Lynch welcomed home

Jessica Lynch has returned to her home town in Virginia. She mourns the loss of her best friend Lori. What I found interesting was what the Governor had to say:

“Our entire state has worn a yellow ribbon around our hearts, God is still in the business of making miracles. One of his miracles came home to the mountains today.”

I find the subject of religion fascinating, both socially and personally. It is something of an enigma to me, and one with which I have long taken an interest.

God is still in the business of making miracles? Ok let me nail my colours to the mast here. I am agnostic, I find the idea of a god to be an interesting idea, and even a possibility, but it something I do not ‘believe’ in.

I am sure the Iraqi soldiers that killed Jessica’s friend felt that ‘god’ was on their side too. In fact they are probably still praising him for the fact that they were able to ‘off’ one of the infidels.

And equally in the US the idea that god is on the side of America is ingrained. He is invoked in practically every speech I have seen Bush make. It is truly amazing to watch. I sit watching it dumbfounded, fundamentalist Muslims talking about Allah saving them, fundamentalist Christians talking about God saving them, can they both be right?

I was stopped on the street here in the UK by a Mormon from Ohio. She interrupted my Mozart listening to ask me directly whether or not I believe in God. To which I replied a resounding no.

She was prepared for that answer it seemed. She continued:

“Have you thought about letting God into your life?”

“Yes I have, but I do not believe in god, I have no evidence for his existence”

“Have you ever asked him?”

“What, you mean directly? Out loud?”

“Yes”

“Yes I have. I accept there is a possibility that god exists, or a god, so one day I asked, with an open mind. I looked up to the sky, and asked honestly, do you exist? No reply”

“You asked and got no reply?”

“No – none”

“Oh”

She was shell shocked. The look on her face was one of not comprehending how this could happen.

“Has he responded to you?” I asked.

“Yes, he has spoken to me”

“Really? Why you and not me?”

“I dont know” she replied.

“Well unless I have some evidence of a god existing, I am not going to spend my whole life either arguing for or against his existence. I have places to visit, and things to get done before I die, and I’m not going to spend my life wondering whether something with the same metaphysical properties as Santa Claus exists, or does not exist”

Cue more shell shock.

“But…but…”

“I live a moral life, I dont need an entity to give me morals”

“But what about Jesus?” she asked

“What about him? Yeah he was an interesting guy, recycled some old ideas and said he was the son of god. But loving ones neighbour was not a new idea, read Confucius or Aristotle”

“But the bible…”

“I would prefer a document that tries some way to be unbiased or historically accurate”

“Now I have to get to work, and get back listening to Mozart”

“No problem” she replied, still looking a bit stunned.

Now that might sound like a heavy exchange but it was spoken in smiles and in very polite tones. No harsh words, merely an exchange of thoughts and ideas, she did make some interesting points, but they had little impact.

I think she might have found it strange that I was without ‘her’ god, and yet was perfectly happy and polite. And so too do I find it strange that she was standing in the rain on her own trying to convince people to believe what she believes.

She is entitled to believe, as am I to not believe. She has a right to stand in the rain, as do I. She has a right to try to convert people on the street, I could stand in the rain and try to tell people that they should weigh the evidence, but in my experience most people don’t like the idea of their being nothing greater than us, and that there might be no ultimate reason for human existence.

I guess I am in a minority, a very small minority.

5 thoughts on “Lynch welcomed home”

  1. I don’t think you are in a small minority, There are plenty of atheists out there! just dump the agnostic tag 🙂

    I am afraid that I can’t let these lines pass without comment though,

    “I am sure the Iraqi soldiers that killed Jessica’s friend felt that ‘god’ was on their side too. In fact they are probably still praising him for the fact that they were able to ‘off’ one of the infidels.”

    You are making a huge assumption here, which is that the Iraqi soldiers were motivated to fight for idealogical reasons, Sure, national pride might have been involved to a certain extent, but, in contrast to Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces, few Iraqi soldiers were “mujaheddin” motivated to fight “the infidel” never mind for Saddam’s glory. One good explanation for the conventional army’s derisory defence is that they were by an large conscripts and their loyalty to Saddam was “enforced”

    “And equally in the US the idea that god is on the side of America is ingrained. He is invoked in practically every speech I have seen Bush make. It is truly amazing to watch. I sit watching it dumbfounded, fundamentalist Muslims talking about Allah saving them, fundamentalist Christians talking about God saving them, can they both be right?”

    Touch of the old moral relativism there Gavin, there is a huge qualitative difference between seeing terrorism as evil and seeing death and destruction as “glorification” of Allah. Bush doesn’t insult Christianity by describing Saddam or Al-Qaeda as evil, Wahaabist clerics do insult Islam by using it to justify terrorism. Note that the point of 9/11 was the death and destruction and nothing else, the point of the coalition attack on Iraq was to remove from power a brutal dictator. If you really think there is little to choose between these two try to imagine whether you’d prefer to live in the US or Saudi Arabia. That should clarify things

  2. Frank,

    That’s a good point that Iraqi soldiers were not “mujaheddin”, but it actually makes the comparison stronger. Iraqi soldiers may not have fallen into the role of religious fanatics, but then neither do Americans. Yet both leaders were invoking religion to strengthen their moral case.

    Of course most westerners would prefer to live in the US than Saudia Arabia, but then that’s not saying much. Terrorism and Sept 11th were horrible horrible things, done by evil people, but not directly connected to a government either.

    And the military action in Iraq was not to remove a brutal dictator, it was to prevent imaginary weapons of mass destruction from being used. If they’d gone to the UN with a clear case for removing Saddam for humanitarian grounds they would have likely gotten more support from other countries. Now that no weapons of mass destruction have been found we cannot let the American government change history and assert they went in to remove a dictator – it’s called accountability for actions.

  3. It’s not quite right to say that the intention of the action was not to remove Saddam, “Regime Change” has been a buzzword for a lot longer than WMD. The WMDs, which Saddam was developing and did possess (he even used them on his own people ferchrissakes!) was one of the reasons given for the desirability of regime change, maybe it might have been hyped up, maybe not but there was no duplicity. The worst that could be said was that the intelligence wasn’t as good as it might have been. The thing is, with someone like Saddam, it would have been negligent to ignore the intelligence on the off-chance that he didn’t have WMDs.

    It is extremely naive to think that, say, Putin or Chiraq would have permitted action against Saddam on humanitarian grounds.

    The point about my reference to 9/11 is nothing to do with “governments” but your juxtaposition of fundamentalist Christians with fundamentalist Muslims as if each was as bad as the other. I am no fan of the religious right but it is sloppy to simply link them to wahaabism. The stated purpose of Wahaabist Islamic extremism is to destroy what we know as civilisation and replace it with a worldwide “Islamic Caliphate” with the world under Sharia Law. Funny that those who try to redefine US action as “Imperialism” cannot recognise actual (however fantastical) Imperialism when they see it.

  4. Frank,

    My comment about other nations permitting action against Saddam on humanitarian grounds was meant about places like Canada and Mexico where the main opposition was directly against the WMD claim. I suspect that a humanitarian approach would have found more support for the fence-sitting countries, the majority of non-participants. Perhaps I was not clear, but I’m not naive.

    Saddam used WMD against his own people in the past, but in recent years was participating (albeit reluctantly) with disarmament through the UN. My uncle was a nuclear weapons inspector with the team in Iraq and reaffirmed that weapons inspectors (all types) found no evidence of WMDs. Perhaps there weren’t any. As a physicist (who even works with satellite data on occasion) I have yet to see any evidence there were.

    As for regime change, that was always directly linked to the weapons of mass destruction – the evidence that he used them on his own people was used to make Americans fear he’d use them on them. As the American government pursued action in Iraq instead of desparately needed action in the Congo, instead of action in the growing threat of North Korea, I will not accept that America invaded on humanitarian grounds. America wanted Saddam disposed for personal reasons, not to free the Iraqi people and not because of real evidence of WMDs.

    But, we could argue this for a long time, perhaps we can agree to disagree.

    However, I am sorry if my point on religion was misunderstood, I agree that the American policy is no where near the fanatical goals of extreme Islamic groups.

  5. I think ye are all missing the point here. The ‘war’ was about the USA securing another source of oil to keep its greedy society going for another fifty years. Surely that is obvious to anyone with eyes and ears and even a small brain. America’s oil reserves will be in decline within five years, its obvious they cant always rely on Saudi Arabia and certainly not Russia or China. They had to secure their own huge supply of oil in order to maintain their status as the worlds only superpower, No oil = No power.

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