Wednesday, 26 August 2009

My outlook on God, faith and religion: part two

We still don't understand a lot about the universe even after many thousands of years of human civilisation. We don't know what the soul is, what consciousness is, what happens when we die, and so much more. We can put a man on the moon, and have computers that do amazing things, but we are far, far from learning everything.

In a previous post, I wrote about God and about how it seems to me that His existence is a "no-brainer". I suggested that people who do not want to acknowledge His existence are not just ignoring reasonable signs but also emotional resonances. We are, after all, creatures of the heart, as well as of the mind.

Why am I here?

"Well then, Ahmed, if there is God, then can He tell us why we are here? And where are we heading?"

The nature of mankind's relationship with God is that we believe in him without being able to communicate with him. This is the abiding mystery of our existence. This is why we call it "faith", rather than knowledge. We can't lift our eyes to the sky and have a one-to-one.

It seems all our communications with him have been anticipated ahead of time, compressed, and packaged in various forms - for us to discover. When people communicate, they take turns, laid out in time. When we communicate with God, perhaps we should expect that his replies have already been given? Which, in a funny sort of way, makes sense: He is above such human limitations as time and space.

He is here and there, he is in the now and in the future and in the past. He is in the beginning and in the end. He is at the fringes, and in the middle, at the smallest scales and the biggest ones. He is in every atom, in every form of thing we know. It seems likely that he is in our soul; and he is in the perceptions we have about the world.

This "mysterious" nature of our relationship with the Almighty Supreme Creator and Being seems to explain why some human communities developed "gods" of stone, or of man. This way, communication with God is somewhat "humanised." It also explains why many religions center around a man who "received revelation" from God: a Prophet, or Messenger, like Noah, Moses, Mohammad. Some religions award their Prophet a special status of conveyer of divine revelation and being "God-like" or "of God", like Jesus or Buddha.

Still, "Why are we here, and to where are we heading?"

There is no agreed-on, universal answer to that question. Each religion has an answer (or more). Scientists have many ideas; but nothing agreed-on. Atheists and agnostics have given up on answering the question: everything is random, we'll just end up as recyclable earth, and that's it.

There is a fundamental mystery in our relationship with God and we will not be able to fathom it. His existence can be easily doubted; and what is remarkable is even if you accept his existence, you cannot communicate with him. Because He never answers back in man-made languages. He seems to be of, and in, the universe since He created it. Yet he won't "tell" us why He did so, not in a personal one-to-one. The only way to do this "human communication" thing seems to be to accept Him and to submit to His presence in every tiny thing on earth. To be open to various messages. To have conviction that He exists and that all the answers are here already.

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Friday, 21 August 2009

My Top 10 Prank Calls on YouTube

Fonejacker set a high standard for prank calls. Hard to believe one guy, Kayvan Novak, is behind them all.

I am tempted to list many fonejacker clips. But I won't. I've filtered 'em for ya.

Here are my top ten prank calls - as collected and assessed today. Check in with me in a year's time, I might have a different list.

Careful a lot of them are inappropriate for a non-adult audience: swearing, etc.

Here's the youtube playlist - use this to autoplay them all on the youtube website, if you wish.

Sol Rosenberg, Jerky Boys - Hurt at Work

Another classic Jerky Boys production.

The Greatest Prank Call Ever

An absolute classic.

Fonejacker - internet service providings - Fix your script.

Indian telesales guy vs Someone who took him seriously

Fonejacker - Cinema (EP2)

You know how many phone-lines are automated? This old gent thinks everything is.

Fonejacker - Rent

The opposite of the above.

Terry Tibbs buys a campervan

Terry Tibbs is a fictional Fonejacker character supposed to represent smart-arse cockney types. Talk to me!

Fonejacker - Terry Tibbs - Double The Price

More of Mr Terry Tibbs.

Jerky boys: Frank Rizzo

Some of my absolute favourite prank callers: old-timers the Jerky Boys from New York City.

vietnamese prank phone call mcdonalds--pubic hair in big mac

This is an under-appreciated jewel from Down Under.

Stewart Lee Complains About Pornography

This is a low-key call, and Stewart Lee handles it with such civility. Which is so ironic given the subject matter.

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Monday, 17 August 2009

My outlook on God, faith and religion: part one

Some people's unwillingness to believe in God is difficult for me to understand.

The universe is hugely complex and detailed, it is beyond my imagination that it started as some random accident. And, yes, you can say that I have a limited imagination because I can't see randomness as a possibility. But then I might say that it is _you_ who has a limited imagination, to not be able to imagine that there is a creative force behind Life. Let's have an imagination contest!

Imam Abu Hanifa (an esteemed Muslim scholar who lived about a thousand years ago) was once late for an appointment with a group of atheists with whom he debated. To excuse his unpunctuality, he told them that the ferry he normally catches on his way to meet them was not there, but that while he was waiting, planks of wood floating on the water came together and formed a boat. He got in; the ferry navigated him across the river, and he was able to meet them.

They told him this was an outrageous story. He stared at them.

Me too, I feel like staring at those reluctant to believe.

Some people claim:
  • there is no God,
  • Life is all a great big accident,
  • we all started from a single entity and evolved from there,
  • there is an evolutionary process that explains everything,
  • things make sense now only becase there was a lot of trial and error millions of years ago.
Let me ask some questions. There seems to be an evolutionary software running in all living things. Who wrote this evolutionary software? Who started it running? Who created the original single entity from which we all evolved, who initiated the Big Bang?

All what we do, we do against the assumption of staticness. Imagine if you woke up to find that water is no longer H2O, that the sun is rising from the West, that everything solid is liquid, or that no one on earth understands English anymore? It is a mercy that things are predictable; life is static enough for us to analyse it. (This is a fundamental assumption in Physics, called symmetry.) Imagine existing in a universe in which you are hardly able to establish anything!

Atheists would say there is nothing special about the universe being a symmetric, static place; I guess they would argue that random systems do slowly stabilise on patterns. I suppose they would argue that the evolutionary software was not quite so good at first and it kept making mistakes until the current software came out and it was good and it wiped out everything before it and propagated itself.

Okay, so why was there software in the first place? How did the first version of evolutionary software come about? How come it could mutate and spread itself? Why do atheists assume randomness begat order, instead of order begat randomness?

The short of it: humanity doesn't know a lot of stuff - yet. We don't know what on earth is consciousness? How come when someone dies their 'spirit' leaves them? Where does it normally reside? Is it something tangible? Does it weigh 24grams as some have claimed? We have no clue. Do animals have a 'life' spirit too? Does everything have a life spirit? Well then, are we ever alive, do we ever die?

Time and space are our constructs, we know that. Could there be a parallel universe in which time is not uni-directional?

The exact narrative of how God created everything is something humanity will keep debating, trying to work out, until the end. We are good at debate, proposition versus proposition, lines of thought, evidence and counter-evidence. But we are also emotional beings.

I feel that there is God; some questions, some debates you know the answer to before you even begin. We are trying to construct narratives to explain the universe. Let's separate the various narratives from the concept. Let's say it simply: God exists. The Life force within us knows and understands that God exists. It certainly does for me.

(More posts to follow in the days to come - if God wills.)

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