Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Absence of Morality

This was supposed to be a comment adding to a discussion on morality being had over here but I think technology is rebelling against me forcing me to reword it slightly and post it here instead. Forgive anything I missed, like I said, it was supposed to be a comment:

Each generation’s attempt to convince itself that it has distanced itself from the previous is ultimately proven to be nothing more than self delusion. Sure some things are done differently and some attitudes change, but ultimately people remain the same. But the nature vs nurture argument goes far more deeply than the individual and his parent/guardian/custodian/mentor. We’re talking about learned behaviours on macroscopic scale where an entire society has grown up thinking that x is bad and y is good. This is reinforced with each generation. Irrespective of the tool with which this is enforced, these laws begin, over time and in cultural memory to gain some manner of ‘higher authority’. That authority, however, is perceived.

In utilising the term 'ethereal morality', while probably not the best choice of words, I was merely pointing towards this perceived ‘higher authority’. As an atheist myself, I see any kind of ‘morality’, when couched in such terms, to be counter-intuitive. More than that, I see them as a dangerous beginning towards a path to theism. Once x has been generally been admitted to be morally unsound then there’s nothing to keep y and z from quickly drifting into that same category as well. Just add a bit of religious dogma to grease the wheels . . .

I terms of evolution as well – it’s no surprise that we are actually less likely to rush headlong into all-out war than ‘societies of old’, this actually supports the idea that anything that could be referred to as ‘morality’ has evolved through a need for continued survival. While human culture has changed drastically over thousands of years, human beings have not evolved. We are still homo sapiens. We are still the same species.

Societies developed from the need for continued existence – chances of which were far greater when individuals dwelt together in packs. Like any pack with any species, ‘laws’ have to be followed in order for the pack’s survival. It will soon become apparent in any primitive pack anywhere in the world that arbitrary killing is going to be detrimental to the pack’s survival. That, I believe is why we have what could possibly be interpreted as a ‘shared moral outlook’, at least on certain issues in many parts of the world.

There have been many explanations as to the benefits of altruism in an evolutionary erspective. I don’t profess to be particularly knowledgeable on this and I don’t really have the time to brush up right now, but a quick glance here will give an overview of some of the main arguments.

Ultimately, I see nothing special or superior in altruism to signify a greater morality. If ‘morality’ is something more than an aide to living in an aggrandised pack, then where does it come from? In my opinion you’d have to either concede to some kind of higher power – not something that I’m willing to do and I’m sure that you’re not either – or to concede that it is a fallacy to attribute certain types of behaviour or lack there of, to something other than an evolved common sense.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

State Funded Religious Indoctrination

Time and time again, when I think about it, I realise that most of my gripes, rants, hatreds etc all have one common denominator: Stupidity. I’m not talking like acting like a bit of a tit because it’s a laugh, being a ditzy fuckwit on the odd occasion or acting like an over-excited child once in a while until reaching the point where you need a bit of a lay down with a cold flannel on your head. No. I’m talking about genuine, down to earth retarditude. Pillockliness. Fucknuttery.

Not knowing something is not stupidity. What defines stupidity in my estimation is not mere ignorance but wilful ignorance. If you’ve never seen, heard, or been presented with the evidence of a thing then you’re not going to have knowledge, or indeed a justified belief about that thing. If you are shown, told about or been presented with evidence for the existence of that thing and your view of the world remains completely unchanged, then you’re an idiot. You are stupid. Even if the evidence of/argument for said thing is tenuous; if it is justified and logical it should at least make you want to look into the matter. If for no other reason than to disprove the argument!

So why another rant about stupidity? Why am I once again on the logical vs illogical? Why am I beating this drum so hard I’ve had to flip it over because the other side’s got a hole in it?

Well, it’s down to Richard Dawkins’ programme Faith Schools Menace? Or rather it’s down to something that it highlighted in passing.

It’s not surprising that at some point the usual arguments about evolution were going to be brought up. Not only because this was a programme about faith oriented education, but rather because Dawkins is a biologist whose scientific work has largely been focused on evolution and natural selection. This may come as a surprise to some who would like Dawkins to be a pastiche of a militant atheist, baselessly raging against religion. This is a characterisation, incidentally, that I keep coming across when listening to various, increasingly left-wing BBC radio comedy series extolling the classically British ‘virtues’ of “don’t speak too loud, don’t rock the boat, don’t stir up trouble and everything will be okay, really.”

Dragging myself, kicking and screaming, back to the point:

The particular item within the programme that had me ranting until my gerbils tried to eat each other (no it’s not a bizarre euphemism – had to separate the furry little cunts . . . again) was during Dawkins’ visit to Madani High School; an Islamic, state funded school in Leicester. What he was particularly looking at during this segment was whether the pupils were properly informed about evolution and why, if so, did the school’s science teacher claim – not without some pride, I thought – that every student comes out of her classroom believing in intelligent design.

Recap: Students coming out of a science class opt for intelligent fucking design as the most logical explanation for the existence of the plethora of life on the planet. That is not a science class!

Dawkins was then asked by one of the pupils why, if humans evolved from chimpanzees then why did chimps still exit.

Hopefully, you’ll all see the obvious flaw in this question.

Dawkins first put the question to the science teacher who, after some awkward silence, had to admit she didn’t know. A science teacher, teaching evolution couldn’t answer this simple question! How the fuck is this bitch a teacher?!

Dawkins then went on to explain that we didn’t evolve from chimps but from a common ancestor and the programme moved on.

But this fucking stuck with me. I mean, despite the whole philosophical issue of faith-based education, despite the fact that if even a single school is indoctrinating children to believe a holy book as evidence above actual scientific fact*, what is really fucking worrying is that a science teacher obviously has a weaker grasp of the theory of evolution than a man on a three-day bender does on his pint pot!

How is this fucking possible? Seriously? People like this should only be allowed to cook for themselves under supervision let alone ‘educate’ someone in their formative years by filling their head with fucking detritus!

I can’t help wondering how many students attend this school and others like it. Whether mulsim, christian, jewish – I couldn’t give a fuck – any educational institution that claims to instruct pupils and let them make up their own mind but where 100% of the students come out of the class claiming to ‘know’ that intelligent design is correct needs to be fucking abolished. Then hopefully, in the same way that people are ‘de-programmed’ when saved from some crackpot cult, we can save some of these poor little bastards.

I can only hope that the reason these kids come out professing to believe in intelligent design is because they know there’d be dire consequences from these ‘teachers’ who claim to let them make up their own minds.

* For those uneducated and yet argumentative: Yes it is fact. Evolution is proven. The Theory of Evolution is natural selection. In other words; the theory that attempts to explain how evolution works.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The Ideological vs the Practical

I have a problem.

Well, actually I have two. The first is that I originally wrote this up already, but then had a spastic attack and inadvertently pressed the wrong key and irretrievably deleted the text in its entirety, but that’s unrelated.

The reason I’m here – the reason I’ve returned from an unintended absence – is that I have a problem. It’s a moral dilemma I’ve been wrestling with and my opponent is all muscle and sinew and tendons of steel. I’m logically disposed to one course of action and yet ideologically compatible with the opposite; especially when it’s opposed by the puritanical zealots and the usual holier-than-thou brigade.

It’s perhaps unsurprising that I’m referring to smoking.

Let you fill you in: For the last month or two, I’ve been on one of my periodical yet uncharacteristic health-kicks. This phenomenon usually occurs every two to three years, instigated by an event preceding the realisation that an existence of office drudgery moving to pub, to laptop, to guitar, to bed *repeat* doesn’t really do much for one’s physique, stamina, strength etc. And so, in order counteract the weakling within (or without) I’ll throw some weights around in a half-arsed fashion, usually before nipping for another pint and another fag.

This time, however, there’s a difference? No, don’t worry, this isn’t that ‘it’s gonna be different this time’ cry of the wife-beater, or scag-head. The difference this time is mainly She, The Provider of Sexual Frivolities. Yep, she’s not only been on my case – precariously balancing like a circus seal – she’s been jumping up and down on it like a coke-fuelled (whichever, both work) child at a birthday party who’s had too many blue Smarties (you know, the old ones that had additives instead of water-colour paint) and probably a surreptitious swig from Auntie Edna’s hip-flask. Usually such behaviour would just get her another spell in the cupboard, but to be fair to her, I had been meaning to actually do something for a while.

So off to the gym it was for us, to pay many pennies and sign our souls away for access to a building housing heavy things and healthy people.

So I’m eating better, following a structured routine, cut back (note: NOT cut out! I refuse to become one of those joyless, poe-faced, self-righteous fuckwits that will interminably drivel on about what they’re abstaining from this week. Life, like alcohol, is there to be enjoyed!) and as a result I’m losing fat and slowly gaining some much needed muscle. Hooray for me!

The problem reared its ugly head the other day when I decided to up my cardio. Now, anybody that knows me is aware that I’m hardly the most energetic bastard on the planet, so I was pretty surprised that I can actually spend more than two minutes running like I’m being chased by a randy Frenchman without collapsing into a pile. What I did notice though was that if said Frenchman could keep the pace up for about 20-30 mins, I was fucked . . . literally. It became quite clear that if I’m going to increase stamina and endurance I’m going to have to knock the fags on the head.

Of course, I could always not do it and get healthier regardless – but quitting is just logical since I’ll be getting more benefit from killing meself in the gym.

Yet it feels like such a big concession when faced with things such as this and this.

The first is a clear demonstration of not only how politicised, but also, like climate change before it, also how much of a religion it has become. Indeed, The Righteous are more often than not paragons of everything from keeping their doorstep tidy, to recycling, anti-smoking and rubbing your face in how much more ‘perfect’ they are than you. We all know these people.

This is just exacerbated to an indefinable degree, however, once you think about it for a second. Here we have an institution which should by rights be committed to adherence to the scientific method in the pursuit of knowledge. The very thing they should not do is effectively excommunicate someone when his scientifically conducted research doesn’t end up justifying whatever wishy-washy belief system someone somewhere has probably received a brown envelope to tout.

Much in the same vein, the second link initially made me laugh but pretty soon I was crying, weeping once again for the loss of the human mind. These complete fuckwits – these worthless cunts who are so ready to swallow the salty goodness of whatever idiotic sermon they’re told are justified by the actions of places like the UCLA. It supports their idiotic views in the same way that the ‘learned men’ of the Church supported witch-hunts in years gone by. When left to the idiotic rabble, how long do you really think it’s going to be before some scally scum ‘parent’ takes it upon him or herself to stab, glass, suffocate with their rolls of fat some poor bastard who’s enjoying a fag outside his local (because some backwards fuckwit said he couldn’t enjoy two legal drugs at the same time)? And what’ll be his or her warcry? "Think of the kids!!!"