I missed Professor Cox’s last show, but apparently he said we probably were alone in the universe and had arisen as a result of several ‘fantastic flukes’. Well, if you call odds against even a single normal protein molecule being formed by random events even given impossibly favourable conditions that is greater than the number of particles in the universe ‘a fluke’ then I’d have to agree (*). But given what we know about life, design seems a far more rational likelihood.
I’ve been thinking about bio molecules a bit lately after attending a skin cancer conference. To put it very briefly, the proteins that keep our cells going from second to second are extraordinarily complicated and when one of them (like the BRAF molecule, a 766 amino acid protein kinase that regulates cell growth) goes even slightly wrong, it can lead to total disaster, e.g. malignant cancer. So if the BRAF molecule (to take one of our thousands of proteins as a specific example) only works properly when all 766 amino acids are in perfect sequence, and it can kill you when just one is out of sequence, how did that gradually evolve by ‘numerous, successive, small’ changes? No really, how could it have happened? It appears from intense study of this molecule that it only works properly when exactly right, so intermediate evolutionary stages would have been non survivable. And the same can be said of many, many other biomolecules that interact with each other purposefully to create this thing we call life.
This is very bad news indeed for Darwinian gradualism. For functional complex molecules like BRAF to come into existence fully formed-and with the other molecules that work in a team with them- would be a mighty creative miracle. As a Christian I have no problem with miracles, but Brian Cox can’t allow miracles. So he appeals to ‘flukes’ without trying to do any sort of calculation about how lucky they would have to be. The answer is, too lucky by far.
Google on BRAF, V600E, nucleotide excision repair or protein kinases to see for yourself. I have written a piece on this for the Creation Science Movement web site. The following diagram is a simplified explanation of how the BRAF molecule works in conjunction with various other molecules. When it mutates by just one amino acid out of place (valine replaced by glutamic acid at the 600th position) it causes melanoma cancer which can be fatal if not removed early….by intelligent doctors.
When indispensable biomolecules are fantastically complicated and a small copying error ruins them (as in the BRAF V600E mutation which causes melanoma cancer) and the best works of science can barely affect a temporary fix, the odds for life coming via ‘numerous, small, successive adaptations’ like Uncle Charlie say isn’t just small, its nil. You can’t gradually build a living cell one step at a time of intermediate stages are non functioning. This should have been, in fact was, clear enough in 1859 when Darwin foisted his great work of imagination on teh world, but modern advances in biology make it even clearer.
what’s even worse for the hypothesis that life forms evolved by numerous gradual accidental changes to the DNA that forms our proteins, is that the human body contains at least 20,000 different proteins, probably many more-one estimate is up to 2 million. And as far as we know they are all necessary. Certainly the list of human diseases that are caused by broken proteins resulting from DNA mutations is long and dreadful. And yet mutation is the only theoretical mechanism that evolutionist can propose for building the beautiful molecules and biochemical pathways that sustain our lives.
There’s no excuse for accepting the Darwin mythos.
(*) The calculation to which I refer is set out in Dr Vij Sodera’s book ‘One Small Speck to Man: The Evolution Myth’ and is based on the longest possible age of the universe, perfect liquid water conditions, a sea of laevo amino acids and the fastest possible reaction time amino acids forming peptide binds together (like they don’t do in nature). You still don’t get even one correctly assembled protein molecule. And if you did, it would be floating in a sea of junk protein. Its the arithmetic that stops biomolecules forming without a designer, nothing to do with religion.
The grinning physicist was on prime time TV again last night with a skilfully manufactured piece of materialist propaganda masquerading as science. I’m too busy to spend the time necessary to properly criticise this in detail, but honest science, it wasn’t.
Discussing the issue of the cosmological constants, such as gravity which has to be just right (the Goldilocks factor) for matter to exist AT ALL, he showed us a Japanese master craftsman making a samurai sword. I know something about this process as I am the grateful owner of an expensive suminagashi handcrafted Japanese cook’s knife which I use regularly in my kitchen. A lot of DESIGN and CRAFT goes into making them…they have to be JUST RIGHT. Like the laws of physics.
If gravity was just a little weaker, the universe would fly apart and galaxies, stars and planets could not exist. If it was a little stronger, everything would crunch up and again no planets or life would be possible. It is interesting to note that gravity is EXACTLY RIGHT for carbon based life to exist. Lots else is ‘just right’ too. Coincidence or a Master Plan?
Cox noted that the universe was just right for life, but without fully developing this issue by considering the other cosmologic constants (one fundamental law of physics being just right would seem an amazing coincidence, several being just right for life, and independently, seem like carefulness) or even giving oxygen to the idea that these ‘just right’ laws of physics point to design, he then used some tricks of the eye to go on about the multiverse crock. Crock, as in crock of stuff that comes out of Uranus. Its barely worth crediting as a fantasy, let alone a hypothesis.
He likened our ‘just perfect’ laws of phycis to a lottery ticket. Someone had to win, we just did. There must be an innumerable number of equally meaningless spontaneously generated universes in which the laws of physics were inconsistent with life. he hinted at evidence for this but didn’t offer any, pure Darwinian’I have no difficulty in believing’ style. And this is considered to be a rational, scientific approach to evidence. The idea that the universe and not just his slogans was created from the excrement of Richard Dawkins and floats on Stephen Fry’s self esteem seems reasonable by contrast.
The tragedy is that Cox was untrue to his own beliefs, which allegedly say that ALL the evedence must be considered with a truly open mind and that ‘there are no closed questions in science’ but he mishandled, mangled and suppressed scientific evidence to fit with his avowed materialistic philosophy. A philosophy which the Christless BBC with its hordes of militant atheists masquerading as rationalists foist upon a nation that knows no better because of the suppression of the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18-22)
He finished by saying ‘The answer is up to you. What do you think?’
I think you’re a fool (Psalm 14:1) and a liar (Romans 1: 18-22), Brian Cox. And I think you ought to turn from worshiping the works of your own hands and repent (Acts 14:15-17) because Jesus Christ is the King of Creation (John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:16-17) and He is coming in flaming fury to take just and proportionate revenge on those who lead many astray (Jude 15-16, Revelation1:7). Therefore repent.
Please excuse the scatological nature of this post.
A post on a evolution critical site reminded me of the particular bold assertion, that if you gave monkeys typewriters and enough time they would eventually produce Shakespeare. This is an article of faith , like multiverses, that helps reassure the faithful who might be having doubts about blind evolution’s ability to produce things which appear to be highly ordered as if they were carefully designed and build by a higher power. Alas poor Darwin, like so many of the bold assertions in his ‘theory’ when put to the test it turns to poo. Quite literally.
I know this is shooting rats in a barrel, but I can’t help myself and what’s more the radio 4 supposed science programme with agressive atheist Brian Cox still calls itself ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’.
“LONDON – Give an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters, the theory goes, and they will eventually produce the works of Shakespeare.
Researchers at Plymouth University in England reported this week that primates left alone with a computer attacked the machine and failed to produce a single word.
A group of faculty and students in the university’s media program left a computer in the monkey enclosure at Paignton Zoo in southwest England, home to six Sulawesi crested macaques. Then, they waited.
At first, said researcher Mike Phillips, “the lead male got a stone and started bashing the hell out of it.
“Another thing they were interested in was in defecating and urinating all over the keyboard,” added Phillips, who runs the university’s Institute of Digital Arts and Technologies.
Eventually, monkeys Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan produced five pages of text, composed primarily of the letter S. Later, the letters A, J, L and M crept in — not quite literature.”
The importance of this particular story is that when faced with extreme statistical improbability of specified complexity appearing through random operations, the true believer will reply ‘Ah, of course it won’t happen while you’re watching, but it would happen given enough time.’
This reminds me of the first indecent rhyme I remember being told by an older boy when I was about 5. I won’t repeat it here…Oh all right I will.
‘When my bum saw the Queen
instead of producing shit, it produced cream.’
Not very good, and that’s putting it mildly, but it is (very bad) poetry. It rhymes, almost scans and conveys a meaning, albeit a dirty schoolboy nonsense meaning. That’s far more than monkeys are observed to able to do in terms of producing written language. I recall a slightly better couplet on a roadside lavatory wall travelling to Cornwall on holiday as a boy of about 10.
‘The painter’s work has been in vain
the shit house poet strikes again.’
Again, ugly, dirty and stupid but but recognisable as a poem which rhymes, scans and conveys meaning. The Bard of Avon it ain’t, but its streets ahead of the monkeys’ best efforts.
Given more time, why would the result be different? Why believe that random actions will eventually produce ordered, meaningful complexity whether written English or the vastly more complicated DNA code UNLESS YOU HAVE A MOTIVE FOR BELIEVING THAT? Because no observations support the idea that meaning and order arise from chaos given time, quite the reverse.
Meaning is only ever observed to come from mind. Next time you hear the ‘Mountains of overwhelming evidence for evolution’ bold assertion, ask about the Paignton zoo monkey typewriter experiment.
Over the last week I have been told the following things.
Islamic State is nothing to do with Islam. ‘So called Islamic State’ says the BBC, ‘Not in my name’ say various media Muslims. So that’s all right then.
The crimes of Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pot Pot were nothing to do with atheism. Say atheists. Yes, the three prolific mass murdering leaders of secularist states were atheists (subtle clue: they all boasted that they were atheists, persecuted and killed Christians, destroyed churches and had atheism taught compulsorily in all schools) but this was completely irrelevant to their misdeeds, which were because they were ‘Bad men’. Which was nothing to do with their beliefs.
I also heard that Anders Behring Brevik, the Soho nail bomber and the Klu Klux Klan were Christians and that their misdeeds WERE due to their Christian faith. And that this was true despite the fact that their misdeeds involved direct disobedience to the teachings and example of Jesus.
Oh well, just goes to show you can’t believe everything you hear, can you?
Originally posted on Thoughtful Faith:
Recently Richard Dawkins, speaking at the so-called ‘reason’ rally encouraged the crowd to ridicule Catholics. He said when someone claims to be Catholic that atheists should first not believe that they are, then Dawkins urges his followers to
Mock them! Ridicule them! In public!
Unfortunately this wasn’t a one off comment. Responding to an article about how to treat top scientists who are Christians, he wrote in favor “ridicule” and “contempt”. He says that atheists should ignore those with well thought out opinions, instead:
I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven’t really considered the question very long or very carefully. And I think that they are likely to be swayed by a display of naked contempt. Nobody likes to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be the butt of contempt.
That’s a pretty major departure from reason. Using reason one seeks to encourage people to think about problems…
View original 506 more words
I made a post, asking 2 questions, in response to an annoying and peurile anti Christian post from ‘Women Without Religion’ that somehow arrived on my Facebook page.
The next thing I saw was this.
>>>Just a warning here for our god botherers. We ban people who preach on our page. One has just been banned for doing so. If you make a claim, you will be asked for evidence of that claim. Circular reasoning will not be accepted here and will also see you banned. Annie.<<<
my post removed without warning, discussion or a right of reply. I didn’t use circular reasoning and wasn’t given a chance to offer evidence, just deleted and banned without appeal. A friend of mine also posted asking questions, and was also blocked and banned. and as for ‘preaching’ the whole of this page is aggressive and intolerant feminist/atheist preaching.
I have never banned anyone from one of my web fora other than for repeated foul abuse and then after warnings-and I left their hateful post up so people could see why they were banned.
Well, this is very much what Jesus and Paul led us to expect. And of course the liberal feminist left are such champions of free speech. They silence dissent while claiming making a virtue of liberty and free thought.
What makes me laugh about these people is that their anti Christian prejudice (the enemy of my enemy is my friend) is enabling Islam. We’ll see how their grandaughters remember them for that blessing.
We can’t have people asking the wrong questions or questioning liberal left secularist feminist orthodoxy now, can we? I see a new age of tyranny and illiberal thought control coming. Christians, memorise Scripture before it is banned and without hyperbole or tongue in cheek I suggest you think about the cost of martyrdom. These issues and others are addressed in my novel ‘Darwin’s Adders: A Chronicle of Pagan England 2089′ available on Kindle. I am working on the sequel hopefully out by the spring of 2015.
Heard most of an extraordinarily cheap and nasty anti Christian rant on Radio 4 at 13.30 today by alleged comedian Marcus Brigstocke. He began by mocking the Atonement and went downhill from there. Cleverly threw in a brief essentially neutral mention of the Quran and comment on Dawkins’ narcissism presumably in anticipation of complaints from Christians but didn’t go anywhere near criticising ‘The Prophet’ (Muhammed or Lord Darwin). Little bit too cutting edge for the Biased Broadcasting Corporation on that one, steer clear. Stick to spitting, pissing and shitting over Christianity and the Bible-its much safer. And so easy when you’re just riffing on The God Delusion with some Douglas Adams thrown in to pad out the canned laughter. I hope to comment later on the curious link between the atheist left and Islam later. Why do the political left seem so sympathetic to Islam when it contains everything they say they hate about Christianity writ large?
I have written to complain twice in the past about extreme anti Christian bias on BBC dramas. On both occasions I received a ‘We are sorry that you are such a tosser that you don’t value our wonderful production values which occasionally contain cutting edge and challenging material. We are in charge so go **** yourself.’ letter.
Just saying. Listen again here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04fchm4 yourself if you like. If you like it, you’re in deeper trouble than you realise. Much deeper.
The BBC has never, ever, ever, broadcast a programme critical or even cheeky about Muhammed or Darwin. It seems that as the Muhammadan threat to our civilisation draws nearer, the order goes out ‘Kick the Christians harder!’
I often forget that I put this blog up mainly to promote my novel and the ideas in it. Currently I am editing ‘Darwin’s Adders: A Chronicle of Pagan England 2089′ before a re-launch, with a new title ‘The Meonbury Chronicles: part 1, Darwin’s Adders’. I am planning to make the book somewhat shorter with fewer adjectives (I have a terrible, bad, annoying habit of never using one adjective when three will do) and to make it easier reading. More plot and dialogue, less author to reader philosophising. But I’d rather fail on my terms that succeed on terms I don’t agree with, there are plenty of wholesome Amish romances and doctor-nurse stories on the market.
The initial inspiration for the book came to me on waking one morning in July 2009, a month after a visit to Oxford for a C S Lewis weekend based around the novel ‘Perelandra’, second of his acclaimed sci-fi trilogy, otherwise known as the Ransom trilogy, after Elwin Ransom the key character. I love this novel viscerally, but it’s successor ‘That Hideous Strength’ (THS) is I feel more powerful and prophetic. The idea in my head was for a kind of 4th part to the Ransom trilogy based on a ‘what if the bad guys had won?’ scenario, and imagined an angel coming to a handicapped boy, the Down’s syndrome affected great grandson of Mark and Jane Studdock, and announcing that he was the Pendragon. You won’t get that that means unless you have read THS and it would take too long to explain here (setting aside plot spoilers). But basically the key idea in THS is a political union of the worst of materialist and pagan thought and practices under the power of the malignant non material intelligences that (if the Christian world view is correct **) are behind both.
So I imagined a post oil England ruled by druids and witches. Once I got started, all sorts of other stuff suggested itself and clattered from my keyboard. A lot of it is a neo-mediaeval (or pre-oil and pre-machine, which is the same thing) agricultural procedural.
Here is a sample chapter which illustrates the last point.
As the Hampshire politician, farmer and journalist William Cobbett had written, as quoted by John Seymour in his classic book on self sufficiency, hogs had always been at the heart of European peasant agriculture. With the factory farms and supermarkets all gone, the value of the family backyard pig had been realised again.
Pigs bred, farrowed as it was called, twice a year if managed efficiently, producing up to a dozen piglets that could be fattened on leftovers. Their meat was very apt to be preserved as bacon or ham after fattening on autumn surpluses of food. The lard if properly rendered and stored gave a valuable source of cooking oil and calories that could be stored right through the cold winter and hungry-gap spring with care. Nobody bothered about cholesterol any more.
Pigs were popular. Nobody dared insult the rulers, even privately due to the informer network, but if they had done they might have called them rats, wolves, wasps, lice or cockroaches but never pigs. It was no insult to be compared to such useful animals.
The likeliest looking piglets were selected for mating and the others castrated and fattened for meat. Castration made the meat taste sweeter and the animals more docile. Sows were evidently required for breeding, but more females were born than were wanted as pig mothers. Inevitably then, after the best females from each litter had been selected to bear the next generation of porkers, the others were raised and fattened for the same purpose as most of their brothers.
Six months after her birth, schoolteacher Jason Poulter’s backyard gilt, as unmated sows were called, weighed in at some nine and a half stone, or would have done if they had any suitable scales. Not great for a 1990s concentrate fattened pedigree Large White pig, but not bad for a 2089 Wessex Saddleback and Berkshire cross given the stale bread, rotten apples, rats, snails, food scraps and brewers draff (*) she dined on. She had a big day ahead although she didn’t know it.
It was twenty to nine in the morning in Jason’s backyard, not that anyone had a watch but anyway it was shortly after breakfast. The household pig, who answered to the name Fairy (at least if you were carrying a food bucket) was about to make a generous contribution to the village economy. Squealing mightily, Fairy leaned against the gate of her small enclosure as a bucket was produced. She had received no ration the night before and was inflamed with urgent hunger. The smell of food and sound of the bucket being rattled drove her wild. Berus placed it carefully on the ground and retired carefully as the latch on the wooden gate of her sty was pulled. The sow sped to the bucket.
The black and beige saddleback gilt snorked and slavered into her last meal, some rolled barley porridge from the bottom of a rawhide leather bucket. The bucket was skilfully designed to obscure the side vision of the pig whose head was down the bucket feeding. She was slightly wobbly on her legs after being given two quarts of spoiled cider mixed with water to slake her thirst two hours earlier. A mild sedative, or pre-med if you like for the surgical procedure she was scheduled to have. Trepanning followed by carotid arterectomy, tracheal transection and a laparotomy.
Jason held the pole axe, a clever piece of work that Ryan Callumson, the Meonbury metalworker had wrought on his anvil from a standard design of Avon College near New Sarum. Weighing about three quarters of a pound, the business end was a tubular spike three inches long and just under an inch wide, the base from which the spoke arose was a flat striker cap as wide as a man’s palm. The point of the tubular spike was covered for each use with a soft ball of clay. Holding it out on a yard long hazel rod which fitted neatly into a ferrule built into the cap for this purpose, Jason adroitly rested the ball of soft clay on the back of the sow’s head, between the ears. The light touch didn’t irritate the pig the way the iron tube would have done, and helped gain a purchase on the skin.
The brothers worked together like a pair of scissors. The moment Jason placed the spike in position with a practiced and well timed movement, his brother George swung his sledgehammer and struck the spike’s broad cap a great thump. The iron tube cut through the skin, smashed the skull and sunk two inches into Fairy’s porcine brain before she had any idea what was happening. The bystanders were relieved and gave a loud cheer. If George had mis-struck, they were ready to secure the frantic animal and hold her down while they cut her throat, but were glad not to have to. Too much excitement and the risk of a bite that way. You didn’t want a bite from a pig, it was a nasty crushing bite worse than a dog’s and in the post antibiotic era, easily fatal. And a big adrenaline surge might impair the meat. Nice one Jason and George.
Ropes were quickly secured round each quivering back leg, and a slit dexterously made in each hock to take a sturdy steel hook between tendon and bone. The paralysed porker was hauled over a low wooden block and her throat slit before the heart stopped. The blood was caught in a bucket to be mixed with oatmeal, chopped herbs and minced fat to make black pudding. Berus and Tansy looked on with excited joy. It took a few minutes for Fairy to bleed out. As the convulsions settled down to just quivering, she was hoisted up on a wooden frame by the ropes round her rear legs, as the last of the blood drained. The involuntary movements stopped and a stone jug of cider was passed round. The pig’s good health was drunk. Well, they saluted her.
Pigs were vital to the village economy. The omnivorous animals ate almost any otherwise wasted food the people couldn’t and turned it into meat and manure, to say nothing of the pigskin which traditionally was used to made clothes and shoes. Maybe a third of the households in the village kept a pig or two and slaughtered twice a year. The meat was mainly shared out as part of the ‘from each according to his ability’ code that all lived by. Well, almost all. In theory. And when the food sheriffs or their informers were watching.
Fairy’s demise was a one off slaughter, not the great massacre of porkers that would happen after they had finished the autumn glut of vegetables and apples and turned it into meat and fat that could be stored to stave off winter hunger. As Seymour had said, ‘any fool can feed himself in July, but a real countryman is always thinking about the winter’. His writings, or rather an edited selection of them which omitted the bits about individual liberty, distrust of government, making beer and whisky and using firearms, had been some of the few books that had been preserved through the Decimation. He wrote a lot about pigs.
The autumn pig festival was nearly as big as Yule and longer and noisier than Beltane. The whole village echoed with the squeals of pigs and children and stank of blood and guts as two thirds of the village’s pigs were slaughtered around late November to December, depending on the season. The pig in question whose processing kept Berus from school on this occasion was a regular pig, the pig of the month. With no refrigerators any more, or electricity to run them if there were any, meat was eaten within a week of slaughter (depending on the seasonal temperatures), or preserved by salting, smoking or potting in lard. A pig was only killed in warm weather for a feast or immediate distribution, the meat would spoil otherwise.
The food sheriffs oversaw the distribution of meat; you had to get their advance permission to slaughter. Nobody really liked the food sheriffs, but living among the villagers they couldn’t go too far in extracting the kind of favours that men of their station always had, and the system generally worked well enough. Everyone could see it made sense to plan slaughtering so that fresh meat was available reasonably often. The food sheriffs made up their meagre pay by creative accounting of the points awarded for each pig. The system didn’t work so badly.
Berus was put on blood stirring duty. The sticky hot liquid mustn’t clot too soon. Fairy’s belly was slit from sternum to pubis and guts swiftly removed in one piece by someone who had done it before. Two pieces of linen twine were passed round the lower large bowel and tied off securely to keep the bowel contents from spoiling the meat. After a swift cut between the ligatures the bowels were removed cleanly to be turned inside out, washed and salted to make sausage casings. Berus’ sister Tansy ran around swatting flies while her older sister Juniper poured water to refresh the hands of the men doing the messy work.
The liver was separated from the rest of the insides while the bowels were taken a safe distance away and the contents washed into a rough leather bucket by pouring water through them. Care was taken not to rupture the gall bladder with its bitter green contents that could spoil meat. The cleaned and salted intestines were stuffed with an oatmeal, herb and suet mix, ready to absorb the blood as it was poured in through an ox horn funnel. A large pan of hot water was already prepared in the kitchen into which the black pudding was lowered to solidify into the first of the feast. Offal that couldn’t be preserved had to be consumed without delay, hence sharing and feasting. The end of technological civilisation was not entirely without its positive side. Nothing brought people together like a pig killing.
The food sheriff Nigel Bewick who had overseen the event got half the liver plus a promise of three fingers thickness of bacon later, in return for which he would mildly inflate the amount of meat distributed to the community and turn a blind eye to certain other matters.
The village distribution of meat was counted on old fashioned tally sticks which were notched with an official steel tool which had four different thicknesses of serrated edge according to a standard scale by the sheriffs. The householder had one half of a split hazel or willow stick, the sheriff held the other, and the two matching halves were held together to be marked. Crude but effective, practical and cheap, the revival of the tally stick was one of many old low tech ideas going back to the ancient civilisations of Sumeria and Egypt that had been revived from history books. Much else had been revived from those times, including the old polytheistic nature religion which had been used since the founding of Babylon by the rulers and priests to help the masses make sense of their sometimes harsh lives.
The fragrance of roasting and frying meat spread across the village that night. Those who had none cursed quietly and in vain.
(*) Technical note: draff is the washed out barley malt left over after the brewing of beer. The pigs were the ideal repository for this by product of the sacred process, of which Osiris and John Barleycorn were the relevant deities. There was a good deal of protein and vitamins left in the draff, apart from which the pigs’ efficient guts could also digest the cellulose. All this was taught in schools, under mathematics, household management, and in evolution class. Evolution was the new name for nature study and biology, and it was combined holistically with religious studies in honour of Lord Darwin and the gods of nature.
(**) PS it is.
The UK House of Lords debates a bill on assisted suicide this Friday. We have heard a lot about hard cases and much emotive argument as to why we should have the law changed to allow autonomous choice about terminating ourselves with medical assistance.
I will write more about this later but meanwhile here is a link to a very thoughtful reflection from someone who is very ill indeed and thinks changing the law to allow death control is a very bad idea.
In Oxford for a C S Lewis related summer school at Wycliffe Hall. Very exciting and inspiring, made notes and will probably post more later. Today I skipped a visit to Magdalen College and cycled around town on a hired bicycle. Annoyingly I got a puncture which I had to pay to get fixed plus a new tyre, will see if I can get a part refund. Anyway, later I was pedalling through back streets when found a nice looking pub and went in, got a pint, sat down and started scribbling some thoughts (of which more later).
One of our group of CSL students passed by, I knocked on the window and she joined me for a while before going on to Evensong (which I also skipped). Then a red faced white haired nine fingered man (it wasn’t Frodo Baggins) came in, got a drink and sat down next to me and started talking to me.
He was interested in what I was writing in my exercise book so I told him I was on a CS Lewis course at Wycliffe Hall and was thinking about setting up a C S Lewis group. He said a few things about thinking, how he was a scientist but preferred alcohol to thought, in fact got drunk to stop him thinking. I made a joke about Bilbo Baggins’s comment that going out of your front door on to the road was a dangerous thing, it could lead to anything, and the same was true for thinking. Thinking is dangerous, as Lewis wrote in Screwtape Letters and Surprised by Joy (*). But the comment was lost on him, fair enough for he made some comments about football which were lost on me.
Anyway, I went to the Gents and got another pint (of Oxford Scholar ale) and we talked some more. I thought I probably ought to try to tell him about Jesus since he’d asked what I was writing about but I didn’t want to be rude and guessed he probably wouldn’t want to know. And so it proved.
A pleasant conversation ranged, getting on to ancient Greece, and he said how the Greek legends were much more believable that Christianity. I smiled and said I would have to disagree with him on that. In fact, the rational basis for this is a big theme in mythology and classics expert C S Lewis, as I have recently been studying, so we could have had an interesting fact based discussion about that. But we didn’t, because he swore, raised his voice and made a big expansive head and arm gesture, saying that we (he was apparently setting the rules of our conversation) wouldn’t discuss that or the evening would be expletingly ruined. OK I thought, I’m not scalp hunting here and had prayed silently, deciding that I would respect this man’s wishes and not try to force my faith on him just so I could be a good little Evangelical. He said in effect that he didn’t want to discuss my reasons for beli4ving Christianity rational and I thought I wold respect his wishes.
So we talked a bit about football, cars, our respective professions, some personal stuff he raised, and then I had to go. I gave him my contact details at his request and he gave me a handshake. Maybe we’ll be in contact again, maybe we won’t. I didn’t get his name, wouldn’t share it if I had, but I wish him well.
Reflection: many people REALLY seem very averse to having a conversation about Jesus or the evidential basis for the Christian narrative. To the extent of explicitly killing a conversation that is naturally developing that way.
Why is that?
(*) CSL wrote how as an atheist he came across pointers to Christianity being true in all sorts of places where he least expected it ‘The young atheist cannot be too careful of his reading material.’