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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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41 Responses to 474

  1. dennis says:

    Thats way too deep for me today.

  2. Anna says:

    I think God is scary. You know how we get scared of what we dont know (many of histories great mistakes) well God is like, umm… the biggest of big chunk of unknowingness we can ever not know about! Thats why He’s kindof scary. And the fact that he loves us – even scarier, cos I definetly dont know the reasons behind that one!

  3. Carole says:

    I’m not a hugely prolific reader. But when a ‘Christian’ person I worked with insisted on lending me a copy of Richard Dawkins’ God Delusion, I felt obliged to give it a go. I tried to politely refuse – not because of any radical atheist prejudice but simply because I prefer to choose my own reading matter and I take forever to read most books. But he insisted. I started reading. I found the odd funny line in there to amuse me but…well, am I the only one to think it is actually quite a boring book? Dawkins struck me as the kind of bloke who has never actually grown up out of his teenage rebellion. His arguments seemed to subconciously cry out for someone to prove him wrong. It reminded me of when a man and a woman seem to hate one another but really it is just a deep sexual chemistry which has got its lines all crossed. Dawkins, or should I call you Meg Ryan – you are little more than a romantic comedy waiting for the appropriate dénoument. Oh, and I didn’t finish your book ‘cos it was boring…

  4. subo says:

    It would be strange to me, to try to life without the working things out via my faith, maybe I wouldn’t worry so much?

    am with you Carol, R. Dawkins is dull, too much studying I guess, though apparently Alister E. McGrath, who someone challenged to write a response to Dawkins, is highly entertaining if you get to see him talk.

  5. Chris F says:

    Julian of Norwich: “if we in our blindness should at any time fall… we should quickly rise…and go to God at once in love; not on the one hand crawling abjectly as if we were in despair, nor on the other, being over-bold as if we thought it did not matter”

  6. sarah says:


  7. sarah says:

    Chris – nice, again.


  8. Robb says:

    It depends on how you see God and that is often dependent upon the people who have told you about Him. I have spent many a year with the view that God carries a big stick and wants to beat me with it every time I do something wrong. I have come to realise that God loves us.

    God loves you so much that you shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

    God loves you so much that you shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

    God loves you so much that you shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

    God loves you so much that you remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

    God loves you so much that six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

    God loves you so much that you should honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

    God loves you so much that you shall not murder.

    God loves you so much that you shall not commit adultery.

    God loves you so much that you shall not steal.

    God loves you so much that you shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.

    God loves you so much that you shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

    God loves me so much that he has waited patiently for me to start to get it!!

  9. Will says:

    robb that was truly moving. Thankyou.

  10. Hayley says:

    Hmmmm…I’m not sure what I think about the ‘punishing the children for the sin of the fathers.’ It is bits like that I find scary.

  11. jonbirch says:

    beautiful chris f. :-)

    nice one robb. i hear you. i still understand where hayley’s coming from though. :-)

    anna. yeh… and the more you grasp the less you hold. :-)

    carole… subo… so the book was dull then? :-)

    don’t worry a bout it dennis… it’s all too deep for me every day! :-)

  12. Forrest says:

    This business of these absolute declarations of “There Is No God.” seem rather immature to me.

    Okay, so, you can state with certainty that there are no beings who exist outside of space and time as we can sense and measure them. I see.

    Ya know, it’s funny how some of the same science that has yet to locate and define what mind and consciousness are in sentinent beings and out of what they arise is sometimes used to prove there is no God –
    “I can prove there is no God but I can’t prove why I have the consciousness to prove there is no God.”

    Oooookay, I see.

  13. Forrest says:

    Here’s a conversation.
    Will neither confirm nor deny whether it is hpothetical.

    The one: “There is no God.”

    The other: “Are you sure? Have you ever tried to have a relationship with him?”

    The one: “Yeah, I’m sure. I tried religion.”

    The other: “Okay; but have you ever tried to have a relationship with God, ever asked him to do it?”

    The one: “Don’t you listen? I just told you – I’ve Tried Religion.”

    The other: “Ahh, I think I’m starting to see what the deal is.”

  14. Robb says:

    Sorry, people who say stuff like this don’t usually keep it all in. I know from my experience I often live in the reality of my forebears. I gain all of the brilliant stuff that my parents and grandparents have left me (mostly in a metaphysical sense) and all of the bagage too (in a metaphysical and physical sense).

    I guess we are treading on Job’s territory…

  15. There are many things that both science and religion have no answers for. Each discipline, though relying on different approaches, has no absolute claim to truth. Religion needs to accept the science of the day and penetrate it to the mystery.

    There is so much beyond the veil of our senses that we are not aware. Acknowledging this is the first step to understanding. Whether one believes in a literal God or not, one must first be able to admit that they do not understand or know all of life’s mysteries.

    The philosopher Montaigne wore a medallion around his neck with the inscription; “What Do I Know?” I think it’s a good question to ask ourselves before proclaiming absolutes on the existence of anything……

  16. ben says:

    do you think we should fear God as christians?

  17. Dave says:

    person 1 – What are you doing?

    person 2 – (looking through telescope) I am looking for God

    person 1 – I didn’t know he was missing?

    Have a nice day! dave :)

  18. Lewis says:

    Pr 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

    2Cor 5:11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.

    I think we should fear God, but there’s a difference between a sorta holy fear, and just being piss-pants scared. It’s knowing who God is, it’s sorta scary, but kind of awesome.

  19. ben says:

    agreed lewis. i think theres a difference between the fear of the Lord, and the fear of getting your hair singed by God. one person fears his character, the other just fears because he knows that hes going to get punished.

  20. becky says:

    Here’s my beef – if you think there is NO God, then why waste your oxygen yelling about it? I can think of a host of things I don’t believe in so when someone comes to me spouting what I perceive to be nefarious nonsense, I get the giggles and walk away.

    Being raised Episcopalian, I never was introduced to the angry God except as the crazy man who my dad (who was a priest) told me was nuts and not to take him seriously.

  21. janetp says:

    Hi everyone.

    I LOVE this one! I’m doing a lot of questioning around this subject at the moment, but I really hadn’t stopped to think about it like this. Thanks for making me think (again), Jon. :0)

    Carole (3) & Subo (4): I’m interested in your experience of reading “The God Dilusion”. I haven’t read it yet, but want to get round to it, if only because I try very hard not to criticise from a place of ignorance. Having read it, I intend to read “The Dawkins Delusion” (Alister McGrath, if I’m not mistaken), which I understand is very good. I hope getting a sample of the arguments on both sides will help me form my own conclusions. Then again, it could just turn out to be one big, red herring ….

    Mr Nightime (15): Thanks for your insight – you put it much better than I could have.

    Lewis (18): “Pr 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

    I feel a bit ambiguous about this one (and all the other, similar passages in Proverbs). On the one hand, a big part of me wants to say ‘Yes, that’s it’, but on the other, a small voice keeps saying ‘there are plenty of people who are both wise and disciplined who would not claim any kind of relationship with God’. It feels to me rather black-and-white, a situation I’m rather suspicious of because such thinking is so often employed by the extremes on both sides of an argument (such as the ‘God exists: God doesn’t exist’ one).

  22. Carole says:

    Becky, that is so true – where do they get the energy from? And then why waste it? That is exactly what I think about Dawkins. I want to say to him, “yeah? So what?” I don’t go around trying to convert people (sorry, I don’t) but if people are asking searching questions I will give honest, personal responses. I’m certainly not going to go for the big brownie badge for catching me a committed atheist.

    As for the God to be feared, well I must say that having gone through the Catholic schooling system, I was never introduced to that God. Well maybe just once when the stand-in teacher was looking after us in my primary school. When we should have been doing maths, he paced up and down spitting terms like ‘penny catechism’ and ‘sanctifying grace’ at us. Put me off grace until Philip Yancey set me right many years later. God was always the God of love and the Sisters of Mercy positively exuded the love of God in everything that they did. In fact I’ve always felt a bit left out of embittered lapsed Catholic conversations as an adult in that I have never been beaten up by a sadistic nun (sorry, that sounds really perverse!). The nearest any of us got was the crushing look of disappointment. That was really traumatic!

    I’m fine with God as long as we meet on my safe territory, ie inner conversations etc. But if he asked me to meet him in the boardroom…hmmmm…worse than the Pope, the Dalai Lama, Alan Sugar, Gordon Ramsey, the Queen and the Head Teacher all rolled into one…

  23. Why waste your oxygen?

    ‘Cos you perceive a stack of problems caused by people believing in gods -> you would rather that they stopped acting that way on those beliefs -> you think that converting them to your belief would solve things nicely.

    Yes, there are a few <cough/> issues I’d have with this line of logic, but it does make some sense.

  24. becky says:

    23. That’s where Dawkins has me on the floor – his conversion tactics are akin to any street preacher – how many people are truly converted as a result of such tactics.

    22. Carol – what we forget is the first word that comes out of an angel’s mouth is “Be not Afraid” and that’s just an angel – what if the Almighty was in front of us?

  25. Carole says:

    Hello Janetp. Yes, you must read it and make your own mind up. His repetitive, chip-on-the-shoulder tone had me giving up the will to live after a while. Hats off to his publishers, they certainly did a good sell job. I wouldn’t waste your hard-earned cash, though. There must be plenty of Tesco bargain copies lying around, festering among the fluff and the odd socks under people’s beds. Though perhaps you’d rather borrow one which has been lovingly placed on a well-polished bookshelf! ;)

  26. janetp says:

    Hi Carole

    Yes, I must admit from what I’ve seen and heard of him so far (on tv), I’m not hopeful I’ll find what I would consider to be a balanced, thought-provoking argument – I’m expecting something more along the lines Becky suggests, ie street preacher of the worst kind. However, I will try and remain open-minded enough to allow him to speak for himself. Maybe he’s a better writer than tv presenter.

    I promise I’ll BORROW the book though …. ;0)

  27. Carole says:

    24 Becky, you know the more I think about this the more confused I get. I think of Moses coming back to the people from his progress meetings with God, looking like he’s slightly overcooked himself in the Tropical Tanning studio. I’ve always had a bit of a metaphor floating around my head of the nuclear mushroom cloud. Something terrible, deadly, in fact, but with a kind of awe-inspiring quality that you can’t take your eyes off (until your eyes burn out of your head, anyway) But then I think of Revelation and God among his people. Is this a physical manifestation? Is it an undeniable sense of well-being and peace that you just feel? Is it the person of Jesus? Will we be filled with fear/awe for all eternity? Will the unending hymn of praise from the angels start to get on my nerves? My head is beginning to seriously hurt now…I’m even splitting my infinitives…

  28. janetp says:

    I’ve just been reading cartoons 288 & 290 (Nov 07). I think they say quite a lot about how I feel at the moment, especially as regards the ‘God exists – God doesn’t exist’ debate.

    Essentially, I’m just trying to move out of my ‘box’ into – well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

    The silly thing is that I’m well aware there can be no final proof of the sort I seem to be demanding, so why can’t I just let it go as Becky suggests? It’s not as if I haven’t been round this loop before ….. I guess I just have to carry on wrestling with the questions until I find an answer that satisfies me (for the time being). Reminds me of Jacob, as well as Job.

  29. Dave says:

    #29 – am with you in the wrestling!! come to the conclusion that the ‘right question’ is the real answer … eg of ‘wrong’ question = is it right to play the lottery? … eg of ‘right’ question – why do so many people get so much hope from playing the lottery? So with the existence of God – for me – a ‘good question’ is how does my epistimology (ways of knowing) inform the question ‘is there a God’? The question then helps me delve into the nature of the boxes that I put God into – well it helps me!! …

    I know some stuff, but there is a lot more that I don’t know – BUT THERE IS SO MUCH MORE THAT I DON’T KNOW I DON’T KNOW!! dave :)

  30. Dave says:

    # 29 should read #28 – sorry – see there is lots I don’t know! d :)

  31. Helixes (sp?) and the progressive paths followed by mapping satellites are just a much loops as the tight little circles of futility or for the negative spirals of depression are.

    Making sure my thought process vector contains a component in a Z-axis as well as plotting a curve (rut) in the usual X & Y planes seems to help. IOW trying to vary my approach to the same old topic, even when I’m being relentlessly drawn back to it.

    E.g.I’ve just read Ken Miller’s Finding Darwin’s God as part of my rut jumping measures for a sub-genre of this (a)theist issue.

    [This Flatland analogy has been brought to you by the letter Pi.]


  32. /me wishes for a Preview or Edit button

  33. becky says:

    26. Dawkins is entertaining in person unless you are the poor soul he’s slamming. I know people who won’t debate him again as he has no clue how to follow any kind of debate etiquette whatsoever. The book is a snoozefest – and my guess a lot of it’s popularity is due to the face that we have such an abysmal understanding of the basic tenets of religion that Dawkins can make all kind of outlandish claims (e.g., the only biblical scholars he interacts with are people like Spong) that they don’t know enough to laugh in his face.

    27. Carole – I still have no freaking idea what I’d do if he ever showed up though and hit me Moses style. Right now I’m wrestling with some medical diagnoses (all should be OK) but it’s the unknowing that gets to me. But I’ve had enough Dark nights of the soul where I know God is there somehow at the end even if I can’t see him.

    28. I never said I didn’t wrestle with the Qs debating why God let X happen, etc. What I find ridiculous and hysterical are people who are convinced that God doesn’t exist yelling and flapping their arms around as though that will somehow convince people otherwise. It’s like the street preacher telling me what day the world will end. Doesn’t work.

  34. Carole says:

    Yeah Becky, sometimes it is good to have a reference point to go back to for our faith, why we believe in the first place.

    Sorry to hear you’ve got medical stuff going on. Hope your anxiety is relieved soon. I’ll say one for you. x

  35. Forrest says:

    Re: “The only thing scarier than atheists being right is atheists being wrong” – just watched from the ‘hobby room’ window in our apartment here a fellow in a boom truck from the utility company remove a second lamp from a lightpole on our corner which had had just one until a week or so back a second was fitted.

    That’s a good allegory for what it seems to me that dismissing there being a God does – it removes a source of illumination, insight, and knowledge, thereby increasing the shadows.

    I don’t know why that second was added. Don’t know why it was removed. Do know that while it was there and lighted there was less darkness, less not seen, on our section of street.

    Whatever it is that one starts with, adding a second source of reliable illumination gives a fuller picture.

    If today’s featured atheist is correct and there is no God, then our source of understanding is cut by at least half, maybe more.

    If today’s featured atheist is not correct and there is a God, then the risk of things we’d rather remained concealed in shadow are exponentially more likely to be seen.
    But also more likely to be seen are deadly dangers obscured within those same shadows.

    Another risk to having that additional source of illumination, God, is that one might misintrepret what he is showing you; something already possible with the original single source of illumination. so now there is the stress of possibly being wrong about not one but two sets of information. Discourageing? No – that additional source, God, will if asked actively assist you in understanding what he is showing you.
    I don’t know of any other source of understanding which actively participates in providing that understanding.

    On another tack:
    Beware the one-dimensional traps of a superficial one-dimensional God; and, of a harsh, rigid, legalistic God.
    What we have is a complex, robust, mysterious, God whose greatest
    desire is for simple, open, up-front, no-holds-barred, relationship and interaction with YOU.
    YOU Personally.
    YOU Specifically.

    The sort of relationship the carachters in the novel Kathy is reading see developing between themselves and are running from just as forcefully as they can.
    And deeply, desperately, want with all their heart and soul.

    If there is no God then that is one set of walls I don’t have to lower to open myself to the deepest, most intimate, most terrifying vulnerability there is.

  36. JF says:

    I just went looking for my copy of The God Delusion. There is a bookmark in p263, which is where I must’ve got bogged down to the point of not reading any further.

    This thread has made me want to finish it now, though.

    I found his argumentation a bit long-winded in general. I found some of his references more than a little flimsy. But I like the challenge of thinking through his arguments. I find myself concurring with his conclusions in some cases.

    Rather a questioning confusion than blithe acceptance.

  37. jonbirch says:

    blimey! i have to say… you are all sounding very intelligent today! :-)

  38. janetp says:

    JF (36): I agree with your last point (“Rather a questionning confusion …”) and suspect I may well agree with the previous comment on the arguments but I’ll have to wait until I’ve read the book. I’ll try to get past pg263 ….

    Carole & Becky: Thanks for your input on my thoughts today – I’ve found them encouraging and helpful.

    Beardie: Your comment about varying the approach is useful and one I hadn’t considered in those terms. I will definitely give it some further thought.

  39. janetp says:

    Jon (37): Well, you started it … :0)


  40. AnneDroid says:

    Carole #22 “I’m fine with God as long as we meet on my safe territory, ie inner conversations etc. But if he asked me to meet him in the boardroom…hmmmm…worse than the Pope, the Dalai Lama, Alan Sugar, Gordon Ramsey, the Queen and the Head Teacher all rolled into one…”

    Excellent. As you often do you’ve summed it up with simplicity and humour.


  41. drewman says:

    Nightmare……I guess that as a believer (whatever that means to you) the biggest scary thing is that there is in fact no God and we are deluded – happyish and hopefully living ‘long and prospering’ but deluded. What we call faith helps us to live with that antagonism/paradox.
    If you are an atheist then if you happen to be wrong the whole thing is slightly more scary. Depending on which of the ‘God’ systems is right then a carefully selected program of hells/rebirths/general unpleasentries (how do you spell that) await you.
    What we would call faith (if we believed in such a thing) helps us to live with that paradox.
    Still, makes a great discussion!

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