chaletian: (mp god)
Having read a series of articles about religion, I went off on a tangent with a little thought about universal morality, or, at any rate, the idea of morality requiring a God.

Unsurprisingly, I don't subscribe to this view, and I will admit to finding it strange that some people are genuinely puzzled by the concept of morality as distinct from any religion, but how does it work? When there is a world full of different religions with differing moral codes (and, indeed, differing moral codes even within the same religion), how can one blithely assume that, natch, God presented man with the rules for living? Is it just a natural by-product of the belief in one's own religion and its corollary that all other religions are wrong? But what about, say, people who work on the basis that the Christian, Jewish and Muslim "God" are all basically the same thing? Because I'm fairly sure that those religions do not have identical moral/social beliefs.

And if morality (for Christians) is based on the word of God which, by my understanding, is what is writ in yon Bible, what about all the stuff that lots of people don't pay attention to any more? All that stuff in Leviticus about stoning people and selling people and different skins? Was that not the word of God? Does God not care about certain things very much, that people can ignore them? And, fine, standards change. But then, surely, it's man deciding what morals should be, not God. Or do we look to our respective churches to tell us which of God's words we listen to and which we ignore? Do they decide our morals?
chaletian: (bard much ado getting a divorce)
I have (yet another) dreadful tale to relate. You’d better all sit down. Yesterday, I WENT OUT WITHOUT A BOOK. I know. Horrible, isn’t it? I can’t remember the time I made such an awful mistake. Rest assured, it wasn’t deliberate, merely an oversight, but still: tragic.

Anyway, moving on. The weekend: Katie was off at Connotations, so I had the run of the flat which, natch, I managed to trash in approximately 3.7 seconds (a personal best), which meant I had to get up at 6 o’clock yesterday morning to make some vague attempts at tidying. Other things I did over the weekend included watching TV and making egg fried rice. Also, I read Genesis, which was interesting, if a bit mental. It’s odd though, that most of the bible stories I was taught at school, all happen right at the beginning. Anyway, I’m looking forward to Exodus and the all-singing, all-dancing Joseph.

Last night I tottered off to the theatre with Xanthe and Kerry (with whom I went to school) to see All’s Well That Ends Well at the National. And when I say ‘tottered’, what I actually mean is ‘walked all the way from St John’s Wood to the South Bank’ – go me. Along my route (which encompassed, for any who might be interested, Baker Street, Oxford Street, South Molton Street, Brook Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Charing Cross Road, St Martin’s in the Fields and Charing Cross Station), I encountered the former residences of no lesser personages than William Pitt the Younger, Ernest Bevin, George Handel, Jimi Hendrix and Prince Talleyrand. I also saw St George’s on Hanover Square which is where any couple of note in any Regency romance ever gets married (unless they elope to Gretna Green, natch).

Eh bien, the play. For the play, as we all know, is the thing. Oh, William. William, William, William. What am I to say? I mean, I should have known. I’ve seen A Comedy of Errors. I know the hideous depths to which your ‘comedies’ can sink. AWTEW is a ridiculous play. Absolutely absurd. Helena remains determined to have Bertram LIKE A MENTALIST, and Bertram is a cad and a bounder! You know how I feel about the noble Claudio? BERTRAM IS WORSE. They are welcome to each other. Bertram and Helena, I mean. Not Bertram and Claudio. That would be another play altogether and, for all we know, a better one. Anyway, the set was absolutely beautiful, very dark fairy-tale-ish, and worth the trip for that alone, frankly. The acting was so-so – it was mostly very STAND BACK, WE’RE PERFORMING SHAKESPEARE NOW with a lot of random monologues etc which got slightly tedious. Having seen various productions of Shakespeare (the Donmar Warehouse’s Twelfth Night, for one, or the Open Air Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet) where the action and language flow as easily as any modern play, to see this performed in such a pedestrian manner was disappointing. Still, as shit a play as it is, they probably couldn’t have done it much better. It was nice to be back in the Olivier, though – I can’t remember the last time I saw something there.

La. So, that was last night. Tonight, I was supposed to be going to Kathye’s, but I need to prep for my interview tomorrow (if anyone happens to know anything about diabetic retinopathy screening (or, in fact, about any DoH mandated screening programmes), please tell me everything!!), and possibly do some photoshopping for Alexandros’s leaving present, so will have to stay at home and be productive. Also, must remember to wash some tights.
chaletian: (blackadder lord)
There's water, water of life
Jesus gives us the water of life

(Hymn #2, Come and Praise)

Now, I am the first to confess that I am not exactly well up on Christian doctine, but I am fairly certain that the Bible makes no reference to Jesus controlling either (a) precipitation, (b) the water table, or (c) any kind of municipal waterworks. He walked on the stuff, but he didn't provide it wholesale. What gives, Come and Praise?
chaletian: (mp god)
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chaletian: (mp god)
Having just watched the finale to BSG, my thoughts have turned to religion as portrayed in television, and, more specifically, how my enjoyment of two specific shows has been marred by it.

When it comes to reality-based shows (Bones, One Tree Hill etc), it doesn’t really matter what they do about the characters’ religious beliefs. What they believe or don’t believe is obviously an integral part of that character, but that’s where it ends. It’s a personal choice, and while it may reflect that beliefs of the show’s writers/creators, I don’t have a problem with it.

A problem arises for me when, by the very genre of the show, the show itself is called upon to make comment as to the existence of the ‘supernatural’. Now, shows like Buffy or Charmed work all right for me. The supernatural is presented as an alternative dimension to our ordinary lives, something that exists alongside what we already know. In Buffy, Hell seems to be just another alternate dimension. Even though Heaven is expressly referred to, it is only very loosely conceptualised, and there is no suggestion of God or even the Devil. There is no creation myth – not for the beginning of the world, at any rate, just the separation of ‘our’ world and the demonic world. Even the Powers That Be in Angel are not really identifiable as God: though they exist in a dimension beyond ours and have power over our existence, both on a day-to-day basis and also in a futuristic prophecy kind of way, there is no suggestion that they created the world, and their intentions are not always benevolent: they are there to maintain the balance between good and evil.

Again, Supernatural started out with a mythos that I could understand, where most supernatural entities (werewolves, wendigos or whatever) were based in a physical world, with rules which, if different than ours, were still a constant. The introduction of demons brings with it, again, the idea of an alternative dimension to ours, but within the context of the show, that’s fine.

Where Supernatural went wrong, for me, is when they introduced an explicitly Christian element to the show. Angels, God, Lucifer, Hell (and not just a random alternative dimension, but actual hellfire-and-brimstone Hell with eternal damnation and Lucifer ruling over it all). I don’t believe in God. If I did, there’s no reason to believe in one religion’s deity over another’s. I don’t understand why they would want to pin themselves down like that. While the devil is in the detail, surely the more they identify with one particular religion, the more they risk alienating people who expressly disbelieve that religion. I mean, angels? Actual angels, as named in the Bible? Come off it.

Similarly, I found the religious themes in Battlestar Galactica off-putting. Initially, the Cylons choosing to believe in a monotheistic deity was interesting, and intellectually involving, looking at the question of how they construct their reality and their place in the universe. I enjoyed how they contrasted Caprica’s faith with Gaius Baltar’s scepticism. It was a clash of one person’s beliefs against another’s, and I always find that fascinating. Where it went wrong, for me, is when the show itself began to take sides. Towards the end, it was pretty much expressly stated that there was some higher power at work, whether it be God or Fate – call it what you will, they insisted that there was a power beyond us that guided our lives. And I am not cool with that.

So, joyous TV that I love: please take note. Have religious characters. Have religious debate (it’s actually very interesting). But don’t take sides, or I’ll stop liking you.

ETA: Thinking about it further, I think, actually, my main problem is that with shows like Buffy, all the demons and Hell etc, you're not meant to actually believe it - it's just fiction. In BSG, with their God/Fate thing - it feels like they actually want us to believe it. Which makes it a very different kettle of fish for me.
chaletian: (mp god)
Me: [ranting about religion]
Me: And creationists believe the world was created about six thousand years ago. Which is apparently when the Sumerians were inventing glue.
Ben: Maybe the Sumerians created the world.
Me: Ooh, you may have hit upon something there.
Ben: Once they’d invented the glue, they thought, “ooh, we could do something with this! Look, I’ve made a collage!”


Jan. 16th, 2009 01:08 pm
chaletian: (spock fucking serious)
I obviously should just not got out of bed this morning.

Partly, I sympathise with that bus driver (I know; none of you saw that coming). If I were a bus driver and came to work one morning to find my bus emblazoned with advertisements for killing monkeys or sodomising the elderly (against their wishes, natch; whatever people want to do in the privacy of their own retirement home is their own business), I wouldn't be keen on driving it. However, I don't think the two are remotely comparable. I find it interesting that one of the first tenets of most religions, right up there with "be nice" and "don't be a murderer", is the sanctity of that religion itself. It's weird. You'd think some of them would be up front about it all. Y'know: this is what we believe. We believe it very strongly and think it's ace and we're all going to end up in cotton candy land in the sky. However, we feel we should point out, just for accuracy's sake, that lots of other people believe lots of other things, and really, objectively speaking, the odds of our beliefs happening to be THE ONE TRUE GREAT TRUE TRUTH in the universe are, tragically, quite slim. Let's all live with it, eh, and be happy.
chaletian: (daily mail)
Katie sent me this link yesterday morning, and to be honest, leaving aside the ridiculous stupidity of the thing (what, so it's fine that for MILLENNIA people have been poncing around variously proclaiming the existence of God or gods, but SWEET BABY JEE don't let anyone suggest that the big G may not exist?), seriously, how do they expect to demonstrate to anyone that God does exist. Cuz isn't it sort of the point that no-one can? Twats.
chaletian: (pgw bertie ponders)
So, Katie and I recently read the comic Jesus Hates Zombies (which I imagine is true). Jesus is sent back down from heaven by God to fight the good fight when the world is taken over by a zombie plague. All I’m thinking is, how much cooller would it have been if his sidekick was not Laz the zombie but instead a now-grown-up potential-SAVIOUR-OF-THE-WORLD Suri Cruise. Hah. That would amuse me.

Went to the Bad Film Club last night for Robocop 3, which was joyous (though Robocop’s giant mutant head and tiny mutant face never fail to freak me out), and which bizarrely contained both Inspector Craddock from Miss Marple and Josh from The West Wing (useful for The Game, we thought, and then laughed a lot). Next month is Congo. After that, a bad 80s film with Sylvester Stallone in tight jeans accompanied by a heavy body count. Beauty.

So, I was a little bit horrified at the thought of Sarah Palin believing that dinosaurs roamed the earth (I love that “roam” is the only verb that ever seems to go with “dinosaurs”) 4000 years ago, because, um, yes, there were all sorts of ancient civilisations bopping around at the time, and you’d think one of them at least would have mentioned it. Why would Aristophanes have written The Frogs when he could have written The Huge Fuck-Off Dinosaurs? However, fortunately, upon researching further, I find that apparently (and I am open to correction here) that creationists believe that dinosaurs were around 6000 years ago. So that’s OK then.

Believing in literal creationism, which flies in the face of all scientific evidence, is stupid. This probably seems blunt, and if you happen to read this and you do believe it, I’m sorry if you’re offended, but there you go. I think it’s stupid.

Believe in intelligent design if you want to, but it has no scientific evidence to support it, and is founded on a belief in the existence of God, which doesn’t have any scientific evidence to support it either. It is therefore not a fit subject for a science class, due to the total absence of, um, science. Talk about it in RE by all means, but that’s what it is, a religious belief, not a scientific theory.

I had a whole rant about education and stuff, but to be honest, I just can’t be arsed. You’ve dodged a bullet, there; I was getting quite passionate as I typed.

Anyway. Meh. I’ll go away now.
chaletian: (mp god)
♥ You know how I posted a day or two ago about Katie getting trapped by Jehovah's Witnesses? Well, I felt a bit bad about it, because she said they were quite nice (which they were, though I had to struggle to restrain myself from shouting out "she's a heathen!" when they asked if she'd thought much about the Bible, but I was wearing a towel and didn't want to involve myself). Until some anonymous bod replied that I could learn something from the Bible, the self-righteousness of which made my instinctive response "fuck off!" Because whilst (a) I believe that there are valuable moral lessons to be learned from the Christian doctrines, viz being nice, I think that actually that's fairly universal and I don't *actually* need the Bible to tell me and (b) um, whatever, stop touting your deluded personal fantasy. I'm sorry, I think people can believe and say what they like about stuff and I'm with Voltaire on the whole not necessarily agreeing but fighting to the death for your right to say it (only, admittedly, less noble and thus only really willing to fight to the mild discomfort and/or slight personal embarrassment), but when it comes down to it I don't believe God exists and therefore any "relationship" anyone has with him is entirely in their heads. Which, whatever, if that works for people, but keep it to yourself (which most people I know do). It's not like I try and involve people in my personal fantasy (viz being secretly descended from the Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia and thus heir to the Russian throne, as will be proved by my Romanov jewel, purchased very reasonably, and even more mystically, at the Kingston H&M). Well, OK, except for Megan, whom I almost managed to convince. Yes, that's right. I abused her childish trust and belief in me by making her think that one day my £1.99 necklace will fall open to reveal a Faberge jewel that will cement my claim to Russia. Heh.*

♥ On an entirely different note, a new poster has appeared in Baker Street (northern Jubilee line, should anyone be interested. Not that I can really imagine that. Moving on...) for the film The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. There is a little box on the poster considerately telling me that the film contains scenes of Holocaust, Threat and Terror. Well, thank fuck they told me, frankly, because the picture on the poster of two boys on either side of a CONCENTRATION CAMP FENCE didn't give that one away or anything... FFS, how stupid is the public assumed to be these days? Pah, I say. And I say it vehemently.

♥ Have read a great number of comics recently, including majority of the Bruce Wayne: Murderer/Fugitive storyline (really like the Batman comics - can anyone recommend any good Batman and Nightwing fic? Not slashy, necessarily, just sort of angsty family stuff?). Also, latest issue of Fables - two very enthusiastic thumbs up!

♥ Anyway, you might be asking yourself what I've been up to recently. (Or you might not, but I can't cope with that possibility of no-one caring, so will pretend it could not exist.) So, yep. Um, not much, actually. I tidied my room a little while ago but since then I developed my current art project (a sort of collagey-wall-hanging thing) which is half-finished on the floor, with every single vaguely craft-related item I own silting up the room. The odds of it being spoiled are increasing exponentially (not literally, that was a little bit of hyperbole). So, there's that. We're going to the Bad Film Club this week to see Robocop III which should be a little bit of a treat. That's about it. Ooh, we had a BT line installed on Friday, that was a bit of excitement in the week.

♥ Bah. Mid-September already. Must remember to fashion the remains of Grandma's birthday present and send it. Re my little plan to bop up to Sheff and surprise her, I surreptitiously floated the idea to Grandad and he was dubious on account of Rosie etc and not knowing what they're doing in advance. So on the one hand I want to post it so she has her present for her birthday, and on the other hand want to save it till I next go up so I can see her little face. *making see-one's-little-face-when-receiving-present gesture*

♥ Ooh, totally forgot to mention that on a whim we went to see Tim Minchin at the Bloomsbury the other week, which was really ace (though there's a funny story there, cuz I saw a thing in the paper about it on the Friday, and had a little email conversation with Katie about let's go tonight! and we agreed to do that, and I bought the tickets and was quite excited and we were making plans about meeting etc until I realised that in fact it wasn't till the following Friday, so that was side-splittingly funny but fortunately worked out OK despite my own stupidity and inability to know what the date is), though I was nearly late because the Gower St Waterstones is there, and I got sucked in by the books. So, yes. Tim Minchin. Katie discovered him back when Mark Watson made the world substantially better and made me listen too. He writes songs (and then performs them. Obviously). They are funny. And ace. And on Youtube. Go and watch. Or go and see him live, which was much better. Also, I wrote a pome (which was nice, on account of having lost my pome-fu! 0.o Like my fic-fu and my computer-genius-fu... I am fu-less. Fu-free. Sans-fu. Tragique), because that seemed an appropriate medium:

Pome, or, I tried to think of a genius title but failed )

My god, I actually will one day become the next poet laureate. I can see it now. Please don't interfere with my personal fantasy by commenting on the pathetic attempts at rhyming with words that don't quite fit. Or that it's crap. I just want my fu back!! *g*

Also, I have a little confession... )

Anyway, I'm going to go to bed again. I woke up at about two in a bit of a bedlinen tangle and couldn't sleep, but I've gone tired again. I'm never going to be up in time in the morning, and Emma will have yet another reason to bully me. I didn't mention, did I, that in the course of my day's BT-man-leave on Friday, she called me three times merely to bully me? You've actually got to give her kudos for the kind of persistent hard work she puts into it... *g* Apparently Roman brought in jaffa cakes, and I missed them. :(

* Actually, I must sadly confess that I didn't entirely succeed in making her believe my little tale of intrigue and romance. She remained mostly sceptical till the end.
chaletian: (svh jess flirts)
Had a delightful weekend. Out to the pub on Friday with lots of geeky sci-fi chatter. Slept in on Saturday (bliss; I’ve been so sleep-deprived), then went into Richmond with Katie for a spot of shopping and brunch, then walked home via Richmond Park and King Henry’s Mount and the cemetery, which was very jolly. Had tea, watched The Day After Tomorrow (oh, the Quaid…). Sunday we received our groceries (thank fuck, we were on the brink of starvation), and then bopped off to Kingston for more shopping and milk shakes. Came home, watched Dancing on Ice, had tea (nice bit of b.chick). I made some tomato tarts.

On the road into Richmond, there is a house which has a stone lion in the front garden. Look, we have said on many an occasion, it’s Aslan! Aslan indeed, quoth Katie the other day, turned to stone, never to be returned to his natural form for he lives in a land without magic. Ah, quoth the Squeen, what price the state of religion in the western world today? Take that, CS Lewis!!! And we were very entertained at the religious symbolism.

We bought a laundry basket. The laundry basket is ace. And fairly huge. And we filled it with crap on the way home from Kingston, and then thought that having a crap basket in the living room would be a super idea. A basket full of our very own crap. Aces. (Not our actual crap. Obviously. That’s why God invented the flushing toilet.)

Flash Gordon tonight on the Sci-Fi Channel. Could be shite. Could be ace. Who can tell?

I bought easter eggs on sticks. They’re awesome.
chaletian: (mp god)
I love this song. Very, very much. (As the title suggests, it's a bit talking-about-religion.)

Voltaire - God Thinks

ETA - So, yep, thinking about it, some people might find this offensive.


Jul. 12th, 2007 12:04 pm
chaletian: (buffy religion freaky)
...the Pope's a bit full-on, isn't he? Y'know, what with the part where Protestants can't call themselves a church, or whatever.

And I can understand people wanting the tradition etc of a Latin Mass, but what's the point? I mean, the general Mass-attending public is unlikely to be fluent in Latin, and while surely they will understand what is being said (I presume), where is the value in having it in a foreign language? Is Latin God's first language or something?
chaletian: (like to teach)
Further to my voyage of religious discovery, I have spent the last couple of hours talking to half a dozen of my nearest and dearest, canvassing their opinions on the existence or otherwise of God. Is it strange that I have never known what anyone in my family actually believes on that front? Anyway, the results were pretty much as I expected, and I had a couple of very interesting discussions with Daddy and Grandma on the subject (Daddy and I, not surprisingly, having fairly similar views, being as how we have pretty much the same brain). Neither Rosie nor my mother showed much interest in the subject (Mummy believes; Rosie doesn't, which did surprise me a little), and Grandad didn't discuss it beyond answering the question (he said yes he did believe, though oddly Grandma said she thought he didn't), but said it would be interesting to talk about it more when I go to stay. Chris believes basically the same as me, I think, but is far more cynical about the role of organised religion in society. So there you go. The collected religious views of the Hallatt/Webster clan. (I imagine it goes more or less without saying that where there is religious persuasion, it is of the Church of England variety, and none of us are church-goers, even the ones who believe.)

As a final tally of my mini survey:

7 people were consulted (yes, I include myself)
3 men, 4 women
6 with a university education, 1 without
6 were brought up with a C of E background, including some form of regular church attendance (forgot to ask Daddy, and actually that maybe ought to be 5, because my regular church attendance was at a Methodist church)
5 were confirmed, 1 was not (again, forgot to ask Daddy)
3 believed in some kind of God, 4 didn't
chaletian: (firefly wash evil laugh)
Also, what the blue blazes is with the concept that Atheism has no moral centre or, at least, leads to moral relativism (not convinced that that’s necessarily a bad thing, either and is, in fact, surely an inarguable state of affairs on a global cultural scope, because who is to say whose moral absolutes are correct)?

For a start, how is being atheist supposed to rob you of, for the want of a better expression, a moral compass? Is it what you’re taught as part of your religion, that gives you a moral compass? Because I would say I have been taught my morals in the same way as many other Christians in this country. Does the simple fact of my non-belief in God negate what I have learnt? Because this implies to me that what matters is not what one knows to be right or wrong, but that God will see that you do not follow the rules. It’s not a case of not doing something because you know it’s wrong, but not stealing a Mars bar because your mother will find out and there’ll be hell to pay. If God has to be in the equation for a moral foundation to be worth anything, then it implies that humans are not capable of making their own moral decisions, *even when* they are given the rulebook.

Of course, that’s a bit fallacious, because if I don’t believe in God, I can’t really claim to believe in the ‘rulebook’ that is Christian teaching (even though I (a) do believe in the existence of Jesus, just not that he was God’s son etc etc etc and (b) do actually think that much of Christian morality is generally a Good Thing (how can compassion, understanding and love be bad, for a start), though of course that could be explained as simple cultural submergence). And in some ways I don’t. I don’t believe God handed Moses the Ten Commandments; I don’t, as I said, believe that Jesus was the son of God, come to teach us the error of our ways. But I do think that we are capable of creating our own morality, and while I think that the nature of the world means that one has to accept a degree of moral relativism, I do believe in the concept of a universal morality.

It’s actually fairly basic, but I think that we have certain moral rules that are self-evident and based, admittedly, on rather selfish impulses, viz, do as you would be done by, basically. No-one wants to be murdered, so murder is bad. No-one wants someone to beat them with a stick, so beating people with sticks is bad (should add without consent, no matter what R v Brown said!!!). I think this sort of ‘universal morality’ is strictly limited (I would say, for example, that no-one likes having their belongings pinched, so pinching people’s belongings is bad, except I read a book recently about Cook’s travels in Tahiti, and how he had real problems because he couldn’t get his head round the Tahitians not having the concept of private property – a concept that is, and pretty much always has been – fundamental to English culture). In some ways, I would liken it to Hart’s concept of having a basic moral centre to law. Hart was a positivist (arguing that laws are laws when they flow from an acceptable precedent ie, a law in this country is a valid law when it has been passed by the Commons, the Lords, and given royal assent, as opposed to the natural law contingent, who argue that a law is a law when it is moral and necessary etc etc, which I could never understand because that is patently not how legal systems work, in developed countries at least), and though in positivism the substance of the law is not actually relevant, Hart posited that you did at least need to have a moral centre to the legal system or else it would be fundamentally unstable. (At least, I *think* that’s what he said – this was a while ago, after all, and I was slightly distracted at the time by my own mentalheadedness.) Things change between cultures, but we are all still humans, and I think there are probably some fundamental similarities in different cultures’ moral systems, similarities that may well exist in the face of completely disparate religious beliefs. Which to me would imply that there is a level of universal morality that has nothing to do with believing in a one true god.
chaletian: (mp badger)
Also, I do not understand in the least how Pascal's wager (in its basic form) is supposed to convince anyone that God exists. Surely all it proves is that, in the most basic dual terms that given equal probabilities of the existence and non-existence of God, believing in him might be better for your posthumous existence. That doesn't then logically prove that God *does* exist. It just shows that being a bit craven about the whole thing might be a way forward.
chaletian: (mp god)
So, at the moment, I’m reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, and this has led me to think about, well, OK, myself (no use departing from tradition, after all) in terms of my religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

I've cut this because it may well be offensive to people on my flist. I don't (and will not) apologise for anything I've written; I think my opinions are as valid as anyone else's. )
chaletian: (iron mittens)
I did a meme on [ profile] xanantha’s journal, and one of the questions was about my philosophy on life. Which is a pretty good question I think (unlike the inevitable and annoying “Are you a glass half-empty or a glass half-full type person?”), and so I thought I would tell everyone about the Squeenly Philosophy of Life™.

You all know (well, probably most of you know), I am not religious. I do not believe in God. God may or may not exist, I don’t know, but I don’t believe he does. I believe the world is as it appears. I believe people are physical entities which are born, live and eventually die. I don’t believe in the concept of a soul as distinct from our bodies: I believe our personalities, what makes us us, is just the result of the electrical impulses of our brains processing our experiences. When we die, we die. That’s that. Game over. Our bodies are destroyed, and the world goes on. I don’t believe in any kind of heaven/after-life/whatever. There is no higher plane of existence to which we should aspire. Life isn’t a passing phase, a test, something you have to get through before you hit the good stuff. As Hannah says, “if the answers are in the back of the book, I can wait” – I don’t think there are any answers (or a back of the book, for that matter). All we can do is to make the most of our lives, because that’s all there is. What is the point in striving for greatness in life, if that’s not what it’s all about?

I hate the idea of fate, or pre-determination. So, yes, if you could understand the world and everyone in it, maybe you could predict the future, so really there is no freedom of choice blah blah blah, but you know what? Nobody can understand the world and everyone in it, so the point is moot. I still make the decisions I make: I still decide what path my future will take. If it’s inevitable, so what? I don’t know that. I still make my decisions not knowing how they will eventually turn out. I dislike the idea of people palming off the consequences of their own decisions with “it’s fate,” or “this was always going to happen,” and blaming some higher entity for what they have done themselves. I don’t believe in abrogating responsibility for my actions to anyone else.

I believe in social rules (the Ten Commandments being an obvious example from my own religious background), but I don’t believe they were handed down from on high, because that implies that we can’t think of these things for ourselves. Human beings can and do know the difference between right and wrong; we can formulate our own social rules; we can see how best to organise society so we can all rub along (just because this doesn’t happen doesn’t mean we can’t work out what should be done in theory). We are not given these rules but then must be punished like naughty children when they go wrong (flood!God, I’m looking at you…): we can decide for ourselves, and take the consequences when they happen.

June 2016

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