Saturday, 23 April 2011

Jehovah's Witness Visit

I went to a Jehovah's Witness "Lord's Evening Meal" - the biggest event of the year for them after getting an invite at the door this morning.
They were incredibly friendly, everyone shook my hand and said hello when I sat down and the service was very solemn and beautiful. There were lots of families with children and everyone was wearing their best.  When I realised what the event was, I wanted to leave but they insisted that I stay.  So I sat in a corner and didn’t say anything.  A young man from Nigeria introduced himself and his Sister and he shared his bible with me so I could follow what was going on.
The invite
The actual sermon was a selection of verses from the New Testament selected to reinforce the story of the "Ransom Sacrifice" of Jesus so that everyone can be forgiven and live for eternity on a paradise earth.  I don't know how much of the bible they think is literal and how much they see as allegory.  The preacher mentioned a literal Adam and Eve and that "most" geneticists think there was one man we are all descended from.  He was probably referring to “Y-Chromosomal Adam” but has obviously missed the point and ignored the obvious contradictions to the bible.  The way they flitted back and forth through the NT, selecting single versus out of context to back up the narrative was quite amusing.  If I ever have a spare couple of hours I might do the same and see if I can tell the story of “Avatar” through biblical verse.

You could attend one of these meetings and see the sincere happiness and devotion that these people showed and it you may find it difficult to oppose what they believe in.  But essentially what they are describing is how I and everyone I ever cared about was destined to burn in eternal damnation.   They believe that salvation can only be gotten through strict adherence to their interpretation of the bible, they look at other religions and Christians as false and Satan’s helpers.
The one thing everyone knows about JW's is their rejection of blood transfusions and transplants.  I couldn’t help but look at the children in the service and just be horrified at the thought of them being hurt and needing an operation.  The parents attending were lovely people and I’m sure their parents were the same, but they’ve left a horrible, painful legacy by not understanding the context of the bible or what medical science would bring us.

I didn't ask any questions because it was their service and not a secular event.  I'm going to try and set up a meeting with them and the humanist group, I hope they’ll show but I doubt they will.  When everyone was saying hello at the beginning one mum introduced her three handsome young boys.  When I told her that I was a humanist, her face changed and she shooed them away.  

Cat people

My family have always been cat people.  

Cats are literally retarded.  Dogs are pack animals, they stay with you because they live in groups.  Cats don't, they stay with you because even though they have matured, they still think of themselves as kittens and the humans as their parents.

Cat's don't know they that they are retarded, they don't decide that you are their parents.  It's just the way their brains are wired to react to the "things" that feed and pet them.  If a domesticated cat is abandoned and becomes feral then it will "grow up".  It will start to live like a wild cat and usually can't be tamed again.  Dogs if abandoned will try to bond with other dogs or other people.

Its not that the mature kittens we live with are bad cats, they don't know any different and they are doing the best they can.  They are trapped by the environment they were born into, their parents were probably domesticated and their parents before them.  There are whole generations of cats living in the shadow of their patriarchal life givers, never meeting their full potential.

The progress of HUFC and Physics

If it was possible to pit the 2011 Hartlepool United Football Team against the 1950's England team, Hartlepool would piss all over them.

It's not that I have a great faith in the ability of today's HUFC (I couldn't name a single player) but I that I have a great belief in the progress of science.  Even sports science.

Science progresses through the acquisition of knowledge.  Trying different things (experimenting)  and documenting the results until you find what works.  It all adds to the pool of knowledge which will support or refute the currently held theory or principal.  The theories that hold the most weight (e.g. Not getting drunk the night before a big game) have the most supporting evidence and would therefore need a lot of negative evidence to repudiate.  Today's athletes have the benefit of 60 years of progress in nutrition, callisthenics, medicine and tactics.  All of which can use the scientific method to improve their results.  Even if those taking part don't realise it.

There may be some crack pots who think having a couple of shots of tequila before the game will enhance the players focus.  They could claim that this is an entirely valid theory and it should at least be given fair chance at school, and any sports lecturer would be remiss not to teach this controversy.

Or there may be a manager who thinks having each of his players say a prayer before each game makes them play better.  He may think this is due to divine providence and he insists that every club he works for follows this practice.  But someone else notices that it doesn't always work and some of the Muslim or Atheist players don't do it and they still win.  Instead he notices that following the same routine before a game gets the players in the right frame of mind and eases their nerves.

Students are taught the currently supported theories based upon the largest amount of evidence which the students will absorb and build upon.  They may find holes in the evidence or think of a better way of performing the experiment.  They may eventually over turn the tide of evidence and change the paradigm.

Dutch Total Football, Sweeper Systems, Zonal Defence and a flat back four are all experiments in trying to find a winning solution.  The times they have worked and the times they have failed was dependent upon the other factors.  The incorporation of those factors into the equation leads to a deeper truth.

The limitations of experimentation is where you find the current edge of science.  In physics you need to build a bigger and better particle accelerator, in football you need a bigger squad.  And in both cases it doesn't matter who the individual is, Alex Ferguson or Albert Einstein; if your theory is wrong and isn't backed by results then you're going to get relegated.

Religion and Science

I know I get too worked up about religion.  It's a terrible affliction and a major character flaw.

I'm angry about religion, because religion is wrong.

It's influence is so strong and deep that the very idea that something such as faith could be "bad" seems alien and wrong.  Even to me.  Faith has earned a special significance in our society.  From childhood we're taught to have faith, to be faithful and to always hold onto faith.  Have Faith in people, hope that the hero will come.  It's in stories, it's in movies and it's in songs.
But faith kills people everyday.  Faith that prayer and god will cure your cancer because the holy man told you it would.  
Having faith is the last bastion for the destitute and the helpless, what on earth could be wrong with faith?  Nothing except that faith alone does nothing, if you're lying sick on the side of the road and you only have faith, you'll die.  If you have faith and the sense to ask for help or the will to get help, you'll live (hopefully).

Science has nothing to do with religion but you can't fully exist in concordance with both of them (except for some zany spiritualistic hippy kind of way).

In science if it's not based upon evidence then it's worthless, it doesn't matter who said it and how much faith you have in them.

The evidence says that the universe is 13.75 Billion Years Old and there are hundreds of billions of galaxies with trillions upon trillions of stars.  There might be a creator of the Universe, there's no evidence for it but there's no evidence against it.  I think more atheists should concede this point.
However do you think it's creator (if it exists) gives a f*** about you eating pork?  Or being gay?  Or even if you kill a billion people?

Now you could claim that the evidence is wrong or that God does care about these things because he is all powerful.  But that's not what your holy book says.  The God in your book doesn't know anything about the Universe.  He's petty, he's obsessed with animal sacrifice and the real estate of the eastern Mediterranean.  He cares about which shellfish you eat and when.  He's small.

I personally do care if you kill one person or drop litter or give me the V sign.  I also care very much that people think the Universe is small.  My basis of caring about these things is founded in my biological imperative (or it's legacy) to live in a community and to be accepted by my fellow human beings.

Hence the fact that I'm angry is a terrible burden.