Today, I want to tell you about the experiments being done by the Large Hadron Collider and why the Invisible Magic Friend is so very relevant to this.
But first, as a Reverend Doctor Doctor, let me just assure those Christians out there, who may be worried about those pesky scientists meddling in things that you do not understand, that this is not a case of scientists playing the Invisible Magic Friend. The energies are in fact far lower than those of the Big Bang and so there is very little danger of us accidentally creating new universes.
The LHC has got bored just banging hadrons together and has moved onto lead ions. They're hoping to create a new state of matter, called a quark-gluon plasma, last seen in the instants after the creation of the universe. This, it is hoped, will provide insights into the strong nuclear force, that was kindly provided by the Invisible Magic Friend in order to hold protons and neutrons together.
One Christian teenager, with the ravenous curiosity so typical of his kind, asked me "Why would anyone want to know all this rubbish anyway?" It was a good question. I explained that pure science research has always led to new applications long after the initial scientific discoveries. He replied "Yes, but we've already got iPhones and we know that everything else is held together by the Invisible Magic Friend, so what's the point?"
It was at this point that I found it necessary to draw upon my expertise in theology. You see, the Christian Invisible Magic Friend, as the young teenager had so eruditely explained, holds every quark and electron in place, making sure it continually obeys his laws. He thus invites us to guess how he does it.
"GO ON, SEE IF YOU CAN FIGURE OUT THE LAWS OF NATURE. I'LL EVEN THROW IN THE ODD BIT OF REVEALED SCRIPTURE THAT'S COMPLETELY WRONG BUT THAT YOU CAN ALWAYS TAKE FIGURATIVELY ONCE YOU REALISE. A FEW MIRACLES NOW AND THEN SHOULD THROW YOU OFF TRACK A BIT AS WELL."
We thus see that science and Christianity are in perfect accord and that scientists pursue their goal in an effort to better understand the ways of the Invisible Magic Friend.
Sunday, 7 November, 2010, 10:24 AM - Not TFTDThe head of the Catholic Church in Belgium has been hit on the head with a pie.
I haven't been able to find a video, or even an amusing still from it so far. Sources haven't revealed what sort of pie it was or whether it came with custard.
[Edit - found it. It's not nearly as big a pie as I thought. It looks more like a small fruit tart.]
Sunday, 7 November, 2010, 10:09 AM - ClemmiesShaikh Abdal Hakim Murad got the month of October off to a rip roaring start with his scientific scepticism about attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. He noted that we didn't have ADHD in the days when we could just beat children into submission.
Joel Edwards was the first to get in on the rescue of the Chilean miners. The really important thing here is not that all the miners were rescued with all their limbs intact, but that they didn't suddenly become atheists because of the experience.
Not to be outdone Richard Harries followed by explaining that, although engineers, scientists, doctors and nutritionists all worked extremely hard and did some very fine work, it was really the Invisible Magic Friend, working through the engineers, scientists, doctors and nutritionists who saved the miners.
I think Anne Atkins deserves some sort of special mention this month. It's not unusual for me to get to the end of TFTD and just sit there in utter bafflement. Normally though, I can pick my way through and figure out some thread, some point, some attempt at a coherent argument. Anne Atkins completely surpassed herself on this occasion. She presented a thought that was so subtle, involving such finely interweaved threads, such delicate touches of fact and logic, that her message entirely escaped me. Sadly, I don't think I can award a Clemmie on the basis that I don't know what someone is talking about. They might have been trying to say something completely sensible.
Finally, we have Richard Harries once again, who bemoaned the terrible state of endemic corruption and bribery that plagues Britain today. Why can't we go back to the good old days, when everyone went to his church and had morals? I know this is such an oft repeated claim that it's bordering on a cliché, but that's what being platitudinous is all about. So for this, combined with his previous claim that God saved the Chilean miners, October's Clemmie goes to Richard Harries.
Sunday, 7 November, 2010, 09:57 AM - ClemmiesI forgot to do the September Clemmies, so apologies to all TFTD presenters for this shocking lapse in punctuality.
Just in case you've forgotten, September was the month that Reichsführer Ratzinger came and paid us a little state visit. He met the Queen and every politician we have, spoke to the leaders of some "not-really-religions", said some really brilliant masses and filled in some spare time with a bit of beatifying.
What with the way the media virtually ignored the visit, you'd think TFTD would've scarcely bothered to mention it. This turned out not to be the case. Day after day, before, during and after the visit, almost every TFTD turned on what the Pope had to say about morality, politics, sex, bus timetables... you name it.
I'm almost tempted to award the September Clemmie to Austen Ivereigh of Catholic Voices for his claim that the Catholic Church was, in fact, the world's greatest defender of gay rights, but I feel I ought to stick to TFTD. So sorry Austin, outstandingly egregious as your assertion was, the rules make you ineligible for a Clemmie.
Clifford Longley wanted us to know that we agree with the Church on almost everything: not beating up beggars, not robbing old ladies, not strangling puppies - the list is almost endless. So why are all these poor Catholics so persecuted?
The Chief Rabbi rather rudely didn't mention the Pope. He chose instead to point out how much more relevant religion was than science. That's why we don't have a day to celebrate the eradication of smallpox for example.
Despite everyone agreeing with the Catholic Church on just about everything Clifford Longley reminded us that not everyone in Britain sees eye to eye with the Pope on absolutely everything. This is their fault and the Church should be judged on the evidence. So why are all these poor Catholics so persecuted?
Catherine Pepinster's contribution was notable not so much for what she said as what she didn't say. In referring to the Pope's praise of Britain's resistance to the Nazis, it somehow slipped her mind that he had also referred to the Nazis as an atheist regime. She then went on to explain the importance of conscience and how every Catholic has one and it agrees perfectly with the Pope's.
There can be no doubt who has earned the September Clemmie. With two of the most platitudinous contributions of the month, it has to go to Clifford Longley.
Saturday, 6 November, 2010, 08:47 AM - Akhandadhi DasRating 3 out of 5 (Fairly Platitudinous)
Happy Diwali everyone!
By an incredible coincidence, Diwali, which always falls between mid-October and mid-November, took place on November 5th this year.
Guy Fawkes night used to be a happy celebration of burning Catholics. By an even more incredible coincidence, Diwali is also about Rama burning his wife to make sure she was still chaste after her abduction and confinement (you know what these women are like). That way Rama's honour could be satisfied.
Diwali is a great festival of lights and exchanging pleasantries. As one kind card said yesterday, "May the milk of a thousand sacred cows rain down upon you, may your letterbox be free of Halal kebab leaflets and may you live a life devoid of the scourge of haemorrhoids."
Two years ago, I told you that Diwali was all about homecoming like the return of 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment to their barracks at Colchester. Last year I explained that Hindu theology had advanced in leaps and bounds since two years ago and that Diwali was really about leadership and that Afghanistan would be much better off if the Muslims would adopt Hindu principles.
We now know that these theories are false and wrong and laughably childish. The true meaning of Diwali is about discovering the spiritual light of the soul.
And partying, letting off fireworks and generally having a good time.
Friday, 5 November, 2010, 06:48 AM - Not TFTD...because there will be no Thought For The Day today!
I wasn't going to be able to do a POTD anyway, as I'm on a training course that means setting out quite early, but by complete coincidence, the National Union of Journalists have achieved what no amount of letter writing, campaigning, ridiculing and debate has managed to do: they've silenced the BBC's Holy Department of Religious Propaganda.
Luxuriate instead in the dulcet tones of Lord Digby Jones as he (rather unimaginatively) chooses Winston Churchill as his Great Lives hero. IIRC, he actually compares himself to the great man - and not just in terms of corpulence.
Meanwhile, if you miss having something to seethe at, have a look at this agony aunt page from the Daily Mirror. It's not just the gran taking the kid to a Catholic Church without the mum's permission (isn't taking kids to Catholic priests some sort of an offence by now?), it's the agony aunt's response.
"Going to a church school taught my kids to be kind and accept people for who they are"
Gee, I wonder what all the other schools teach?
A scheme is being considered whereby those who volunteer to help the elderly or disabled will receive credits towards their own care later in life - a kind of state run "brownie points".
Some think the term "brownie points" is named after the brown stamps given out in America after the war. Others think it is named after a mythical elf that would help out around the house. This latter idea is clearly ridiculous. Anyone who thought there was an invisible magic friend that did good things out of the kindness of their heart is obviously deranged and you should pay no further attention to anything they say.
As a celebrity Christian writer, let me just assure you that offering volunteers rewards undermines the whole point of volunteering. The tale of the good Samaritan wouldn't have quite the same impact if his first thought was how much he could make out of his actions.
There are those who help others because they want everyone to know about it, but most volunteers find that helping is its own reward. You'll never know until you try (which is not to imply that I've done lots of volunteering that I'm not directly telling you about - more than you probably have).
Flabbergastingly Reverend James Jones, Lord Bishop of Liverpool and Bishop of Prisons, Platitude of the Year Winner 2009
BLASPHEMY! BLASPHEMY! IT'S BLASPHEMY I TELL YOU!
I refer of course to those wicked blasphemers, American politicians. They go around, citing the Invisible Magic Friend as approving their policies. Who do they think they are, telling people what the will of the Invisible Magic Friend is? That's our job!
Oh such terrible, terrible blasphemy.
Fifty years ago, the big issue in American politics was that John F. Kennedy was a Catholic. Now it's whether Barack Obama is a Muslim. Nearly a fifth of Americans think he is, rising to a third if you restrict yourself to the Not Entirely Stupid and Selfish Party. Some people think even that party is way too sensible and have started the Completely Stupid and Finally Lost the Plot Party. I discovered all this recently on my bishop's fact finding tour of the United States.
All this despite the fact that the United States constitution requires the separation of church and state. Yet almost every recent president has worn his faith on his sleeve. Here, in the more sensible Great Britain, where our hereditary monarch is the head of the Church of England, politicians are a little more circumspect about religion. Although all agree it is a wonderful thing, they leave the actual preaching to people like me, who are properly qualified to do the job.
The ancient Egyptians believed in life after death. The science of physics is all about investigating life after death. It says so on the doors of the Cavendish Laboratory. I've mentioned this several times before which is why I'm surprised that someone called Stephen Hawking, who clearly has no idea what the purpose of physics is, should dare to contradict me.
At this point, I just want to put an image into your mind by telling you that I love you, that I've reared your children. My lush ruby lips smile when you caress my soft delicate skin, feeling your warm, throbbing heart next to mine.
The Roman poet Virgil believed in an after life. So did the Greek philosopher Plato, as I'm sure all you Radio 4 listeners who shared my wonderful classical education will know.
Just as a passion for me is shared universally, so too is a belief in an afterlife shared by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans - cultures that never had any contact with one another. Makes you think, doesn't it? If all these people had the same ideas, then there must be something in it, mustn't there? And as if the beliefs of all these great cultures gone past weren't enough, I believe in the afterlife. How much more evidence do you need?
And what if, and I stress the word "if", some one had raised himself from the dead? Don't you think that the Aramaic speaking witnesses of this momentous event, would immediately wait for Paul of Tarsus, who didn't witness it, to tramp around the Roman Empire for a couple of decades, drudging out endless dreary letters about it before getting some one else who didn't witness it to write it all down in Greek?
Billions of people believe that Jesus rose from the dead. If you don't agree with them, as many other billions don't, then you just don't understand the nature of empirical evidence.