An advert about odours that “could offend” Christians has been pulled because of a single complaint from an angelically-concerned, single (male) individual. I’m offended his offence was taken seriously. Does my offence count?
From the Axe advert - How offensive that they would want to do anything else for eternity except dwell in servility and worship
Recently, it’s been very interesting watching advertising bodies get involved in metaphysical debates about the existence of god. For example, when the wonderful (but British) Ariane Sherine successfully managed to get an atheist message on busses – with powerful support from Richard Dawkins – they were told to change “There is no god” to “There is probably no god”. There were very bad arguments for this, but it’s fairly obvious why – ironically it is to cater to those who do believe, despite it being directed at those who obviously do not. Now, in South Africa, we’ve had something similar. Continue reading →
I’ve sent through a column for 3quarksdaily.com, despite taking an extended hiatus from it (and all forms of social media and online writing); however, the topic in question concerned me enough to put something quickly together. It’s about a pledge that is being signed by a US Presidential Candit (or more) to try have homosexuality viewed as a choice, as a health risk, as bad as second hand smoke, etc. The reason I wrote the post is mostly to gather my thoughts on the subject and to see responses. It is also for others to clarify my views or point out where I’m thinking badly or speaking from the knee. I hope readers will not and accept my disclaimer/apology that I’m simply so busy with reading and writing that if it comes off badly written or sloppy, they will forgive me this.
In this quotation from Unseen Academicals – about sports, ugh – my favourite Discworld character, Havelock Vetinari, explains his first encounter with evil and what that meant to him in terms of moral engagement.
The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork: Lord Vetinari
The Patrician took a sip of his beer. “I have told this to few people, gentlemen, and I suspect I never will again, but one day when I was a young boy on holiday in Uberwald I was walking along the bank of a stream when I saw a mother otter with her cubs. A very endearing sight, I’m sure you will agree, and even as I watched, the mother otter dived into the water and came up with a plump salmon, which she subdued and dragged on to a half-submerged log. As she ate it, while of course it was still alive, the body split and I remember to this day the sweet pinkness of its roes as they spilled out, much to the delight of the baby otters who scrambled over themselves to feed on the delicacy. One of nature’s wonders, gentlemen: mother and children dining upon mother and children. And that’s when I first learned about evil. It is built into the very nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior.”
The two wizards exchanged a glance. Vetinari was staring into the depths of his beer mug and they were glad that they did not know what he saw in there.
I recently watched a documentary on Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who kidnapped, drugged, and raped his daughter for 24 years; forcing her to be his sex-slave and mother to incestuous grandchildren. What more evidence is required for us to postulate the non-existence of a loving, caring god? Certainly, the systematic extermination of nearly an entire race of people was not enough; the brutality of the world throwing up destruction – whether through volcanoes or hurricanes – does not dint the happy glaze in the faithful’s eyes; and now, a woman raped by her father and kept in his dungeon for a quarter of a century, does not appear to slow faith, either.
Ideally, I would like to stop there and say: The jig is up. There is no man behind the curtain. Praying is the still-frame of an audience slow-clapping for the arrival of their beloved stage performer. Yet this performance has ended, there is no one watching out for you. We are here to look after ourselves and, by definition, each other. Leaving it up to god to catch your babies, let your favourite football team win, get you that hot date, earn your promotion, get you through this terrible ordeal, cure your son’s incurable disease, stop your wife’s neverending pain as cancer destroys her from the inside, take grandma up into heaven, forgive the wrongs of murderers and pimps and drug-lords, proclaim what’s right or wrong, is not a viable alternative to facing this stupid, bigoted, terrible world we live in. This is not a place of happiness. It is a place filled with suffering, with stupidity, with bigotry, which, after our toil and struggle, ends finally in death. Continue reading →
As an iPad user, I’ve found it useful as this amazing and beautiful piece of tech appears to give you access to the legendary iTunes Store. They have ‘an app for everything’ it seems: from document taking to video-watching, from a working guitar to a usable DJ rig. And yes, they even have an app to get rid of your pesky homosexuality.
The Center for Inquiry, one of (if not the) leading non-religious advocacy group in the United States, has begun a new campaign, ‘Living Without Religion’. Have a look at this clip, aimed at simply stating their mission in this campaign and the overarching idea of living without a god, in general.
It’s simple, coherent and is not threatening. My only quibble is with the word ‘hope’. What do they mean by ‘hope’?
Kombuis’ focus is on the various stages of Man’s thought and his ‘spiritual evolution’, as he ascends to the pinnacle of consciousness, to finally gain enlightenment, crossing thus into the zenith of the twilight within… Or something like that. In fact, though it has hints of Bauman, Lyotard and perhaps Zizek, it begins sounding more like the New Thought and New Age nonsense peddled by for example Opraholics. Indeed, it sounds like the very thing he – correctly – thinks is nonsense. Continue reading →