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Showing posts from May, 2012

Word-shuffling proofs for God: why semantics can't answer the "big questions"

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Introduction

It never ceases to amaze me how some people think they can prove the existence of a God – any God, never mind a particular kind (Christian, Muslim, Jewish etc.) – through the mere shuffling of some words on a piece of paper.

It's as if the incessant buzz of indifferent life, the imperceptible creak of tectonic movement, the whirling of the planet through space, the furious solar storms on our sun, the vast spans of silent emptiness between trillions upon trillions of isolated worlds, the birth and death of stars and galaxies – all of it is somehow expected to stop, bend on one knee and acknowledge a trivial (frankly, pathetic) gesture by some transient life-form on a rocky planet tucked away in a rather nondescript corner of the universe.

It's as if such a gesture could somehow elevate just one of many hundreds of thousands of unsubstantiated, pre-scientific cosmologies that have, and will continue to be, believed on our little world; a planet where life happens t…

Sorry shouldn't be the hardest word

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Many, many years ago I got into a debate with the manager of a different division at work. It concerned at technical/operational matter. I felt strongly that a particular rule was too inflexible and was causing inefficiencies. The manger disagreed. The debate became quite heated, particularly on his part.

Afterwards I went back to my desk and reflected on what had gone wrong and my part in the fracas. Yes, I felt I was right in my arguments. But I could see that I had upset him, and this troubled me. I realised that I had, inadvertently, made him lose face in front of his subordinates. I also realised that, regardless of the merits of my argument, the issue was his to resolve, and his alone. So I went back to him and, in front of astonished onlookers, apologised. I said that I was wrong to have argued with him - that the call was his and that I would respect it.

When I got back to my desk, 3 or 4 of his subordinates (who disliked his managerial style, to put it mildly) app…