Blog Archives

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This week TED has uploaded a talk enthusiastically endorsing meditation. TED and meditation, or ‘TEDitation’ -it’s a combination cynics are already dubbing an unsightly collision between facile pseudo-scientific hot air – and meditation. Seriously though, it’s been known for some time that technology and meditation is a match made in Nirvana- particularly in medicine. TED noted a few scientific reports into the effects of meditation that have been carried out in the last year, but I wanted to go back a bit further and simply summarise the key findings of those studies which came to light in my brief search. I’m not a scientist so I’m not going to explicate the primary sources. Read the rest of this entry

Benefits of Meditation: Scientific Studies

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Perhaps inevitably, the focal point becomes the willy.

As someone who feels they engage with issues of real controversy daily it is hard to underestimate the frustration of seeing debates one regards as long-settled inflame people again and again month after month. Presently, one such issue has been brought to the fore by Non-Prophet Week, a week of charitable giving by the non-religious, 29 October – 4 November. This is the third annual incarnation of the event organised by the British Federation of Atheist, Humanist, and Secularist Student Societies (AHS).  Read the rest of this entry

Atheism and Morality; Plato and Natural Law

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With thanks to Adam Curtis © 2011.

ALL WATCHED OVER BY MACHINES OF LOVING GRACE

Introduction

This documentary takes its name from a 1967 poem of Richard Brautigan which called for a cybernetically-programmed ecological utopia consisting of a fusion of computers and mammals living in perfect harmony and stability. By contrast, the film implies that humans have been colonized by the machines they have built: although we don’t realize it, everything we see in the world today is through the eyes of the computers. Computers have failed to liberate us and instead have distorted and simplified our view of the world around us. Hugh Montgomery summarised the suggestions made by the film as follows: “By putting our faith in computers [or unfeeling bureaucracies more generally] to create a stable, democratic world order… we’ve become politically and economically naïve and dulled to the business of real social change.” Read the rest of this entry

Adam Curtis’ All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, Part 1

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On average, women in the UK are paid 17% less than men in full time work, and 38% less in part time work. This is particularly unequal because they are at least twice as likely as men to be relegated to the outskirts of society that is part time or temporary work. A very disproportionately high amount of this part time work is in the very underpaid sectors known as the 3 C’s: Cooking, Cleaning and Caring. More worryingly, disabled women are 3 times less likely to work than are disabled men and this is before the sharp cuts the government is presently making to disability support. Indeed, 72% of the government’s planned cuts will come from women, and it is already the worst time for female unemployment in 23 years. Read the rest of this entry

Some Facts for International Women’s Day

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The experiments of the physiologist Benjamin Libet are famous for their contribution to the free will/determinism debate to the extent that in popular imagination they are often believed to have disproved the existence of free will.

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Critique of Libet on Free Will

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In the UK at least, the question of whether the law should call civil partnerships marriages is a merely semantic dispute. It is not about equality, under the existing legislation in Britain same-sex couples already have that, and it’s not about homophobia either. It is that the term ‘marriage’, by contrast to near synonyms ‘wedding’ and perhaps ‘union’, requires two heterogeneous elements mixed to create something new. To make a crude example, some salad can go together to make a nice salad, but fried chicken and piri piri sauce- that’s a marriage. But of course it goes deeper than that. It is also about mystery, and here the mystery is the unknown nature -yet wondrous complementarity- of the other (in both mind and body).

The semantic dispute doesn’t only come down to whether or not the ceremonies take place in the context of a belief system, but also to the content of a belief. Surprisingly, many people disagree with gay marriage even though they don’t believe that homosexuality is condemned by god.

In our cultural heritage, marriage has always been the Christian sacrament of holy matrimony, a ritual practise which symbolises not just a committed romantic relationship between two people, but the union of two people into one biological whole from which new life (literally) flows as a transformation of their love. Read the rest of this entry

Gay Marriage?