Mainly physique. Do I hear a sigh of relief?
And maybe a bit gay…
OK. I guess I’m just slightly confused by the reaction to my piece following the Barcelona attacks. I dared to question the existence of (any) God as being fundamentally extremely improbable and against the known Physics of the universe (I definitely recommend that book I mentioned about what we don’t know). Having suffered the nonsensical rantings of creationists when living in Tennessee, it is clear that I have troubled some religious folks out there who are ‘believers’ but probably more open-minded about how things came about than insisting on a magical ‘creation’. And to be fair, as that book clearly shows, we don’t have a clue about what started the big bang, what went before (if anything) and therefore about where we have come from. Score draw, I think.
Equally, some readers have come back to me saying ‘well said’ and very clearly supported the notion that religion is nonsense but that its protagonists have been extremely clever at persuading people to believe in something just because a previous generation of so-called ‘wise men’ tells them to. Do you always do precisely what you’re told, closing your mind to alternatives? If I did, would I be openly gay?
My dad (physicist, retired) doesn’t have much time for ‘God’ either. But he once told me a very interesting story about his grammar-school headmaster back around 1969. This man led an ‘act of worship’ every morning in assembly, but also led a weekly class for the sixth form (“Friday 5”) which was basically a discussion on current affairs, politics, or pretty much anything that came into his head. Everyone could speak frankly. He certainly did, favouring mythologies from the near and far east, India and so forth, above the basic Christian story. But, according to my dad, he taught him two profound things. The first was that, at some time in their lives, everyone wants to believe in something. The second was ‘always polish the backs of your shoes’.
This guy finally cracked, and gassed himself (car exhaust fumes) on the shore of Tal-Y-Llyn lake in Wales.
I’m not entirely sure what that proves… maybe he needed desperately to believe in something at that point, but couldn’t find any faith to take him out of his depression. Dad says he was a damn good headmaster. RIP, Mr. N.
And RIP little Julian Cadman, 7yo boy mown down in the name of religion in Barcelona. The only Brit hurt that day, so far as we know. His face is on all the newspapers – we get all the Brit ones on sale here – and on TV (we get all the Brit channels). If prayers mean anything, say one for his grieving parents.
We are, of course, left with the question, ‘Should you believe in something so profoundly that you want to go around killing anyone who doesn’t agree with you?’ Your particular version of God? Stupid old men in white beards and funny clothes? White supremacists? Even if you don’t know whether those you are killing might even be following your religion?
Write your answers on a postcard, but don’t send them to me.
And apologies to all who think that these observations are not the point of this blog. You’re right, of course. But Dave and I just feel really angry.
Just this moment seen on the BBC news that the Spanish police have killed the driver of the Las Ramblas van. They say that everyone in the ‘cell’ is now accounted for.
Back to the real point of this post.
What a news bulletin we’re actually watching tonight! In addition to all the stuff on the Spanish attack, we’ve just seen live pictures of “The Great American Eclipse” from Oregon as well as hearing the last sounding of Big Ben in London for four years. Renovations, apparently!
Back to business…