No, Yes, You're right

I haven't been posting much last few days. Busy, work, fun, junk trip, instant party, wax, hangover, sleep, back to work,...

The cycle of life.


Interestingly, on the junk trip one of the ladies who is just finishing her PhD in Nuclear Physics claimed to be a practicing christian. This confession puffed on the smouldering dialectical embers of several of us - Milos and myself anyway, as we are of decidely a Chekhovian bent -

I can only regard with bewilderment an educated man [sic] who is also religious. Anton Chekhov, somewhere, sometime.

We tried to debate the issues but under the wise aegis of Bacchus all arguments were resolved neatly and all objections tidily and logically dismissed and buggered if I can remember what it was we said...


The next day several of the survivors of the wax/pool party resurfaced mid-afternoon for a few (a few too many) cleansing ales at The Noisy Dubliners, when lo and behold, she of the PhD rocked up and DENIED it ALL! Not that she had a PhD but that she was a practicing christian after all.

"You guys must have been imagining it! I never said that," she said. (And if she denies saying that this time, we'll have her guts for garters!) Milos and I were both dumb and founded!

"But, you said...!"

"I did not!"

"I was there, too and I heard you say..."

"You guys are crazy, why would I say that?"

We didn't know. There's lot of things Milos and I don't know. Most of them are to do with women.


Suffice to say that the dissonance of this recognicance was rattling E@L's tiny brain for ages until he read the following:

[According to a letter Dosteyevsky wrote to Ozdimov in 1878] Without love there is no morality: but without immortality there can be no love. "Against Religion", Tamas Pataki, Scribe 2007

Pataki goes on to demolish this premise and his argument sort of echoes something Izzy and I were talking about last week - without fear of the death, without the fear of not being immortal, without the dread of non-existence, we don't see the need for God. If you don't believe your consciousness will exist forever, that you have an eternal soul, what need is there of God as an explanation for things? Which is not to say that when death comes near we will run for the Priest, the "there are no atheists on the battle-field argument."

If you don't believe in life after death, when death comes pointing his scythe at the salmon mousse on the dinner table of your life, and you believe in annihilation not ressurection, and you are satisfied with the fact you will exist no more - no-one from the ancient past exists any more, it's not a unique situation - there is no requirement for fear or for God.

And oh, it gives such a profound sense of relief when you make this leap of unfaith.

This does not mean that there is no morality, Mr Dostoyevsky (who we think must been unloved as a child and was seeking his authority figure on things human from a source external to human race, a non-corporeal super-Dad, a super-Ego, a Moses - as Freud claimed, M being the ultimate human authority figure because he actually went face to face with God), that all is permissable, even knocking old ladies on the head with an axe, it just means we believe that the morality and laws which humans have devised are sufficiently strong to run human affairs.

Even the crazy ones that, along with the good ones (like stoning disobedient children), came from down from that mountain-top CEO meeting and entered into various religious texts were of course ultimately devised by humans weren't they?

Sorry, what did you say again about neutrinos and quarks and charms?


Word of the week: fugacious

Meaning: evanescant, passing away quickly.

Quote: "... when the infant phantasizes something, it seems at the time to be true or real. (Think of the dream and the fugaciously satisfying erotic daydream.)" Pataki, op cit.

Make a sentence: "E@L's continued existence in Singapore (and on a few people's blogrolls) may be fugacious if he keeps posting this sort of crap in his blog."



Posted by: expat@large on Oct 09, 07 | 12:38 am | Profile


Your logic is flawed. You are implying that belief in god means running your society based on that god's laws (curiously transcribed by humans); and that atheism results in anarchy. Neither is necessarily true. An individual's belief in "god" or any other force of higher power does not automatically translate into structuring his/her society and/or government around that belief. In other words, it is entirely possible to practice responsible citizenship based on basic laws of human decency and respect without the introduction of god's law (in muslim: shari'ah). The one does not preclude the other.

Posted by: Samantha on Oct 09, 07 | 9:43 pm

Hi Sam, you seem to have, um, how do I put this politely, umm, missed the point entirely, in that what you say is what I am saying. Perhaps my syntax was too convoluted for you.

I never said what you say I said. That is a quote of a paraphrasing of something Dostoyevsky said (you know Dostoyevsky, the writer, Russian, 19th century, Brothers Karamazov, etc) then I am agreeing with someone who tore his stance shreds...

In the book I source, Pataki demolishes that argument which I repeat was Dostoyevsky's, not mine about God (immortailty is the same, Dostoyesky actually says in the letter) and morality - though he mentioned neither anarchism nor atheism.

I felt no need to transcribe Pataki's argument other than to say his demolition echoed something I had said to Izzy last week, which I thought was profound and original, but actually realised (as I say in my next post), is actually what Buddhism is all about! - a human derived moral code that does not need a God-like authority figure to back it up.

The Pataki book is interesting in that it presumes to analyse fundamentalists in a semi-Freudian way, saying that they have internalised the authority firgures, then transferred that authority to God due to narcissitic and Oedipal character flaws. Maybe you should read it.


So you actually agree with what I am saying but for some reason you didn't realise it...


p.s. we all know what s****'*h law is, no need to spell it out loud because a) we are not stupid and b) now my blog is going to get picked up by the web-trawling Islamic fundamentalists...

thanks a bunch...

Posted by: expat@large on Oct 09, 07 | 11:40 pm

Sorry, Sam that was even more confusing...

Again, more succinctly, MY main point was that without fear of death, there is no need for someone to look for God, is all. At least that's how it works for me.

Dostoyevsky however in his latter years made a career of the anarchy and atheism thing - cf Crime and Punishment, Bros K., etc. He certainly believed that the existence of God is required as a final falling-back point as to why you should obey the law of the land. A stance called, I believe, moral absolutism.

Pataki makes the point that most of the basic tenets of modern Western Law are not derived from religion, but are actually pre-christian Roman or non-christian Germanic in origin.

My stance on morality is similar to yours. We do pretty well without calling in some god CEO to rubber-stamp our morality.

Posted by: expat@large on Oct 09, 07 | 11:57 pm

Morality is innate. It is not separate from the survival of the species, and we feel certain things are right or wrong because we're hardwired to do so. Of course some people persist in choosing to be disillusioned or are simply mentally insane, in which case we need a rule of law.

But laws, and making them up, are also part of our natures.

For your average person, you don't need to tell them killing your neighbor is bad, or converting his wife is a bad idea... etc.

Try Moral Minds by Marc D. Hauser. I haven't read it yet, my back log is way long. But there are enough articles online on the subject by the guy.

Posted by: isabella on Oct 10, 07 | 12:08 am

Also try the Moral Animal by Robert Wright... hell why I am blogging this, you're only sitting in the next room!

Posted by: expat@large on Oct 10, 07 | 12:21 am

Don't preach at me...I'm hardwired. I like that.

Posted by: Dick on Oct 10, 07 | 7:52 am

Moi? Preach?

Hard wired? "The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude." James (Wiliam) [or was it Robbins (Tony)].

Posted by: expat@large on Oct 10, 07 | 11:05 am

No, no, not you...internet misunderstanding alert!...that was addressed to soul-savers in general.

Posted by: Dick on Oct 10, 07 | 11:11 pm


Just wondering - after the PhD lady disowned/denied her Christianity for the third time after questioning - did the cock crow?

(Mind you, can't say I'd blame her for being scared to admit her faith around some of you guys - especially you E@L, knowing what you can be like, in spite of your genuinely other loving, wonderful qualities.)

But guess what - I'm not afraid to. You know why? - 'cos I live a long way away!!

Simplisticly though, the God I believe in, along with millions of other people the world over, was born in a stable, and He's merciful ...

I admit to having some other 'gods' in my life too, and boy it's difficult not to cling to them, ie smoking, drinking, other addictive traits and weaknesses etc ........ It's called being human of course.

But basically, "...Every time I hear a newborn baby cry, or touch a leaf, or see the sky, then I know why I believe!"

Posted by: Sister on Oct 11, 07 | 12:00 am

"My response is that when Creationists talk about God creating every individual species as a separate act, they always instance hummingbirds, or orchids, sunflowers and beautiful things. But I tend to think instead of a parasitic worm that is boring through the eye of a boy sitting on the bank of a river in West Africa, [a worm] that's going to make him blind. And [I ask them], 'Are you telling me that the God you believe in, who you also say is an all-merciful God, who cares for each one of us individually, are you saying that God created this worm that can live in no other way than in an innocent child's eyeball? Because that doesn't seem to me to coincide with a God who's full of mercy." David Attenborough.

Posted by: expat@large on Oct 11, 07 | 12:24 am

Seems Sir David didn't hear about the Fred Hollows Foundation?

Re eye diseases: Since 1992 The Fred Hollows Foundation has worked in collaboration with local blindness prevention and other health organisations in more than 38 countries throughout Africa, Asia (South and South East), Australia and the Pacific.

[The Foundation] has previously worked in Botswana, Bougainville, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Lesotho, Malawi, Samoa, Soloman Islands, Swaziland, Thailand, Tonga, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

I wonder what or who inspired him?
Maybe a tadpole? (Stop it Mariah, stop it!)

E@L - I think your writing style is great - just don't always agree with your views. Love you just the same - scary when I say that I know!

(But, we agree to disagree?)

Posted by: Sister on Oct 11, 07 | 10:58 pm

The Fred Hollows Foundation fits uni-focal (i.e. cheap) artificial lenses in the eyes of people with chronic glaucoma. It is a good fix for people who were previously totally blind, but not perfect . They cannot focus on anything else other than than what is in the focal ranges of the lens without glasses, and besides his charity has nothing to do with the existence of God, Hollows himself being previously a card-carrying Communist and staunch atheist (eventually an anarcho-syndacilist and humanist).

Prior to his efforts, people were doing nothing, so he was a brilliantly outward thinking man to create this terrific humanitarian construction. I think he was one the greatest New Zealanders ever to have lived. Apart from Peter Jackson of course...


But we agree, my writing style IS exemplary.

Posted by: expat@large on Oct 12, 07 | 12:08 am

Yes I know he was a Communist - but 'God' still used him to help people.

Have you ever contemplated that along with the gift of life, that God might give us problems to solve, and gift us with the desire and skills to solve them? Sort of like a test..

- actually very interesting for an Australian of the 50s, 60s, 70s. to read..

I'm very busy, plus recovering from PTSD, but I'll be back about Dostoevsky!!!

Posted by: Sister on Oct 12, 07 | 12:59 am

That's a great line about being "an Irish-Catholic atheist" -

And I think it was trachoma not glaucoma that Fred worked on.

The Dostoesvsky was specially for you in the first place...

Posted by: expat@large on Oct 12, 07 | 1:20 am

Mariah, the logical fallacy you've fallen into about "god used him to help people" is called 'begging the question'.

If you believe that god makes people - even non-believers - do good things, then any good thing that is done is evidence of god's hand.

This is a circular 'argument' which cannot be proven or disproven, therefore it is not admissable in the court of E@L unless special dispensation is granted, for while authority is relative, relatives hold no special authority.

Posted by: expat@large on Oct 12, 07 | 1:26 am

"If you believe that god makes people - even non-believers - do good things, then any good thing that is done is evidence of god's hand."

Yep - you got it! Except maybe the word "makes" I'd probably change to inspire or prompt or encourage, becauses He never forces us - respecting our free will. (Plus I'd use a capital G!) It's often referred to as 'following one's conscience', and it's not always easy...

Perhaps a circular 'argument' which cannot be proven or disproven could be a matter of FAITH!

Just found this recently:-

"Love all of God's creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God's light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you have perceived it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day, and you will come at last to love the world with an all-embracing love."
--- Fyodor Dostoyevski

Mind you, there are some aspects of Nature which I find bizarre and obscene, one example being lions tearing apart baby giraffes, deer etc - yuk. (still trying to sort that one out)! Survival of the fittest I know - but I hate it. Still we humans eat meat also...

Posted by: Sister on Oct 13, 07 | 10:44 pm

Yep - I ain't got it! That what makes me free not to obsess about the paths of other's spiritual and moral lives...

Of course it is a "leap of faith" as Kierkegaard almost called it - when you reach the edge of reason, if you want to embrace God, religion, the healing powers of crystals and colonic irrigation, you have to leap beyond the limits of rationality, the provable, experiential, sensory knowable world.

We don't seem to have really approached the outer limits of rationality yet, so I see no reason for us to jump too soon. In fact up until the recent fundamentalist and new-age inanities we had been pushing back the limit of that abyss of the unknown, explaining more and more of what was previously thought to be unknowable.

There are really only a few areas of human experience yet to be explained. The God Part of Brain is almost completely mapped.

Nature, red in tooth and claw? Obscene? That is a very strange word to use. I wouldn't be the first person to consider you judgemental, but calling nature 'obscene' lays a heavy moral burden on those poor lions who don't have a blog to answer back...

This aspect of nature seems to be some sort affront to your idea of God... Then perhaps you have to ask yourself if it's God himself or your idea of him that is mistaken or simplistic.

And fresh oysters ARE alive when you eat them.

Lions don't think "I feel like baby giraffe tonight, baby giraffe tonight, like baby giraffe tonight"...

They *think* "roar, roar, run, run, munch munch."

And baby giraffes *think* "WTF!"

Surely if you really loved nature and that divine mystery, because lions are God's creatures too, shouldn't you be throwing them baby giraffes for their Christmas lunch...

Oh but what about the baby giraffes, I have to love them too? How do I protect them AND feed the lions? What do the giraffes want for Christmas?

Oh it's so complicated! My head is spinning!

What is right, what is wrong? It must be the Devil's work.

You have to ask yourself, What would Jesus do? Make them eat fish?

Dostoyevsy quote: "blah blah love blah blah divine mystery blah blah." No mention of God. Anyway that sounds a bit like Pantheism (God is all Nature) or Monism (everything is God).

Posted by: expat@large on Oct 14, 07 | 2:40 am

The reason I care about others' spiritual and moral lives is because I believe in Immortality - Just as you were brought up to believe, but have denied. Your choice.

"And fresh oysters ARE alive when you eat them" - thanks!

Still trying to work out what are the cruelest words you have said... (actually - your 'tone' says it all!)

Au Revoir


PS: insofar as Pantheism or Monism, a Franciscan Monk with whom I not that long ago communicated, referred to my questions, discussions as Theology!

Posted by: Sister on Oct 14, 07 | 11:15 pm

Cruel? Moi?

Cruel is what God told Samuel to do to the Amalek, and because he didn't do it to the letter, Sam got in major trouble!

1 Samuel 5:3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

Posted by: expat@large on Oct 15, 07 | 1:59 am

'God' wouldn't say such things - sounds more like 'Yahweh Sabaoth', from earlier texts when Man was still fairly primitive and bloodthirsty?!?

Anyway, I now pronounce you free to follow your Humanistic pursuits!

Love, Peace, Understanding, and Humour (always) - do hope that's true about God having a sense of humour, otherwise I'm in trouble - like Samuel!



"I believe in every drop of rain that falls - a flower grows ..."

Posted by: Sister on Oct 15, 07 | 10:21 pm


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