Dawkins and Delusion

February 11, 2009

I’ve recently got hold a copy of Richard Dawkin’s book, the God Delusion. I know that I am unlikely to agree with it!, but feel it is appropriate to read the arguments of someone who argues so passionately against something which is so important to me. I hope to give it a fair reading, although it is hard for any of us to avoid bringing our bias to a subject.

Time to read is limited when you have a young child – so I’ve only read the first two chapters so far. From what I have read, though I have to say that although Richard Dawkins is clearly a highly intelligent person, and an excellent author and communicator, the fallacies or weaknesses in his arguments are not too hard to sport. For all of us (me included) a strong bias blinds us to being able to see other perspectives or possibilities. As a leading spokesman for atheism I therefore feel that his case against God is somewhat poor.

There are many others who have pointed out the faults in his books and arguments – and have done so more eloquently than I can. I am not willing to leave him unanswered personally, however, so I intend to do a series of blogs looking at perhaps one of the issues discussed in each chapter, once I’ve read them.

I’d better get a move on with the first two then!

Christ at Christmas

December 25, 2008

Well I managed the third of my three series of Christmas posts before Christmas is over – even if the last of these is on Christmas day itself!

It’s an appropriate day to write it however, for my third aspect of Christmas is that as well as being a busy time, and a time of celebration, Christmas for me is primarily about Jesus Christ who came from heaven to earth. This is I hope the most important focus for many others too – and Christmas day is the day on which we remember this tremendous happening.

It’s hard to write any new thoughts on this – after all the Christmas story is pretty familiar even to those who rarely venture to church. Even my two year old daughter is familiar with the fact the we remember baby Jesus being born at Christmas – even if it’s the Tweenies’ version that she remembers best!

It’s also hard to find time to think about this aspect of Christmas amidst all the busyness, the travelling, the presents, the time with family too. Writing this blog today is in some way providing an opportunity for me to give time to think about it.

As well as familiar, and hard to give time to, the fact that 2000 or so years ago, a baby Jesus was born in fairly poor circumstances is also mind blowing – because of just who that baby was and is. I know that this baby was the son of God – the one who had seen (and was responsible for) the whole universe come into being, sees (and is responsible for) all the life we see teeming around us – suddenly was looking out on the world from a feeding trough, with baby’s eyes and a baby’s limitations. It’s not something we will ever properly get our minds around.

I know that I find changes difficult and I have to give time to adjust to changes in life and surroundings. The bigger the change the more difficult it is to get used to. If you are raised in one culture and then move to live in another, if you’re being honest, you have to recognise that there might be some aspects of living in that other culture that you will never really be able to cope with. You may never truly be able to live like a native.

This was, for Christ, a cultural change bigger than any we will ever face. That he loved us enough to come here is amazing.

Happy Christmas.

Celebration at Christmas

December 18, 2008

I went into town today to buy a few last items needed for Christmas presents. Oxford city was, as usual in December, decked out with an array of different lights hanging over the streets, a Christmas tree (which didn’t have any working light on – a bit odd!) and so forth. The streets were buzzing as it was late night shopping. The stores were full of Christmas music …

I guess that for most people in the UK, Christmas for them is the biggest festival, and time of celebration, of the year. A time for parties, a long holiday, relaxing, spending time with family and friends, lights and decorations, presents and gifts, Santa and TV.

For me, neither trees nor Christmas lights, nor the all-too-familiar music are at the heart of what Christmas is about. I have some big problems too with the intense consmerism that surrounds Christmas, where stockings are less something in which you put a cherished gift or two, but rather something which needs to be ‘filled’ with imaginative, and completely unnecessary, novelties.

Having said this, however, I do still love Christmas the festival and time of celebration. Winter in the UK can be a somewhat bleak time, with dark days and limited sunshine, the cold setting in and the knowledge that it will be several months before things get warmer again. At this time the lights and festivities can really cheer things up. There’s one street near to where we live where quite a few houses are completely covered on the outside with flashing Christmas decorations. While I wouldn’t dream of having them on my own house, they are interesting and cheerful, and my daughter loves it when we drive past and she can admire them – so, to be honest, do I!

So while this all may not be at the heart of Christmas, Christmas time is still for me a time of celebration and festivity – and it’s good to enjoy it!

Crazy Christmas

December 8, 2008

One of the most obvious things about Christmas is that it’s a bit of a crazy time to say the least. In particular, it’s always busy. Maybe one of the reasons that most of us (Brits at least) have a long holiday between Christmas and New Year is that we need it to recover from the hectic rush which makes up life before (and sometimes during) the holiday itself.

There are the Christmas cards to write (I confess we won’t be sending many this year – mostly just emailed Christmas greetings!) and the presents to buy (hooray for Amazon, Ebay etc.). The house needs decorating and we try and fit in a trip to see the Christmas lights in town. The Chrismas holiday itself is usally spent with families – which is nice – but this means lots of travlling – more busyness.

Then, as a Christian there’s usually lots going on at church – we have our first carol service this weekend, and another the week afterwards, plus carol singing and so forth.

And with the long break at work there’s all that needs to be done in readiness for the shut down – and all the things you want to get done before the break makes you forget what it is you’re doing.

Is it meant to be this crazy?

Christmas is coming …

December 8, 2008

… and far quicker than I feel ready for! The last few days I’ve been thinking about what Christmas means for me, a Christian, a Dad, a Brit.

In reality Christmas has a variety of different meanings, and impacts life in many ways. I’ve decided to write a series of (probably 3, maybe more, but hopefully at least 3) blog articles about some of these aspects of Christmas in the coming two and a half weeks. Watch this space!

Making waves

October 23, 2008

… well maybe just watching them. We recently went on holiday to Swanage in the south of the UK. It’s a great place to holiday with small children and is on the coast – always a good thing (especially for someone who always seems to live in places about as far away from the sea as you can get in the UK!) I love watching the sea – and managed to get this photo of a wave breaking which I thought I’d share with you.

Hope you like it!

Breaking Wave

Breaking Wave

Lloydaboutlife has moved!

October 15, 2008

Lloydaboutlife has now moved. I used to host the blog with the web host web-mania. These were quite cheap and worked well – the actual software I used to write and format the blog was wordpress. Wordpress actually provide the option of hosting your blog for free at wordpress.com – and they now have the option of using your own domain name (ie lloydaboutlife.com) on that blog as well.

Given the limited amount of time I have to devote to the blog, I’ve decided to move the blog to this free hosted service, while keeping the same lloydaboutlife.com name. The new free service has two big advantages.

  • It’s much cheaper! I still have to pay for the domain registration and a small fee to use my own domain name at wordpress, but it’s still only about a third of what I paid before! 
  • The wordpress hosted blog will automatically be kept up to date with the latest version of the wordpress software, including security updates.

To be honest, the second of these is the key advantage. One of the reasons I have done so little on the blog in recent months is that I was aware that I was using a quite out of date version of wordpress, and felt that I really should update this. This would have taken quite a bit of time and effort however, so I never got round to it – and also never got round to writing new posts! On the new hosting service, a lot of the worries and hassles are taken care of for me so I should be able to do more on it.

The move does have some downsides – I can’t customise the blog quite as much as I could before, so for example I can’t put my old polls onto the blog (although they’ve just provided a new polling feature which I’ll have to look at soon!), but overall it should be a big plus. You shouldn’t notice much difference – just a few minor formatting differences, and a few things missing that were there before. Do let me know if anything doesn’t work however. And if you want to do your own blog, why don’t you sign up at wordpress.com too!

More Spanish castles

April 24, 2008

Perhaps I should start a new blog giving photos of picturesque Spanish castles at night. We recently spent a week in Peñiscola, a couple of hours up the coast from Valencia. It was a great week, and has a beautful old castle, which looks great lit up at night. Here’s the photo!

The castle in Peñiscola at night

Who’s to blame?

March 5, 2008

So much for thinking that I’d have another post up within a week. Fortunately, news stories of mislaid data from UK government departments arrive about every week, so this is still a topical issue… As I mentioned in the last post, the UK tax revenue department lost two CDs containing confidential information relating to about 25 million UK residents. This is a lot of people, and many many families – including mine – were affected by it. As far as I’m aware, the CDs are still ‘lost’. There have been lots of other stories of people or companies losing confidential data since, but this is still the one that sticks most in my memory.

One of the reasons for this is that I’m an IT manager, responsible to some extent for my organisation’s data. What if some of our organization’s data were to be mislaid too! The thought sends shivers down my back, and is enough to make sure that this whole area is looked at long, hard and regularly. I can’t but ask, however, how such a colossal mistake could possibly be allowed to happen?

But wasn’t it just a mistake? We all make them. It’s just that this one had such huge consequences, and hence made the news. Was it the fault of the poor guy who put these CDs into an envelope and then into the internal post? No doubt a large part of the blame has to be directed towards those higher in authority – those who gave the orders and who were responsible for making sure that things were carried out properly. Whatever, it’s unlikely that it was done maliciously, or with any real awareness of how serious the consequences of such a stupid action might be. Can we really get so indignant about what happened?

Yet we (rightly I think) feel that we can’t just pass this by as another everyday mistake. The stakes were too important for such mistakes to be allowed. Yes, a junior official my not understand the potential ramifications of sending such data in such an insecure, and easily lost, way. And more senior ones may not undersand all the technical options for securing, reducing, or transmitting the data. But there were surely others around who did and do understand such things – they could and should have been asked, and the ‘mistake’ should have been avoided.

And this is a ‘mistake’ which all of us too easily fall into – thinking we know enough about what we should do, and being too proud / not bothered enough to ask. We are human and can’t be expected to know everything, or have the wisdom to always make the right decisions. But there are others around who know more about the things that we don’t understand, and we are all at fault when we don’t make the effort to find a better answer elsewhere. 

“If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you’re accountable for every fault and failure” (The Message) 

Not dead yet ….

January 12, 2008

I read that it’s generally agree that if a blog hasn’t had a new post within the last 3 months, then it’s probably dead. Oh dear, I think my last posting was back in September, but I don’t intend to leave this blog dead quite yet (nor indeed for a long while). Particularly as I’m now getting more visitors than I did when I wrote regularly! It’s not even true to say that I’ve had nothing to say. There have been quite a few events in the news which I wanted to comment on, but I just haven’t had the time.

One of these was the loss before Christmas by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (UK tax raising organisation) of some CDs containing personal and confidential details of a large proportion of the UK population. This not only affected my family personally, but is interesting to me as an IT manager where one aspect of my role is to ensure that our organisation’s systems and personal data remain secure. My thoughts went slightly in a different direction, however, to the general (somewhat deserved) condemnation of the government’s incompetence. However it’s now late and I don’t want to write this all at this moment. So come back soon for (hopefully) some further reflections…


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