Saturday, October 07, 2006

Something simple to start with

The Institute for the Future of the Book are encouraging authors who are in the course of writing books to blog as they go along, before the book is published.

Its a great idea. Potential readers get to see the the book emerging and to influence and enrich the book with their comments . The author has a means of generating interest in the book and anticipation of its arrival.

Psychologically writing a book must seem like a long, lonely haul. Writing a blog, with the immediate feedback you get from your readers, would keep your motivation up, and keep you turning up at your writing desk/laptop each morning.

Mitchell Stephens is blogging about the writing of his book, Without Gods, a history of atheism.

One of his posts posed the following question:
how should an atheist reply to a request by a dying friend that they see the light and start believing in god so that they can be re-united as friends in heaven?
This promoted some great debate by both atheists and theists in the comment thread. Todd Sayre turned the question on its head and asked:
what should an atheists' last request be to a friend who believed in God?
Todd thought that the best request the atheist could make would be:
feed my cats
Mitchell writes a really good blog, its thought provoking and I've learned plenty from it. My only quibble is that a number of his posts seem to be concerned with the question 'are the types of statement made by religions true?' I don't think there is such a thing in the entire universe as 'truth'.

Even if there was a such a thing as truth, we would not be able to express it using words. As Jorge Luis Borges is said to have said
everything put into words is fiction.
Neither science nor religion can escape this limitation.

Any abandonment of the belief in universal truths must also involve an abandonment of attempts to demolish certain beliefs as universally untrue. Borges is useful again. An interviewer asked him whether he believed in angels. He replied:
Its a possiblility, after all it requires no more of a miracle than the fact that we are sitting here talking like this
I'm more interested in seeing whether religious discourse can be useful, than whether it could be true. For me religions would be just as useful if they dropped their claims that they convey the word of the creator(s).

I imagine the creator as a being that didn't use words at all, that has never had any use for them. I think the creator did something incredibly simple to bring the universe into being. Lifted a metaphorical finger, or breathed out or just thought 'what if'.

I believe this because it fits nicely with my other beliefs that anyone can do anything and that simple actions/events can have profound results, provided they resonate through enough things or people, over enought time.

The purpose of life? To explore some of the many possible consequences of that first breath/thought/lifting of a finger, and to set up a new universe of consequences and possibilities every time we breath, think or lift a finger.

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