Feminism – “Why don’t they just rise up?”

Another blog where its a copy of a facebook comment responding to Vicky Beeching’s Jesus was a feminist and so am I and a discussion of BBC 4’s woman’s hour. Didn’t get any response there so I dunno if I’ll get one here!

One thing they mentioned in women’s hour is that men will need to be ok with “relinquishing” power. But is that really how power works?

I really like this article: http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2013/01/no_self-respecting_woman_would.html

And here the picture he paints is one where when men “relinquish” power what they actually do is relinquish the trappings of power whilst men leave and go to areas where real power exist (leave the senate and become lobbyists for example).

Instead of men being ok with relinquishing power perhaps women need to get better at taking power (perhaps with male help)? I don’t know about this… the last psyciatrist seems to put a heavy emphasis (when talking about django unchained) about the system giving Django permission. And that that is important.

That term (“permission”) fits in more with what you’re talking about in your bbc piece. Jesus kind of gave women permission to have a voice when he appeared to Mary. And it was this permission that became liberating. It meant people naturally just took power rather then fought for it. (Mary just became an authority figure on this matter)

I don’t know the names of the people speaking on the bbc but one of the speakers seemed to talk about this. About women learning to “take” power but her views were about using sex to do this.

I think this is interesting and there is an awesome example of women using sex to exert power over men in a pretty awesome way in kenya. (Look at point #2)

But that was withholding sex not (as the speaker on the radio suggested) infidelity. I can’t see how sex used like this would really do much for “women” as a whole, instead it would kind of probably just help individual women in the way that the last psyciatrist describes.

So what do you think as a feminist? Do you think feminism is about helping men relinquish power or helping women take it? Or something else?

Connecting the church around their personal passions

Connecting the church around their personal passions

Where are we going?

We at Common Nonsense have been working for a while on a couple of larger projects. However the end is getting in sight for these projects and there is a question of where we can go next and what do we want to do? There are loads of avenues that could probably be met with commercial success and more clients. This is quite cool but there is a second question we need to answer before we go ahead with it. Why are we doing this? What is the point? More money? More developers? More Clients? To what end? Ultimately our goal was broadly to use technology to help the church. So the question is for us, what is our vision for the church and how could we help it get there? There are two things that come to mind. One is practically something that is exciting for the near future and so I will try and write this one up in a little more detail. I’d love to see if there are people wanting to help out with this. The other is probably something that is more interesting in the longer term and I’ll just set the stage. The first is about connecting people across websites around their passions. The second is about connecting the church to those within the persecuted church.

What it is we do now.

For those of you who don’t know me that well, at the heart of what we have been doing technically is the Party module with Drupal. Drupal is a popular content management system but it is also a framework with which people can build websites. 2.1% of the web is powered by Drupal. It provides tools to make it easy to build web pages built around realistic data structures. If I am building a website that is reviewing theatre productions, I can do more then just categorise and tag the reviews. I can add what Drupal calls “Fields” such as a Date Field that says when the play took place. Another date range Field that tells you until when you’ll be able to see the play and other kinds of fields such as the directors, actors or writers. It then provides tools to lay this data out in lists or web pages.

Our Party module takes Drupal and turns it into something called a “CRM” system. This is like a glorified address book that collects information about people. Usually businesses use this kind of software to keep information about their customers and then use this information to market to a subset of their customers, etc. As organisations are predominantly about their people, whether its staff, stakeholders, customers or just people know about the organisation and make the brand happen, this kind of data is incredibly important. Drupal’s tools for building web pages suddenly become incredibly useful for building databases of users. The UI for adding fields to a review can be used to instead add other information about the people in your system such as their date of birth or gender. The tools for laying out pages and making lists can be used for reports on the people you work with or making workflows for managing those people. Drupal’s tools enable us to very quickly build workflows and user interfaces that show only the information the staff need to see whilst saving them time and being a joy to use (in theory!)

Because all these tools are open source software, as we develop our toolset it is going to be incredibly easy to scale this. We can use the same tools to help many different organisations. This can include Christian church networks or event organisation companies or individual churches or other forms of Christian ministries. We’ll be able to quickly provide many of these organisations tools to manage all the data on the people they interact with and save them time and money. The more organisations that sit on our platform the stronger it can become as other developers contribute both code and interesting ideas of how to use those tools.

This stuff is ok. Its the stuff of a commercial success. Saving people time and money means they will give us money. Us having money means we can pay more developers and expand faster making more money or better websites and tools which in turn make more money. But this isn’t really cool yet. It gives our business a means to exist but not a reason.

Connecting passionate people around the things they are passionate about.

Imagine a Facebook for the church.

Imagine all the things the people in the church might like. All the different groups or events that could spring out about it. I might be really excited by speaking to homeless people in manchester. Or really into youth work and online gaming or maybe I just want to battle out the theological questions of Calvinism verses Arminianism again in light of more philosophical developments. Maybe I really love apologetics and I have this cool new argument I want to try out and figure out if its any good or if its been done before. Maybe I hate apologetics and want to just go around the clubs in the cities handing out cheap flipflops to girls who have spent all night dancing in high heels and are now in a lot of pain. I could be someone who is passionate about evangelising to people walking in the park, or maybe praying for healing, or maybe prophetic. Maybe I really love the flower arrangement of the church and need to figure out how I can make them healthy without spending as much time watering them. I love working with kids but my tiny rural church really can’t fit the children that are signed up here or the youth in my youth group are from difficult backgrounds and are being quite disruptive  I want to give them a place to hang out and show them some of Jesus’ love but I can’t keep having things smashed up in my church.

Whatever you’re passionate about in the church, whatever problems you face or things you want to do about it. They all are vastly helped by being connected to the people who are similarly passionate about it. Those people may have already gone ahead and can give you support and advice or maybe they are in a similar position to you and would want to help you.

Now imagine why there isn’t a Facebook for church.

People wouldn’t gather around and do cool things together. They would fight! The Calvinists would continue to rip into the Arminians. The conservative evangelical christians would attack the  mainstream evangelical Christians on their approach to women in leadership who would attack the liberals who agree on that but disagree on the authority of the scripture who would then attack the Anglo-catholics on their attitude toward women in leadership who are in turn attacking the conservative evangelical Christians for their attitude towards Mary!

I could say that when 2 or more are gathered in Jesus’ name… there will be arguments but really even if a Church only contained one person you’d find that person bickering with themselves!

Distributed Social Networking

Our software is free open source software. As we expand our company more people will use it and then other companies may start using it for their projects. Everyone will have a similar platform. However they don’t have to agree on women on leadership to both use the same tools that help them quickly search through their database. Now, remember the Drupal fields? It becomes trivially easy with Drupal to add the field “What are you passionate about?” There could be an infinite number of things people might put as their thing as New Frontier’s found out. Suddenly every single church, Christian ministry or network could easily ask what the people they work with care about. That’s quite cool, that will probably be useful to them.

However imagine now you’re the individual who really cares about the homeless in Manchester. You might put that down in your church profile but maybe your church is quite small and whilst there are people who would be willing to help you if you badgered them enough, they aren’t passionate about it like you are. You find it frustrating because every time you read the bible you see God’s heart crying out for the poor but never see that in the Christians around you. The chances are you’d be willing to work with people who aren’t in your church. You probably don’t care about your colleague’s attitude towards predestination!

In fact I think I’ll assert this. The boundaries that the larger ministries and that the church leaders care about are rarely the same boundaries that an individual in the church cares about. This means that whilst the churches will probably not want to come together into one massive Facebook for churches the individuals within the church may want to connect with others around the things they are passionate about.

Enter Distributed Social Networking.

The Internet is really great at connecting information but computers are dumb. See if I go and look at a book on Amazon,  I am clever. I can know that the front page image is the front page of an actual book in real life that has the title as its book title and the name next to “author” as the book’s author. In fact it doesn’t take much thought to realise that a name is actually a name. For a computer this is really difficult. A computer just sees a bunch of arbitrary text and random images. There is no way a computer can know easily that those bits of data are related. RDF and the Semantic Web aim to change that. It provides little tags that tells computers what the data it is looking at is (a name) and how it relates to other bits of data (it’s the author of that book).

Combine RDF with a whole collection of organisations that store information about people’s passions and you have a potential distributed social network. See, as this information is (by choice) available to everyone on the Internet it means it is available to computers on the Internet. If its available to computers on the Internet a website could potentially collect all this information into one place. Bare with me!

Imagine an organisation that has a website including information about people. We’ll call this a node. Another website could read all this information and store it somewhere. It could read this information across multiple websites (Nodes) and aggregate them into one place. This one place could be a searchable website. We’ll call this website a Network. This Network could be a website that aggregates all people who are interested in homeless people across all the churches in the UK for example. It could aggregate every speaker who is interested in politics across all Christian events. It could aggregate every sermon preached on Romans 2 and spoken in Arabic.

The Networks don’t need to ask for permission to do this any more then a human needs permission to manually go to every website, write this information down in a notebook and then publish the notebook online. The website that has sermons on Romans 2 in Arabic could have sermons from Anglo-catholic churches and conservative evangelical churches even if those two churches wouldn’t naturally come together.

This is starting to get cool.

What it takes

Its hard getting lots of churches, organisations and ministries storing their data in a format where this would be even possible. That’s what we’re doing and we could do this anyway. Having their data on one common platform makes things cheaper for them. The second part, connecting this becomes much easier and this is what I’d like to put to anyone reading this blog. There are things that need to be done and so I’ll just list them.

  • Make it so that each node can output the data in a machine readable format (Trivially easy)
  • Make it so that each node speaks the same language! This involves creating what is called an RDFa schema. In the Amazon example we have the “author” of a book. There needs to be a common language for what the author is. I could potentially use the word “Writer” on one website and “Author” on another. A Network trying to collect this information wouldn’t know that Author’s and Writer’s are the same thing unless they both use the same language or someone tells them they are the same. This is interesting when dealing with books of the bible for example. Are Song of Songs and Songs of Solomon the same book for example? It doesn’t really matter which one you use, the only thing that matters is that everyone uses the same one..
  • We need easy to install packages for the nodes. A church website distribution on Drupal for example so that lots of organisations can easily install a similar package.
  • We also need some code for the network website. It needs to be easy to set up a website that pulls all this information and aggregates it but this has its own problems.
    • How will a network know which nodes to pull data from
    • How will it actually pull the data
    • How will it store and cache the data (if that is what it should do) and how does it know when to index the information? Will it just index the web like google does?
  • Currently I have talked about Networks as mere “Aggregators” but really we want to connect people. This presents more interesting uses of Distributed Social networking which is probably beyond RDF.
    • Can I have a discussion that is actually located on lots of sites? This conversation about Calvinism, can it be across lots of blogs that are talking about it? Something like Disquss but even more open then that. If someone comments on a post on the network (Such as the sermon on Romans 2 in Arabic). Is that comment stored on the Network? Or can a node pull that comment back from the network? Is the discussion some how spread across all these websites?
    • How about organising events across multiple churches? Maybe all the churches in New Malden can organise an event together? But then you need authentication and permissions to edit this event and there is the question of where the event exists? Which version of the event is the true event and which ones are copies?
  • An investigation into the inevitable privacy issues. How can you make it so that individuals have complete control over their own data whilst enabling all this cool sharing. How can you make sure that a 70 year old in the church may not accidently post something confidential that goes out to everyone?

Diaspora has tried distributed social networking. I don’t think its worked out well because Facebook is so much easier and people will always take the path of least resistance  This is why the Party module is so important. If churches are using the platform anyway for other things that make their life easier, they would become far more likely to opt into the cooler aspects of what we’re talking about here.


There is something really exciting about the Internet’s ability to connect people. There is something exciting about connecting the right people around the thing they are passionate about. There is a tremendous opportunity for this to happen if organisations are all already using the same platform to store data about people. This is hard though. Most websites that connect people do it by making sure everything is in one walled garden (Facebook, Twitter, Discussion Forums etc) and this is something that simply won’t work with the Church. I’ve outlined a technical way using RDFa and aggregators that could potentially connect people but we’re REALLY in the early stages of this! Currently we’re just focusing on building the tools to solve our client’s needs as they exist now. I’m really interested to see what others might think of these ideas and where they could go.

This is only starting to get cool. How can we make this really cool?

What I’m excited about.

I’m typing this in a different colour as this post is long and you can ignore it. I really like connecting people in the church for the sake of connecting people in the church. My boss is more interested in connecting people so that they can do something together to achieve something for the Kingdom. The focus is on people eventually doing something. What I’ve posted here is more along the lines of my boss’ interest. However my passion has always been about connecting people as the end not the means. This includes watching online communitites and MMORPGs and connecting people in the church across age groups, etc.

I have always had a real passion for reading about and praying for the persecuted church. I have done a few mission trips. A lot of the time the whole reason why that mission happens is just to show solidarity. Its really easy when you’re under persecution to feel alone in all this. Recently I read a book by Brother Andrew called Secret Believers. In it there was a letter from the Church of Afghanistan to the President of the US. They told of what it is like for them and asked for help from the Christian west. There was something so exciting by reading a letter penned by real Christians in that country.

Imagine if we built software that could connect the church and then if this software got into the hands of people who are under persecution. Imagine if I could talk to and pray with people in that church in a way that was completely safe and secure in a manner that things like the TOR network are trying to enable. Even in that book, one of the converts from Islam, who had to leave due to all his friends getting killed, ended up in a safe environment but still desperately wanted to connect with other converts from Islam. He did it through chatting on the Internet.

The technology is there to make this possible. It just requires buy in from the church. However, this is in my opinion, where we go from cool to awesome :)!

I want to work for Valve! (Or at least a company like them)

This weekend I got a little obsessed about Valve and watching Gabe Newell talk about stuff. The company structure is simply amazing. For this blog I’m going to assume you know about it but in summary they have a completely flat hierarchy. Gabe felt that hierarchy works really well for the military of any industry focused on getting as many people as possible to perform the same task as efficiently as possible (such as in factories). However he thinks it is terrible for creative industries and so they have implemented their corporate structure. It has strange consequences because no one is able to tell anyone else what to do so everyone focuses 100% of time on the projects of their choosing. They deal with hiring, salaries and bonuses through this kind of way. There are no departments as everyone has direct contact with the customers and so everyone can do art or sales or marketing or development or managment, etc.

Even new Valve employees have trouble getting their head around this. So here are some links:

Now getting that out of the way I’ve been thinking a lot about if Common Nonsense the company I work for could act more like Valve? Its an on-going thing but I thought I’d post yet another Facebook conversation.

Isn’t it amazing!!!! I’ve been spending the evening chatting to one of my programmers seeing if we could make our company like that… I don’t think we can within a consultancy business model. I think you need to sell products and you need to be privately owned

The problem with the consultancy model is the way information flows. I (or my boss) meet with my clients and consult with them and then my developers build the things I come up with my clients. This means my developers can’t easily know exactly why they are doing what they are doing and to some degree have to just do what they are told. Ultimately we can’t just do what is best for our clients, we have to do what we’re told. So we as a company are under their structure and therefore of the theoretical inefficiencies that come with our client’s being managed internally hierarchically (according to valve’s economist in the above link)

In order for the information to fully flow either I’d have to essentially repeat every meeting I have with the clients, to all the developers or every developer would have speak to the client directly. Agile Software Development methodologies such as Scrum do a lot to get around this (which we do use) but they are no way near as cool as what Valve are doing.

This is particularly clear when looking at the way Valve focus heavily on quantitative testing of everything they do. As Gabe says, anyone can explain retrospectively why something didn’t work and so they put a lot of pressure of people coming up with quantitative tests before you do something. 

What this means is that every single individual in the company can do what is the best ultimately for their customers. This is because They have access to all the data they need to understand all the information they need to make the right decisions. This data may exist in someone’s head but they can sit next to them.

Now it might be possibly if our clients were ok with it to do something like this. But Gabe talks a lot about how its quite hard to adapt to valve’s way of working and so we’d have to have that struggle with every one of our clients and essentially force them to think differently about the way they make desicions!

The advantage of a consultancy model is that cash flow is really not a problem. I get paid for every hour I work and so we haven’t needed any start-up money. Now if we switched to a product business model we’d probably not make any money for quite a while. Gabe had made millions with Mike Harrington so he could self-fund the company. I don’t have millions and so would probably have to seek investment so that we were owned by someone who didn’t directly work for the company. It would be possible to pull this off but much more difficult.

(oh yeah the final thing! Is the pricing structure of consultancy. We’re not paid to provide value, we’re paid to work hours. At valve they encourage you to rest and chill out (and so does my boss) and what that means is that creative people may only work for a couple of hours in a day but it works if those 2 hours provide tremendous value. However, although we aim to provide that kind of value to our clients because we’re not doing it for the money. Our pricing structure discourages this and encourages us to just work hours because thats what we get paid to do. Even worse, if I sit around and come up with an amazing idea with lots of value, it might get lost on our clients because if they haven’t paid more for it they may not value it and so they may not use it.

I’ve spoken to people in the software world who complain about this and try and switch to a value based pricing structure rather then time based but so far I haven’t seen anyone suceed)

So there you go! Maybe if Common Nonsense were to move away from pure consultancy it could work? Maybe there is a way to get close to Valve with a consultancy model? Maybe Agile is kind of close?

My thoughts aimed at advocates of Singer


This article is a simple response to the advocates of Singer after having watched a YouTube presentation and reading around a little. This article is also heavily influenced by a debate between Posner and Singer linked to below.

I argue that Singer’s view of animal liberation is such that vegetarianism itself does not help his overall aims. I argue that Singer generally seems to accept this throughout his presentation in a way that the advocates of Singer rarely seem to. I then take this further and suggest that if advocates of Singer dropped their vegetarianism they would be more likely to succeed in improving the lives of animals around the world. I end with how this impacts me and my personal morality (which is at odds with Utilitarianism generally) and a few disclaimers.

Ways to be moral about animal welfare.

Singer is more in favour of animals having a good life than whether or not they are eaten.

A truly utilitarian viewpoint is to minimise evil as opposed to living according to a strict moral standard. With a Utilitarian view, morality is not binary and Singer demonstrates this by only weakly advocating full on vegetarianism/ veganism. I really liked his response to Roger Scruton’s view that instead of becoming vegetarians we should just aim to improve the lives of animals on farms. Singer was kind of like “yeah fair enough that would be better but I’d just prefer to go a bit further”. Even more consistent was when he basically advocated hunting when it was done by an expert marksman! Singer is very good at taking his philosophical principles to their extremes.

Vegetarians tend to adopt a more binary, judgemental “animal’s have the right to live” stance which is not really in Singer’s philosophy.

However, the reality is vegetarians who advocate Singer’s ideas rarely emphasise this point. When they talk about how they ‘don’t mind meat eaters’ what they will usually do is explain, ‘Don’t worry I’m not judgemental about it”. Unfortunately all this does is imply that they have a right to be judgemental about it but they add a patronising tone on top of that because they are choosing (for the listeners benefit) to not take that right! Very few vegetarians seem to understand that their vegetarianism could be morally abhorrent to others and that they might be on the receiving end of judgement!

What is cool about Singer is he is not taking a liberal moral high ground of saying, ‘Don’t worry I’m not judging you Roger Scruton’. He is instead saying, ‘Actually Roger you, a meat eater who is against the pain animals receive on farms, are morally superior alongside me. Not quite as superior as I am but so close that I’m basically happy if you got your way in society’. This view-point is very judgemental but in a positive direction!

Similarly Singer talks about people whose biology does need some sort of protein found in animal products (particularly when talking about vegans). Here, it is not that he withholds judgement against those people. Instead, alongside his philosophy, he is ok with that person eating animal products because of the pain it would cause them to avoid it. His issue with other people is that for a relatively small amount of pain for a human (not eating meat) you greatly reduce the pain for lots of animals… hence his utilitarianism.

Vegetarians however tend to adopt a more virtue based morality about animals having rights to life or rights over the products they create.

Singer adopts a clearly utilitarian view on animal liberation that says that in the same way we should minimise pain to humans, we should minimise pain to animals. This animal welfare part of the argument is very important as it is the thing that Singer focuses on the most. Whether an animal lives or dies is actually relatively less important compared to the pain they go through in life. A more “Animal Rights” approach could be taken where animals are given the same rights as humans such as the right to life. With this approach Vegetarianism becomes more important as it asserts the animals right to not be murdered. These two approaches to animal liberation are important due to the consequences of how an individual should act.

Ways these distinctions impacts how we treat the subject of animal welfare.

A campaign to minimise the suffering of animals on farms would be more likely to succeed generally and animal farm owners know this but…

Peter Singer’s arguments and examples would increase people’s demand of animal welfare. This is shown in Roger Scruton’s response and Richard Posner’s response. The main aspect of this talk that they appreciate is the graphic detail of what goes on in the farms. Posner particularly seemed thankful because he “likes animals”. This is a position that actually I think the vast majority of human beings share. It’s not that they think animals have intrinsic rights and therefore should also have rights comparable to humans, like the right to life. It’s just they don’t like the idea of animals going through lots of pain and suffering because “they like animals”.

Interestingly in Singer’s presentation he provides further evidence for this because he talks about how animals farms put lots of effort into preventing camera crews getting into the farm. It seems like most people have a morality where:

(A) They want to know the truth of what is happening in the world.
(B) They don’t want animals to go through their lives suffering horribly.

Now admittedly not everyone agrees with A and some might not agree with B. But I think enough people agree with both A and B that a campaign to end the suffering of animals through legal force would actually be possible. The fact that animal farms put so much effort into limiting our ability to film inside the farm suggests that most people agree with A and B and the farm owners know it.

Vegetarianism makes this campaign to reduce animal suffering less likely to succeed for a number of reasons.

The mere fact of vegetarianism can make people who disagree with it question whether animal welfare matters – Philisophical.
One person had a problem with free range eggs. He felt that he was being hypocritical because by advocating free range eggs he was saying the lives of chickens mattered but by eating chickens he was saying that they don’t. This better persuaded him to give up on free range eggs then it did convert him to vegetarianism. Singer’s, Scruton’s and Posner’s moralities all suggest this is a false dichotomy. It is possible to eat animals and care for their well-being in life in a way that is morally better than what is happening now.

All or nothing approach makes people want to do nothing – emotional.
This is similar to the above approach but less philosophical and more emotional. I’d suggest that most people agree with the moral statements of A and B above but feel that B can never be solved… animals will always suffer horribly and therefore A is the only option (to try to avoid thinking about it whilst you eat your chicken). I think Singer, Scruton and Posner present a moral way out of this. You can make yourself feel better about eating chickens by campaigning and succeeding at making their lives better. The other advantage is that you’ll probably have to do this through paying more for your food which actually makes the farmers happier too. Vegetarians by their very existence encourage the myth that either you have to stop enjoying meat or allow animals to suffer. The feeling they create is, ‘If vegetarians have reasons to do what they do then maybe I’ll become a vegetarian if I investigate animal welfare claims’. The reality is that an individual can care about the welfare of animals and still enjoy meat.

Vegetarianism is alienating to meat eaters – societal.
However amount they try to be non-judgemental it marks you off as different. When I went university I was going to try to be tee-total but my dad intervened. As a Christian I wanted to show that I lead life differently but by abstaining I couldn’t enjoy alcohol with the people in my community. Eating with other people is another very important social function which is negatively impacted by vegetarians. Meat eaters can’t easily share things they enjoy unless it’s on the vegetarian’s home ground. This concept is parodied in the Mitchell and Webb look and in Scot Pilgrim with the Vegan having super powers because he is “just better”. This makes meat eaters less likely to accept the moral imperative to improve the lives of animals because we are “just different from vegetarians”.

Vegetarianism does not give animal farms any economic incentive to listen – economic.
This is a problem with boycotting things in general. Merely not buying something from an organisation is not good enough to change an organisation, as they need to provide some method for the organisation to change their ways to end the boycott. As more people become vegetarians it merely makes the current animal farms less profitable meaning they are more likely to cut costs in ways that negatively impact animal welfare. However, if meat eaters chose to eat from ethically sourced suppliers, this would give farms a financial incentive to improve animal welfare. For example with free-ranged eggs verses battery chickens if all people who cared about animal welfare refused to eat all eggs then there would be no reason to produce free-ranged eggs.

By taking an all or nothing approach that animal right rhetoric tends to demand it can make people less likely to care about animal welfare for philosophical, emotional, societal and economic reasons. However, if people were to drop vegetarianism as a requirement for advocating Singer’s views then those same philosophical, emotional, societal and economic issues can be used to encourage people to care about animal welfare and implement real change.


Therefore if advocates of Singer want to push his views forward they are better off eating meat! And organising around an organisation similar to PETA but with meat-eating included as both acceptable and a done thing.

Now my views are hardly the same moral views everyone shares but from a Hedonistic point of view I care selfishly about my own pain and suffering. As a Hedonist I want to eat meat because I enjoy it and as a Hedonist, like Posner, I don’t want animals to suffer because I like animals. I am not a Utilitarian. I can’t stand a “Lesser of two evils approach”. There are so many aspects of Singer’s views that I find abhorrent. Yet despite this, I could be persuaded by arguments along the lines of Scruton and Posner and would possibly even join in helping that out.

If you can get support from people who don’t fully agree with you on everything that is powerful. Advocates have a genuine chance at changing the world for the better (in their view) but almost no chance of converting everyone to vegetarianism. Therefore they should eat meat and eat it in public.


  • Whilst I think advocates of singer ought to eat meat, Singer himself doesn’t necessarily need to. I think the advocates of Singer have more political power than Singer himself and so if most of the people I met who care about animal welfare and were organised to help animals, also ate meat. That would be enough. I think it is enough for Singer to simply publicly state that aspects of Scruton and Posner are acceptable without himself actually having to eat meat.
  • Upon further reflection it appears that Vegetarians are suffering from a conflict between applying Animal Rights in a similar way to Human Rights and Singer’s Utilitarianism. This problem is the same problem that John Stuart Mill faced with his On Liberty compared to his (and Bentham’s) Utilitarianism. Therefore after reading this article I found everything I had written was philosophically dull! It may or may not be interesting that the same issues about Animal Rights vs Animal Utility are the same issues as Humans Rights vs Human Utility but that’s it.
  • I’m still happy I published this article because whilst it is philosophically dull, as Posner points out, the philosophical angle on this whole presentation is the most dull part of it. What Singer does very well is tug on emotional heart-strings with new data on how animals are treated. This article is then suggesting what direction those tugs should be aimed at and the arguments of this article still stand.
  • I think I would possibly advocate some kind of ethically sourced supplier of food that is similar to Tradecraft and their Fair Trade brand but for animal welfare.
  • The motivation for writing this article is due to having an increasing number of close friends turning to vegetarianism. Biblically speaking there are verses specifically saying to essentially leave vegetarians alone! (Although for different reasons) and so I kind of take that attitude towards it. But personally there is something that makes me uncomfortable with vegetarianism in a similar way to being uncomfortable about most moral systems and so I thought I’d try and put some thought it to the subject. Here it is!

Why I’m excited by Drupal and the Church

This is another e-mail that I thought could become a blog post

Drupal and the Church in the UK

Looking at Drupal specifically many UK christian organisations are standardising around Drupal. HTB use it and employ Drupal developers, Spring Harvest use it, CCK (Church of Christ the King, big New Frontiers church in Brighton) are using Drupal more and more now. Meanwhile we’re working with New Wine and Soul Survivor (Disclaimer: whilst we are a Drupal shop, just because we’re working with them, it doesn’t mean they will use Drupal for everything . What Standardising on one technology enables churches to do is share their innovative ideas. Sharing ideas means that technology can become inter operable and achieve a greater reach and scale.

Sharing innovations on one platform

Trying to convince people to work on one platform is difficult. But that is already happening. Also everything we build we open source. Now we’re snowed under with our work on New Wine at the moment so I don’t know what the future holds for us. But hopefully when we’re less snowed under we can put effort into marketing the open source stuff we’ve done. This means the other organisations that are just using Drupal already could potentially just “slot it in” to their website.

For now we’re dealing with stuff that will probably only help larger organisations. We have a piece of work coming up to build a site that helps Sutton pray more (an area outside of London). It’s for a group that are working on increasing prayer in Sutton (linking lots of organisations and churches in that area) but the website will include a public prayer wall and a “adopt a street”. (like this http://prayadoptastreet.net/).

Now this stuff already exists but by using Drupal’s modular nature any other website that uses Drupal can just put it on their website with almost no hassle. Currently it requires a developer with a bit of Javascript and Google Maps API knowledge to do. This is exciting because by putting these tools in the hands of non-techy people they can do things we couldn’t imagine. Long term with Drupal 8 we can have better cross-site communication. So Churches could have their own “adopt a street” working alongside other church websites.

This is really small but lots of small things like this has a huge potential (methinks).

Prophecy, God and technology

The thing my boss is really excited about investigating as well is combining IT with the prophetic. We haven’t really figured out how to communicate this because its not something you can say, its more something you demonstrate. I mean, you can say it, but its so easy to say “I’m a christian company making money from christian organisations and I want God intimately involved in our work”. If you say that to christians and they believe you, you’ll make money out of it which instantly means saying it means less.

However, there is something exciting behind it. I’ve heard from both my dad and boss how they have had times when they have tried to solve a bug in their code. They had spent ages sorting through it but finally they decided to do a quick nehemiah style “arrow prayer” and after praying almost instantly found the answer.

Also technology is kinda like a language. A chunk of code is one way that ideas can be communicated between people and organisations. Prophets aren’t about control and telling people what to do because God said so. They just need to tell people and let the church choose whether it listens or not. Technology has something that is analogous.

For example we could tell a church “You should give away all your sermons for free”.

Or we could work with a bunch of churches that went to sell sermons. We could build resource and sermon libraries that you can use that allow you to categories  find and share all your resources. We can build it as a shop with a private area, subscriptions or pay per sermon and because its Drupal any church website already using Drupal can just use it.

But with the press of a button in configuration those churches can go from charging to using it all for free.

In the olden days where making more tapes or CDs cost money it was easy for churches to justify making a little bit of money on the side. When it costs them no extra to give away their talks to more people for free it changes the question from “Why do I have to give everything away for free” to “Why shouldn’t I give it all away for free?”

At no point are we dictating to churches how they should act. That church that wants to sell anything is welcomed to do so. If they use our software or pay us to do it, we would only be building the things they want. We wouldn’t use their time and money to make it easy to give things away from free. But because this is open source software we don’t have to. The functionality just has to exist out in the community (either built by us or someone else in their spare time or paid for by another church) for this to be true.

This means the things we choose to build and release could potentially impact the church. This means that every piece of code we write needs to be treated with utmost respect in terms of listening to what God wants us to do. Whether I’m running a prayer meeting for the city or writing a payment processing module for Drupal, they both have the ability to impact the church positively and both need God involved in it…


This is a work in progress. I’m guessing most of what I’ve said is complete rubbish and I’ll have to think about it a bit more and see where I’m wrong. Also I’m not trying to convince you of anything! But thought it might be a fun rant to read if you have a bit of a computer science background.(Disclaimer: I’m not very good with the prophetic stuff. I do what I can to listen to God but I couldn’t pin point what ideas in my head belong to me or belong to God or whether that distinction is even helpful for me. So this is another area where this rant might be wrong as I probably need to explore these ideas more)

The roots of Fresh Expressions

This is a reply to a text message about a church a friend is going to that is part of the fresh expressions that he felt is grassroots orientated. (He is right. It is, but there is an element where its not which I find more intresting). So this is the church: http://churchonthecorner.org.uk/ and this is my reply (feel free to correct me if things are factually incorrect)

One thing that is interesting about Fresh Expressions is how NOT grassroots it is! It was commissioned by Steven Croft, Graham Cray and Rowan Williams! I mean its about as top down as you can get (being something almost created by the arch bishop). Graham Cray is the guy who is Mike Pilavachi’s boss and also created Greenbelt. Graham Cray also heads up some really awesome sociological research like “making sense of generation Y” and has given quite a few talks about what a new church should look like (For example he talks a lot about how our culture doesn’t do corporate singing whilst churches that aim to be new and reaching our culture focus on mat redman style worship which is actually very counter-cultural). Stephen Croft I think was the other potential candidate for arch bishop alongside Justin Welby and he is the main person behind fresh expression. He is also Steve Wilcockson’s boss! (Steve is his number 2, an arch deacon that actually carries out his ideas in his area).

So although fresh expression churches feel all grassroots-ey its actually just the result of brilliant top-down research driven marketting!!! Which is fun because all the other “liberal” “grassroots-ey” things outside of the christian world are the same. The Pharmaceutical companies own all the health food alternative supplement brands. What is so impressive is every time I have disagreed with something the fresh expressions guys (specifically graham cray) has said I have always been wrong. Every assumption I have had about our culture (which is usually very in tune of mainstream church’s assumptions) that has been at odds with what graham cray found through his research, I have later found to be incorrect even with the people around me. I just never knew about it.

Most of his research is even better then anything in the secular world regarding generation Y. When people talk about this generation and the millenials they tend to get far too excited by the impact of the Internet and go on about that but actually there are plenty of people our age who don’t use facebook.

Fresh Expressions are really interesting. With New Wine I went to a seminar where bunches of them got together. Its really an extension of the Cell group movement that we were part of and the values behind it are really similar but Cell Groups had too much structure. The flip side is that fresh expressions haven’t quite worked out how to scale without looking more and more like traditional churches.

They are also unbelievably diverse. There is a fresh expression in Earl’s Court which is really just a bunch of people looking after homeless people using an old chapel as a base. They basically don’t do any “marketting” aimed at christians and don’t try and attract them. Another fresh expression was just on an allotement in a council estate where they did gardening and people could join them.

It goes hand and hand with the New Monastic movement which is also unbelievably cool. The new monks are so much cooler then the old monks.

So yeah, I think I’d like to come. But be warned. Its unlikely I’ll “like” it. I don’t really like churches anymore. I don’t really have oppinions apart from “How can I use technology to help this church” and “What is this particular community’s place in the global church and how can it use technology to increase its influence”

I’m sure there are some churches out there that are so bad they are nothing but toxic to the body of christ and should be completely expelled. But more often then not those churches don’t want to be part of the rest of the church anyway and become cults especially in a society where being christian doesn’t give you any real advantages. Most of the time a church that is “good” just have aspects that are good and aspects that are bad but due to your particular personality type you don’t care about the bad thigns as much and get a lot from the good things. From an overall objective point of view they are just a mixture and this fits with the way that paul pretty much lays into every one of the churches he was dealing with.

So I’ll probably both love and hate the church

International Women’s Day

For national women’s day my most inspirational women:

Florence Nightingale – Cause statistics are cool and she was one of the first to make use of pie charts to change things. She was also the first female member of the royal statistical society. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Nightingale

Webchick – Angie Byron – Co-maintainer of Drupal 7 and generally a tech great. http://twitter.com/#!/Webchick and she has done some good talks on women in open source that can be googled but here is an aritlce: http://www.cmswire.com/cms/web-cms/open-web-vancouver-2009-want-more-women-in-your-project-004815.php

Princess Marie Bonaparte – Her story about how she went about researching about the clitoris is awesome. http://blog.museumofsex.com/the-rule-of-thumb-vagina-types-and-variability-of-female-orgasm/ (Warning, some people may not like these pictures!)

Vicky Beeching: Her songs are great and she has an amazing blog. The way she goes about using social media is really interesting. http://vickybeeching.com/blog/

Goodbye Christopher Hitchens

I’m going to join a chorus of blog posts saying goodbye to christopher hitchens in a variety of ways. He was brilliant at writing and so I’ve found many of his fans are also really good at writing why they are sad and explaining why he was brilliant. This blog post will not be one of them, its not going to be well-written and probably no one should bother reading it. Normally when I blog I try to write it, leave it for a bit and check over things. I really need to not do that with this post.

One reason why I need to not do this is because I’ve tried writing about my feelings toward hitchens before. In one interview he told everyone that if you ever want to write to a writer, always do. He said he reads everything and is always encouraged by praise, even if he doesn’t have the time to respond. I love a tech writer called Matt Asay and after consistently being amazed at his articles and insight into the tech world I sent a little message to him saying “Matt, you are awesome, everything you write just makes me happy, thats all I have to say”. And Matt replied “Thanks that really made my day”. It was so exciting being able to connect in some way to the human behind the articles and as a result I felt I ought to write something to hitchens to say thank you.

The christian in me particularly wanted to write something. I remember being at New Word Alive listening to a ex-homeless guy sing about how Jesus had saved him from stuff. I don’t know what it was about that conference but it left me a little cynical, but I really felt strongly that I needed to thank hitchens and so I drafted this letter. I can’t find the draft and can’t really remember what I wrote about it and this makes me sad. It makes me sad for entirely selfish reasons and I don’t want to pretend I actually care about the person hitchens himself (I don’t know him). I’m sad because I really wanted to have that opportunity again to connect with a writer that up until that point is more of an immortal figure or symbol rather then a human (even though one of the things hitchens did brilliantly that others have talked about was that he made you feel you were connecting with a human as much as is possible through one-directional writing). But secondly I’m just pissed off that again something I’ve wanted to do, I’ve missed the boat through laziness or cowardice. I have a long list of regrets of things I’ve really wanted to do, things I wanted to say but missed it. Satre would have me shoot germans for 15 minutes but I don’t think that would actually make me feel much better about it all.

Anyways, I don’t think I’ve had time to fully analyse why I liked hitchens so much. I hadn’t read everything he wrote, and certainly didn’t agree with everything he said. I think the thing that made me like him, is that he wasn’t on a “team”. He joined the atheists and secularists as much as he wanted to but when they did stupid stuff he called them out on it. Then obviously the way he is famously a left-ey but looked like he “switched sides” regarding the Iraq war. But I think the reason why I really like that, is he acts like he is on his own team and the reason why I like that is because as a result he treats you (me) like you’re on your own team. When he debates christians he treats them like they are people, not just representatives of a “facile religious side”. In some ways I think, even if you are horrible to this person (eg Mother Teresa), it is treating the person with respect and dignity. When he is getting angry at Henry Kissinger, when he is complaining that he wanted to see the day that he died, he is also saying that kissinger is worth this anger, that he matters. I feel that this is also a source of his success in arguments. My treating your opponent in either debate or article as a human you cut through the pretence and patheticness of most debates, it makes your defeat so much stronger and honest.

Which leads me on to the next thing, very closely related. His humility. I’ve spoken to plenty of christians about how arrogant and nasty hitchens. Whereas I’m saying that not only is he someone who humbly treats people with respect but he is one of the few public figures to do so. People act like humilty is playing down your strengths but that is just patronising. Hitchens was someone who knew full well what he strengths were and played up to them, but at the same time demonstrated through his life that he worked to maintain them as his strengths. If he had an oppinion he acted like he did everything he could to justify having that oppinion with a clean concious. When he didn’t know what he was talking about, he said it. In fact he usually said it so quickly that the public debate would move on from the thing he doesn’t understand so that the majority of the debate time would be spent on the opponents misunderstandings (misunderstanding that the opponents knows are stupid but wants to aggresively defend anyway). He said to someone on TV once “You talk like you’ve never read anything that disagrees with you”, but hitchens did not talk like that.

Finally one small nigglying thing that flows from that is that whilst he was respectful, intelligent and honest. I didn’t think he was right about everything. One particular nigglying thing for me was how he would use “Occam’s Razor” throughout his arguments and especially in his book. He’d poetically talk about it coming in, slashing away falsehood and saving the day but rarely discussed the complexities of using occam’s razor for anything but an instrumentalist view of science. I never saw anyone else bring this up but maybe there is a debate out there already where this is discussed. I would have liked to have seen him dealing with this, dealing with the complexities that the arguments against various forms of scientific realism pose. Would he care? Possibly not, but I feel like he would have taken any argument against him seriously before putting forward the case for why it should be ignored and it would have been interesting to see that.

Which is part of the wider final and more boring point. Its boring because everyone thinks it including hitchens himself. I would have loved to see how his career developed. People call you an islamophobe but what would you have said to a changing islamic world? If the arab countries currently rising up against the facists actually managed to stabalise. Would you have changed your tone against Islam? I’m sure you would have always hated Islam itself, but whilst you were one of the first to attack Islamofacism I’ll bet you would have been one of the first to praise groups of muslims fighting against the facism you dedicated your life against. I’ll bet in 10 years it would have been clear that “islamophobe” was a ridiculous word to use against you.

So Goodbye Christopher hitchens, I’ve potentially got a lot of life ahead of me, I hope I get to meet more people like you, possibly inpsired by you. I really hope next time I’ll send the damned letter!

Creating a Platform

After reading the blog of Esther Rose Stewart I have been inspired to once again attempt to continue this blog every friday. Today its about software and next week I’m hoping to have something written about Heiddegger and Jesus, though the plan is to keep these blogs much much shorter.

I’ve read an awesome rant by a Googler ranting at Google+, the article I read is here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/10/13/google_does_not_get_platforms/ and it has a link to the actual rant below. Its pretty exciting but I haven’t figured out if I’m just excited due to my own personal extreme arrogance. I’ve been told that pretty much every philosopher with their own idea tends to try and argue that their idea is something Aristotle said all along. Even if they are completely contradictory, I don’t know if I’m just reading into this post what I want but it really feels like this post reflects a “I told y ou so” to the world, it fits in with what we at the tribes online are really excited about.

That is, the importance of building an accesible platform for the church.

Now that we’re actually starting our business and business problems like, being able to pay rent are popping up we’ve had to put loads of effort into side projects. This is building small websites just to earn money, writing summaries of work for companies that ultimately we don’t intimately care about and building drupal modules to see where it goes. One thing we’ve spent quite alot of thought hours into is our killer app. What is it that we’re doing that will truly provide value? We don’t have to provide much, just enough value that someone will pay us to be able to sleep and eat!

In this article he talks a bit about killer apps. Steve mentions that Facebook’s killer app is its wall and profile. But says that the long term success of Facebook is not the app, its not a good product, its the fact its on an awesome platform. Anyone can make a wall on a profile, I could put together a facebook profile clone in about 10 minutes using Drupal but it won’t have anywhere near the success of Facebook. Its partly because of the huge user base but its also because of the platform. Facebook did not have to predict Mafia Wars or Farmville, as steve puts it, they just make it so other people can come up with their own ideas.

Whilst we spend our time looking at how we can make money, or looking at our killer app that will fuel our platform, or as we talk to the various church networks and churches we’re talking to. There is still the initial vision in site and the world hasn’t changed enough to not need our vision. Our vision is that when we were 14 and 16 building a little discussion forum for our church, we wanted to do it as part of something. We wanted to find tools already working with churches that we could use. And when we turned a “Like” button on our forum into an “Amen” button and discovered a really cool way to take our spirituality online, we wanted someone to tell about it.

There are still plenty of questions though:

  • Everyone wants to be a platform, but how do you actually attract developers? Is the church ready for this?
  • What does the platform do? Amazon’s platform is its computing ability, Apple is that loads of people use iphone, Facebook is a huge connection of users. What are we sharing? Code? Connections? Data? Ideas? All?
  • We need to remember Canal Mania, Railroad Mania and the dotcom bubble, we need to be able to use our own platform and get that killer app.
  • How open is this platform? Is it a fully distributed network of websites? Is there a central server with APIs? Is it just some code? Is it just the ideas?

A discussion about God, etc from Facebook

A while back a facebook discussion broke out on my wall in reply to a link I posted on my wall about new atheism and a church an atheist writer quite liked. The discussion got a bit out of hand which each reply getting larger and larger and then splitting up into multiple threads of conversation with replies spamming multiple comments. Facebook is just not a good platform for any kind of meaningful discussion as you really need the full width of your screen and some basic ability to format replies (headings, bullets, etc). So its continued here.

This is a reply I was going to send to Micheal Rush (who was our lecturer for metaphysics) but I spoke to Toby Searle about it and he pointed some issues with the way I worded things. Its such a long post I haven’t had the time to properly go through it and reword it correctly. The issue is something along the lines of originally I seemed to suggest I was saying it is impossible to have a coherent concept of “supernatural events” vs “natural events”. What I’m saying is really, If I were to assert that I am an orthodox christian and believe everything in the bible, but do not believe there are any special supernatural events. Is that coherent? It means when dealing with questions like “How did the ressurection happen?” I wouldn’t be able to give an answer but I could just state I don’t know I think it did happen and it happened naturally.

I’m not saying that this is a desirable state for a christian to be in. Just interested in what is wrong with that when people like the brights put a huge emphasis on the distinction between their naturalism and what they call “supers”. Anyway here is the e-mail exchange between me and toby and we can see if this goes anywhere!

It took me ages to write this. And then when you mentioned that there are perfectly coherent ways of dividing natural vs supernatural it means I’m going to have to change the wording of the whole thing in a complicated way.
Its something to do with a definition of “Natural Law” that forces a christian into a distinction (I’m ok with all events are natural, OR all events are supernatural,but not both happening) that I think is wrong. But we could just assume God is a first cause in random other events other then creation to have the distinction if we want….
So this changes what I was going to say to rush 😦
here it is:
Again this has taken a while! Unfortunately it is not a sign of a well thought through response so much as a sign of these answers gradually taking longer whilst doing this dissertation! This is getting pretty ridiculous for the comments section of a facebook link!
My comment is roughly divided into 3 sections:
– Stuff to do with Natural vs Supernatural
– Stuff to do with my sort of pseudo-falsification posed to attacks on christianity
– A final question about positive reasons for atheism.
So regarding the historicity of Jesus’ death and ressurection. I was asking if it would prove the existence of God if it were true. Do you think that it could Or do you think it wouldn’t even do that?
Regarding natural laws. This may due to my lack of understanding of what counts as a “natural law” and you’re welcomed to refer me to somewhere to read up on it. But I can’t understand a definition of natural law that would allow God to break them and this is why I would say he doesn’t break natural laws. I mean the “Natural Laws” can’t possibly simple mean “Our understanding of natural laws”. If it turns out we find something that breaks “The natural laws” we don’t say its supernatural, we instead change our understanding of what the natural laws are.
I suppose the divide could be “Natural laws dictate what humans can do” and “Supernatural events are only possibly achieved by God”. But then there are biblical accounts of miracles where God enables a human to do the miracle, eg healing through their own touch. I suppose you could then have a divide that miracles are events that can only be achieved through God’s power (I can’t heal anyone through touch whenever I want, but can if God allows me to). But then I have the view that God sustains everything all the time anyway so I wouldn’t be able to accept a divide like this because I’d say even Newton’s Laws happen because of God.
I can’t understand what could possibly be a good definition of “natural order” that would allow a God to break it in the ways outlined in the bible.
Regarding “Would God be worthy of worship if he existed?”. I dunno why that makes his existence a more important claim? Why can’t it just be an “if” that is left there? I don’t know if this is a silly point but isn’t the existence of other minds still debated? Do humans really answer the question “Does my wife really exist” before they ask “Does she love me?”. Ought they?
I mean if there was a good reason to believe my wife or God did not exist, I think that is different. But if there is still an argument raging on both arguments to that question, why not just leave it to one side and deal with more important questions that can be more easily answered for a human?
Regarding falisificationism, I’m definitely not trying to apply pure falsificationism to the existence of God and try and suggest that any of this is science. But I feel that there is an underlying principle that may be applied both ways.
Basically if you say “Extraordinary exidence” is required for “extraordinary claims” without giving an example of what would be a satisfactory set of extraordinary evidence, I feel like this raises similar alarm bells to what Popper felt about psycoanalysis. For example, I have found the historical evidence suggesting Jesus’ death and ressurection to be satisfactory to me. However, most of the good criticisms I have seen levied at the historical evidence seem to attack historical evidence as a whole as not being sufficient for the extraordinary claims of death and ressurection of Jesus. Now this is something I actually accept, I do not feel that historical evidence as a whole is good enough for other people to accept these claims. But I think that as far as any historical evidence could support a claim like this, the evidence for the ressurection is good. I have yet to have seen good attacks on the historical claims that fit within the framework that is consistent.
An example of this is that some people claim that the fact that there are 4 gospels gives us good reason to believe that the ressurection was true as the claims are corroborated. However, some people attack the four gospels citing that there are inconsistencies with the facts between the accounts and therefore we can’t trust any of them. Whereas some people attack the gospels for being TOO similar and therefore they must be copying each other or there must be a 5th Gospel “Q” that is actually the source of all the gospels and so there are not 4 independent accounts but more like 1 or 2. Here the inconsistencies can be used to either support the claims of the gospels or be used to attack them.
So I’d ask, a kind of null hypothesis attitude, what kind of historical evidence ought we see if the claims were true? And do they match up to what we do see?
Does this make sense? (I’ve never managed to communicate the point I’m trying to make with full success)
I’m going to leave the point about the rabbit. I’ve read lots of threads of people discussing whether a precambrian rabbit counts as a true falsifier and all I can do is summarise those discussions, but I don’t actually know what I think. I think your stuff about not being able to go back in time and see the ressurection happen is a good criticism of historical evidence as a whole being problematic, but I have the same issue with that as above.
“Don’t all Christians have to accept that there is an  unquestionable authority?”
The point I’m making is that the answer to this question is the same as the answer to the question “Don’t all scientists have to accept that there is an unquestionable authority?” And the answer is the same for the same reasons. The scientist’s final authority is the external world itself. A Scientist can believe in something with as much consesus as they like, but if the statement is not true of the external world then it is not true. Similarly a theologian can have as many thoughts as they like but ultimately statements about God, if he exists, are either true or false.
However there is a sense where you could simply just say no to both those questions. I also kind of think you don’t need to argue “no” any further for both those questions then simply stating this answer. (Now I do accept that some Catholics think differently, some catholics would see the Pope’s authority as unquestionable. But they are wrong).
I could go into Paul’s arguments that I like, although I do not think that these are neccesarily argument that would convince other people. Certainly they are not about the existence of God and most of them assume some tenets of Jewish law as being true. I think many of Paul’s arguments regarding the inability of the “Law” to fully justify anyone apply to other moral systems though, so I could go into that. However, for fun, I could write up some of the arguments I’ve read recently that I liked?
I’m guessing that your paragraph about God asking you to commit genocide is a kind of attack on “divine command theory” which I’ve only just heard about. This is a whole new area of discussion but I do not think the bible provides a moral code. (I mean, it definitely does, but thats not what is important about it). I think the message of christianity is the “Good news” which is God’s solution to morality as a whole. I think that morality, (be it God’s laws, or utilitarianism, or kantian ethics) do nothing more then reveal guilt. The purpose of the Cross is to free us from moral constraints and allow us to do what it is that we really want. For that reason anyone who accepts any moral code would have, I think, a good reason to hate all christians in theory, even if in practise they wouldn’t need to…
Again… this is a massive tangent, whilst there is plenty of theological support for my position, I’m still having discussions with my atheists philosophy friends about whether its at all consistent.
The final point, that is kind of a deviation. Say I’m someone who already accepts the position that God exists (and that roughly all the tenets of christianity are true). What are the positive reasons that are should move away from this position? I say “positive reasons” so as to exclude answers like “There is not enough evidence”. Instead I’m looking for answers in the form of “Because there is not enough evidence, someone who accepts the position that God exists should reject that position for reasons, X, Y Z). Where X, Y and Z are the positive reasons?

From what I can tell, Occam’s Razor is sort of the main reason?

From Toby:

Hi jamie,

Sitting in my lunch break and had a chance to have a brief look though. Looks pretty good.

As you say, I definitely think you ought to say more about natural laws! I think they can be defined through physical cause and effect relations.

Also, not sure if I can explain this right, but I am a little uncomfortable with the bit drawing similarities between the resurrection and pschoanalysis. It seems to me that if they are similar in the sense that niether counts as popperian science, but I think you are trying to say something different and I don’t quite get it!

Thanks for a cool lunchbreak though.