Saturday 21 December 2019

Arian Controversy Part I

Nicaea: Not my type of party
If you are an orthodox Christian you must believe that God exists as a Trinity: three gods manifest as  one entity. All equally powerful, omniscient and omnipotent. This makes no sense, but this does not matter because it is a mystery not made apparent to our mortal minds. This is the view of the Catholic church and has been since the fourth century. It would be interesting to poll a random collection of Christians, both Catholic, and Protestant, to see if they could articulate their conception of the relationship between Jesus and God. It is my humble contention that we would be exposed to a diverse set of views, not all of them Trinitarian in any strict doctrinal sense; least ways as construed by the early church fathers. And in a way, this would reflect the notions concerning God and Jesus as held by early Christians of the first, second, third and even subsequent centuries.

As the Christian faith developed across the Roman world in the third and fourth centuries the church leaders became very concerned to adopt and enforce a dogma concerning the nature of God and Jesus, come, God, come man. The synoptic gospels (Mark, Mathew, and Luke) were of the mind that Jesus was begotten of God and a mortal woman. The role of Joseph in the whole affair is a thwart one over which much ink (and just a tincture of blood)  has been spilled over the intervening two millennia. Mayhap cuckold is too harsh a word? Thus, the concept of the Trinity did not exist in the minds of the first  biblical authors. The Trinity begins to raise its three divine heads in the writings of John penned at least seventy years after the crucifixion. The fourth gospeller seems to have been a philosophically savvy Greek-speaking Jew of the diaspora. As an aside, it is unlikely that his name was ‘John’. The gospel was written anonymously and we have no idea who authored this rather fascinating and often theologically bewildering tome. His gospel was an early attempt at interposing/imposing Greek philosophical ideology onto Jewish Christianity. Educated Greek Christians were not overly impressed with Jewish theology which they considered primitive and penned by barbarians. They felt a need to 'smarten up' the intellectual content and inculcate Greek superior philosophical learning. Hence John's gospel is completely alien in temper, timbre, and tone to the preceding gospels. The synoptic gospels are very Jewish in expression and outlook while John's gospel has been thoroughly leavened in concept and content by Greek philosophical and intellectual concepts. A very interesting document indeed, but spurious when considering the original message of Jesus and, in the aftermath, the stark message of Christianity.

The ‘Trinity concept’ was but one of a series of competing ideologies fulminating during the early centuries of Christianity. This inconsistency was recognised as a problem by the early church fathers and they felt a need to formulate an official Christian creed. A creed to be kept and followed by all  Christian clerics and laity. In 325 AD the Roman Emperor, Constantine, presided at a meeting in Nicaea attended by 300 bishops, mostly from the eastern Roman provinces. The meeting was called ostensibly to tackle the serious ideological and theological challenge of Arianism to the conventional teachings of the Catholic church. Constantine was not particularly motivated by religious zeal but was more concerned with theological and hence political unity and he genuinely favoured a compromise solution between the Catholics and Arians. Alas, a mutually satisfactory solution, through concession, was not to be forthcoming due to the intransigence of the adherents of the two opposing doctrines. The theological debate of the time was highly intense and acrimonious.

The Arian teachings were promulgated by Arius (who else), a presbyter from Alexandria. Arius (c AD 256-336) disputed the fundamental divinity of Christ. Thus, Jesus, unlike God, was not omnitemporal, or had always existed, but was born in time and as a son to a father was separate and subordinate to God. This was in contrast to Catholic doctrine, which stated that God existed as three entities, but is one being, having a single divine nature. The divine entities of the Trinity are equal in having all the omni attributes and importantly, they have always existed. That is the Trinity concept in a nutshell- makes a lot of sense, dun it?

At the council, the argument between the two doctrinal camps was fierce with Athanasius of Alexandria leading the Catholic camp. In the end, and after much maneuvering and underhand tactics, Athanasius' viewpoint won out and Arius and his small band of followers were exiled by Constantine. This was not the end of the story and Arianism would soon see a surge in its fortunes although Catholicism and its Trinitarian teachings would triumph in the end. But I will leave the story here for now and pick up the second installment in this thrilling saga at a future date........

As a digression:  With the advent of increasing secular power in the 4th century AD, the Catholic authorities began to use Roman power to impose dogma on wayward clerics. And those of a recalcitrant bent were branded heretics. Initially, exile and loss of property were deemed sufficient punishment for not towing the company line. Later, of course, when the Church's power and self-confidence had risen to increasingly dizzy heights, unrepentant dissenters were sent forth, from this world to the next to be judged by the ultimate arbiter, God. 

Arius: Seems a bag of laffs

Monday 16 December 2019

Torremolinos in the Dark Ages

Hurry up and invent sunscreen and DDT

Tis time for the annual war band excursion to Torremolinos in Iberia. Oh me and the lads do look forward to our two weeks away. We take a leisurely longboat, stopping off at a quaint little village on the west coast of France. There is a little patisserie which serves the most delicate and melts in the mouth pastries. The filo is divine and to die for. Which is just as well considering the exchange rate between the Tipton groat and the frank- I blame the Saracens and Blackamoors myself, and their ongoing strife contributing to worldwide instability in the international monetary markets. Not all bad news, because who wants to pay 40 francs for 12 sweatmeats? Being disinclined to pay we usually kill the owner and burn down the premises. Now you might think this represents the policy of folly considering we return to the same place every year. But you would be wrong. It seems that when one proprietor ascends/descends to Valhalla, another takes his place. Thus is the nature of commerce in the Dark Ages.

From there we cruise along the French and Iberian coasts, pass through the pillars of Herakles, before eventually alighting on the golden, flagon bestrewn beaches, of Torremolinos. After such an arduous/audacious journey, and after beaching the boat, we usually hit the local taverna: 'Mr Patel's Authentic West Saxon and East Jute, Pub'. Here we feast mightily on fish 'n' chips and quaff deeply on Tipton, best mead. Honestly, it's as if we haven't left home, except for the sun (and the flies). When folk, back home, ask me what it's like, I say it's hot, bloody hot.

Back to the taverna.......Usually, the place is filled with doe-eyed, lithe (wait to they get older), raven-haired wenches. For 20 groats they will gyrate on your lap and inflame your senses and manhood. The inevitable, merciful relief, will cost a further 20 groats or a brace of rabbits.

Next day, at noon, we plunge in the turquoise, turd bedecked, seas. In truth, the locals are well-advised to dig midden pits rather than squat and squeeze upon the headland overlooking our beach. Then we lie on the scorching sands to top up our vitamin D levels and to transform our livid forms into vivid purple. Some of the lads catch crabs, but nothing that can't be cured with DDT and paraffin. Then time for more Tipton mead. And so the cycle goes on, until on the final day we burn and pillage the environs. Lastly, we erect a pyre on the sands and immolate a snake-hipped bartender to Woden and Loki to appease the gods and ensure a fair wind for the passage home.

Next year, I think we might go to Margate. Torremolinos is attracting too many uncouth Jutes. Not only do they hog the sunbeds, but they have the annoying habit of talking loudly in restaurants. And they have the cheek to call us barbarians! No wonder we are driven to express ourselves by burning, pillaging and indiscriminating smiting.         

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Slash and Burn

Before the devastation

The previous owner of our property planted 138 eucalyptus trees spanning two sides of the boundary. The species is not a New Zealand native but hails from across the ditch in Australia. The original idea was that the trees would provide a renewable firewood resource. The only heat available for the single-story home is a wood burner fire and the idea was for the trees to be periodically sacrificed and laid out to dry for a couple of years before being consumed by the fire god, Moloch. It seemed like a good plan especially as the trees are full of resin thus making excellent firewood. The problem, however, is that Australian eucalyptus grows insanely fast and our trees have taken on epic proportions and continue to grow at three metres a year. As the tree is relatively shallow rooting it is prone to toppling in high winds. It has been a particularly prescient decision as New Zealand has just been hit by a series of storms. Possibly due to our inland position, our part of heaven has been spared the worst of the weather. And so I engaged a local arborist to chop down about 90 trees along one of our boundaries. As you can imagine the ‘west’ field has been transformed into a mired mess with foliage, branches and felled trees scattered akimbo. Also, the heavy machinery has churned up most of the pasture but, given time, and nature’s tender caress, the field will rise once more, thrusting forth green shoots anew. However, the boundary will need to be reconstructed and I’ll be looking to plant a number of native trees and large shrubs where the eucalyptus once thrived and was succoured by nature’s benign, Sylvian stewardship (stop being a ponce, Flaxen).     

It will take a while, perhaps the whole of summer and much of the autumn to process the timber and to burn the mountainous mound of foliage. I’m looking forward to the burning part of the proceedings. As my regulars are aware, I’m very fond of burning stuff. Flames are cathartic and cleansing and I intend to dance around the conflagration tastefully attired in a wolf skin. No doubt the whole ceremony will be accompanied by a liberal libation of honey mead: should give the neighbours something to talk about.

I’ll need some assistance and my son has promised to help, especially with the heavy lifting. The plan is to use a chainsaw to cut the timber into pieces amenable to further processing with a splitting axe. Hopefully, the field will eventually, after much diligent labour, be bestrewn with multiple ‘pyramids’ of wood adrying. I suspect it will take about two years before we can use the wood in the burner. Of course, there’s way too much wood for us and I’m hoping to sell most of the wood to the locals. This will provide a great revenue stream and I’m sure it will more than pay for the arborist's fee and the expense of buying a grunty chainsaw. Certainly, eucalyptus is a much sort after timber for home heating. As a premium wood, it commands a higher price than ubiquitous pine.

Sometime in the future, I will have to tackle the 40 or so trees on the adjacent boundary. This task will be a little troublesome due to the presence of my large shed. The boundary fence will have to be dismantled and the trees will have to be felled so that they fall in my neighbour’s field- perhaps next year. Also, it means I will have to consult, nay liaise, with another human being. One of the reasons I moved to a large plot in the country was to escape from any idle chatter/prattle with the great unwashed. The other advantage: previously when shooting my longbow on public land, the proles had the annoying and disconcerting habit of wandering in front of the action. The irony, of course, is that now, although I have plenty of land to hide the bodies, there is no one to ‘accidently’ feather with a yard shaft. Such is the ultimate tragedy of rural life.                     

There goes the neighbourhood

Tuesday 3 December 2019

Old Age and Sperm

Three tails better than one?

Unlike women, men continue to produce reproductive germ cells unto death. While the available eggs peter out some time in a women’s late 30s or even 40s, a man can still, if he has the stamina, sire a child when he is in his 90s: the pervert, Charlie Chaplin fathered a child when he was 75. This is not to say that the sperm of a 60-year-old man is of equal quality to a 16-year-old boy. Although it is said that wisdom comes with age- although to be honest, this attestation is open to doubt: there is nothing so sad as an old fool. Wisdom is perhaps the only human quality that is correlated with a hoary old chin. Sadly, our physical and mental attributes steadily decline as we age and sperm is no exception. I was made painfully aware of this problem several years ago when I had to ‘produce issue’ during the development of a genetic test for sperm. I was the only male in the department able to perform this duty as all other males in the lab had teetered toward vas deferens ablation: mayhap the teetering was post-op?  

Under the microscope, my sperm appeared ‘morphologically diverse’. Most appeared normal, but there was a significant minority exhibiting physical aberrations. Some appeared to have two tails; others were endowed with two heads. Others were devoid of content. A whole menagerie of freaks residing in plain sight. Needless to say, these aberrant sperm would be useless as vehicles for the transport of genetic material unto the next generation..

This is but the tip of the iceberg. A man’s sperm, especially after 35, declines in many other respects. Thus, not only is there a decrease in overall fertility but there is also an increased chance of miscarriage, stillbirths and birth defects: assuming of course that the sperm can summon enough strength to power through the birth canal. Continued exposure to damaging environmental factors and the failure of an ageing immune system to detect and remove defective sperm are responsible for the corresponding increase in defects with age. In addition, aged sperm accumulate deleterious gene mutations resulting in an increase in the incidence of dominant genetic conditions.

As I’ve discussed previously (see here) the sum of our genetics is more than our genes. Epigenetic factors also have a role in controlling gene expression. In addition to changes in DNA base sequences, structural changes affecting methylation and histone configuration can have dramatic and heritable consequences, often affecting multiple generations. Epigenetic changes within the germ cells of both sexes can be influenced by a myriad of environmental effectors. And it is therefore of no surprise, certainly not to a geneticist, that the depredations of time, mediated through epigenetics, can have a real and negative influence on genetic expression. Recent research indicates that changes in methylation patterns in aged sperm are particularly important in the development of neuropsychiatric disorders in subsequent offspring. This is a particular problem in the developed West where career-minded couples are delaying parenthood. A UK survey between 1993 to 2003 divined that the percentage of 35-54-year-old fathers had increased from 25% to 40% resulting in a corresponding increase in neurodevelopmental problems in their children. There appeared a strong correlation between epigenetic change and the development of autism and schizophrenia. Interestingly, this observation may be compounded over multiple generations giving rise to a synergistic mechanistic effect: aged father to aged father to aged father....... That said, the causal mechanisms with regard to epigenetic change and neuropathology are, as yet, poorly understood.     

No surprises for those who can see, especially those with access to a high powered light microscope. Making genetically healthy and robust children is definitely for the young and preferably the ‘genetically advantaged’ - read into this what you will. Ageing is relentless and unforgiving. It creases the brow and bends the back. Spun silver flecks once lush and vibrant locks. Rheumy eyes beseech an incomprehensible world. The prostate waxes great and protrudes thus facilitating a back and forth rocking motion. Our unique genetic code, manifest within sperm, bears the sticky and indelible mark of our increasing decrepitude. A decrepitude destined to bestride the generations and haunt our children and our children’s children unto the fourth or fifth generation.



Saturday 30 November 2019

The Interview......

We are privy to the interview between Prinz Andy Dandy and the court Jester, Rosencrantz. 
Here is a faithful and true record of the proceedings as scribbled down on vellum.

Prinz Andy in repose

Rosencrantz (for it is he): "Prinz Andy Pandy, when you heard that Sir Jeffried Epstein-Barr Virus was found riddled with a hundred yard shafts what did you think?"

Prinz Andy Pandy Dandy (tis no other): "My doublet hose did twist grievously, I tell ye. The worst case of assisted suicide I’ve ever seen."

R: "it has been suggested in the scurrilous parchment, ‘The Daily Midden Pit’ that there were certain features relating to Sir Virus’ death which suggested that the arrows were let fly by purposeful hands and he was willfully slain by varlets unknown."

A: "I wasn’t there; I didn’t do it. I was down at the local bawdy house sweating a lot. You must be referring to the supposition that his head was espied in one field and his wretched torso in  t’other." 

R: "The damsel maid Upalot says that she caroused with you at the local Alehouse, ‘The Bawdy Monk’; that you bought her mead; that you performed a merry jig in her presence; that you did put your hand on her moist pudenda and afterwards you both retired to Tipton castle where you carried away her maidenhead, in a jar. What  say ye?"

A: "No, nooo, nooo, noooo, twasn’t me. I have never attended such Alehouse and when I did attend my sticky fingers were ensconced in another maiden of the same name. Also, at that date and time, I was elsewhere attending and taking part in a massacre of Frenchmen, in a field."

R: "But we have a pastel shade sketch of you with your hand on said damsel’s naughty bits." 

A: "That is me in the sketch, but I contend that the purported royal fingers were elsewhere engaged in extra-curricular activities, various/nefarious. Indeed, the fingers espied in the sketch belong to the court juggler, Donald ‘Da Dwarfed’. He was standing behind the poorly rendered wench in sepia, although at a jaunty angle, with digits a clamped on said naughty bits, cunningly contrived."  

R: "Why did you visit Virus in his castle in Dudley wilfully knowing his role in the despoilation of nubile wenches of scant years?"

A: "I’m an honourable rogue and thought it only polite that I spend two weeks in absolute luxury so that I could tell him that I wouldn’t be able to attend the orgy scheduled later that month as I had a prior orgy appointment with wenches barely in the flower of first womanhood."

Following the interview, prince ‘No Handy’ Andy has been disabused and disavowed of all his courtly duties. No longer will he have responsibility for inspecting the Tipton home for fallen nubile damsels: 6 groats a dozen.

The king, Carl, ‘The Shrubhugger’ has stripped prince Andy of any work whatsoever. Henceforth, he will retreat to his extensive/expensive estates to live a life of idle idyll living off revenues countless. This will be his punishment for getting caught.  

To be continued............

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Snow Flakes

Wonderful snowflakes, assorted SJWs, and folk belonging to the 'woke' community are so selfless and full of the human fraternal spirit that they take on board the onerous task and responsibility of informing us lesser beings on how to think, speak and act on almost everything. If we ever fail to live up to their high standards they are always ready, with strident hysterical tones, to berate us for not doing as they say. Well, thank you for enforcing your proscriptive, silly and frankly bizarre world view on the majority of the population. Makes me wanna burn down a thousand safe places!

Here is a good example of SJW madness: A remake of the 2000 film, 'Charlies Angels' has recently been released to an unimpressed film-going public. It was clear from release day plus one that the film was a flop and unlikely to recoup the $100,000,000 spent on production costs. The film has a very clear agenda: the female Director is a full card paying SJW member and part of the 'woke' fraternity (should that be sorority?) and consequently, the film has a very strong feminist theme and direction. As I recall the previous incarnation was a success because it portrayed the 'Angels' as strong but sexy women. The bikini scenes were universally beloved by men everywhere (probably not pooftahs though). All men wanted to 'date' the lead characters and all the women wanted to be them. Sexy chicks, plus a simple action-packed theme/film equals success. The new version was destined to tank straight from conception. First off, it was bound to alienate 50% of the potential audience; gratuitous sexy scenes did not abide there. Furthermore, the majority of women are not interested in having an SJW/Woke agenda rammed down their throats. Predictably, the Director, Ms Elizabeth Banks blamed men for the film's lacklustre performance and said she was proud of the film. I wonder if the investors are proud of the film? Typical SJW behaviour: blame someone else- she is too blinkered to see that the film is unrelatable to a mainstream audience.

 As an aside, Ms Banks doesn't fit the haranguing harridan stereotype- she's really a cute little filly. I bet she would look great in a bikini. Perhaps she should have starred in the film?

Anyway, moving on...........         

The following whimsy was sent to me by Mr Ted Treen. Our Ted has followed my blog for a number of years and always provides pertinent and humorous comment to my erudite and not so erudite musings. He is also a fellow 'Black Country Lad' and therefore we share a bond of fellowship that is not easy to define but exists anyway.

Take it away, Ted:

It snowed last night...

8:00 - I made a snowman.

8:10 - A feminist passed by and asked me why I didn't make a snow woman.

8:15 - So, I made a snow woman.

8:17 - My feminist neighbour complained about the snow woman's voluptuous chest saying it objectified snow women everywhere.

8:20 - The gay couple living nearby threw a hissy fit and moaned it could have been two snow men instead.

8:22 - The transgender man..women...person asked why I didn't just make one snow person with detachable parts.

8:25 - The vegans at the end of the lane complained about the carrot nose, as veggies are food and not to decorate snow figures with.

8:28 - I was being called a racist because the snow couple is white.

8:31 - The middle eastern gent across the road demanded the snow woman be covered up.

8:40 - The Police arrived saying someone had been offended.

8:42 - The feminist neighbour complained again that the broomstick of the snow woman needed to be removed because it depicted women in a domestic role.

8:43 - The council equality officer arrived and threatened me with eviction.

8:45 - TV news crew from BBC showed up. I was asked if I know the difference between snowmen and snow-women? I replied "Snowballs" and am now called a sexist.

9:00 - I was on the News as a suspected terrorist, racist, homophobe sensibility offender, bent on stirring up trouble during difficult weather.

9:10 - I was asked if I have any accomplices. My children were taken by social services.

9:29 - Far left protesters offended by everything marched down the street demanding for me to be arrested.

By noon it all melted

Moral: There is no moral to this story. It is what we have become, all because of snowflakes.

Monday 25 November 2019

A Geneticist Writes……

There are a number of companies, that for a fee, will provide your genetic information. Thus, you will be able to find out where your antecedents came from in the beguiling guise of a racial profile. All harmless stuff you say. All you have to do is scrape a few cells from your cheek, spit into a tube,  send it on to the lab and for less than $US 70 you can have your genome sequenced. The data generated contains much more than the indelible imprint of your ancestry, as it unlocks your particular and peculiar genetic makeup, in totality. But all that raw data requires interpretation and this is where the problem lies. So much data and so little industry regulation. Mayhap your raw data could be sold on to a third agency for nefarious purposes. In such an instance your ability to obtain health insurance may be compromised; maybe government agencies could gain access to your genetic makeup for reasons known only to them, and god(s). I suspect that if you deal with a well established and accredited laboratory the chances that your genetic data would be passed on for financial gain is unlikely. That said, the number of companies offering genetic profiling has burgeoned of late and their services can be described as comprehensive and utterly useless. These companies will ‘interpret’ your raw data in ways incompatible with reality. Thus, you can be ‘tested’ for a whole range of ludicrous traits. One company will boldly provide information concerning your personality and cognitive ability: they will be able to state whether you are depressed, lonely, introverted, intelligent and uncover your insipient allergies. One particular company (Soccer Genomics) will examine a child’s DNA and then design a sports training regimen designed to turn the child into a professional football player (c'mon the baggies). 

While it is true that there are significant genetic influencers concerning the above-mentioned traits, it is also true that, given our present understanding, we have no way of extracting and interpreting the data in any coherent manner concerning basic human behaviours. Essentially these companies are providing entertainment and their predictions are as useful as a horoscope. Needless to say, most professional geneticists consider these upstart genetic companies with frank disdain. They cynically deceive the curious, but scientifically naive, for their own financial satisfaction by providing a service which is not based on our current understanding of the underlying genetics. The genetics of complex behavioural and cognitive traits is poorly understood and we haven’t reached the stage where we can confidently and cogently make predictions based on DNA sequences. Of course, these companies are not particularly adept at informing their customers about the limitations of their interpretation.

As always, prudent folk should exercise and engage their intellect before partaking of any genomic service. They should research pertinent questions concerning our current comprehension of the fundamental genetics underpinning complex traits. The data we obtain from spittle in a jar is formidable and voluminous and herein lies the crucial problem and limitation: as always the devil is in the detail. We are unable, even with stupendously powerful computer programs, to extract meaningful information concerning basic human behaviour. Mayhap this will change, and sometime in the near (or distant) future, we will acquire the necessary scientific wisdom, and tools, to unlock the indubitable mysteries of our nature. But until then I counsel extreme scepticism and caution.

If you crave ‘genetic knowledge’ then I suggest you send me $US 100 and your pinky toe, and as a professional geneticist I will then cast the runes, or bones depending on my medication cycle and whether or not I have imbibed copious amounts of brown ale (hic). Thereafter, I will ponder deeply and delve into my vast reserves of intellectual rigour and provide answers to your earnestly sought questions pertaining to your innermost and darkest personality lineaments………… . wibble, fanny, arse bollocks.       


Saturday 16 November 2019

The folly of youth.....

The folly of youth. Read and weep. Weep as I  did some 40 years ago (ago, go). Never said I was perfect. Luckily I found a woman who accepts my past transgressions and puts up with my current lapses  

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) affect and blight the lives of up to 10% of our youth today. The social stigma and shame should not be underestimated. Also, knob rot hurts like fuck.

Here is my cautionary tale…….

Dat ain't me
Imagine a young Flaxen Saxon, brash, wickedly handsome, with long blond hair a flow, out with his mates on a Saturday night at the Brum Locarno Night Club and Abbatoir, circa 1974. All dressed in wide lapelled crushed velvet jackets and flairs.

Sometimes I’d leave at 3 o’clock in the morning covered in blood and snot. Sometimes I’d leave at 3 o’clock in the morning with a vaguely feminine form clamped to my arm. To be honest, it was sometimes difficult to distinguish the chicks from the fellas in them days. All that beer, flashing lights and strobes. In the disco, in the dark, mistakes were made. My opening gambit, was always: 'Are you a guy or a chick?'   Once in the alley, at the back of the nightclub, I would distract my ‘date’ with a humorous impression of Keith ‘Cheggers’ Chegwin. An impression I was particularly adept, whilst pissed.  In those days, I always kept a small squeezee bottle full of Domestos discretely inserted down my trousers. Whilst distracted, I would give my intended a quick squirt around the ‘bowl and rim’. I’ve always believed that prophylaxis is better than cure. Often I would add a couple of crushed Palma Violets just to show that I cared about feminine freshness.

As I’m sure you will remember, Domestos used to proudly announce that it killed 99.9% of all known germs. Alas, on one occasion I became a statistical outlier and anomaly. I had an inkling that something was amiss when two weeks later I expressed a small amount of bland, serous fluid. I thought the best course was to ‘wait and see’. Three months later my fireman’s helmet had the look of a busted pomegranate and issued forth a foul-smelling odour. As I lapsed in and out consciousness a moment of serene lucidity descended. My tumescent and weeping member popped up, winked and wiped a thick, yellow tear from its eye: ‘you dozy, fat, blond twat, catch the number 127 bus from Dudley Castle to Birmingham General Hospital.’ And then it kissed me. I decided to take a premed of seven pints of Bank’s bitter before alighting in Corporation Street. Although late at night, my swollen member gave off a faint ethereal glow and I was mysteriously guided to Ward 19.

Dr Mugumbo (for it is he) took a long drag on his cigarette, squinted and softly exclaimed: ‘Mr 74/3879, that’s not clap, that’s applause.’  After a vigorous course of antibiotics and scouring, the end of my cock sloughed off. Thereafter I was as good as new. Chastened, I never performed Keith Chegwin impersonations again.     

Take home message: Substitute the Parma Violets with 2 parts battery acid and 1 part Vim. Oh yes, and always listen to your cock.

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Christianity and Evolution: Ponderings of a Part-time Biologist

Religion and evolution have never been happy bedfellows. While certain Christian denominations and Christian apologetics would have you believe that evolution is just an unproven theory and unlikely to be representative of how nature works in reality, scientists have universally embraced evolution as the best explanation for how organisms change through geological time. There is little doubt that selective environmental forces, together with genetic variation, are responsible for the vast array of life forms we see today. The evidence is overwhelming, has been for a long time, and has been garnered from many quarters of the natural sciences. When Darwin’s, ‘Origin of the Species’ was published in 1859, it was rapidly absorbed and accepted by the Victorian scientific community and equally reviled by the religious hierarchy. Religious leaders were right to be alarmed: the indisputable reality of the evolutionary process challenges firmly held and cherished Christian beliefs and tenets. Over the past 170 years, the way the church has reacted or evolved to evolutionary theory has been interesting. At one extreme we see fundamental bible literalists denying evolution outright, while at the other extreme we see liberal Christians embracing evolution wholeheartedly. The latter tread a dangerous path. On the one hand, they are concerned about losing their intellectual integrity if they deny evolution, on the other, they are in peril of losing their faith as the two belief systems are fundamentally incompatible. This hasn’t stopped savvy Christian thinkers from forcing some form of reconciliation.

Christians should be afraid of evolution. Christian dogma and theology are primitive, pre-scientific beliefs. While it is true that Catholicism, and by extension some forms of Protestantism, has accrued a patina of Greek philosophy, lavishly applied, over the past two thousand years- a philosophy totally alien to its Judaic roots, by the way. It is also true, that the Neo-Platonism and Aristotelean foundation on which it rests has been thoroughly debunked. If you scratch the surface of Christianity you will reveal its atavistic and primal true self.

Here is a question for thoughtful Christians who seek to embrace evolution in all its manifestations and with all of its implications: how do they square a god of sublime mercy and love (have you read the Old Testament?) with a system that is based on wasteful misery? Evolution gets the job done, but at what cost? It is certainly not merciful. For every successful organism, there is a heap of dead compatriots extending out into the distant Eons. Evolution was not designed by a caring and loving deity, or a deity concerned with garnering resources. Perhaps god devolved this bit of reality to his adversary, Satan? According to Christianity, ‘Man’ is the pinnacle of ‘God’s Work’. Everything was put forth for us to thrive- humankind is at the centre of All. But to accept evolution is for the Christian, an abrogation/negation of our specialness in this world. Evolution demands/commands that we are but one in a teeming mound of organisms, a little smarter, perhaps, but not particularly special. Our dominance is a product of accidental not providential events. There is also the uncomfortable truth that in the past three billion, or so, years that life has existed on this planet, humankind only made its appearance 100,000 years ago. God took a while to get round to forming his favourite child. And if we are just another animal, what are the implications for the soul? Do amoebas have souls? And if not, why not?

To accept evolutionary theory as true, the Christian must be prepared to ditch the underpinning tenets of Christianity to such an extent that the term ‘Christian’ is an insubstantial vessel; hollow and devoid of content. To remain a ‘Good Christian’ there is a need to deny evolution as true. But here is the rub: evolution is true. The evidence supporting, the so-called theory, is implacable and scientifically impeccable. To deny evolution is akin to denying gravitational force.

Thus, what are we to make of this abomination? Can we make the supernatural edicts of Christianity mesh in harmonious accord with the intellectual rigour and the inevitability of evolution? You can try. There have been quite a few attempts by folk who are of the opinion that there is no problem in trying to form some accord between these two realms. And while they freely admit that religion and science exist as separate ‘Majestria’, they contend that they sometimes come into contact, and interact, on occasion. Imagine a Venn diagram, if you will, consisting of two circles with a portion of overlap. On reading Christian apologists who dare to tread/dread, into this territory, it is apparent that there is a woeful misunderstanding of the scientific method. The scientific method is a self-correcting process based on empirical data gathering and induction. It has no truck with the supernatural. By definition, science can only concern itself with the natural world. The supernatural, if it deigns to exist, is, by definition, beyond our ken and we can only speak of it in metaphor. In terms of reality, the concept does not resonate or can be considered compatible, with our reality.      

Let us be clear: religion, regardless of stripe, is predicated on the supernatural. In this way, theologians can appeal to the hiddenness of God and the lack of solid evidence for ‘His’ existence. But the serious theologian craves serious intellectual recognition. This paves the way for the introduction of faith. O wondrous faith! We are expected to take on board religious beliefs on the supposed epistemological process of faith. Beware, this is but a beguiling charade. On the basis of faith, you can believe in anything. Here is a worthwhile exercise: whenever a theologian argues for a belief in god, on the basis of faith, simply substitute the word ‘god’ with ‘fairy’. At the end of the argument are you convinced in the existence of fairies- of course not? That would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it? Nuff said, for now…….