Archive for January, 2016

On having a sense of smell.

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Our sense of smell is being revealed as an undiscovered super-sense; we can detect Parkinson’s disease just by someone’s scent, we can follow a scent-trail when blindfolded and we can detect emotional states by it.

And encountering a remembered scent can be as powerful as piece of music for transporting us back to a specific point in our past; they’re like preserved moments held in jar in a museum of ghosts.

The happiest smell of all for me is the rich cloying aroma of a fecund earth, pure and clean. A smell straight out of the Garden of Eden before the serpent visited. A smell promising the possibility of miracles and evoking a reassuring sense of perfection and order in the world. A smell to rejoice by, to come closer to life by, a smell of faeces in its proper place, a smell which one instinctively understands to be the only philosophy in life which is correct and absolute. A smell that penetrates the very mystery of life itself and reveals in its vapours the unspoken answers to all out enquiries. It is the smell of life itself.

And then there’s the hot sharp, pungent smell of over-activity, of biological mayhem, an acrid stinging smell saturated with discomfort and gripe. A smell of India and teeming bacteria.

As the body declines the more frequent ghost visitor is the dry decrepit smell of old age and infirmity, of fruitless loins and barren wombs, of sterility and shrivelled up bowels; a smell from antiquity, from Ancient Egypt artificially preserved in glass stoppered bottles and once more encountered in dusty Museums. It is the smell of the past, of history, of death.

Would Richard Dawkins accept a knighthood?

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016


In this article, John Gray surmises that Richard Dawkins feels a knighthood is the least reward he should receive for his efforts in trying to rid the world of religion (it’s a supposition, not based on any fact). In my head I pictured Dawkins kneeling before the queen to receive the symbolic sword strokes and it was like a scene from Hell, an abomination of all reason and moral rectitude.

Why was I so appalled?

Dawkins has spent a considerable part of his life demystifying the imagined authority of a fictitious being and urged others to reject the dominion of this entity called god. His chosen method of achieving this is the encouragement of ruthless logic, empirical reasoning and the scientific method. But in this image of him kneeling in front of the queen it seems he rejects his own life’s work and submits himself to the power of someone who uses superstition to the same extent as the fanatical followers of god. Not only that, but in evolutionary terms, the organism dispensing the imagined nectar of privilege is, intellectually, far inferior to Dawkins on account of coming from a diminished gene pool due to excessive in-breeding.

The hypocrisy is surely self-evident.

Ultimately, Dawkins’ crusade against god is due to the misuse of power by His earthly representatives. The power of god (via these leaders) to create conflict in the world is at the core of his evangelical zeal; especially as he believes the ‘wisdom’ to be found at the fountainhead of most religions is man-made and false.

Whether god is real or not, the Church has enormous power, which is real. The power is derived from the willing supplication of its followers to donate their time and wealth to the sect’s existence just as in a colony of ants or bees. It is apparent that a lot of the ‘wisdom’ in religion can only be man-made (the idea of intercession in Catholicism, for example) and so some of the high priests within this religious group know that the game is actually power on earth, not in the promised after life.

A monarchy employs the same power structure as the church. The same kind of voodoo is employed too – the robes, the crowns the sceptres… they didn’t arise by chance, they are there to impress the uneducated, and to overwhelm any urge for individuality or autonomy. The monarchy has enormous power—regardless of whether the king has divine right to rule or not.

In the past, the establishment was made up of the church, the monarchy, the armed forces and the state. God was a useful cement to stop these factions from warring with each other. God was equally useful to justify wars with other nation states when it suited the leaders.

Today, this establishment structure is pretty much still intact. Here is the oath that the armed forces uses when signing up new recruits today:

“I (insert full name), do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.”

Note their promise to god is to protect the queen and her heirs, not anyone else.

These elements in the establishment are inextricably linked and they rely on subjugation to maintain their power. God acts like a mortar for the triumphal arch of the establishment over the awed and subjugated people. If you take god out of the mix, then the establishment will become unstable as the different factions seek power for themselves rather than share it.

Using ruthless reasoning, it becomes an unavoidable conclusion that the concept of god runs like an artery through the entire body of society.

Humans, by their unique evolutionary advantage of consciousness, can decide how they live unlike ants that have no choice. The structure of human society is due to choice not inevitability.

Dawkins can’t have it both ways: either we have no choice in how society is formed and run or we do have a choice and we can reject its injustices—all of them. The monarchy is only one step down from the belief in god; its rationale for existence is as shaky as gods own. It should be rejected.