herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Anton Savage: Atheists believe in one thing - trying to convince the world they're right

Emmett Vaughan
Emmett Vaughan
Cathal Pendred
Raheem Sterling is at the centre of controversy and has been linked with a summer move away from Liverpool
Madonna and Drake

A GENTLEMAN by the name of Emmett Vaughan has struck a blow for atheists everywhere by risking a €500 fine through dodging jury duty.

When the committed secularist received his jury summons, he saw that religious ministers are allowed to avoid the call-up on the grounds that their flocks require their constant presence.

Emmett decided that was unfair. So he set out to make a point. He registered as a minister of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster ($25 on their website venganza.org) and told the courts that as he was a religious minister he would not be attending Jury service.

Thus, a blow was stuck for atheists.

Atheists don't need any more blows struck for them. Most atheists are relatively smart people who many years ago came to a conclusion - there's no scientific evidence for the existence of God, and in the absence of any evidence, it's a bit silly believing in him (or her, or them, depending on your persuasion.) They then get on with their lives.

Most religious people are also quite smart, and when pushed on the point say 'yup, you got us there. There's no scientific evidence, but the world is a very pretty place and a lot of inexplicable stuff happens which can be neatly explained by God.

"The nature of blind faith means you can't have proof, or believing in God becomes the equivalent of believing in Tesco and all free will dissolves.'

They too then get on with their lives.

Unfortunately, there's a slightly obsessive fringe within the atheists for whom the absence of proof of God is a very big deal and they feel tremendously compelled to convince others of their views.

They really need to get over it. Seriously. Who gives a rat's ass if ministers get to avoid jury duty? In the big scheme of things, does it matter?

Atheists don't have to convince the rest of the world of the non-existence of God. For a lot of people, believing there's a higher power, believing there's somewhere to go when you die, is a wonderful thing. What difference if it's fact or fiction?

"What about wars?' say the atheists. Ah, horseapples.

Humans fight for territory, power and tribal affiliation, sometimes that is expressed in nationalism (the Nazis weren't a particularly religious bunch) sometimes corporate greed (King Leopold of Belgium wasn't cutting off hands for God) sometimes humans even use idealistic concepts to excuse war (ask anyone in the Middle East about the Americans bringing them 'democracy' at gunpoint).

Yes, sometimes religions are reasons for war - but convincing everyone that God is imaginary won't end wars, as people will just use a different reason.

So Emmett, we get the point, and we respect your right to make a stand, and many of us are impressed with your stamina.

But maybe in this instance it's worth remembering that priests, rabbis and vicars don't exactly live lives of excitement and craic, so how about we let them off with this one indulgence?

 

My advice to unlucky Dublin motorists - hate the clamp, not the clamper

UFC fighter Cathal Pendred has done what many of us have dreamed of - he cut off a clamp.

The details are sketchy, but the story begins with Pendred tweeting a picture of his car clamped outside his house and finishes with him tweeting a short lesson on the legality of removing a clamp (the thrust of his lesson being it's a very bad idea to remove one if a council clamps you, but a greyer area if it's a private company).

As a serial clampee, reading Pendred's messages made me deeply envious. I have fantasised about removing a clamp.

I've imagined undoing the ball joint on my suspension and slipping off the chain, then staring into the middle distance, flushed with pride while strangers nod respectfully.

I've dreamed of carrying a battery angle grinder and crouching beside my wheel arch in a shower of sparks, striking a blow for democracy and freedom while onlookers clap and cheer.

I've never had the guts. I'm no Pendred.

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Cathal Pendred

There is a downside to his tweet though.

It flushed out all the people who wanted to claim hero status for arguing with or demeaning or threatening a clamper. The clampers don't write the legislation, they're just earning a living in one of the most thankless careers imaginable.

No point shouting at a garda if you break the law. No point roaring at a bouncer if you don't make the dress code. These people do a tough job and in the case of the clampers, they do it nicely.

In my (unfortunately extensive) experience, the guys in the vans and the guys on the phones do their work civilly, politely and efficiently.

So give out about clamps and the legislation that allows them, hell, grab a grinder if you're feeling really brave. But leave the clampers alone.

 

Nitrous oxide is best off-camera

Raheem Sterling is a wally. Not because he’s smoked shisha pipes or inhaled laughing gas.

Those things are legal – not necessarily clever or good for you, but legal. He’s a wally for doing those things when some lad was there to take pictures of it all on a camera-phone.

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Life is full of things which are OK as long as people are not taking pictures of them: just ask any of our international athletes or celebrities who have been caught on camera in flagrante. So how does Raheem not know this?

How is he not able to say to his friends: “Listen chaps, I earn £30,000-a-week and get a lot of media attention, so as we progress this evening to huff nitrous oxide, don’t post pics that will put me in the red-tops?”

Hard to be hot to those half your age, Madge

Madonna is delighted that so many people are supporting her in the face of the ‘ageist’ backlash, after she snogged the singer Drake on stage at the Coachella festival. But the problem is not ageism, it’s age-gap.

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Madonna and Drake

Madonna seems to be misunderstanding the chronological distance between her and that audience. Once you’re more than 20 years older than the crowd, you can’t really go for the ‘sexiest-person in the room’ title.

You may well be the sexiest person (Madonna is tremendously hot) but an audience two decades younger won’t get that. Madonna should know it if I know it. Imagine me now showing up at a rag week, it would look weird. At least I know that trying to make myself attractive by bumpin’ and grindin’ on the dancefloor won’t improve things.

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