Monday, 28 May 2012

Thought Experiment 1 - Football v. Religion

I think it would be a hugely interesting, although possibly very cruel, experiment to strand say 100 very young and uncorrupted children, of all creeds and colours, on a lush and fruitful tropical island.

To start with there would have to be some outside influence, but absolutely minimum, by leaving food medicine or clothing. Once established and fairly autonomous they should then be left alone for 250 years.

What do you think we would fine when we returned......

There would be a society, possibly very different from what we expect, but there would be games and sport of some kind, maybe even a type of football, I would have thought so all other societies through the ages have played such a game. It wouldn't be 11 a side, the pitch would be different dimensions, but there have been too many examples of sport involving getting a ball over a line for it not to be replicated in this society.

But what of religion. I would wager my house that there would be no tales of talking snakes, men on a  cross, Mosses in the rushes, Mount Sinai and the 10 Commandments, the good Samaritan, etc. and why should there. Although, if the bible is the book of God why would these pure and uncorrupted children not know of these things.

I suspect that this experiment, which unfortunately will never happen, would prove, once and for all,  that the Christians, Jews, Muslims, Moonies, Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientologists and the rest of the religions cults are all nonsense.

Also, in the absence of  the influence of religion, there may be some social harmony, women may have equal rights, homosexuals may not be persecuted and there would hopefully be no racism - why would there be.

I guess that if this society felt the need to worship, that they would worship the sun, and why not. It exists, it is reliable and without it you die. If these aspects of Sun worship were actually the prerequisite for all religions, we would have far fewer of them, and any that did exist I would have no problems co-existing with.

Societies only need 'god' if they have questions that can not be answered, it has been said "where knowledge ends, religion begins" -and so this will take me on to Thought Experiment 2 shortly.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Weekend TV - Football v. Religion

What a difference in weekend's TV offerings.......

From Football, excellent matches from Hearts and Chelsea, providing superb entertainment and talking points for most of Saturday, and indeed the rest of the weekend.

From Religion, 'The Big Questions', a TV show on BBC supposedly hosting religious debate, but which actually seemed to go out of its way to avoid questioning some glaringly obvious problems with the statements put forward by some f its contributors. The show should really be re-titled 'Avoiding The Big Answers'.

'The Big Questions' seems to be an hour spent seemingly avoiding rigorous critical debate and allowing religious sophistry of the highest order. On the plus side, it does actually gather members representing the three Abrahamic religions together for once to try and defend their religious delusions.

You can watch it on BBC iPlayer here until 27th May (I think). The questions this week was "is there a difference between a religion and a cult?"

There were few highlights, but these included the common sense of Prof Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Ancient Religions, Exeter Uni and a member of the audience with spiky hair.

05:24 Prof Fran - No difference between religion and cult, it is just about size.

13:30 Nicky Campbell -  Lands a punch for common sense quoting from the Bible, Book of Mathew "He that loveth father and mother more than me is not worthy of me, He that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me...." is this not cultist ?  

Christina Odone, Telegraph - says a description of cult is to have a charismatic leader (Jesus, Mohammed) who has a radical teaching,  tells people to leave their family and everything they know, and  that they will find they are alienated - all sounds like a religion to me, she then goes on,  unfortunately unchallenged, to say that religions live by morals & value, cults don't. However, a quick read of the bible would end that line of argument.

Prof Fran - Then pretty much destroys Odone's last point.

24.25 Prof Fran - "The bible is a very contradictory collection of texts... I know what I'm talking about"

28:05 The man from the Moonies gets the hump at people sniggering at him, c'mon he must be used to this by now.

30:52 Atheist Spiky Haired Guy "Budda said, do not believe anything because you see it, because you read it in a religious book, because your religious teacher tells you or even because I say it, always use your own common sense and reason - use the TV Myth busters and prove anything you say is actually true - it should be the same principals with religion"

However there was much that just annoyed me as a viewer,

05:54 Ian Hanworth, Cult Information Cenre, (look at their Council of Reference - basically a 'charity' backed by mainstream religion),
"I will word things carefully because I might have to prove things I could say in a court of law" - does he mean he would have difficulty proving what he may say in a court of law. He is then accused by another guest, rightly, of using manipulative techniques in making allegations and not backing them up.

09:30 Rabbi Yitchak Schochet - and this is pure GOLD
Nicky Campbell asks "Aren't Religions just successful cults"
Rabbi " No, religions in the first instance is predicated on the belief in a deity, and a cult in the first instance is predicated, usually, on a belief in a particular man who concocted something which he then chose to  define as a religion and then looks to prey on the vulnerable...."
UNBELIEVABLE Is this not Jesus, Mohammed & Mosses that you are describing - NickyC c'mon step in here!!!
Prof Fran does try and make this exact point but is simply shouted down by the Rabbi - NickyC does nothing.

12:15 Linda Dubrow-Marshall had nothing sensible to say - and was taken apart by the 'Jews for Jesus guy' @ 13:13, who came across as funand interesting  guy. By the way, Linda is Research Co-Editor of ICSA Today and is a co-founder of RETIRN, a private practice which provides services to individuals and families who have been affected by cultic influence. So this may just have been a free advert for her.... and Rob Dubrow-Marshall (her husband?- what do you think?) was also there although said much and contributed little - and they're both at it, he even touts for work on the show!

21:20 Ian Hanworth "What we're concerned with is that Cults remove free choice" - What -like the baptism of christian children without their consent, or the circumcision of Jewish babies. Can you be this blind? As Rabbie Burns wrote in 'To a Louse' (appropriate) "O would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us".

40:49 Ian Hanworth - discusses child abuse in Cults and completely fails to mention that there may be systemic child  abuse in organised religions, such as the catholic church for example.

44:45 John Atack "You are shunned if you leave a cult", well you can be put to death for leaving some religions or even just for heresy, and that's just bad-mouthing a religion - shunning doesn't seem so bad now does it.

Having watched this twice now, if the BBC, or indeed anybody else thinks that this TV show is a well balanced, intellectual and critical debate on religion, then they are deluded.

Having Religion deride Cults for being unethical, controlling, self-obsessed, child-abusing organisations based on an invented philosophy is just hilarious.

Bring on Euro 2012 and some quality TV.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Unacceptable Behaviour - Football v. Religion

Joey Barton...... What can you say about him?

He broke the rules, got caught, went berserk, and will be punished according to the appropriate disciplinary code of the Football Association. Rumours are that he will receive a 10 game ban, and this may be seen as lenient by some. He hasn't really shown remorse, but why should he, he knew what he was doing, and the likely consequences, so I probably have more respect for him for saying nothing, rather than issuing an insincere grovelling apology as Suarez did.

Contrast this with Religion, specifically the Catholic Church.

Apart from the obvious 10 Commandments as rules of life, it seems odd to me that the Church and Christianity is content that the worst amongst us can be saved by repenting our sins. So what exactly is the fucking point of having a moral code if an evil and immoral life can be saved in 'injury time' by 'repenting'. Surely this is a get-out-of-jail-card for the worst in society.

Is this why priests seem to be able to abuse children with impunity in the knowledge that confession and repenting will absolve all sin.


Instead of shielding these disgusting criminals the Catholic Church should expose them rather than use their culture of guilt and position of authority within the community to silence the abused. What sort of benign all seeing god would allow this to happen...... EXACTLY.

Maybe the Catholic Church should look at Football for their moral compass (as they appear to have none), it's not hard, there are rules, if you break the rules there are sanctions, you can say sorry if you want, but as we said before you broke the rules (or law) so there are sanctions.

The Catholic Church has lost it's way, they have gotten too big, it is all about the brand and the message is lost, similar to what happened to Irish rock band U2. The church is now all about the church and only interested in the church.... What about the people ? What about the children ?

I'm glad football is my religion, I can sleep sound and look forward to a cracking day tomorrow, c'mon Hearts, Blackpool and Chelsea.

Update: Via on twitter Ex-priest guilty of conspiring to kill boy who accused him of rape    Unbelievable, how can you possibly explain these actions of a very religious person.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

End of 2011/12 Premiership Season - Football v. Religion

What a last day of of Premiership Football.

Was it a miracle?  Is Aguaro the new Messiah ? Is ex-Bolton Wanderers player Stoke's Jon Walters the new Judas ?

No, No and NO - this has nothing to do with Religion it is too powerful for that -


The excitement, twists and turns, Champions or runners up, saved or relegated, Champion's League spot or hanging on for Chelsea's result next Saturday - these are real issues that mean an awful lot to an awful lot of people.

I can't not enjoy football, it is a real and enriching experience, it doesn't teach me untruths or to mis-trust and hate others and importantly it only consumes my life when I allow it to - there is no penalty if I don't go to the games or switch off the TV.

So it is the end of the season...... luckily there are the NPower play-off finals, Scottish Cup, Champion's League Final and the Euros to look forward to before next August.

However, on the downside there is also football in the Olympics...... but that is an entirely different post and rant.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Corruption at the Top - Football v. Religion

It is a source of great frustration to me that it appears that Football and Religion suffer from the same problem, in that there would seem to be wide spread corruption and a lack of morals and ethics at the top of of  both organisations.

Both organisations suffer from those at the top seeking their own self aggrandisement and putting their own personal ambitions ahead of very things their organisations stand for. Neither Pope Benedict XVI or Sepp Blatter got where they are without playing a great deal of 'organisational politics' and doing deals to get ahead.

If either of these men were most interested in promoting the 'true values' of their organisations  then things may be very different.

The Catholic Church must stop the protection and cover-up of the wide-spread child abuse that seems endemic in this organisation, they should change the out-dated rules on contraception and maybe help stop the spread of aids in the third world and maybe, just maybe, these men of god would give up their privileged  film star life-styles, the first class travel and Michelin starred restaurants and put some of the money saved to actually help the poor...... is that not what their fictional Jesus teaches.

And maybe that's the rub - those in the Vatican are best placed and must be aware of the greatest fiction ever spread - is that why they fail to live by the world of the bible.....

....... but FIFA is no better. An organisation supposedly tasked with looking after the best interests of Football, and they are simply falling over themselves to get their snouts in the trough. The 'bungs' and 'bribes' and under-hand dealing that has allegedly gone on to deprive England of hosting the 2018 World Cup is pretty legendary,

But WHY is nobody questioning the decision to take the World Cup to QATAR in 2022 - How much money was paid in bribes to secure that...........

Can somebody from FIFA please answer the following,

From a purely practical point of view, Qatar is petty small and largely desert.
  • Where are you going to accommodate 32 National Teams with the attending media circuses and necessary training facilities.
  • Where are you going to accommodate the supporters from 32 different nations.
  • Where are the football stadiums meeting the international standards and having sufficient capacity for the attending crowds.
  • With day time temperatures in the 40s, when are you going to play the games.
There is a good article questioning all this from the Telegraph here

But most worrying, if you are trying to run a FUN and ENJOYABLE festival of football for THE WORLD, why have you chosen to have it in a country that RESTRICTS FREEDOM.

From the FCO Website - advice regarding visiting QATAR ( FCO WEBSITE HERE )

"Local laws reflect the fact that Qatar is an Islamic country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs." Seems fair enough, unless of course having to change my behaviour such that I do not offend local customs is actually breaching my human rights.

"The importation of narcotics, alcohol, pornography, pork products and religious books and material into Qatar is illegal." So does this mean supporters from other faiths can not bring their bible, torah etc. and what does 'religious material mean' does this include jewellery such as crucifixes. Also, what does this mean for all the footballers who insist on 'crossing themselves' at every possibility - will this offend our Islamic hosts.

"DVDs and videos may be subject to scrutiny and may be censored."  and you can probably add laptops and memory sticks.

"It is a punishable offence to drink alcohol or be drunk in public.  Offenders may incur a prison sentence or deportation.  Alcohol is, however, available at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and expatriates living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system.  You should not carry alcohol with you, including in your car (except to take it on the day of collection from the warehouse to your home)." This should be interesting....... bring on the FUN POLICE !!!

"You should dress modestly when in public, including whilst driving.  Women should cover their shoulders and avoid wearing short skirts.  You should behave courteously at all times."  Yes WOMEN, know your place !!! 
When the temperature is 40 degrees Celsius, I think some women may be wearing next to nothing, bring on the Brazilians.  

"Any intimacy in public between men and women (including between teenagers) can lead to arrest."
 As I said before 'bring on the Brazilians'. What does this mean, holding hands, hugging, kissing - the things that happen when your team scores.......

"Homosexual behaviour is illegal in Qatar" Seriously, who in FIFA thought that taking the World Cup to a homophobic, medieval and feudal society was a good idea.

How is this going to work unless QATAR changes its laws, and if it is necessary for QATAR to temporarily change its laws in order to hold the World Cup,  FIFA should be questioning whether this is a country that should ever have been considered in the first place.

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Good Book - Football v. Religion (No.4)

The Rules of Association Football were codified in 1863 as a way of establishing a definite set of rules for Football and also to distinguish the game from other forms of 'football' around at the time, such as Rugby Football.

The earliest forms of football go back to China in the second century, the first description of a football match in England was written by William FitzStephen in about 1170, and there are many British traditions going back hundreds of years pitting one village against another to force a 'ball' over a 'goal line'.

Basically, the Rules of Association Football took the best bits from the many similar games around at the time and combined them to produce the game we know and love today.

And this is very much what those that wrote the bible did when they invented Christianity.  They took the best bits from all the previous religions and combined the stories to produce what we recognise as Christianity today.

The following, which illustrates this point excellently, was found on the Religion Poisons website

So, I guess that on this point, Football and Religion are fairly similar, in that they have both been manufactured by man from previous, but less successful attempts at the same thing.

Now one of them is very popular, gets people of all types together and can be a social force for good, the other is Religion.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Good Book - Football v. Religion (No.3)

One of the important aspects of the Rules of Association Football is that it has been written to avoid ambiguity and personal interpretation, and is the same set of rules used throughout the world regardless of your creed, colour, age, gender and sexual orientation.

It has been written so that even the more 'confusing' (to some) rules such as the offside rule, are written plainly to avoid misinterpretation or differing interpretations.

It therefore seems perverse to me that the Christian Churches, and I mean churches, for there are an uncountable number of denominations and varieties, treat the Bible as a MENU of scripture and verse from which to pick and choose the bits you want, and then interpret as you choose.

Surely, this is no way to run a religion.The message should be consistent and easily understood.

However, Christians can't even decide if the Bible is a metaphor for life or a literal account of the beginning of the world in Gods words. If they can't even agree on something as basic as that, the many other problems between denominations and sects appear trivial.

If you really want to see how dis-jointed a religion Christianity is, just investigate the goings on at the spiritual heart of Christianity, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It is a shocking list of examples of how the many sects within the church spend more time on in-fighting and petty squabbles than doing anything that might benefit mankind. As the video below demonstrates.

There you have it, 'men of peace' going about their daily business of spreading hate and division.