Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Conner, the world's leading collector of Irish names 
Monday, 9 February, 2009, 03:18 PM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

[ Ed - This is a special guest contribution from Steve.]

This week, we will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of the man who removed god from his last hiding place in all scientific enquiry. It is silly to think that there is a conflict between science and religion. I mean, who could ever imagine such a thing, apart from almost all the popes over history who have imprisoned, tortured and horribly executed any scientist who disagreed with them.

For example, Young Earth Creationists believe that what is written in the bible (twice) is actually true, and so they find themselves in dispute with both science and logic. But surely it is ridiculous to believe literally in a talking snake, a woman built from a man's non-missing rib, or a man rising from the dead and wandering round for a couple of months.

No, the purpose of the more ridiculous bits of the bible is to speak of the relationship between man and god. It's a metaphor, see. Any time some filthy atheist points out that men can't fit in a whale's belly, or that no-one lives to be 900 years old, simply shout METAPHOR at them, and smile smugly.

(Of course, some bits are literal, like the bit about homosexuals. Don't ask me how I know which bits are literal, I just do.)

The bible helps us to understand the nature of god. Like the story of Job, a perfectly reasonable man whose life god decided to ruin as an experiment. Or like the Great Flood, when god killed everyone irrespective of how good and innocent they might have been. Or like the tale of Abraham and Isaac, in which god established that a truly good man would cut his own son's heart out because he was asked to on a whim.

Scientists have to look beyond the question "how?" to the question "why?", to the question of meaning and purpose. So, while a scientist is content to describe the moon, its nature, its origin and everything else about it, we must also ask what is the purpose of it being there. Is it to give us light at night (except when it isn't there)? Is it there to look nice in an otherwise bland and uninteresting sky? Is it a source of cheese?

Christianity can help with the pursuit of science, by encouraging scientists to ask these "why" questions. They must ask about the purpose of all things, such as sprouts, Hollyoaks, and malaria.

What science needs is religion to guide it, both in the direction of good things, and away from the direction of things tricky for religion. Without religion, science will definitely become an instrument of oppression. There have been many times in history when scientists have been the main cause of oppression. Like the Inquisition, in which priests and monks found themselves forced to use the hideous tools of torture that science had provided with no prompting from anyone.

As St. Augustine says, "Let us seek with the desire to find, and find with the desire to seek still more, but if we find out too much, let us stop, and hide the results under the carpet."


5 comments ( 1036 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.9 / 283 )

Rabbi Lionel Blue 
Monday, 9 February, 2009, 08:19 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Some Bar Mitzvah kids have asked me about the war of London bus ads. Can I prove that the Great Celestial Teapot actually exists? No - I can't prove or disprove the Teapot, but I do know which is more likely. I feel the Teapot. It began at my own Bar Mitzvah. I told the Teapot what I thought of Him, about all the evil done in His name. The Teapot did not reply, which made me believe in Him even more. Over the years, the Teapot has remained silent, until now He has become an old friend.

Last week the silent Teapot gave me the courage to do my stage show. I couldn't let the Teapot down, so I went ahead. Then someone I met at the supermarket told me about a credit card mix up at the till - evidence, if ever there was, of the Teapot's presence. But such anecdotes of checkout chaos were insufficient to convince the Bar Mitzvah kids. They still wanted proof of the Teapot. I told them they were their own evidence, for we all become what we worship.

I'm a Teapot.

6 comments ( 1181 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 269 )

Reverend Lucy Winkett, Canon Precentor of St Paul's Cathedral 
Saturday, 7 February, 2009, 10:33 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Well, you asked for a greater range of voices here on TFTD, so here I am.

I live right in the heart of the City of London, surrounded by office blocks and merchant banks. The markets work 24 hours a day even during these recessionary times, so the office blocks are lit up all day and all night. Lately, I've been woken by the beautiful song of a little blackbird, mistakenly thinking it is dawn in the little garden off Pater Noster Square. It sings it's little heart out, waking me up at 3am every morning, completely disrupting my night's sleep. Charmed at first, then irritated, now bloody annoyed, if I had a gun I'd shoot the little bastard. And as for the Masters of the Universe in their glass towers, 20 floors up, it's alright for you. I'm stuck in a listed building and can't even get double glazing put in to keep all your sodding noise out. Haven't you got homes to go to? Why don't you behave like normal people and go to bed at night? There's a reason sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture you know. I've just about had it with you lot. If any of you are awake at 7.45 on a Saturday morning like me, and you happen to be listening to this, will you please SWITCH YOUR FUCKING LIGHTS OFF!!!

Thank you.

2 comments ( 1540 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 267 )

Staggeringly Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Reverend Lord Richard Harries 
Friday, 6 February, 2009, 08:39 AM
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

The believers' counterstrike in the advertising bus war has begun at last. I was amazed by the atheist bus campaign. Amazed, I tell you! For they said "There probably is no Celestial Teapot." Which just goes to show that even they admit their could be a Celestial Teapot.

All the evidence shows that Teapotters are happier than a-teapotters. Teapotters go about their lives smiling happily, knowing in their hearts that there is a loving Teapot to look after them. Now we have our own bus ads, telling people to be happy: "Only complete twats say, there is no Teapot." However, I believe this message of love and inspiration is all wrong. Teapotism isn't about being happy. It's about the truth of the great Celestial Teapot.

They all seem to forget the evidence. As a staggeringly reverend baron lord professor, let me just remind you of the fact that the great Celestial Teapot sent his only china cup to deliver us from the collective tea leaves of all mankind. He flushed them down the heavenly loo so that we can be in orbit with him for all eternity. Have we forgotten the miracles: how He turned water into Earl Grey? The refreshing of the 5,000?

So my bus ad would be, "Maybe there is a Teapot." Think about that all you a-teapotters out there!

13 comments ( 1406 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 339 )

Rhidian Brook, writer, celebrity and Christian  
Thursday, 5 February, 2009, 08:33 AM
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Busy people like me need to plan our time with the assistance of our wives. I had planned to jet off to a meeting this week, as we celebrity Christian writers do, with various other important people. This despite the fact that heavy snow had been forecast for days. However, my plans were set adrift when my daughter unexpectedly announced "Look, snow!" and indeed there was snow as the meteorologist had foretold. I'm not going to mention my son today since he got on the programme last week. It's my daughter's turn today. You might be wondering when I will run out of friends and relatives to mention in the programme, but rest assured that for someone as popular and well known as me, there are plenty still to go. The Invisible Magic Friend had sent us snow so that we could stop and wonder at His marvelousness.

With my packed schedule disrupted, and unable to think of anything else to do, I went and played in the snow with various other busy professionals whose busy, important schedules also left them with nothing else to do. As we built giant snowballs, I thought to myself, "Wow - this is even better than religion!" A surprising sentiment you might think. Who would've thought that mucking about in the snow, having fun, could be such fun?

And now, to end my little sermon to you all here today, I wish to finish with a rhetorical flourish, which is at the same time both profound and serious, yet remains quaint and touching. Guaranteed to both make you think and make you smile in the way that only the very best metaphorical allegories can. With the assistance of my fellow professionals, we calculated that the weight of a moderately compacted, two meter diameter snowball, with half the density of water is approximately two tons [ Ed. He's right you know.]. Just because something's heavy and deep, doesn't mean it can't be fun.

Oh, oh, oh, wasn't that just wonderful! But then, what would you expect from a celebrity Christian writer such as myself?

1 comment ( 1106 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.9 / 281 )

Akhandadhi Das - a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian 
Wednesday, 4 February, 2009, 08:19 AM
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Oh dear. Poor President Obama has got himself into a pickle over his Buy American policy. It seems that pressures are already mounting to abandon free trade in favour of protectionism at home. This reminds me of the Hindu story where bandits chase their victim into a priest's home. When the bandits ask where the victim is, the priest responds, "Here he is. It is with great sadness that I have to hand him over to you to be killed, but on the plus side, I haven't lied to you, so my principles and integrity remain intact."

This just goes to show that dogmatically sticking to principles is a Bad Thing. On the other hand, abandoning the principle of free trade when times are tough might also be a Bad Thing. So sometimes abandoning principles is a bad thing and sometimes it's a Good Thing. It all depends really. It depends on what we Hindus refer to as "time", "place" and "circumstances". If the time, place and circumstances of your principle abandoning would result in good things, then it's a Good Thing. If, on the other hand, the time, place and circumstances of your principle abandoning would result in bad things, then it's a Bad Thing. So that's how you know whether it's a Good Thing or a Bad Thing to abandon a principle.

As Groucho Marx said, "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them, I have others."

Oh, and I'd just Like to add that I'm also in favour of saving the planet. That's a Good Thing.

4 comments ( 1018 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 263 )

Right Awful Anne Atkins - Agonising Aunt and Vicar's Wife 
Tuesday, 3 February, 2009, 08:40 AM
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

I have the tremendous good fortune to be lecturing you the day after the Children's Society report confirmed what I have been telling you all along. You have to love your children. I know its boring and time consuming and there are better things you could be getting on with, but if you want them to turn into well adjusted adults like me then you're just going to have to get on with it. You had the children, now you have to pay the price.

Children are less happy now because you parents don't pay any attention to your children any more. You shower them with your ill-gotten wealth, but starve them of the affection that they so desperately need. It was different in't olden days. 'Ee by gum we was poor but 'appy, wit oor 13 yr old doon pit an' little baby Tommy cleaning chimneys, but we gave nought boot lov t'em - right oop 'till them died a consoomption for t' lack a medical care.

If you want further proof, Jesus happens to agree with me on this, and in this instance I believe Jesus is quite correct. Jesus said only children could get into heaven. Adults are far too cynical and critical and just moan all the time. Jesus said invest in him. Give him all your pocket money children, because remember, the price of heavenly real estate always brings a healthy return on investment. The share price just goes up and up and up. I can't quite find the quote at the moment but I'm sure he said that somewhere.

Relationships are the only things that last for eternity, except for angels, souls, heaven and my Invisible Magic Friend, which also last for eternity and definitely exist. As a Vicar's Wife you can trust me on this.

27 comments ( 709 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3.1 / 296 )

Rabbi Lionel Blue 
Monday, 2 February, 2009, 09:59 AM
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

The Holy Land isn't very holy at the moment. It's full of religion. Unfortunately it's the wrong type of religion - the religion that divides people rather than the good sort which is usually so good at emphasising our common humanity. Every war that Israel wins creates bigger problems with an escalating price to pay. There are small efforts at building bridges between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but they are swamped under the sectarian hatred that emanates from both sides. Each new generation must learn to hate anew. If the Invisible Magic Friend would just stop people hating for one generation, then I'm sure we could just sort it all out ourselves after that.

9 comments ( 802 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 217 )

Secular Thought For The Day 
Sunday, 1 February, 2009, 09:17 AM
Hot on the heels of Gavin Orland's email pledge, George James is determined to keep up the momentum by creating a new pledge, this time to deliver an alternative, secular, TFTD. .

There have, of course, been previous attempts to do this, such as the HSS' Thought For The World series, but a great many new people have come around to our way of thinking as a result of the recent publicity. A Secular TFTD website, created specifically in response to this, is one way of capitalising on that publicity and keeping up the pressure on the BBC.

George isn't asking for much: no more than 30 contributors, in return for which he'll put in all the work of creating a website and publishing daily contributions for at least a month.
2 comments ( 514 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 3 / 219 )

Reverend Bob Marshall, an Anglican Priest 
Saturday, 31 January, 2009, 09:35 AM
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

Yippee! We're all going to get faster broadband. In a fantastic new initiative, the government has announced that it would be really great if this happened, and expressed the wish that somebody else should do something about it. But will 2Mb/s make you happy and fulfilled? All over the internet the cry is going up, "Where is the spirituality in broadband?", because spirituality is what you need to make you happy and fulfilled.

My favourite bits of the Old Testament are the Wisdom books. All the rest are rubbish. Here's one of my favourite bits from my favourite bits. He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. In other words, people who don't understand things usually just keep quiet. You can see this on discussion forums all over the place, where people of limited understanding exercise restraint in speaking their opinions and offering advice.

1 comment ( 608 views )   |  permalink   |   ( 2.9 / 318 )

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