Tastes

I want to enjoy life as much as this lady is enjoying food. Have you ever seen so much joy?

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I admit that I was a little apprehensive when on my first visit to an Islamic nation. I did not know how much I would stand out nor what I would do that may be considered rude or disrespectful. Can I have a beer in public? Can I wear shorts? Not that I feel this should be the case, I have made it clear in previous blog posts that we are a world full of petty people that are easily offended. If I want a beer in public, why can’t I? Nations such as Saudi Arabia carry heavy punishments for smuggling or drinking alcohol in public, with public flogging or even the death sentence used as punishment. When sipping a beer is worse than flogging the drinker, I remember why I blog.

Malaysia did a great job of putting my mind at rest. Despite the obvious religious influence I went about my day as I would in the UK without turning any heads. Even in the areas in which I did not see another Westerner, it was as if I was invisible, in a good way. No one looked at me as any different or as an outsider. I walked around the great food stalls and enjoyed what was different about myself and the citizens of this beautiful nation.

Is it arrogant desire a free pass around nations without worry? I personally do not think so. If my tastes are different, great. If yours are too, fantastic. As long as we can address when our personal tastes affect the welfare of others. Sadly, I feel religion gets in the way of such discussion. Religious morality has already been decided. The words won’t change on the pages of scripture, just interpretations. This is why I left scripture behind, it made my life easier.

Too often I encounter the argument that without religion, morality goes out of the window. What morality? I hear of death and destruction everyday in a world made of up of an overwhelming amount of theists. This is conclusive proof that religion is not the recipe for a peaceful world. I don’t know how many times I have to walk past religious people without killing them before atheism is no longer a fear.

In Malaysia, atheism is illegal. It is also punishable by death, however I would need insider knowledge as to what lengths authorities go to prevent people leaving religion. I feel strange praising any nation that takes away my right to think. How am I expected to respect this world when so many regions would happily kill for a difference of opinion?

I try my best. Thankfully citizens are often more tolerant than the governments they are ruled by, thank you for that.

 

 

Clarity

‘He has made it quite clear to you that he exists. You are acting like a fool.’

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It was only when I uploaded the above image onto this blog post that I realised this wasn’t a photograph at all. It looks more like a painting. Did I take it and change the filter? Did I take a snap of a painting? I have many photos from a similar height and location, I am just unsure of this one. With the bright sunshine pouring onto the main road below and onto the roofs of every building around it, I wanted to associate this with the comment I received recently.

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Another that I found from the same day, it seems to be the image quality after upload. It adds something to the image I guess. But I don’t want to drift away from the original claim that I am a fool. Let’s get back to that.

The sun is shining.

Check.

I am aware that the sun is shining.

Check.

It would seem to be a foolish move to associate this with anything other than nature. Countless religions and civilizations have claimed this to be the work of their God. I am pretty damn sure, given the chance to converse with anyone from any of these belief systems, I would be considered a fool for not coming to the same conclusion as they did. The problem is, which God is making it clear that he exists? Amaterasu? Apollo? Mithras? Ra? Your God makes it as clear as any other of his or her existence. The problem is, he or she does not make it clear at all, or at least as clear as any other.

I will never be satisfied with such a God. If a deity can only prove his or her existence through nature, it is not clear that he or she exists. That is, unless your God looks like a yellow ball in the sky and requires you to wear sun-cream. I can claim that Ra is my God and already I have an argument of equal validity. It is obvious isn’t it? All you need to do is look up, just remember to put your shades on. He speaks to me, he hasn’t spoken to you? Maybe you aren’t listening. Pray harder.

The problem isn’t that I am foolish enough to ignore the signs, it is that the signs are so vague they can be associated with anything. Please do not be foolish enough to see signs when there aren’t any.

A God needs to clarify their own existence if they truly want to prove themselves against the competition. There is a reason why so many deities still exist on our small world, a lack of such clarity.

Superiority

For a species that believes it is superior, nature gives humans very little time to prove it and finds an incredible number of ways to wipe us out. I took this photo in a park in Rio, I’m unsure what tree it is although I was fascinated by the size of its roots. The people below aren’t exactly noticeable.

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We are the best. The most intelligent, or so I’m told. On many occasions it’s justified. Despite this the universe only gives us a mere few decades to prove our claims of superiority, nowhere near the lifespan of a bristlecone pine tree or a giant tortoise, the former outliving civilisations and countless beliefs systems with that. 

I don’t think it is depressing to think so, more humbling. We need to be humble, the more willing we are to accept this the less we will try to prove our worth by making false claims about our place in the universe.

I’m proud of my species, it’s just crazy to consider the sheer number of things that out-live us, without having a book dedicated to them either. 

Fear

Before any flight, I have a few drinks at the bar. I am no alcoholic however if I was to have a job requiring frequent air travel, I may well become one.

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I’m not the guy in the above photo, by the way. It is a friend looking pretty relaxed on our way to a festival a couple of summers back. The sunshine didn’t cease, sadly neither did our sunburns. This weather is always a shock to our northern English skin.

I fear flying, I also love flying. I am no good with heights and the fact that -50c temperatures, 600 mph windspeeds and a 35,000 ft drop is right outside the window I’m looking out of, both astounds and terrifies me. The most extreme of extremes right there, with the odd temporary distraction whilst cabin crew hand me an orange juice. I understand that flight is so reliable that this is a pointless worry. It doesn’t help. Despite my concerns I make myself look out of the window. I tell myself that I am one of the first generations of humanity to ever experience what earth looks like above the clouds. I can travel anywhere within a day if I can afford it, to lands that my ancestors didn’t know existed.

For this reason I make myself fly. I want to experience what is unique to modern day humans. At the same time, it is frightening to consider how far behind we are. To consider that I will fly over nations that would have me killed for my opinions. Some nations still burn ‘witches’. Our technology is growing faster than our own intelligence, distance and tolerance need to coincide. With more and more people travelling overseas I can only hope we are forced into a more tolerant mindset, I guess I could advertise blogging to those that are easily offended by a differing culture. It is better to vent anger in words on a blog post than to blow up the interior of an aircraft mid flight.

Who knew militant atheism could sound so good?

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I appreciate anyone that is willing to read my ramblings of life, travel, religion and atheism. Last night I received my four hundredth follower, and for that I am very grateful. If I was to invite you all to a party in celebration it would take a couple of 757’s. Or enough people to fill 400 of our bright red British telephone boxes. It sounds great to say that 😉

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Photo Credit: Daryan Shamkhali at Unsplash
Hopefully when I fly on an A380 in September to Sydney via Singapore I can boast a following that would be enough to fill that, too. One can dream and no-one can stop that!

Cheers everyone,

Sam

 

Bliss

‘At what age do you think it is appropriate to inform your children that they have no legitimate purpose in life and that no matter what they do it will be for nothing?’

I have sympathy for anyone that possesses such pessimism when contending my world view. If a road has an end, why shouldn’t I enjoy the ride?
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Do such parents use the same logic when they are watching a movie or reading a book? Playing in a water park or listening to an album? All of these fun activities have an ending, an expiration date. I would never be selfish enough to tell my children, if I do one day have children, to refrain from enjoying our precious time on earth because one day it will be gone. If anything, each splash in the water park will be cherished greatly. I have more reasons to take my children places. To be that hurt by such a prospect that you inflict negativity onto your children, that is a very shitty move.

Be a better parent than that. Maybe then children won’t have to worry about what their parents think and of their own personal choices in life. Sadly, too many adults punish children for not fitting into the family ‘criteria’.

Your preferred view of this world will not effect reality but if you let your children be free to make their own decisions, their lives may one day change our reality for the better.

Fooled

Don’t be lied to. It’s a pretty impossible task as the recipient, yet you are able to limit the chances by filtering out the right people from your life.

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Photo credit: Kristina Flour- Unsplash.
‘By intention, atheists have taken it upon themselves to militantly enforce their dispirited worldview upon the rest of us.’

I am yet to turn on the news to a story proving this claim. If religious fundamentalism wasn’t so rife, atheism wouldn’t be so opposing. When another Bangladeshi blogger is hacked to death in the street, the perception of morality is turned on its head once again. It’s a great shame that any criticism of religious violence is seen as immoral. I see people lying about the dangers of atheism daily and I know to not take such claims seriously. I also know when it is done for the benefit of the liar.

No-one is being threatened by atheism. If you are homophobic, against women’s rights, or against blasphemy maybe your beliefs are indeed under an attack, an attack looking for equality. If you do feel threatened, do you assume you are God? If you choose to take offence on behalf of God, consider your reasons for doing so. Leave the worry to God. You’re the employee that was never employed. Take off the name badge and work for yourself.

The truth will set you free, it’s a shame so many people desire divine guidance that creates such divide between people.