Sound advice

A collection of the best advice I have ever received:

  • ‘Always have your tea or coffee black when you visit someone’s house. People go to the fridge and drink milk straight from the carton’, a vociferous lunatic, speakers’ corner, Hyde Park
  • Boys, always marry an ugly girl, because she’ll never leave you – and if she does, you won’t care. A country and western song.
  • Be the change you wish to see in the world, Gandhi

Crazy things people believe: 1. Young Earth

Faith.  It is like when you know something, except without any proof. Also, if there is proof that shows that what you think is wrong (like Dinosaur bones) you still don’t change your mind.  That is why faith is better than science.  It doesn’t allow for being wrong, even when it is proved to be so.angel

So, what are some of the craziest…I mean best…things that people of faith believe?

1. Creationists (mainly Christian) maintain that the Earth is less than 7,000 years old.

Science, using measurement and calculation puts the rough age of the Earth at about 4.54 billion years old (45,400,000,000).  This is based on the radiometric dating of rocks.  Zircon crystals in Australia have been dated at about 4.4 billion years old, they are the oldest known Earthly material.  Light spectrum analysis of the stars shows that they are also about the same age.

Balderdash! Cry the creationists.  The Bible is the literal word of God, so all you need to do to know how old the Earth is, is to add up all the dates.

Luckily, the Anglican Primate (not a concession to Darwin, some term for an Archbishop) James Ussher did so in the 17th Century, and found that the Earth was created at nightfall preceding Sunday October 23, 4004 BC.

In the course of his studies, he also found that Herod died in 4BC so Christ must have been born anytime between 37 BC and 4BC.

There now exists in America a Creation Museum. On their website the fact that they believe the Earth to be 6000 years old is elusive, but insinuated: ‘Biblical history is the key to understanding dinosaurs’.  It is what they, as evangelical creationists, believe.  Apparently there were Dinosaurs on Noah’s ark.

Other people who had previously come to similar approximate conclusions (the Earth being about 6000 years old) include the Astronomer Johannes Kepler, and Isaac Newton.

Incidentally, Newton had all sorts of far-fetched ideas, he was an avid Bible scholar and he even predicted (using the Bible as his source) that the world would end (Christ would return) in 2060 or thereabouts.  He had a passion for Alchemy, and in particular the ability to turn base lead into gold.  After his death, his body was found to be riddled with mercury, probably from his alchemical pursuits, which suggests that he may well have been suffering from mercury poisoning in his later years.

Here are some ‘Young Earth’ arguments and responses, from Tim Thompson

Karl Popper

When I was fresh out of university, I worked as a typesetter and proofreader. I was not very good at it because I could not quite stop myself from reading the books, when I should have been meticulously checking them for errors.

One book that was particularly distracting was ‘All life is problem solving’, by Karl Popper.  The full stops, paragraph breaks and em-rules cascaded past my attention like animals escaping a zoo as I turned the pages, transfixed.  I recently found some post it notes upon which I had scrawled this particularly inspiring passage from the book:

“I am anything but an enemy of religion. My religion is the doctrine of the splendours of the world; of the freedom and creativity of wonderful human beings; of the terror and suffering of the despairing people we can help; of the extent of good and evil that has emerged in human history and keeps emerging over and over again; of the joyful message that we can prolong people’s lives, especially those of women and children who have had the toughest life. I know nothing else. And although the scientific quest for truth is part of my religion, the magnificent scientific hypotheses are not religion – that must never be”

You see, cagey

The UCKG has been criticised as a cult, a fraudulent money grabbing scam and for having been the church where pastors claimed murdered child Victoria Climbie was possessed, rather than the victim of abuse. So what, I’m sure they do some good.

The UCKG is the acronym of the ‘Universal Church of the Kingdom of God’.

You know what, they probably do some good.  They pop up in poor communities and offer salvation in the form of evangelical religion to some of those most in need.

So what if they require you to give 10 per cent of your income to them as a ‘tithe’?

“Tithes are central to the UCKG’s doctrines. It is expected that each member give 10 per cent of his total pre-tax income to the church. This means 10 per cent of all income: not just salary, but child benefit, pension, student grants, loans, interest, everything. Even people on the dole are expected to give up 10 per cent”

Source: New Humanist

Okay, so you are poor and can ill afford to give some ropey organisation your money, but look at all the great things that happen when you do:

Bank errors are sorted, promotions obtained, jobs offered – all by the miracle of God!

So what if it is run by a Brazilian Tycoon, Edir Macedo, who was jailed for fraud.

So what if the murderers of Victoria Climbie attended the Church and pastors there claimed she was ‘possessed’:

“The eight-year-old attended the UCKG with her aunt on several occasions.

One pastor from the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), in north London, said the eight-year old was “possessed” and ran down the aisle during a service, screaming: “Prayer doesn’t help”. Carl Manning told the Old Bailey that Kouao had coached ‘Anna’ (Victoria was her given name, but her killers called her Anna) to make the run.

Another pastor, Alvero Lima, admitted he thought the child was “possessed” and offered to drive the Devil out at one of the UCKG’s weekly Friday “deliverance” services, at which the church offers strong prayer to “destroy witchcraft, devil possession, bad luck, bad dreams and spiritual problems”.”

Source: BBC, Independent

So what.  I’m sure they do some good.

The eyes have it

We found a fisheye lens in a vacated desk and so I tried to sync it with my iPhone’s own beady little eye. The results were poor, but they looked like this.

Eyes evolved over the milennia from light sensitive cells, eyes that resemble the stages our own eyes have passed through exist throughout the animal kingdom still. One of the most curious eyes, perhaps, was that of the trilobite, the long extinct creature of Cretaceous (I think) seas. It had calcite rods for eyes.

Creationists often refer to the eye as proof of an intelligent designer, yet optical illusions exist in abundance that demonstrate that our eyes are far from perfect. Not to mention the blind spot, and of course people being born visually impaired.

Nonetheless eyes are amazing objects, balls of liquid that focus and transmit light, I am glad of mine.

Chapter one

Simplify. Then make complicated. then simplify once more.

This is a paraphrase of a Brian Eno ‘tweet’ (Twitter post) I read today.

He is right, or at least, I think so because it is concordant with where I am currently.