Welcome to the world of the Old Coot.
If you have questions to ask, post them here and you will get an answer. If you have answers, who knows, the Old Coot might even supply the question.
Although there are claims of Old Coot infalibility, feel free to beard the lion in his den if an answer appears incorrect or incomplete.
When I let people know that I am an atheist, usually in response to a question, I am usually surprised that nobody asks me “Why?”. I can surmise two possible reasons. The first is that there is a genuine lack of true interest and the question was asked out of ordinary curiosity. The second is the fear that my reasons might be sufficiently cogent as to be convincing.
So, why am I an atheist?
I am an atheist because the churches have convinced me that there is no god. Their behaviour and total disregard for the rules and social norms that they promote show that they are, at the very least, not trustworthy.
Gods have been around in all shapes and sizes since mankind first realised that he will die one day. Primitive people can understand that life is a type of cyclical event. For many, the cycle ends with either an ascent into a more perfect realm or in rebirth as an entirely new creature. There is no need for a formal acknowledgement of these beliefs because, in those primitive societies, it is so obviously true that no-one would doubt it.
No matter how long mankind has existed on this Earth, it is fairly certain that he has always needed to explain to himself that death is not final – that it offers some form of hope of further existence.
2,000 years ago, the Christian church wants us to believe that after thousands of years of appearing to the House of David and doing magnificent slaughter to protect it, god sent a son to Earth. The son, of course, was created by that old familiar process of a god appearing to a human woman (preferably a virgin) and impregnating her. Presumably some magic was used to ensure that the woman was compliant and at the peak of her cycle to ensure conception at the first sexual congress.
It beggars belief that an all knowing and all powerful deity would need to have the use of a weak human vessel in which to have its child nurtured. Even more unbelievable is the idea that (in this case) Mary should be able to explain to her husband that an angel came through the window, had his way with her and then vanished so that her husband would actually believe her!
Another problem with the story is the place in which the event took place. In a world that already had civilisations that would have been able to publicise the event much more effectively and efficiently god apparently chose one of the most primitive areas in the world. Not only did he do this, he also chose a primitive tribe, one with which he was familiar and which he knew was irreverent and given to excesses of paranoia. Even though he knew that he had rescued so many of them from Egypt by the mass slaughter of a pursuing army and had appeared to many of them to show his support, he should also have remembered that while he was instructing Moses on the ten commandments which he felt would enable them to live more amicably together, they went crazy. Only a few days after Moses climbed Mount Sinai they decided that they needed a new god and that they could create one from gold. Now, you have to decide whether god was simply not very convincing or whether the people he rescued had desperately short memories.
Another question you need to ask is why the emotional, violent and jealous god of the Old Testament allowed mankind to offer worship to a whole panoply of disparate gods. Is it really credible that a god would calmly sit around while his creation ignored him and even offered praise to non-existent gods? Would a benevolent god not have felt that it was his duty to point out that they were sealing their own fate by being ignorant of his existence?
It is quite likely that many people lived lives that embraced what are seen as Christian principles – are these people now qualified to enter the Christian Heaven? The churches will probably tell you that it was not until Jesus that the existence of Heaven was disclosed to mankind and that those who lived before Jesus have simply died.
Christianity is based upon the premise that god sent his only begotten son to save the people of the Earth. But did he?
While the story of Jesus is a tragic and magnificent tale of self sacrifice. Is he ever reported as claiming that his death would “wash away your sins”? If this was the purpose of his death, why was it accomplished only as a penalty for offending the Roman rulers and being a very effective dissident?
The life of Jesus is a tragedy and, probably, it is likely that the man is a composite of many of the hundreds of the time who were claiming to be the Messiah (Messianic claims appear to have been endemic at the time of Jesus) and, as happens in modern movie making, a composite character is far more engaging than a single entity.
As I said at the beginning, I am an atheist because the churches have convinced me that there is no god. Their behaviour and total disregard for the rules and social norms that they promote show that they are, at the very least, not trustworthy. I have not discovered a single church that accepts that it is only the voice on Earth of a supreme deity.
Look at most religious organisations and you will see a corporate will to be the biggest, the best, the wealthiest and the most influencial they can be. The religious desire for power is the most potent driving force of far too many of them.
All Christian churches(and most other religious organisations) claim to be the holders of the truth about god. No two organisations will give you the same account of what god is supposed to be nor on how he should be addressed or worshipped. There is almost an internecine war for the souls of all men and, as in all wars, the first victim is truth.
As I peruse the contents of many social sites, it is becoming more obvious that originality and genuine opinions are notable only by their absence.
It is virtually impossible to find posts that are either original or the product of the mind of the people posting them. It is not possible to include videos as “original” because they are invariably posted all over the internet. The idea of an original post seems to have been lost with the passage of time. Nowadays everything seems to be copied and pasted from another blog (like this will be posted to Facebook, for example) and it is very rare that the blog is actually composed by the person authoring it (unlike this one).
When it comes to comments the position is far worse. Most comments do not actually refer to the O.P. but tend to either produce a desire in the responder to try to sound clever by using a cookie cutter phrase or a demonstration of the social awareness of the commenter as he/she leaps to the defence of someone they do not really know for a slight that is neither real nor demonstrable. It is unbelievable how many people “take offence” on behalf of others even if they had not done so.
There seems to be a competition out there to discover who can demonstrate the most angst.
Maybe we should return to the days when simply “sharing” a post was seen as a special tribute to the author rather than as an easy way to fill your own page. (This is never likely to happen since the habit is now well ingrained and people who post original ideas are invariably attacked by trolls who find words of more than two sylables a challenge too far.)
As I prepare for the worst day of my year, it has been interesting to watch people celebrating the feast of Mammon while kidding themselves that they are celebrating the birth of a child doomed to a most agonising death.
Christmas Eve is, for me, a time to feel the deepest sympathy for those whom Jesus is claimed to have asked His father to “forgive them for they know not what they do”. As I feel the gathering of a ghostly crowd within my brain, once again I try to seek out the answers that have eluded me all of my life.
A great film called “The Agora” helps me, from time to time, to try to understand the insanity and duplicity of that most avaricious of all religions – Christianity. The film is based on some ideas about what might have happened in Alexandria at the time the Christian hordes were at their most virilant and in their most violent state. It grieves me that the film story reeks of credibility. The portrayal of the extreme fanaticism of the sect carries so much reality that it is difficult to believe that it is not drawn from the true life expeiences of the people who were alive to live through the ordeals depicted.
It seems to be quite acceptable and reasonable that a Bishop could preach the teachings of Jeus from His sermon on the mount while tolerating a level of fanatical violence that befits only the lowest of base intellects. It is almost symbolic of the more refined violence that Christians exhibit at this time of year in their desperate attempts to square the circle of piety and material greed in which they find themselves trapped.
My search among the convicted Christian of my acquaintance has uncovered nothing to either prove that God does or does not exist because none of them can show me a simple example of the working of God on this Earth.
No doubt, if there is a God, I will not be allowed into His presence because my whole life has been filled with questions and an abundance of faith that we are on this Earth as the result of a sublime and non-caring accident. We live and we die – that is the only true pattern that can be demonstrated.
It is so sad that those who believe in a god are unable to keep that belief to themselves.
It is right, as the Pagans decided, that the dread cold of winter and the imposed idleness that goes with it should be alleviated by a celebration of some sort.
Enjoy your Christmas but treat it as it was ordained – a high-light for the darkest days of the year.
One of the things that has always amazed me is that once the priests updated God and turned Him into a dim shadow of His former self, they assumed His mantle of disciplinarian.
The true God, He of the Old Testament, had no qualms about meting out drastic and violent punishments to those who decided to refuse to obey Him or who threatened His chosen people but the wimp of the New Tetament neither punishes nor prescribes any punishment.
The Bible itself is not exactly strong on what is considered to be a punishment. The best we get is in Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death and the free gift of God is eternel life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There are several other references to the wages of sin (and variations on the theme) but there does not appear to be any biblical reference to a punishment that would be applied here on Earth. They are all threats against our eventual, promised immortality.
Moses went up to the mountains in Sinai and came down with two tablets of stone engraved in God’s own hand with the ten commandments by which He decided we should live our lives. Nowhere is there mention of a train of donkeys following on behind with all the accepted or mandated punishments for each transgression – so where did they come from?
Once again we see the sticky fingers and greed that personifies so much of the priesthood. It was not enough that they received huge measures of wealth by selling salvation from damnation and Hell-fire, they saw the profits to be made by selling forgiveness of all sins through a ritualised process that could be adapted for daily use. They created the idea that God required us to confess our sins and to make a penance in accordance with rules that only the piesthood could administer. The sale of Indulgences was the pinacle of this “tradition” but even the simple request for donations at each mass or service produces a tremendous level of wealth in even the poorest regions.
I have found no reference in the Bible to any power being invested in the priesthood to decide punishment in this life, indeed, even the priesthood is not a biblical creation.
Jesus sent His disciples out into the world so that they could bear witness to the teachings of Jesus and to bring His message to all mankind. Although He did not proscribe the building of churches, Jesus made it quite clear that all that was required to seek his presence was the “gathering together of two or more of you”.
Great wealth creates its own momentum for accretion and, of course,nothing impresses more than a huge edifice with which to attract victims like flies to a spider’s web.
One of the most impressive films I have seen about a possible after life is “What dreams may come” starring Robin Williams. ( goo.gl/qHFW7e )
The story is a very simple one, boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl are happy and have children, the children die in a car crash, later boy dies in another car crash and girl eventually succeeds in suicide. The lives of tragedy lead to an afterlife existence that is mysteriously generated by the mind, with each mind having sufficient space to be able to create a “heaven” of their own, individual design.
Naturally, as a person dies they are introduced into their own personal heaven and given instructions on how to manage it and how to meet other dead people.
Robin Williams character discovers that the love of his life (his soul mate) committed suicide and is not allowed to enter such a heaven but must languish in a hell that would destroy her individuality for all eternity.
Naturally he goes on a quest to rescue her and manages, not only to do so, but to create a second life on Earth for each of them so that they can meet and fall in love all over again.
The film has a high feel good factor because it presents a future that we should all aspire to when we are dead.
As I said, this is the most impressive film of its type that I have seen and certainly makes our possible destination after dying much more attractive and desirable. Like all films of this nature, it is not possible to deny the possibility that the author of the story got it right.
It would be nice, wouldn’t it, if this vision really was true?
Once again we see the call for people to be especially aware of old people, especially those living alone, at Christmas.
It says a lot about our society that there has to be a special mention for these people and that it happens only once a year. Why can’t we look after our oldies? Why are they shuttled away to some remote and (often) lonely corner of our conurbations?
In Spain it is great to see that grand parents and single old folk are still a part of the community in which they live. Their help with younger family members is often a great benefit to younger people and, even if they cannot help, they are not seen as a burden, simply a part of the family that is less active than the rest of it.
In the UK and other European countries there is a whole industry designed to accommodate and (inevitably) profit from the aged. Families seem to have no idea that they are where they are because their parents and grand parents made it possible by their hard work and generosity.
I live alone and am quite able to look after myself but recent health set-backs have alerted me to the fact that this may not always be the case. This was a choice I made and the consequences will be mine alone. I will simply have to cope or, as they say, go down fighting.
Having cared for relatives who were incapacitated, I do realise that there is a lot of hard work, often thankless hard work at that, involved but just how hard did those relatives work to enable the rest of us to live the lives we have enjoyed. How many times did any other family member bother to even say a simple “thankyou” to show some appreciation for what they have received? I know my wife and I were never thanked for relieving our adult children of the burden of caring for them.
Society has lost all sense of honour and duty when it comes to family members. Even active old people are assigned to the dreaded nursing homes that so many of them fear.
We need to look again at our Christmas appeals and add a simple rider to the request to remember the elderly –
Granny is for life – Not just for Christmas.
For many people, the idea that there is a divine entity that created the world is just too much to swallow but most of them are too timid to acknowledge that there really is no god at all so they attempt to be mystical and “deep thinking” by ascribing all things to Karma.
Karma is a word that is widely used today although very few people could tell you what it is or where it resides.
My own observations tell me that Karma is the comfort blanket of last resort for those who do not accept the existence of a beneficent divinity. It gives these people licence to accept that there is a greater power than themselves and that it will influence their lives depending upon how they live them. In effect, Karma is simply another weapon to enforce a moral lifestyle on the population at large.
The first rule of Karma seems to be that we receive that which we deliver. If we are good people we generate good Karma and our lives will be eased as the good Karma returns to us. This is very similar to the Christian principle that you should “do unto others as they do unto you”, the only difference being that good or bad Karma simply “happen” while doing unto others is a conscious and deliberate choice.
While Karma does not accept the independent existence of a reconiseable after life as an individual spirit, it does offer some comfort by explaining that we are a part of the universe and that, when we die, we simply become re-absorbed into the natural cycle.
The Ten Commandments of the Bible are very much enshrined into the rules and laws of Karma and, while they are claimed to be of divine inspiration, the similarities and parallels simply emphasize the purpose of religions to moderate human behaviour.
It is gratifying to recognise that humanity accepts the power for evil that it manifests and that there are similar minded groups around the globe stitching together codes that try to moderate human behaviour. In the most common groups the moderation is successful but almost invariably, the necessary mind control of the many by the few will lead to massive intollerance of people outside the groups and so, establish an immediate conflict that strains the very fabric of any new religion. None of the churches that exist today can claim to have risen to emminence because of the application of the rules and regulations that they actively promote – indeed, the history of most religions will include a violent and predatory peiod in which conversion was by force and the fear of death.
Karma is a wonderful idea but there is very little evidence to show that it actually exists as a power on this earth. We see many people gaining from acts of violence and cruelty and they seldom seem to suffer in their turn. We see many people selflessly giving all that they can in material and spiritual aid and yet we also read how these good people are often the victims of greed and violence which the laws of Karma should preclude.
If you are drowning in a flood of the fear of death or the consequences of your own actions, Karma is as good a palliative as any other religious creed.
I have refrained from commenting about Brexit because, in all honesty, I know as much about it as everybody else – NOTHING!
It was amusing in a very sad way to see the propaganda that was generated during the run up to the referendum with the laughable hysteria of Cameron and his “remain” mob causing an equally hysterical response from the “leave” capaign. Each side commissioned reports from so-called experts to prove that their beliefs would most benefit the UK but nobody had the gumption to recognise and state that all of these reports were far from objective because they were created with one purpose only – to terrorise the voters into putting their mark in what was considered to be the right place.
In reality, Brexit is a move that is unprecedented in the European Community and there is absolutely no way of knowing, or even guessing, what the results would be. We allowed vested interest groups to use as black a brush as they could find to paint the future that they wanted us to believe was ahead of us when the choice was made.
The banks and many commercial interests were patently scared that Brexit would affect them adversely – they could see the stagnation that they have created being threatened and told any and every type of lie they could to convince us that we should stay. The voices of reason that tried to persuade us that Brexit was best were soon stilled and the Brexit campaigners had to fight fire with fire and create their own lies and terror scenarios.
The vote was close but, as is inevitable in a democracy, it was not universally popular. So unpopular was it that it became obvious that, for the duration, the UK has ceased to be a democracy and has become more of a hegemony driven by the wealth that the remainers wish to protect, no matter the degree of legitimacy of how it was created.
We are now faced with a Prime Minister who is preparing to fight for the right of a democracy to be ruled by a democratic majority while the scaremongers of the remain camp release and re-release surveys and reports that were written during the referendum campaign and after it.
To be blunt, there are no real facts to be considered where Brexit is concerned. We have not seen the massive collapses in trade that were forecast but we have seen a Bank of England inspired major devaluation of the Pound Sterling. This was inevitable following the failure of Cameron to stop talking the country down when he realised he might have misjudged the temper of the British people and, every time there is good financial news, the Bank of England seems to have another report to ensure that the improvement does not continue.
It was my hope that the UK would unify under the Brexit flag (since that was the democratic choice) but the few people with their hands on the levers of power and the ignorant, self serving “celebrities” run a constant campaign of Chinese whispers to ensure that no gain will ever be consolidated.
Whether Brexit is the way to go or not I neither know nor care. As I said, there is no precedent and nothing valid upon which to base an opinion. I was not allowed to vote in the referendum and quite rightly so – I do not live in the UK and while I accept that the UK government is no friend of mine as an emigrant in Spain, the vote should not have been as parochial as so many people who chose to leave the country seem to think.
Spain should have tried to leave the EU before the UK because Spain has been crippled by EU legislation and the idea that a country that is not maintaining the levels of growth arbitrarily mandated by the German dictatorship should be forced into even heavier penury by being massively fined is the economics of the insane.
Maybe we will see no divorce proceedings if Article 50 cannot be activated.
Maybe, instead, we will see an instant withdrawal of the UK from the EU by the simple repeal of the 1972 Treaty of Accession. This treaty was imposed upon the British people and does not require tortuous and damaging negotiations for freeing the UK.
The UK could be free of the financial commitment to the EU (and the massive penalty for the fall in the value of the Pound Sterling) by Christmas and then be free to negotiate with whichever country it wishes – and there seems to be no shortage of them.
I was not very surprised to be challenged on my posts relating to PMA and Luck but it is sad that the challengers are all worshippers at the feet of PMA gurus.
No matter what these people actually believe, not one of them is in a position that I would call “comfortable” considering their claimed social standing and employment.
We are living in a society that has no clear direction in which it wishes to travel because those we trusted to lead us are simply not fit for purpose. The days of dedicated public servants are long gone as are the days of satisfaction at work. If we look around us, the wealthiest people seem to be those who claim to know what everybody else should do to improve their lots in life. They are sharlatans. They are selling dreams – your own dreams!
What is a dream?
Many believe that dreams are the evidence that our brains are sorting and storing information that has been acquired since the last period of sleep. Few of us can recall our dreams although we may be aware that we did have dreams – I know I do and, with the exception of dreams that follow a repetitious and recognisable theme, I am no different.
Many others believe that dreams are a way to make money. They believe that if they write a book that seems to be based upon some sort of science, no matter how weird, they can exploit those who wish to believe that they can influence their lives by some form of rational acts as described within the pages of the book. This is not true.
Look around yourself and see how many people you can see who wear the mantle of success while clearly demonstrating their own abject failures. How many “self improvement” gurus are actually in a state of life to which any normal person would espire? How many “life experts” do not have anything approaching a life of their own which would qualify them to claim to be sufficiently qualified? How many internet marketing sharks are out there trying to sell the “dream” of untold wealth achieved by little effort or no effort at all? How many psychologists are out there pontificating on the mental state of individuals with whom they spend minimal time but who happen to make a few statements that can put them into a diagnosis that is recognised but not understood?
I could go on but the simple fact is that society is bogged down in “experts” who simply manage to say an acceptable thing at the right time with the right people listening. We have within our midst a parasitic band of opportunists who serve no-one but themselves and who have discovered a way to bamboozle otherwise sane people into believing that they have something relevant and valuable to say.
Of these people, the very worst is the clan of internet sharketers. They will try to sell anything to anybody and, once they have a paying customer, have the nerve and the gall to ensure that the customer becomes a regular contributer to their wealth. Internet sharketers make all sorts of wild promises, even going so far as to say “I will do all of the work while you take all of the profit” – a transparently false statement but one which the desperate will believe and borrow money to support.
It beggars belief that these sharketers will provide “training” material, which they have obtained for free, at prices that would make a rich man wince. Even worse, DESPERATE PEOPLE PAY THEM FOR IT! One of the most profitable items to sell is a small matter called “search engine optimisation” or SEO. It is most profitable because the customer has unwittingly committed himself to a regular payment for a service that does not stand any form of scrutiny. The idea that someone selling a service that will make your sales move to the top of search engine results begs the question of how they manage to make the search engines abandon the sites they have habitually seen as authoritative and start to show up yours instead. The only way they can show that you are in the top results is to use outlandish key words that nobody will ever search for like “greenwallsandyellowgates”. These keywords have been given the fancy nomenclature of “long tail key words” and if you are shown a search by the “SEO expert” you might not notice that he will enter it with quotation marks to ensure that your site is bound to be on the first page of results, if not in the top position. One key word I used to demonstrate this was “greenwallsand yellowgates” which, hardly surprisingly achieved number one position on Google until it was copied and then diluted by similar long tail key words. (As a matter of interest, I will add it as a keyword to this post so you can see if it still works:)
It is very sad that people wanting to make money on the internet do not understand how the world of commerce works. The vast majoity of them fall into the same category as those people who receive enticing snail mail and open themselves up to being fleeced. The message has not yet penetrated that to sell, you have to have a product that people want to buy, you have to let them know you have it and you then have to be able to exchange your product for their cash. It really does not matter how many people visit your site if none of them want to buy what you are selling and it is this fact that makes so many internet sharketers so very wealthy by selling dreams.
The same can be said of every other sort of “expert” who is doing nothing but selling a person their very own dreams. If the general population was not so gullible and and TV whipped as it is, there would be far less “experts” selling you your dreams and, in effect, making work for themselves to be so richly rewarded for doing.
The world is a simple enough place to figure out. You will succeed if you provide a service or product that is in demand or you will simply perform well if you enable those people with the service or product to get it to the rest of the people.
There are times in my life when I feel that I am a very lucky person but, most of the time, my luck is bad.
Having the opening statement out of the way, there are people living on the fringes of insanity who claim to believe that you make your own luck. Let me say now that there is no way on this Earth that I have created my bad luck (who would do that?) but how is it possible to counteract the beliefs of so many people?
The very first thing that must be accepted is that the people who believe that you create your own luck also believe that you live in absolute isolation from your fellow man. Even living alone, as I do, it is necessary for me to acknowledge that although there are things I may decide to do, there are people in my circle who might have conflicting things that they have decided to do so that a measure of compromise is necessary.
If there is such a thing as “luck”, it can only be defined as the benefit of a circumstance occuring at a time when your isolation and disconnection to the rest of humanity is total. Whether such a generic term as “luck” is sufficient to carry a conviction as well as the definition could be mooted.
In reality there is no such thing as luck as most people understand the word. The idea that there are packets of good and bad luck floating around us is as ludicrous as the idea the the tooth fairy will give you a silver coin for a tooth placed under your pillow. What we are subject to is no more and no less than the circumstances resulting from the collective acctivities of all those people whose activities and decisions impact upon our own.
Maybe a lucky person is simply surrounded by people who are fed up of his constant bewailing of the fact that he is unlucky. Maybe, for them, it is worth the price to simply bend with the breeze until they can up sticks and walk away.