Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

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Immediate thoughts about the Paris attacks

November 14, 2015

A response to the November 13th attacks in Paris written in the immediate aftermath; it is apparent that the perpetrators were radical Islamists linked with Islamic State. I have a certain amount of difficulty trying to square my ideals of a tolerant, rational, multicultural, open society with the unhappy reality that such a thing is wide open to attack from those who don’t share such ideals. I don’t have answers, just thoughts and questions at the moment, some of which are here.

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Predictions for 2012

January 1, 2012

Presented without undue ceremony, here are my predictions for 2012. I don’t claim any great expertise in the realms of prognostication, politics or pop-culture, so they may be utter nonsense. But you can always check back in 12 months to see how I did.

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Book Review: The Qur’an

December 14, 2011

The Qur’an seems to fascinate people. For Muslims, it is the supreme source of knowledge and wisdom. For Bill Maher it is a “hate-filled holy book“. Given the current climate, there are presumably quite a few people who regard it with suspicion if not outright hostility. So, naturally, it seemed like it would be a good idea to read it.

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Unreasonable Faith

November 9, 2011

William Lane Craig is a Christian philosopher. Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist who has said some unkind things about God. The former, on a speaking tour of England challenged the latter to a debate on the subject of his book “The God Delusion”. The latter, observing that the former had previously made statements apparently endorsing genocide as long as God said it was OK, decided not to take up the offer. The former, presumably having expected this rebuff, went ahead anyway, promoting the event via advertisements on the side of Oxford buses beginning “There’s probably no Dawkins…” in the style of the atheist “no God” campaign. So, despite the fact that the event at the Sheldonian Theatre was a whole £10, I went along.

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Obituaries I will read with pleasure

October 13, 2011

I used to wonder who I would actually kill, given the chance.

That probably sounds a little unhinged, so I suppose I’d better qualify it. The gedankenexperiment went something like this – supposing I was diagnosed with some particularly fatal ailment such that I had, say, 3 months to live, and I was prepared to take an ethical bullet for mankind by devoting my remaining time and modest financial resources by seeking out and destroying the individual who had done the most damage to the world over the course of his / her life, who would it be?

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Book Review: The Bible

July 17, 2011

I thought it would be educational to read the Bible, a process which took roughly two months of train journeys to and from work. There were a number of motivations for this:

  1. To have a better grasp of its contents.
  2. To recognise figures of speech and literary allusions which have a Biblical origin.
  3. To form my own understanding of God.
  4. To try to understand what Christians see in it.

I shall tackle these in order.

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Book Review: American Taliban

October 28, 2010

American politics is fascinating in the same way a car-crash, invasive medical procedure or messy celebrity divorce is fascinating. You know it’s wrong to stare, but you crave every detail of the whole sorry business so you gawp dumbly at it, unable to take it all in.

Broadly speaking, there are two political parties in the States – the Republicans and the Democrats. When I was younger, my mental picture of the world had these mapped nicely to English equivalents – the Republicans were Conservatives (pro-business, pro-rich-people) and the Democrats were Labour (pro-social-equality, pro-poor-people in the sense of wanting to help them). A nice simple picture, marred by two facts, namely that the colours were the wrong way round (Republicans = red, Democrats = blue), and if it ever had any truth at all (doubtful) this mapping now is entirely wrong. A more accurate picture would have the Democrats as Conservatives (perhaps on the left of the party) and the Republicans – well, they’re just off the scale.

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