Tuesday, September 25, 2007

More political ignorance

More blood boiling (well for me anyway) triggered by a comment from a (stupid) Labour politician today at the party conference.

David Miliband was waxing lyrical about how our (UK) foreign policy would be different under Gordon Brown (great, it couldn't get much worse!) and uttered the following piece of crap, "Europe can't be a closed Christian club". He was of course referring to the current debate about Turkey (a predominantly Islamic country) becoming a full member of the EEC.

Firstly, Europe is not a "Christian club", at the last count only 52% of people in Europe claimed to be "religious" and the second largest religious group is Muslim, so Christianity is almost certainly in a minority. Secondly, I'd prefer to see a politician say "Europe can't become an intolerant, backward, superstitious, woman-hating, anti-scientific, theocratic, education and innovation wasteland, like most of the Middle East seems to be", that sounds like a much more worthwhile aspiration to me.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What does "spiritual" mean?

"Spiritual" is a term that I hear frequently, it's one of those "throw away" terms that seems to be used most frequently to avoid the need to be specific about what you do or don't believe religion-wise. I hear this term most from people who seem to be "too rational" to believe conventional (big 3) dogma but can't seem to let go of religion completely, kind of a "religiosity lite". When pressed such people often equate "spirituality" with a feeling of awe, reverence or mystery, I really, really don't get this, perhaps I'm just someone who is not wired this way but I find it hard to accept because I experience those emotions frequently myself, but I find no need to equate them to anything "supernatural".

So what things inspire me (a cold godless atheist) to feel awe and reverence, well that's easy, what registers with me is walking into the Duomo in Florence, listening to a powerful piece of music, contemplating geological time, drinking 1961 Latour, standing on top of a mountain, jumping off the mountain with a paraglider strapped to my back, watching my children play, and a million other obvious, thrilling or even mundane human experiences, but which of these requires a supernatural explanation, frankly none that I can see?

Wouldn't it be interesting to do a brain scan of an atheist and a believer both experiencing the same "spiritual" thing; I'd bet a lot of money that they'd be identical, if they were then that would suggest the only difference is the "interpretation" of the feeling, not the feeling itself, removing the "spirit" from the spiritual, now wouldn't that be awe inspiring!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Atheists Rock!

Hands up those of you who remember (fondly) the throbbing "prog rock" bands of the 70s like Hawkwind, Yes, Rush, Genesis and Floyd etc. I didn't realise this but some of these (now) old gits are still hammering away at their stratocasters like the immortal rock gods we all hoped they would be; For fans who are of an Atheist calling it doesn't get much better than Rush's latest album called "Snakes and Arrows" (2007), I must say I find it a most excellent earful, clean, crisp guitar rock of the highest calibre on tracks like "Malignant Narcissism" and (I know we don't do this much these days) just listen to those lyrics, particularly tracks like "Faithless", this is Atheist poetry, I'm in heaven (oops!).

PS If you want to listen to other Atheist friendly music, check out Motorhead, specifically "Don't need Religion" on "Iron Fist" (2001); also the excellent "God was never on your side" on "Kiss of Death" (2006), of course there are also the odd gems from Dylan (With God on our side), Eagles (The Last Resort), and Genesis (Jesus he knows me); Nine Inch Nails have an excellent album out at the moment called "Year Zero" which has a couple of superb tracks, and there is always REM, Roger Walters, Slayer, John Lennon, RHCP, Metalica, Pearl Jam and many more - we rock!