Monday, November 27, 2006

Two new fantastic American magazine articles

The first was the feature in Wired (November 2007 issue) titled:
Inside the crusade against religion.
I would recommend you buy your own copy, but you can also read it here.

The second feature article is in New Scientist (18 November 2006) titled:
Life, Death, Reality, Free Will and The Theory of Everything
It starts with an article "IN PLACE OF GOD" (Can secular science ever oust religious belief - and should it even try?). There is a preview available here. Quote: "The world needs to wake up from the long nightmare of religion. [...] Anything we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done, and may in fact be our greatest contribution to civilisation." (Cosmologist Steven Weinberg, University of Texas)

Then from page 31 to 72 it goes into "THE BIGGEST QUESTIONS EVER ASKED":
  • What is reality?
  • Do we have free will?
  • What is life?
  • Is the universe deterministic?
  • What is consciousness?
  • Will we ever have a theory of everything?
  • What happens after you die?
  • What comes after humans?
Many of which are my favourite subjects. A great read sitting inside with a mug of tea listening to the fall storm outside. Enjoy, get a perspective!

"I do not believe life has a meaning, but I find it meaningful to live."
[Levi Fragell, President IHEU]

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Drawings of Prophet Mohammed and giving in to threats

It is impossible to walk through life without ever offending or be offended. Anybody expecting that is sadly deluded.

For reasons now unimportant, small Christian Danish and Norwegian newspapers/magazines printed drawings of Prophet Mohammed and started an outrage. It is important to understand that this stunt only was an unexpected trigger causing many different and complex conflicts and issues to boil over. We must not explain this away by blaming the drawings, there are bigger and more serious causes for the problems we now see.

In retrospect it is interesting to look at the development of the criticism - escalating as the violent outrage has happened. And not to forget the many forms of excuses that has been given to calm down the potent situation.

I am disappointed that threats of violence have allowed many to restrict their actions and speak. To what degree the drawings were disrespectful or not should be totally overshadowed by the violent reaction. No matter the lack of respect, we can and must not give in to religious violence! The modern Christian religion is today civilized not because of its holy scriptures and most dedicated believers, but despite them. More people than we dare to imagine (and thank) were robbed, tortured and killed to achieve the freedom and modern democracy we now have. We have to remind ourselves that no time was darker in Europe than when the churches ruled the Middle age.

I am saddened and frustrated by the anger, but not discouraged. We know that it helps to stand up, to dare go against the fanatics who try to violently impose their rules on others. No matter how hopeless it seems. We know women and dissenters are oppressed in many Muslim countries and we must not invalidate their struggle by giving in to this now. It is not going to be easy to change this, but we know from experience that it is possible and inevitable.

By threatening with violence the protesters have forced us to protect freedom of speech by doing what they protest. Giving in to such threats will only motivate more to do the same. And we will have taken two steps back instead of one ahead.

So, is provocation a sacred act? No, of course not. But humour is an important human ability to demystify and disarm dogmatic and oppressive religious tendencies. Humour is personal therapy, especially for former victims. I, inspired by the words of Voltaire, detest what the violated believers in Mohammed say, but I would give my life to make it possible for them to continue to say it.

"I rarely waste time in reading theological subjects... Ridicule is the only weapon that can be used against such unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus. If it could be understood it would not answer their purpose. Their security is in their faculty of shedding darkness, like the scuttle-fish, thro' the element in which they move, and making it impenetrable to the eye of a pursuing enemy, and there they will sulk."
[Thomas Jefferson]

Friday, February 10, 2006

Olympics about to start

Bread and circus to the people. Few things are less interesting that watching strangers running around competing. It frustrates me...

"Sure, there's still war in the Balkans, but the Supreme Being of the universe seems to have become shallow and spends all his time intervening in sporting events."
[John Bloom (aka Joe Bob Briggs), comment after the Super bowl]

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

15,000 days!

Several years ago I stumbled upon a web page (now long lost) where you could calculate how many days you had lived. It also told you about upcoming anniversaries - and my next one was 15,000 days. Meaningless and fun enough trivia to qualify to be included in my digital calendar.

And today, long after I forgot all about it, my PDA beeps joyfully in my pocket and when I turn it on a reminder from the past blinks at me: You're 15.000 days today. Happy me! :)

This week has so far offered me 2 other good and 1 bad event. The bad is that I have received my first speeding ticket ever (photo box). I was doing so well and have really been committed to reach my personal goal of never getting a speeding ticket. I am very disappointed at myself and there is no excuse. Talk is easy, I want to live what I preach.

The two good events are that I have met up with two dear friends that I have not seen in a while. I'm, despite my faults, a happy man.

A reading from the Book of Armaments, Chapter 4, Verses 16 to 20:

Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, "Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy." And the people did rejoice and did feast upon the lambs and toads and tree-sloths and fruit-bats and orangutans and breakfast cereals... Now did the Lord say, "First thou pullest the Holy Pin. Then thou must count to three. Three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the number of the counting, be reached, then lobbest thou the Holy Hand Grenade in the direction of thine foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it."

[Monty Python, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"]