Saturday, March 02, 2019


A Reflection 2019

Funny being asked to write this because by myself I would not have thought to write something about my religious ideas. I was raised and was a very involved Presbyterian in Sydney. I was very much a Reformed Christian sincerely believing all that that involved and preaching regularly in my church. I read Elaine Pagels Gnostic Gospels and suddenly a whole world opened up, I discovered that the early church was not as I had been taught. I read a lot and realised that I had been deceived, much of what I had been lead to believe was simply not true. I guess the worst part was in discussion with various church officials I discovered they to knew this and simply decided never to mention it.

That really is a very simple version of a process of reading and study that took me over 20 years. I kept a blog for many years and rereading it now I see the anguish, anger and often hostility emerge and dissipate over time. I moved in my thinking from a Reformed position to Panentheism to atheism. The Sea of Faith helped me with that, I was part of the Sydney group and helped to organise the first Sydney conference. It was wonderful to hear Don Cupitt speak and to spend time speaking with Lloyd Geering, a truly remarkable man. Sadly whilst I understood Lloyds commitment to the Christian church I could not share it. So I walked away from the church completely.

I have been content with my position on God and have seen little reason to change it until recently. I am convinced of two central ideas:

1) There is no “God”
2) There is no possibility that a being I could call “God” could conceivably exist.

The first I think is hardly a new position although the second I think deserves a minimal explanation. I feel that it is highly unlikely for a theistic style God to exist and conceal that existence. I do not consider being more powerful is enough to merit the title of “God” so hence I feel it is close to a zero possibility that such a being exists.

So you might ask, what has changed? Again my reading and of course now listening to the wonderful variety of podcasts a newish conception has been slowing growing. In particular
Yuval Noah Harari’s books and speeches and also Jordan Peterson (Maps of Meaning in particular). The idea that the concept of “God” is in fact shorthand for the power of the evolving human mind in particular the power of language to describe and then create the world. So the concept of God, and the associated beliefs are actually a reflection of the combined human “mind” reflected directly in the development of human language. Like the idea of Tillich that God is the “ground of being” except “God” is shorthand for the collective wisdom of humanity embodied in our language. Very much like Jung’s “collective unconscious” but again totally embodied  and expressed in our language. So our highest aspirations and our deepest knowledge is revealed through our language, in our stories, in our theology, in our philosophy and also in our daily discourse.

As part of this I have been drawn again to the Christian tradition. Feeling that it expresses the highest of these aspirations for me, I realise that is more than partly due to my own upbringing and experience.  However when I look at the progressive Christian movement I find strong interests in Indigenous issues, the environment and gender issues; whilst I am engaged with each politically I have little interest in these as faith issues, so the movement does not draw me. In the same way I find traditional forms of worship very much like a pantomime and cannot honestly participate with genuine engagement. Talking with many friends of different views I find in this a commonality. A feeling that the Christian faith has value but little to no interest in any form of worship.

As always life goes on, thinking, reading and meditation go on and with them the march of the human heart.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Last Post

I began blogging some time ago now and I have found the experience both encouraging and thought provoking. 
I began blogging to sought out my views on religion. I had journeyed from a conservative Christian faith through a very liberal  period to Atheism. This was a long journey and my first blog contains much of my story and my changing views.
Looking back now I can see the anger and frustration working itself out in that blog. I don't think that way any more. I do not harbour that anger any more. Time I think has healed much of the frustration and intemperance.
For the record I do not believe in any God/s. I also do not think it is possible for the all powerful God humans often talk of to actually exist. I do not think Jesus Christ actually lived on this earth, I think he is a powerful fictional figure that has resonated deeply within our culture at the most profound level.
All Holy books were written by humans and deserve no particular reverence or deference. All beliefs are ideas open for discussion and debate and non deserve special status. 
All people deserve respect and as such their beliefs should be treated with courtesy. To ridicule a person is a sign of disrespect and a personal insult.
This new blog will be a place to discuss ideas concerning lots of different things that interest me or attract my attention.
For those interested :
My religious blog:
My blog of ideas and views:

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Coming Back

Its been a long time since I have written here. I don't know if anyone still reads this or not. My thoughts on religion have changed much over the intervening period. I guess it means almost nothing to me now. It has been a long time since i read a book that had anything to do with religion. I have quite frankly lost interest in religion. It's hard to believe that I felt so passionately about it and now it means nothing at all to me, I can't even summon the energy to dislike it.

So why write again here?

I guess I have stuff I want to say, I certainly want to try and capture my life experiences over the past couple of years, maybe that will be worth reading, you alone can decide.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Self Sufficiency

What is it about humans that drives us to seek control over others. To seek to have power to force everyone to comply with one groups ideas of what is right. It is in democracies, couched in formal language that implies a moral imperative, it will protect the weak, preserve our institutions, or in some way serve the greater good. But almost always it pushes the views of a minority onto a majority who do not want it and resist it.

In Australia we are starting on an Internet censorship path that defies logic and the clear will of the Australian people. The idea being to create a secret list of web sites that will be blocked. The public will not know what is on the list or the reasons for it. This does not sound like a democracy to me.

What is this desire to control democratic freedom? The desire to tell us what we can and cannot do. It bothers me greatly that here in Australia we have given up so many hard one freedoms in the few years. First we needed to protect ourselves from terrorists, who have not actually done anything here, But just in case. Now we have to protect children from the internet by taking away the freedom of everyone. What is to be next save those allergic to peanuts by making peanuts illegal?

At a certain point we must reverse this over intrusive over bearing idea that government should control our lives. We must be responsible for our actions, we must protect our own children. I am always stunned when parents allow their children unsupervised access to the internet. They don't give them large amounts of cash or send them off on long trips alone. The world is a dangerous place we need to learn to protect ourselves.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Saudi Arabia

I am not an apologist for religion, as anyone who ever reads this blog will know. So this is more a puzzled entry than an opinion piece.

Yesterday, a lovely, leisurly Saturday afternoon I watched an episode of No Reservations, a show presented by Anthony Bourdain. This is a travel show that looks at food culture as much or more than other tourist information. He asked viewers to submit ideas about locations he could visit for the next program. He selected 4 and interviewed each person. In the end he chose Danya Alhamrani and her idea of a visit to Saudi Arabia.

It was a good show which showed a lot about Saudi Arabia that I did not know. The one section that interested me most was when they went to the local takeaway chicken chain. There were two doors Tony asked Danya which door should they enter, one was marked family one single. Danya explained that according to Islamic law single men could not go into the family area. Single women, families and groups of freinds could enter the family area.

She then explained that as a women she had never felt excluded, she had always seen it to be the men who had to do things seperately. Personally I don't get it. Religious laws never made much sense to me, but it did make think.

How well do we in the west really understand some of these Islamic laws?

Although the world would be better off without them.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


"Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition...But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas...that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution."
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr

I'd like to start by laying my cards on the table. I think that religion in all it's shapes and forms is a blight on humanity. I would love to convince the whole world that it is a load of imaginary rubbish. Therefore I do not think religion should ever get a free pass for anything. No respect, no reverence and no special cases. This is how I would like the world to be.

The world is not as I would like it to be, I learnt that when I was 5. Other people have different ideas to me, so I have to moderate my views with a dose of reality. The sensible position is to allow everyone to have the freedom to believe or not to believe as they choose. In a democratic nation then all citizens are free to discuss any ideas and to argue their viewpoint in an attempt to persuade others.

I also feel that citizens should be free to exercise their faith provided it does not impinge on the freedoms of others. So I would never enter a church, mosque or temple to speak abusively nor any way disrupt the services. However when a colleague in my workplace started to talk about what a wonderful teacher Jesus had been I readily disagreed. Others of a similar mind to myself claimed I had been rude to make such remarks. My reply was simple, any comment made in public is open to dispute. I am still friendly with this person and their response was, "perhaps I shouldn't have raised the issue." I disagreed and offered to discuss any topic they chose, but I got the feeling they didn't think it should be discussed only agreed to.

So What I am saying at is that nothing is beyond the reach of criticism or discussion. Certainly there is nothing about religion that sets it apart. In fact for too long deference toward religion has kept many historical facts hidden. If someone chooses to write a book about Mohamed it is no ones business but theirs. Certainly if that is a work of historical fiction as Sherry Jones has done then what objection could there reasonably be.

Books ridiculing Jesus and Buddha have been written and while followers object to them they do not seek to harm the author or publishers. Islam seems as a religion to very easily fall into the pattern of using violence to prevent criticism. Democracy is about freedom of expression, we must never allow those freedoms to be undermined by some twisted notion of religion. Many people have given up much including their lives to defend democracy against tyranny, how can we give it away because someone asks us to?

All too often I have heard the argument that a failure to recognise a persons religion is a form of racism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Quite correctly most democracies have introduced laws to protect people from discrimination. I should not be able to judge someone because of factors outside of their control, such things as race, gender, age are beyond any individuals control. However whilst I agree we need to protect the rights of all to worship as they see fit, we certainly can and should question the truth of their statements. Religious beliefs are chosen, and as a choice are open to change.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The bible as symbol

I have a theory, I think the bible is actually a symbol for Christians not a text for serious reading and study. While Christians constantly make the claim that the bible is the inspired word of god, gods revelation to man etc etc, most of them have never read it nor plan to read it. This always has been a mystery to me, even as a believer if there really is a revelation from God shouldn't we take the time to read it.

However if the bible stands as a symbol for a particular set of beliefs there is no need to know it's contents well. In fact much of modern Christianity is structured to keep people from actually reading the bible in detail. It starts in Sunday school where children are taught fragments and stories and then asked to memorise selected passages. Then if we look at the church use of the bible we see only select segments or books get covered in sermons and studies. In fact recent trends in bible studies in churches see groups using booklets designed to "guide" there reading and thinking.

So if you were to question some belief of a church even using the bible your views would be rejected. As the bible is a symbol of those beliefs but not there actual source. As many reading this will know for exchristians reading the bible was what convinced us that the whole thing wasn't true. 

I think this explains why so few Christians have read their bible and why they remain ignorant about much of it's content.