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My First blog post

This is the post excerpt.

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This is my first post, I got sick of the censorship on Quora, it’s not like I went there to troll people or swear up a storm, but I was constantly being censured for criticising religion, which is bullshit.

 More importantly, I am suffering anxiety, risk aversion and trouble sleeping as a result of a series of horrific events. And that’s what I mean to thrash out in my next post, not as a “woe is me”, whinging, pity party, but in order to record the things that have happened, sort them out and take back control, but not in a Brexit sense, I mean honestly and openly, without blatant prejudice and outright lies, I am a Remoaner, deal with it. 

We need a straight pride flag.

Ok, I get it, that’s an inflammatory title, people are going to fly off the handle as soon as look at it, and I freely admit that I wrote it just to grab your attention, but do please read what I have to say, I think you might change your mind.

I attended my first gay pride parade the other day, it was great fun, I wanted to join in, but I have hang ups, and this is my point.

I’ve been searching for a “gay ally” flag in the last few days, searching for something I could wear to a pride parade that would mark me out as straight, but not anti-gay, and in the process I found an article by a gay person who seems to be saying that because straight people haven’t experienced prejudice the way gay folk have, that we don’t need a flag or symbol to represent us.

I disagree on two points, firstly, a symbol, worn by a straight gay ally, would let other like minded heterosexuals know that they are not alone. It would be a symbol of solidarity, show gay people that not every hetero is a prejudiced dick and annoy the bigots.

Secondly, straight people *have* experienced bullying and prejudice as a result of homophobia.

Entire generations have grown up with a stereotypical view of what a gay person is or does, we’ve been emotionally stunted by the idea that a heterosexual man doesn’t cry, loves sport and fighting, speaks with a “manly” drawl, doesn’t wear certain colours or clothing, and should feel intense discomfort if another man stands nearby when you’re peeing in a public toilet. It’s assumed that gay men are all about sexually assaulting any man who passes them by, even if he’s some knuckle dragging, beer bellied lummox, it’s assumed that the mere act of a male bending over, would induce any gay man in the vicinity to “bum” him.

Speaking from my perspective, the fact that I’m well spoken, wordy even, and hate sports of all kinds, was considered all the evidence required to diagnose an extreme case of gay, back when I was at school.

Back then we had a law, called section 28, that effectively legalised and encouraged discrimination against gay people, but how do you tell a gay person from a heterosexual person? The answer, of course is, you can’t. So, we either got bullied, or joined in with the bullying to “prove” that we weren’t gay. I got bullied, a lot.

So, that’s why I have hang ups about being thought to be gay, why I’m uncomfortable around overtly gay people, and why I feel the need to show support for gay people, because I can empathise with the shit they have to go through all the time, but why I also feel the need to show the fact that I am not gay, to celebrate, in a way, my personality, and the fact that, despite the bullying, I was once a homophobe myself, but have seen how wrong I was. Kind of as an apology for having been a bit of a dick, and a celebration of the fact that I’ve grown up and sort of got over it.

So, I hope I’ve convinced you that we non-bigoted hetero’s need a flag to wave in the faces of the homophobes, and to foster solidarity between people who are happy to live and let live, and to make gay people feel more at ease around us, and those of us with hang ups like mine to feel happier around them. Years of indoctrination don’t just wash away over night, we need this, or at least, I certainly do, I didn’t have it as hard as the gay kids at my school did, I would never claim that, but sure as hell it wasn’t easy or fun, and now that I have kids of my own, there’s no way I’m ever going to tolerate them receiving the sort of treatment I got, whether or not they turn out to be gay, and even if they are, I won’t abandon them or throw them out, they’re my kids, gay, straight, transgender or whatever.

As the T shirt slogans I saw at the parade read: Love wins.

As far as I can tell, the image below (not mine, I searched Google images for “straight ally flag) is the flag for those of us who aren’t gay, but who support gay people in their right to personal freedom and expression. Besides, I want a flag to wear next year!

 

You are not alone.

Last year was a rough one for me, I learned that my grandmother had killed herself and witnessed a suicide, two traumatic experiences that shook me to the core, even as I was trying to process the loss of several friends, variously to Atos (a criminally negligent NGO, credited with the deaths of many people declared “fit for work” by them), depression and illness, and the other death I have witnessed, of a lady I’d just met in the local park, the host of a guided nature walk that ended in tragedy.

I’ve had a gut full. I thought I was coping. Then I noticed that I would randomly become morose, burst into tears, lie awake at night, lack motivation and most of all, experience fits of rage, stronger and more difficult to repress than I have ever experienced. Classic symptoms of what most people call PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). More recently, it’s been referred to as “mild traumatic brain injury”, because it permanently alters your brain, after witnessing something utterly horrific, your brain will never be quite the same again, sorry if you find that depressing, but it is a fact.

A less depressing fact is, that just like any other injury, you can learn to cope, you can learn skills to ward off the negative feelings, and mitigate the other symptoms too.

I’m fortunate, I regularly walk through the park, I can revisit the site of the first death I witnessed, I can show my irrational mind that death is not a permanent property of the park, and I live near the station at which I witnessed the suicide, I can see that there is no queue of people lining up to hurl themselves in front of the next express train.

So, now I’m largely in remission, I still twitch when express trains go through near my home and at work, I do feel a bit down occasionally, angry even, but I can suppress and manage my mood, I can look at what I have (and I know that I have a pretty comfortable, if not luxurious, life),  and how things could have been so much worse.

But the one thing that has helped me, more than anything else, is knowing that now I can not only empathise with people affected by PTSD/MTBI, but that I have coping strategies in place I can pass on, and sure knowledge of what resources are available to people who have suffered trauma, I can direct them to professional help, but if they are unwilling to speak to professionals, I can at least offer them my experience, and assure them that they’re not mad, malingering or worthless, that they matter.

And that’s what keeps me going these days, the thought that one day I will be able to help someone, to make them think again before doing something drastic, to be a truly good person. I sincerely hope that this blog helps someone.

If you are suffering, please seek help, you can cope, you are strong enough, but you might just need a leg up, it’s not a bad thing to need help, and in accepting that help, you are in turn giving back to the person who is offering it, someone like me, who just wants the world to be just a little bit brighter and nicer, with you in it.

Useful numbers foe UK residents:

Time To Talk (Counselling service) can be reached on: 020 8206 8700 or 0207349 2400, or you can self refer via their website: https://www.take-time-to-talk.com/self-refer/self-refer_form/

The Samaritans can be reached on: 116 123.

Don’t struggle on alone.

Gods, plural. Atheists, take note.

Please, fellow unbelievers, pretty, pretty please, stop referring to the Abrahamic deity as “god”, it has at least three names, and it’s not the only god, it’s one of many thousands, possibly millions, and they all have names!

Every time you refer to Yahweh as “god” you are lending validity to the claim made by the Abrahamic faiths make that there’s only one god, and that it’s more real than all the gods they reject.

Jehovah is also acceptable, or even the name he carried when he headed up the Mesopotamian pantheon, El.

The days of the week, the planets in our solar system, they’re all named after gods, but the one who is currently worshipped by most believers across the globe, the one in whose name more people have died in pain and terror, is only honoured by its description, and I think that I know why. It’s because referring to it in the singular, and using its description as a name, believers are asserting that only one god exists, that speaking of any others is not worthwhile, because only one deity is valid, all the others are false by default.

This is why comparing Yahweh to Zeus, or the Easter Bunny, does not work, even though their god is just as unsupportable as fairies or goblins, Abrahamic believers have already crossed all the many, many alternatives to their deity off the list of possibilities, and reinforced the idea by using the singular.

Maybe I’m being a little over sensitive about it, but I think we’re falling into the theist trap, even as we claim to have escaped it, if we continue to address the idea of Jehovah as “god”, it’s a god, not the god.

Gods have names, we should use them.

Al-yoo-min-ee-um!

I frequently hear fellow Brits complaining that American parlance is taking over from proper English, as if our language is an inviolable preserve, free of adopted words, like bungalow or shampoo, or phrases, like “carpe diem”. It probably contributed to the divisive disaster which has become known universally as “Brexit”.

But as it happens, there are a number of phrases condemned by purists as “Americanisms”, sometimes even “vulgar Americanisms”, which are actually English.

The term commonly used to denote autumn in the US, is “fall”, a leftover from the term used by their forefathers, who after fleeing England over differences of religious belief, used the word as per most English people of the time, autumn replaced both fall and harvest some time in the 18th century, and was considered the proper English term, fall being relegated to the “Americanism” category, when in fact, its use is perfectly correct.

As an avid listener to BBC Radio 4 podcasts (among others), I’ve recently learned that other words written off as American, are actually Shakespearian in origin. The two words specifically discussed being “gotten” and “trash”.

English is a language of variety, and is flexible enough to accommodate new words from all over, Arabic words like “alchemy” and “alcohol”, a cursory search of French words in the English lexicon is mind bogglingly huge, to venture no further than words beginning with “a”, there are hundreds of entries, hardly surprising, given 1066 and all that, ambiance being a fairly obvious one, but I would never have guessed that artists was French.

It’s fairly obvious why Americans call trousers “pants”, it’s a shortened version of “pantaloons”, which is a slightly extended version of the French word for trousers, “pantalon”. I still stubbornly refuse to use this term, as far as I’m concerned, pants go under your trousers and that’s the end of it. Each to their own.

But there’s one thing bugs me above all else when it comes to US English and UK English. Aluminium. It has two letter i’s in it. Count them, they’re right there!

You can pronounce tomato as toe-may-toe, you can wear pants over your pants, but please Americans (and Canadians), please, it’s al-yoo-min-ee-um.

Why does Noah’s Ark still need debunking?!

It’s ridiculous, there are grown adults who seriously believe, and will try to defend the claim, that the entire Earth was covered with water, because a god got so angry with humanity, that it drowned every living thing.

Even if you could rekindle an entire species from just two individuals, even if the Ark was big enough to house thousands of animals, and their food, even if Noah was the owner of the only boat on the planet, there’s no evidence of a global flood ever having occurred, ever, there’s no evidence for a god or gods, and there’s no evidence of a genetic bottleneck in every species on Earth.

It’s a myth, a fantasy, an ancient story, dreamt up by people who had no idea how things work and didn’t want to admit to their ignorance, so they invented stories in place of facts.

Seriously, where did Noah keep all the temperature and pressure controlled aquariums? Most species of fish have quite specific water quality requirements, and that’s just fish, other aquatic life has similar, if not more stringent, needs. Some need a particular level of salinity, others temperature, or pressure, many are specialist feeders, coral needs a very specific amount of sunlight in order that the algae it symbiotically lives with can photosynthesise.

These animals would need specialist care, because the sheer volume of rotting corpses, floating about, festering away, would have spelt doom for them all.

And yet, grown adults need it explaining to them that penguins did not waddle all the way from the Middle East, to the Antarctic.

The alleged flood of Noah is an ancient hoax meme, one that is so simple to debunk that I cannot understand why it still needs to be done.

The plural of anecdote is not “data”.

I’ve just finished watching a YouTube video by TMM, he’s commenting on a disingenuous, possibly dishonest, Christian who is attempting to prove that his particular god is real, by suggesting that atheists have not defined what evidence would be acceptable, as if it’s the responsibility of unbelievers to present a definite criteria of what gods are.

It’s an argument I’ve heard time and again, theists realise that totally unsubstantiated promises of eternal rewards and threats of post mortem torture aren’t working, they understand that their claim to superior knowledge and morality isn’t cutting the mustard, so they switch to an ill fated attempt to shift the burden of proof, from the theists, who claim that a god or gods are real, to atheists, who reject that claim.

Incidentally, I am seldom at odds with the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), but when it comes to atheism, I disagree with the OED where it describes atheism as a belief that “god does not exist”. Firstly, I take issue with the word “god” when it’s used as if it were a name, secondly, in every other English word, the addition of an “a” at the beginning indicates a lack of something. Asymmetry is the lack of symmetry, not the belief in the absence or nonexistence of symmetry, to be amoral is to lack morals, not believe in the nonexistence of morals, and I could go on, aseptic, agnostic, abacterial, acaloric, and so on.

Atheism is not a belief, it is the absence of theism.

Back to the subject.

I have had theists ask me what sort of evidence I would accept for the existence of their gods, but only their gods, not all the gods the theist in question regards as false gods.

The answer is, any evidence at all. No theist has ever progressed past the point of trying to turn flawed philosophical ideas or pointing to something we have yet to understand (or more probably, that they have yet to understand, like evolutionary biology), and saying “That’s evidence of my god/s, why don’t you accept that?”, as if mystery automatically means that a supernatural force is involved.

If a god spoke to everyone on Earth simultaneously, or gifted us with indestructible scripture, that would count as evidence, but whenever I point this out, I’m told that this would violate our free will to accept or reject a supernatural supervisor. This is, of course, a fatuous and silly response, quite aside from the fact that it would no more impinge upon free will to have a magically presented written scripture, than it would to have any of the many versions of ancient scrolls and books supposedly given to humanity millennia ago, but even if we were given such evidence of a deity, we could still choose not to worship it.

Theists will sometimes suggest that their gods are outside of the scientific realm, or even that they exist outside of the universe (which is pretty much the same as admitting that gods don’t exist, without actually having the fortitude to admit it internally), beyond the reach of the science that threatens their mythology so. But those self same theists will claim that their gods intervene in our universe, that they alter things to subtly favour their followers, in other words, that gods supposedly do exist within our universe, that they interfere and intervene in a measurable way, in which case, they are not outside of the scientific realm. In which case, the believer should be able to present reliable evidence of the intervention of their god/s.

So far, all we get is cherry picked data, blind assertions, deliberate attempts to subvert the truth and outright lies.

I would accept evidence for gods, if it was presented, but theists don’t seem to understand what evidence is, or that the second law of thermodynamics is only one third of a set of laws that contradict many theistic claims, or that whichever text they hold dear is not evidence, or a scientific paper, or that people like Kent Hovind, Ken Ham, Ray Comfort etc, are either ignorant of science and evidence, or blatant con artists and obvious liars.

Speaking from personal experience……

demotivational-posters-not-shopped

Ugh, yet again I find a believer who is willing to speak as if they know something is absolutely, definitely true, because of “personal experience”.

I cringe and yawn at the same time when, once again, a theist or a believer in ghosts uses a real world example as “evidence” that they know more than my tiny unbelievers mind cannot comprehend.

“I could tell you all about the rollercoaster I just went on, but you would have to experience it for yourself to really understand”, they spout, happily expecting me to concede the point. They’re always disappointed.

For the sake of full disclosure, I used to believe in ghosts, even after I accepted that my belief in gods was unfounded, my personal experience of a “ghost” was all the convincing I needed. A ghostly figure would appear in the corner of my eye, every evening as I worked, but was gone as soon as I looked up. It really spooked me.

That was until one day, standing in a slightly different position to usual, I looked up and it was still standing there, staring straight back at me from one of the eccentrically positioned windows of an office extension, the building is over 80 years old, so all sorts of odd bits and pieces have been tacked on here and there. It was my own reflection.

I felt a proper tit, basing an entire belief in the supernatural realm on a sodding reflection of myself!

The reason it disappeared when I looked directly at it, was the fact that my perspective changed when I turned my head, my willingness to believe had allowed me to bamboozle myself into a false belief. Personal experience is not a reliable witness, and it sure as hell isn’t evidence.

As it happens, more coordinated, sophisticated and intelligent people than myself have made a living out of bamboozlement, magicians, conjurors, illusionists, mentalists, call them what you will, they often make a good living from exploiting the follies and foibles of the human brain, but they are at least honest about it, unlike the other kind of bamboozler, the conman, evangelist preacher, the cult leader, embezzlers, frauds and cheats, or deluded maniacs, take your pick, using their abilities to parasitise humanity for their own ends.

Anyone who doubts that evangelist preachers aren’t fast talking scumbags would do well to seek out information regarding Marjoe Gortner, who as a child was forced by his parents to act the part of a child prodigy, one to whom the Abrahamic god spoke directly and invested with special powers. Eventually he had had enough and dropped out, returning only once, with a documentary film crew, to exact what he presumably hoped would be a delicious revenge upon the parents who tortured him into compliance as an infant. He feigned a return to the fold, described to the film crew what he would do, and how, then went out and did it. It should have been the death knell for evangelism, but somehow, the scam continues today, almost entirely unchanged, despite a number of other expose’s and takedowns by sceptics, including James Randi, who undermined Peter Popof by tuning into his radio channel, over which his wife fed details of desperate believers, hoping for a blessing and willing to pay handsomely for it, in order that Popof might extract cash from the credulous by pretending to have a hotline to a deity.

Needless to say, evangelists disgust me.

If, by some odd quirk of the internet, you happen to be reading this, and happen to be convinced by preachers, I challenge you to look up the videos and documents about Gortner and Popof, if you come away from either with your faith intact, or stronger, then there’s no hope for you, you poor, gullible nitwit.

Anyone at one of Gortners’ sermons would swear that a cross appeared on his forehead, as if by magic, anyone privy to the behind the scenes footage, would see how he applied invisible ink, in the shape of a cross, which would only appear when it reacted with the sweat produced by his exuberant preaching.

Personal experience can be useful, but as evidence, it’s very little use without corroborating evidence.

And that’s one reason why I’m not convinced by claims about gods and ghosts anymore.