I interrupt an evening of tidying the flat to bring you two pieces of observation.
Firstly, I am currently listening to The Side‘s new album, Nowhere Left To Run, which I downloaded from iTunes earlier. Having got over the deep trauma of the scandal that was The-Side-not-turning-up-at-the-Ironworks-gate and invested in their new release, I am happy to report that this offering from the local (ish – Alness) outfit is excellent.
After a few days of downbeat sounds emanating from my computer, it’s been quite a refreshing change to have some chirpy, funky, energetic pop rock to listen to. The Side, who I have seen once or twice before in town, have a catchy sound, with a clever blend of guitars, piano and drums, and voice/lyrics that (unlike so much of the genre) manage to enhance, rather than detract from, the music.
There’s a reassuring old-school feel about the riffs, instrumental solos and beats, evoking classic rock and roll, funk, and even a wee splash of reggae and space rock now and then. To round it off, the music has a whole sound that you can only really summarise as “fun” – you get the impression the band are having fun playing, and in the live sets I’ve seen they certainly have an infectious energy and cheerfulness.
I’d highly recommend taking a listen.
Secondly, the spirit of Chris Morris lives on again with this article. Atheist summer camps!? Hang on, I thought the whole idea of atheism was that you, with as much certainty as you could muster, did not believe there was a God; not that you pedalled a whole new belief system in opposition. The article quotes the camp as being described thus:
It is “dedicated to improving the human condition through rational inquiry, critical and creative thinking, scientific method… and the separation of religion and government”.
Right, so basically it’s a science camp, with a mix of political indoctrination. Are disestablishmentarianism and the history of secular models of governance really something children can be expected to get their heads around when they just want to be on holiday and have a good time?
There’s nothing wrong with getting our children to think about burden of proof and reasonable scientific analysis. Indeed, it’s vital. But to basically say to camp attendees that for them to act in faith or experience a spiritual phenomenon they cannot fully understand or explain is wrong, is wrong. If you get my meaning.
We’re spiritual, emotional and thoughtful creatures by nature and we only partly understand the world in which we live. To expect our children to have to rule out the existence of God (who, by definition, is beyond human comprehension) is to make them misunderstand what rationalism and science is about.
Atheists are – often – quite right in their criticism of some Christian practices, for instance when they point out that indoctrination of children is wrong, and that forcing them to believe what their parents believe is potentially damaging. And there are, I am sure, intellectually sustainable arguments against Christian equivalents of the camps described in the article. But by providing atheist antidotes of the practices and culture of the church community, atheists are undermining some of the useful checks and balances that they can provide Christianity.
The more atheism starts looking like an alternative religion, the more muddy the debate about God becomes. And it’s muddy enough as it is.
Right, back to the tidying.