All 10 entries tagged Religion

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November 04, 2006

More BBC Comedy

So the Comedy on the BBC news website forums has gotten to extremes now. It seems like every idiot with a computer has found a way to validate their opinions. My favourite one is:

“Tower Hamlets is replacing a traditional firework display with a Bengali folk tale theme. I’m not a ‘little Englander’, but I feel that our history and traditions need to be upheld. Guy Fawkes night is part of our cultural identity and should remain so.

Vote BNP at the next election and show this government this has got to stop.”

http://tinyurl.com/ym4j9p


More BBC Comedy

So the Comedy on the BBC news website forums has gotten to extremes now. It seems like every idiot with a computer has found a way to validate their opinions. My favourite one is:

“Tower Hamlets is replacing a traditional firework display with a Bengali folk tale theme. I’m not a ‘little Englander’, but I feel that our history and traditions need to be upheld. Guy Fawkes night is part of our cultural identity and should remain so.

Vote BNP at the next election and show this government this has got to stop.”

http://tinyurl.com/ym4j9p


October 16, 2006

Newsbiscuit

Newsbiscuit is pretty much a uk version of the onion. It has been producing some pretty good satire of late. Today, however, really took the ‘biscuit’. I’ll let you read the link for yourselves…

http://newsbiscuit.com/article/ku-klux-klan-asked-to-reveal-hoods


Newsbiscuit

Newsbiscuit is pretty much a uk version of the onion. It has been producing some pretty good satire of late. Today, however, really took the ‘biscuit’. I’ll let you read the link for yourselves…

http://newsbiscuit.com/article/ku-klux-klan-asked-to-reveal-hoods


June 19, 2006

I've given up on the wrestling phrases

Writing about Threatening patriotism? from Musings of a blonde

"Why on earth should an English person feel so threatened by a flag representing his own country displayed in his own country?" was an interesting question raised on another blog entry

raising some even more interesting claims, such as "Our nationalist spirit never returned after this initial attack because the attack was so complete that a new anti–British orthodoxy had developed."

I was originally going to post a response, but then I realised that no one had actually tried to answer the question on the previous page. So here's a couple of thoughts.

Firstly we are talking about the St. Georges Cross here, since the original reference was to footballers. This flag was originally picked up during the Crusades – as an army uniform, by a certain namesake of mine. I am not saying that waving St. Georges Cross about is a problem – in fact I was doing so last week. But you can understand why people might get offended.

I am pretty sure that no one these days really associates SGC with a 'lets kill the muslims' attitude so one could rule the above reason out. I suppose in that case it is yet another case of the football association combined with a common dislike of football in this country.

Whats really more disturbing is that people seem to have concluded this is one of those 'if you don't love your country you must hate it, get out' – or conversely 'if you love your country you must be a racist'. Why can't I just be 'meh' to the whole subject? Its not as though my apathy is going to cause directly negative consequences. (yes I am begging the question) No one will die because of a mass apathy towards their country.

Furthermore the question is really here why should I not be apathetic? It doesn't stop me choosing to support England at the World Cup. I would rather not get into one of these situations where there is a weighing up of the British Empire is a good or a bad thing. Ethical judgements on such massive scale are inevitably prone to error, and judging what people chose to do hundreds of years ago by todays standard is an horrific mistake. Its questionable for me to even tut–tut at the invention of the concentration camp during the boar war due to it being > 100 years ago.

Bottom line how can I feel proud for the achievements or shameful at the mistakes of other people simply because they lived on the same, apparently sceptered, isle as me?


June 11, 2006

Woooooooooooooo!

Congratulations to members of the england team, good first half, second will need to improve against better teams in the tournament.

Unfortunately onto more pressing matters – the Iranian nuclear crisis. I have so far tried to refrain from blogging on the subject, since I haven't had much to offer. Recently however, I have read a little more about the technology behind nuclear reactors and had a worthy thought.

There are a variety of different nuclear reactors, those in America, Britain and most nuclear reactors are water moderated. There are many different types – but they all require that the uranium material that is used be enriched from natural levels of uranium in order to operate, these are known as light water reactors. This is the type of reactor that has primarily been discussed with regards the Iranian situation.

There are other types of reactors however, for example the Canadians use a type of reactor called a CANDU that uses Heavy Water as a moderator. This type of reactor does not need enriched uranium in order to operate. Why not simply sell the technology behind this reactor to the Iranian government?

If the US are concerned about weapons manufacture then this removes the need to enrich uranium. The Iranians can have a safe, clean nuclear power source. There is a lot of speculation that either side wants more out of the dispute than their official claims, however, this really can only be tested by putting forward an offer that keeps everyone happy.

The only issue that I can see with CANDU reactors is that, like all nuclear reactors, they can be operated in a manner that is conducive to producing weapons grade plutonium. But to do this actually requires that the reactor use energy not produce it! This is the actual reason why the IAEA inspects all registered nuclear facilities. I would expect that a solution to this issue would require IAEA cooperation, on any account – because any nuclear reactor can be operated in this manner. And I think offering a technical solution to the Iranian government is probably a good way of getting such cooperation. Better than bunker busters for sure.

The key problem in this issue has become that its becoming a matter of national pride and politics all round. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad needs to get nuclear power in order to continue boosting his internal popularity, and Bush has a complete fear of looking weak. Putting heavy water technology on the table offers a get out of jail free card for all. Ahmadinejad can go to his people and claim victory. Bush can go to his people and claim victory.


April 12, 2006

"What is this violation? It is a man who has spilt his sperm for nothing!

Apparently a group of ultra orthodox jews have start hacking into websites and replacing pornographic images with those of an important rabbi. They are called Sex Commandos.

"Your the kind of guy who goes to Jerusalem and doesn't visit the sexatorium" – futurama


March 29, 2006

The Moral Maze

Its been a while since I last listened to the moral maze, and yet it hasn't lost any of its old fascinations: Melanie Phillip's ridiculous brand of fascism for feminists, the old religious guys who spend most of the program arguing over which of their biblical interpretations is really the more appropriate for the case at hand. Most importantly there's that 10 minutes or so of really good debate that tends to bring up something insightful.

Today it was the bloke who argued that Norman Kember was being self-indulgent, reckless and most interestingly, immoral by choosing to promote pacifism in the region. The crux of his argument was that Kember was opposing a constitual appointed force by his anti-war demonstrations. Ignoring for a moment that he was actually opposing the British & American Occupational forces, he seems to be completely denying any position that offers any possible opposition to the existing positions of power.

When he was asked what he thought of previous opponents in other circumstances his argument become rather confusing. For example Ghandi was 'fighting a constitutional abheration'. Leaving aside the semantic issue of whether Indian during that period had what one would call a constitution, after a while of this twisting and turning it became apparent that the only distinction between the immoral pacifism and apparently moral Ghandi was that this guy agree with Ghandi, but not Kember.

I think this bloke might have had a phd as well – its frankly quite disturbingly intellectually vapid that the man appears to have proposed the idea of a morality based entirely on person whim, where it can apply in some cases, but not others. But I suppose in less obvious ways most systems of morality are like this. Don't worry kids determining the one true system of ethics is on my 'do before you die' list, allong with enumerating all the accompanying moral rules. I cannot fail. (Its ok, realism isn't part of the list).


January 16, 2006

Richard Dawkins is my God, II

This week Dawkins raised a point which interests me regularly – especially during a recent visit to the middle east.

As an aetheist I can attempt to rationalise my ethical stance. I can provide evidence to back up my opinions and, assuming I haven't drunk too much, I can provide a reasonably strong line of reasoning to backup most of these beliefs. Sometimes I am wrong about these things, and I know that frequently premises are based on statistical studies, knowing that whilst a statement may not hold all the time it will hold most of the time usually makes me happy.

If you are a member of a monotheistic religion, however, you have two choices: to believe in your scriptures literally as the word of your deity, or not. If you do then you have no problem as far as premises go – there's a whole book of stuff that you can rely on! Unfortunately most of this was written by people other than the aforementioned deity – but if you are happy believing that people claiming to speak the word of God are actually speaking the word of then you have a strong basis from which to present your ethical arguments.

If you accept that there might be certain parts of this scripture that aren't the word of the aforementioned deity, then they allow themselves to choose what they believe: if their only accepted interaction with this deity is through the scripture and they choose what to accept: then they become God within their own belief system! This is more realistic, but unfortunately looses the ethical power that one would have: what premises does one have to reason about the moral issues that face?

I'm glad I don't have to face these problems.

Also does anyone else think that we often associate religion too much with judeo-christian-muslim style monotheism? I certainly feel that I often do.


January 09, 2006

Richard Dawkins is my God

I have just finished watching "The root of all evil". Aggressive and intellectually coherent controversy combined with the wonderfully three dimensional superiority complex of Dawkins make this a programme I would have been proud to have authored myself. That it rejects religion as an explanation of the world around us endears me to it further.

Most of the arguments of the programme have been heard before: a scientist stating that he puts his eggs in the rational basket rather than the fideistic one is hardly a shocking move in the 21st century. The two most interesting aspects for me is:

1. That people who ignore the intellectual dilema in accepting two paradigmatically opposed systems of explanation simply because they fail to find enough obvious mutually exclusive propositions between the two systems frequently tend to lack understanding of those systems. By stating the self-evidently obvious bluntly and frequently – that you cannot be rational and fideistic at the same time – Dawkins makes this point well.

2. The beauty of the following sentences:
"An eye created itself by accident"
"in the future you will find on some things you were wrong and some things right but please don't be so arrogant"
The first because of the necessary self delusion that the speaker had undertaken within attempting such a blatant straw man argument. He wasn't trying to weaken evolution to being a theory of nothing more than accidentalism: he believed it that evolution meant that an eye had created itself by accident. The second because it was from someone who was bold enough to have implied just two sentences beforehand that all the answers to life's problems came from one book.

Though ultimately I am going to end up disagreeing with Dawkins argument that all religion should be removed from the planet, it shall be an interesting set of programmes seeing him express it.


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