Friday, August 31, 2007

The abuse inherent in religion

I have recently listened to a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Chris Hedges entitled “Is God Great?”

In previous debates that I have listened to, one of the main areas of contention has been the origins of morality. Whilst the atheistic side of the argument is based on the premise that human morality is innate in us (and there are many arguments for this), the religious side holds that human morality is solely the product of divine instruction and religious doctrine. In short they claim that whatever good deed a person does, he or she cannot ultimately take the credit for it, for without the word of God we would all of us behave like moral idiots from dawn until dusk.

The Hedges/Hitchens debate spent a little time discussing the other side of the equation, when Hitchens highlighted some of the many abhorrent practices and deeds produced by adherence to religious dogma; practices and deeds concerning the treatment and subjugation of women. Hedges responded by claiming that Hitchens point of view presupposed that should religion be abolished these practices would disappear with it. He argued instead that these problems are not the result of religion but the product of humanity’s innate capacity to be evil.

These two arguments, for me at least, highlight a very worrying aspect to religion, and those of a religious bent, that has been at the back of my mind for some time.

Consider a child that is never given any encouragement by its parents, a child that never receives any praise for a good deed, accomplishment or scholastic achievement; a child that is actively discouraged with the notion that anything of worth about them is to be credited to somebody else. Consider further that the same child is constantly berated and chastised for even the most puny transgression, and who is told that they are essentially worthless and can never amount to, or aspire to be, anything more than the naughty little wretch that they are. That child, in all likelihood, would grow up to be deeply self conscious, insecure, probably a bed-wetter, and would be sociopathic (maybe even psychopathic) to the extent that they would find it very difficult (perhaps impossible) to conduct themselves in any meaningful way in the world at large.

It occurs to me that the above two arguments can be seen as an analogue, albeit an imperfect one, to this hypothetical child’s upbringing. The church would have us believe that everything good that we do is only accomplished because of divine intervention, and that anything bad that we do is innate within us. I would posit that it is, therefore, no surprise that the people who take this stuff literally, sometimes act in the way that they do. When you think about it, they are actually doing quite well considering what they have to put up with.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Intelligent Design

I have been reading about Intelligent Design recently. For those of you who perhaps aren’t aware of this movement it may help to give a little background.

The ‘theory’ of Intelligent Design has its roots in antiquity with Plato and Aristotle and later, in the 19th Century with ideas put forward by chaps like William Paley and others. More recently however, beginning in the 1980’s the concept of countering evolutionary theory with ‘science’ latched on to these ideas and repackaged itself as what is now generally known as Intelligent Design (ID). It is quite a big deal in America, home of the Discovery Institute whose main proponents, William Dembski and Michael Behe, are often to be found debating their ideas with real scientists and peddling their wares in the form of books such as “The Design Revolution” and “Darwin’s Black Box”.

In essence, ID, while it purports to be science, is nothing more than religion (Christianity to be specific) with a new set of clothes. The ‘theory’ in a nutshell is that evolution does not adequately explain the current state of biological affairs and that life on earth is the creation of an intelligent designer as opposed to natural processes. The ‘theory’ as it is publicly presented makes no claims to the identity of the designer and proponents are fond of pointing out that he/she/they could in fact have been some kind of uber-intelligent alien. However, most if not all of ID proponents are in fact Christians and behind closed church doors, the Intelligent Designer is positively identified as the supernatural Judeo-Christian God, Yahweh.

To date, the ID camp has not produced any peer reviewed papers on their subject, as opposed to the hundreds of peer reviewed papers on evolution produced each year.

A couple of years ago Behe was a witness in a trial brought by a group of parents and the Dover Area School District in Pennsylvania. The trial was the endgame in a campaign by the parents to exclude the teaching of ID in their children’s science classes. The Judge found in favour of the plaintiff, ruling that ID is not science and has no place in a science classroom. Not only that, but the ruling also stated that ID necessitated the invocation of the supernatural, the implication being that it was also anti-science. During the trial, Behe was forced to concede that his definition of ‘theory’ was so woolly and nebulous that astrology would also qualify.

Incidentally, I have been referring to Intelligent Design as 'ID'. This is quite a usual abbreviation, leading the author Steven Poole to note, amusingly, that 'ID' can also stand for 'Implied Deity' and 'Intellectual Dishonesty'.

Anyway, I have been thinking about all this and the thought occurs that while it is obvious that, as it is essentially religion, ID is not science, it is also the case that it does not seem too want to become science either. ID is entirely dedicated to demolishing accepted scientific inquiry, but only in specific areas. It has nothing to say about meteorology or medicine or optics etc, but is focused instead on things like biology and chemistry and palaeontology. Yet in its efforts to ‘debunk’ these disciplines, or at least large chunks of them, it does not do any science of its own. No observation. No experimentation. Just a lot of theorising and then a jump, straight to a conclusion. Why is this I wonder?

The obvious answer is that they are trying to create a zero-sum scenario whereby a ‘disproven’ theory can be happily replaced with another without the need for further investigation. An either/or situation where, if evolution is wrong then creation must be right. Quite aside from the fact that this goes against everything that science stands for, I think that the implications have rather more subtle and worrying undertones.

The chaps at the Discovery Institute would have us believe that they have uncovered overwhelming inconsistencies in current scientific dogma, inconsistencies that can only have been masked by a conspiracy within the scientific community. They would be the avenging heroes that, against all the odds, uncover these glaring lies and reopen the debate on the origins of life on earth. The bit about the supernatural creator is secondary, an afterthought, thrown in for the sake of completeness. However, it is obvious that their motivations stem directly from the bible. The word of the bible and evolution are not just at odds with one another, they are wholly incompatible. Therefore, the findings of evolutionary biology threaten the perceived ‘truth’ of the teachings of the one true God. It can be said with authority then, that the sole motivation of the ID chaps is not genuine scientific inquiry, but rather the reaction of those who know that they are in the weakest position.

The book of Genesis states quite clearly that God made all the creatures of the earth, that would bring forth only after their kind, and then as a separate enterprise he made man in his own image and then the funky rib thing in order to make a woman.

Imagine instead that Genesis said something like this: God then set life in motion across the face of the earth, and from a tiny seed of life grew a menagerie of creatures, each generation slightly different from the one before, each miniscule difference being utilised by life itself, according to its ability to survive. Then when life had achieved a form that most represented God’s image, God said onto it, “Thou art my most important creation and thou shall be called man and woman. Listen up, I’ve got a few ground rules for you”.

What’s the bet that, if that is what the bible said, the ID movement would never have got started? There would be no need for them. When Charles Darwin put forward his exciting discoveries in 1859, far from being attacked as a heretic he would have been hailed as some kind of saint. Chaps like Dembski and Behe would hold up the theory of evolution as scientific proof of the veracity of Genesis and Christian dogma in general.

The point to be made here is that if Genesis was written just a little differently the perceived ‘errors’ and ‘lies’ in evolutionary theory would disappear. The ID camp would no longer be trying to be crusaders after the truth. Any inconsistencies in evolutionary theory would be overlooked; indeed they may even try to cover them up themselves!

In short, their beliefs about the way of the world would not be based on anything even approaching science. A few words in an ancient text are all they would need to convince them.

Sound familiar?

Friday, October 20, 2006

A letter wot I wrote

Earlier this month my local rag published a letter that got on my tits somewhat. So much so, in fact, that I decided to send in a letter of my own.
The other chap's letter is reproduced here (italics), together with my rebuttal.

His letter:

With reference to the article, 'Letting go of God', (Saturday 30 September), 10 out of 10 to the Guernsey Press for trying to stimulate debate.
Or perhaps that would be better put as attempting to provoke a reaction.
Helen King's deliberately provocative synopsis of the humanist arguments against belief in God demand a response and I am pleased to add my own reply to the article.
For too long, society has rejected God, whose existence is incontrovertible. We fight, kill and persecute each other in the name of selfish ambition. We discard a moral way of life, instead chasing self-centred satisfaction - often abusing others in the process. But an ageless book aims to put a stop to that. Phil **** affirms his place as a Christian - a believer in Jesus Christ, the greatest revolutionary who will ever exist.
Some people claim that we are nothing but the product of our genes, that our origin, loves, desires and hopes are nothing but the outcome of accidental collisions of atoms. They claim we are nothing but naked apes, the product of accidental chemical processes that by luck alone, against odds that would turn off even the most ardent lottery player, resulted in a world abounding in intelligent life.
Not only that, but had conditions been just ever so slightly different, none of this would ever have existed. It is this that sounds highly improbable to me. Only that hardest-hearted person can fail to be impressed by the complexity of the natural world around us.
Can this really have arisen by accident? I am no scientist, but I observe that the theory of evolution leaves many questions unanswered. Why do seemingly inferior species continue to thrive and why does the fossil record have practically no examples of major transitions between species?
The theory of evolution is precisely that - theory, not fact. In 2001, 100 scientists, headed by five-times Nobel prize nominee chemist Henry Schaefer of the University of Georgia, USA, publicly declared that they 'are sceptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life'. These scientists, who know what they are talking about, are clearly not rushing to affirm that the theory of evolution explains perfectly the origins of life.
My own difficulty with the theory of natural selection, as opposed to a creator God, is more practical. What room would there be in a world view whose mantra is 'survival of the fittest' for the vulnerable in our society? In its most potent form, evolutionary theory demands that we cast out the vulnerable and weak. This is simply something I am not prepared to do.
The humanist philosophy effectively makes mankind his own god, purporting that we can achieve the 'good life' on earth through the development of each individual. Such a self-centred and self-motivated world view does not relieve tyranny, it creates it. The life and teaching of Jesus Christ are as far opposed to tyranny of any sort as it is possible to be.
He taught the opposite of selfishness - compassion and action for the poor, sick and vulnerable. His is a message of life, love and peace, not tyranny and war. 'Love your enemies,' he says, 'and pray for those who persecute you.'
All war and murder is appalling. It is true that religion has sometimes been used as an excuse for war, albeit that the main motivation was arguably the acquisition of land and resources with nothing to do with the teachings of the faith itself. Millions more have died in the name of secularism. The actions of Stalin during the darkest days of the communist era show the result of letting go of God. Twenty million innocent people lost their lives in the name of a system that declared there was no God.
This leads me to the main point. Our society has already substantially let go of God and we are living with the consequences. Two thirds of the world is starving, yet there is enough food produced globally to feed everyone. Our lives in the rich West are dominated by the superficial and selfish. Our culture seems obsessed with appearance, status and power. We seem to be much more bothered about what we have and our position than our inner qualities. We live by the arguably humanist statement, 'if it feels good, do it'.
I totally agree that we need shaking up and should question the status quo. Where are the love, joy, peace, kindness, self-control, honesty, integrity, truth and wisdom? Having considered various alternatives, I have found these qualities only in Jesus Christ. This is not just because the Christian faith is the one I have been brought up with. In fact, Christianity is in decline in the UK. Its strongest growth is in Africa and Asia, cultures that are not traditionally Christian. It is because, like countless millions of people, I have searched for and found that the only answer that truly satisfies is in Jesus Christ. This is not a crutch for an otherwise empty life, it is the crux of all existence.
My faith is not just a tag-on to my life, something relegated to relieve boredom on Sundays. My faith and relationship with God are life itself. Richard Dawkins would have me believe that without Jesus, I would have everything, whereas I know that the exact opposite is true - without Jesus I am nothing. Society has invented a plethora of distractions that can never truly satisfy us - it is these crutches that we need to throw off and embrace Christ as the only way to receive peace with God.
We don't need to let go of God, we need to grab hold of him. Jesus says that he has come that we 'might have life and have it to the full'.
This means putting self aside, recognising our mistakes and receiving His divine forgiveness. Of the books I have read, the only truly challenging book I have discovered and dare to continue to read is the Bible. If people are prepared to be shaken in their search for truth and meaning, it is the Bible they need to read. Start by reading the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and you will find that it is Jesus' life and works that will shine like a beacon in a world suffering under tyranny. You might just find that He revolutionises your life.

My letter:

On 12 October the Guernsey Press printed a letter entitled “Bible shines in a world blighted by tyranny”. The correspondent, Mr ****, claims that the world would be a better place if Christianity were at the helm. I must say that I find that very hard to believe, and I’m not entirely sure how one would go about proving such a claim. Nevertheless, that is Mr ****’s opinion and he’s entitled to it. However, it is his supporting arguments, specifically those regarding evolution, that cause me concern.
Mr **** appears to be a proponent of the current trend in religious circles to concentrate on finding fault with the theory of evolution, rather than putting forward a cogent argument for their own beliefs. This approach implies that the issue is a question of Either/Or, when that simply is not the case. Merely knocking down the opposition isn’t enough. If someone were to prove unequivocally that the theory of evolution is entirely wrong, this would not in turn prove that Christianity is fact. After all, both approaches could be wrong.
Mr **** is right when he says that evolution “leaves many questions unanswered”, but this in itself is not an argument for God. I am not a Christian; neither do I accept evolutionary theory wholesale, but the problem, as I see it, is that as far as a Christian is concerned, they have it all worked out and everybody else is wrong. It is this implied arrogance that I find distasteful and some of Mr ****’s comments were so wide of the mark that I feel some kind of response is required, in the interests of a balanced debate.

1. “For too long, society has rejected God, whose existence is incontrovertible.
Not only is this bold statement fundamentally untrue, it also implies that there is a body of evidence out there that supports the existence of God. There is not.
For something to be incontrovertible it must be beyond doubt or dispute i.e. proven. Whilst there is a fair amount independent evidence to support the existence of a man called Jesus Christ 2, 000 odd years ago, the same cannot be said of God himself. There is in fact NO evidence, in the scientific sense, to support the notion of God and this is why believers are forced to rely on Faith. It has always been my understanding that Faith is a cornerstone of Christianity and so it is puzzling to me why a Christian would describe the existence of God as incontrovertible. If this were the case then the concept of Faith would be redundant.

2. “Some people claim that we are…the product of accidental chemical processes that by luck alone, against odds that would turn off even the most ardent lottery player, resulted in a world abounding in intelligent life. Not only that, but had conditions been just slightly different, none of this would have even existed. It is this that sounds highly improbable to me.
Here Mr **** falls into the easy trap of mistaking the odds against a single event occurring locally, with the probability of such an event occurring within the wider universe. For instance, using the lottery analogy, it is true that the chances of winning the lottery are vanishingly small, yet every week somebody wins. This is because, by having millions of people playing it and by repeating the process on a weekly basis, it would be extremely surprising if nobody ever won. Likewise, when you consider the huge size of the universe as well as the huge age, it would be even more surprising if the universe were completely devoid of life. In short, given the vast parameters involved, the chances of life not arising somewhere in the universe are practically nil.

3. “What room would there be in a world view whose mantra is 'survival of the fittest' for the vulnerable in our society? In its most potent form, evolutionary theory demands that we cast out the vulnerable and weak. This is simply something I am not prepared to do.
First of all, it is necessary here to clear up what is meant by the phrase “survival of the fittest”. I should point out that far from being a “mantra”, the term is not generally used in the scientific community because it tends to cause more confusion than clarification. The term “survival of the fittest” was coined in the mid 1800’s, not by a scientist but by an economist, and has been used ever since as a kind of shorthand explanation of evolutionary theory. At the time it was introduced the word “fit” meant “suited” or “appropriate” rather than “physically robust” and so a better phrase would be “survival of those best suited to their environment”. This however is a tautology and scientists generally use the term “natural selection” instead.
With this in mind it should be clear that the statement “…evolutionary theory demands that we cast out the vulnerable and weak” is nonsense. Evolutionary theory does not demand that we cast out anybody; it does not demand anything at all. Evolution is not a matter of choice, it is the natural result of heritable genetic mutations, and it is governed only by an organism’s ability to survive, reproduce and therefore pass on its genes to its offspring. It is important to remember that natural selection is not something that happens to individuals, but to populations over many generations.

4. “The theory of evolution is precisely that – theory, not fact”.
This statement implies that the two terms are mutually exclusive, which they most certainly are not. This problem arises from a misunderstanding of scientific terminology. Two terms that are often confused are Law and Theory. A Scientific Law is a statement of fact used to describe an action or set of actions, such as the laws of gravity or thermodynamics, things which can always be observed to be true. A Scientific Theory describes something that is much more complex and dynamic such as the theory of relativity or evolution. In common usage the word theory often implies mere speculation or guesswork, but in scientific terms a theory is something that has been proven and is generally accepted as being true. The point here is that if evolution is ‘only a theory’ then that is all it has to be.

It is not my wish to belittle anyone’s beliefs but this insistence by Christians to use science against itself in this way is becoming ridiculous. Furthermore, Mr **** should be careful that he does not end up damaging his own cause. If he uses ‘lack of evidence’ to dismiss evolution as ‘only a theory’ then he should not be surprised if the same argument is used to dismiss the existence of God as ‘only a myth’.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Challenge

The whole subject of religion, it appears to me, can be pared down to one important concept: Faith. Either you have it or you don’t.

Now I’m slightly hazy on the subject of faith, but as I understand it, it comes in two basic flavours. Flavour one: The one favoured by my grandparents and their generation, namely that of blind faith. This is where a persons beliefs are instilled in them at an early age, never questioned and accepted as part of their daily life until they go the way of all flesh. Flavour two: born again faith. This is where a person undergoes some kind of life changing experience or epiphany that leads to a belief in a particular religion.

Blind faith believers have no place in this debate since they have never questioned their beliefs, therefore, it is logical for us to focus on the latter flavour. It occurs to me that they too can be separated into two groups. One group would comprise of people who were looking for some kind of help or direction or psychological crutch in the first place. The second (and I suspect much smaller) group would comprise of people for whom religion was the furthest thing from their minds when they had their experience.

IF you accept that this second group of born again believers are scarce enough to be fairly described as an unexplained anomaly, THEN it is only the first group of born again believers that should be of concern.

I believe that these people need to be challenged, and not only for sport but for their own wellbeing.

The challenges are these:

1. Given that you had to undergo a profound religious experience in order for your faith to manifest itself, how can you expect non believers to treat your beliefs with anything other than scepticism, without an experience of their own? Since that experience took place because you went looking for it, is it reasonable to belief that someone who is happy with their life will experience a similar thing? After all, if one has no questions, one does not need to search for answers.

2. Given that you were searching for them in the first place, does it not strike you as an amazing coincidence that you found it so easy to find help and/or answers in an institution that peddles exactly that? Could it be that your circumstances left you wide open to suggestion and exploitation?

3. In your quest for truth or help or awakening, have you spent an equal amount of time studying all the main religions? I suspect that the answer for most of you is a resounding “No”. Well then, how do you know that you are on the right track? I have read a great deal of posts recently, berating a particular sceptic because he appears to be concentrating his fire on Christianity while laying off other beliefs. The reverse is also true. I certainly have met a great deal of Christians who have almost no knowledge of Islam or Hinduism of Buddhism. What if they have interpreted the signs incorrectly and are following the wrong faith? It find it telling that most born again Christians appear to have fallen into that particular faith because it just happens to be the most prevalent in their society.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Revised letter to the Guernsey Press

There has been a glut of coverage in the Press recently regarding the issue of the homosexual age of consent. It appears to me that many of your correspondents are missing the point and turning a political issue into a religious one.
Everyone has the right to express their views, but it is beyond me why certain correspondents should think that their religious views have any relevance to this debate. It is my understanding that the Church and the State were separated a long time ago and that is exactly as it should be.
I am also puzzled as to why your Christian correspondents are so concerned about this issue at all. The debate does not concern the legality of homosexuality; that matter was properly dealt with a long time ago. Bearing in mind that a Christian’s point of view is that all homosexual activity is “wrong”; I cannot see what difference a change in the age of consent makes to them.
In any case religion is, or should be, a personal belief with each individual having the right to choose for themselves. Politics and law however are matters for the public domain and it seems to me that the only political issue at stake here is equality. Would it be acceptable to say that women could learn to drive at 17 but men had to wait until 19? Or that those with brown eyes could drink in pubs at 18 but those with blue eyes not before reaching 20? Of course not!
We supposedly live in a democratic society where each individual regardless of race, creed or gender has the same rights and privileges as everyone else. By that same token, all laws should apply equally to each individual. The discrepancy between the ages of consent for homosexuals and heterosexuals is in direct violation of this simple premise; it implies that one section of the community is not equal to another.
Personally, I do not really care whether or not the age of consent for homosexuals is lowered, but one thing I am sure of is that it should be made the same as the age for heterosexuals. The choice, therefore, is simple: either lower the age for homosexual consent to 16, or raise the age for heterosexual consent to 18. The situation as it stands is unacceptable.


Friday, February 24, 2006

A letter to the Guernsey Press

This is the first draft of a letter that I intended sending to my local paper. I did not send it in the end. For an explanation of why click here:

There has been a glut of coverage in the Press recently regarding the issue of the homosexual age of consent. It appears that many correspondents are at best missing the point and at worst, being plain offensive. For me, however, this debate has highlighted three important points:

1. Religion. Once again an important issue has been clouded by an intolerant and bigoted minority. A number of your correspondents have resorted to quoting passages from the bible, namely the section of the book of Leviticus, which deals with “unnatural” acts. However, these people appear to be cherry picking only those passages that fit in with their personal view of how things should be, and it is interesting to note how few of them mention other parts of Leviticus in their correspondence. Perhaps it is because that, like much of what is in the bible, when you actually come out and say it, it sounds ridiculous. For instance, Leviticus also suggests that a woman should be confined to her home for the duration of her period each month. Do your correspondents seriously suggest that this is a reasonable course of action? If not, they should stop quoting Leviticus.
Everyone, of course, has the unassailable right to express their views, but it is beyond me why your Christian correspondents should think that their religious views have any relevance to this debate. It is my understanding that the Church and the State were separated a long time ago and that is exactly as it should be.

2. Criminalisation. By criminalising an activity you are encouraging furtiveness and secrecy for fear of reprisal. Far from protecting young teenagers, it puts them more at risk of exploitation because they will not have the support of unknowing family and friends. Let’s face it, in the unforgiving society we live in, it must be hard enough for a young gay teenager to be faced with the unfair stigma attached to their sexual preferences without being branded a criminal for engaging in what comes naturally, especially when their heterosexual peers are perfectly within the law to do the same. This brings me to my most important point.

3. Equality. We supposedly live in a democratic society where each individual regardless of race, sex or political leanings have the same rights and privileges as everyone else. By that same token, all laws should apply equally to each individual. The discrepancy between the ages of consent of homosexuals and heterosexuals is in direct violation of this simple premise; the States are virtually saying that one section of the community is not equal to another.

I do not really care whether the age of consent for homosexuals is lowered or not, but one thing I am sure of is that it should be the same as the age of consent for heterosexuals. The choice, therefore, is simple. Either lower the homosexual age of consent to 16, or raise the age of consent of heterosexuals to 18. The situation as it stands is unacceptable.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I generally don't really like poetry. With the following exceptions: Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. However, I recently came up with this. Whilst it doesn't have the hard hitting edginess of The Raven or the historical depth of Kubla Khan, I feel that it is still an absolute masterpiece and a good indication that I am the best in the world at everything. It’s called "Birdseed".

There was a man called Richard Brice
In his drink was a block of ice
It thawed right there before his eyes
When suddenly, from the skies
A seagull swooped down from above
And deposited its seed of love
Into the drink with not a thought
For the suffering it wrought
For such a thing is not that nice
To put ones seed where once was ice.
Vengeance Richard vowed to get
He'd not stand by, his mind was set
He stood in wait with horn in fist
Wrist in pain, eyes red with mist
To no avail when gull flew by
Dicks gametes could not get that high

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Somniaturge

Removed for editing

Monday, December 05, 2005


I have a question that I hope someone can help me with. It is concerning the Bible… No, wait, hear me out. This is a sensible question from a non-Christian.

Here goes:

Premise 1
Current Christian thinking places the creation of the world at about 4000BC with humans being created on the 6th day with creation of Adam and Eve. All humans thereafter were the direct descendants of those two people. About 1656 years later the population of the world was whittled down to eight – Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives – during the great flood, when everyone else was wiped out. Therefore, everyone alive today is descended from those eight people.

Premise 2
In articles concerning the animal kingdom, when discussing endangered species, “loss of genetic variability” is often talked about. In elephants for instance, 500 individuals is often quoted as being the minimum number needed for the survival of the species, but one school of thought suggests that even then, minimal genetic manipulation would be needed in order to maintain the gene pool. 2,000 individuals appears to be the consensus for the number of individuals required for a species to survive with no genetic intervention.

My question (and though it has probably been asked many times before, I have never heard a convincing answer) is this: Even if you assume that perhaps the first few generations after Adam and Eve were somehow exempt from this fundamental principle, how can the human race have survived after the Flood with the gene pool provided by eight individuals? It just doesn’t make any sense. Also, in order to continue the human race after the flood, a certain amount of incest must have taken place. My understanding of the Bible’s stance on sex is that “no man shall lie with anyone other than his wife”.

If there is anyone out there with the time to spare who can answer this, I would be most grateful.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time there was Lord Lucan.
Then there wasn't.

The End

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Christmas is coming

Consider the following verse:

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat
Please to put a penny in the old man's hat
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do
If you haven't got a ha'penny then God bless you!

Right, now, I’m not sure who exactly this little nursery rhyme is for, but it appears to be woefully out of date. Let’s take a closer look at it, line by line.

“Christmas is coming,”. Ok, that much is certainly true, no arguments there.
“the goose is getting fat”. Goose? Goose? Who eats goose at Christmas? A few rich eccentrics perhaps, but where I come from, Turkey has always been the yuletide bird of choice. I quite like goose actually, but tradition is a stubborn beast and not to be trifled with.
“Please to put a penny in the old man's hat”. Right, well, ok, charity. Of course, during the festive season our thoughts sometimes turn to those less fortunate, but “old man”? Surely that is rather sexist, not to mention ageist. A lot of needy people are female, and some of them are quite young. Also, what happens if they don’t have a hat?
“If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do”. Right. This really is taking the piss. First of all, if a chap hasn’t got a penny, then he really shouldn’t be asked to part with his last remaining ha’penny. In fact, if he is that hard up, he should be the one going cap in hand (if he’s got one). Poor bastard. Secondly, what’s all this penny, ha’penny crap anyway? A penny is nothing; a hundred of them won’t even get you a cup of tea these days. What’s the use of a f*@king penny?!!
A fiver. Ah, now we’re talking. A chap can do a lot with a fiver. He can secure himself a pack of cigs or a six pack with a fiver. Failing that though, a couple of pounds will do.
“If you haven't got a ha'penny then God bless you!” It appears that this final line makes a mockery of the preceding three. If I’m reading it correctly, a person with no money at all is not only exempt from making a donation to the old man, he is also to be in receipt of the blessings of the Almighty. Maybe this is why TV evangelists are so keen on encouraging their viewers to part with their money, or am I just being cynical?
However, there is no sense in droning on like this. It is action that is needed. That is why I have penned an up to date version of the rhyme in question, one that fairly holds a mirror up to today’s society. True, it is devoid of any kind of rhyme or meter, but what it lacks in artistic integrity it more than makes up for in accuracy and honesty.

Goatboy’s version:

Christmas is coming, the battery turkeys are being force fed genetically modified corn and pumped full of rat hormones.
Please donate five pounds to a charity dedicated to helping needy men and women of all ages regardless of whether or not they own a hat.
If five pounds seems a bit steep, what with the expense of Christmas and all, then perhaps two pounds would be a more acceptable sum.
If you haven’t got two pounds to spare then it is likely to be because the church has taken all your money and when you eventually starve to death you will be assured of a place in heaven.

What do you think?