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The mobile phone is throttling Jesus

By James Moylan

Musing about the benefits of less God at Easter.

#1.

At Easter it is a good moment to settle back and consider our slow yet steady development as a species. In Australia we have become a relatively Godless bunch. It’s a very pleasing development.

In the main Aussies are now either heathens, apostates, atheists, or lukewarm believers. As a whole we have generally rejected wide-eyed unabashed religious nuttery but we are still fond of our traditions. We would, in the main, rather remain conflicted instead of putting in the mental effort it might require to fashion any sort of a cohesive world view.

Yet even so – the apparent retreat of God does need to be noted and celebrated. Individually we are a pretty sorry bunch of apes; but as a species we are definitely progressing. In some small ways and in a limited fashion. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Centuries of religious tomfoolery have left their mark. It will take a concerted effort over many generations just to redress half of the harm that has been inflicted on feckless believers by the spiritual thugs we collectively refer to as ‘preachers’. Certainly not bashing your head against a wall continually is a good thing – but it is not necessarily something that should be celebrated even though the lack of bashing is something that should be noted with at least quiet satisfaction.

Always remember that there are still more churches than there are schools in Australia. How embarrassing!

But at least they are now generally sitting empty. While it is a scandalous waste of public resources these temples, shrines, churches and other sites of sorcery are, happily, now barely visited. While 61% of us like to say that we are ‘Christian’ only one in seven of these ‘believers’ ever set foot in a church. In reality less than 2 in 50 of us go to church or even pray on a daily or weekly basis.

#2.

I do not wish to imply that half of the population do not deeply believe in one or more patently ludicrous thing. This is unfortunately the case. However some small gains are falteringly apparent. There are now five times as many active recreational fishermen in Aus as there are churchgoers. That has to be long step in the right direction. Also, note that the majority of us have decided that we will no longer accept that the amorphous assertions that may or may not have been advanced by one or another holy person, several tens of hundreds of years ago, should be regarded with anything more than a nod and a wink.

In fact, it is now almost appropriate to declare an interim victory over rampant mysticism in Aus. Not because anyone is talking about it but rather because nobody is talking much about it. Even the really committed religious zealots all seem to have pulled their heads in for the time being. Or perhaps nobody is providing them with a microphone? Whatever. But the extended silence is pleasing.

It seems that only Americans and people over 55 dare to preach in the public square anymore for fear of being branded an idiot. Even these so-called ‘apologists’ are mainly on the backfoot. The range of apologies seem to just keep on growing. Those that aren’t fending off kiddie fiddler charges are now also continually puffing out a miasma of embarrassed justifications regarding every new scientific discovery to their ever diminishing flock of mobile phone owning parishioners.

Mobile phone ownership is a key aspect.

#3.

The greatest threat to the continuing ubiquity of Jesus statues throughout our society is mobile phone technology. God and the iPhone are competing technologies. McLuhan was right. The medium is the message. Wherever a mobile phone is active God can’t compete. Facebook, Twitter, casual sex and drugs, and discussions about casual sex and drugs, will win. Every time. No fact is more ‘facty’.

In our day to day living pragmatic science has replaced mysticism. We all live a Star Trek existence with cool ‘communicators’ strapped to our hips while we stride along the virtual superhighways and live both a virtual as well as a genuine existence, simultaneously. The digital age has revolutionised the way in which citizens conceive of who we are and how we might interact with other citizens. Every moment of a personal routine is now capable of being contextualised by reference to a host of competing voices and supplementary information streams.

The ancients were timid supplicants at Delphi – proving that none of them had a mobile phone. There is nothing timid about the post-modern phone-owning citizen. When you have a mobile phone in your pocket, God is not so much dead as entirely superfluous to all current requirements.

We ride in supercharged cars and launch a million souls hurtling into the high atmosphere every moment of every day. We blithely demand answers from google, regarding everything, instantly, and simply expect that our civil engineers will move mountains and make it rain in the desert, and provide us with live action coverage. Let’s face it: Jesus may have been able to walk on water, but any kid with Google Maps can fly anywhere on earth, conduct simultaneous conversations, stream and broadcast live video, plus emit a GPS location fix that is accurate to within one square metre, even while riding their bike home from school. These days it really takes something pretty astounding to shake the attention of a teenage kid. Walking on water simply won’t cut it. Who needs loaves and fishes when Milo and a microwave are both present?

We think differently. Our phones are seducing and altering us. There is no battle. We march willingly into the ether. We are subdued and then trained seamlessly and almost incidentally. It is an almost invisible Faustian bargain that is rarely provided the consideration it deserves. We offer up our identities up to the network. Defer to the requirements, and become transformed into a newborn, pinprick, GPS reference. Part of our life force bleeds into this new online identity. Forever more we are more than we once were, but also less. We split our psyche. Amoeba like a new entity has been born. An ‘online persona’. Something at once bigger and more majestic, yet also deliberately and knowingly fraudulent.

When you own a mobile phone you accept you are a cipher. You are explicable. You are related and located. That dot on the screen is at once definitely and precisely ‘you’ as well as simultaneously being vague digital approximation.

#4.

In the virtual world we all jointly deconstruct and reconstruct vast digital empires and arguments, on a millisecond by millisecond basis, even as we all integrate these new dimensions of connectivity into our daily routine. It changes the way that we associate bits of information. We become more interested in patterns and processes and less fixated on data and text. Over many generations we developed from Homo Erectus into Homo Sapiens. Now our emotional and intellectual software is finally beginning to catch up with all the possibilities. The impact of digital modes of communication on the consciousness of many individuals within our species, on the ways in which individuals disambiguate and process information, is palpable. The information age has dawned. Homo Sapiens has become Joe Citizen.

Star Trek is here. We are, as a species, in control of this fragile globe as it hurtles through the distant reaches of the outer-spiral arm of our milky-way galaxy. It is now StarDate 2017.

As a species our numbers, technical sophistication, and modes of communication now inculcate an expectation that ‘history’ is over. That we are now the ones in control. All the ‘blind and unknown forces’ have mostly become explicable. Mysticism has given way to wide-eyed awe as we gaze at the majesty and complexity of the power and matter, and the vast spaces, surrounding, separating, linking, and partially explaining us.

For most modern first world residents of earth our daily regimen is jam packed with the palpable fact that science works. That astronomy explains stuff and astrology doesn’t. That chemistry is correct and alchemy is a plotline.

With all this being revealed whenever we spend any time reflecting on the implications of just one Tweet, in an eternal Twitterstorm, which is itself only one facet of an ever changing and evolving deluge of available content and context. Who needs God?

Entertaining a knowledge of mortality and vague feeling of existential despair may be Joe Citizen’s lot for the term of his highly contextualised and self-consciously limited span of years. It’s not the ideal situation but you simply can’t argue with a mobile phone.

So- the mobile phone is throttling Jesus. It’s not all the mobile phone is is good for; but there is no doubt it is a Christ Killer.

The son of God will likely be stone dead pretty soon now. For the first time in 2000 years the news that he really won’t be coming back will become the widespread orthodoxy. In fact; Jesus is already stone dead on Facebook. On Twitter he still pops up occasionally but Twitter is good at recycling extremely limited explanations.

#5.

However, it seems the atheists are winning by default. There is no bunch of less organised or less organisable individuals than the atheists. Which is understandable. Founding any sort of atheist organisation makes as much sense as trying to found an anti-unicorn society. While a lot of us do not believe in unicorns – non-belief in unicorns can hardly be described as being a central guiding principal in anyone’s life.

So it is not the efforts of the atheists that are causing this shift away from organised religion, it’s just that the simple ubiquity of information seems to be causing religion to wither as a core organising principle. The questions asked and supposedly answered in traditional religions are just not really important. And when you can get a rundown of sixteen different apparitions of Jesus in any given google search then it tends to devalue the whole Jesus marketplace. Unless, of course, you decide to go with a religion that simply disavows the utility of ‘knowing stuff’.

But even then, becoming a radical mainlining Fundamentalist, of any stripe, for any length of time, is ever more difficult. You really have to cultivate a very sophisticated outlook to be able to be able to entertain all of the eternal justifications required to be an evangelical anything in our modern world. To maintain such a world-view requires that you constantly re-interpret the whole realm of ‘science’, and pretty much every incidental fact that you encounter at every juncture during the course of every long modern day. All the while simultaneously using mass transit or private cars and surfing the information superhighway every time you swipe to buy a cup of coffee.

So, to actively maintain a belief that ‘the scientists’ have ‘got it all wrong,’ means constantly manufacturing a commentary regarding exactly how and why the scientists seem to have to got such a hell of a lot of things, so precisely and uniformly wrong, for such an extremely extended period. In the end it’s far easier to simply zone out, watch another movie, tweet about some significant weather, and window-shop for doodabs and sprockets, whilst on a bus, while on your way to work.

Religion automatically becomes a less sufficient explanation when you own a mobile phone. There is a tragic and inescapable irony associated with searching for reasons for ‘why the world is six thousand year’s old’ on an iPhone, connected to the internet, using electricity and wi-fi, with no sorcery or magic apparent.

#6.

Relativistic godlessness is simply an inescapable corollary of having instant access, all the time, to all the knowledge, of all the least informed individuals, all across the globe. Will the real Jesus please stand up? All, some, or none of them might be real. But there sure is a heck of a parcel of Jesus’s to choose from.

Yet while far right and the far left wing individuals in our society get to choose from any number of religious affiliations and personal associated Jesus’s – in middle Australia this is no longer the case. For middle-of-the-road Aussies God has become really difficult subject. Especially if your main aim is simply to just ‘get along’. For the vast majority of the population, who are not at the extremes, professing a belief in any particular ‘belief system’ now seems far more likely to cause offense than serve to ingratiate. Even ‘middle of the road’ politicians no longer talk about religion or invoke religious values in public. They all know that saying outright that you are a religious person, or even vaguely implying that you believe in the literal truth of some element of religious dogma or scripture, is largely frowned upon. Yes you are allowed to believe whatever sort of tosh you might want to believe: as long as you don’t mention it in public, blow something up, or embarrass yourself, or me.

Religion is tolerable as long as it is remains some sort of a fuzzy, non-threatening, generalised, theistic notion. But unless you are already occupying one of the extremes in our society, religion has become particularly tricky in the digital age. While far right and the far left wing individuals get to choose from any number of religious affiliations and personal associated Jesus’s – in middle Australia this is no longer the case. Here ‘God’ has become really prickly subject. Especially if your main aim is simply to just ‘get along’. For the vast majority of the population, who are not at the extremes, professing a belief in any particular ‘belief system’ now seems far more likely to cause offense than serve to ingratiate. Even ‘middle of the road’ politicians no longer talk about religion or invoke religious values in public. They all know that saying outright that you are a religious person, or even vaguely implying that you believe in the literal truth of some element of religious dogma or scripture, is largely frowned upon. Yes you are allowed to believe whatever sort of tosh you might want to believe: as long as you don’t mention it in public.

In this way, in the last decades, what is considered to be ‘normal’ has changed radically. Having any sort of a deep religious conviction has become somewhat out of the ordinary. That is; anything beyond a bland assertion of cultural affiliation and a vague indication of being ‘sort-of theistic’ in a ‘round-a-bout way’. Two minutes of conversation with any average Aussie will be enough to assure yourself that the orthodoxy of the irreligious really has won the day.

Aussies now equate secular and academic expertise with competence rather than degrees of faith or personal religious values. If truth be told, the discussion of religion in public has come to be regarded as being a little ‘icky’.

Even as we are expecting more sophistication from our political class we are also, simultaneously, marking them down whenever they mention something religious. We all largely expect better than we are getting already, so when politicians veer off into trying to ingratiate themselves by advocating a soft and woolly form of Christianity, they are more likely to be sneered at than given credit.

The medium really is the message. A generation on from being coined this truism is being born out. Mobile phones are providing ubiquitous access to reams of accurate information, instantly, has served to breed a largely irreligious population that is at once oddly credulous yet also wildly sophisticated. The borders between what is ‘right’ and ‘left’, and what is ‘traditional’ and ‘fundamentalist’, have shifted and continue to shift, simply because, for most young people, the possibility of remaining ignorant regarding the views embraced by the majority of the world’s population is no longer a viable option.

#7.

Being a participant in a 24/7 online world automatically conditions each individual to receive information in a different manner to the way in which their parents did. Integrated, continuous, narrow cast, and personalized information is traded while we multi-task. We don’t try to hoard or index information as it is largely free, ubiquitous, and ever available. We swim through information, share, avoid, appraise and compare information, and discard rather than regard the vast majority of words and images that we encounter throughout the course of our day.

At the same time the information revolution is transforming our appreciation of what society is, and how we all need to temper our impact upon the environment and each other, it is simultaneously inculcating within every user of an internet connection or a mobile phone a habit of sceptical inquiry and methodological naturalism. It is changing the way that the user ‘thinks’. We are becoming the first generation on planet earth who know and believe that we really can solve the problems of hunger, malnutrition, war, fresh water, food security and power generation, using the scientific method.

The ‘big-picture’ ethic that is a concomitant outcome of our Faustian digital trade is the adoption of a relativistic perspective where we are floating high above our earth, along with many hundreds of thousands of other digital simulacra. All finding it a little difficult to mask our dismay at the distressing sight of the increasingly distressed environment and the distracted and sometimes parlous state of our various societies.

To Joe Citizen, floating above it all and looking down, it is self-evidently apparent that the practice of science and the nature of the available information should inform our discussions regarding social dynamics and the nature of our impact upon the environment. Religion simply does not ask or answer any of the questions that are important. So rather than being considered wrong, traditional religion is simply beside the point. It is anachronistic. It is all about answering questions that are no longer appropriate or important.

So ‘god’ has been steadily retreating. A massive all-knowing and all-seeing entity has shrunk into a god of the gaps. A cipher for all that is unknowable and unknown. A word signifying a mix of the unknown plus all the parts of the story that are too ‘difficult’ to deal with in a casual manner.

Also, where once, only several generations ago, Joe Citizen would likely only travel from one village to another every now and again, would likely only read a local newspaper, and would likely work in one profession for all his working life; he now has a computer in his pocket with more grunt than all the computers that powered our first mission to the moon. Joe is no barbarian in any of his parts. He is a discerning consumer and participant in several digital and real communities, all at once. Also Joe doesn’t want to be defined by his profession, and really does want to accord greater respect for other citizens than was common in earlier ages. He is primarily worried about the future of the planet and the state of our environment. Moreover Joe believes that these primary allegiances are far more significant and important than are passing things like political parties and ideologies. Joe really has embraced an understanding that the world has changed. For Joe Citizen; godless and rational is now the default setting.

#8.

Note that despite a continuing fightback from many in the traditional media, the tenor and vocabulary in our public discussions has shifted. We are beginning to adopt a global perspective rather than a parochial one. Our grip on our mobile phones is slowly dragging us all, as individuals, into a relationship where we are still atomised individuals yet where we are all seen as being in a distinct relationship to each other as well as to the massive and awe inspiring blue globe above which we hover. Our commonly stated ambition is to be inclusive and careful in our dialogue. What a wonderful thing!

Most people, most of the time, now deliberately and carefully avoid using sexist or bigoted terms and ideas. We have become self-consciously aware that our labels and our labelling are significant instruments of power as well as being markers of a personal understanding of the need to foster inclusive and non-judgemental speech patterns and habits. In effect our pervasive self-conscious adherence to norms of behaviour and opinions that are often derisively referred to as ‘being PC’ is actually a marker of the very different forms of engagement with information that are now commonplace in the digital marketplace. Ways of understanding that simply did not exist thirty years ago.

We have been transformed. The purveyors of information in online discussions now tend to be more argumentative and topical than declarative and rhetorical. Our online and mainstream media streams have become arenas of discussion where the particular personal beliefs of the individual are often considered but rarely privileged unless the individual concerned is an ‘authority’. And that means a ‘scientific authority’ – not a spiritual one.

One of the basic doctrines guiding our democratic process is the recognition that we have all agreed (in general) that religion should be a right for an individual yet never privileged or endorsed by an instrument of the state. More significantly: we have decided that we will all enjoy a ‘common discourse’ that assumes that rational argumentation and methodological naturalism will be the principle modes of appraisal and where publicly significant discussions will be based on a scientifically and academically valid forms of appreciation.

So where once the political folk who commonly front our nation state were habitually found, every Sunday, clad in long flowing robes, murmuring incantations in large draughty stone barns, this is largely a thing of the past. Conspicuous religious devotion has become an anomaly in the modern world. It can even be a liability, especially where the majority of the population are either non-religious, non-Christian, and/or are only vaguely and culturally theistic.

For the tiny minority of the deeply religious who still roam our fair streets it has all become deadly serious so they are busy outfitting themselves with all sorts of powerful spells and incantations. A huge new marketplace of potential religious beliefs has sprung up to cater to this need. There are now so many different types of Jesus on the market that just about any potential set of beliefs is now catered for. Take your pick. Whatever you want to believe there is now a Jesus pre-prepared that will fit your requirements exactly.

If you are young and liberal then maybe try a mid-strength Presbyterian or Church of England brew. If you are looking for something a bit harder then you might need a revolutionary, or a feminist, or even a mystical Jewish apocalyptic Jesus. They are all available. But, oddly enough, even though there is a seeming boom in different available forms of divine progeny to choose from, there also seems to be far fewer religious zealots to go around.

Mobile phones and computers continuously suck up the religious and spit out dazed yet addicted consumers into the digital marketplace. Our mobile phones are slowly gobbling up and devouring the old ways of looking at the world and the old ways of ‘thinking’.

But that just means we take responsibility for our new vision. Without God the universe is a huge and intimidating as well as being finite and depressing. So while it is good to take some time out at Easter to celebrate the fact that we might have jointly moved out from under the deep cloud of superstition and delusion that has tracked our progress as a species for so many millennia; this nonetheless leaves us with a clear view of the globe as being a single fragile environment that is currently exposed to all sorts of clear and present danger.

So perhaps our moment of smug appreciation needs to be a rather short one. The digital age leaves us mere mortals hovering above our small blue dot of a planet; alone. So it is up to us to sort all of these hassles out. There is no God left anywhere to be seen. Just us and the universe. Frightening. Exhilarating. Intimidating. But real.

 

 


55 comments

  1. Jaquix

    My beef is the amount of money churches and their blatant businesses draw from the public purse. Plus what props up their brainwashing centres oops, schools. And why do they hold the country to random over issues like same sex marriage? Such low numbers of churchgoers dictating the policies of this country. Fishermen unite!! You have the numbers to overcome the pious.

  2. diannaart

    If people want to believe in an omniscient being, I don’t have a problem.

    Such a being of wisdom will not be slighted by people not believing in it.

    In fact, the only aggrieved are those who preach religion.

    So ditch the plethora of religions and just believe in god (or gods) or none at all – no more tax-havens, no more churches, mosques, temples, weird rituals, brainwashed children – no more of that, just a belief that the universe is not all there is, that humans are but a part of an incomprehensible huge-osity.

    🙂

  3. jim

    Medieval cosmology adapted its view of the Cosmos to conform with the scriptures, in the concept of celestial spheres.

    So IMO, religion has dragged the human races development backwards, hundreds maybe even thousands of years.

  4. Matters Not

    If people want to believe in an omniscient being, I don’t have a problem.

    For me it’s a Yes and No type of response. It depends on a number of considerations.

    By way of example. Recently, we’ve had Hanson et al advance the notion that vaccinations were just a matter for personal consideration and by implication had no bearing on the wider ‘other’. I disagree. Rather, her ‘belief’ has implications for me and mine. A ‘non-believer’ in our midst can be the source of many serious problems. As can a ‘believer’.

    That some believe (many if not most) this life we lead is but a trial for the ‘next’ also has implications for me and mine. This belief in the hereafter, and the existence of an omniscient being, affects and effects behaviour across the spectrum. – behaviours that impact on me at a number of levels. Some are current and others have potentiality.

    And I suspect that most of us fall into that category.

  5. 131

    Despite the dwindling number of worshipers, the fundamentalists have managed to get adherents into positions of power and influence. The lying mad dog Abbott is a fine example, Brandis, the SA poodle, Kevin Andrews, Bernardi, Christensen, and plenty of others without as high a profile. A huge over representation.

  6. susan

    Well written John, easy to read, I agree with much and differ on a few points.

    iPhones, yes, the new religion is technology and the new market place is the social media platforms.
    Traditional religions seem to have sprung up around individuals who solved the dilemma of suffering. Some of their contemporaries were impressed and followed them. However, after the physical death of this or that sacred individual things slowly devolved into a herd instinct trending. A few of the ‘followers’ got it and a smattering of the original intent was saved and formulated in some of the teachings.

    Question: Can iPhones etc replace the need for spiritual teachers and remove suffering from the world, or more importantly can technology and your use of it remove suffering from your world, assuming you have any suffering?

    A lot of people are happy to bag Jesus out, but if he were borne today and not 2000 years ago do you think he would shun the iPhone and travel by donkey rather than airliner? Seems to be more than a little bit of projection there, a kind of high-tech superiority complex in action – Jesus never used an iPhone and is therefore dumber than me today therefore I’ll dis him as I’ll never come face to face with him anyway – safe.

    Judging is easy but understanding is valuable.

    Is the growing addiction to iPhones a sign of progress? It could just be a sign of an accelerating attempt to escape from suffering by hoping that familiarity with virtual realities will provide off-the-shelf remedies for any mental turbulences in life – just google stuff.

    But, users of tech operate within the framework of the mental realm.
    Technology is just a prop and channel for communication.
    What’s changed in 2000 years?
    Reality is always here-now, how could it be otherwise?
    Do you need an iPhone to see it?

  7. silkworm

    And Opus Dei has a stranglehold on the NSW government.

  8. guest

    “That we are now the ones in control.”

    Scary. And the last two sentence come closer to the truth. We are most likely in deep doo-doos.

  9. Roswell

    And the government wants to strengthen the church’s presence in schools!

  10. king1394

    Having spent a little time in a Catholic High School recently, I found that there is still a lot of religious belief and attitudes being put emphatically to the young. I personally could not hack teaching in a Catholic or Christian school (and they probably would not employ me anyway.) Even in the State High Schools there is a powerful subset of Christian teachers who take roles in managing and supporting the scripture lessons and promoting their religious beliefs in sessions such as special support groups for troubled children. Students who end up in their classes may also receive a religious interpretation rather than a secular one in areas ranging from poetry to history.

  11. Zathras

    Despite some complications, the emergence of technology has effectively ended such things as slavery and unlike superstition, steadily improved the quality of lives.

    I mentioned elsewhere that when anybody considers the future it’s always in relation to how technology will improve life with such things as medicine, productivity and our understanding of the universe.

    Nobody ever wonders how great religion will be in 300 years.

    If even the average person or high school student could travel back in time just 100 years they would have a more profound knowledge about the universe than most Harvard Professors of that time.

    What could you tell or even suggest to them about the movement of tectonic plates and earthquakes, the structure of atoms, telecommunications and computers, jet aircraft, penicillin and vaccination, automation and production line assembly and many other things they could not even imagine back then?

    However, travel back and talk to a religious person of that era and you could tell them absolutely nothing new because it never changes or advances – it’s just reinterpreted to keep itself relevant and in business. It may spawn several new sects but that happens anyway with a major schism every generation or so.

    As for religious indoctrination in schools, telling susceptible children that they will burn in Hell for eternity if they don’t follow certain rules is not education but simply child abuse.

  12. Kronomex

    Why would a being who is all-powerful, all-seeing, all-knowing and any other all-‘s you can think of spend almost all its time looking after a sub-atomic particle in the universe and beyond? The arrogance of the religious is astounding. None of the dead followers have come back to tell us there is life after death…oh wait…it’s a conspiracy by the devil.

  13. Miriam English

    Good article John. The only thing that bothered me was your mention several times of the iPhone. That piece of technology is a tiny drop in the vast sea of smartphones people use. The iPhone always looks to people who use them as representing the whole universe of handheld computer technology, but they are like the religious, who view the world through the filter of their preconceptions. In actual fact iPhones are hugely over-priced, under-performing, under-represented handheld computers marketed mainly as fashion statements.

    It is the Android smartphones which are changing the world. Poor farmers in India, China, Zambia, Brazil use Android smartphones to connect to the planetary zeitgeist. A child can buy one with their pocket money. I bought a 7 inch Android tablet computer recently direct from China for $50. I use it to read ebooks and browse the web while sitting in bed at night, and to write during blackouts (by plugging in an ordinary mouse and keyboard). It’s also good for watching movies during blackouts.

    Zathras, well put.

    I will be so relieved when all the superstitions are regarded the way we condescendingly view the Norse gods, and we ask with some embarrassment, “People didn’t really believe that silliness, did they?”

  14. Susan

    Krono, former aethist Howard Storm, while not qualifying as one of the “dead followers” you mention did “come back to tell us there is life after death” after apparently being rescued by Jesus.
    And who is more believable in matters religious than a former aethist?
    http://ndestories.org/category/jesus/
    Howard was on the Ophray Winfrey show so it must be truish or at least reliable heresay.

    Interesting story on same page about a child who “went to heaven and back, conversed with Jesus and experienced God’s encompassing love. … He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how “reaaally big” God and his chair are”

    Who knows what exists?

  15. Susan

    MN, must be true, I am being directed to that site from AIMN.
    Some are ahead in the queue it appears. But does time exist in relation to now? Before and after are what? Memories and illusions of the future. Wanting is a testing of patience perhaps? Cheers.

  16. diannaart

    The dead may walk again, the blind become sighted, the deaf hear music, the paralysed may dance, the forsaken found again…. what does Jesus have against amputees?

  17. Tim

    yep here i was thinking the AIMN was actually a progressive site that had the goal of uniting people in order to fight back against the corruption of the right. apparently there is no interest in working with the religous left to actually achieve these goals. i dont care if you dont believe but belittling those that do while simultaneously wanting them to work with you to fight the coalition is disgusting really. it seems pretty clear there is a misconception that being religious makes you a right winger, and to be fair there are vocal people from the religious right who get coverage because of murdoch. that doesnt discount the idea of there being a very large number of us that are religous but also on the left. articles like this push us away from working with other progressives. reading this article makes it seem like a atheist one nation voter is preferred to a religous left voter. its pushing people away. then you have the problem of people like me having the choice of voting for someone who hates you because of your belief but is economically similar to you, meanwhile people that you really dislike but arent discriminating against you because of your beliefs. some will vote one way some the other. so articles like this have lets say for the sake of argument 50/50 split what would have been 100% of the vote going towards you. not to mention the fact that yes correct the % of people who are religious has gone down. has that resulted in the left winning more? it doesnt seem like it to me. what the cruel irony is that christianity is fundamentally a left wing religion economically, at the time of it being written it was quite socially progressive too. i dont really care if you dont believe but please dont stymie all of our goals of where we want the country to go because of a fundamentally unimportant issue. hell if you actually start quoting progressive scripture to people (ie alot of what jesus said) then you might actually be able to use religion as a way to grow the progressive vote instead of pushing people away.

  18. Miriam English

    Susan, there are many cases of people being deceived by hallucinations. Consider all the people who believe they were visited by aliens while immobilised in their bed. The science explaining it is relatively easy to understand of course, and doesn’t include UFOs or aliens, but that doesn’t shake the beliefs of the people involved. Likewise the feelings that can occur while drifting off during oxygen deprivation in the early stages of death can produce similarly convincing hallucinations.

    Why would anybody give any credence to such things? It is like believing someone who said that the world rests on the back of a giant tortoise, which stands on the back of another tortoise, which stands on another, and so on, tortoises all the way down. Or that I was told that thunder comes from the Norse blacksmith god, Thor. It’s true because someone important told me.

    You ask rhetorically, who knows what exists? Well, there are some things we know don’t exist. We can be absolutely certain that none of the gods of any of the world’s religions exist. We can be almost certain that no other gods exist either. We can be absolutely certain that disembodied human spirits don’t exist. We know fairies don’t exist. Flying horses definitely don’t exist. We can be fairly sure the Biblical Jesus didn’t exist, though there may have been one or more Jewish revolutionaries around that time who preached mostly peaceful resistance. We know there was no planet-wide Biblical flood that spared only Noah, his family and two of every animal, though the Black Sea was some thousands of years ago much smaller and below sea level and the cradle of an early civilisation thrived around its shores, until an earthquake in what is now the Bosphorus opened to allow the waters of the Mediterranean through to raise the Black sea to its current height, drowning everything immediately around it.

    Not knowing some things is not the same as every crazy idea being up for grabs.

  19. Miriam English

    Tim, why is it so bad for people to point out the reality that religion is fading away? Why is it bad to say that the belief in gods is misguided? What is wrong in rejoicing in the fact that religion subsiding, given it has always been one of the leading causes of friction and injustice in society?

    (On a side-issue, Tim, I should point out that it’s surprisingly difficult to read your comment because you are disinclined, for some reason, to use capital letters to begin your sentences and blank lines to punctuate your paragraphs.)

  20. Tim

    Miriam, basically because it is counter productive to the goals the AIMN claims to be for. Pointing out reality of the decline of religion (in a number of Western Countries) is somewhat irrelevant to be perfectly frank. It’s not bad to say belief in god(s) in your opinion is misguided however you have to have an understanding of the political consequences of pushing that agenda. Over time in terms of decades religion may continue to decline however if you really want to effect change from the left pushing people away by claiming that religion is the cause of a large number of woes is not going to help achieve that.

    Where i do take umbrage though is this strange notion that religion is “one of the leading causes of friction and injustice in society”. In so far as a leader has misused an ideology to push a political agenda then i guess you are right, if you want to claim that religion in itself is to blame then i can’t really agree. Seeing as we live in a Country that has historically (and still is) majority Christian (at least in name) i guess we will use that example. Lets go through some of the popular examples to point out the inconsistency. Crusades, Thou Shalt not Kill. Seems pretty straight forward. Using religion as a tool to enact political will does not mean the religion in its teachings is to blame. Various quotes from the Old Testament can be simply counteracted by opposing quotes from Jesus. Given that the religion is named after Jesus and not simply a variation of Judaism you cant really use the Old Testament to justify apparent social friction (incidentally this rules out basically all the Religious Right’s justification for opposing Same-Sex Marriage by the way). Jesus essentially said violence is not the solution a few days before Good Friday when he put the ear back on the soldier Peter had attacked in the defence of Jesus. There are literally hundreds of possible quotes to choose from, id go so far as to say that Jesus was one of if not the first socialist.

    This is where my problem is, you seem to be applying all the bad in the world to religion without any sort of analysis of its actual teachings, simply blaming the teachings where politics and its machinations used peoples belief to further a political goal is poor critical thinking and analysis. I don’t think its possible for me to care less if you personally believe or not but consider the long game. Pushing away potential allies over something minor is not going to help us all fight those who genuinely want to exploit us all and are ironically the ones who misused religion in order to control us all in the first place.

    As for my spelling i was a bit distracted with something else at the time but i feel as though if i wasn’t opposing your view you wouldn’t have mentioned it at all.

  21. Matters Not

    Tim – when it comes to matters of a religious nature (especially), be careful re the usage of cant and can’t.

    CANT – without the apostrophe – refers to: hypocritical and sanctimonious talk, typically of a moral, religious, or political nature. CANT suggests – hypocrisy, sanctimoniousness, sanctimony, humbug, pietism, affected piety, insincerity, sham, lip service, empty talk and so on.

    On the other hand – CAN’T – with the apostrophe – is simply a contraction of cannot.

    Yes they are pronounced the same – but the meanings given are vastly different. But, for some readers at least, the ‘mistaken’ usage is bloody annoying.

    Please respect the reader by trying to get some of the technicalities right such as punctuation, spelling and the like – particularly if you want the reader to respect what you write. Don’t start ‘behind the eight ball’. At least make an effort!

  22. burniebobthe_b_

    No experience seems more common in social media practice than having one’s grammar corrected. The Grammar Bullies hide and then pounce on any typographical misstep or the your/you’re mix-up faster than you can click “submit.”

    Reasons exist for such rude behavior. Slate attempted to explain the phenomenon, but if your gut instincts have told you some element of superiority is involved, your gut was right. Polite, secure people do not correct other people’s grammar. If they have the meaning of what one is saying in conversation, most listeners will overlook slight errors. Unfortunately, we don’t always talk with “most listeners.” Sometimes, in person, online, and against our better judgment, we talk with snooty, self-appointed, and insufferable grammar police.
    When we are angry or stressed, a bonding hormone called oxytocin is released, urging us to form social connections with other humans so as to better our chances for surviving the cause of the stress. A Grammar Bully is feeling insecure in some way, and the insecurity is driving her to gather up friends. Many observers may think the Grammar Bully is about belittling others, but really, the Grammar Bully is just looking to find other Grammar Bullies because she is feeling angry and/or stressed.

    Anger can be subconscious and many times it is. We are discouraged from expressing anger when out and about in polite society, so we suppress it. Unfortunately, anger is one of those emotions that bubbles up to the surface. Grammar-correcting behavior is one of suppressed anger’s outlets.

    So, now that we understand that insecurity and resentment are forms of anger that are being suppressed in the Grammar Bully, we can now learn how to behave in the event that we happen upon one of these lovely people.

    http://www.purplecar.net/2013/09/grammar-bullies/

  23. Miriam English

    Tim, first let me reassure you that I have nothing against religious people themselves. I have very many close friends who believe in all kinds of nutty religions and other superstitions. They are my friends and I make sure they know I enjoy their company and respect them regardless of what I think of their beliefs. There’s probably some self-selection at work, but my friends don’t feel that their identity depends upon their beliefs. So please understand that when I say religion is erroneous I’m talking about religion, not you.

    I take your point about upsetting religious people by dismissing their religion, but I think the problem is with them. It is weird that so many religious people get all tied in a knot when someone says there are no gods, yet expect to be able to talk freely about their gods. Can you see how one-sided and intolerant that is? To most left-wing atheists a left-wing religious moderate is a welcome ally. If the religious person sees the atheist as an enemy then surely that’s a problem for the religious person to fix in themselves. I never understood why some religious people act like decrying religion is a personal attack upon them.

    In your reply you think I was voicing an opinion about religion being misguided. It wasn’t an opinion. It is easy to show that all religions are wrong. I’ll explain if you want me to.

    On the point of religion and strife, you’re correct that we could argue all day about past events, so instead I would point to the effect of religion now. See the research by Gregory Paul published in the Journal of Religion and Society where an analysis of the 18 first-world countries with reliable statistics (Australia, Canada, Denmark, Great Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Japan, Switzerland, Norway, Portugal, Austria, Spain, Italy, United States, Sweden, New Zealand) showed that religion is associated with social ills far more than atheism — the more religious a society is, the more broken its society is, and the more atheist a society is, the less social ills it has.

    The criteria selected were: murder, teen pregnancy, abortion, sexually transmitted disease, infant mortality, adult mortality, and suicide. On all these, except for suicide, religious societies scored significantly worse than atheistic societies. For suicide there was no discernible difference between religious and non-religious societies.

    Regarding your capitalisation, I honestly wasn’t having a “go” at you, I was trying to help. I genuinely found it difficult to read. I almost didn’t mention it because I was arguing against your point. I would have felt much more at ease bringing it up as a friendly aside in a neutral discussion.

  24. Tim

    lol burniebobthe_b_ perfect counter to a person who would rather pick up on an honest mistake rather than debate my point on its merits. ill happily admit i didnt actually know that cant without the apostrophe had a different meaning. i guess my grammar isnt good enough for my point to even be considered.

  25. Miriam English

    burniebobthe_b_ thank you for the chuckle with your comment. 😀

    A couple of people here are sticklers for correct grammar. They generally don’t mean anything bad by it and it can be helpful.

    My comment about Tim’s lack of capitalisation and paragraphs was made in an honest desire to help. If I thought he was a horrid person I wouldn’t have bothered because I’m glad when those people’s writing is difficult to read (a certain homophobic fundamentalist preacher who pops in here from time to time comes to mind).

    I never understood why people see correction of errors as rude. Personally, I prefer to know when I’m making a mistake. Why would anybody want to keep making them? Seems to me that those not wanting to know their mistakes are more likely to be showing insecurity.

    Spelling errors are a slightly different thing. English is a terrible language for people who have spelling problems and I sympathise with those who have great difficulty with it. For some, no amount of correction can help and can actually be counterproductive.

  26. Matters Not

    Ah ha – burniebobthe_b_

    Yes, you can cut and paste. Congratulations. But the trick is to make sure your barely concealed plagiarism is relevant. Otherwise you look foolish.

    By way of example, your citation opens with:

    having one’s grammar corrected

    Re one’s grammar corrected – not by me. The misuse of words – here read cant and can’t – falls outside the normal definition of ‘grammar’. Perhaps you aren’t familiar with the concept of ‘malapropism’. Here’s a definition for future reference:

    noun

    1. the unintentional misuse of a word by confusion with one of similar sound, esp when creating a ridiculous effect, as in I am not under the affluence of alcohol

    2. the habit of misusing words in this manner

    After all, we are all trying to raise our standards – aren’t we?

    http://www.dictionary.com/browse/malapropism

    Miriam you will note that burniebobthe_b_isn’t the author of his post.

  27. Miriam English

    I enjoy your comments Matters Not. I didn’t realise that was called a malapropism. Thank you. Good to know. 🙂

  28. Tim

    Miriam my above comment wasnt directed at you personally but if you feel offended i was merely referring to Grammar Nazis in general i enjoy the company of left wingers even if i personally think they are a bit nutty for being over the top in their fanaticism to rules of how letters need to be formed.

    To your point though, Can””’t you tell that those comments are incredibly condescending? You are saying that those beliefs are stupid and while you may believe that you are limiting it to that it is implied that those who believe those things are also stupid. So in essence you are saying i can be friends with stupid people i don’t mind.

    I don’t have a problem with you talking about atheistic things or whatever, as i said before i really don’t care however this article was not written in that manner, read it again. It’s actually not even Atheist, it’s Anti-Theist. They are different things. I’ll try my hardest not to be condescending on your apparent ignorance of what an Atheist is.

    As for that study simply put correlation is not causation. China is almost completely Atheist, surely it would be beating all the other countries on that list? Could it be that Education, and an effective welfare state with controls on the excesses of wealth inequality are actually the things that affect those statistic points? Also “showed that religion is associated with social ills far more than atheism” i don’t recall arguing that Atheism was the cause of social ills, that’s like saying because i disagree with Americas foreign policy that i support Russian foreign policy.

    side note i was fine with your comment on grammar as i re-read it and you were right, i was merely making a point

  29. Matters Not

    China is almost completely Atheist

    Except for the people who adhere to Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Christianity, and possibly Confucianism (depending on one’s definition of religion.) Are you aware that there’s a fair (very large) number of them?

    Are you also aware that Putin is follower of the Russian Orthodox Church? That he, like me, has been known to worship at St Basils. (Albeit on an irregular basis).

    https://www.google.com.au/search?q=putin+worshipping+at+saint+basils&tbm=isch&imgil=uYZ8gPrklgCo4M%253A%253BlXrqX93IMOKTDM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.ibtimes.com%25252Freal-reason-russias-move-crimea-putins-political-insecurity-former-cia-official-says-1560712&source=iu&pf=m&fir=uYZ8gPrklgCo4M%253A%252ClXrqX93IMOKTDM%252C_&usg=__x4d_JELm8hX4CQpZ4854SSXo1jc%3D&biw=1097&bih=444&ved=0ahUKEwji0dLgwKvTAhUKkpQKHYrlD44QyjcILA&ei=6rb0WOK0Ioqk0gSKy7_wCA#imgrc=uYZ8gPrklgCo4M:&spf=191

  30. burniebobthe_b_

    Matters Not “Miriam you will note that burniebobthe_b_isn’t the author of his post.”
    are you thick? the link was there to the article http://www.purplecar.net/2013/09/grammar-bullies/
    I thought it pretty accurate pertaining to you

  31. Miriam English

    Tim, I wasn’t offended. The purpose of communication is to communicate. If the rules help in that then they’re useful.

    Nope, my comments aren’t condescending; you’re taking the wrong message from them.
    – Religion is bad. People who are religious are not necessarily bad.
    – Ties are a stupid article of clothing (a little noose around the neck!). People who wear them are not defined as stupid by the act of wearing them.
    – High heeled shoes are dangerous and uncomfortable, but the people who wear them are not necessarily dangerous or discomforting, or even endangered or discomforted (though I would be).

    Careful, you’re compounding your mistake by retaliating against thinking you’ve been slighted by trying to cute and condescending in saying I’m ignorant of what an atheist is. (I understand it very well.)

    You’re correct that correlation does not necessarily show causation, but in some circumstances it does tend to lead in that direction, especially when you add in the behavior of religion elsewhere and uncover mechanisms. The higher incidence of sexually transmitted disease, teen pregnancies, and abortions relate directly to the tendency in religious societies to stress abstinence over contraceptives, especially condoms. Religious societies also tend to thwart progress, failing in disease prevention. One of the greatest examples of that was the thousand years of Dark Ages when Christianity controlled Europe and stymied all progress.

    Gregory Paul later extended his research to see if the results held among the different states in USA. They do. I expect when the rest of the world’s statistics improve we will find it holds true elsewhere as well.

    Already we can see the worst places to live tend to be the most religious places. Religion is generally considered by its adherents as the source of decency and good, so you’d expect that the best places to live would be the most religious. In fact things look exactly like religion is a socially damaging thing.

    Do you understand what I meant by the problem of taking criticism of religion as if it was criticising yourself?
    Do you see that James’ article is not insulting you?
    Can you see why it is a mistake to see atheists as driving religious people away just because they are not shy about saying gods don’t exist?
    Can you see how it is a double standard for an atheist to just let it be when a religious person talks about their god, and for the religious person to think that’s proper, but to think it’s rude if the atheist says that religion is delusion?

  32. Roswell

    Tim, as a man of science may I ask you how religion and progressive can go together?

    And by the way, don’t worry about the grammar Nazis.

  33. Roswell

    Miriam, you mentioned UFOs and aliens. They’re my speciality. 👽

  34. David Bruce

    Now I understand why Australians seem to be losing their souls? If our bodies are temples for our souls, I wonder what will move in to replace it? Already I notice in the controlled media, there is a regular stream of articles promoting porn as healthy! Perhaps it will be Zionist satanism to fill the void? My preference is to tap into the universal mind and work out how to communicate with the numerous visitors whose vehicles seem to seen more often in NASA photos today…

  35. Miriam English

    Roswell, as a woman of science, may I answer your question to Tim?

    Religion and progressive thought can indeed go together as religion’s bad old history is forgotten and it updates to modern morality. The Anglican Church is a great example of this. The actual superstitious part remains as almost an embarrassment and the prime motivation is to be a social group that does good, operates charities, and basks in a vague feeling of their god’s love. Many in the Catholic Church are making their way in that direction too, dropping opposition to aspects of science that disprove things in the Bible and concentrating on the benevolence that can come from coming together to do good.

    Unfortunately for every religious group that loses its bad trappings and advances into modern humanistic morality, there are plenty that stick with, or even emphasise, the insane morality and superstitions of the ancient Bronze Age and the later broken morals of people like Paul of Tarsus, Mohammed, and other religious leaders from humanity’s infancy. Of course not everything those people taught was wrong — they were more insightful than the average person of their time (which isn’t saying much compared to today) and they even said some quite sensible things. Unfortunately they also preached many truly stupid things too, though naturally they can’t be blamed for that, being people of their times. We can be blamed for uncritically swallowing them though.

    🙂 UFOs and aliens… I wish…. I’ve been obsessively reading science fiction and science since my primary school days. Sadly, interstellar distances are so vast that it makes the prospect of ever meeting them unlikely to the point of verging on impossible.

    Thankfully, we have plenty of intelligent aliens here on Earth:
    – Birds have brains that manage complex thought without the gray matter (cerebrum) that we use. Parrots and crows in particular have superb minds, able to create and manipulate tools, count, and understand abstract concepts such as difference, similarity, greater than, less than, and uniqueness. They, like most non-mammals, see 4 primary colors instead of our 3. See Irene Pepperberg’s work with Alex, the African Gray Parrot. Also work with New Caledonian Crows.
    – Dolphins have a larger, more complex and convoluted brain than humans do. When they “see” with sonar they can see your internal organs. They definitely have language.
    – Octopus and squid (cephalopods) have a brain that forms a ring around their mouth. How alien is that! They can figure out complex logic problems, construct and manipulate tools, and talk by flashing colors.
    – Elephants are extremely intelligent, are able to figure out complex logic puzzles, remember facts over many years, and communicate via infrasound.
    – Elephant fish are electric fish that live in muddy waters in some parts of Africa and generate an electric field to “see” things all around them through the effect on that field. That’s required them to develop a very large brain, also giving them a surprisingly high intelligence.
    – Dogs are our partners in intelligence, so not terribly alien, though it is strange to think what their amazing senses must reveal to them of their world, especially their smell. I wrote a very short (2 pages) story Out at Night which explored that.
    – Ants, bees, termites, and wasps are amazing creatures with a surprising amount of intelligence built into their amazingly complex little brains, but their colonies exhibit a separate intelligence, beyond what the individual animals display. That swarm intelligence is a very alien thing.

  36. Susan

    Tim, the tenants of Christianity still hold water for many people, most of what is good in society differs little from the original teachings. In terms of religion, perhaps the future for the West will be the maturation of an amalgam of the best wisdom teaching from each religion. For those who cant see that happening you will not be deprived of your worldview. The earth didn’t become unflat overnight.

    Roswell, “how religion and progressive can go together?”
    Rudolf Steiner is one example of how the scientific mind can co-exist with a religious mind.
    Mystics hold the key, finding a live one is the trick.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-fox/christian-mystics_b_853294.html

    What seems to trip most people up is their pre-conceived idea of what the synthesis of science and religion should look like.

  37. Harquebus

    Roswell
    Powers source and drive types for UFO’s please.

    If we scale down the sun to the size of a full stop, on that scale the Earth’s orbit would be 1 inch distant and one light year would be 1 mile. The nearest star would be 4 miles and the center of the galaxy 27,000 miles.
    A million Earth’s could fit inside the sun. Imagine building the largest possible spaceship, still billions of time smaller than the Earth and hurling it 4 miles/lightyears from a moving planet to the nearest full stop sized star which, is also moving.
    What amazes me also is, imagine being able to see the light emanating from something the size of a full stop at 4 miles and that is just the closest.

    Aliens and UFO’s? Only if they have discovered faster than light space travel.

    Cheers.

  38. Roswell

    Harquebus, think of thought. Also consider that all things in time and space are equal. I’ll say no more.

    But as for building a spaceship that could travel the speed of light or beyond – forget it. It’s a waste of time. Consider this: in 150 years we build a craft that can travel, say, 4 times the speed of light. Let’s also say that travelling at that speed that’ll take 40 years to reach a particular planet. So off we set.

    Let’s say that in 155 years we build a ship that can travel at 8 times the speed of light and sets off for the same planet. It can wave hello to the people in the first ship as they pass them on the way.

    And then in 160 years we discover how to use worm holes (as theorised by Einstein). We will reach that same planet and form a welcoming party for the other two ships.

    Until then, I’m not volunteering for any flights.

  39. Roswell

    Harquebus, did you know that if you counted every star in our galaxy at one each second, it’d take approx 9,300 years to count them? That’s just in our galaxy. Do you know how many galaxies there are in the universe? An estimated two and a half billion.

    The estimated number of planets is in fathomable.

    Travelling at the same speed that sent men to the moon, do you know how long it’d take to reach our nearest star? One hundred thousand years.

  40. Harquebus

    Roswell
    Space is warped and time varies both due to gravity.
    Having difficulty grasping your statement. Got any links?
    Cheers.

  41. Roswell

    Harquebus, yes, space is warped but don’t give too much credit to gravity. It is the weakest of all known natural forces in the universe. The speed of light has more influence over time than gravity does.

    And yes, my statement was a tough one. I don’t have any links – they’ll be hard to find. But here’s a clue: have a look at Skunk Works and a conversation a fellow from SW called Ben Rich had in a car park shortly before he died in the mid 90s.

  42. Harquebus

    Michael Taylor
    Good reads. Thanks.

    Roswell
    Thanks. Will do.
    Cheers.

  43. silkworm

    Although it is generally true that the less intelligent you are, the more likely you are to be religious, this is not the main reason there are so many religious people running around. There are so many religious people because of the large number of religious schools indoctrinating children. If we could manage to secularize our schools, there would not be so many indoctrinated people.

  44. jimhaz

    The idea of multiple spacecraft crashing after travelling light years to earth is somewhat ridiculous. Nor is there any real need to travel – so one would expect drones not craft suitable for the conveyance of life.

    The idea that we could make use of worm holes for interstellar travel is the same. I suspect this will never ever be the case. I even have doubts that we could even get to half the speed of light.

  45. burniebobthe_b_

    Astronomers estimate that there are 100 billion galaxies in the universe. If you want to extrapolate those numbers, that means there are around 50,000,000,000,000,000,000 (50 quintillion) potentially habitable planets in the universe.

    As Arthur C. Clarke, physicist and author of 2001: A Space Odyssey wrote, “The idea that we are the only intelligent creatures in a cosmos of a hundred billion galaxies is so preposterous that there are very few astronomers today who would take it seriously.

    I have a distant relative who works for a contractor in Dugway Utah and when he was back home here on a holiday and a bit over 0.08 he told me that there are things there that would make your hair curl.With all the secrecy forms he had to sign he refused to go any further even after we got him well pissed
    I think Roswell has it-the truth is out there

  46. jimhaz

    Unfortunately God is far from dead. In the US the thoughtless Christian base has allowed government to become a blatant plutocracy….. and we follow US policy trends to a very great deal, eventually.

    Every week we see some sort of policy idea get floated by the Christian loudmouths which is straight out of the plutocracy songbook.
    With multiculturalism (read as the excuse for excessive immigration) we have lost ground support for the only workable from of government – namely socialism – and business is fully engaged in making sure all policy suits their vested interests.
    Although technology such as mobile phones appears to be leading us from freedom from the constraints of spiritual religion, this vacuum is simply being replaced by materialist religion and thus into the 1984 scenario.

    It is interesting to see that the materialist pop-religion of entities like Hillsong are growing. This is the US evangelical system being brought over here and marketing by L Ron Hubbard types.

    It is of little surprise for me to read the following:

    “Federal Social Services Minister Scott Morrison is a onetime parishioner, and former prime minister John Howard opened the church’s new centre in the Hills district in 2002”

    https://hillsongchurchwatch.com/2015/08/04/the-world-finally-seeing-hillsong-as-a-new-age-movement/

    What attracted Morrison to this religion was the very materialism that the philosopher Jesus rejected, and the manipulative propaganda lessons he obtained from viewing their sales and showmanship performance.

    In Europe we are also seeing some countries with excessive immigration and growing plutocracy – with the result being an increased polarisation to the right.

    We are also seeing religion being used as a power gaining and retention tool by upcoming dictators in Turkey and perhaps South East Asia. Religion is also being misused by the Saudi royalty, whom I ultimately blame for the lack of social progress in the middle east.

  47. Miriam English

    NASA actually has a faster than light drive project ongoing. It doesn’t break any natural laws, but is intended to warp space. It doesn’t work yet (might never as its energy requirements look impractical), but it is very cool that they are thinking so far out of the box.

    Faster than Light: Warp Drive – SpaceVision Conference 2013
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M8yht_ofHc
    I have the address of the web page here somewhere, but can’t find the damned thing. If I find it I’ll post it.

    Also, the latest issue of Scientific American has, as its cover story, a proposed project to send a light-sail spacecraft to Alpha Centauri in 20 years — that is, 20 years’ travel time. Of course, the spacecraft weighs almost nothing and being driven by light pressure from a laser remaining behind, here at Earth, would reach near light-speed then would whizz through the Alpha Centauri system, unable to decelerate, but it might be able to transmit back some info.

    Humans are much too fragile for space travel, as I think pretty-much any planet-evolved life will be. We’ll have to explore vicariously, using robots for the foreseeable future. Disappointing to me, but unlike those afflicted with religion, we who are interested in science must accept reality. We might be able to personally mine the asteroids, but I have a feeling most or all of that will be robotic too. It’s another reason I’m looking forward to us giving birth to artificial intelligence (AI). They’ll be able to boldly go where no human can, to paraphrase the Star Trek intro.

  48. Roswell

    I too always thought it was a 100 billion but I heard the other day that it could now be as high as 250 billion courtesy of the likelihood that the universe is bigger than accepted. Even if wrong, 100 billion is still an incomprehensible number.

  49. Roswell

    Miriam, there is a private organisation planning something similar. Unfortunately I can’t remember who or what.

  50. jimhaz

    That is just our galaxy. At the universe level – there can only be an infinite number – although that point becomes moot as if things are outside of our event horizon they shall never be observable.

    “The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy with a diameter between 100,000 light-years and 180,000 light-years. The Milky Way is estimated to contain 100–400 billion stars. There are probably at least 100 billion planets in the Milky Way”

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