Sunday, 2 May 2010

I'm not back into work until Wednesday, then off again Thursday, and next week, I'm on holiday. Hurray. So its a nice time to catch up.

So who will win the election? It is looking like - on the strength of those notoriously unreliable opinion polls - that the Conservatives are going to be the largest party but there will be a hung Parliament. If the latter occurs I can't imagine the Liberals and the Tories will find enough common ground to form a coalition government. I expect therefore a Lib-Lab coalition but Gordon will not be in it. Since he never personally had a popular mandate in the first place to be P.M. having simply succeeded Blair through the support of Labour MPs, not any public test, then to lose this election will I think be too much of a blow. I just hope that the economy doesn't get the skids - because the money markets 'take fright' while the politicians come to agreement after lots of uncertainty and bickering in smoke free back rooms (smokey back rooms having been banned of course). I imagine those discussions are already going on, mediated by the Civil Service.

Whoever gets in will have to deal with the massive debt our government has incurred, albeit it seems this debt was necessarily incurred to dig us out of a worse hole. If we have to tackle this debt, then I'm afraid I think we should 'soak the rich' before we cut any existing services to the public.
Yes, of course there is waste in the public sector - I've seen it myself in various public sector jobs, in advising public sector workers and moreover my wifey is a civil servant who appreciates that tax payer's money is not infrequently wasted by government and unnecessary layers of management and bureacracy. There is at least a lot of deadwood management and -the Elephant in the room - the government pension schemes that the country has long been unable to afford. The unions won't like it, so I expect a great deal of industrial unreast over the next year or so. Still, many people have done well over the boom years, and its time to make the pips squeak a bit. To my mind, anyone earning at least three times average wage should contribute a lot more in tax. All those on average earnings or above will have to pay some extra tax, perhaps an extra penny or two on income tax. But the tax should be on income not more indirect taxation for the latter is not progressive: it seems obvious to me that VAT disproportionately affects the poor.


On the 'Big Questions' debate programme on ITV1 this morning, the audience and invited worthies were discussing, amongst other things, whether animals have 'souls'. It was pointed out that many of the higher animals, particularly primates like Gorillas and Chimpanzees do appear to show emotions analagous to those of humans - such as a desire to care for others, and a sense of grief and mourning when a family member dies. The debate foundered on the very simple fact no one quite agreed what was meant by 'soul'. Does this mean self consciousness, mind or life principle? The Christians in the audience appeared to concede higher animals could have a sense of self, mind and naturally has a vitality, a life principle. The Christians did not want to accept that animals unlike humans have a 'divine spark' that allows for divine-human relationship or moral sense to choose between good and evil.
My take on this is 1) I don't know what soul 'means' or could mean if it something different to self consciousness, mind or life principle 2) there is clearly a continuum of mental state, with the boundaries between human sentience and animal sentience sometimes appearing quite blurred.
Indeed this is one more fact that rather supports a naturalistic rather than a religious view of reality. Christian theologicans in particular have great difficulty explaining apparent sentience, self hood and feeling for others - empathy or 'love' if you like - in animals if only humans are made in 'Gods Image'...also whatever that means.

I'd be willing to accept a religious schema there is a 'great chain of being' - a hierarchy of spiritual existence - and humans are closer to acheiving a higher or God consciousness than animals:
this makes sense to me. If evolution is given a spiritual teleology and seen as subtley guided, so creating an escalator that drives life to ever higher states of consciousness, upward from the primordial matter quickened by the divine energy, on a path of return to The One, then humans are further advanced, if they live up to their potential, than animals. The process would be a lot fairer on animals if there was inter-species reincarnation e.g. so a gorilla might hope to be re-born as a human so that its 'soul' can continue to develop further toward God. Of course the whole notion of resurrection and spiritually hierarchy is also twaddle to a naturalistically minded person. Okhams razor if applied would lead us to assume that humans and animals are equal in death yesL we all return to the dust of nature, never to live again.

It occurred to me that there is scope for a much more generous view inChristian theology, for doesn't biblical eschantology promise a new 'heaven and earth' is promised, and for all creation to be redeemed. Could this include Aunty Jess' beloved Cocker Spaniel, who might find himself playing ball with his resurrected owner with God in paradise? Perhaps even if animals were not included in a general resurrection then humans could choose to resurrect certain animals. Isn't all 'love' eternal and so wouldn't our eternal life be incomplete if we can't redeem all those relationships we most value? However it is these kinds of questions that start making the whole notion of 'heaven' either incoherent, greatly heretical or (if we deny animals, lets alone plants or nature any place in our eschantological feature) just plainly and horribly unappealing. But maybe...if Christians insist rabbits, fish, monkey and just anything else natural is shut out of heaven, then perhaps we can keep our pets in the other place.....

From Fundie Pastor Bob's handbook for raising a child in the way he should go...FAQ #234
When the children ask 'Wil our pet rabbit go to heaven?" what should a parent say?
Pastor Bob says " You should be honest and say 'No... Jesus has not redeemed and the rabbit will go.... to hell!"


..I like that

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