Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Did I mention the German federal election earlier? It will take place the coming Sunday. So why did we get one of our two ballot papers only yesterday? That seems a bit pointless because it will never make it back to Germany in time. Could they not have sent the documents out two weeks earlier? Maybe postal voting is meant only for Germans who are too lazy to walk to the polling station on Sunday, but not for those who are silly enough to be in another country?


I always find it fascinating how long some people of faith can go on thinking about and discussing religion without getting anywhere near the question of whether any given religious idea is actually correct or wrong. Just last week, a blogger who considers himself a "druid" wrote 3,095 words on what we might call comparative religion and what he calls changing religious sensibilities, comparing nature-worship against the hope for salvation or eternal life, mentioning historical changes in perspectives and rituals, and expressing his hope that another such change was taking place now (towards his preferred sensibilities, of course).

And at no point did he ever raise the issue of whether this or that religious belief is actually, you know, true or false. He would probably consider that to be a question of no importance; perhaps he would consider it oppressive and arrogant "ethnocentrism" to even ask it. And that is, at its core, the difference. For some people it is all about picking a pleasant narrative (a term that is seriously starting to set my teeth on edge). But for some of us it is, strange as it might seem, about what is true and what is false. It is not about wanting to believe in some kind of salvation through technological progress, as he seems to think - in fact I am quite pessimistic about the future. No, what is important to me is aligning my beliefs with demonstrable fact.

If the things he prefers to believe are wrong, we should want no part of them no matter how pleasant and satisfying they are, no matter how much of a feeling of homecoming they might provide. That comes with being a mature and sane personality. On the other hand, it is clear that the transient nature of both individuals and societies as well as the desirability of living sustainably are demonstrable facts. But at that point, not although but precisely because its beliefs as represented by him (and stripped of any supernatural mambo-jumbo) align with reason and empirical evidence, a "druidic faith" becomes superfluous to requirements. Rationality and evidence-based thinking are all we need.


Australian weather is really much more chaotic than what I was used to from Europe. Here in Canberra we had several weeks with at most a soft half hour drizzle that evaporated instantly, and now it has been raining continually for two days. Yesterday was the wettest day of the year so far, and you should have seen how drenched I was when I had cycled home.

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