All posts by Paul

About this great god

Yes. This is a little bit about that guy up there. The christian sky-wizard who does so many great things.

It hit me, a while ago, that someone was happy a close relative was healed from a serious medical affliction. The doctors had done quite an amazing job fixing that person up. For some reason, the someone said, “Thank god for your healing.”

I don’t get that. This man got sick and the doctors healed him. Through medical science, not by calling in the help of that great god.

Then I wondered about something else. If this god is so great, then where was he at the moment the patient got ill? If this god-character is so great, shouldn’t he have been able to prevent this man from getting into that terrible fix, making his life hang from a thread? Apparently it’s easier to wait for doctors to fix the problem and then get the praise. (Can I have a job like that?)

The christian sky-wizard is supposed to be a loving god (okay, he is also a vengeful god, which probably makes sense when you’re inebriated or under the influence of too much frankincense. If someone is a combination of those two things it probably has a reason that someone gets sick and get healed by people. There’s probably some tale that god worked through the hands of the doctors or something like that.

No. Those doctors spent years studying for this so they could save people’s lives. Whenever I get sick I will try my luck with doctors, not with the sky-master. I’m sure my chances of survival are a LOT bigger that way.

American atheism

I have started listening to a podcast series called ‘The thinking atheist‘. (Follow the link to the website.)

At first, I thought it would be an interesting addition to the podcasts I’m already listening to. As I am progressing through the podcasts though, I am more and more shocked about the state of religion in the US of A. I had no idea it was that bad!

Bad religion.

From visits to the USA I knew that religion is a more serious problem than it is here in Europe.

In Europe, you generally can be whatever and that’s fine, until your religion starts to become a problem. Christian and Islamic fanatics aren’t appreciated, although lately I see some worrying movements that aren’t silenced in the bud.

In America, it is clearly the norm to be Christian (in whatever of the hundreds of competing flavours available), and being non-religious is frowned upon, in the mildest cases. “Coming out” as an atheist is in many places something the good believers consider a first class ticket to hell (their hell, of course). From what I heard in the podcasts, things are getting better in the glorious States, but I can imagine it’s still a far cry from normal to be an atheist.

Assume nothing. Question everything.

This is the slogan or motto on the site and also the tagline each podcast starts with. Well chosen, well done.

Seth Andrews, the host and founder of ‘the thinking atheist’ idea (I know he doesn’t like the word ‘founder’ ha ha), has phone- and skype-calls with people who are atheists. People from all over the world. It’s at times horrifying to hear how people have to hide their lack of religious beliefs from their community.

People who get shunned by their family and community. You may have heard how, for instance, Amish can do that. It’s not something that’s just their prerogative; clearly many religious factions in the US reserve the right to kick people out when they don’t follow the rules and won’t colour inside the strictly defined lines any more.

It is heartwarming to hear the statements of people who have shed the yoke of religion and found their way into thinking for themselves. The people who see that the stuff in the bible and the koran and all those ‘holy’ books are filled with fables, myths, stories and scary bits, written by shepherds who had no idea where the rain came from.

I can only hope that more and more people will see the light. Yes, pun intended. The real light, not the restricted light that religion shines in someone’s eyes, allowing you to only see what they want.

God’s infallible Plan

Each time I see that somewhere on the Internet, I shake my head. Do these people really believe that? If yes, I am sad they are so brainwashed.

I googled “What is god’s infallible plan”. All kinds of stuff came up but not a definitive answer. There is a facebook page about it which makes little sense. I came across a website called ‘cityhopeboise.com‘ which talked about the infallible plan god for Joseph.

Does this mean there are more infallible plans? And what does that say about ‘the’ infallible plan?

With all the failures I see on this earth, I can tell there is no plan. This is an evolution we’re all part of, and we all can leave our mark on it. So far we’re not doing much of a good job, with climate change, pollution and companies that value money more than drinking water for people.

Fed by not a god.

I see images of children in Africa and other areas. Children starving. Not a good plan, let alone infallible. And the mantra “God will make this right” isn’t flying, folks. The world health organisation tries to make that right. Donations to organisations that want to make the world a better place help, to make that right. A god who can make it right and doesn’t do a thing is not worth one’s time or energy.

All the gods are said to be loving gods. Where is the love in all that misery and pain? Part of the greater plan?

Or did the devil do it? I am sure some people will say the devil did. And why then doesn’t the almighty god clean up this mess if he’s so ALL MIGHTY? Or is that ALmost MIGHTY?

I’m not buying it. There is no infallible plan. Nor is there an infallible god. For me and many others, there isn’t even a fallible one.

Enchroma. My experience.

Today I visited an optician who can supply Enchroma glasses. It was an interesting experience.

What is Enchroma?

For that you need to know what is colour blindness. Most people probably know what it is. A colour blind person has a visual defect or deficiency that makes it hard to distinguish some or many colours.

Sample of a colour blindness test.

The above image comes from colourblindness.com.

If you see six numbers in the above circles, you’re probably not colour blind. I see 25 in the top left one, the one next to it has ‘something’ in it, and that’s where my numbers end. So yes, I’m colour blind (or for the politically correct: colour challenged).

Now there is a company called Enchroma that has developed all kinds of glasses to help colour blind people to see more colours, colours better or at least enhance the experience. I had my experience enhanced today.

The glasses.

There are two types of glasses, named after the two most common types of colour blindness. Protanomaly and deuteranomaly. Both are for red/green correction but in different ways. (Ask your local specialist about specialisation.) Each set they had had 3 strengths: mild correction, moderate correction and strong correction.

The mild one did barely anything for me, so that was off the list quickly. Outside we went with the other two. First I tried the ‘strong’ one. It wasn’t the colour explosion that some people on videos mention to see, but this means nothing. As the salesman said, there are no two people identical. What works for me might not work for you, or the other way around. The strong type put everything in an exaggerated red hue for me, which didn’t disappear after several minutes. Also, my perception of colour didn’t change very much. Red was redder. In the clouds, I saw a bit more detail. In the leaves of trees, I saw a little more contrast. Obviously, that one wasn’t for me.

Colour wheel.

I tried the glasses with moderate correction. The overdone, red hue wasn’t there. Green and red were greener and redder than without, but not to the degree that I was stunned. Next door was a shop with a very colourful poster on the window. That had, indeed, more colour than I could see before, but it was a very confusing experience since I had no idea what I was looking at.

The moderate glasses were far less ‘obnoxious’ than the strong ones but apart from a bit more contrast and very confusing shades of colour, there wasn’t anything in it for me. I tried them a few times, inside and out, in sunlight and with clouds (yay Dutch weather for versatility on a 3-minute basis).

The result

After taking ample time to try the different kinds of glasses I decided not to buy them. For the price (they aren’t cheap) they just don’t do enough for me. Again, this is me.

In the shop, there was an older man who had them for a week and loves them (he was there to have something adjusted a bit). There was a young man, about 11 I think, who was so surprised at suddenly seeing all those colours. He and his Mum left with glasses, happy as a camper could be. Great for them.

That’s why I insist this is a very personal thing. Don’t rely on my experience to decide it’s not for you. If you feel your life can do with a colour boost, find an Enchroma dealer near you and go there. Try them. It’s free and it might just change your life.

The tale of Noah’s Ark

I’ve been thinking about this funny tidbit in the bible called Noah’s Ark again.

Noah's ark

I’m sure most of you have heard of it. According to the old testament (Genesis 6-9), there was this old man called Noah (he was 600 years old, apparently) who has chats with the Christian god. The god tells Noah to build a big boat, load his family on it and also collect pairs of all the animals in the world.

God has decided something has gone wrong and he’s going to flood the world, killing off everyone except those on the boat, and start again.

Of course, it’s coincidental that the Quran has a similar thing in it, and that the Epic of Gilgamesh (far older than the bible) also contains something like it.

A few things already spark up.

  • God made a mistake and kills off everyone in the world to try again. So much for an infallible god. Even if there weren’t billions of people on earth yet, he simply decides to kill a few million people (at least?). People whom he created ‘in his own image’. Which shows me that this god is as fallible as a human. Or a human is a godly as the god he created.
  • Noah was 600 years old. Science has shown that something like that isn’t possible. The human body just doesn’t support that.

So the earth is flooded. Everyone’s dead. The boat floats around for a while. (150 days, after which the god remembers (!) the people and the animals. He lets the water disappear (where to?), the boat stops on Mount Ararat (which hasn’t been found yet) and things get well again.

More things spark up.

  • Where did all these animals come from? Did penguins walk all the way from their cold areas to the boat? (Or didn’t they exist yet?)
  • Who fed all those animals during these 150 days? How big was that boat? If there were 2 elephants on board… they eat a lot…
  • And who fed all those people?
  • Also: who shovelled all the poop overboard?
  • If old Noah and his family were the only surviving people on board, hasn’t there been a lot of incest and inbreeding going on since they left the boat and populated the whole world again?
  • Did all the animals walk and fly back to where they came from? (There is no mention that Noah gave them a lift home…)

I also wonder where the boat people got their fresh water from, for themselves and all the animals. Remember: the waters of the earth merged into 1 world-encompassing ocean, so salt and sweet water became 1 big stream of brackish water. Hardly fit for consumption. Still, they survived for 150 days on their boat.

Which brings up two other questions:

  1. Where did all the water come from to flood the earth?
  2. Where did it go when god was satisfied with his mass murder?

There may be perfectly valid reasons for that in the Christian mind (“because god made it happen”), but they don’t convince me…

The last thing that I really would like to know is: why did old man Noah have to sacrifice a dove to find land again? Remember, the first one didn’t come back and the second one brought a twig. (He had 2 of each animal, so 2 doves. How did the remaining dove procreate??) A god worth the worship should have been able to point Noah in the right direction, right? Or was that a “test of faith”? How much more faith would a god need from old man Noah after building this über-titanic and floating around for 150 days in piss poor weather, waiting for the water to sink?

Just something I wonder about.

For some it’s just a flash-drive

If you’ve ever been around computers, you probably know what this is. A flash-drive. USB-stick. Name it what you want.

It used to be my Dad’s. There is music on it. Music I put on it for him, because in his last days he couldn’t do much more than listen to it.

The music on it isn’t my kind of music, but I will never be able to wipe it off this USB-drive because the files on it were the last ones I put on them for Dad. He listened to them a lot. When he wasn’t able any more to switch on his little stereo, the nurses at the home did it for him.

As I titled this post: for some it’s just a flash-drive. For me it’s 16 GB of memories of my father, a man I got to know far too late.

Interesting article on air travel today

Yep, I read an interesting article. It asked why aeroplane flights (which are quite polluting) were so cheap compared to train travel which takes long and is definitely expensive.

They compared a flight from Amsterdam to Prague for €40 to a train journey of 11 hours, costing €180. (This can be reduced to €100 but that is still 2.5 times the price of a plane ticket.)

To make a change, trains should become MUCH faster. It’s possible (TGV from France, Japan’s Bullet Train, and several high speed trains in China prove this) but for some reason there is no incentive to invest in trains. It is apparently better to fly or drive a car (despite all the traffic jams), because both these give options to ask more and more money from the passengers and drivers.

I know. I once had a temp job that made me sit in the car 4 to 5 hours each day. Doing that by train would have me travel 8 to 10 hours a day. That is a pretty bleak comparison, isn’t it?

I’m afraid it will take a long time before politicians, who should have the power and also the wisdom to see benefits to faster trains, have the stamina to do something about this. Until they stop being governed by big companies, we’re in a dark spot which is getting polluted more and more…

We’re not going to space anytime soon.

Image result for spaceship

You may think I’m crazy for saying that, because the USA sends things into space. Japan sends things into space. Russia, China and India are doing the same thing. Europe is also in the game. So why aren’t we going to space soon?

Because of exactly that. Each country does the same thing, invents the same thing, spends time and resources on the same thing.

What a friggin’ waste!

Imagine what progress could be made if all those countries put their clever minds and resources together, instead of inventing the same wheel in a dozen places.

It would also cost a lot less. Yes, that stupid invention called ‘money’ rears its ugly head again, and in a big way. Space-going isn’t cheap, and more and more companies want to get rich because of it. Which again is another drawback. Profits hold back progress.

A quick trip around the moon is only possible for the very wealthy (hi, money!), so we (as in the ordinary people) won’t go to space anytime soon. I can only hope that the united clever people of planet earth will show their clever bits and get together in a joint effort to make this happen. There’s a whole universe out there, and we’re not making any use of it.

Creating the impatient consumer

I’m sure you’ve all noticed how people want to have things faster and faster.

You go on the Internet, hit your favourite outlet website, you click buy, and by the time the confirmation mail has reached you, you want it in your hand.

Companies are catering to that. Amazon, for instance, is using drones to get stuff to the eager customer as soon as possible. After couriers for same day delivery, they now aim for same hour delivery.

I think this what (in part) is to blame for the increasing impatience of people: “I want it all and I want it now.” Especially the ‘now’.

The weird thing is that opportunities to ‘have it now’ still exist. Fewer and fewer, I know, as they are remnants of the pre-Internet era. They are called brick-and-mortar shops. You go there, pick from a shelf what you want, you pay for it, and… whoa… you have it. Now.

That’s probably a wild idea, because this isn’t in line with the ease of the Internet, where people don’t have to get up and go somewhere. Which is perhaps part of the obesity problem the ‘civilised’ world faces in many places. Why move if you can go online and order a pill that helps you get thinner.

Which you want now, of course.

End of a year, start of a film

Yesterday I ended the year with a film.

I don’t watch many films, so this is kind of special. The film I watched was “Lucy“, with Scarlett Johansson.

Official trailer of “Lucy”

I accidentally came across this film as I was paging through the Google Play store and discovered it.

The comments for the film were quite mixed and also intriguing enough for me to decide to rent it and see it for myself.

I’m glad I found this film. It was (for me) very enjoyable and definitely worth watching. The idea of expanding the capacity of the human mind is something that intrigues me and this film deals with that. It does so in a rough and extreme way. It made me think of this more than I was already doing.

Absolutely a good film for me.