Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Creation, Evolution, Lies and Truth

Over the weekend I read and then heard about the things that happened in Norway.

And things happening in Africa.

Sometimes it’s hard to be optimistic about things.

I also watched some religious television. Dr Grady McMurtry was talking about Creation versus Evolution. There’s a clip of him here if you’re interested. It’s not the programme that I saw … but gives you a feel for the things he believes.


It’s worth checking out his background from other sources as well though … for example here.

I only caught part of the programme. He was reading from the New Testament – Romans Chapter 1 and seemed pretty much to be in the process of making a case against the idea of evolution and in favour of the idea of creation.

Once I would have agreed with some of what he was saying. But not all of it.

Right now, to me at any rate, his arguments seem to be somewhat disingenuous.

Why? And does what I think matter at all?

Well … it matters to me. And putting the thoughts into words helps me as well.

So here goes with some of Andreas thoughts on Creation, Evolution, Africa, Norway and Fundamentalism.

Some scientists are convinced that there is no God. Evolution is maybe then the only way the universe could have happened. Christians are enemies. Religion is the enemy.

Some Christians are convinced in the literal truth of the book of Genesis in the Bible. Creation is the only way the universe could have happened. Evolutionists are the enemy. Philosophies with roots outside of Christianity are the enemy.

And maybe the same is true of some of the followers of some of the other religions.

Myself. I think I am agnostic. I don’t know if God is there. If the level of my commitment to agnosticisms seems unconvincing … well that’s probably because I’m not convinced.

As an aside … did you hear about the agnostic dyslexic insomniac? He would lay awake all night wondering if there really was a dog.

Sorry. I heard that one at a Christian meeting I was at many tears ago,

In the days when I believed in God I was never in the camp of literal Bible Believers. I would say that I was a “creationist” … but not the kind that believes that the Earth is only thousands of years old. Which maybe means that I wasn’t actually a “creationist” at all.

Back to the letter that Paul the Apostle wrote to the Christians in Rome and to Grady McMurtry.

He seems to be firmly in the literal creationist and anti-evolutionist camp.

My Bible quotes are from the New International Version of the Bible (NIV). At the time that I’m writing this you can read the first chapter of Romans here. There are some Christians who view the NIV Bible as being a work of the Devil (take a look here for example) so here is the King James Version (KJV) of Romans Chapter 1 which some people believe to be the absolute literal Word of God.

Well … in the part of the TV programme that I saw, Grady seemed to be presenting the stuff in Romans chapter 1 verse 18 onwards as some kind of an attack on people that believe that evolution happens.

So where it says:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

he seemed to be saying that it was evolutionists that are suppressing the truth by their wickedness.

To me it all seems a lot more ambiguous than that.

I don’t think that it’s true that:

since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made

When I look at the world I see a whole mix of ambiguous messages. Beauty. Ugliness. Life. Death. Joy. Sorrow. Peace. War.

Another thing I watched at the Weekend was the movie The Invention of Lying. This scene expresses some of the ambiguity of it all. If you haven’t seen it then do watch it.


There was a time when I would have tried to understand good and bad as follows:

  • God made all the good things
  • we turned away from God and that resulted in all the bad things.

Now … maybe that is the case.

But either way … looking at the evidence around me … it’s not at all clear to see God’s invisible qualities in every aspect. You have to be picky. And that pickiness isn’t easy to do without some kind of faith.

It doesn’t seem reasonable to blame people for misinterpreting nature or misinterpreting some religious people.

And then, back in Romans we have:

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Which begins with an unfair kind of statement, because they didn’t really know God in the first place – so how could they knowingly exchange God for something else?

Grady chose to emphasise a few particular aspects of this stuff – giving the impression that the teaching of evolution is directly responsible for the following “facts”:

  • there are more gays and lesbians in the world
  • there are more murders – mainly because he views abortion as being murder – and because society at large allows abortion then it has legalised abortion … and this is a direct result of the teaching of evolution
  • more children disobey their parents

You know though? In my own heart when I read the words from Romans I also think about the way that religion – and that includes Christianity – has persecuted people. Mistreated women. Mistreated children. Accepted slavery. Subjugated entire nations. Used people. Abused them. Killed them.

And you know … there are gay men and lesbian women that love their partners in a way that is every bit as wholesome and “good” as partners in any heterosexual relationship. There are gay and lesbian relationships that are about love and not all about shameful lusts. There are people involved in heterosexual relationships … even religious people … even Christians … that have no fidelity, understanding, love or mercy.

And you know … there are people in churches that are gossips and slanderers. That believe that everyone who thinks evolution happens is foolish, futile darkened and given up by God.

And there are some who believe that evolution happens that think that all Christians are hypocrites.

Grady says that if you read the original Greek the words that Paul uses to describe these foolish people are actually much stronger than those that are used in most English translations of the New Testament. And he then uses the stronger words … the justification being that they are not his own words … but those of the Bible. So it’s ok to say them. Even if they are rude and offensive.

Some people would say that in the past, Religious control freaks have frightened people into a particular kind of behaviour. Frightened into heterosexuality. Born and destined to remain 100% male or 100% female. Some people believe that changes that are happening now are a result of freedom from a kind of tyranny. A freedom that allows people to be themselves.

Just today I had an email from someone that said:

I have been dressing in secret for as long as I can remember(probably since about 7 or 8 yrs old)

For most of that time I have felt that there was something wrong with me and that I was not a proper man, and have tried to stop dressing (even throwing away all the clothes!). However I am now starting to realise that it is part of me, part of who I am, and I now want to embrace and enjoy my newly discovered other side, and hope that by meeting with other people I my come to terms with everything more easily.

And I know exactly how he feels. And I know a lot of other people that feel the same way. And some of them go to Church. And there are churches that have no problem with it.

It’s this that makes me sure that I could never go back to the place that I used to be as part of the church. Having to hide my thoughts and feelings.

But maybe one day I could become involved again in a church that was more concerned with treating other people in the way that Jesus treated people rather than in discussing creation versus evolution and arguing over the infallibility of the Bible.

A few of the things that I am sure about:

  • Fundamentalist Christians that have an infallible view of the Bible and think that people who disagree with them are all fools are mistaken.
  • Fundamental evolutionists that think that all people involved in religion are idiots are mistaken.
  • I don’t know the answers.
  • I hardly know the questions

Dealing with the hatred and fear that seems to be evident in the acts carried out by a man in Norway.

Working out a way to allow people in Africa to eat and drink.

These issues matter more than the literal truth of the Genesis story.

The argument that not teaching Genesis as truth inevitably leads to teaching evolution which inevitably leads to wickedness which leads to hatred and fear and starvation and death doesn’t ring true to me.

People can be decent human beings and not believe in creation.

People can believe in creation and be inhumane.

Some people that are not Christians can be more like Christ than some people that are Christians.

In the end, though, to know what Paul the apostle really thought mattered most you could take a look at this … just to help restore the balance a little.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Sparkle, Lynne Featherstone and Government Policy

9:00 am Saturday 9th July 1011. Premiere Inn, Portland Street, Manchester and the alarm on my mobile phone sounds.

I carefully remove the bandage from my arm … it comes off without having stuck to anything. Hardly hurts at all.

I decide to wear something with long sleeves to cover up the bruising and keep it clean.

It’s gone 10:30 by the time I’ve shaved, made up and dressed.

Tina sets off to visit Amy who’s staying at the Britannia Hotel a little further down Portland Street.

My elder daughter lives close to Manchester and we’ve planned to meet up.

I send a text and head out of the hotel. Almost raining but not quite. The Paramount (a Weatherspoons pub) is just a few doors to the right.

I order a Latte and sit by the window. After a few minutes Sarah arrives. Soaking wet from the rain. She gets an Americano and we sit and chat a while.

Eventually we decide to search for something to eat and eventually find ourselves in the Via bar. I show her the scene of the previous night’s bumps. See how narrow the steps are on the inside of that bend?


Laura and Billie join us after a while. Then it’s a short walk to Sackville Gardens where the official Sparkle opening happens and met up with Tina.

This year the Government Minister for Equalities, Lynne Featherstone was invited to opening and spoke for about 8 minutes. Hers she is saying what she said. It’s worth listening to if you’re interested at all in transgender rights.


Lynne mentions this in her own blog at http://www.lynnefeatherstone.org/2011/07/sparkle.htm

We listened to some of the music. This is The Strawberry Elephant Experience. The bass guitarist (wearing the hat) is Didi who sometimes visits Surrey Swans.


This is the Pink Punters bus in the background:



This is a little of Frillerz – I thought they were pretty good.


And here’s a variety of folk in the park. Some wearing rather more in the way of clothing than others Smile







And here is what makes Canal Street … well … Canal Street, with the Rembrandt Hotel to the left:


And here’s Laura making her way towards us along with a wisp of Billie’s hair in the background:


Eventually we set off back to the hotel and get changed for the evening. I only have one other thing with long sleeves … so tonight I’m all in black.



We eat at the Red Chilli restaurant on Portland Street.

I’m a little amazed at how many inebriated people there are on Portland Street at 7:30 in the evening. They’re easy to spot since they are the ones that make idiots of themselves by making stupid comments.

In the restaurant the manager and staff make us feel extremely welcome. People take no notice of us … until all around us they begin to cough and splutter as the waitress places food onto a very hot sizzling platter.

The rest of the evening is mostly chatter and a few drinks. We end up at the Via bar again and I am especially respectful of the steps.

I hunt out the ladies loos.

“There’s a bit of a queue” says the girl in the queue.

“Oh. Are you the queue?”

“Yeah” she says. “And I bet you … whichever one becomes free first has no toilet paper.”

I smile.

A door opens and she sets heads for it explaining “… well I guess I’ll just have to drip dry.”

Next morning Tina and I meet up with my daughter Sarah again for a while. We have breakfast and a drink and talk and talk. The people at Weatherspoons take no notice of us.

The journey back home is a slow one … traffic pouring out of Silverstone where the British Grand Prix was raced slowed things down somewhat.

However … I did have a really nice weekend.

Roll on Sparkle 2012.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Sparkle 2011, Stobart Saddo’s and things that go bump in the night

9:00pm Thursday July 7th 2011. Sparkle starts tomorrow and I need to do some packing.

The plan is to take just enough clothing for the weekend.

So how much does a girl need to take to last from 2:00 pm on Friday until 2:00 pm on Sunday?

Two suitcases later and the best laid plans have gone awry. One is full of clothing the other with shoes, makeup, hair, costume jewellery, boobs and stuff.

Friday July 8th, Tina arrives at about 9:45 and soon we’re en route to Manchester.

All is goes well until round about midday.

The SatNav bleeps.

There’s a 2 minute delay a few miles ahead.

No sweat.

Four minutes.

There are red brake lights in the distance and no exit between them and us.


Twenty eight minutes says the SatNav as we draw to a halt.

Twenty eight minutes becomes an exclamation mark.

The SatNav knows as little as we do.

“Maggie Sam” says Tina.

“Maggie who?” says I.

“Maggie Sam. The lorry.”

A lorry is a truck.

“Which lorry?”

“The Eddie Stobart lorry. They have girl’s names.”

“They do?”

“They do.”

So ... whether you like it or not ... here is some background.

It seems recently there was a television program devoted to the Stobart Group. The web site (http://www.stobartgroup.co.uk) says:

The Stobart Group is the UK leader in multimodal transport and logistics solutions. It is one of the most recognised and strongest brands in Britain, best known for its iconic Eddie Stobart trucks. Today, Eddie Stobart is the name behind a road haulage fleet of some 2,250 trucks and over six million square feet of cutting-edge warehousing facilities. By size, Eddie Stobart has the best vehicle utilisation in the industry, helping to maximise efficiency and environmental benefits.

A few minutes at http://stobartsaddos.com/ or http://www.clubstobart.co.uk shows that Eddie Stobart spotting is a serious business. And for a mere £15 membership fee you can get a list of the names of all of them.

Here is what one looks like:


Wikepedia says that this is Sandra Ann (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eddie_Stobart_lorry_Scania_R420_Sandra_Ann_PX07_BXK_in_Plymouth,_9_August_2007.jpg ).

We haven’t met.

BBC Radio 2 informs us of a jack-knifed lorry on the M6. There are long delays.

We nod in agreement.

Approximately two and a half hours later we pass the scene of the jack-knifed lorry. The lorry is long gone, but the road is in the process of being cleaned up.

By now Andrea is suffering from StobartSaddo syndrome. The tally so far includes:

  • Maggie Sam
  • Carol Ann
  • Cheryl
  • Melissa Nicole
  • Jacquelyn ... I don’t remember her other name

Arrival at the Premiere Inn on Portland Street is at about 4:00 pm.

Tina pulls into a loading bay in a side road.

The road markings say ‘Loading Bay’. A little sign says ‘Lorries only’. Another says ‘No unloading’.

The suitcases get left in the luggage store and the car goes to the car park.

At about 6:15 we set of for the Taurus on Canal Street where we’re meeting up with a few girls for a meal. Laura and Billie arrive not long after.

We eat, drink and chat.

Tina and Laura:


Billie and me:


After eating we take a short walk and spend a few hours in Eden. The bar that is, not the garden of.

It’s quite pleasant even if it isn’t paradise.

Tina is impressed by the Wainwright’s beer. Billie kinda likes it as well. Laura has a Bud. I have a Carlsberg.

Billie goes to the bar.

“Where’s the Bud?” ask Laura.

Laura sips the Wainwright’s and doesn’t seem to be quite as impressed as Tina. You should have seen Laura’;s face a bout 10 seconds before this picture was taken.


Laura goes to the bar.

Billie decides to go for a walk.

We sit and sip.

Laura tries phoning Billie:


Andrea gets out the umbrella and wanders up and down Canal Street on a Billie search.

Next stop is the Via bar. It’s an unusual kind of place. Looks like any other bar from the outside. But if you walk in and head for the back the interior looks as though the inside of an old church building has been transplanted into it.

We find some seats and I head for the bar.

Down a couple of steps. Then down a couple of more.

All of a sudden as I turn a bend on the stairway the ground disappears.

Oh my.

Right hand grabs onto the banister.

Bum hits the ground.

Left arm slides along the edge of the step.

Bump. Bump. Bump.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

A guy at the bottom helps me to my feet.

I smile sheepishly. I think.

Looking down at my stinging left arm, just below the elbow I see a patch of white shredded looking stuff.

But nothing that looks red. Apart from my dress. But the dress was red before the fall so I’m happy with that.

At the bar I buy a Carlsberg and a glass of lemonade. Then carefully head back up the steps.

Looking back at the arm it’s not just white and a little shredded any more. Red and purple. Grazed. But not bleeding. Just stinging.

Laura and Tina are eminently sympathetic. And don’t even suggest an alcohol induced injury.

The consensus is that I ought to report my little trip at the bar.

This time I negotiate the bend in the steps very carefully ... watching exactly where I out my feet ... making sure that I take the outside if the bend. On the inside the steps are very narrow. That’s the excuse that I’m sticking with at any rate.

The guy behind the bar escorts me to other bar where the first aid kit lives.

The girl behind the bar takes a look.


As the guy hunts through the first aid kit she has a cloth with antiseptic on it.

“This might sting a bit.”

It stings a lot.

The guy reappears with antiseptic wipes.

“This might sting a bit.”

It stings a lot as well.

It’s all very bruised but it’s pretty dry and there’s no blood.

A bandage is wound around my arm. A red one would go better with my dress. But I can live with the white.

I have a freebie drink and head back to join Tina and Laura.

Here I am complete with the freebie drink and the bandage.


You should see the bruise on my bum. It’s huge!

Eventually it’s time to get some sleep.

Laura is staying at the Ibis. “Just turn left at the end of Canal Street then” I say.

“No ... I think I need to go right” says Laura.

“No ... Charles Street is off to the left.”

“But I’m staying at the Ibis on Portland Street.”

“I thought Billie booked the one on Charles Street.”

Laura gets out the map.

The x is on Portland Street.

So we all head for Portland Street and some sleep.