Fantasy Insight: The Real Harry Potter Revealed

I advise any Potter fans (and any fans of fantasy, even if you don’t like Rowling/Potter) to read the article I’ve linked to here, which arguably reveals what the Harry Potter series was really about:

What Harry Potter Is Actually About.

I completely concur with the insight in this article.

JK Rowling not intending Harry Potter to be a metaphor for child trauma leading to mental illness is like CS Lewis not intending Narnia to be allegorical to Christian faith.

I now see Harry Potter in a new, better and deeper light, and hopefully the reboot/reimagining (as I’m sure one will arrive eventually) will reflect this insight from a more adult perspective.

The Free Will of Sentience: Choice, Reasoning & Influence

My response to reagentpost‘s blog post was long enough to be blog-worthy in and of itself, so here it is:

If our will is shackled to a purely instinctual force, which is a culmination of extrinsic elements and our own reactionary impulses on a molecular level, I would still say there’s wiggle room for us to manipulate the outcome.
Much of it comes down to base animal instincts; fight or flight, nature or nurture. As we’re crossing a field, and suddenly a bull charges us, we’re faced with a momentary choice which is something we barely register on a conscious level: Do we run or do we confront? The same person, in two identical instances, might choose to run the first time but confront the second time. Why? What happened to them beforehand to nudge their subconscious reactions one way or the other? Perhaps something, but equally likely it was just how the electrons played through the brain.
Then there’s the tabula rasa argument, that a person can be so influenced by their culture, religion, family, friends, media, that the way they respond to things they’re faced with is heavily based on extrinsic forces.
Examples: Would that ISIS bloke have sawed that young girl’s head off if what passed for his will hadn’t been manipulated by Islam? Would the old man, on his wife’s deathbed, cry tears of joy in knowing she had gone to a glorious place of eternal wonder, or would he cry tears of bitterness in knowing that which he had loved was now gone forever, decomposing to her molecular elements? Would the boy have killed his younger brother if he hadn’t watched and been influenced by that movie?
To non-sentient life, there is natural reaction. To sentient life there is also natural reaction, but sentience means not only the ability to reason, but also the ability to steer our lives with varying levels of control. Sometimes there is no control, other times there is a lot, often there is merely a little.
And then there is the ability to hold back, to withstand the natural impulse or the nurtured reaction; in essence, the power of resistance.
I believe free will exists to an extent, but not to the extent that many would like to believe. I could tell a god-fearing person that they’ve got the will to ignore the lure of religion. Equally they could tell me that I have the choice of ignoring the logic of atheism.
One thing I do know, is that allowing yourself to be consumed by the tenets and doctrines of religion and faith can only impede whatever passes for human will, regardless of how ‘free’ it really is. As a creature of logic and reason, I agree that only deterministic free will exists, that through our lives we are faced with choices over which we ponder our possible paths. The psyche of each of us is a product of gained information and influence, and our lives could have played out quite differently in varying circumstances, meaning that how we reason a particular situation could have greatly differing outcomes in the ultimate decisions we make.
In short, some of us have a much greater pool of choice than others, and this is as close as we can get to having completely ‘free’ will.

Rumination Of The Day: Worship – Stroking A God’s Ego

If it were scientifically proven tomorrow that God’s true name is Geoff, and that he comes from a gas giant called Pffffff-twib in the Tadpole Galaxy, I would accept that Geoff of Pffffff-twib does indeed exist, but I would still say he doesn’t deserve to be venerated as a god. I’d have a game of cards with him, but the moment he so much as hinted at me worshipping him, I’d slap him across his big gas-giant-alien face with a rotting tuna.

See, it’s not the “belief” part that I have the biggest problem with, it’s the “worship” part. Whether it’s gods, dragons, aliens, time travelling dinosaurs, a troupe of tap-dancing tooth fairies, a zombified Belsnickel carrying a sack made of Santa’s face and driving an invisible DeLorean, or the sentient heart of a galaxy covertly disguised as Moses’ posing pouch, there’s not a single entity in the whole of existence, real, theoretical or imagined that is worthy of worship. Respect, yes. Fear, possibly. Even love. But never worship. You wouldn’t stroke Geoff of Pffffff-twib’s ego, would you?

Psychoanalyzing the Religious Mind-Mentals

bible 2

Picture the scene: You’re a Christian, a follower of God. You’re also a soldier. You’re standing on the battlefield, to your left and to your right is a long line of your fellow soldiers, each holding a sabre. Across from you, a hundred yards away, is the enemy; a long line just like the one you’re in, ten men deep, each man brandishing a sword and a shield. You’re about to fight a battle for your god. The horn sounds. A great battle cry fills the air and you charge to meet the enemy, your sabre held high. As steel clashes against steel you feel an agonizing pain lance through your chest, but as your vision fades you smile, because you know you’ve died in the name of your god…. WRONG!!!!

What you’ve actually just done is commit suicide. Come on, you knew you’d never walk away from this fight. You were willing to give up your life to defend your beliefs. You came here to die. Now, I’m not about to split hairs, I’m not playing with semantics here – suicide is suicide, whether it’s charging towards a legion of swordsmen, throwing yourself out of an aeroplane, climbing a dangerous cliff face unaided, willingly travelling to another country to engage in deadly firefights, asking for your life-support plug to be pulled, giving up your share so that your friends might survive… You get the idea.

And, according to most Christians, if you willingly relinquish your life you will not get into Heaven. You want to argue that point? Let’s do that, then…

  • Samson killed himself, bringing down a building he was in, in order to destroy thousands of Philistines.
  • King Saul, his family and army dead, and filled with insanity, killed himself by falling on his own sword.
  • Judas Iscariot hung himself with remorse for how he had betrayed Jesus.
  • Zimri, not wanting to be taken prisoner, set the palace on fire and died in the flames.
  • Jesus willingly relinquished his life, saying, “No man taketh my life from me, but I lay it down of myself.”

All chose to die. But which of them did God allow into Heaven? Well, Jesus, obviously. Samson, too. Not the others, though.

Suicide is seen by Christians as a sin because it is first and foremost the murder of a human. Murder is a sin, ergo so is suicide. And yet, when someone commits suicide there are so many Christians willing to judge them, to call them out posthumously and shout about how they won’t get into Heaven. But when a soldier dies in war, whether he’s killed one enemy or a thousand, he is branded a hero by the self-same Christian hypocrites.

Me? I’m an atheist. If someone commits suicide, my reaction wholly depends on who they were, whether I liked them, whether I considered them a good person. If I liked them, I’ll consider it a terrible shame that they took their own life.
Ah, but maybe they went to war and got shot. Were they a friend of mine? If so, I’ll be sad that they’re dead. I’ll be sadder because they probably died for a cause that had little or nothing to do with them. I’ll be angry that they ran into a senseless fight, no different or better than any fight fought in the history of Man. I’ll be pissed off that back at home they’ll get branded a ‘hero’. A hero for what?


 bible

Now, let’s move on. Let’s have a look at the varying levels of what God’s followers say about him.

“God loves …”

This is the relatively harmless level. When you’re having a hard time, people at this level will say things like: “I’m praying for you,” or, “God loves you.”
They’ll tell you: “They’re in a better place,” or, “She’s at peace now,” when someone you care about dies.
If you’ve done something sinful, they’ll say, “I’ll pray to God for your forgiveness,” or, “Jesus died for our sins, all you have to do is love God in return.”

“God judges …”

This is where god-fearers have slipped a level deeper into their mental illness. These people are less able to form rational thought processes. Their knowledge of the Bible is limited to  what other Christians tell them.
On the subject of homosexuality, they’ll say, “Those boys shouldn’t be doing that; God doesn’t like it,” or, “That’s frowned upon in the Bible, you know?”
On the subject of suicide, they’ll say: “Oh, poor woman, God won’t let her into Heaven now,” or, “He killed himself; he’s going to Hell.”

“God hates …”

According to the Bible, God ‘hates’ the following:

  1. A proud look.
  2. A lying tongue.
  3. Hands that shed innocent blood.
  4. A heart that devises wicked plans.
  5. Feet that are swift in running to evil.
  6. A false witness who speaks lies.
  7. One who sows discord among brethren.

The above are unfortunately wide open for interpretation.
It can be said that many religious figures cast a proud look from their podiums, and certainly any and every country leader.
Come on, every politician lies. That’s not even open for debate; it’s a fact known worldwide.
Every time a child is genitally mutilated because of the dictates of their parents’ religion, that is innocent blood on the parents’ hands, and on the hands of the priest (or whatever) who commits the deed. Every time a child’s head is sawed off because some mentally unstable bastard decides a little girl is an infidel… That sick, depraved fucker is drenching his hands in the blood of innocents.
The ‘wicked plans’ clause is the one that’s been warped to include the hate of homosexuals and atheists.
The ‘running to evil’ clause is the hand-holder of the ‘wicked plans’ clause. Together, they strengthen one another, or, to put it more frankly, they allow closed-minded bigoted god-fearers to cast their own hates upon people whose ideas lie outside of their little bubbles of acceptance.
A false witness speaking lies can be attributed to anyone and any topic. I’m atheist, so in the eyes of a god-fearer I’m speaking lies when I say God does not exist. Someone in another religion would be speaking lies when they claim their god exists, but not the Christian god.
Discord among brethren… Take a field of white sheep and call them Christians. Now paint one of those sheep black and accuse it of destabilizing the harmony of the flock. God doesn’t want his followers getting wise ideas that could unsettle the rigid religious hierarchy.

Sadly, there are Christians claiming “God hates fags [homosexuals]” and “God hates atheists” and “God hates niggers” and “God hates wicked children”… Hell, even “God hates sinners” is about as broadly stated as it could possibly get.

The bottom line here is, if you’re a bigot, you were always going to be a bigot with or without religion. But the presence of religion with you in it just enhances the negative aspects of you and your chosen faith.

“God kills …”

And finally, God kills, and he uses the hands of men to do his bidding. You try watching a brainwashed religious zealot take his razor-sharp sword and slice back and forth through a child’s neck like it’s a Sunday roast until the head comes away in his hand. You try witnessing that, and then tell me that it was God who did it and not some fucking human abomination. I don’t even need to mention the countless wars and battles and genocides and sacrifices and cleansings done in the name of one or other god. I don’t need to list of the unsung billions throughout history who have died because of their faith or lack thereof. Every one of those deaths were made by man, in the name of their god or on the commandment of their god. They weren’t really; it was just a bunch of sick fuckers going around slaughtering others in a fevered, brainwashed bloodlust, dismembering children in front of their parents, then raping the women to death in front of their husbands, and finally forcing the broken men to change their faith… then killing them anyway.

If a heaven and a hell existed, I know which would be the fuller.

Famous People & Characters

Famous People & Characters

I’ve added a new Gigi Edgley (Chiana from Farscape) sketch! That’s four Gigi sketches I’ve done now.

Also on the Famous People & Characters page are my sketches of Seven Of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager (Jeri Ryan), Yuna from Final Fantasy x/x-2, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), and 80s zombie flick The Video Dead.

If you like my sketches, please share the love! ;)

My Responses to the Statements of a Theist

This blog post is a response to a comment concerning science and faith from a blog of mine on another site. In quotation marks are the theist’s comments. The rest are my responses.
“Doesn’t it ever strike you as odd that so many people are drawn to [religion]?”

No. Religion has been around in one form or another for thousands of years. Along with other superstitious beliefs the religions have spread until their influence on humanity is almost indelible. To believe that “someone” created you, created the Earth, and created everything beyond the Earth is something attributable to Ancient Man. Believing such things is a practice that ought to have faded into history by now.

“you will never live up to the standard of god”

A standard created and imposed not by any god, but by Ancient Man.

“Most people don’t understand that god already loves you”

Your god only loves you in your head. You don’t have a scrap of evidence of a higher entity anywhere in the universe, and you certainly shouldn’t consider ancient scriptures as being the “word” of any such entities.

“he just wants you to seek him out”

No, no no! If you have read your Bible then you should know the scriptures say God does not want you to seek him out. In fact he orders quite the opposite:

Deuteronomy 4:19

and lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun and the moon and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath imparted unto all nations under the whole heaven.

The Living Bible paraphrases this quite succinctly as:

And do not look up into the sky to worship the sun, moon, or stars. The Lord may permit other nations to get away with this, but not you.

So you see God orders us to not search the stars. What he’s doing with this order is stunting scientific progress. If all good Christians throughout history had adhered to God’s alleged words in Deuteronomy 4:19 they would not have accepted or recognised any scientific discoveries concerning anything beyond the Earth. In other words, you would still be living the Dark Ages, that includes medical science, because the Bible commands eternal stagnation, not evolution.

“When you find him, you will understand what everyone else understands.”

I assure you, there will never be a “when” for me. I have studied history, astronomy, geology, languages, geography, psychology, and more. And I have studied Christianity and other religions’ doctrines and philosophies. The only ideas within the Bible I agree with are the purely humanitarian areas. I do not and never will accept the concept of an entity which demands my worship. Moreover, if any such entity were to descend to the Earth from the stars, I would call it a charlatan – mighty, no doubt, but deserving of an entire species eternity of praise and devotion? Absolutely not.
What I understand is that religious people need religion, they need to believe in a higher, unfathomable purpose above themselves, they need to believe they’re going somewhere after their bodies die.

In the absence of one ‘divine’ plan, in the absence of a particular religion, most god-fearers would just choose another faith to kneel down to, another god to name as theirs.

“Science has helped show that events in the bible are possible”

Here’s a list of miracles allegedly performed by Jesus – without science – which science has not proved possible:

1. Turning water into wine.
2. Faith healing. (incl. regeneration of severed appendage – Luke 22)
3. Exorcism. (Matthew 12, 17; Mark 1, 9; Luke 4, 9, 11)
4. Bringing the dead back to life. (Luke 4, Luke 8, John 11 – Lazarus)
5. Controlling the weather. (Matthew 8, Mark 4, Luke 8)
6. Summoning demons. (Matthew 8, Mark 5, Luke 8)
7. Mass instant food replication. (5 loaves and 2 fish to fill 5000+ stomachs)
8. Walking on water. (Matthew 14, Mark 6, John 6)
9. Power of atrophy over nature. (Withering the fig tree – Matthew 21, Mark 11)
And those are just Jesus’s alleged escapades without adding the extremely dubious account of his resurrection in Matthew 28. To list all else, especially from the Old Testament, would take much longer than I have time for right now.

“How do you know what happened in the past unless you were there?”

Fossil records. Carbon dating. Geological findings. Physics. Human history. Statistical probabilities. Limits of human abilities. I could go on…?

“To be a true follower in science you have to be open to all possibilities, even spiritual.”

I like this point, because it’s partially true. What science does is it takes a theory, a myth, a belief or a presumed fact, and it explores it. It digs deeper. It takes time in doing so, but every scientific fact came about as a direct or indirect result of a theory, myth, legend, belief, etc.
Science has disproven myths and legends like the Loch Ness monster, the Abominable Snowman, and many other more obscure monsters in ancient lore. Science has proven that the stars are not angels, but rather balls of intensely hot gases. Science has proven that in the centre of the Earth is, not Hell or Satan, but a solid ball of iron-nickel alloy the same temperature as the surface of the Sun. Ah, the Sun! An object of spirituality in bygone years, today a yellow dwarf star consisting of mainly hydrogen and helium.

“There are things in the world our minds don’t understand yet”

There are things in the world certain people’s minds don’t understand yet. There are certain things in the world not yet able to be fully explained by scientific methodology. I assure you, that will change, but it will be science that gives the answers, not religion.

Continue reading

My review of Ironhand’s Daughter by David Gemmell

 

Review: Ironhand’s Daughter (The Hawk Queen #1) by David Gemmell


The first Hawk Queen novel is a by-the-numbers Gemmell novel, nowhere near on par with his Drenai, Waylander or Sipstrassi novels – the three Gemmell series I consider the best.

Ironhand’s Daughter suffered in several areas.

The main character, Sigarni, remained unlikeable throughout. To begin with, practically all men were in love with her (the dwarf, the forester, the black man, the man from another clan, the simple villager, even the old drunkard was a letch). She had sex with three of those men, and treated all with a cool indifference.

Later in the story something happens to Sigarni which turns her into an emotionally cold person bent on vengeance. Admittedly what happened was tough, but if I’m honest it was her immediate retaliation after this event that for me was the best part of the novel.

From there on it’s all about creating tactics to fight off the Outlanders, leading ultimately to a battle. Throughout this huge chunk of the novel Sigarni gradually becomes more accepting of male company again, and unites the Highlanders, commanding them to kneel to her and swear their allegiance.

The other thing that bogged the story down drastically was the heavy-handed prophecying throughout. From the very beginning we know Sigarni is Ironhand’s daughter, of course. But we also know she will lead the clans against the invaders. There are several seer-type characters, and because of these there are no surprises, no twists. Even the old drunkard foresees his coming death at the hands of a few soldiers, so when it comes at the end of the novel no one’s really bothered. Almost every major event in the novel is not just foreshadowed, not just hinted at, but spelled out for us way in advance.

Using too much ‘chosen one’ cliche and peppering a story with heavy-handed foreshadowing never does any good. It may have been acceptable in the mid-20th century, but for a novel released in 1995 by arguably one of the best fantasy authors of the time, it didn’t work. These tropes are the marks of unimaginative authors, and David Gemmell has certainly showed himself to be much more than that in his earlier and later works.

I finished Ironhand’s Daughter feeling unsatisfied, but I still finished it. Definitely one of Gemmell’s weaker novels, and I’m in no rush to continue on to The Hawk Eternal, the second and final book in the series.