I am an antitheist. I believe that there is not only no god but that religion is all about power, is man-made and creates more harm than good.
Having said that I recognise that there is a strange connection at work.
I feel attracted to the beauty of rocks, trees, gorges, sea, lakes and sunsets. I am not alone in experiencing these feelings. Our ancestors worshipped these things before they invented gods. There is a majesty about them.
I can lie on my back and peer up into the night sky and experience awe as I whirl with the stars.
I can peer up at the moon and feel some lightening of my thoughts.
It is no wonder that primitive people, without the knowledge that science has brought, would experience these feelings and imagine the power of moon, sun, rocks and trees as possessing the spirits of gods.
I hope we have put this type of superstition behind us.
But Physics has shown us that there is more strangeness in the quantum world than we ever could have imagined.
I believe there is a lot more for us to discover. We are at the very beginning.
I do not have other words to describe the power that resides in these things. There is a mystic at work.
I cannot find words to express the delight in contacting a human being, or an animal. There is wonder, awe and mystery. There is warmth and communion beyond mere friendship.
There is something I will call mystic.
There is a Mystic
There is a mystic
In the sun and sea;
In a grain of sand.
There is a mystery
In the rock and tree
And in the grasping
Of a hand.
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We were not always alone as we are now. Although we share 99% of our genes with chimpanzees and gorillas, our closest living relatives, we are different. The prime difference being the size of our brains and our intelligence. Once there were a whole host of different humans.
We evolved in the Rift Valley in Ethiopia. We are all of African descent. We are all one species.
The fossil and DNA evidence is conclusive. Racists and creationists have nowhere to hide. All they can do is deny.
A mere five million years ago our common ancestor split off from the chimp line. The Australopithecines had a brain weight of 500 grams (slightly bigger than a chimp). By 1.8 million years ago there were numerous groups of hominids living in the Rift Valley region. We were not alone. They included Homo habilis and Homo erectus.
Life in the Rift Valley was precarious. There was a lot of climatic change.
By 1.4 million years ago only Homo erectus had survived. But their brain size had evolved to 1000 grams.
800,000 years ago Homo heidelbergensis had evolved. Their brain weight had jumped to 1400 grams (comparable to modern man). They gave rise to both the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens.
Homo sapiens evolved with a brain weight of 1500 grams only 200,000 years ago. We lived alongside our close, and more intelligent, cousins Homo Neanderthal until 45,000 years ago.
We have only been alone for 45,000 years. What a mess we’ve made of things in such a short time!
We are so new that if you took a baby from 200,000 years ago and brought them up in the present day they could be a nuclear scientist, president or rocket scientist without any trouble. We haven’t changed. Our brains are the same.
I like to imagine that somewhere, in a secluded garden of Eden, hidden away, a group of surviving Neanderthals have set up home. Despairing of the destructive violence of their cousins they cloistered themselves away.
I wonder what they would make of the world we have made and our invention of war, religion, pollution, overpopulation, politics, climate change, cruel ways to kill other animals and enough greed, selfishness and power-madness to destroy the planet.
Perhaps with their wisdom and intelligence they could convince us that there is a better way of living. We could take a lesson from the whales and dolphins. We could be gentle and live in a self-sustaining manner in harmony with each other and the planet.
I hope we find them soon. I’m scared of being alone with the megalomaniacs raging around me.
Arriving in Singapore was great, apart from the lengthy customs clearance. After the overcrowded bustle of Vietnam with its poverty, decay, masses of scooters and pollution it was quite a contrast to arrive in a city that was clean, well-organised, well looked after and so full of interest. The MRT was cheap and provided the means to explore Little India, China Town, the Arab quarters and the Marina bay area with its fantastic super trees and modern architecture juxtaposed with the old colonial buildings. They’ve done a great job. It is an amazing city that we wouldn’t mind going back to. We cable carred, trained, bussed, walked, boated, ate, drank and saw the sights!
It is obvious that huge amounts of money have been poured into Singapore. It is a complete contrast to most of the rest of Asia and Indonesia. One is left with the impression that unless the overpopulation problem is solved soon something drastic will happen – the collapse of the ecology of the area? A virus pandemic? Mass starvation? There’s a tipping point. Something bad is about to go off. But Singapore appears immune. The modern buildings and infrastructure nicely complement the old. The underground takes away a lot of the traffic and it seems almost serene. It seemed like a modern city not suffering stress and decay.
First stop was Little India with its shops of spices and trinkets, flowers and tourist goods (including a gruesome pile of dried lizards, fish and other exotic creatures – killed for tourists), peacock statues and brightly coloured housing and shops. The gaily decorated Hindu temples, which were in the midst of ceremonial celebrations, with their flowers, ceramic gods, paintings, offerings, foods and smells were a delight on the eye. The women in their brightly coloured saris and a street sculpture of equally bright parasols provided a real splash. The cows and half naked priests harked back to ancient times as the throngs flocked to worship.
Then it was the Arab sector with its mosque and another set of worshippers in different garb and different customs but equally adamant that their book and ways are the only way; the true word of god – whatever he may be.
I did not concern myself too much with the esoterics of fictional deities but focussed on the art and architecture, which was sumptuous, before searching for the blue cheese flavour ice-cream I had enjoyed on my last visit. Like god it was nowhere to be found.
Next stop was the Buddhist Temple which supposedly had a fang from Buddha as an artefact. Something to get your teeth into. It was also full of worshippers in yet another set of garb, incense, chanting and idols, but at least there were no gods here.
We made our way over to the Marina Bay and the hotel that is a ship on three towers with the amazing array of surreal sci-fi Eco Trees.
They round the bay past the Lion spouting water to the centre and the dock area with its conjunction of old colonial and new. Never has such a marriage worked so well. Night was falling and we settled at a table overlooking the water to partake of beer and crab – an ideal combination.
Then it was back to Marina Bay for a sight of the Eco Trees performing as they danced with their light show!
The next day we boarded the cable car up to the top of the hill, for a view over the surrounding area, and then over to Sentosa Island with its funfair, artificial beaches and tropical forest with a backdrop of ships queuing up for the container port! On the second cable-car ride we went straight over our ship!
By the time we got back a storm was coming through. The sky darkened menacingly and warm rain splashed down in great globs. It created quite a scene as we pulled away. We were leaving a great city. We loved it.