Dec 28, 2010

'Der erste Trunk'

I don't know much about physics, but Heisenberg knew a bit. He said, apparently:

"Der erste Trunk aus dem Becher der Naturwissenschaft macht atheistisch, aber auf dem Grund des Bechers wartet Gott."

Regardless of whether he said it, I like it.

my translation: the first drink from the cup of natural science makes [one] atheistic, but at the base of the cup waits God.

I post this as it was an excuse to use my German and as, in between a few books I'm trying to finish, I'm slowly working my way through a few articles on science, belief, empiricism, intelligent design and other fun stuff. I came across this in the search and the blog seemed to want feeding. Now I've started, its appetite has been awakened, but we'll see if something novel can be found; otherwise it may just have to run on empty.

Dec 26, 2010

21st C Nativity

Here's some post-Christmas humour:

Thanks to Dr Peoples at for the link

More on Christmas & Xmas, from CS Lewis; thanks to Victor Reppert's 'Dangerous Idea':

Dec 23, 2010

what's the use?

From 'the Voyage of the Dawn Treader' (p 137 in my copy):

'But what manner of use would it be ploughing through that Darkness?' asked Drinian.
'Use?' replied Reepicheep. 'Use, Captain? If by use you mean filling our bellies and our purses, I confess it will be no use at all. So far as I know we did not set sail to look for things useful but to seek honour and adventure. And here is as great an adventure as ever I heard of, and here, if we turn back, no little impeachment of all our honours.

Let us dare treat life as an adventure; with Another's honour more important than our own.

Dec 21, 2010

The Ultimate Presence

All I want for Xmas is a gigantic awesome remote controlled attack helicopter!!!
Someone needs to equip one of these with some kind of paintball weaponry and have war games. Please?!

I've never been a huge fan of Christmas. Maybe I've never really got awesome presents (since when I was small, when most presents count as pretty awesome), maybe I've never really had lots of money to spend on presents or noone to buy for, or maybe a combo of all the above; with other reasons beside, no doubt.

But for a little while now, I have been a fan of Jesus. Not his number one fanboy; I'm a bit too cautious, wannabe-intellectual and introverted for that, but a fan nonetheless. I was going to write a screed here, off the top of my skull; and I may get around to that, but first, I am reminded by my prologue of this curious little song, courtesy of Owl City: "I believe that Jesus is truly the only way; I celebrate Christmas [even though sometimes I cringe about what we've done to it] because it's his birthday."

I figure, now, that my attempts at poetry are more accessible than a 'dear Diary' about faith, virgins, mangers and astrologers (as fascinating as that sounds). So, here's a little something, in the celebrated 'stream of consciousness' style, I was in the process of scribing:

Let me tell you a story.
It doesn’t get boring
It shall not get old
Or pass into the past
Without leaving its mark

It’s a story of grace

This stuff can’t be bought or sold
But let it be sought, and told
Let the sound resound at last
In the marketplace, the public square
and hiding places; halls of fear

‘Cause: God’s love has a face

The medium is the message
The raising of the negligible
Planned from the start
It is stark and powerful
Beautiful, a making new

Slowing right down the pace

Learning to communicate,
Seeking the truth
We will triangulate
Upon something worthwhile;
A trinitarian mystery.

Making sense of the race

Both far and near;
This God has come here

Changing murky to clear
And allowing a new start
For the new year.

Happy Christmas

Dec 14, 2010

The early CS Lewis

I've thought briefly about this English professor recently and am looking forward to watching the new Narnia movie soon. I was pleased to just find this nice little article on his early letters; i.e. letters written prior to his adult decision to follow Jesus Christ, in 1931.

Not infrequently, you will find claims that atheists who convert were never really genuine in their disbelief. I find such claims a little ridiculous, for instance in how they blithely import Christian ideals of belief into an incohesive atheistic worldview (i.e. if atheism is true, the concept of 'genuine' belief is a little strange) - but anyway, have a read if you like:

found via: (2nd post on Sunday 12 Dec) and an internet search.

The moral for me - and I have seen it in my own life - is that unbelief need not be permanent.

Dec 3, 2010

land of the long cloud

This article from the NZ herald concerns me. Obviously we're all aware that child abuse happens, but this story helped to make it more real. That child deserved a hug and a happy home. Children are so precious; it is upsetting.

While good intentions are to some extent praiseworthy, I'm not sure about the necessity or level of benefit of government-provided preschool for under 2s. Emotional reactions, whatever political direction they're coming from are of little help. Perhaps more preschool care is a useful band-aid, but it's not getting at the real issues of abuse and neglect. Maybe it's a good way to ensure a minimal standard of care for our young people - sad and troubling if many of our families really have reached that point. More secure funding for Plunkett would seem to be a very good idea. There are benefits that come from them being a community rather than govt organisation, but whatever the organisational situation, having more caring nurses out in the community aware of all that's happening on the ground could only be a good thing. (It's the kind of service churches could perhaps have provided if we had not lost the goodwill of many in this nation.)

We need a cultural change; we need hearts that care passionately about the issues, but not only that; we need minds that understand the real problems in our society (including the structures supporting and failing to oppose them) and willing hands to do the hard costly work required to enact the change.

A gem:

"There is no argument that alcohol is one of the constant and significant ingredients in alcohol-related incidents”

This is of course taken slightly out of context, but as a philosophy student I find it humourous.
It is from a serious contribution to the 'drinking age' debate from a while back.

time to question atheism, yet again; broken record, I know

Sorry, first off, for the poor structuring/layout/whatever-it's called. 'Formatting' - that's the one. I find it a hassle and can't be bothered getting the html to work. But anyway:

Sometimes I read I'm not really proud of this, but it fills in the time.

Rich likes to show off the emails he gets from crazies. Fair enough; but if he wants to point and laugh at crazies, he should read the forums on his site. Given what you see in various internet forums and comments lists, populated by ignorant young men with self-esteem issues, I can imagine sites such as "" must also receive some interesting emails.

More interesting however for me is the section of the site labelled "converts corner" and the associated "Good" emails that Rich has received. Their spelling, let alone comprehension of the issues, is little better than that of Dawkins' specially-picked (for the purposes of mocking) opponents.

This is an interesting quote:

I was reading on your website the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly section and it
just amazes me how so many christians, who preach about the love and compassion of their religion, can say such vile things, but I think they really need to look in the mirror when they say atheists are "dumb, clueless and hateful", as was quoted in one of the letters from your site. I don't see atheists trying to
brainwash people, or telling people that they're doing to burn in some imaginary hell... that's awful. Atheism has never caused any wars or mass murders.

I do see atheists, a la Dawkins, trying to brainwash people - and lack of belief in God has sadly, I would suggest, been a contributing factor in a number of wars and mass-murders. Incidentally, I don't believe in "some imaginary hell". Unfortunately, I believe in a real one, of some sort. Maybe those who reject God are 'just' extinguished; either way, it's not the best way to go.

Presumably Rich's people are fairly proud of this letter, the first in their list. It's quite revealing -

I've highlighted the interesting and some of the more questionable bits in blue. Commentary below.

I must thank you immensly for your work. I'm getting to the end of your
fantastic book 'The god delusion' and couldn't wait until the end to thank you.
I first got to know about you through Mr Brown's book 'tricks of the mind'.
Having been raised quite alike him in an evangelic christian community, I
related a lot to his story. So, I had to get hold of the book to which he is so elogious.

I gave up my parents (and my) beliefs sometime around my teenage years.
Thinking more and more about my received teachings, I arrived to the simple
conclusion that they just conflicted with common sense! In the past, i've found
myself cornered by my lack of knowledge, which gave the christian defending his
beliefs automatic (perceived in his sense) victory! Needless to say how
nauseating this is. Your book is a gold mine of proof that i hope will put in
doubt every religious believing person that crosses my way from now on.

Another teenager rejects his parents beliefs (or, taking a literal reading, perhaps gave up his parents?), apparently without knowing too much about them (evangelic?). Since when should 'common sense' accord with reality, given atheism/naturalism? e.g. Dennett is rather keen on rejecting common sense - well, when it suits anyway.

"A gold mine of proof". Wow. Just.. wow.

I leave you with some more gems. If you like them, step in to my shoes and/or come visit my bookshelf.

I see the irrationality of religion. My hope is that other
will see the true light. Thank you again. I won't hesitate
to speak my mind and support my position if challenged by
an irrational religious person!


The fervour with which exponents of religious ideals evangelise their
beliefs on an un-informed public, needs to be met with an equally zealous
counteract, to educate and inform.


Incidentally my atheist enlightenment came from understanding that the attraction of two magnets could be explained by physics! I used to carry two plastic magnetic turtles into my Belfast Sunday 'school' in the hope that they would repel the irrational lunacy that I was being force fed, and attract some rational thought.


Now, I am still amazed at the complexity of nature. But it is nature itself, and not such a sill book written by cavemen, that reveals to us the truths of this world. I have finally found my true religion, which is no religion.

If you're not tired yet, read this and the comments to get some grip on people's twisted view of the world: Some are actually proud of the fact that they can't understand Plantinga's argument, or complain that they get a headache from reading it. I could go on; but I humbly suggest that if you think you're smarter than this guy, it is quite likely you haven't read his work carefully enough. If you're an atheist posting comments on Dawkins' website and you think you're smarter than Plantinga, I would like to meet you - I will most probably laugh. I do appreciate it however when people try to actually engage with careful Christian thought - kudos to those people.