Friday, September 07, 2007


I've taken time out from posting after a series of unfortunate events which have led to me being camped out at Sarah's with my foster-kid. He turned his bedroom into a blackened shell after the power was cut to our house. Candles. I'd been trying for days to ascertain why we had no power - I was convinced they'd turned off the power at the wrong house, as next door's is identical to ours and they'd moved out. Our meters share the same box. As it turned out, the failure wasn't due to a mix-up, it was due to the large gum in our front yard knocking against the power line connecting our house. The power wasn't restored until a day or two after the fire. I was out at work at the time. The last thing I told him before I left was not to re-light the candles in his room, which I'd blown out. The boy wasn't hurt, but the house, though probably habitable in large part, is a depressing place to be right now. Luckily our co-op's insurance is coming to the party with a thorough clean-up and paint job throughout, and Families SA's insurance is covering the contents for the lad.

So I've had a grumpy week dealing with various agencies and yearning to get back into a settled existence. Of course I was going to be moving out of the old house anyway in about a week's time, so this simplifies as well as complicating matters. Hate moving house, I just want everything to be over.

I’ve just read a review by Dawkins of Hitchens’ God is not great: how religion poisons everything, accessed via Phayngula. The other day I read a dialogue, published in Scientific American, between Dawkins and American scientist and educator Lawrence Krauss, on how to tackle religious belief and the opposition to or indifference to science in the US. These are the items I want to be writing about, not fires, electricity cuts and the expenditure of time money and effort required to move house.

I’m often hesitant about how to tackle religion and the religious, and of course people offer gratuitous advice. Why can’t you leave well enough alone? Why go out of your way to antagonize? Aren’t you becoming a bit obsessed?

I’m not really obsessed, I’m concerned, but also excited. Excited that atheist writers are becoming thicker on the ground, that their works challenging religion are becoming best-sellers [even in the USA], that there’s a notable groundswell of support. Concerned at the relatively new phenomenon they call fundamentalism, but is I think more accurately described as primitivism, and concerned at the challenge of Islamism. Concerned also that people close to home are falling in with religion [for obvious support reasons], and dragging their smart but susceptible little kids into religion with them.

There's no point in getting het up though in arguments with those who clearly don't value argument and who don't even have half a clue about what evolution is or means. Science needs to continue focusing on the basis of supernatural belief, its history and purpose, its advantages and disadvantages for human welfare. Getting a handle on what religion is really for, so that we can collectively progress beyond it, that's more valuable ultimately than these endless debates, valuable though they are [we need to let the Christian soldiers and jihadists know we're ready for them and have the intellectual weaponry to blitz them].


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