Tag Archives: religion

The Earth is flat.

It’s true.

Or at least, it is as true as any other scientific statement. You see, I think that scientists are wrong. About evolution, about atomic energy, about astronomy and about the life, the universe and everything. (42.)

Now, I am not about to dismiss science as the thing to which all intelligent apes should aspire. And I am not about to subscribe to “Creationist Weekly.” (Their slogan? ‘God made it in a week. And so do WE!’) But I have some issues with science, generally accepted scientific truths, and the way that we simply accept them.

There is this trend in which the theories of before are ridiculed and debased before the altar of contemporary science. Today’s scientists may be standing on the shoulders of those that came before, but they’re kicking a few heads as they stand. Old theories are taught in schools with scorn and the invitation to join in the learned chuckling at those poor silly buggers that came before.

The Earth is flat. This was the prevailing theory for hundreds of years. And the chances are that you were probably taught this in a “How could they be so stupid?” way. I know I was. But the problem is this. At the time that the statement was first made, the theory was sound. It made sense. All the bright sparks agreed. It become public knowledge. And you know what? To the average layman, the earth MAY AS WELL BE flat. Does the curvature of the earth really effect your day? Really? No. But  you see, at some point, this theory was binned in favour of the shiny new theory that the earth was round. And public opinion was once again changed, and flat-earthers were regarded as morons. The problem is, you see, that the earth ISN’T round… never was, never will be. It’s geoid. (Which is a fancy way to describe a slightly flattened ball.) Now that we know that the earth is geoid, we can safely regard ourselves superior to both flat-earthers and round-earthers.

We have all seen the evolution of astronomy, and we all know the stories about how the universe was formed. Sure you do. First, the sun and all the planets revolved around us. Then, they didn’t, we revolved around the sun, and the universe revolved around us. Then, it didn’t, and we became just one planetary system in a large universe, all expanding away from some central point. And now, now we don’t even have that. Now, we are in a universe that is both infinite AND expanding. (Don’t ask what an infinite universe can be expanding into, your head will hurt.) Also, despite the theory of red and blue light shift and our means for establishing relative distances between stars and galaxies, apparently, we are now ALL simultaneously at the centre of the universe, and we are ALL moving away from one another. See… I am not sure what you were taught at school. I was taught that once upon an instance (because before the instance, there was no time. Geek joke, sorry)… there was a sigularity. And that singularity existed at a point where time had no meaning. t=0. Something happened, some critical mass was reached (Don’t ask how something unaffected by time can undergo change, your head will hurt…) and it blew up. Bang! BIG bang! And from that moment onwards, the universe basically exploded outwards into a uniformly expanding hole. That’s what I was taught, and that was what passed for public opinion.  Now.. it is one step behind the curve. And I am sure that in a few generations, children will be indulgently taught just how quaint we were at the turn of the century, just how mislead and ill-informed we were. And perhaps we are. But as right as scientists may be in the future, they only go to demonstrate that until we have an absolute truth, we can only be correct until someone improves on our theories.

Newton. Arguably the greatest mind our race has ever known. Have a flick through The Principia if you have any doubt, and remember that he did it all by himself. He gave us universal gravitation and the three laws of motion. (As well as a LOT more.. Newton was a very busy boy.) He was a bright lad, and he revolutionised science. But even he was proven incorrect (or at least partially incorrect) by the brighter boys of the twentieth century. Atomic gravitation and particle theory changed the way we look at gravity, and well… basically, Newton may have laid the foundations, but someone else is going to decorate the living room.  (Newton had a few other failings as well… he remained convinced until his death in certain basic theories of transmutation of elements. He believed that it was indeed possible to turn lead into gold, make himself invisible, and a bunch of other things.) But the thing is… in time, even Einstein and Hawking will be proven incorrect, or improved upon in some fundamental way.  (Einstein may already be on the way out, a science team has recently determined that the speed of light is NOT necessarily a constant in a vacuum. )

Evolution is another thing that is evolving. (Cough)

There was a time when the best of the biological world were firmly of the opinion that life as we know it is the way that life has always been. This despite some embarrassingly big bones that were being discovered. Along came Darwin, and his theory of adaptation determining the survival of a species. It was violently opposed (Not least by the Church… but seriously, I am not going to bring them into this… suffice it to say that the Church has always been the grumpy old man of the human race, resistant to change and demanding of respect for tradition.) by basically everyone at the time. In retrospect, they were perhaps not all that incorrect in doing so. There are a few issues with the theory of evolution, and even Darwin was said to have despaired of trying to explain the evolution of the eye. Now, I am not saying that evolution was wrong. The fossil record clearly demonstrates that creatures evolve, and then some. My contention is that the Theory of Evolution, like most scientific theories is subject to correction subsequent to advances in the field. Who is to say that we are not going to find something out in the next decade or two that will force us to rethink our current truths? As it is, anthropologists are divided over the diaspora of the human race, how it was that we spread from Africa to India, what happened to our tools along the way (apparently, after mining for flint, crafting flint tools and using them for almost a million years in the Olduvai Gorge, we somehow forgot how to use them on the way to India and the Asian sub-continent. It is something that has yet to be explained.)  and why we decided to go to India in the first place…. I mean, have you seen what they eat?

 

I guess what I am trying to say is this:

Flat-Earthers, Creationists and other non-believers are wrong. But in a few generations, so might we be.

I have a sneaking suspicion that at some point, someone is going to have a good look at Quantum mechanics and is going to point out that really, honestly, truly, it’s bullshit. It has been said of Quantum mechanics that anyone who is not outraged at the description of its base theories has not understood them. And I think that that statement may be more prescient than originally thought. Consider… we are currently unable to explain the actions of certain particles. Thus, it is theorised that the particle is both a particle and a wave. It requires a fair amount of mathematical hokum, but the numbers eventually work. So now we have something that is two things simultaneously, but assumes the form of only one when it is being observed. The same applies to the half-lives of certain radioactive isotopes… they only degrade if they are not being observed. It’s tantamount to suggesting that as long as you stare at your banana sandwich, it will never go bad. Patently, something is happening, and my argument is that we simply can’t understand it.

This has happened before in science… hell, it happens ALL the time. When we lit a fire, we were not witnessing an exothermic reaction of particulate matter… rather, we had succeeded in igniting the phlogiston contained within the item we were burning. Mountains were not formed from the grinding together of tectonic plates, but rather had always been there, formed during the formation of the planet. Meteor impact craters were not the result of strikes from extra-planetary bodies, but the result of underground steam explosions. So perhaps… just perhaps, quantum mechanics will someday be exposed as an understandable error based on the knowledge that mankind once possessed.

 

We are constantly evolving. Not just biologically, but in philosophy and mentality too. Our children ARE more advanced than we were. They’re exposed to concepts far more advanced than those we were taught, they are kept at the cusp of our understanding. They stand on our shoulders, and we stand on the shoulders of giants. All we need to remember is that one day too, we will be kicked by those above us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Being a Man.

All my life, I’ve been a man.

With all that that means, and with all that that carries, I have been a man.

When I was a lot younger, people older than me would call me “young man”, but only humorously. You see, they were forecasting, for I was still a boy, a kid, a youngster. There were no expectations or responsibilities beyond an assumed interest in girls, and an expected interest in sports. But time went by, and I grew older. People called me “young man”, but meant it. Legally no longer a minor, I was now expected to be living life to the fullest, assumed to be drinking heavily, partying harder and generally doing all those things that come naturally to university students and school leavers. I was expected to work hard at my studies, expected to have some form of additional income (other than my parents) and I was expected to be looking to the future whenever I could focus long enough on the present. It was assumed that I would have a steady-ish girlfriend, and I would be expected to have some form of sporting allegiance to a club in some popular sport.

When I next looked, I was being called a “young man” by a few less people, and just “man” by a few more. I know that I am in my thirties, and that to people under 20, I must appear hopelessly old, if not old-fashioned. For those of you that know me personally, you will know that I am not a person who gives overly much credence to the opinions of others, especially when those opinions are about me or my actions. Life is too short to worry about pleasing other people. Focus on pleasing yourself and the ones you love, and the rest will fall into place, or fall out of your life entirely. And those that do… well, they were not worth having in the first place. That said, I know that at the age of 34, I am now roughly halfway through our promised three-score and ten. That makes me middle-aged. And that is an appellation that is uncomfortable in its bearing. You see, there are certain expectations that come with the role of the middle-aged man. I should be settled, I should be providing for a family. Hell, I should HAVE a family of my own. I should be settled into a career and I should be thinking hard about provisions for my retirement and future.

And there’s the rub. You see, I know myself to be old-fashioned. I understand this about myself. I believe that there is still a place in this world for gallantry and I believe (for better or worse) that being a man entails stepping up to responsibilities rather than letting others deal with them. I believe in self-education and betterment, and I believe that there is nothing that someone cannot do if they would only put their mind to it. I believe that honesty really is the best policy, and would rather tell someone an awkward truth than a convenient lie. I expect this all of myself, and I expect it of others. I have a few “old man” quirks to go with all that dogma as well. I cannot abide reality television. I resent having to allow someone else to edit my perception of reality. I cannot abide the shallow tackiness of it all, and I find television 99% garbage. I have hit an age where a lot of the new music really DOES sound alike to me, and I struggle to keep track of new starlets and one-hit-wonder boy bands with more abdominal muscles than lyrical ability. I like to choose my words carefully, and I like to use the word most appropriate to a given situation. That I sometimes confuse a listener (I believe) speaks more about their lack of vocabulary than my poor word choice. I read. A lot. Not always fiction either. I believe in personal choice. In all things.

So you see, I can understand it when younger people look at me as though I am hopelessly outdated, possessed of a bygone ethos and old-fashioned morals. But there is more than that. I’m a follower of science, a disciple of empirically proven, repeatable and documented fact. There is no room in that doctrine for religion, and thus no room in my life for it. I like to think that that makes me something of a liberal, a far cry from an old-fashioned conservative. I use the internet. Frequently. For a hobby. I like to keep up to date on social memes and viral videos. I am online for at least an hour every day, more often two or three hours a day. I enjoy a range of “younger” pastimes, not the least of which are blogging, playing the guitar or playing online games.

And I don’t think that I am alone. I think that there are others like me, men that are trapped somewhere between the manly virtues of the generation before us, and the worldly requirements of the world that they have bequeathed us. I think that there are others who have adapted themselves to a world where political correctness is king, to a world where equality supersedes merit, others who have had to find an acceptable middle road between chivalry and perceived chauvinism.

I believe that being a man means standing by your principles. I believe that being a man means listening to the opinions of others, but making judgement for yourself. I believe that being a man means having no master but yourself, and being subject to nothing but your standards.

Ironically, I believe that believing all of this probably DOES make me middle-aged.

So be it. I am content to be myself.


Massive Missive – Getting older means being happier with less.

My Jesus year is done. This is not an official name for some random year, so don’t go googling it.

But until a few days ago, I was thirty-three years old. If we are to believe the Bible, well, Jesus had done pretty much all of his earthly stuff including dying and then undying. I am done with the year though.

This has some bearing on my life. It means that I am unlikely to become the focus of my own religion. It means that as much as I would like to believe it, I, like Brian, am not the Messiah. And there are a host of things that I will not be doing in my life. I realise that now. I’m unlikely to ever run a marathon. (Pause for derisive laughter here.) That rock band that I joined in school? We’re never going to make an album. Hell, given how far away from one another we are now… we’re unlikely to ever play together again. I’m probably never going to go sky-diving. I am most likely never going to own the car of my dreams.

And here’s the funny thing. You’d expect them to grate, to weigh down on me, these unfulfilled aspirations. But they don’t. Instead, I find myself free of them. I am never going to front a band, I am never going to trade riffs with Slash or stand clad mainly in leather in front of an audience dancing to my music. Nobody is going to sing along to my songs, quote my lyrics on their Facebook page or get my band symbol tattooed on their shoulder. Sixteen year old Yeti would be crushed by this realisation. But thirty-four year old Yeti is happy. If I am never going to be a famous musician, then I can stop pushing myself to learn the guitar, stop feeling guilty when a week goes by without me playing the thing. I can chill, learn the songs I want to sing along to, surprise my wife by playing some Leonard Cohen for her. (At the very least, I sing better than he ever did.) Guitar playing becomes a fun activity, something I do for joy, guilt-free.

The same goes for my chances of ever playing sport at a national level. Much as I enjoy thrashing friends at table-tennis, there is no chance of ever playing seriously. Golf? I can safely leave that to the executives and the pro’s. Who cares if I shift my feet in my swing? Who cares that I’m holding the clubs incorrectly, or using the wrong one? Who cares that every now and then I still take a run-up when nobody is watching? I played hockey as a kid. Taking a step or two before the swing just feels good. And that’s what I am getting at. We carry so much baggage. We shoulder so much guilt as a function of our everyday routine. And why?

Let. It. Go.

You’re never going to be a model. Eat the Snickers bar. You’re unlikely to become anyone important politically. Tell the jokes you want to tell. Your photos are never going to win a Pulitzer. Relax and enjoy the view for yourself.

You get what I am saying?

We all do it. Everyone I know has a chip of varying sizes on their shoulder. Some unrequited dream that plagues them, that tints every moment of every day with a disappointed shadow. We get those chips from a range of places. Parental expectation, peer pressure, the media. It is their responsibility, their FAULT for pushing us in directions. But that is what parents do. It is what friends do. And it is all that the media ever does. It is YOUR responsibility for collecting the chips. For carrying them for years. For allowing them to colour your every action.

Maybe it’s laughable coming from someone barely old enough for a mid-life crisis. Maybe I am wrong. I don’t think so though. This year is my year. Succeed or fail, this is the year that I drop my pretensions of lofty ideals. This is the year that I slough the little dreams that I have clung to for years. Dreams that honestly, I am not really even interested in any more. I don’t want to have a glamorous jet set life. I don’t want a fancy mansion. I don’t need a collection of vintage guitars. I have no intention of climbing a mountain, ANY mountain. I’m not going to join Green Peace. I think that PETA is often too extreme. I’m never going to be a religious person, I have no inclination to continue studying religions. I don’t intend ever getting myself an office job again. I never want to wear a tie again.

What I have been doing is looking at my life, and evaluating each of my dreams and hopes on their own merits. There are many that I am no longer really interested in. There are others that are beyond me simply because of my age, location or abilities. There are some that are possible, that can be done, but that clash with the life that lead. I’d love to race cars. With a wife that I intend getting old with, this is not going to happen. You see how it works? There are some goals that I do not intend to compromise on. These are the goals that are still attainable, still possible, albeit with a ton of work and sacrifice. And I think that it is the job of every human being to find those core goals, and then to get them done.

I want to be an author. I would love at some point in the future to be able to fill in “author” in that little square on the tax-return. I want to be self-employed. Until that happens, I want to teach. I enjoy teaching. I’m good at it. And it is the only job that I have found where every day IS different, where every single class brings with it challenges and difficulties uniquely its own. I will own a Porsche. Nothing fancy. I just want the car, I want to drive with the top down, and listen to a flat six growl through a mountain pass. I want to see Europe. I want to walk in the Black Forest, and uncover Roman mosaics. I want to see the Sewer systems of London. I want to walk on the abandoned platforms of the Underground. I want to see Moscow. I want to see the Northern Lights. I want to fly a plane. I want a Doctorate in something, but I’ll settle for my Masters.

These are my goals. These are the things to which I am going to work. And yes, it is going to require some sacrifice, and some planning, and most of all… a lot of luck.

But I have my friends, and I have my family. I have time. I believe I have the talent.

I have no excuse for failure.

And neither do you. Drop your baggage. Embrace yourself, your own goals and hopes. And make it happen for yourself.