Thursday, April 21, 2011

Taking offence

My wife recently put a post on facebook that included a quote from a Tim Minchin song that refers to pope Ratzinger using some swear words. Some people took offence so she took the post down.

I have posted the following on her wall, in the hope that it makes people think a little more before trying to crush free speech.
Hazel recently put a post up about the pope that included a few swear words from a song by Tim Minchin. Some people got a bit upset so she, very generously, deleted it. In a country that has free speech at it's heart, she didn't have to do this.

I had a response to these people that I didn't have time to send before the post's removal. I still think it is worth saying, so here it is:

If you read the lyrics of the Tim Minchin song in question, you will find that it is a rant, by Tim Minchin, against Ratzinger himself, for not turning priests accused of paedophillia over to the authorities, as any other responsible institution would have done. Instead, he swept it under the carpet and moved priests to different parishes.

If anyone is not offended by that, but, at the same time, offended by a few swear words, then they need to think seriously about their priorities.

Tim Minchin himself has said he would march shoulder to shoulder with people for their right to hold sacred anything they want, but don't ever tell anyone else what they must hold sacred.
I hope that next time they think before they take offence so easily.

Monday, April 18, 2011

To measure love.

How do you measure love? I mean, really, how do you weigh it? Surely not in kilograms, or lb, or miles per hour, or kiloNewtons or mass x the speed of light squared.

Yet love is real. It is physical. True love, at least, exists as a real physical thing. Our minds can become obsessed with it, our bodies can yearn for it as much as it might yearn for chocolate, coffee, alcohol or even cocaine. Love is not some ethereal, metaphysical concept. It is absolutely real. Our love for another human being can move us to do amazing, and sometimes dreadful things. I am not judging which things are amazing and which are dreadful, but the things people do for, and in the name of love, are real.

So, given it's reality, how do we measure it? What instruments could we possibly use? What data would we look at? What are the error bars? What's the p-value?

Well, of course, we wouldn't use some instrument, some vial, some computer. But yet, it is real. So, again, how do we measure it? In what possible way can we say we love someone?

If you love someone who sees life the same way you do, then that's easy. It's a "no-brainer", everything is "hunky-dory" it's "a-ok". But how can you really say that you love that person? That is difficult to measure. Loving someone with the same values, the same principles, who looks at life in the same way, is easy. To love, within your own boundaries, is but a small step.

To love someone with different values; with a different outlook on life; who holds sacred things, which previously, perhaps, you did not; Who does not hold sacred the things that maybe you do. That is not easy. That is difficult. That involves change. Not just changes on the surface like, I don't know, changing your hairstyle, or the clothes you wear, or the type of food you like.

I mean real change. Change that actually matters. Change in your principles; Change in how you view the world; change in what you hold precious; change in how you go about this thing we call life.

They, of course, change too. But when they do, when they change their outlook on life in response to you, and when you both discover new things, new principles. That is real love. That is dedication. That is what "laying down your life for someone" really means.

And that?! That is how you measure love. Change. The measure of love is change. How much you change to become someone new; To become someone different. I won't say better, that is subjective. A fuller, richer person perhaps. A more interesting person, certainly! but a different person than the person you once were. You can still look back and see life through the eyes of that person you were, but now you have this new perspective. Now, you see the world from two different viewpoints.

And what does viewing the world from two different positions give you? Perspective. You see the world in 3D. And the further apart the two positions were to start with, the better the sense of depth. The better the perspective.

That is how you measure love!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In response to The conundrum of atheism.

No-one kills people in the name of Santa Claus, or tells everyone else they can’t spend their life with the person they love, just because they are of the same gender.

How patronising to think we really think God exists but are pretending. To what end? Imagine if I used that argument on you and said you don’t really believe, but just pretend you do.

As for morals. They didnt “magically evolve”, they evolved. You, however, believe they magically appeared from God.

So called militant atheists are harmless. Militant theists are not. See this cartoon. to make it clear what I mean.

Got that off my chest.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Losing my humanity?

"And it came to pass at midnight, that Jehovah smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the first-born of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the first-born of cattle."
Exodus 12:21

For some reason, I have found myself talking to a few theists recently, or more specifically, Christians. The above quote from exodus is one reason (of many) that I left the church. So, it was interesting to ask them what they thought of the above passage.

Apart from the usual, "you are taking it out of context" answer, to which I say, "there is no context whatsoever that makes God's actions in Egypt morally justifiable", one answer in common was along the lines of, "God needed to show his power so that he would be respected"!

Anyone that uses that kind of violence to gain respect is not interested in respect, they are interested in fear. It is the justification a spouse uses when they use violence against their partner. God, of course, cannot bypass his own moral laws and commit genocide, unless he is a hypocrite, in which case why worship him?

Anyone who defends someone else's violence by saying they need to be respected and so need to show their wrath, has lost their instinctive ability to tell the difference between fear and respect. Is this the reasoning they would have used If one of the Egyptian parents had asked, "why did God kill my child?"

This reasoning, that is used to defend God's actions, is a sign of how far down the rabbit hole Christians have to be. They have lost that very human quality, empathy. Instead they look to the bible and their pastors for answers. They no longer trust their own thoughts and feelings, particularly if those thoughts and feelings are not seen, by their peers, to fit with the group-think that is their own church's interpretation of the bible.

If that kind of twisted logic is what is required to be a Christian, then I have made the right choice. I am right. I am free of that way of thinking and that I no longer have to twist my thoughts and feelings to obey any one particular church's interpretation of the angry whims of a jealous, spiteful, violent and abusive God.

Point to ponder. Why would an all-powerful God require a red mark above the door to distinguish households of his chosen people and those of the Egyptians? Other than to require absolute obedience (a very appealing characteristic, I'm sure) or to allow humans, who probably carried out the genocide, to tell which house was which.