Saturday, November 04, 2006

Pastor Ted Haggard and a Lesson in Hypocrisy

After the hatred spouted by this nasty piece of work about gay and lesbians, his stance on gay marriage and his pompous attack on Prof Dawkins in "The Root of All Evil" the news of Haggard's downfall has a certain piquancy. If there is a god, she has a damn fine sense of humour.
Look, i'm all for consensual sex between adults. If money, goods or whatever changes hands then that is their business. And if chemical stimulants float your boat then so much the better. But if you make your living telling all and sundry how evil being gay, or a drug user, is and then get caught having a three year, sex for cash, methamphetamine fuelled gay shagfest then you deserve all that is coming to you. It's not what he did, it's the blatant hypocrisy. To coerce money out of the gullible and desperate to feather your nest so you can blow it on exactly the things your preaching against is inexcusable.
All in the name of religion. Do you think he believes anything else he spouts in the name of his particular sky fairy? Of course he doesn't, nor does the higher eschelons of all the worlds faiths. It's the poor schmucks at the bottom who get to believe, pay for and support these insidious movements. And the pastor ted haggards of this world who cackle all the way to the bank/whorehouse/drugdealer/armsdealer...
But on a lighter note, i've been whistling "In the Navy" by the Village People all day in recognition of the work done for atheism by Mike Jones, gay millitant advocate for truth and honesty. A happy day indeed!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Why did the Twin Towers Collapse?

This video offers one of the best summations of the smoke and mirrors operation by the US government we call 9/11. It should be required viewing for the whole damned planet. There is no way you can watch this and dismiss the attack as "A couple of planes and a few mad asian guys."

Conspiracy yes... But a conspiracy attempted on a massive scale by G.W.Bush and his neo-con cronies. This video goes a long way to highlight the many, many mysteries of the spectacle put on for us on 9/11.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

"I'll Pray for You!"

Aaaarrghh!! I hate it when christians say that! As if i should say "Thank You!" or "Gee! Will you? Perhaps it will help?" or something. But recently i've been thinking about this. A simple but conclusive experiment on the power (or lack of it) of prayer.

So, if your a christian, muslim or any other flavour of theist i'm asking you to pray for me. Pray for my conversion to the theology of your choice. Form prayer circles, use the internet to get thousands praying for me, millions perhaps. These huge born again rallies could all start with a quick prayer for my mortal soul. If prayer works so well then the saving of one measely soul should be childsplay! I will keep you all posted on any success. If i suddenly see the light, get born again or start getting the urge to knock on doors at teatime and ask if they've "Heard the Good News?" you will be the first to know. If i start talking in tongues, joining the salvation army or wearing sandals with "jesus loves you" soles (i kid you not!) then it will be announced in this very blog.

This is theology's chance to save this godless, heathen atheist from eternal damnation. To prove once and for all the existance of giant invisible friends. (As an aside here, it's been said that it doesn't matter what we call god, she is still the creator. But if you call her Ralph and then read the bible.... "In the beginning Ralph created the heaven and the earth...." doesn't quite have the same ring to it. Anyway.. I digress.)

Yes! You and your brethren (Getting the hang of the language already! Perhaps it's working!) can use the power of the lord, jesus, allah, thor, flying spaghetti monster (may you be touched by his noodly appendage) or whoever to prove it isn't all a pile of dingo's kidneys and it's all actually true!

So, don't be shy! Get praying and if it works I promise to come clean and let you all know. If not, after say 5 years and I am still a godless atheist then you have to promise to take a few mins to ask yourselves why it didn't work and perhaps read "The God Delusion" by Prof.R.Dawkins.

Please, if you are praying for me, add a comment and introduce yourselves. Where and how many would be valuable data for the experiment. Names. while nice, are not needed so anonymous comments welcome too.

Good luck!

Taking Atheism on the Road

We've seen much lately about such huge youth conventions as Battlecry 2006 http://www.battlecry.com/ and others and was day dreaming whilst idling in bed this Saturday morning of an atheist rally of this sort.

I thought of a Royal Society christmas lecture writ large. With huge experiments on stage, pyrotecnics supplied by chemistry, an imax / planetarium style trip from the very smallest to the very largest reaches of the universe. From the world where quantum mechanics rule to the furthest reaches of our telescopes and beyond to the limit of our current theories. Then from a cooling proto-earth through the first glimmerings of life via the Burgess Shale menagerie onwards to the mega fauna (animatronic giant tree sloth anyone?) of more recent times and then our own history from the shores of an African lake to modern times.

Using all the multimedia available, lasers, imax, pyro, music, subsonics, video walls etc. this is not a scheme to educate in detail with long latin names and inpenetrable math, but a huge joyous sweep through science to get over the wonder, the magesty and the downright fun of living in this universe we find ourselves in and the pleasure of finding things out.

We could pin them to the wall with the wonder of it all!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

At Last! A Home on the Net

Finally, after years of wandering about on many and various sites, forums and newsgroups I've found a small island of sanity. The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science or RDF for short. Coinciding with the launch of his book "The God Delusion" (now at £10 at Amazon! Currently No.1 best seller at Amazon.UK and Amazon.Canada and No.5 at Amazon.US and still climbing!) this site seems to me one of the most important events to have happened on the internet.

I don't think I can stress enough how important it is, for us as a species, to rid ourselves of the foul, mind numbing shroud of religion. It is for this purpose, and for the refutation of the quacks, charlatans, faith healers, crystal gazers, cults and new age claptrapists that peddle their inane, worthless mumbo-jumbo on the ill educated, the gullible and the desperate. Don't take my word for it, go see the streaming video by Prof. Dawkins as an introduction to the RDF. Required viewing for the whole damned planet!

Religion hijacked a feature of our hunter gatherer brains the same way a virus hijacks a cell for it's own nefarious ends. It is a useful feature of the infant human brain that a child will believe anything a parent or elder of the group tells it. Things like "Stay away from Tigers!" or "Don't hassle the yellow and black buzzy things!" and "Treat all snakes as poisonous until I tell you differently!" are very important things to know. If a child questions or tries his own experiments then his life will be interesting but very short.

So we have the infant human brain primed to take as fact whatever is told to him by his parents. What happens if the things told to the child are not true? Well, it makes no difference. The imprinting still happens. Theists know this. “Give me the boy until the age of seven, and I’ll give you the man” is reputedly a saying by the founder of the Jesuit Order in the Catholic Church, St Ignatius Loyola. The Order is especially involved in education and can't you tell! They knew all about this early imprinting system and used it without compunction. It is still being used today. How many kids are born into a religious family, taken to church, taught to pray and then herded off to a faith school with not a single chance for them to get even an inkling that the world being shown to them is not the only way. This form of imprinting of our children should disgust us as much as the sexual abuse of children does. It is child abuse plain and simple. It is how these delusional ideas pass down families using a feature of our brains designed to keep us safe, now highjacked by this viral idea of religion.

It is this infecting of our children that must stop! And it's why I am supporting the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. I urge you to do the same.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Take the Bible literally?

I copied and pasted this from another forum...please note - 'Laura' in this case is supposed to be Laura Schlessinger.


Dear Dr. Laura,
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odour for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbours. They claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.
Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Far right Wing Theocracy grows in US

Just discovered this and it's pretty damn worrying! Battlecry 2006. If anything it looks and feels more like a Nazi rally from the height of the war. American kids herded into stadiums countrywide and instilled with a fear of a secular society and then driven to take on the mantle of warriors for god. Take a look at this video and see what i mean. Using the kids own music and culture to induce feelings of persecution and the certainty of being right.

Even using US Navy SEALS to scare the crap out of them by firing blanks at the audience. Here is a snippet from someone who was at the Philladelphia gig.

"It began with fireworks so loud and startling I screamed. Lights and smoke followed, and a few kids were pulled up on stage from the crowd. One was asked to read a letter.
This was the letter that opened the event. Its author was George W. Bush. Yes, the president of the United States sent a letter of support, greeting, prayer and encouragement to the BattleCry event held at Wachovia Spectrum Stadium in Philadelphia on May 12. Immediately afterward, a preacher took the microphone and led the crowd in prayer. Among other things, he asked the attendees to “Thank God for giving us George Bush.”
On his cue, about 17,000 youths from upward of 2,000 churches across America and Canada directed their thanks heavenward in unison.
Throughout the three and a half hours of BattleCry’s first session, I thought of only one analogy that fit the experience: This must have been what it felt like to watch the Hitler Youth, filled with self-righteous pride, proclaim the supremacy of their beliefs and their willingness to shed blood for them."

That's right! She said "Blood!" This is no passive church thing, this is a violent call to arms to help the christian fundamentalist theocracy. Smoke and mirrors to captivate whilst instilling thoughts and feelings into the audience not of their own. Brainwashing, groupthink call it what you will. Damn worrying is what i call it. While the government strips away the constitution the youth are indoctrinated in the ways of the far right using religion (once again) as control.

Read the page i linked to and ask yourself if you would like your kids to go to one of these nazi style christ fests. It's a very bleak future for the US "If This Goes On -"

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Should we arm or vote for theists?

Should religious belief preclude you from military or public service?

Lets try the military first. If you are of such a weak mind to actually hold any religion as true you should be banned from joining any of the military services. The last thing we want is crusaders with a god on their side, sure of a pleasant afterlife and reckless because of it. If we are to arm some of our populace i want them to be stable realists with a healthy regard for life. Not semi litterate dimwits programmed to do their deities dirty work and convinced if they die doing it they will be rewarded in the hereafter. As we well know, religion has been used to demonise enemies since time immemorial. The crusades were a fine example with both sides shouting to their prefered invisible friend as they went into battle (Allah Akbar! (god is great!) and Deus vult! (God wills it!). Convinced that the crimes they were commiting were sanctioned by their religion and therefore were above normal codes of decency. The same thing is happening now in Iraq and Afghanistan. Anyone who says these current conflicts are not a theistic squabble between christians and moslems is lying. Any theist, on either side, is too personally involved to think straight, and probably too damned stupid to think at all. If your gullible and unquestioning enough to swallow a religion whole without a question, then your too damned stupid to be trusted with weaponry (or a belt and shoelaces come to think of it!)

Now, public service. Much the same applies here. Our legislators need to evaluate complex social and societal problems and do their damndest to solve them. The last thing they need is a list of do's and don'ts from the late bronze age. Not only are these theistic rules and regs often biggoted, short sighted or downright nasty they also were written by men who had no idea of the way the our planet is or how the universe works, how societies are changing, technology, family changes, medicine... The list goes on and on. If Mr. Blair ignored the house of commons and tossed the entrails of a goat on the floor to see what should be done about, say, unemployment, he would be removed from office pretty damned quick. Now, how different is kneeling down, putting his hands together in front of his face, closing his eyes tight shut and mumbling to an invisible, fictitious father figure with superhero powers. We need legislators with some smarts! Again, the test is easy. If you think there is a god, you can't be in any government that has me as a citizen. Religion is something that may not harm an already irrevocably stupid drone but that programmed, empty shell should not be given power over his fellows.

Les

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Three Cheers for Australia!

Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia , as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.
A day after a group of mainstream Muslim leaders pledged loyalty to Australia at a special meeting with Prime Minister John Howard, he and his ministers made it clear that extremists would face a crackdown. Treasurer Peter Costello, seen as heir apparent to Howard, hinted that some radical clerics could be asked to leave the country if they did not accept that Australia was a secular state and its laws were made by parliament.
"If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you," he said on national television.
"I'd be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in Australia, one the Australian law and another the Islamic law, that is false. If you can't agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy, and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country, which practices it, perhaps, then, that's a better option," Costello said.
Asked whether he meant radical clerics would be forced to leave, he said those with dual citizenship could possibly be asked to move to the other country.
Education Minister Brendan Nelson later told reporters that Muslims who did not want to accept local values should "clear off".
"Basically, people who don't want to be Australians, and they don't want to live by Australian values and understand them, well then they can basically clear off," he said. Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation's mosques.

Britain ..... ARE YOU LISTENING?

Quote: IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT.

Take It Or Leave It I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali , we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.
However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the "politically correct" crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others. I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to Australia .
However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand.
This idea of Australia being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. As Australians, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle.
This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom. We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, Learn the language!
Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push but a fact because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, Because God is part of our culture.
We will accept your beliefs and will not question why, all we ask is that you accept ours and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.
If the Southern Cross offends you, or you don't like " A Fair Go", then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet.
We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don't care how you did things where you came from. By all means keep your culture but do not force it on others.
This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, "THE RIGHT TO LEAVE".
If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.
Pretty easy really, when you think about it.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Where do they go?

OK, so there you are. On the way, lets say, to the kitchen. There's your brain, eyes & various nerve endings shipping a myriad of information to your brain. Laying down memories in layer upon layer of feeling, nuance and emotion. Ready for immediate recall at a later date... or perhaps not.There's this alcohol thing. How do you tell, after the consumption of a good deal of the solvent, what on earth will constitute a viable memory the next day? Or perhaps become at least a component of the "Do you know what you were doing last night?" function of the human memory recall system.
We're sat here drinking absinthe. At least, I am sitting here drinking absinthe. Claire is a beautiful, gently snoozing heap with woolly, white socks akimbo. In the pose of a 1950's film actresses whose idea of what you should do to convey the idea of "fear"is left arm raised to the top of the head, palm open and facing outward. Left arm bent to bring the left hand below the chin, palm outward and fingers, like the right hand, in open spread like they are guarding against some unspoken horror. She is not fearful of course. She is merely involved in the occupation of "drunken semi conciousiosity" we often aspire to whilst in front of the telly on a weekend evening.Now, Claire has obviously bailed out of the discussion. We're thinking about the memories laid down in the inebriated state. And by her very unconsciousness she is not one to quiz (at least on this occasion) about the subject in hand. I'll start a whole new paragraph, as I often seem to do at the end of an overlong sentence, to start to pin down the problem here.
Lets take the here and now as an example. I'm in no state to do otherwise really. The here and now seems pretty damned fine to me and if you have a problem with that then I will take you outside and we can sort this out like men..., meet you outside and... ahem.. sorry.. that's another subject. Lets move on. Let me buy you another beer, I seem to have spilt that one. No! Your mother is a lovely lady! Not that I know her, I never met her. Here! Here's your pint... No! Honestly.. never met her mate.. ahem..
Right, deep breaths all round. I'll get back to the thread by asking you a question. Have you ever, whilst totally mashed, looked about and thought "I wonder if I will remember this in the morning?" I just went to the kitchen, found a lump of mouldy cheese in the fridge and trimmed off the mould (manchego for the curious) and consumed a chunk. Will I actually remember doing so in the morning? I've been through the experience, felt the resistance of the cheese to the knife, tasted what I carved off the block, felt what it was like to "be" in the kitchen and at the moment can recall all those actions, feeling and memories. But I'm going to sleep in a bit. It's already a little past midnight. What would throw these memories into the pit of blackness that haunts us after a night such as this?
It has been postulated that to recall a memory, you need to be "in the same state" as when the memory was laid down. If you learnt something whilst stoned then you'd need a spiff to recall it. This could explain those huge and embarrassing gaps we all have had in the morning after a splendid night out. We'd need to go through 12 pints of crap lager and a kebab to attain a state of "remembrance". If true, then I'm stuffed! The chances of me buying another bottle of Absinthe (and not getting told off for it!) is pretty slim in the near future. So the only record of these words will be online! But this memory quirk could open up a whole new possibility. I'll need to talk about scent first...Have you ever gone back to an old school? Or perhaps wandered in to your parents house and been confronted with a smell from the past? There is no other way of releasing such a flood of memories! There is something about smell that links directly with memory. Disinfectant mixed with overcooked cabbage? Junior school! Rotting seaweed and factor 8 suntan lotion? Summer holidays! A simple smell can cause a cascade of memories. This leads on further...Lets join these two things up. The point that to achieve perfect recall you need to be in the same state as when you learned it. And the fact that smell can cause a cascade of memories seemingly unbidden. Suppose you scented your study literature. Lets say patchouli for science, ylang ylang for biology and after shave for media studies. Each study book laced with the assigned perfume. You could use this idea of the olfactory system being linked to memory. At exam time you could merely scent your sleeve with the appropriate smell. You'd be in the same state (straight with a scant in the air) and would be open to the slick memory recall induced by smell. (I think I should patent the "Scent, memory cascade, learning technique!.")
All this has a bearing on my current dilemma though. I'm as mashed as a .... erm ( similes never my good point) very mashed thing! I should remember what I did every time I've been as mashed as this. But many of those nights escape me. This is strange seeing as I am in much the same state as when the memories were laid down. But it may well fade away. As will this, tonight. I'm here typing and in the morning Claire will say, "Do you know what you wrote last night?" and I will say "No! What?" And suffer that awful sensation as the previous evenings debauch comes slowly top mind. I'll stick to the "Don't remember that!" gambit. It's kept me safe till now :o)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Give me the boy until the age of seven, I will give you the man.

Religion as social control enabled man to bridge the gap between hunting and gathering and the birth of the scientific method. It is at this point, when man looks for empirical evidence to support his theories concerning the universe he inhabits, that religion should have died out as mere stories to keep pre-literate farm hands a'working in the fields and the keep lord of the manor safe in his bed at night. And it would have except for a quirk of the human brain. To pass on important safety/survival information is vital in a hunter gatherer ape. It's only his wits and the learning of previous generations that keep him from being a lunch for a sabre tooth or poisoned from eating the wrong berry. Now, if the parent tells the child "See that animal over there? It's a tiger and it will eat you given half a chance!" and the kid spends the next 2 hours asking "why?", "says who?" and worse "I'll go check to see if it's true!" then that kid isn't going to last very long. So the brains of children accept as fact what their parents tell them with no argument. Information important to survival and how to fit into the social group (vital for such a tribal animal as ourselves, ostracism just as dangerous as tigers in pre history) can be passed on and absorbed by the young quickly. Imprinting knowledge from the group quickly and securely. Knowledge from previous generations passed down. Instead of each new generation learning afresh, and becoming making the same mistakes generation after generation. Our brains have not changed at all since we needed this early imprinting on the plains of Africa all those millions of years ago. And a newborn baby from the present could be swapped with an infant from the last ice age and there would be no difference. Each child accepting as normal his surroundings, and a blank slate waiting to mop up knowledge from his or her parents. So if you tell the child that an invisible man in the sky made the universe from early on, that to be successful in the society you have to exhibit certain behaviours and beliefs he will treat all this as normal and "the way things are". This is how religion infects each generation. What kept us alive on the African plains, now works against us and imprints worthless, dangerous fiction on our young. It takes intelligence, learning and the bravery to go against the group to shuck off these myths. A conscious effort of will and perhaps being ostracised by his peers.(still a nasty thing even today, we're still a social, tribal ape) How much better the planet would be if religion was never invented we'll never know. But just a few minutes thinking about the eons of wars, death, guilt and suppression of science and thought and you'll see religion has cost us dear. It is my honestly held view that to imprint complete fiction into the minds of our young is child abuse. The Jesuit priest that coined the phrase that titles this post knew about the imprinting of young minds. Theists have used the technique for millenia. It has to stop.

Monday, March 06, 2006

First Contact

It started with an email out of the blue. Here it is;

"Dear Les,
I have been reading your posting for quite a while and I am intrigued by your view and "cosmic" viewpoint.You seem to be all over the place,, global warming, religion , philosophy etc... I also noted that you are quite proficient in expressing yourself even with fortitude and good vocabulary when necessary :-)I tend to agree with your viewpoint on education. And how, many characters are taking advantage of the disinformation, which is rampant in this society.Maybe when I come to work in Maidstone one of these days I'll pay you a visit a buy you a beer.What do you say?
Best X"

The reason I call him "X" will become apparant later on. Now, I was pretty suprised, flattered and intrigued. What's the worst that could happen? We got to the thought it was the CIA and we could end up in Guantanamo and never be heard of again. A true worst case scenario. Or millitant creationists or some other irate theist. Or could just be a some chap who wanted to buy the beer and waffle for a few hours. I think the free beer clinched it ;o)

The upshot of this mail is we will meet at a pub last Saturday afternoon. We arrive, no X to be seen. get a text saying he'll be a few mins. We buy a beer and wait. I'd asked if he could wear a pink carnation for easy identification. Sensibly, he refused and offered "Look for a black leather jacket." My mobile rings, X says "Look in front of you...." and there he was! We shook hands and he anounces "I'm a psychologist!" Ms. Morpheus and I are quite interested in many aspects of psychology and the prospect of a few hours drinking beer and talking psychology appealed greatly. "Brilliant!" we said, let us get the first round. "We always wanted to meet a tame psychologist!"
X looked a tad nonplussed. "No! I'm a Scientologist!" I think we managed to hide the brief flash of dissapointment and bought him a beer anyway. The thought highest in my mind at this point was why didn't he say so in his email? We would still have met him. Only a little thing perhaps, but an email saying "I'm a Scientologist and would like to offer you the view from the inside." would still have had us going through with the meeting.
Basically, he was there to ask what has Scientology done to us that we post against it in here and at alt.religion.scientolog and http://www.xenu.net/. And that he wanted us to respect his choice of following the "religion" of his choosing. I tried to point out that i'm not predjudiced against any one particular religion or cult. I dislike all of them equally and would be happy to explain why. His cult really hadn't been singled out by me and that if he had read my blog he might have know this. His argument at this point was this. If I had no experience of actually meeting any active Scientologists and had never been on the inside, how could I form a valid opinion of his "church". I tried to explain with the following.
I've read quite a lot about Mussolini the Italian fascist dictator. Seen a few documentaries and listened to a fascinating radio programme with some first hand memoirs of him as a father and his family life. Now, all I can do, seeing as I will never meet him, can never experience Italy under fascism, is to absorb, from as many different sources as i can, what others say about him and read his own writings. From all of this input i form an opinion. I may be wrong or very far from the truth, but it seems about the best i can do. I proffered that Il Duce was, on the whole, a frightening, callous dictator. Enamoured of violence, Italy and the world is probably better off without him. (At this point X offered that at least the buses ran on time under Mussolini!)
This is the standard view of the man, but i'm also aware of some very tender moments when his daughter played piano for him. The last time this happened he interupted her playing and said a very earnest goodbye to his daughter. It was just 2 days before he met his grizzly end and was the last time his daughter saw her father. So i have tried to get beneath the normally accepted view of the dictator.
Now, I can do the same with Scientology. And indeed I have. I have read quite widely both online and some of the books printed on the subject. Have read and taken part in active public forums where ex Scientologists, active members of the cult and interested bystanders like myself engage conversation. And after learning what ex members have to say and learning of the idea of "Fair Game" and other manifold forms of nastiness. Reading their "secret OTIII material" and a host of other equally whacky nonsense i have formed an opinion. That Scientology is a cult as bad as any other, be it the catholic church or the Moonies and a thousand other groups that divert humanity's rescources, people, thought and whole damned generations into the slavish worship or adherance to fiction. And a damned dangerous fiction normally too. Religion in all it's forms has caused more wars, death and misery than any other single invention by man. And just like any other cult Scientology saps peoples money, relationships and hopes and spits them out at the end when they finally realise that this "Bridge to Total Freedom" is just about the biggest, most expensive fiction ever foistered on humanity perhaps excepting christianity and islam. My own feeling is that when you have invested so much time, money and effort and they finally reveal the OTIII materials people are too damned embarrassed to say "Hang on! This is Bollocks!"
But look, this is just my view. I may be wrong. Please, don't let me sway you. Chase down your own information and look for yourself. X had prepared for our meeting in the pub by bringing some photocopied newspaper clippings on Cyril Vosper. I can only imagine he did this because I have mentioned elswhere in my blog that I had read Mr.Vospers book "The Mindbenders" and that had the book that sparked my interest.
Back to the pub. I left MsMorpheus with X whilst I went to the toilet. Now, with me out of the way he fixed her with a steely OTIV TR zero stare and demanded "And what are you doing to save the planet?" Funny he tried this though. Not least because it is a little underhanded of him to wait untill i was out of the way, but also because my erstwhile partner had been fixing him with her best TR zero stare all night. Perhaps because we're not yet declared SP he managed to do the whole eye contact thing pretty well. We gave him full marks for effort on that one. He declined all knowlege of "Fair Game", admitted that his auditing for the whole Xenu incident had really helped him deal with problems and memories he had from being blown up by H bombs 75 milion years ago. He also said that perhaps the church had some bad practices in the past and that L Ron Hubbard, the cults founder, may not have been right about everything. Now this is pretty strange. Scientologists are told that if they still have questions or don't believe something it is their fault. To go back to before the part you don't understand and read it again. Hubbard can not be at fault, it is the student who has missed something. So X's leeway is pretty strange here.
X said he may be able to swing it that we can visit St.Hill for a day. Now, this is where Vospers book is set in the main, and MsMorpheus has wanted to see a cult from the inside since reading about the Moonies at age 12. So we both accepted his offer. Hopefully, sometime soon, I can write "A Day on the Hill" and pass on what happens. Looking forward to it.
So that was it pretty much. More wierdness than you can shake a stick at but fun and interesting none the less. We liked X and would like to get to know him if he ever gets out. Now that would be interesting.
When we got home I started to think how i was going to write about this. Out of courtesy i called X and asked if he had any objections to me writing about the meeting. He was worried about us slandering him in public but we arrived at a workable compromise. If i took down the huge banner (second one down) for www.xenu.net atop this blog and didn't mention him by name then he would be happy for me to write about the afternoon. All in all a very interesting time. Thank you X, for the beer, the exchange of views and the odd laugh. Not what we expected and perhaps even a little better than a psychologist in the end :o)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Worth Mentioning

Had http://www.aria.co.uk/ special offer email through yesterday (well worth signing up for, first place i look if i want something) and their RAM caught my eye. This heap was getting a little slow with all the software that accumulates after a while so decided to go from 512 to 1Gb to squeeze some extra performance out of what is now an aging system.
Ordered it yesterday morning and lo and behold! It was delivered today. 23 hours from order to delivery. Bloody brilliant! RAM humming away nicely, all those anoying pauses, glitches and waits now much reduced. Just thought that we all like to moan about bad service, but when it all goes swimmingly we never mention it. They said 3-4 days delivery, and it arrives in 23 hours.... brilliant!

Now... back to some serious multitasking ;o)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Do We Have a Soul?

Everything that is me, my conciousness, emotions, thoughts and dreams are the result of electrochemical reactions in my brain responding to, and trying to make sense of, the universe i inhabit. Distorted by the failings of biological sensors, filtered to exclude extraneous information, applied to inadequate models, interpreted in relation to my own idiosyncratic world view the thing I call reality only exists in my head. True reality, what the universe is actually like will always be shrouded from me. I percieve just a narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum and can exist only in a very small nich environment if you consider the extremes of heat, gravity and radiation that abound "out there".
So me, my brain and all that is me, finds itself trapped in a bone prison. Percieveing in a grossly filtered, distorted way the reality that lies a mere inch or so beyond the walls. Contact, even with my loved ones, must pass through two of these distorting fortress walls. So I can never know what another feels, thinks or sees except dimmly through imperfect senses. We are all inconcievably alone, and when we die the reactions of nerve and charge. The myriad connections of neurons blindy reaching out to touch their neighbours, the receptors hungry for the nurotransmitters to slip like hand into glove to fire in chemical release down the multitude of pathways that form the models I use to make sense of "outside", that strive to see patterns in everything, that create love, pain, wonder and loss. All this will end. Rot. Become a seemingly amorphous mush with no hint of the vistas, life, hopes and experience it once allowed itself to imagine. End of existance for anything that could be called self.
That a part of the universe, some matter that, at even the scale of molecules. Let alone atoms or their component particles, is indistinguishable from rock, comet, supernovae remnants, could become concious of itself and strive to understand the universe is stunning. The universe concious of itself. Enough to wonder at, enough beauty, enough tears for anyone without resorting to anything so tawdry as a christian soul don't you think?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Flying Spaghetti Monster Epiphany


Discovered FSM last night. http://www.venganza.org/index.htm

I partook of the FSM Erotica http://www.dildoart.com/fsm/thumbnails.html

And must have been touched by His noodly appendage because today my job took me to Spaghetti Junction http://www.birmingham-photos.co.uk/PB3/C4/PB3p56.htm

His noodlyness really does move in mysterious ways. Perhaps I'll give up this atheism lark and become a Pastafarian!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Refreshing Billboard

Hell. To Good for Some Evil Bastards!

The End of Religion?

I was just thinking that it feels like the battlelines are being drawn. Just seen on the news that the 400 year old catholic sect in Iraq is now upping sticks and pulling out. 400 years of co-existance with Islam, through the "Great Game" the 19th-century imperial rivalry between the British Empire and Tsarist Russia. Through the discovery of oil and the Saddam years it is now finally all breaking down. Demonstrators in London calling for the beheading of people who insult Islam and our police do nothing. If I went into parliament square with a "Eat the Rich" sign I would be nicked so fast my feet wouldn't touch the ground!
I can't see any way back from here. The last global war, The Cold War, was between two conflicting political ideologies. This century it's religion. Sheesh! At least Stalin existed! You can't asassinate a mythical being. And the one thing that we're facing that is totally outside our experience this time is that to die for allah is a bonus! Fighting an enemy that is truly unafraid to die. Communist Bloc & NATO troops would be happy to wave the white flag if needs be. it's different this time. It's the one thing that could not happen without religion. Like the 911 hijackers, they're sure of going straight to heaven. (Bush called them cowardly, I can see nothing cowardly in flying a plane into a building and facing certain death without flinching) It's the religiosity of both sides that is to blame for the mess we are in. Bush & Blaire publicly admit to being theists. And theism is the very bedrock of the terrorist threat from Islam. The irony of both sides shouting "Allah Akhbar" and "With God on Our Side" as they kill each other has been noted since the original crusades. It's still happening. On Radio4 here in the UK we get a theist spot in the morning news. Christians calling for restraint on both sides and understanding between religions. Sickening! Not able to see that they are part of the problem. It's ALL religion, not just islam. Perhaps the one good thing to come out of all this, when it's finally over. Might just be that the majority will see that it is theism that is the problem. Could this period we are in be the last throes of religion?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Schism

So it was cartoons that finally did it. The elephant that's been in the room since the invasion of iraq ( and back to the first crusades) has finally materialised in the conciousness of the west. Muslims have known it for millenia and we knew it once too.
What is this pachyderm squatting amongst us? It's the huge schism, the gulf that can never be bridged, the gap between the west with christianity that has been through the reformation and now takes a back seat in most of our lives ( i'll exclude the american christian taliban for now ) and the muslim world. Unreformed, dogmatic and inflexible. There can be no easy point of contact between the two, period.
What we are seeing now is the birth of the problem that will shape the next century. Islamic dogma versus a christian america and a largly secular (with christian undertones) "rest of the west". This has to be the end of the, largely british, multicultural experiment. The battlelines are being drawn as I type this sentence. Plackards in London saying "Behead Those That Insult Islam" and white, anglo saxons on the news pinning their colours to the mast of free speech.
The mere fact that theology is the study of fiction. That perhaps 99% of both side just want a quiet life and the hurt and insult are pure societal and political constructs means little. These cartoons will be used as the kernel to unite the muslim world like the invasion of a secular Iraq never did. The terrorist groups must be rubbing their hands together in glee. As is the British National Party here in the UK. Expect racism, expect hatred and most of all, expect violence.
The embarrassing platitudes of the british government, trying desperatley to keep the lid on the tinderbox of UK inner cities, seem to me to be trying to keep feet in both camps. It's time to pull back from both entrenched positions and come out against religion. The real enemy of the piece. All this death, pain, insult and dogma stem from religion. It's time to treat the religious as bad, mad or guilty of using religion for their own personal or political ends. This applies to all side, all religions. It's time we left our childish creation myths behind and treated people who think they are in touch with the thoughts of a mythical being as the lunatics they truly are.
I don't hold out a whole lot of hope though. Keep your heads down folks. The lurch towards controlling faschism in the west of the 1984 ilk, to the fanatical islamic jihad in the east. It's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. And the schism will deepen, and people, and hope, will die.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Google in China

So Google have gone into China. They seem to have overturned their philosophy of "Do no evil." and subjugated themselves to the Chinese governments wishes. Ignoring China's deplorable human rights issues and single party communism to give the Chinese access to the parts of the WWW that the Chinese government allow. Right thinking left of centre liberals are understandably up in arms about this. But I think they're missing an obvious point here that perhaps may not be so obvious to the "shoot from the hip" reactionaries.
Google have a damn good understanding of the net. I should think that they have employees who have been online since their Amstrad 464's enabled then to hook up to the then fledgling internet. The concept of trojan horses and backdoors are not alien to them. OK, there are others in there in reciept of the kings shilling, but none with the kudos, the broad expanse of Google who's sole aim is to disseminate information freely. I don't think Google are in China for the money.
They now have the chance to put their servers into mainland China. They have had to filter, block or censor a whole host of information. But i'm sure that is just a cover. A cover in the old fashioned cold war sense. A shield for their true motives. To supply the backdoor to the Chinese. A way out. A true (L.Ron Hubbard please excuse me...) bridge to freedom.
Time will tell, and I may be as wrong as a very wrong person. But... perhaps, just perhaps, acting as a trojan horse, Google has penetrated the shield that the Chinese government has erected against the free flow of information in and out of it's borders. And will, sometime hence, release the keywords, the anonymous public servers or the code to enable the average Chinese citizen to access the WWW and Usenet. Disseminated by word of mouth (I think it's called viral marketing now) and through chatrooms and email, the keys to the Jungian Collective will be made available.
It's the first thing I thought when I heard that Google had "gone native". I hope this isn't letting the cat out of the bag. The internet is the one thing governments fear. Not just the free flow of information. But the meeting of minds of people seperated by distance and political boundaries. You can not demonise a people if a fair percentage of your population chat with them on a regular basis. Propaganda fails. Truth will out. And humans are human wherever you find them.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Millitant Atheist Declaration

Why do we want to leap in and denounce theist diatribes? Why should we cut in between a group of theists and confront them with our rational, atheistic logic? Many times we are confronted with a plaintive "Why can't we agree to disagree and respect each others points of view?" I will try to explain my own personal stance here.

Enough is enough! It's time to draw that line in the sand. For too long, for millennia, since man first started to form societies we have had our view of the universe tainted with religion. To say that theists have had a fair crack at the whip would be an understatement in the extreme. Theistic dogma has caused more misery, more wars, more suppression and held back the discovery of the universe we inhabit than any other invention.

From the indoctrination of generations of innocent, inquiring children in the home, through schools and their mandatory acts of worship of fictitious, vengeful gods, the foul distortions introduced by the likes of the Dover School Board, the theft of a woman's right to control of her own body, the intrusion of a false morality upon our daily lives and the stifling of science. All these things must stop! It is no longer a matter of respect, of tolerance or of agreeing to disagree. The stakes are far too high.

No! You cannot blow people up in the name of your mythical being. No! You cannot kill doctors who choose to help women regain control of their lives. No! You cannot divert money that should be healing the sick to spend on your costumes and buildings. No! You cannot tell me how to think any more. No! You cannot claim that your damn stupid, lame, small minded little creation myth has equal value to Darwin's evolution and modern cosmology.

The time has come to leave the nursery, cast off these childish, dangerous stories and grow the fuck up! Religion has sapped enough of man's resources. Time, money, effort, emotion and whole damned races have been swallowed up by these deluded zealots. Every theist that EVER went into battle always had a god on their side. Every poor sap who worked till they dropped was promised their reward after their death. The crippled, the sick, the outcast and the insane have turned to religion and been rewarded with nothing except vacuous empty promises.

It's time to stop the madness. It's time to confront this awful cancer, this creeping, insidious lie. It's time to free humanity from the shackles of the past. from the guilt. from original sin. from the cringing inferiority. It's time to stop the killing. The gang mentality. Them and us. The threats of heaven, the lure of hell, the hell of the faithful.

Theists, you've had your chance. You've had millennia of chances. Look at the planet now. Is it better for religion or do the world's major human conflicts have their very basis in religion. Theism is a mind numbing death shroud for humanity. It can not be allowed to continue. We have to stop lying to our children. To ourselves. This is why I leap in and denounce theists wherever I find them. If I upset a few simpletons who cannot think outside their late bronze age shackles then so be it. But your not going to poison this race forever. If you theists have your way you will be the end as you always predicted. Self fulfilling prophecy. I will do my level best to rid my race of this handicap.

The future of man lies in the stars. Our Earth is finite, eventually our sun will leave the main sequence and go red giant. If we're not out of here by then then we, as a race. are doomed. It is via the scientific method that is our route to our true home in the universe. You can't pray your way out of this one.