Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Democracy, Democracy, Democracy

Athenian democracy emerged in the sixth century BC. Over the course of time a democratic system emerged that enabled adult males to have a fair amount of involvement in the running of the city and the election of their leaders. From here there developed the selection of leaders by lot so that hereditary power and status were not the defining influence in who was selected.

Undoubtedly Athenian democracy was not a perfect system - the exclusion of woman and slaves from the process a prime example - but we must be careful not to impose a modern mindset upon an ancient and developing form of governance.

Democracy then could be seen as a means through which the people have a voice, a say into the way communities and countries govern themselves and make decisions. It is a belief that the people as a whole will be able to determine what is best for communities as a whole ensuring the flourishing of neighbour and the common good.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

God Does Not Exist

'Consider, for instance, the recent and curious episode of the “God Helmet.” If you have not heard of it before, this was a device that for a time was believed to have the power to induce “religious” experiences in those who wore it, simply by stimulating the temporal lobes of the brain with weak magnetic field emissions. Its inventor was the cognitive neuroscientist Michael Persinger, who began studying religious mental states as early as the 1970s, and who eventually hit upon the theory that all such experiences have something to do with the structure of the bicameral brain. Perhaps, he speculated, a man who finds himself seized by a mystical sense of an unseen presence—God, an angel, an extraterrestrial, a ghost, a fairy, what have you—is merely experiencing a transient excitation of neurons that causes his brain’s left hemisphere to become indirectly aware of the distinct and usually tacit “alternate self” of the right hemisphere.' David Bentley Hart

The results of the 'God Helmet' were roundly dismissed, the effects shown to be products of their own imagination.

As Bentley Hart rightly points out, even if the 'God Helmet' had worked it would not have proven anything in terms of God as no-one in classical theism is denying the reality of how an encounter with God would indeed have an effect upon the physical reality of our brains. But this is not the emphasis of this blog post.

Monday, 20 April 2015

To Vote or Not to Vote?

Should we vote?

The general election is fast approaching here in the UK and I feel bombarded every day by what feels like political pouting, each party seeking to woo us with their political persuasion.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Meaningful Meaninglessness

'We have to break out. We have to accept life in its meaninglessness, its pleasures that serve nothing etc. Because the paradox is that if you take away from life those things that serve nothing what remains is that which is purely fictional, the paradox being that it actually leaves nothing. Everything collapses.' Slavoj Žižek

What Žižek is getting at here and refuting is the idea that everything we do has to serve a purpose, has to meaningful and contribute in some way to our society.

So the constant rhetoric surrounding our political system at the moment is 'those who work hard get rewarded'.  Our worth then is tied directly to how hard we work and if what we do serves a purpose to better the system and society.

Our education system is steeped in this type of thinking as primary school children are put through test after test as though their ability to answer questions on a test paper is reflective of how well educated and valuable they are.

It's all nonsense.