Rose tinted sunglasses 

Isn’t our sun incredible when it isn’t trying to kill us to death? Bright enough to blind us and hot enough fry an egg. We are always quick to praise ‘perfect’ nature, despite doing so much to avoid it from finishing us off…

I would much prefer honesty when talking about nature. Why do we constantly hear that our world is too perfect to not have a creator, told by people wearing glasses and hearing aids, spending a shit tonne of time using air conditioning and sun cream? Nature is awesome but it can be a right little shit at times.

Images taken in Langkawi, Malaysia and Palo Duro Canyon, TX.

British weather makes it damn hard to plan ahead

Should I take a thick coat and gloves, or a thin t-shirt and shorts?

This was going through my mind recently before a work trip to Edinburgh, on route from Newcastle by rail. The journey up the east coast was a beautiful mix of blue skies and blizzards in five minute bursts as we pierced through the weather systems at high speed. The weather provided a warm welcome when I did walk out into the busy streets of Edinburgh.

When I arrived at the hotel I found myself gazing at the rolling hills on the horizon, watching as the snow slowly engulfed them.

Can you tell I love weather watching? Ever since I was a child I have loved the way nature changes, especially in extreme cases. I was fortunate to witness a waterspout a few miles out to sea off the coast of Majorca when I was 11 or 12 during a family holiday, back when video cameras were pretty big, too big to take to the swimming pool that day. Oh how I wish we did!

And now, I’m at home, reading The God Delusion outside in the heat thinking what difference a week or so can make.

Is nature beautiful?

Skimming though the blog posts today I found this interesting piece on natural beauty and God’s input on this.
The author of the post is a teacher, opening with the following-

Nearly all of my students disagree with me, but you cannot convince me that beauty is not one of the most compelling arguments for God’s existence.

What I want from a teacher is thinking outside of the box. To get student to push their thinking to knew, unexplored areas. In my opinion, the author/teacher is not thinking hard enough, or at least creating many more questions from her conclusion. 

Beauty would be a compelling argument for God if it were to be consistent throughout the world. Beauty is not always the case. Immediately I think of those born without the ability to see. The eye not able to function as well as the next person. This post from Christian Today speaks of the awful human suffering that goes on thanks to insects that can only survive by living off it’s unfortunate victims. Was God having an off day? Maybe he felt the world was looking a little too lovely and decided to throw a spanner in the works. He might also mourn with us, but I see no logic whatsoever in the creator and govenor of our universe being more powerless than our local doctor or nurse.

The following quote is taken from the book A Memory of Wonders, also used by the author.

Suddenly the sky over me and in some way around me, as I was on a small hillock, was all afire. The glory of the sunset was perhaps reflected in the myriads of particles of powdery sand still floating in the air. It was like an immense, feathery flame all scarlet, from one pole to the other, with touches of crimson and, on one side, of deep purple. I was caught in limitless beauty and radiant, singing splendor. And at the same time, with a cry of wonder in my heart, I knew that all of this beauty was created, I knew God. This was the word that my parents had hidden from me. I had nothing to name him: God, Dieu, Allah or Yahweh, as he is named by human lips, but my heart knew that all was from him and him alone and that he was such that I could address him and enter into relationship with him through prayer. I made my first act of adoration.

‘And at the same time, with a cry of wonder in my heart, I knew that all of this beauty was created, I knew God.’

This is such a huge jump. To claim to know God is as much of a false claim as it is an incorrect misinterpretation of the emotions felt at the time. Maybe this lady was filled with awe. What she wasn’t filled with was newly found knowledge of the universe.

‘I had nothing to name him: God, Dieu, Allah or Yahweh, as he is named by human lips, but my heart knew that all was from him and him alone and that he was such that I could address him and enter into relationship with him through prayer. I made my first act of adoration.’

Before I claim to know someone and begin to adore them, I at least expect to know their name. Maybe I am old fashioned like that. To go from zero to clingy after one experience is to me, pretty scary. A total abandonment of critical thinking and any form of rational analysis.

Let me make this clear, I do find nature breathtakingly beautiful. 

At times.

Mountains are incredible considering how they have formed over millions of years. The sheer size both humbling and mind-blowing. If I was to believe that these landscapes were made by a creator, my appreciation begins to slump. Afterall they’re lined with soil and dirt, the kind of substances you would shriek at if the dog was to drag it onto your newly cleaned carpet. Where is the imagination and innovation? How amazing would these ranges be if they were made of gleaming crystal for example? Or if we could take a dip in any ocean at any time and it be a consistent warm temperature for all to enjoy?

Right now over Northern England the skies are gloomy and overcast. Where are the myriads of particles of powdery sand floating behind a glorious sun?

Like anything, appreciation should come from consistency. Until then, question God instead of bowing at his feet.

Do spiders make it to Heaven?

I feel sorry for spiders in a sense. Not as much as the fly caught in its beautifully weaved web, I cannot imagine a fate, or sight, more frightening than that.

Spiders from birth are driven by their instincs, like we are. They need to survive like we do, and to do so they kill their prey in gruesome fashion. It’s cruel, but it’s what they are programmed to do. Does this make arachnids immoral? About as immoral as we are for wearing leather boots and eating bacon sandwiches. We get to heaven despite this, so why do we view spiders as evil, ugly creatures that deserve a quick end with a rolled up newspaper?

In my childhood I felt a sense of duty to rescue flies from such webs, but in a way I felt I was wrong for doing so. A bit like taking food away from the homeless. It needs to eat like I do.

Life is cruel, especially when the food chain is taken into consideration. As it’s nature I have to accept it, however I will never stop questioning why it is acceptable to say it is the design and structure of a creator.

Has a Star Ever Told You it Loves You?

Coming from an atheist, the universe is so incredibly barmy that I struggle daily to comprehend I am actually experiencing it. For an eternity I did not exist and then suddenly, I was born into consciousness. A flame ignited in the form of me, as it did you, and the universe became aware of itself furthermore. 

Neil deGrasse Tyson once said:

We are not figuratively, but literally made of stardust

Isn’t it unbelievable? To think the death of a star produced increased complexity. Life that looks down at it’s own hands and realises it isn’t simply a matter of simple matter. Struggling to fathom that it can in fact observe itself. The more I think about it, the more I fail to comprehend it. 

Today is the the second anniversary of my dads death. This was a huge shock at the time as his illness took hold in just three months, leaving very little time to come to terms with what was happening. The over-thinking, the regrets, the memories, the tears, all came after his passing. I was too busy before this ensuring we spent valuable time together. 

For me as it is for many, it is all to easy to appreciate what we had when we no longer have it. My dad knew I loved him dearly, but it doesn’t half hit you when that love is no longer by your side. 

Pair this with my appreciation for our nature, we are all made from the matter that makes up our universe. We are all stardust, bound together by incredibly complex systems that give us the opportunity to feel and to love, to appreciate and to learn. My dad was a star that took the form of a human being. A star that looked after me and kept me safe. Tucked me into bed as a child and taught me to be the man I have grown up to be. The universe literally looked out for me and sheltered me from danger, this incredible fact rivals any work of fiction.

I shouldn’t forget that we are all experiencing this, it is my turn to be that very universe looking out for my family and those that need looking out for. When you feel the world is against you, remember that the universe is looking out for you in the form of loved ones.

The godless world: A world I really want to live in?

This question is irrelevant. It is irrelevant because I am not going to picture reality the way I want to. This completely goes against the nature of the word, I don’t want my reality to be anything like reality tv- mostly false. The question changes. If we are being totally honest with ourselves, ask the following:

Is a godless world a world we actually live in? 

There is no bias present. No signs that we are wanting to make up a reality that seems religious and therefore more pleasant, though I disagree with this notion. If your angle of attack is to make the opposition ideology sound less appealing instead of focusing on what seems more logical, your argument will lose. 

You can have the most rose-tinted of beliefs but if they do not hold weight, they won’t stand the test of time. 

You can certainly think too much…

Everyday I am thinking, I wasn’t gifted with the off switch that most people have. I am constantly in my own head when I am alone, trying to comprehend the incomprehensible, trying to think the unthinkable. It is no exaggeration when I say it had driven me to the point of madness at times.

I was talking to a man today, he told me that a some of his colleagues had been institutionalised for trying to make sense of reality. They worked in various areas of science, although their exact fields of expertise have since left me. I could only keep up with the conversation to an extent, despite the several beers he had consumed prior. 

I certainly needed one. It is amazing to say that at this time in history not only is reality hard to grasp, it doesn’t actually make sense. That itself is hard to get my head around.