Monday, 25 September 2017

Scrappage...

Saleable stock photography is ‘emblematic’: the kind of pic which can slot into an article and make (or amplify) a point in a simple visual way. This shot of an old car in a skip (“we paid £12 for it”, the guy in the showroom said; I’m sure the skip cost more) will hopefully sell when someone searches for ‘car scrappage’.

The sum of £6,000 sounds good, until you notice the qualifier. 'Up to' suggests that other, lower figures may apply to your particular car... going right down to £12 or, indeed, 'fuck all'... 


Atheism...

A few more quotes… about atheism…

“Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply an admission of the obvious” (Sam Harris).

“We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further” (Richard Dawkins).

“Jews, Chrstians and Muslims claim that their scriptures are so prescient of humanity’s needs that they could only have been written under the direction of an omniscient deity. An atheist is simply a person who has considered this claim, read the books and found the claim to be ridiculous” (Sam Harris).

“The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more” (Ayaan Hirsi Ali).

“I see Atheists are fighting and killing each other again, over who doesn't believe in any God the most. Oh, no..wait.. that never happens” (Ricky Gervais)…

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Science...

Science has long been in conflict with religion, certainly since Galileo discovered that the earth revolves around the sun (and not the other way round). A few more quotes…

“The core of science is not controlled experiment or mathematical modelling; it is intellectual honesty” (Sam Harris).

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it” (Neil deGrasse Tyson).

“There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority; and science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works” (Stephen Hawking).

“It’s okay to reserve judgement until the evidence is in” (Carl Sagan).

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use” (Galileo).

“Religion is to science as superstition is to reason” (Jerry A Coyne).

“Even if the open windows of science at first make us shiver after the cosy indoor warmth of traditional humanising myths, in the end the fresh air brings vigour, and the great spaces have a slendour of their own” (Bertrand Russell).

“When the evidence disagrees with the scientific proposition, the proposition is discarded. When the evidence disagrees with a religious proposition, the evidence is discarded” (Victor Stenger)…

Friday, 22 September 2017

Beer with breakfast...

It's a familiar start to a nomad's day: emailing a magazine article while I enjoy a Wetherspoons breakfast. People around me are ordering pints of beer with their breakfast, while the barmaid refrains from asking "Is that wise?"

Some quotes by skeptics and atheists are played for laughs; that doesn’t necessarily make then any less perceptive…

“Heaven, as conventionally conceived, is a place so inane, so dull, so useless, so miserable, that no one has ever ventured to describe a whole day in heaven, though plenty of people have described a day at the seaside” (George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman).

“It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it” (G K Chesterton). Islam fails the test, I think.

“The proper response to religious folly is not outrage but amused contempt” (S T Joshi, in the Introduction to H L Mencken’s book, On Religion).

“Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions” (Thomas Jefferson).

“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled” (Mark Twain).

“Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure” (George Carlin).

“We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart” (H L Mencken)…

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Keeping order...

Many commentators have noticed how the powerful make use of religion to keep the riff-raff in their place. More quotes…

"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful” (Seneca).

“Since the masses of the people are inconstant, full of unruly desires, passionate, and reckless of consequences, they must be filled with fears to keep them in order. The ancients did well, therefore, to invent gods, and the belief in punishment after death” (Polybius).

“Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet. Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich” (Napoleon).

“I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ” (Mother Theresa)…

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Belief...

A few more quotes… about the way that religious faith can persuade people to be their less charitable selves…

“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion” (Steven Weinberg).

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” (Voltaire).

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction” (Blaise Pascal).

“Cruel men believe in a cruel God and use their belief to excuse their cruelty. Only kindly men believe in a kindly God, and they would be kindly in any case” (Bertrand Russell)…

All you can eat...

Had an evening out with Helen in Halifax, and tried out a local, ‘buffet style’ curry house. No need to read a menu, or catch the waiter’s eye, or make an order, or decide how many popadums to have. We just took a plate into an adjacent room and helped ourselves from a range of tureens: curries from hot to mild, rice, chips, bhajis, samosas, salad, etc. We finished off with ice cream. All very tasty and - at £11 for all you could eat - good value. I’ll be back…