(hat tip: FSTDT)
Although the pedants might whine, I found this pretty funny.
(hat tip: FSTDT)
Although the pedants might whine, I found this pretty funny.
Possibly the best “educational” program I have seen on television in as long as I can remember. Better than Michio Kaku, better than all the discovery channel shows, better than all the rest.
I am talking about a wonderful BBC1 program – Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life – which has just finished. If you missed it, I cant stress how much you really should watch this on iPlayer. It is a part-Open University funded education program, supported by an interesting BBC Darwin website, where you can catch a glimpse of the program if it isnt on the iPlayer yet.
In a nutshell, David Attenborough shows his fantastic qualities as a presenter and takes the viewer on a tour through the history of the theory of evolution. He is genuinely enthusiastic about the science and has a presentational style that is unmatched. I was actually saddened at one point in the program, when I realised that 30 years ago people were more accepting of evolution and our place in the world than they are today. Thanks to the idiocy of fundamentalist religion we really are going back in time.
Attenborough calmly and politely mocks the ideas that all species were created as they are with no change and gives a wonderful (if brief) example of how the eye is a good example of evolution at work. It is all well done and while the hardened scientist may object at some simplification, this is a program which explains evolution in an hour for the general public. To that end some abbreviation of the tree of life is understandable.
Sadly, the BBC website sort of undermines Attenborough’s fantastic work with this line:
David shares his personal view on Darwin’s controversial idea.
Now, while it was indeed controversial in the 1860’s it is now valid science with solid evidential backing. The controversy is not real. Implying it is still there plays into the hands of the idiots and anti-educationalists. Shame really.
This program shows that, despite its faults, the BBC really can pull it out of the bag when it comes to “important” programs.
Funerals are obviously for the living. John Mortimer wouldn’t have welcomed his church funeral if he was alive to see it, but then – d’oh – he wouldn’t be having a funeral then, would he?
All the same, there seems something deeply disrespectful to the memory of a noted and outspoken atheist to have god-infused funeral. It’s as if – even though he notably failed to come up with a death-bed repentance of his unbelief – his mourners decided to do it on his behalf. Maybe this is how the myths about death-bed conversions get attached to the lives of unbelievers.
Sir John called himself an atheist for Christ,” the vicar said. “He always came to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. But he emphatically did not believe in life after death. My hope,” she added, “is that he has had a wonderful surprise.”
John Mortimer’s atheism was one of his most cherished convictions. He loved to cross-examine an archbishop about God and find his evidence deficient.
Yet it was at the little medieval church of St Mary the Virgin, in Turville, near Henley-on-Thames, where his parents are buried, that Sir John’s family and friends gathered yesterday to sing The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended at his funeral. (from the Times)
He went to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve? He probably loved carols. Doesn’t everyone? He may have enjoyed a bit of traditional ritual. I’ve attended any number of rituals for belief systems that I don’t seriously entertain for a moment. I hope they don’t all start scrapping over my bones when I’ve gone.
I can’t see attendance at the odd Christmas service as justification for a metaphorical religious dancing on his grave.
The celebatheists site described Mortimer as
…an unbeliever who is very much sympathetic to the ethical and cultural aspects of Christianity. (From celebatheists.com)
I still don’t think that justifies a church funeral. Even in his 80s, John Mortimer was writing and campaigning about civil liberties.:
The latest novel, Rumpole and the Reign of Terror, concerns a Pakistani doctor accused of terrorist activities, giving Mortimer the chance to lay into what he sees as the erosion of civil liberties. And he is already engaged in formulating the next Rumpole plot, which will be about Asbos.
……. Now he’s on to the subject of identity cards.”One thing my father said was that if you find yourself in a country where you have to carry papers, you know it has a lousy government.” (from a Guardian interview in 2006)
If you were to find out that a Special John Mortimer Memorial Edition ID card had been issued, because Mortimer once complimented the design of a sample ID card, this would be no more startling than to find out that well-known atheist had been given a church funeral.
Radio presenter Jeremy Vine was given space by the Daily Mail to complain about how unfair the UK is to Christians. The headline says:
Why I won’t discuss my Christianity on air, by Radio 2 and Panorama host Jeremy Vine
Let me stop you, right there Jeremy. You host a lunch-time radio show. Your job probably involves introducing records and refereeing phone-in “debates” about nonsense. If you started discussing your religion in that context, people would be as interested as they would be if the local newsagent explained why she followed the Nicene creed. They would switch off. This applies even more to Panorama, which is supposed to be a serious current affairs programme.
Show a bit of humility, Jeremy. A presenter is the linkman or linkwoman. The clue’s in the name. You are supposed to link items. People don’t watch Panorama to find out what religious beliefs the presenter holds. Just as they don’t care what you had for breakfast or how many stairs you have in your hallway.
He admitted that he avoided discussing the subject on air, saying it is now ‘almost socially unacceptable to say you believe in God’. (from the Mail)
I would like to think that were true. But I suspect it’s only “socially unacceptable” in the way that traditional etiquette regards talking about religion or politics as unacceptable in polite society. Only true for that specific interpretation of “socially.” And discussing religion or politics is considered bad manners (not that that ever stopped me, but my manners are shite) because people start insulting each other and getting angry and “polite” society stops being “polite.”
If you are presenting a Panorama programme on the economy, it would be more than bad manners to say “… and by the way, I’m a Christian…” It would be like saying “Stop talking about boring things. Talk about ME.” Boosting your own sense of self-importance isn’t supposed to be in the job description.
His remarks follow a claim last month by Roman Catholic Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor that Britain has become an ‘unfriendly’ place to the religious. (from the Mail)
Yeah, right. See the chart (Ok, it’s a US chart, admittedly. We are a bit more heathen in the UK and the kinds of non-christians are a bit different, but it’s just a graphic…)
“Has become”?… I don’t know whether Britain is any less religion-friendly than it’s ever been. I am pretty confident that shoving your religion in people’s faces, unsolicited, has never brought a friendly response.
The Jeremy Vine piece brought out the reliable harvest of Mail comment-nutters, many of whom seem to be suffering from fatwah-envy. This is one that could have come straight from the twat-o-tron without human intervention.
Mr. Vine’s situation is caused by PC run amok.
The world has a ‘Religion’ that is secular now.
It’s all about: group rights; gray-area standards; adjustable truths; climate change and radical ‘greeness’; and marginalising real faith as anachronistic and childish. (except for Islam ,of course. ) …
*snigger* (If I was playing Bigot-speak Bingo, I think this would give me a full house.)
That’s by someone from Texas, who would never get to suffer the effects if every UK daytime easy-listening radio-show-presenter started using his or her airtime to present his or her philosophy of life.
But 34 other people, who you assume haven’t thought through the consequences, have clicked to vote for this comment. (What am I saying? These are people who, almost by definition, can’t think through the consequences.)
Pretty consistently, the comments that are like that one get lots of pro-votes. The ones with the big-minus votes are the ones like this (minus 17):
I think Jeremy Vine is alone in feeling like this as most of the time it seems like every man and his dog insist on spouting out about their faith. Indeed several BBC radio shows have features dedicated to this.
Religion is reclaiming public ground, not only have the number of faith schools increased in the last few years but creationism is now going to be taught in science lessons!
It is interesting that some people of faith are now finding it uncomfortable to speak about their faith as this is how people of no faith have felt for decades…
Yes, there are well more than enough tv and radio shows that deal with religion. On purpose. People who want to hear about religion can choose to watch or listen to these. How hard is that to accept, Jeremy?
Let me explain. People who watch Top Gear want to watch a show about cars. If Jeremy Clarkson started discussing how to make feather-light shortcrust pastry, the viewers would get pissed off. Even if they really like cooking, they don’t expect cooking in a car show. They would use the remote control or the channel dial or the off switch.
(Ok, even if my radio had a broken off-switch, I wouldn’t listen to the Jeremy Vine show, but I think the point still stands.)
W00t. It seems that you can vote on Daily Mail comments without logging in. I will give it a try. I boost all the big red minus ones. This short and sweet one is still the lowest (at 34 minuses) even after my non-divine intervention :
Good, don’t discuss it as we don’t want to hear it. We hear enough rubbish from your religious leaders.
Wow, I just came up with a new hobby. Anyone can join in. Voting down all the bigotry-central Daily Mail comments and voting up the saner ones. If there were enough people willing to waste ten minutes a day, the Mail might even suspect it had misjudged the zeitgeist and rein in the tone of its more extreme pieces.
Always willing to flog a dead horse, I’ve stumbled across more mind-bending nonsense on the crazy-fest that is Yahoo! Answers. As I mentioned previously, this (*) is a haven for the weird and wonderful ideas people can come up with. Sadly, in the best of Web 2.0 traditions, idiocy, bad education and lies rise to the surface while real education gets drowned under the stupidity of the commons. I honestly think that if a good answer ever turned up it would be drowned under the idiocy (and get so many thumbs down) it would quickly flee for its life.
The most recent idiocy to draw my attention is a month old question titled “Do fossils of now extinct creatures such as dinosaurs prove evolution?” (see original)
At first site this looks like a legitimate question. It is the sort of question you would expect inquisitive school children to ask. It gives the chance for a well thought out answer about the nature of fossils, what evolutionary theory is and how scientific proofs work. You can imagine it being the sort of question a teacher would set a class to see what research they carry out. Well, Toutatis forbid they type the question into a search engine. The results are shocking. To an otherwise ignorant person seeing to improve their education, this search would be disastrous. Anyway, back to the question.
After an innocent start (obviously to trick the unwary), the question continues:
The fact that dinosaurs once lived and are now extinct is no proof of evolution. Such fossils merely show us that certain species once living were destroyed and became extinct. Theorists have been able to reach no general agreement on the cause or causes of extinction. The theories on this subject are numerous and sometimes very imaginative. Since most fossils are found in sedimentary rocks and show signs of catastrophic burial, they seem to point to a global flood as the principal cause of extinction. They must have lived on earth at the same time, just as the Bible implies.
Oh dear Belenus! It is true that the fact dinosaurs lived once and not any more is not proof of evolution. After a promising start it crashes down into a pile of blithering idiocy. So far so uneducated. Next we get:
If the flood-geology interpretation of geological strata is correct, all or most dinosaurs became extinct at the time of the flood. Until that time, then, man and dinosaurs lived on the earth at the same time.
Its good that he uses an “if” to start there. I agree that if the flood geology interpretation were correct dinosaurs died at the flood. However it isn’t. It isn’t even close. Man and Dino did not live on Earth at the same time. It really is that easy.
So far this is just standard creationist idiocy. It is the sad product of poor education, poor understanding and religious doctrine combining. As always though, the monumental lack of evidence to support creationism causes problems and the TRUE BELIEVER© is forced to lie for Jesus. It happens all the time. In all types of debate. The stronger the persons faith, the more they seem willing to lie for their deity. I find the irony very entertaining. Here we have:
Is there any EVIDENCE outside of the Bible to support this view? Yes, there is. It is well known that along the Paluxy River in Texas many dinosaur footprints have been found in limestone strata classified as Cretaceous. Not so well known is the fact that for about fifty years human footprints have been reported in the same strata.
Taranis give me strength. Don’t you just love it when some one asks a question that they answer themselves? Yes. (all puns intended). The only evidence to support humans and dinosaurs co-existing is in the minds of creationists. It isn’t even in the Bible. It is pure fiction. The Flintstones is not real. Lying for Jesus is still lying. The crazy questioner finishes off with his bit of conspiracy theory for Jesus nonsense:
Source: Footprints in Stone(color-sound film)
But since the concept that man lived with dinosaurs is incompatible with the theory of evolution, many Scientists dismiss this documentary for the persuasive evidence unfolded.
Man living with Dino is not incompatible with evolution. The “documentary” evidence cites is not dismissed for that reason and it really is not persuasive…
The screaming stupidity that is Yahoo! Answers comes out in the “best answer” chosen by the “asker.” As is so often the case, the person chooses a best answer that restates whatever idiocy they agree with. This is no different:
I do agree with you to some extent. It is impossible for humans to prove the actual “age” of the extinct dinosaur remains. When scientists try to “determine” the age of the dinosaur remains by soil composition and “carbon dating” etc, I just shake my head. Anybody can make an assumption about life that way. It is also impossible for humans to determine exactly how old the history of mankind is as well. Remember, in the early days of creation, people lived much longer then we do now. Of course they did. Adam lived for 930 years, and his son Seth lived for 912 years. Before the flood, many people lived well into their hundreds. There was a wonderful balance of nature then. No pollution or anything “man-made” existed to destroy that balance. God knew what he was doing right from the very beginning. His creation and existence is perfection in itself – he is the superb mastercraftsman! I bow to his absolute genius…
It is mind-numbing in its stupidity. What on Earth is age doing in quotes? What is the idiot trying to say? Putting determine in sneer quotes – what is that all about? The whole answer manages to be so far from the truth it is almost beyond belief. It isn’t even internally consistent. Even in Biblical terms there were lots of man-made things before the flood – the Ark for example…
The wonders of the internet (and specifically web 2.0) push this stupidity to the top of a search engine query. The miracle of Web2.0 gives the asker the chance to give prominence to the madness that the person asking the question wants to be seen as the answer. Yes, if you scroll down you can find better answers but not everyone is going to do that and, crucially, when they have had their reasoning tainted by the initial two bits, they will be more sceptical of the truth than of the idiocy.
Web 2.0 is not about empowerment and it certainly is not about the shared wisdom of the masses. The tragedy of the commons seems so much more appropriate.
* I suspose this may be a specific problem to the Religion and Spirituality part of Yahoo Answers, but the other sections seem to be riddled with nutjob answers…
As anyone who reads FSTDT will know, Yahoo! Answers provides rich pickings when it comes to bizarre, crazy and downright wierd religious viewpoints. While idly browsing through it, I noticed a question asking “During the middle ages, how many were killed because they questioned the loving and kind Catholic Church?” (See original question thread)
Having a passing hobby interest in medieval history, this question appealed to me, so I read through some of the answers. A lot were standard Yahoo-fare, for example the “best answer” claims 150 million died, which seems a bit odd compared to the population of Europe in the middle-ages. While sources are a bit made up, Wikipedia claims the population of medieval Europe peaked at about 100 million in the early part of the fourteenth century. This requires some interesting mental arithmetic to make the two sets of numbers add up, even if the 150 million deaths were spread out over 300 years.
However, the one that caught my interest the most was from Misty0408, and it makes quite a few points I would like to address here: [emphasis mine throughout quotes]
Crusades or Inquisition?
It’s easy in hindsight to judge a time and society we no longer experience or understand.
I agree with this to an extent as our ideas of what is “right” and “wrong” do change over time. This is not always a path from a “bad past” to a “good present/future” though, sometimes we take a few steps back. Crucially, there isn’t any real point to judging the past – we cant change it and we cant (for example) punish the Romans for keeping slaves.
I may have misread the question, and know nothing of the person who asked it, but I didn’t really think it was trying to judge the past. This made me think that Misty0408 might have a few axes to grind.
The Crusades were a series of defensive battles against Muslim attacks. They were not organized and run by the Church, but tended to be upstart groups of Catholics who took things into their own hands. Many non-believers joined in to reap the benefits of pillaging. There was no telephone, email, text messaging, etc. to get word out and tell people to stop. It took time for the Pope to know what was going on, and time for word to get back to those who had run amok.
Interesting. This also seems pretty much 180 degrees from the history lessons I remember. So much so that this cant be a simple lack of education, this is someone wilfully taught an incorrect sequence of events.
Pope Urban II instigated the crusades. This is the fairly famous quote he made in the call to arms:
All who die by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested. O what a disgrace if such a despised and base race, which worships demons, should conquer a people which has the faith of omnipotent God and is made glorious with the name of Christ! With what reproaches will the Lord overwhelm us if you do not aid those who, with us, profess the Christian religion!
All the crusades were blessed by the Papacy. This is a far cry from the idea that the pope was busy running around trying to put a stop to the brutality.
It strikes me as a bit dishonest to claim that the church was not the organiser of the Crusades – yes the Crusading nobles will have gone through the actual logistics, but the Pope ordered them to and offered forgiveness for all their sins if they went.
The Inquisitions were also driven, in part, by the society and times in which they happened. Civil law and Church law were linked. If you spoke heresy you were condemned by civil law to die…not by the Church. In fact, in many cases the Church worked to get people to recant their heretical statements to save them from death. Death sentences were carried out by the civil authorities.
Again, some reasonable truth mixed with weirdness. The inquisitions were indeed driven by the time and society – however this society was intrinsically Catholic. Civil and Church law were mixed, yes, but this didn’t mean secular rules got mixed in with the religious ones. It basically meant that the Church set the law. The idea that heretics were condemned to die by secular authorities and not the church is batshit insane. Yes the Church worked to get people to recant, but not to save them from death. If the Church hadn’t declared some statements heretical (and demanded death as the punishment) I would agree they were not complicit in the torture. How on Earth can heresy even be a crime by secular standards?
While death sentences were indeed carried out by the civil authorities, they were given the moral authority to do so by the Church. The Church can not wash its hands of the crimes because the pope did not burn each heretic personally.
Its true, that at that time, the Church thought that a good way to deal with heretics was to torture them, and force them to recant. The Church has since apologized for this.
That makes it OK then.
But again, we see this error in hindsight. The medieval times were violent times for the entire society. Most punishments for breaking the law involved sentences we consider barbaric today. People were hanged in public, drawn and quartered etc. This was the society.
So why did the church apologise? How does this sliding scale of moral values lie with an inerrant word of God being handed down to the heads of the Church?
If the Church felt it was in keeping with Scripture at the time, what has changed?
The Spanish Inquistition was state ministry, not papal organization. Blaming Popes for deeds of Spanish Inquistition is incorrect. However kings of Spain used Dominicans (catholic order) as judges etc. because clergy (especially mentioned monks) were genarally far more educated than ordinal people.
Wow. An even bigger dose of madness wrapped around a kernel of truth. The Spanish inquisition was indeed instituted by the secular Monarchy.
First off, it was based on Papal Inquisitions (which were remarkably similar); secondly its purpose was to ensure people upheld the Catholic Church’s doctrine; Thirdly it was established by a Papal Bull from Pope Sixtus IV. Crucially, the Catholic Church could have stopped it, but chose not to.
Seems like the Catholic Church has to shoulder a fair amount of the blame for this.
The Church, even though the true Church of Christ, is not made of perfect people. She is protected from ever teaching heresy, but this protection does not give those in charge a crystal ball, or the power to know more than the current times in which they live.
Wow. Huge dose of irony there. The Catholic church can never teach heresy, but because there is no crystal ball its teachings may change and even contradict previous ones.
You’ve got to love the logic that belief grants you…
As far as the actual numbers of those killed, no one has a real count. But we do know that over the years the number has increased in direct proportion to the number of anti-Catholics. Those who claim in the “millions” are way off base. Not even close, more likely in the thousands. But just to give you an idea:
The Spanish Inquisition, assuredly the most vigorous and corrupt of the various inquisitorial bodies that existed in Europe, held 49,000 trials between 1560-1700 and executed between 3 and 5,000 people.
Again, it starts off well but then gets all conspiracy theory.
Worryingly, Misty0408 seems to be implying that because the numbers killed were “only” in the thousands this makes it OK. The idea that any people were tortured to death on the orders of a “loving” church is monstrous.
Bit of number crunching: I assume Misty0408 got the figures from Spiritus-Temprois.com, which doesn’t break down by year. If we assume each year was equal, that means there were 350 trials a year. Almost one a day. 350 people tortured each year. Just because these only resulted in between 21 – 35 executions each year doesn’t make it better. For most the period in question, Spain had a population in the region of between 5.4 and 7.5 million (source: The Population of Europe, Table 1.1, p8, by Massimo Livi Bacci, Cynthia De Nardi Ipsen, Carl Ipsen). This means that around 1 in 20,000 people were tortured by the inquistion – that is the equivalent of 3000 people a year in the modern UK, or 15191 people in the US – being put on trial for heresy each year.
This may seem trivial when compared with modern incarceration rates (which may be as high as 1 in 136 people in the US), but these people were in addition to all the “normal” criminals. Their only crime was not following the Catholic Church’s orthodoxy.
Yes, they may have been imprisoned under the orders of the Secular monarch, but it was done for, and with at least some blessing of, the Catholic Church.
Too often religion claims to be cause behind people doing good deeds, but then when bad things happen the nature of “Man” is blamed. This is a massive fallacy. The atrocities of the Crusades and Inqusition may not have been carried out (entirely) by uniformed members of the Catholic Church but it is fully to blame for them. Its doctrine lead to these acts. Its leadership endorsed them. Its priesthood encouraged them.
It really is to blame.
Who would have thought Christian Voice would have cracked under the pressure of the No God bus campaigns in London? OK, most people I suppose. Still it is entertaining that they are riled by a simple poster to the extent they are demanding the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency to rule on the proof of God.
An atheist campaign claiming “There’s probably no God” has been reported to the advertising regulator.
Posters with the slogan appear on 800 buses in England, Scotland and Wales, as well as on the London Underground.
But organisation Christian Voice has complained to the Advertising Standards Authority saying they break rules on substantiation and truthfulness.
Pardon me for a moment while I fall off the chair laughing.
They are saying that the claim there is probably no god is insubstantiated and / or not truthful. How on Thor’s hammer do they intend to convince the ASA of this one wonders…
But Stephen Green, national director of Christian Voice, said: “There is plenty of evidence for God, from people’s personal experience, to the complexity, interdependence, beauty and design of the natural world.
“But there is scant evidence on the other side, so I think the advertisers are really going to struggle to show their claim is not an exaggeration or inaccurate, as the ASA code puts it.”
More laughter rings out around WhyDontYou Towers. Evidence for God exists in “personal experience” – surely this alone is a self defeating argument because if I do not have that experience the advertisement is accurate as stated. I do not have that personal experience, therefore (should the ASA be reading this) the banner is 100% correct. Thank you Christian Voice.
I assume Christian Voice have lodged similar complaints over any advertising that mentions non-Christian religions, so any posters for Mosques, Temples (etc) will have to come down. I would never suggest people be petty enough to go through Christian advertising with a fine tooth comb – each day on the way to work I see a huge poster telling me that I will die for my sins, where is the proof of that I wonder?
In a wonderful bit of understatement (and acting a lot more adult than Christian Voice…), Hanne Stinson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, said:
“I am sure that Stephen Green really does think there is a great deal of evidence for a God (though presumably only the one that he believes in), but I pity the ASA if they are going to be expected to rule on the probability of God’s existence.”
Indeed, it will be interesting to see what their decision is…
At last an opportunity to work the word antidisestablishmentarianism into everyday conversation. Well, OK, then disestablishmentarianism, but there must be Anglicans who’ll argue against Rowan Williams on this, so the magic longest-word-in-the-English-language should get a few airings over Christmas.
It seems that the Archbishop has been swinging like a pendulum do, being alternately for and against the disestablishment of the church. Now he’s edging to the side of disestablishment. From the CofE’s perspective, establishment seems to come down to whether they have the monarch as their head and whether they have to turn up at state events. I can’t see that they would lose much from a formal separation of church and state. Nor, it seems does the right-wing of the CofE.
Reform, a network of mainstream Anglican evangelicals, at odds with Williams over the divisive issues of gay clergy and women bishops, agreed that disestablishment could be a positive step.
Yesterday its spokesman, Paul Dawson, said: “There are many advantages of being an established church and to lose these would be no small thing. To become disestablished would mean, as Rowan Williams seems to be suggesting, a rethink and sharpening of the prophetic voice of the church to the nation and this would be something welcomed by many.” (from the Guardian)
If these people favour disestablishment, it seems to be because they believe they could take the CofE more easily down their militant “traditionalist” path. In which case, continued establishment looks surprisingly appealing.
Blimey, there may be a reason for liberally-minded non-believers to favour Antidisestablishmentarianism after all.
The archbishop also praises Richard Dawkins’ “panache” and appears to compare himself to Josiah Bartlett, the fictional president played by Martin Sheen in the West Wing.
Oh, and he seems to quite like the Muppets, according to the Guardian.
.. he also discloses that his favourite films are The Muppet Christmas Carol and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev. (from the Guardian)
Oddly unique combination of favourite film choices there. Muppet Christmas Carol? We’ve all heard of it but it would be difficult to squeeze it in to your Top 1000 best films, even if you’d only ever seen 100. The Tarkovsky one? IMDb it and find it’s a 1966 Kruschev-era film about an icon painter. IMDB reviews say it’s brilliantm but even its ardent fans say that it’s not exactly an easy movie to watch. For example:
It is a difficult movie to follow. One might liken it to James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake as a work of genius so monumental and complex, and so disdainful of traditional narrative form, that it requires extensive thought and study to understand it. And even after studying it, watching it repeatedly, and reading Tarkovsky’s own comments about it, one still finds it opaque in many ways. (from IMDB)
Don’t all rush out and get the DVD, then.
Spot the difference between a relatively-godless religion and a god-heavy one.
Gurkha chefs won a silver medal in some military cooking competition with a lard Buddha. Well, not really much of a news item, but 100 hours of solid and “boring” lard-sculpting must count for something. At least some Gurkha Buddhists can obviously mix comedy, creativity and philosophy in a way that could shame the monotheists.
Compare and contrast this appealing effort with the hysteria over chocolate Jesus in 2007, which sparked a response the BBC, perhaps hyperbolically, described as an “outcry.” (A bit strange, given how much more appealing chocolate is than lard, when measured only by the criterion of edibility.)
A New York art gallery has decided to cancel an exhibit of a chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ after protests by a US Catholic group…..
We’re delighted with the outcome,” said Kiera McCaffrey, spokeswoman for the League.
Ms McCaffrey had called the exhibit “an assault on Christians”.
The chocolate fuss was as nothing compared to the Piss Christ issue. Although to be honest, it seems as if the artist was blatantly taking the piss. $15,000 of funding for a plastic crucifix and a cup of urine. (Then again, Damien Hirst can get sums exponentially larger for pieces of “art” that are physically created by his workforce and his work doesn’t even make you laugh. So, good luck to Serrano.)
That one actually made it to the Congressional record. I started counting the rant words (“outrage”, “shock”, “indignity”, and so on) but got distracted by the idea that it was obviously some game of outrage bingo. With congressmen trying to outdo each other in their plundering of an imaginary Rhetorical Rage Dictionary.
Do I even need to mention the Mohammed cartoons furore? And so on,
So congratulations, Gurkha chefs, for your charming lardtastic efforts.
There’s a news item – which seems to appear everywhere from the UK’s Daily Mail and the Telegraph to the Indian Andrha News – which suggests that 54% of British people believe in God, compared to 58% who believe in UFOs*, ghosts and mediums.
Internal Pedant wanted to change that last plural to “media” but that would have been both confusing and blatantly absurd. Surely, even UFOnauts and fundies aren’t stupid enough to place much faith in “the media”.
If only this were true……. Abduction survivors have a mild comedy value. People who consult psychics victimise only themselves. None of them are likely to start pogroms or crusades or jihads or even complain when people are insulting to their beliefs. So what does it matter?
Trying to draw a quick mental Venn diagram of the intersection of sets, I realise that the overlap between believing groups could be almost total. Between 4% and 54% of the respondents must believe in both God and UFOs.
These intersecting set people must have to spend so much of their time and mental energy in believing stuff that they might as well be channelling Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen, who managed to cram in believing six impossible things before breakfast
But, all these news stories say something like “according to a survey”. However, I can’t find one report with any references to who carried out this survey, what the questions were, how many people were interviewed or any of those dull facts that Ben Goldacre keeps reminding us to think about when we see survey reports in the media.
“The findings, maybe somewhat unsurprisingly, have been issued to mark the DVD release of The X-Files: I Want to Believe” (from the Daily Mail)
That’s why I can’t find any links to the actual survey. It’s a publicity stunt.
Silly me. That’s what you get for believing in the media…..
* Normally, this means believing that unidentified flying objects are all secret Grey visitors from the planet zarg who will beam up rednecks and probe their orifices. Still, I have to admit to my own inability to identify more than a handful of flying objects. I confused a jay with a pheasant only last week. I can recognise a Cessna and a Spitfire and a Hurricane (from childhood model-building experiments) but otherwise they are all just planes.
Almost a third of teachers think creationism should be taught on a par with evolution, according to the Times.
Of the 1,200 questioned, 53 per cent thought that creationism should not be taught in science lessons, while 29 per cent thought it should.
OK, a third is some serious rounding up from 29%, but the 29% figure itself is quite scary. It suggests that 29% of teachers are either stupid or batshit crazy, which isn’t encouraging. After all, these people have made their way through years of school and higher education to get to become teachers.
It’s certainly evidence for how far ID /creationism has penetrated the UK.
Hoping to find that the poll was conducted by AIG in a few church schools, I am shocked to find that this comes from Teachers TV (to which the Times added an ill-advised pedantic apostrophe, not used by the station itself.)
As you might expect from the name, Teachers TV is mainly worthy but dull (Key stage x in subject blah) but it sometimes has some fascinating content. (I’ve accidentally caught programmes on neuroscience and Turkish tiled architecture, when randomly clicking through the cable channels.) They are currently featuring “Evolution week” on their site. So these poll results don’t seem to be skewed in favour of a creationist agenda.
Which makes the 29% depressingly possible. Worse 18% of a sample of 248 science teachers (albeit a small sample, skewed by respondent bias) thought evolution and creationism should have equal status
Dr Rutherford says that science teachers with those views need retraining or should be taken out of the classroom if they refuse to change their opinion.
That seems as uncontroversial as saying that a domestic science teacher who can’t boil an egg should be retrained or sacked.
However, it brought up quite a furious response in some comments on the Teachers TV site (among the rational ones, that said that phrenology and astrology weren’t taught in science classes either.)
For example, edinburgh4 said that his/her creation group had PHD-qualified speakers and:
the idea that unintelligent design (naturalism) can be falsified while at the same time intelligent design cannot is logically untenability [sic] and morally dubious. If a design did not come from an unintelligent source there is only one conclusion left. Excluding special creation from discussion leaves evolution as the only option this is hollow victory. More and more the public are seeing it as such.
oeditor replied, disputing the “qualifications” of these speakers:
Professor McIntosh may talk about birds but he is an engineer, not a biologist. Nor is he a geologist, as can be seen from his claim that the Grand Canyon was formed by Noah’s flood – “probably in matter of hours”. He isn’t a historian or a linguist either, despite having produced a DVD claiming that the Chinese ideographic script provides evidence of the Tower of Babel.
What he is – and he proclaims this proudly – is a committed Christian who believes that the biblical account of creation in Genesis is to be taken literally and that it happened about 6000 years ago. Everything he and his fellow creationists claim stems from that one premise and nothing else.
Nullius in Verba said
The issue is not whether Creation should be taught in science lessons. The issue is how genuine scientific thought and debate should be encouraged. Stifling the debate as Adam Rutherford suggests is a recipe for tyranny and there is a great danger of insisting that atheism is the only paradigm in which to conduct science (patently not true when one considers the greats like Faraday and Boyle of earlier centuries).
It is even more disturbing that teachers don’t seem to have a basic grasp of logic than that they think it’s reasonable to teach creationism in science classes.
This “stifling the debate” is a common but deeply flawed creationist argument. There are a million to the power of a million possible theories about the nature of life.
Indeed you could produce alternative theories about anything. I could try to get a cup of coffee by standing on one leg, putting a cat on my head, facing magnetic north and chanting “Ding McChing.” It probably wouldn’t work but who knows if they haven’t tried it? If I was undergoing barista training for a chain of coffee bars, I wouldn’t expect them to allow that as an alternative to switching on the machines, grinding the beans and so on. Or if there was really relativist manager who’d let the trainee baristas discuss their own theories, wouldn’t they have to try out the sacrifice of a young goat with a silver knife, if someone else liked that idea? of course, you might have to wait a few millenia for a double espresso.
I can’t see the difference here at all. Some theories have been proven to work through experiment. Until there are theories that work better, it would be slack not to teach people the ones with the empirical backup.
I think Terry Pratchett has at least one (science?) degree. In his Diskworld books, a flat earth is carried on the backs of giant elephants standing on the back of a turtle. What if some of his readers don’t understand the concept of “fiction”? (Not unlike the average fundy) Surely this theory should be discussed in science classes? Respectfully, as a legitimate alternative to geography, in case any of the students’ parents believe it, of course.
Read more about this on the excellent Opinion of a Minion blog
Rachel Sylvester, wrote in the Times that “There’s a god-shaped hole in Westminster” I assumed this meant that Thor had crash landed outside the House of Commons or, at the least, that artistic roadworkers had scooped out a reverse statue of Pan from the pavements of the Royal Borough.
Disappointingly, not so. Rachel Sylvester just thinks that our politicians are too godless.
Certainly, politicians find it easier to “come out” as atheists than to profess that they have a religious faith. Nick Clegg, David Miliband and George Osborne have all said recently that they do not believe in God – something that would be unthinkable in the United States, where presidential candidates compete to win over religious voters……
……. the favourite book for politicians on holiday last year was The God Delusion.
Well, yes, of course they find it easier to say they are atheists, rather than to call their own credulity and mental health into question, by claiming to believe in an imaginary friend. They want us to vote for them surely.
(I am distracted again by exactly how Rachel Sylvester knows what politicians’ favourite holiday reading was. I mean, I’d like to believe that it was the God Delusion but I fear that falls into the category of “made-up stuff”.)
The creeping secularisation of politics was one of the factors that pushed Ruth Kelly, a devout Roman Catholic, into resigning her Cabinet position. …….
She was also disturbed by the way in which her membership of Opus Dei was seen as something weird and even rather dangerous; and she disliked the way in which Mr Blair’s Christianity was mocked during the war in Iraq.
“Creeping secularisation” suggests some stealthy process in which the religious underpinnings of British government are being progressively undermined. Nonsense. Religion plays a bigger part in public discourse now than it has before in my lifetime. If anything, Blair let ideas of “religion” and “faith” intrude into UK politics in ways that were relatively novel.
Ruth Kelly’s membership of Opus Dei may indeed have been seen as something weird. Because it is.
(Although I doubt anyone had heard of her before she resigned, let alone knew that she was member of of Opus Dei, a Catholic society not normally associated with the politics of the Labour Party, old or new.)
Blair’s Christianity “mocked during the war in Iraq”. What? What on earth are you talking about? Blair was unpopular because of the war, true enough. What did his avowed Christianity have to do with that war? Or did he think he was secretly acting for Rowan Williams or the Pope? I can’t believe that either of them would thank him for it.
He was mocked for his commitment to “faith”, fair enough. Indeed, his commitment to his “faith” was so great that he pretended to be an Anglican until he left power, then immediately “converted” to Catholicism. It’s quite hard to see this as a deep and abiding commitment to anything.
Plus, if he was indeed mocked, it must have only been in the House of Commons, which boosts my faltering trust in the judgment of MPs. Most British voters are not interested in a politician’s religion, even though Ms Sylvester seems to think that we need politicians to proclaim imaginary solutions to give us the optimism to deal with crises:
It is ironic that politicians in this country have abandoned belief – at the very moment that the people need hope.
What? This rhetoric is bilge. Have politicians all abandoned belief? No such luck. All of a sudden? No. Do people need “hope” now particularly, as opposed to any other time? Obviously not. Do people get “hope” as a result of politicians believing in sky fairies? Too silly to answer.
From the excellent “Why do people laugh at creationists” series on YouTube:
It worries me that there are other people who think like this mad woman.
Go on home Osama Bin Laden, you are so last century in your, frankly pathetic, attempts to destroy western civilisation. For over five years now we have heard the mantra about how evil Islamic Terrorists want to destroy the decadent, freedom loving, west and how they will try to bomb us into submission.
Basically they are just impatient amateurs. If they wait long enough we do it to ourselves.
Lets look at the world of 2008:
In my job, I travel by air a lot (*) and as a result get constantly annoyed by the idiotic rules we suffer under the guise of “security.” I get monumentally annoyed by the fact that I have to check in hours before my flight, but should I want a drink during the inevitable two hour delay, I have to pay extortionate airport charges because 101mls of water is deadly (while 99mls isn’t). I get really annoyed at the obnoxious attitude most airport security staff have – although, in all fairness this is probably a reaction to suffering annoyed passengers day in, day out…
Outside work, I am a hobby photographer. I love taking pictures on my travels and feel that the cities and towns of my own country are on a par with anywhere else in the world. However in the new world of “Security” taking photos in public places of tourist landmarks results in a uniformed member of the public (**) coming up to me and asking me what I am doing. Thor forbid that a terrorist group be inexpert enough to need to overtly set up a large Digital SLR to take photographs rather than use a mobile phone or compact camera (the millions of people doing that get ignored…).
Travel around the UK and you will be recorded on CCTV along pretty much every urban street. Go into a shop and you will be recorded on CCTV. Drive along the road and you will be subjected to all manner of electronic surveillance – because, basically, you cant have any expectation of privacy in a public place (***). Despite the idea all people are innocent until proven guilty, the government have decided that Islamic Terrorists are different and the state should be able to imprison them for 42 days before it has to show enough evidence to make a charge, let alone convict. Thank the Lords this has been rejected (for now).
In the UK, religion has always been a minor part of public life and thank Odin, this is still pretty much the case. However, since the Evil Islamic Terrorists appeared, there has been a (so far minor) upsurge in people equating “Christian” with “British.” As such, an attack by Islam on Christianity is being sold as an attack on our fundamental “Britishness” to the point at which the tabloids and tacky local TV have people talking in all seriousness about how the United Kingdom is a “Christian nation” and “Britain was founded by Christians for Christians” – obviously these historically challenged dullards are watching too much American propaganda but that is another issue.
This is the non-religious, freedom loving, civilisation that is so threatened by Islamic terrorists. Hmm. Osama would love it here. Ironically, even our recent fear-inspired legislation wasn’t quite enough to smash western civilisation.
Trumping an army of Osama Bin Ladens, when it comes to smashing down western civilisation the real master is simple free market economics.
It is a sad state of affairs that we can pass laws regulating every aspect of your private life, but even in the face of an economic melt down the thought of regulating “The City” is beyond the pale. City traders can, effectively, lose millions of other peoples money with not even a hint of censure – still getting huge bonuses on the eve of begging the taxpayer for a fortune to cover their losses. The crazy irony of this sees us giving them money so they can give it back to us and tell us it is our own savings… Despite their monumental failings, and complete lack of anything resembling expertise, the banking sector still claims it “knows what it is doing” and should be allowed to function unregulated. Can you imagine catching a con-artist stealing your money, then giving them more money because they know how best to get your money back!!! Insane is an understatement.
The collapse of Iceland’s banks, and their governments apparent refusal to honour international agreements, has caused huge damage to the UK economy – on greater scale than any caused by terrorist attacks (if you ignore the cost of ensuing wars). If I deprived my next door neighbour of £100 I would expect to be arrested and probably jailed, however it seems if you add a few extra zeros everyone forgets about it. Iceland basically have held a gun to the governments head and taken our money. Wars have been fought over much, much less.
In an amazingly scary example of economic understanding, the Conservative shadow Chancellor said that the government should reimburse the councils that lost money to Iceland otherwise council tax would have to be increased to cover the loss. This seems sensible until you realise the effect would be to increase the tax burden on everyone to cover the mistakes made by a few. How would that be fair? Is this what we are to expect from a Conservative government?
I agree with the Government that the national banks and banking infrastructure is critical to the well being of the United Kingdom. I also accept the assertion that it is so important, spending £50,000,000,000 to shore up a system broken by greedy, selfish scumbags is in the public interest. I accept that this will mean other aspects of the national infrastructure will suffer and I accept that this is a necessary evil.
What I cant understand is:
I am going to have to stop here. The madness makes me want to scream. If anyone can explain this to me I would be very grateful.
* Apologies to environmentalists, but unless you are willing to pay me not to fly, my choices are limited.
** Sometimes referred to a “Police Community Support Officers” but that implies they are trained members of the law enforcement community, when in reality 75% of them are nothing more than jumped up busy bodies who get to wear a hat.
*** Well, this is true by definition. However there is a “spirit” of the law thing to consider. While you cant realisitically expect to be private walking down the street you can expect the state to not surveil your every movements. While it can be argued that the almost blanket CCTV coverage is not directed against you, the fact remains it is possible for someone to retrospectively search the databases and track your every movement. The fact the surveillance is directed against 65 million people doesn’t stop it being directed.
According to the pope, quoted in the Times, the world financial system is built on sand.
Pope Benedict XVI today said that the global credit crisis shows that the world’s financial systems are “built on sand” and that only the works of God have “solid reality
Well, yes, to the first bit. The “house built on sand” story seems metaphorically appropriate. (About which I can remember little more, from the time when my religious education teacher tried to explain – to a room full of architecturally ignorant 12 year-old girls – why building on sand wasn’t a good idea.)
Granted, the world financial system is pretty much a con trick, with imaginary gains and losses that have only an accidental relationship to the production and distribution of goods. And the whole system can collapse as easily as a building with no foundations.
But, talk about a non sequitor. The world financial system is built on myths, so this other myth must be true….What? Nonsense.
He added: ”We are now seeing, in the collapse of major banks, that money vanishes, it is nothing. All these things that appear to be real are in fact secondary. Only God’s words are a solid reality”.
Let’s ignore for one minute that the Catholic Church itself isn’t exactly destitute, and assume that the Pope maintains a state of religious poverty.
I abhor the worship of money as much as I abhor the worship of gods. However, there is a big difference between greed and need. And many things that “appear to be real” about access to money are “primary”.
Access to food, housing, healthcare, water, clothing.
Try doing without these for a while. A few days is all you’ll manage without water, but you’d barely survive a few weeks without the others, either. (Although large swathes of the world’s population seem to have to pull off this trick every day.)
Try doing without the “word of god”. Hmm. Not too difficult, that one. You can probably keep going like that for, oh, I don’t know, a human lifespan, say.