Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Catholic Church (an RDA-file)

It’s been a while since I did anything on my Religion Decision Aid (RDA) project, but then I stumbled over what I believe to be one of the pillars of “Catholic theory”. The Catholic Church up until today still relies on St Thomas Aquinas proofs on the existence of God. Aquinas’ proofs are published in his work “Summa Contra Gentiles”, so naturally I was curious about his evidence on the matter. As a scientist, I had an open mind… even open to the possibility that reading this stuff could forever turn me into a slave of Catholicism. Curiosity killed the cat they say… but what the hell!

This scripture in old fashioned language is a bit hard to grasp for me so I had to read it over many times… What Thomas Aquinas’ and the Catholic Church’s teachings eventually boils down to in my mind is; Desire – knowledge – happiness!

1. Desire for the first truth and cause
The last end of all man and of all his deeds and desires is to know the first truth and the first cause, namely God. Thomas further says that the men or “intelligent substance” desires happiness at the end. Happiness for men, Thomas says, is to know God! I’ve noticed in old people, that although they did not seem like very god fearing people before, they cling to a hope that there is “something”… just in case maybe? Hedging your bets! So for now I’ll give this the benefit of the doubt.

2. Knowledge - a way to happiness
Ultimate happiness can only be obtained through knowledge of God, but knowledge to what level and extent?! According to Thomas the common “knowledge” among most Christians is the general and confused knowledge of God through "opinion" or "demonstration". Way superior though is knowledge through "faith". Whether you are of the “shallow” type or you have 100% faith, Aquinas says that this is still not enough for man to be happy. Since faith is as far as a man can get in this life – you can not be happy! How sad isn’t that?! Maybe Catholics are just too demanding and expect too much??

3. Nature’s way
Aquinas says that nature does nothing in vain, so man's natural desire for happiness will be fulfilled at some stage. As no man can shun death, happiness must be fulfilled after this life! As man’s concept of truth is only through speculative science, a man's life would be in vain unless he can reach the ultimate knowledge and happiness after life. According to Aristotle and Aquinas, man's knowledge through speculative science is limited and proportionate to his capacity. “Proportionate to man’s capacity…”; this sounds very much like Chris Argyris' theory X to me (meaning basically that man is not very competent), and in this case man can not expect to get much joy out of life! In this day and age I feel this is a very negative way of seeing things… even for an ultra conservative Catholic Church!

Conclusion and RDA-rating
I deduct from this that NO catholic person can be happy, which means I would shun Catholicism more than death in the first place! The beginning and the first truth… according to science that I put my trust in is the big bang. Being a Darwinist… I have therefore already fulfilled my desire of knowledge of the first truth and cause. This ultimate knowledge can sink inn at any time during life, and you can thus reach a state of ultimate happiness and stay happy for most of your life also. Clearly this is much more enjoyable than being a depressed Catholic. Besides, before you discovered the ultimate happiness you were probably too young and immature and oblivious of the fact that you were unhappy! That means also that being an Atheist and Darwinist, your life is not in vain. It’s amazing and ironic that the teachings of the Catholic Church in fact give you a better argument to be an Atheist?! Imagine the catholic slogans; “Become a catholic, be depressed and live a long painful life in vain”! Still, there are quite a few Catholics/masochists out there…? I hope they’ve got something else and better up their sleeves!!

Thomas Aquinas made use of Aristotle’s rationalism to give his own theories some oomph. Aquinas, Aristotle and not to mention the Pope and numerous saints, although bold and famous names, does not bring the Catholic Church high up on my ranking. I've always wondered though, whether they sing "When the saints go marching in" in the Vatican... maybe when a new Pope is elected?!

Since nature does nothing in vain, this was Aquinas' and the Catholic Church's proof that there is something after death. However, they do not provide much information about exactly what happens after death (unlike Hinduism)... which leaves Catholics in "limbo" whether you are baptized or not! Only that you will "know and be happy"! With some goodwill this adds some amount of credibility, since nobody have so far reported first hand on the "ultimate knowledge and happiness" and what it entails!!

I was surprised that this is still the proof of God in this day and age. To me this is only a weak explanation that is crowbared to serve the purpose, but no proof! I believe in evolution, that I belive can be proved scientifically. Nevertheless it does not exclude the possibility that a God was behind the Big Bang or at some point in time. Either way you come short and can't prove it! So why can't the Catholic Church or any religion just tell it like it is - you have to choose whether you want to believe or not! Belief is so far as far as we can get in this life, but still not in vain!

Come to think about it, I really have to fill out my RDA scorecards in order to get some sense of all this. As for now they seem to make a cluster “not very high up on the ranking", which is not very specific. I promise to work it out... some time soon!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Book – A Wife Manual

Some time ago I had lunch with 4 women. Me and 4 females! How cool isn’t that, I felt like a king! It’s just that women talk a lot – something out of this world. They also talk about men – which put me in an awkward situation. They not only talk about men, but also complaint about men. One husband apparently wasn’t paying enough attention, and all 4 women agreed that this guy along with most men did not read “The Book”, also called “The Wife Manual”! I could only stay for so long… frightened that the spotlight would be directed at me.

My curiosity however was triggered, and I went straight to Exclusive Books to look for “The Book”. Every man being honest to him self wants to keep his woman happy. This was obviously a book that could maybe provide insight or some good tips as how to go about. Crucial I’d say – like the Bible for a Christian. For weeks I was hunting high and low for “The Book”, until I finally found it! What a revelation it was indeed!! To give you an idea of what this book is really about, this is the introduction part:

“Invaluable wisdom collected since beginning of time! Centuries after centuries – great minds and wisdom! Collected from rock paintings from the Great Rift Valley, sources that are now lost due to wind, sand an water erosion, BUT saved through oral channels, collected, narrated and compressed into a one volume (only) timeless and crucial piece of work for MANkind”!

By Caveman Neanderthalis McManus

In short a book where bright men through times have gathered all the gems of knowledge about women. This book is older than the Old Testament, but still as important as ever! What is not covered in this book is either not worth knowing, or it provides you with a damn good excuse!! Either way – good for you (as a man)!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Muti on Medical Aid!

Lately we’ve had a lot of shit coming our way, robbery, fraud and false allegations against us, that has basically given us a hard time. Whilst some people experience bloggers droop, blogstipation or whatever you wish to call it, this has been an incredible source of inspiration for me. It’s all negative shit though, and this blog will soon drown in it if it carries on! I’m starting to sound more like a right extremist than a gullible blond Scandinavian. I don’t like myself when I read this stuff. I can’t seem to see the dense African jungle for all the tsotsis, hijackers and white/blue collar criminals. Thus there is only more shit coming... like the old quality and production principle; “Shit in – Shit out”! So I’ve thought about it for some time and decided to abandon this blog for a while... awaiting some positive vibes!!

Yes, I planned seriously to boycott my own blog and stay away in order to limit the amount of negativity. As much as it can be therapy, you can paint a pretty dark and ugly picture of yourself as well. But what do you know... before I managed to get the temporary “bloggers exile” typed and announced, the tsotsis returned and broke in again, but next door this time.

As if that’s not enough, the newspapers could report yesterday that the medical aids are ready to take on healers?! We’ve got healers in Norway. It’s an alternative group of practitioners including conartists, supernatural mumbo jumbo and a few honest “herbalists”. Only a few gullible people believe in it... In Africa however, things are different! TIA - mind you! Healer is for the most part a cover up for the actual witchdoctor or Sangoma title. 190.000 quacks will now receive funding from medical aids and can therefore expect a further increase in clients. Soon the universities will have to open up Bachelor of Witchcraft studies and probably Sangoma Phd’s to cover the demand for healers as this is now becoming even more affordable and accepted. Along the way you must of course also expect an increased demand for human organ muti and thus muti killings. Muti = Magical medicine! There is a difference between a healer and a Sangoma you say? Which Sangoma will tell you about his illegal activities and not try to be accepted by medical aids?!

I read recently that the muti victim’s bodies are opened and the organs removed whilst the victim is still alive. The more the victim screams – the stronger the muti. Virgins and uncorrupted souls also makes stronger and more powerful muti, so the victims are usually kids! A famous South African Sangoma, Khekhekhe, holds an annual Sangoma convention with dancing and rituals. He apparently drinks snake venom of the worst sorts to make the show worthwhile... and invite small tourist groups to earn some extra money from it. Now the whole industry will be fed by insurance companies with the governments blessing?! TIA!!

This smells of a certain Beetroot & garlic minister from afar! The Beetroot minister is employed and protected by Thabo Mbeki himself, a president accused of not remembering his origins and traditions. Jacob Zuma is sailing up as a likely successor. He is very much in touch with the traditional ways. Most probably, he is backed by 190.000 “healers”, their patients and potential patients!

How does this affect me you may ask?! Well, I must obviously expect an increase in overly brave tsotsis blessed by Sangomas in this already terrorised and infested neighbourhood! I’ve got kids that are obvious muti targets. They can be unbelievably loud at times and thus make super strong muti. If I stay on in South Africa, pay my tax and medical aid, I will directly or indirectly contribute and fund this whole insanity! We have return tickets to Norway in April – I wonder if we should just call it quits and move back by then?!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Fancy salt in your tea?!

Ever since my son (now 3 years old) was born I’ve noticed some (for me) strange things happening when visiting the grandparents in South Africa. Troy loves to bath and play in the bathtub, and the grandparents love to give him a bath, so that’s well and fine! It gives us a 20min to an hour break. A few times I’ve noticed that the water seemed slightly “colored”. I never questioned anybody about this as I thought it could be due to colored tap water (although I know the tap water in South Africa is good), soap or bath foam giving color or some other logical explanation to it. Recently however when I checked on my son in the tub, I noticed something floating around in the water. Instinctively I’m thinking; “Troy, you’re too big for that now”! He has plenty of toys in the tub, both cars, boats and spidermen, but these were Unidentifiable Floating Objects (UFO’s) at first glance. A quick investigation revealed however that it was in fact teabags – 4 teabags?! Without drowning levels of water, it actually gave a slight color. How can you put “food stuff” in the bath tub?? Troy was not off the hook - this could only be a toddler’s idea! Busy scolding him, he looks at me with big innocent eyes saying; “What the heck are you talking about papa. What did I do wrong now"? "Grandma put it”!
When Troy was still a baby “we” read in a pregnancy magazine that Rooibos tea (bush-tea) was good for babies for a number of reasons – colic and constipation amongst others. My wife used to bring Rooibos tea from South Africa every holiday, so this was easy accessible and something we decided to give from an early age. Colic and constipation wise we’ve been fine all the way - knock on wood! A closer inspection of the bathwater teabags revealed that this was also Rooibos tea. I did not taste, so I’m not sure whether grandma put milk and sugar? “It’s good for him!”; that’s the most detailed explanation I could get, so I googled it in stead! Rooibos must be as close as you can possibly get to the fountain of youth! Aside from colic and constipation its good for insomnia, stress, depression and a lot more. It makes me think about a certain tree in Zanzibar that the locals called the “20remedy tree”. Rooibos easily beats that! I have now decided to encourage the tea bath!!
I have always thought of tea as an English or commonwealth thing. Norwegians drink tea also, but not as frequent, quantity wise… or with milk! My own brain scan survey tells me that Norwegians have mostly black tea, although it could be a personal preference and nothing more. The history of tea is very interesting though. Just like some Norwegian food traditions (I’m sure of it!), tea was discovered by accident! According to the myth, the Chinese emperor Shen Nung (over 5000 years ago) had ordered his people to always boil water before drinking it. One day some dried leaves from a nearby bush fell into the water, and a brown liquid was infused into the water. Shen Nung tested and found it very refreshing – tea was invented! Lu Yu, because of his book "Tea classic" was granted the title "Father of Tea" in China as late as around 700AD though! Buddhist monks later used tea to enhance meditation. The Buddhist priest Yeisei brought the first tea to Japan, and was known as “The Father of Tea” in Japan. Tea filtered into Europe through early caravan leaders. It was the Portuguese who gained the first right to trade with China, but the Dutch and the British East India Companies made it more accessible. Soon it was brought to all the colonies around the world – including America and South Africa!

In America they poured shiploads of tea into the sea in a rebellious act (Boston Tea Party), which was a catalyst leading to the American Revolution! New shiploads found the way to America so they could indulge in less revolutionary tea parties. In South Africa/Namibia they picked up Rooibos from the San Bushmen (Basarwa) as an added flavor to the already well established tea culture. It does not entirely explain why my son is soaking in it though…?
Indians love tea. I’ve seen it in the Indian movies, but I’ve never seen anybody soak in it before my own son. Even Gandhi took inspiration from the history of tea. In 1930 he organized the “salt protest”, a march in protest against the British salt production monopoly. He held a handful of “duty free” (illegally produced) salt to a British official and stated; “The salt is to remind us of the famous Boston Tea Party”! It was a clever warning, and the salt protest became India’s answer to Boston Tea Party!

Speaking of salt! My in-laws “turn salt” for the children as protection against the “evil eye” as well! They hold a handful of rough salt in front of the child’s face and make a few circular gestures. Pretty much like Gandhi did… is there a connection I wonder?! Especially if people have uttered words of appreciation over the children, like “such a cute girl” or “handsome boy”, you have to “turn salt”! Now I know why they put bath salt for the children… cleverly camouflaged! I wonder what else is in that bath water? Indian voodoo-culture! I think I will collect samples and take them to a lab…

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Another beer with someone from history! (God)

Graham has got a standing challenge/invitation on his blog for people to tell about their beer with someone from history. Recently an opportunity has opened up that I will not miss, come heaven or hell! A US senator has filed a lawsuit against God, accusing him/her of neglecting his/her duties and not responding to his complaints (through prayers I assume!). Although the lawsuit itself may imply otherwise, I expect God to be a person/deity of honor and attend the trial, not only in his/her omnipresent ways but actually show a true physical presence!

God will of course be very busy when he/she arrives on such a rare visit, and I realize it will be hard to actually get an appointment. However, I will pray in advance for it to happen, and even hang around the bars, restaurants, churches and temples around the court and hope for and opportunity. I will then offer God a superb South African Meerlust Rubicon and trick him/her into believing it is altar wine, LOL! Nah - that would be a lie, and probably a bad start. I would be honest and give him/her carte blanche but recommend the Meerlust, and God would not resist my proposal!

Actually, I would make sure I had that beer with Adam & Eve before meeting God! Then I would be able to see God in a different light, and from some of his/her direct creation’s viewpoint. It would be like watching “Gandhi – My father” before knowing anything about Gandhi in the first place. My hypothesis is that God cared dearly for his/her children and grand children, but that God lost interest because generations and time wise, we are too far removed from God to care any more. We have also multiplied so rapidly that he/she can’t keep track any more. Hopefully, I can discard my hypothesis, but I truly believe that a beer with Adam & Eve in advance will shed some light on this!

Then me, God and the Meerlust! After a couple of bottles we should be talkative and friendly enough to share a few secrets. I will not bother him/her too much about the trial’s proceedings, as I expect that to be a rather touchy theme! However, I want to question God about the big bang contra his/her own creation of Adam & Eve… and what God thinks about Charles Darwin?! Then I will want to know which religious faction that tunes into his/her frequency?! If it’s the Catholic Church, I will make a confession right there and then. I will look him/her deep into the eyes and demand an explanation to why God let that thief into my house recently! With a satisfactory answer I will then confess all my dark and sinful thoughts concerning that thief and set my record straight – clean sheets! If God belong to a faction I’m not fully familiar with, I will at least find out what vanities we’re allowed!

Before we get too sloshed and unserious, I will apply for an apostle position. If God, with time, could also teach me to walk on water and give me some healing abilities that would be awesome.

With blue teeth and loads of alcohol on board we will probably pick up a ferocious appetite, human or God the same! I will take God to a nearby restaurant and find out which ones of his/her creations he/she will give consent to eat, and whether God is an omnivore, carnivore or strictly vegetarian?! If carnivore, then what about cows and pigs??

Before going separate ways, I will ask if God could grant me just one night’s sleep on cloud #9, and find out if it’s really as soft and heavenly as it sounds!

...truth, so help me (GOD)!

I was surprised to read in the newspaper recently that Charles Darwins theories was about to be introduced in the school syllabus for 11 and 12 grade pupils. At grade 11 and 12 you must be around 17 years old – about time I was thinking! By the time I was 15 we had to know the main characteristics of all the major religions + atheism and Darwinism. This was Norway 20 years ago where you had minimal chances of running into any religious orientations but Christianity, let alone monkeys at that time! In today’s South Africa, the Rainbow nation, Cradle of Human Kind and host to various species of monkeys, I’m surprised they haven’t forced the subject at a much earlier stage!

I remember how frustrated I was about having to learn about Hinduism. Today I’m married to a Hindu, although she is very laid back about it. What was the chance of a farmer boy from Norway would marry a South African Hindu girl though? Next to zero I’d say! Especially in a melting pot like South Africa I would think that it’s very important to teach the whole specter for tolerance’s sake!

The story about Jesus’ ascension, walking on water and healing powers was my first introduction to fiction as a young kid. I was watching TV pretty unsupervised, but didn’t fancy it much or believe any of it! It was much later that I picked up interest for Roald Dahl’s fiction and Douglas Adams even later. Still, Lucas and Marcus of the Bible was not my kind of fiction. Especially when people tried to convince me it was true – not fiction!

Now, many years later, I see an opportunity to set this straight once and for all! A guy in the US has filed a lawsuit against God, accusing him/her of neglecting his/her duties and not responding to his complaints! Not just any random chap, but a senator filed the lawsuit! I am SO tempted now to buy a ticket to follow this trial from the first row. No Olympic or World Cup could get close to this one. Who will defend God I wonder? My immediate thought is that the pope and the Catholic Church will provide a good lawyer, but that’s up to God to choose, isn’t it?! What a broadside to the Catholic Church it would be if God chose a protestant, or even a Hindu lawyer! What a spectacle that would make. I’m getting really excited already!

God’s choice of lawyer, and the lawyer’s religious standpoint would settle once and for all the eternal question about the one and only true God/religion, right?! I can see that my RDA-project (Religion Decision Aid), and extensive ongoing piece of work, could be a waste of time in a relatively short while. Although it will probably take a year or two before the trial can take place in the stuffed up American court system, I think I will put my exhaustive work on a hold for so long!

Anything but a Catholic lawyer will rob late Pope Pius of his expected saint status, wings and halo included! Not to mention all the saints who are already flapping around! They will be grounded properly, just like Nationwide Airline here in South Africa these days. Ouch, for a saint that must be worse than losing Olympic medals after cheating like Marion Jones and Ben Johnson I would guess!

The bookmakers must be preparing for bets and a feast of all times, and approaching all possible religious sects to bet on their on their one and only right belief! I think I will diversify my betting portfolio, risk averse as I am. Still, this is an opportunity to earn big bucks! I will put money on outsiders like Taoism and Shinto’s because the odds will no doubt be favorable. Counting the geographical origin of much of the God and Jesus spectacle, I will join Madonna and put some money on the Jewish branch (?) of Kabbala!

I am not a big gambler, but I would put every cent into a diversified religion portfolio bet. My only worry would be that God attacked the bookmakers like Jesus did with the merchants in the market place – then everything would be ruined! I am willing to take that risk though, for this once a lifetime opportunity!!

By the time the trial starts I will already be a rich man, but the fun is yet to come. As this lawsuit is a personal (or godly) attack on God himself, he/she will of course be forced to attend in person/godliness sooner or later. Being the senator’s lawyer I would not miss an opportunity to call God to the stand! Imagine God taking the oath; “I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – so help me (GOD)”!! That would be an awesome and memorable moment that would go down in history!

Also, you make a picture in your mind of people you talk to on the phone, and I’m sure it’s the same for people when they pray to God. Even atheists create a fictitious image of God! I believe I’m not alone when I picture an old wise man with white hair and long beard. There is of course a chance that God is in fact a busty babe. No matter what, beard or boobs, what a waste of accessories!! I’m almost sad on God’s behalf as he/she as nobody to share the “accessories” with in his/her eternal celibacy… but we don’t really know that, do we?! If Hinduism happened to be the one… it would be one hell of a party and no need to feel sorry! And how crowded the courtroom would be with all the Gods on trial!! This can easily become a debate on which god the prayer was directed to, or which god is responsible for this and that. Like in any call centre in big organisations it's important to get these things right, as it is part of the service quality. How can the gods leave us in limbo like this? Not very quality concious I must say, and what a complete lack of respect for their clients.

Journalists will of course be present! The lucky journalist(s) should not miss the opportunity to ask God about Darwin’s theories! How far advanced were Adam and Eve? Were they modern Homo Sapiens Sapiens, Neanderthals or Chimps?! The schools world wide, will in any event get to set the syllabus straight relatively soon! Then all the other heresy will be history to laugh at! I’m so excited I can hardly restrain myself!!