Akhandadhi Das, a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian 
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Yesterday's Reith Lecture by Prof Martin Rees, ponders the question of what we'll never know. Will we ever fully understand consciousness? Or will we ever have a complete unified theory of physics? Maybe there are some things that are just too mysteriously mysterious for us to understand. In fact, this actually is the case. The human brain, for all its complexity, is made of matter and isn't really built to handle the ultimate truth about the universe, much less about invisible magic stuff. To understand the true nature of the universe we need some outside assistance, from invisible magic beings. Throughout history, revelations from invisible magic beings have been so much more useful and productive than mere science alone.

As it says in the fourth book of Star Wars, "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force." Still, you should continue to deploy your limited brain power to try and understand something of the universe. As it says in the second book of Harry Potter "Hearing voices no one else can hear isn't a good sign, even in the wizarding world."

It's all so big and incomprehensible and mysterious and mystical and really, really full of deeply meaningful stuff that we can't understand.

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Reverend Angela Tilby, Vicar of St Benet's Church in Cambridge  
Tuesday, 15 June, 2010, 08:34 AM - Gibberish, Theology, Bible, Tilby
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

The Saville Enquiry, which has provided gainful employment to numerous lawyers over the past twelve years, is due to report today. 1972 was a time when pop music was real pop music and nostalgia was real nostalgia. Happy, happy days, apart from the thirteen people shot dead on Bloody Sunday.

This is exactly like the book of Revelation, the holy trip of Saint John the magic mushroom eater. You see there's this scroll with seven seals, although why the scroll should have seven aquatic mammals on it is never fully explained. The magic mushroom eater weeps, for no one can open the scroll. Then the lamb that was slain (who's really the second lump and the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend) opens the scroll and unleashes the four horsemen of the apocalypse, which is really nice of him.

In order to understand this, you either need to consume some seriously hallucinogenic drugs, or alternatively consult a theologian. What this passage clearly shows is that the Invisible Magic Friend is present throughout time, simultaneously in past present and future (you probably won't see this unless you're as highly theologically trained as what I am). Don't worry that the theory of relativity suggests that there is no such thing as simultaneity and therefore no such thing as a universal "now" - this is a theological "now" and is not defined by inertial frames of reference.

So in conclusion, the Saville Enquiry is about something in the past, will be reported today and will be read in the future, just like the book of Revelation says.

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Rev Canon Dr Alan Billings, an Anglican priest  
Monday, 14 June, 2010, 08:07 AM - Morality, Sport, Billings
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Has anyone mentioned the World Cup yet?

Personally I can't stand football but I'm going to talk about the England vs. USA match on Saturday night anyway. Many of you ordinary people probably get quite excited by the whole thing, so I'll use it as today's excuse to talk about religion, which I will cunningly switch to when appropriate aspects of human emotion and failings are touched upon.

Poor Robert Green. He had the ball safely in his hands, then let it go again as it went into the net. We all make mistakes. Robert Green's sole purpose in life is to hold onto balls. This time, the ball slipped through his fingers like a slippery ball. Not only that, but he lost the slippery ball in front of millions of people. How dreadfully embarrassing.

Other players sympathised, which is what makes football exactly the same as religion. Yes we have a few beliefs, like the existence of an ever present, all knowing, all powerful, all loving, unprovable supernatural intelligence that is responsible for the whole universe and a good deal more besides, who listens to prayers, performs miracles, has three distinct lumps, one of which came to earth, born of a virgin, performed some more miracles, got tortured and executed and rose from the dead two days later according to the prophecy that he'd rise three days later, appeared to his disciples, went up into the sky on a cloud and will return on the day of judgement, but there's much more to Christianity than that.

You see, some people don't have any family or friends to sympathise with them. Without church they'd be lonely and no one would be nice to them. Provided they profess to believe what we believe, the friendless continue to be welcome at our church. Of course, if they commit heresy we'll just have to boot them out and they'll remain friendless, which is exactly what they deserve if you ask me.

This is called being moral.

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Mary Midgley, Moral Philosopher and professional anti-Dawkins critic 
Sunday, 13 June, 2010, 09:20 AM - Not TFTD
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

These New Atheists, and one in particular who I won't mention by name but is undoubtedly worse than Hitler, keep saying that evolution proves God does not exist. I can give you hundreds of references where he says precisely that but unfortunately I don't have sufficient space in my article.

I was busy moral philosophising the other day, when it suddenly occurred to me "That's not true. Evolution doesn't disprove the existence of God!" Quick as I could, I headed straight to the Guardian to publish my ideas. This was news that the Guardian readership needed to know at once. This abuse of science, this rape of evolution, this perversion of natural history had to be stopped and I was just the person to stop it.

Next time someone uninvited asks on your doorstep, "Look around you, where did the wonders of life come from? How do we know right from wrong?" don't you dare reply that evolution can explain much of it! That would be a corruption of the fine ideals of the great Darwin. Don't you understand that having an Invisible Magic Friend is a world view and therefore not to be criticised? They like believing that their Invisible Magic Friend causes thunderstorms, earthquakes, plagues, is the source of the origin of species and the root of human morality. Just who do you think you are, suggesting it's probably not true?

All evolution disproves is biblical literalism, but as usual, the so-called "New" Atheists oversimplify everything in their naive, arrogant, militant, verbal way, thinking that all Christians and Muslims are creationists. In fact, very few practising Christians or Muslims are creationists these days. They're a fringe group, with no access to power. Besides, creationism is a relatively recent phenomenon and therefore not something that you need bother your pretty little heads with.

Belief in an Invisible Magic Friend is an emotional comfort to people. I therefore demand that you, Richard Dawkins (who is worse than Hitler and Stalin combined), stop asking for some evidence. I, Mary Midgley, have spoken!

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Now he's got a gong 
Saturday, 12 June, 2010, 08:23 AM - Not TFTD
Oh, come on! As if being a pop star, a physicist and a TV presenter wasn't enough, now he's gone and got a bl***y OBE.

I must say, having bravely failed to secure Secularist of the Year in February, I was rather expecting to receive some sort of recognition from Her Majesty in the birthday honours list - "For services taking the micky out of Thought For The Day", or something like that. But, no, not a peep from the palace. Once again, it's just stuffed full of talented, worthy individuals. When, I ask myself, will people with a train wreck full of mediocre, unspectacular careers get the rewards that we so richly think we deserve?

I'm beginning to think the head of the Church of England doesn't read this blog as regularly as I may have previously thought. If that's so then I'd appreciate it if any lords, minor royals, privy counsellors, footmen or butlers who do read it would bring it the monarch's attention. And be sure to reprimand her for her scandalous failure to do so.

Brian bl***y Cox!
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Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Catholic newspaper, The Tablet 
Saturday, 12 June, 2010, 08:20 AM - Gibberish, Pepinster
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Urban foxes are in the news.

While we're on the subject of foxes, let's talk about snakes, which brings us neatly to the Big Book of Magic Stuff. Snakes are mentioned in the first book of the Big Book of Magic Stuff. In particular, the Invisible Magic Baddie, cunningly disguised as a magic talking serpent, tempted Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge. Eve, who at this stage hadn't been around for very long, having just been created from one of Adam's ribs, wasn't aware that snakes don't generally have conversations with people and that this whole situation was a little odd. The moral of this story is clearly clear: don't take advice from talking snakes.

There's another part of the Big Book of Magic Stuff that doesn't talk about foxes. In the Book of Matthew the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend tells his disciples to be "as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." This means we have to be both as shrewd as snakes AND as innocent as doves. If we're as shrewd as snakes but not as innocent as doves then we won't be as innocent as doves. On the other hand, if we're as innocent as doves but not as shrewd as snakes then we won't be as shrewd as snakes.

Whatever you do, don't be as innocent as a snake and as shrewd as a dove, because then you won't be either as shrewd as a snake or as innocent as a dove when the the visible bit of the Invisible Magic Friend clearly advises that you should be as shrewd as a snake and as innocent as a dove.

I think that summarises what you need to know about foxes quite neatly.

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The Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, Baron Aldgate  
Friday, 11 June, 2010, 08:09 AM - Environment, Sacks
Rating 2 out of 5 (A little platitudinous)

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a symptom of our ever more desperate search for oil. As Ronald Heifetz pointed out, there are two types of problem: technical, that can be solved by a doctor or a mechanic, and adaptive, where we need to make lifestyle changes.

We should be using smaller more fuel efficient cars, running on a greater diversity of fuels. As in so many other ways we are living unsustainably.

Clearly, this is what the story of Adam and Eve was all about: that we should consume hydrocarbon fuels in a responsible and sustainable manner while continuing the search for more environmentally friendly energy sources. (Oh come on - I had to squeeze the bible in some how.)

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Reverend Rob Marshall, an Anglican Priest 
Thursday, 10 June, 2010, 08:15 AM - Sport, Marshall
Rating 3 out of 5 (Fairly platitudinous)

Has anyone mentioned the World Cup yet?

Yes, it's (nearly) time. It's finally (nearly) arrived. The moment we've all been waiting for is finally (nearly) here. After four years since England last didn't win the World Cup, it's finally (nearly) time for essentially the same players to have another go.

But what of South Africa? Yes Nelson Mandela got released, yes they dismantled apartheid, but all that pales into insignificance, this is THE WORLD CUP!!! It's just so, so, so.... it's THE WORLD CUP!!! And ENGLAND'S playing in it!

Of course Jesus Christ was a big England fan. It says so in Mark's Gospel, "The Kingdom of God is (nearly) here." What else can that mean other than that England will win the 2010 World Cup? There were doubters in Jesus' time. There are doubters even today, but it says it in the Old Testament too:

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

"a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

"a time for England to win the World Cup and that'll be in 2010 CE."

Ohmygawd, I can hardly contain my excitement. It's the World Cup - THE WORLD CUP. IT'S THE WORLD CUP!!!! Oh, oh, oh, oh...

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Akhandadhi Das, a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian 
Wednesday, 9 June, 2010, 08:18 AM - Invisible magic stuff, Science, Akhandadhi Das
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

20 million of lottery money is being used to set up a new voluntary organisation in Wales. It will attempt to combat loneliness among the elderly. As Mother Theresa said "Loneliness can be a terrible form of suffering, but then suffering's really good for you!"

But why do people feel lonely? Can it be because we evolved as social creatures who rely on interaction with other human beings to define part of our identity? Could it be that we instinctively seek out companionship because humans have always lived in groups? Does the added security and wide diversity within groups provide humans with a strong competitive advantage? Even if there is any evidence to support this theory, and I don't know because I couldn't be bothered to look, it would only be a scientific explanation. Understanding something in scientific terms diminishes it, makes it less real, valueless, silly and just completely rubbish and horrible. Therefore the only possible alternative explanation, the Hindu one, must be correct.

Unlike the unsatisfactory and just plain stupid scientific theory, there's just loads of evidence that our desire for company is based on our invisible magic bits. Your invisible magic bit has existed for all eternity even though you don't remember any of it. It was created by the Invisible Magic Friend (obviously not at any particular point in time, because then it wouldn't be eternal, but nevertheless "created" in a sort of mystical, woo-woo, non-temporal fashion by non-temporally saying "let there be invisible magic stuff that'll just hang around not really doing anything for a few billion years" ). As you can see, this is a much more sensible and intellectually fulfilling, spiritual, explanation of why humans seek the company of others.

As with all other problems, the solution to loneliness among the elderly is meditation. This needn't be a lonely activity since you can meditate with others, singing and chanting. For full effect, the singing and chanting is best done in a language you don't understand. This'll really get you in touch with your invisible magic bit.

A Bangladeshi poet said something very wise about this, so I must be right.

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Reverend Dr Giles Fraser, Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral 
Tuesday, 8 June, 2010, 08:17 AM - Materialism, Money, Fraser
Rating 4 out of 5 (Highly platitudinous)

Many of you will know the famous tune:

"BLA BLA LA LA RA TA DA LA DI LA DI LA TADA TADA."

But no, this is not my rendition of Copland's Appalachian Spring or indeed of any recognisable tune known to man. This was originally a tune written by religious folk with the opening line, "It's just great to be poor."

David Cameron has promised us all lots of lovely poverty and I think that's just fantastic. There's going to be job losses, evictions, marriage break ups, longer waiting lists, larger class sizes. It's going to be back to the good times for those of us in the suffering and poverty industry. You see you've all become too materialistic, buying loads of stuff that you don't need, thinking that consumption buys happiness, maxing out on multiple credit cards, purchasing banks. It's a common mistake among Radio 4 listeners with their fast cars and their new phones and all the latest digital gadgets, who have no regard for the finer things in life. And has it made you happy? As a Reverend Dr Canon Chancellor, let me just tell you, no it hasn't.

Less stuff means less things to do and that means you will have more time to be spiritual. You'll have more time to explore the simple pleasures of life, like talking to the Invisible Magic Friend. And with all that extra money burning holes in your pockets you'll be able to devote more of it to something genuinely useful, like church for example.

Although there are many, many undoubted benefits to you becoming poorer, and thus more spiritual, we don't won't you to become too poor. We wouldn't want you to become so poor that you became dependent on church handouts for example or couldn't afford to contribute to the great work of the church. We need to keep your spare money for important things, like the upkeep of our many historic buildings, the hard working clergy that inhabit them and their somewhat underfunded pension fund.

So please, take this opportunity to become a little poorer but not very poor.

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