I am up to page 286 of this book that I got today at Easter and it is refreshing to see so many of a like minded aetheist thoughts put down on paper. As I went through the book, it prompted me to put some thoughts down:
1>> It's difficult for people to understand how much engrained the christian religion is in the UK. I went to an interview to become scout leader. They asked me about my faith and rather sheepishly, I said I was agnostic. This prompted a series of questions as they did not allow Scout Leaders without a belief in a religion e.g. christian or muslim. Yes the scouts actively discriminate against aetheists! Funnily enough I spoke to a woman who was interviewed after me and she had a similar grilling - she was a white witch! (I m curious to know what she did with the kids at Halloween).
2>> I have also tried to put articles in my newsletter questioning some of the ridiculous christian stories that are printed - but of course the local newletter is produced by the church and I am "sensored".
3>> I was interested in your line "God himself could clinch the arguement of his existence by appearing". Could He? How would he prove it? Would the believers actually believe it? I don't think this is a forgone conclusion. Which comes on to a fundamental question I have for christians - what is your God like? Like you, I think that the God most people bow to is not the loveing caring God that they claim he is but an obsessional, paranoid God - that actually they pray to because he creates things not that he is inherently good. As Viz puts it, "He died for our sins but do they need to go on about it"
4>> I hate the hypocracy of the christian church. Go into any village and the smartest, tallest bulding is the church. It is a symbol of oppression with the church colluding with the local land owner to keep the village peasants down. Another famous hypocracy is John Paul II - he could have saved so many lives (and childrens lives) if he changed his contraception policy in Africa - but condemned many thousands to death - and they are looking to canonise him.
5>> I totally agree wih you re: Jesus who actually had a number of "indian" type ideas . I can believe that where he said "You become
Christ" - it was all allegory and christian faith was meant to be similar to Buddhism - based on Self improvement. However (I never argue re: Old Testament - it is too easy) - it is quite easy to study the New testament and pick holes. The wedding at Canna is a classic - I would have been impressed had Jesus made a great speech saying that the people and the atmosphere was right - why did we need more wine - rather than just getting more wine. Then I think - people have supposedly studied the bible and have not picked this up.
6>> I like the stuff about why don't we question religion - it is held sacricanct but for no reason.Another Viz quote "I didn't find the passion of Christ as funny as its preddecessor - the Life of Brian"
7>> Proving whether "Intelligent Design" or "natural selection" is at play. I genuinely think that this can be done. There is an analogy in computer programming that separates these two - Natural selection will achieve it goal by sequential constructs of DNA - a long list of program statements - fairly efficient but could contain neutral code(e.g. add 3, multiply by 2 , subtract 6 - equivalent to multiply by 2). Intelligent design would allow calling subfunctions i.e. call a function from anywhere that has a specific job i.e. various places on the DNA calling a routine to multiply by 2. Sub Functions could be potentially fatal for natural selection whereas sequential constructs may be safer.
8.a >> Please don't underplay the need to be "part of a group". We are fundamentally pack animals - this shows everywhere and as a dog expert once told me "The cruellest thing you can do to a dog is not beat it or anything, but to turn your back on it". I do think being part of a group or gang is a basic need up there with sleeping and eating (people go mad in solitary confinement). People will do anything even do "wrong" things to be part of their group (fundamentalists, football thugs, soldiers).
8.b>> I do think that the pack "instinct" is part of the sharing instinct i.e. for us to get on with each other and more importantly - what we give we get in return. We teach kids to share at a very early age - and we all know that smiling gets you served at the bar quicker, being polite is usually reciprocated. One of my trusted friends had this theory that when he let someone in on a train, something similar would happen to him later. When he barged through to get on a train, this would also happen to him. I think this is part of the "self fulfilling prophecy", we read each other, our moods, our friendliness far better than we admit.
9.>> One area worth exploring is the old times - the "medicine man"/Shamen was the religious leader, the poet, the mathematician and the doctor. The idea of science is comparatively new and I think your theory is slightly complicated (or even helped) by the fact that
science, philospohy and mathematics was all encompassing.
10.>> Do we have an equivalent of the bible - a set of rules for the 20th Century - I think we do and ironically it has sold more than the
bible in the recent years. It is the highway code - it is a set of rules that allow us to drive safely on the roads. Unlike the bible, it can be updated to take account of new hazards that we might find, it is beginning to be universal in its symbols across the world.
11>> Please be careful that as humans - we are also arrogant. We are arrogant to believe that God wants a 1:1 with us. We get arrogant when we build our science theories one after another on what is flaky material - I cite the example of when the voyager went past Saturns rigns and all the text books had to be rewritten. We are also arrogant to believe that we are the source of all ills e.g. Global Warming
Sorry I think I've gone off on one - I am enjoying the book and it is good to see some of the bile that is put in the name of religion
discreditted (and you do a far better job than me at this).