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From polite discourse to no discourse

January 5th, 2018

I have been a christian believer for about 55 years, and throughout that time many of my relatives, friends, work colleagues and internet acquaintances have not. Most of the non-believers have been agnostics or ‘don’t cares’, but there have been some atheists, a couple of Buddhists and Jews, a few Muslims and a few whose belief cannot be easily categorised.

And so of course I have had many discussions about belief and one thing stands out – all of the face-to-face discussions I can remembers have been civil and friendly. Disagreements about belief haven’t led to discourtesy. But it seems the internet has changed all that.

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Strong evidence of God?

July 31st, 2017

What would be strong evidence for God?

Some look outwards to the universe or inwards to ourselves, and argue that God is the most plausible explanation for the beginning and the design of the universe, or for human consciousness, freewill, rationality and ethical sense. Others point to Jesus, the man who was God, his miracles, claims and resurrection.

But I would guess that most people would like to have a personal revelation – God appearing to them or healing them in some irrefutably miraculous way.

And I can’t help feeling that Jackie Pullinger offers food for thought for these people.

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Does christian belief make you a better person?

June 27th, 2017

I’m a reasonably self critical person (some would say too much so), and I’m no fan of much of what goes in in churches and christian circles. So I’m not really interested in defending modern christianity as a social entity.

But at the same time, when sceptics criticise “religion” for poisoning lives and emotionally warping and enslaving people, and argue christianity is evil and must be eradicated, I think their charges need to be tested against the evidence.

And so I keep my eye on research into how religious belief and practice, especially christianity, affects people, either positively or negatively.

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Atheists and christians – does it have to be war?

January 8th, 2017

I have several times blogged on how christians and atheists relate to each other on the internet, because I think courtesy is better than rudeness, and attitudes on both sides can be improved.

So I was interested in christian author Benjamin Corey’s thoughts on this.

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There is no Planet B

September 7th, 2016

Australians have had a polarised and sometimes ambivalent attitude to the threats to this planet, and to our comfortable Aussie way of life, from climate change. Most people, most of the time, want to make positive changes, but a sizeable minority follow the shock jocks and the Murdoch press in mocking climate change.

Governments have vacillated too, sometimes bravely moving forwards against the doom claims of some in the business lobby, sometimes doing the absolute minimum. As a result, Australia lags most developed countries, and quite a few less developed countries, in promoting renewable energy sources – all the more reprehensible since we have such a large land area and so many opportunities for solar, wind and tidal power generation.

But the battle goes on, and this week a new shot has been fired.

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We cannot be kind to each other here for even an hour?

June 12th, 2016

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, in his poem Maud wrote:

Ah yet, we cannot be kind to each other here for an hour;
We whisper, and hint, and chuckle, and grin at a brother’s shame;
However we brave it out, we men are a little breed.

Most of us, upon reading that, would probably smile ruefully and agree. If we’re honest with ourselves, we might even reflect on times when that has been us, and hope we can do better in the future. And yet, on the internet or behind the wheel of a car, somehow we so often show Tennyson got it right.

Philosopher Daniel Dennett has some suggestions for those of us who discuss and sometimes argue on the internet.

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Light at the end of the tunnel for some of the world’s poorest people

May 2nd, 2016

Bithi started work in a Bangladeshi clothing factory when she was 12. Abject poverty and a sick father forced Bithi’s family to send the two oldest daughters to the garment factories to sew designer clothes sold mainly in North America. It was either that, or watch the girls slowly starve.

Now 15, Bithi helps create a minimum of 480 pair of designer jeans every day, sewing 60 pockets an hour. For this, she earns about $1 US a day.

If that shocks you, makes you angry, or even makes you cry, that is an appropriate response. But at last there is a glimmer of hope for girls like Bithi.

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