In Defence Of Disagreement Part Two

Intelligent debate not insults

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Continued from previous post.

Continue reading “In Defence Of Disagreement Part Two”

In Defence Of Disagreement Part One

Intelligent debate not insults

I started this blog in January 2017 and have written over a hundred posts since then. In my first ever post I gave three reasons for adding yet another voice to the cacophony that is the internet…

1/ the general coarsening of debate in the second decade of the twenty-first century;

2/ the seeming triumph of emotion over fact;

3/ the return and apparently unstoppable advance of aggressive, authoritarian religion and the scarily right-wing religionists who demand RESPECT for their beliefs.

This post is my way of summarisng what I believe after nearly a year of writing this blog before I take a break over the Christmas and New Year period. I am sure my impending visit to the UK will give me lots of things to write about in 2018. The unfortunate truth is that the things I objected to in January are still the prevailing problems in politics in the Western world. Continue reading “In Defence Of Disagreement Part One”

Is Religion Original Sin?

The moral bankruptcy of the Abrahamic faith(s)

We have so much to ‘thank’ religion for – holy wars and jihads, rampant misogyny and child rape spring to mind. Each of three Abrahamic delusions – three religions that are actually one, like the Trinity – has made its own special contribution to the sum of human misery. Judaism gave us an aggressively male deity with mad rules about food and menstruation, whilst Islam has given the world a fatalistic terror of those rules and suicide bombings. But Christianity has bequeathed us the revolting doctrine of ‘Original Sin,’ often associated with St Augustine, the Osama Bin Laden of the later Roman Empire (bored, rich playboy turned religious maniac). Original Sin is the insane belief that we are all responsible for the ‘sin’ of a mythical rib-woman eating a piece of fruit, egged on by a talking snake and need to be ‘saved’ by the brutal execution of a carpenter who is his own father. Yes, I am being facetious but isn’t this the essence of Christianity? However, I would contend that religion itself – especially in its various Abrahamic forms – is an original sin, not just in the disgusting behaviour of its adherents but in its fundamental doctrines. Continue reading “Is Religion Original Sin?”

Quote of the Day #31

Christopher Hitchens

“Modern humans have existed approximately 100,000 years. Our species suffered and died, most of its children dying in childbirth. Most other people having a life expectancy of 25 years. Famine, struggle, bitterness, war, misery. All of that for 98,000 years. Heaven watches with complete indifference and thinks ‘that’s enough of that, it’s time to intervene.’ And the best way to do this would be by condemning someone (Jesus Christ, the son of god) to human sacrifice somewhere in the less literate part of the Middle East. Let’s not appeal to the Chinese, for example, where people can read and write and study evidence and have a civilisation. Let’s go to the desert and have a revelation there. THIS IS NONSENSE!” Continue reading “Quote of the Day #31”

I Like Stories Too

But the categories ‘fiction’ and ‘non-fiction’ exist for a reason

One of my favourite childhood memories of my late grandmother happened when I was about eight years old. My grandmother had been on holiday and when she returned she brought back presents for myself and my siblings. My present was a Ladybird book of Greek myths containing the stories of Theseus and the Minotaur and Perseus and the Gorgons. I read the book over and over again. I’m pretty sure it was one of the reasons I got into History – wanting to know more about the society that created such fantastic tales. What I never did however, even as a child, was get my ideas about morality from the legends of Classical Greece. The gods of Olympics and the heroes of these legends seem to behave in a pretty immoral, or rather amoral, fashion. All societies have produced stories about superhuman beings – those of the Norse are particularly good and the Viking view of heaven as an endless drinking party is definitely one I can relate to. The great misfortune of History is that a large number of people have been forced to live according to the primitive morality contained in the myths and legends of the Ancient Hebrews. Continue reading “I Like Stories Too”

Leap Of Faith 

Science and Religion are not competitors 

If the Sun was scaled down to the size of a white blood cell, the Milky Way would be the size of the continental United States. There are between 100,000,000,000 and 400,000,000,000 stars in the Milky Way and it is estimated that there are between 100,000,000,000 and 200,000,000,000 galaxies in the universe. Even if you take the lowest estimates there are about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (10 sextillion) stars in the universe. Then there are the spaces between galaxies which are even larger than the galaxies. The Milky Way is between 100,000 and 160,000 light years across but the closest galaxy to our own, Andromeda, is around 2,500,000 light years away. The sheer scale of the universe is incomprehensible to poorly-evolved east African primates who only learned to speak properly less than 200,000 years ago. But the most important things to the ‘creator’ of all this are the genitals of one species on one planet that orbits one of these stars and whether one half of said species shows its hair to the other half. Continue reading “Leap Of Faith “

In Defence Of Classical History 

Imagine a world untouched by Christianity.

I recently attended a three day history conference. Now I know that sounds like torture to a lot of people but I loved it. One of the highlights was a professor of ancient history giving a lecture comparing democracy in ancient Greece and modern Europe. In particular he drew parallels between the Brexit Referendum in 2016 and the Sicilian Expedition during the Peloponnesian War (431-404BC). Whatever your views of the referendum, it was an exercise in democracy on an very large scale. Over 33,000,000 people voted – 72% of registered voters and 65% of the voting age population. In Athens, the people’s assembly (demos) voted on all government business; it was a direct rather than a representative democracy. In 415BC, the demos voted enthusiastically in favour of a plan to conquer Sicily. The expedition was a disaster and the Athenians lost 200 ships and thousands of soldiers. Whether the Brexit vote turns into a disaster on the scale of Sicily is anyone’s guess (personally, I doubt it). The point I am trying to make is that studying Classical History helps us to understand the workings of democracy. People are people, demagogues are demagogues – although I would hesitate to compare Boris Johnson to Alcibiades because he would like it too much. Upper-class playboy with a penchant for rabble-rousing and swapping sides? Sounds familiar? Continue reading “In Defence Of Classical History “