

In the car yesterday Toby, who is getting more and more inquisitive these days, asked “Dad, why can’t you see God?”. I think I had lots of answers for him (pro-religion mostly and a few unneccessarily snarky ones too) but nothing came to mind which would be appropriate for a four year old, so I suggested that Emma would be a better person to talk about it.

She started out with “just because you can’t see God doesn’t mean that God isn’t there” which didn’t seem to get very far, then said “When people love each other, God is there” which maybe made some progress but not much. So she gave an example: “When mummy and daddy hug you do you feel all loved – maybe God is part of that. Do you feel like that?” Toby pretty much shrugged his shoulders at that one, so there was nothing for it but for Emma to say “Um, because God is transcendent?” Only one response from Toby was appropriate, and he hit it right on the head: “Mummy, why does the Pink Panther like everything to be pink?”

non discrimination

Monday, January 29th, 2007

I read with approval today that Tony Blair has firmly stated that faith based groups will not get an exemption from anti-discrimination laws, specifically as they relate to adoption by gay couples in the UK. I’m obviously not a gay person living in the UK, but it seems to me that for all their flaws the Blair government have done more to legislate for the rights for gay people in Britain than any previous government. I’m sure there’s still a long way to go, but the view from afar seems like it’s a lot better than ten years ago, and certainly than the situation in America.

I also appreciate that he sent a strong message to the Catholic Church (and an implicit slap-down to the UK Anglican Church’s bizarre support of the Catholics here). I see no reason why a group (faith-based or otherwise) should have an exemption from anti-discrimination laws of a country. If the Church or, say, a business wanted an exemption from tax laws or labor laws or whatever we wouldn’t stand for it would we? So why should they have gotten an exemption in this case?


Friday, October 27th, 2006

My friend Robin posted a comment in response to my take on the British Airways ruling about the woman being asked to remove or cover up the cross emblem she was wearing. Robin quoted George Galloway’s response, and provided a story link where you can see the quote in full. As usual Galloway getting the facts wrong.

He said that this is very insensitive “at this sensitive time when blood is boiling everywhere, when women are being attacked in streets and mosques are being attacked and firebombed.” I’m not totally sure, unless you happen to be a politician pandering to a group of people, what mosques have to do with this whole thing. And of course that particular religion’s record on women’s rights is so well understood.

Galloway continues, “No Muslim would ever complain about a Christian wearing a cross.” Except, of course if they were in Saudi Arabia, or several other countries in that part of the world.

Another quote in that story:

John Andrews, communications officer for the Diocese of Bath and Wells, said: “I think BA are being extremely offensive to members of the Christian faith.”

He continued: “It would be a great shame if Christians are prevented from demonstrating their own faith. It is a basic human right.

Maybe, but as mentioned before it is quite possible and in fact maybe even preferable to show your Christianity by being a good Christian which does not involve displaying symbols of your belief. And another quote:

Anglican Communion press officer Canon James Rosenthal said crosses adorn churches around the world and “many Christians find wearing or carrying a cross something very important to them” [my emphasis].

So, then, carry the cross emblem – you don’t have to be displaying it.

On a lighter note, one commenter on the story’s website pointed out that if Jesus came back he might not want to see crosses everywhere, what with the associations for him and all.

show him your cross

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

This whole story about the British Airways (BA) employee not being allowed to display her cross necklace is really driving me up the wall. Now a Member of Parliament (MP) is getting involved and seems to have the facts even more messed up. Here’s my take on the case:

First, the airline said that employees are not allowed to display jewelery (they probably said “jewellery” because they are British). This applies to all employees. This person is allowed to wear the cross necklace, just not to display it.

Secondly, the MP likens this to the wearing of headwear by people of other faiths. This, as Emma pointed out, is a rather bogus argument – some other faiths actually require and mandate the wearing of head coverings. Christianity does not mandate the wearing or displaying jewelery or religious imagery. In fact you could argue from many things Jesus said that displaying your religious imagery is not a holy thing to do – he said it was much better to modestly demonstrate your belief by your actions and piousness (piety?) rather than wearing opulent clothing as the Pharisees and priests of his time did.

Third, BA is a private employer and they can do what they like. I’m sure this rule was clearly indicated in their employee manuals.

Fourth, why is this woman’s argument supposed to get more credence just because it’s a religious belief? Why does that make it more valid than if someone says, for example, “I have a strong belief (with no religious backing) that I like to dye my hair green” but the employer says that employees are not allowed to dye their hair green?

clash of civilizations

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

Quite an amusing and also sad story on the BBC about a priest who made a hoax bomb alert call to try to get a Madonna show cancelled. He was upset about the fact that she does a mock crucifixion routine in the show, and that this would/could be offensive to Christians.

The priest’s approach would appear to have backfired on several levels – firstly the show went ahead anyway, secondly it just draws even more publicity to the show, thirdly a bomb hoax is pretty darned offensive if you stop to think for just a moment, and hardly a Christian approach to anything, fourthly just grow up and get over yourself and your getting all het up about things being offensive and being all touchy, and finally and perhaps most importantly, he was caught because he made the call from his home phone, so clearly it was a snap for those crafty Dutch police to find out who dunnit.

from mumbai

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

When I was in India in August 2005 I was taken on a great tour of Mumbai (formerly Bombay). As part of the tour I visited the Hanging Gardens in the district of Malabar Hill, right by the Zoroastrian funeral grounds. They have an interesting method of dealing with the deceased, but it seems that there are issues as documented in this news article. Interesting to see the clash of religion with the realities of life.

If you’re interested, here are all my Mumbai photos.

ignorance is…

Tuesday, September 5th, 2006

Brace yourself for one of the most ignorant articles about the difference between science and religion ever written. I almost want to apologize for linking to it.

I didn’t manage to find the link on the site (and didn’t want to hang around too long) to log in and post a comment, but here’s roughly what I would have said:

This would be a laughable article if it wasn’t so ignorant (I’m leaving aside the horrific “how long is a light year?” question. Did no editors look at this and try to stop the train wreck?)

It’s hard to no where to begin but I’ll just stick to the paragraph:
“Which is the whole point of this column. So many scientific theories are so incomprehensible to people like me, and so many scientific “facts” are constantly changing, it seems that science itself has become another religion.”

This shows the author’s basic misunderstanding of what science is. Science is pretty much by definition a changing set of rigorously peer reviewed theories backed by evidence and observations. Scientists will suggest and attempt to prove theories based on findings and will then open these theories up for discussion, argument etc. As scientists learn more they can adapt, strengthen or completely negate previous findings.

This is almost the complete opposite of religion, where faith is used by its followers to uphold a set of unchanging ideals and ideas. Some progressive faith traditions may allow some of their interpretations to change based on changing social structures but will never allow the central tenets to change. Science is constantly changing, and will happily let go of even the most fundamental theories, for example new reinterpretations of the theory of gravity and refinements to the theory of evolution.

Oh yes, and he’s also falling into the “Science is hard therefore I don’t understand it therefore it must be a religion”. Nice.

watching over

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

This morning at church we sang the Mendelssohn anthem “He Watching Over Israel slumbers not nor sleeps”. Nice piece and all but it leaves a strange taste in your mouth when this is also going on in the real world.


Monday, July 24th, 2006

There’s an interesting piece on evolution in the Washington Post today, talking about the minor fluctuations in human genes over the past few thousand years, responding to changing environments and conditions. A couple of sentences towards the end were interesting:

Contrary to the popular imagination, evolution is not a linear process that culminates in the triumphal ascent of humans at the top of the genetic heap. The process is analogous to a bush, where twigs and leaves push out in every direction.

At church yesterday I noticed some words along the lines of “with your people as the crown of creation” which seemed a tad egotistical to me.

christian behavior

Friday, July 14th, 2006

Kent Hovind is a fairly well-known evangelist and slightly rabid denier of evolution, to the extent that he founded a theme park, Dinosaur Adventure Land, where rides and exhibitions apparently prove that the biblical story of creation is 100% true etc etc.

Pity the morals part of the bible didn’t take root – it appears that he has been arrested on federal charges of tax evasion and other things, including impteding an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) investigation. The article is well worth reading for the guy’s sheer brass neck, and my favorite lines are:

Over Kent Hovind’s protests, the judge took away his passport and guns Hovind claimed belonged to his church.

Hovind argued that he needs his passport to continue his evangelism work. He said “thousands and thousands” are waiting to hear him preach in South Africa next month.

As for the guns, Davis said “ownership was not the issue.”