03 April 2006

Waffle and Piffle and God.

Andrew over at wongablog is bravely talking about his uncontrollable thoughts. I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't actually be legal to publish mine.

Anyway...the point he is making is actually quite important. He talks about how thoughts emerge from the central area of the brain and are hopefully refined, adjusted or dispelled by the 'higher function' areas.

He mentions one of his uncontrollable thoughts, that on seeing middle eastern men with beards he thinks of terrorists. He obviously rejects this and acknowledges what nasty, prejudiced thoughts they are. But this is a good point. We all have prejudiced thoughts, but it is how we manage and counter them with logic and reason that is important.

While we are on the subject of prejudice...

I've been going to church for the last 3 weeks (shock horror!). No need to worry I've not gone religious or anything. To be exact I've been going to 'church in a pub' (obviously alcohol has to be involved for me to go somewhere like this), which is part of the Christ Church group (Anglican). Their flyers say anyone is welcome and anything can be said, so basically I have been giving them an atheist viewpoint.

There is a medical student there who believes that abortion should be made illegal, even for those who are raped or with ectopic pregnancies, this is absolutely shocking but an obvious example of the damage that religion does. I've yet to find anyone there who believes in a woman's right to choose, isn't that a surprise? They all without fail believe that the bible (with all it's inaccuracies, absurdities and immorality) is the ultimate guide to how to live their lives, even more importantt than their own judgement! An idea of how dangerous this is, is given by one of the girls there who says she would kill someone if god told her to. This is the road to 9/11 and bombings of abortion clinics, Oklahoma etc.

To counter this, I told them a story about delusion. I said imagine you go and see a psychic and he is a reasonable chap, he talks to you about how a lot of people think what he does is garbage and he asks you a few questions about yourself - 'cold reading' (birthday facts, family names, history etc.), he tells you some vague facts that seem quite surprising, but when you think about later you realise that these facts could quite easily apply to everyone.

Then he produces a notebook off his shelf that contains some doodles and some notes that he must have done earlier before you entered the room. You are amazed to see your birthday, your mom's name and a few other personal facts he couldn't possible have known. He talks about the amazing connection he has managed with your mind and you happily hand over some money to continue the readings the following week. (Now anybody who watches 'the real hussle' on BBC3 will know how this is done).

I asked the religious people at 'church in a pub' how they think the psychic did this? Not one, NOT ONE, offered a rational explanation. They all said that the psychic really had read the client's mind, one offered that he was using 'evil spirits'. I told them that this is why they believe in god and I don't. I explained that just because you can't see a rational explanation for something doesn't mean the answer must be irrational.

Not one of them seemed to want to understand this point and when I told them to really think about the world and they would see the error of their ways, I was told I was being insulting and calling them stupid. Maybe I was calling them stupid, but maybe that is because they are being stupid in this aspect of their lives.

No progress was seemingly made but at least I lived to tell the tale and that girl didn't get the 'nod from god' to kill me there and then for my insubordination.

12 comments:

  1. You shud c what religion does to politics. We've got the islam/jewish divide over the middle east just to give you an example. There must have been more wars fought abt religion than anything else.

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  2. But, being scientific here, you would need to go to several 'churches in a pub' to get a more accurate view.
    That said, as a Christian I do feel somewhat embarrased that you had those recent experiences.
    BTW Did you mention the delights of DarkStar ;)

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  3. Ectopic pregnacy? Love the logic there, it is better that both the mother and featus dies than she get an abortion and live.

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  4. carry bag man4/4/06 5:25 pm

    Given the falling attendances at mainstream religious services perhaps the COE should adopt
    "pub in a Church" ?
    a flippant post I know, but one cannot take religion seriously....cue the backlash...

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  5. I'm not sure that going unaccompanied into the lion's den is the way forward, you know.Ooh, they sound like weirdos. What surprises me is that lots of people who aren't remotely religious suddenly turn into raving lunatics when it comes to abortion. (Not me - I'm pro choice, so don't be calling me a Daily Mail reader again...)

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  6. NB: I agree with Paul above - they don't sound typical of the Christians I know. I wonder if that might not be a bit of a culty church, like the London Church of Christ. They're a bit strange too.

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  7. more straw men, Neil, learn to argue.

    Can't you find some Broad Church or High Anglican intellectual or theologian to talk it over with, rather than some low churchers who meet in a pub?

    Why do you always think you've won when you've only hit the easiest target?

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  8. carry bag man5/4/06 9:57 am

    Anonymous... here is a tip. Instead of your usual personal criticism and negativity why not put forward some constructive views of your own ??

    Neil, never claims to win an argument he merely expresses his views. In fact, based on the debate on here he changed his position on id cards.

    So the basic message is put up or shut up !!!

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  9. I have to applaud Neil for actually going there and putting forward his views, even if one suspects that he might be that slightly embarrassing person at the party who won't shut up about serious shit when everybody else just wants a good time (a role too often adopted by myself, when pissed)...

    DK

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  10. Nonsense. Neil often claims to won arguments.

    I see nothing wrong with limiting myself (and I am not the only anonymous poster here as I detect many posts not written by me) to pointing out how wrong Neil is. I don't see why, if someone is wrong, the person who points that out should have to advance some positive programme within the same forum. That just sounds like a way of imposing extra protection against criticism for people who are wrong.

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  11. I wish I could have been there to see you in church, even if it is in a pub.

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  12. Paul: "But, being scientific here, you would need to go to several 'churches in a pub' to get a more accurate view."

    Well, yes, I would. Maybe I will.

    "BTW Did you mention the delights of DarkStar ;)"

    No Darkstar at this pub, unfortunately!

    Chris: "Ectopic pregnacy? Love the logic there, it is better that both the mother and featus dies than she get an abortion and live."

    I know, I didn't understand the argument either. But then I don't understand why intelligent people believe in God.

    carry bag man: "Given the falling attendances at mainstream religious services perhaps the COE should adopt "pub in a Church" ?"

    flippant but funny.

    Katy: "I'm not sure that going unaccompanied into the lion's den is the way forward, you know.Ooh, they sound like weirdos."

    These are not by any imaginations the most dogmatic I could have gone to. Most of them believe in evolution for example.

    "What surprises me is that lots of people who aren't remotely religious suddenly turn into raving lunatics when it comes to abortion."

    I would like to see a survey of atheists. I've yet to meet one who opposes a woman's right to choose an abortion. The only one I found on the internet was Andrew of Non Trivial Solutions and he was a Tory!

    DK: "even if one suspects that he might be that slightly embarrassing person at the party who won't shut up about serious shit when everybody else just wants a good time (a role too often adopted by myself, when pissed)..."

    DK, you've got that right there. The other religious people would rather talk about big brother than the actual bible, religion and existential questions.

    Anon: Criticism is fine but it would be nice to hear some alternative ideas as well. It is much easier to criticise than to come up with ideas. That is the point I think carry bag man is making.

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