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Daily Archives: January 29, 2009

I’m not an atheist but…

… David Attenborough is on the side of the angels here.

Sir David Attenborough receives hate mail over his belief in evolution, the British broadcaster and naturalist has revealed.

Sir David is preparing for more letters telling him to "burn in hell" when his latest television show, a documentary on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, is aired in the UK on Sunday.

"They tell me to burn in hell and good riddance," Sir David told Radio Times magazine.

The popular 82-year-old said people often asked him why he did not "give credit" in his programs to God for creating the natural world.

"They always mean beautiful things like hummingbirds," Sir David said.

"I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in East Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball.

"The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator."…

He also declared it as "terrible, terrible" that some British state schools can teach children that creationism and evolution are equal alternative view points.

"It’s like saying that two and two equals four, but if you wish to believe it, it could also be five," Sir David said.

"Darwin revolutionised the way we see the world fundamentally, but his basic proposition is still not taken on board by a lot of people."

However, Sir David acknowledged "it would be a very bold scientist, and certainly not me, who believes it’s the be all and end all"…

God is not served through sentimental pap, simplistic answers, and lies, which is what some serve up. Faith acknowledges Attenborough’s challenge. It does not necessarily have any easy answers. Why should it?

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Posted by on January 29, 2009 in challenge, faith, faith and philosophy

 

Change and decay in all around I see…

Jim Belshaw has begun “a series on social and cultural change in Australia that began with A note on Australia Day and related matters.” I see he expects there that I may sometimes disagree with him:

Postscript

Neil wrote:

“I guess we will see some posts expanding on this…”

True of course, but I suspect that while Neil may not like some of the things I plan to talk about, he may be a little surprised at the content.

The posts I have in mind are not intended to tell people what to think nor indeed what I think on specific issues. While I will make my own views clear so that people can understand my biases, I am more concerned to disentangle issues and point to what I see as trends. Where I can, I will put things in historical context. While bias is inevitable, I want to write from a professional perspective.

I will be writing from an Australian perspective, but I hope that the material will be of broader interest.

I won’t say more at this point. I leave it to you, the reader, to form your own views.

I suppose it is possible I may disagree, but I certainly don’t have any problems with the latest in the set — Ladettes – girls acting like boys. Nor do I much worry about Australia Day being 26 January; it could even be argued that date becomes a space for quite useful reflection. This was certainly my case on Australia Day 1988, the Bicentennial, as I suspect it was for many others. I agree too (which I don’t always do) with the more conservative partner in the Skeptic Lawyer blog: I’d like to know where this crap started.

Via LP, I learn that there were several ‘mini-Cronullas‘ this Australia Day, the worst taking place along the Manly Corso in Sydney. No-one dead or seriously injured this time, but people abused, people showered with broken glass, drunken nongs running around wearing the flag like a superman cape (something I find extraordinarily disrespectful), racist epithets flying thick and fast etc etc…

The Americans have somehow managed to be flag-waving and patriotic, but you never see stuff like this attached to their flag; as one American points out, if it happens there it’s the Confederate Flag that gets ‘claimed’ by various drunken nongs. And I just can’t imagine any American using their national flag as a superman cape.

Skeptic Lawyer does bend over backwards to exculpate the Howard years. While I agree it isn’t just that, I think there was a synergy between Howard, the fear generated by 9/11 and Bali etc, and the spirit (demons?) whipped up by Pauline Hanson. It does seem to be very much a right wing phenomenon. SL and I do share distaste for the development nonetheless. Not all change is beneficial.

See what I had to say on Cronulla 05. The posts there were written in the heat, because as one who lived in The Shire for many years I was really upset by what I saw, even if I now concede happily that The Shire is nowhere near as bad as these events and images would suggest. Like just about everywhere else The Shire has in fact changed and in many respects has coped well. Last year’s local government elections tended to bear this out. The extreme racist candidates didn’t get far at all. But I wrote then of Howard, thinking now also of Skeptic Lawyer’s post:

12. PM refuses to use racist tag – National – smh.com.au 2005-12-12 4:10:00 pm

Our PM has spoken at last, refusing to use the R-word when there can be no doubt whatsoever that racism of the crudest and dumbest kind was a big part of what happened yesterday, just as it haunts the psyches of the gang-members, or many of them, to whom the folk of Cronulla rightly object. OK, I would not say all Australians are racist either. I’m not, I hope, though I have had my moments, as we all have. But JH is and always has been namby-pamby in his reverse political correctness on the issue of racism. A bit of “ticker” would have gone down well on this occasion.

I still think that.

When it comes to social change our attitudes are very much shaped by where we’ve come from and what has happened to us. If you want at least one indicator in my case all you need to do is look at a photoset that sums up the last twenty years of my life in its way: M’s New Year party. Little wonder I was sickened by Pauline Hanson, is it?

I do look forward to Jim’s continuing series, because I know they will be, as ever, very carefully considered. Whether I always agree or not is another matter, but Jim has that pretty well covered in the note quoted above.