Are the polls about May’s landslide wrong?

This might be wishful thinking but I’m really not convinced that the Tories could possibly get the near 50 percent of the vote that the polls are predicting. Leaving aside the government’s atrocious record over the last seven years in almost every sphere of competence (education, the NHS, even the economy) and even without focusing on what a terrible bunch of people there are at the top of the Tory party (Boris with his Brexit lies, Theresa May with her “shared values” with Trump and IDS and Jeremey Hunt being just plain awful), even without all that I think there are two good reasons to think that the polls might be a bit out:

1.The shy Tory voter issue – the 2015 polls all underestimated the Tory vote because too many people didn’t want to admit they were going to vote for the Nasty Party when they spoke to the pollsters. Now to correct for that the pollsters factor in a few extra points for the Tories. The thing is though, as completely insane as it is, the Tories actually seem to be more popular than ever now. People are triumphantly exclaiming that they’re going to vote Tory and professing their undying love for Theresa May. I’d be surprised if in the current climate if there are many shy Tories left.  That surely means that the polls could now be overcompensating and that the Tory share of the vote will really be quite a bit lower than predicted.

2. The shy Labour voters – the constant barrage of negativity continually being poured over Labour in the press and Jeremy Corbyn’s low personal popularity rating surely could mean that there are a lot of people who would be embarrassed to admit publicly that they’re thinking of voting Labour. I’m going to vote for him because I think that what he is offering the country is far better than what we’ve got and because I absolutely despise what the Conservatives are doing. But even I would be a bit hesitant to stand up in a public space and shout out my support for him. I believe that there is now such stigma attached to being a Jeremy Corbyn supporter that there are probably just as many shy Labour voters out there as the were shy Tory voters last time.

Knock ten points off the Tories, add four onto Labour and you’re looking at something like 38-34 which feels more realistic to me. Maybe May isn’t going to get her landslide after all. And if Labour could pick up a couple of points in the next three weeks might we end up with a situation not unlike the one we’re know. I for one would love to see the egg on May’s face if I’m right.

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Are the polls about May’s landslide wrong 

This might be wishful thinking but I’m really not convinced that the Tories could possibly get the near 50 percent of the vote that the polls are predicting. Leaving aside the government’s atrocious record over the last seven years in almost every sphere of competence (education, the NHS, even the economy) and even without focusing on what a terrible bunch of people there are at the top of the Tory party (Boris with his Brexit lies, Theresa May with her “shared values” with Trump and IDS and Jeremey Hunt being just plain awful), even without all that I think there are two good reasons to think that the polls might be a bit out:

1.The shy Tory voter issue – the 2015 polls all underestimated the Tory vote because too many people didn’t want to admit they were going to vote for the Nasty Party when they spoke to the pollsters. Now to correct for that the pollsters factor in a few extra points for the Tories. The thing is though, as completely insane as it is, the Tories actually seem to be more popular than ever now. People are triumphantly exclaiming that they’re going to vote Tory and professing their undying love for Theresa May. I’d be surprised if in the current climate if there are many shy Tories left.  That surely means that the polls could now be overcompensating and that the Tory share of the vote will really be quite a bit lower than predicted.

2. The shy Labour voters – the constant barrage of negativity continually being poured over Labour in the press and Jeremy Corbyn’s low personal popularity rating surely could mean that there are a lot of people who would be embarrassed to admit publicly that they’re thinking of voting Labour. I’m going to vote for him because I think that what he is offering the country is far better than what we’ve got and because I absolutely despise what the Conservatives are doing. But even I would be a bit hesitant to stand up in a public space and shout out my support for him. I believe that there is now such stigma attached to being a Jeremy Corbyn supporter that there are probably just as many shy Labour voters out there as the were shy Tory voters last time.

Knock ten points off the Tories, add four onto Labour and you’re looking at something like 38-34 which feels more realistic to me. Maybe May isn’t going to get her landslide after all. And if Labour could pick up a couple of points in the next three weeks might we end up with a situation not unlike the one we’re know. I for one would love to see the egg on May’s face if I’m right.

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Why the Tories don’t deserve a second chance

As I’m sure none of you failed to notice I’ve been away for a while. I have to admit I fell in love with the 22nd Century – a time when the Conservative party have been fully abandoned to the dustbin of history – and decided to move there. Recently, however, I’ve been detecting worrying tremors in the time-flow – signs that evil forces are at work, trying to alter the course of history and get the Tories re-elected in the 2015 election – a dark and depressing prospect if ever there was one. I couldn’t allow this to happen without putting up a fight, which is why I’ve decided to come back to issue this warning.

My message is a simple one: Don’t judge the Tories on their current campaign. Don’t judge them on their empty promises. Judge them on their record over the last five years. If you care at all about justice and want to see a Britain run by people who deserve to run it then I implore you not to vote for them. Here are ten reasons, in no particular order, why I don’ t believe they deserve a second chance:

  1. Their economic record. Yes, that’s right. The one area where the Tories claim to have done extremely well has been an unmitigated disaster. Leading economists agree that Osborne’s policies choked growth for the first two years of the coalition and that the economy only turned around when he did a U-turn on his policies. Since then whatever growth we’ve had has come from a global economic upturn that would have happened anyway and has actually been very minimal
  2. Banker’s bonuses. The reason we had a financial crisis in the first place – the reason we are told we have to put up with austerity now – is because of irresponsible behavior in the banking sector, driven by a culture of chasing after grotesquely high bonuses. Far from trying to do something about this obscene bonus culture the Tories have been sticking up for it. The EU passed legislation capping bankers’ bonuses and our government used tax payers’ money to take the EU to court to try to overturn that legislation!
  3. Selling the lie that Labour caused the financial crisis. The crisis was caused by giving far too much freedom to financial institutions, a policy the Conservatives certainly did nothing to oppose and have done nothing to combat since coming to power. The crisis was international and definitely can’t be blamed on the last British government alone. Constantly telling us otherwise is simply a lie to justify an ideological program of austerity.
  4. Growing inequality. The recent rhetoric about being the party of “working people” is just shameless deception aimed at vote winning. While selling us another lie that “We’re all in it together” the super rich have done quite nicely out of this enforced austerity – the 1,000 richest people in Britain have doubled (!) their wealth since the recession hit. That says enough about which group of people Conservative policies are really aimed at helping.
  5. “Welfare reforms”. The low point here has got to be IDS’ scheme to make people work for free for large companies like Pound Land in order to receive their benefits. While pushing this highly exploitative measure IDS had the gall to claim he was acting in the same spirit as one of the greatest opponents of exploitation in British history, William Wilberforce, the 18th century champion against slavery. To top it all, when the courts ruled this measure illegal, the Tories simply changed the law so they didn’t need to make any back payments for withheld benefits. A government that acts above the law in this way is showing nothing but contempt for democracy.
  6. The badger cull – widely unpopular, cruel and completely unnecessary. Acting against advice that vaccination of badgers might work as a solution to the spread of bovine TB and even ignoring evidence that trial culls had failed miserably the Conservative government pushed ahead with them.
  7. Cameron’s hypocrisy over Scotland. Pretending he’d be personally devastated if Scotland left the EU Cameron has constantly demonized the Scotts thereby fuelling the rise of the SNP and doing more to endanger the future of the union than anybody.
  8. The type of people Cameron associates with – he stood up for Jeremy Clarkson punching his producer, is happy with Grant “Multiple Identities” Shapps as chairman of his party, and defended Maria Miller when it came to her expenses scandal. These are the kind of people the Conservative party is running the country for.
  9. Being willing to do a deal with the DUP. Cameron is now so desperate to cling onto power that he refuses to rule out doing a deal with a party known for its openly homophobic attitude. To even contemplate an alliance with politicians with such views speaks volumes about the morals of those at the top of the Tory party.
  10. The villainous way in which they attempted to oust John Bercow as the Speaker of the House of Commons. In the last week of parliament the Conservatives waited until most of the Labour MPs had left London to return to their constituencies, hung around in the capital on the pretext of pre-election business and then held a surprise last minute vote to allow a secret ballot to get rid of Bercow in the next Parliament. Such underhand tactics again show what a bunch of villains our last government really are.

This shouldn’t be an election about which party is going to better manage our economy or about the promises the Conservatives have now magicked out of thin air. It should be a time to look back on what the Conservatives have done over the last five years and to ask ourselves the important questions: have these people shown us that they have the best interests of the whole country at heart? Do people like this deserve to be running our country? I believe that the answer to both questions is a resounding “no”. For that reason I couldn’t possibly bring myself to vote for them

If you agree that their track record has been a disgrace and reason enough to vote against them on May 7th then please help spread this message. You have an opportunity to stop history being changed for the worse and you owe it to future generations – and to excursionists of the time streams like me – to grasp that opportunity.

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iOS8

Just two days ago I watched the film Her, set in the not-too-distant future in which a man falls in love with a super intelligent computer operating system. Then just one day ago I downloaded a new operating system myself and am finding it very hard to find anything to even vaguely like about it. In fact it is driving me close to insanely angry. So, instead of my usual wit and depth here are ten reasons why I am extremely sorry I’ve “upgraded” my iPad to the new iOS8:

1. Significant reduction of screen space when you are typing anything.
2. I can no longer do that hand grab thing to get back to the desktop. Multitask gestures don’t seem to work anymore
3. The favourites button on Safari has moved from the right to the left of the screen for no particular reason
4. The Guardian website looks truly awful. Stretched graphics, squashed graphics, text over the top of graphics
5. The Independent website doesn’t even load properly. It keeps stalling.
6. Every single Twitter notification now pops up on the top of my screen or on the startup page. I like Twitter and want to get a lot of reactions but when I do I don’t want to be bombarded with them
7. My online mail program crashed in the middle of a message. It never did that before
8. iOS8 apparently took up 5GBs (!!) of extra memory. That’s more than a HD film! Why so much memory for something so useless?
9. That annoying predictive text tool. Checking to see what words the iPad suggests and then choosing them from a list would be slower for anyone but a one armed three-fingered chimpanzee than just bloody typing! (The only good thing about this feature is that it is possible to turn it off. Which I have done!)
10. With all of these irritating drawbacks I’ve yet to spot one single advantage to the new operating system.

I’ve got a time machine so going back in time isn’t anything new to me but I don’t expect the developments of my technology to start running backward. As I’ve already tweeted iOS8 is an “upgrade” in the same sense that filling your petrol tank with sawdust and baked beans would be an upgrade. Why can’t somebody (preferably Stephen Fry – he’s always banging on about how much he loves Apple and he’s got millions of followers on Twitter) start an uproar about this? Please give this message a RT or tell your FB buddies about it if you’re also more than a little peeved at the change.

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Why Robin Williams’ headscarf joke isn’t racist or inappropriate

I didn’t watch the Emmys yesterday. For one thing I was feeling a bit peeved not to have been invited (again!). For another I knew that Breaking Bad was up for a few awards and being just six episodes away from the end of the final season I was a bit worried about spoilers (please don’t tell me Walt dies, I’m just beginning to like him). I was pleased, however to read in the papers that the show had included a tribute to Robin Williams by Billy Crystal. I was never really that big a Robin Williams’ fan. I enjoyed some of his films (Dead Poets’ Society, Good Morning Vietnam and (don’t shoot me) Mrs Doubtfire) but really didn’t like others (Patch Adams, Jack). In fact the 1994 film Being Human which I’ve not seen mentioned in any of the articles covering his death – I’m beginning to suspect I am the only person who has ever seen it – is possibly the most boring film I’ve ever sat through. But it was clear that he had immense talent and he just seemed so likeable somehow. I was surprised at how sad I felt to hear he had killed himself. Public recognition of his life and work at the award show was clearly well deserved. Imagine my surprise then, to read this afternoon that Robin Williams, two weeks after his death has managed to stir up a storm of condemnation on Twitter for a supposedly racist joke shown during a montage of clips of his career.

In the clip Williams is improvising before a live audience. He takes a headscarf from a woman in the front row, wraps it around his face like a hijab (an Islamic head-scarf) and says “Welcome to Iran…….Help me!”. I’ve now seen the clip and the audience is laughing hysterically as Williams’ rapid-fire brain leaps from character to character adlibbing faster than most people can blink. Nobody in the crowd seemed to have been offended at the time. I wonder if any of the audience at the Emmys were upset by it. To be honest I suspect that the “Twitter-storm” was largely dreamed up by the Independent where I came across the story. Searching Twitter at 18:30 this evening I only found a handful of tweets on the subject and most of them had featured in the story. The others included a handful of people defending the sketch and at least four links to the story in the Independent……posted BY the Independent. Hmmmm. Rather suspicious. Nonetheless there clearly are people out there who think that this was racist and this was certainly the slant that the paper had chosen to take on the incident. This is not only grossly unfair to Williams but also seriously misrepresents what racism actually is.

Racism has to do with biology – a belief that there are fundamental differences in the physical make up of people from different parts of the world, often accompanied by the idea that some of these races are superior to others. The Nazis were racists, believing in an Aryan master race and the inferiority of other races like gypsies and Jews. Apartheid South Africa with its segregation of blacks and whites was racist, as officially was the U.S.A in the first half of the twentieth century, when it enforced rather similar polices. Racism is a vile idea, a politics of hatred that has been responsible for the oppression of millions of people throughout history and the worst atrocity of the last century, the Holocaust. Williams’ joke was not racist. Women aren’t biologically programmed to wear headscarfs. The reasons that they do are religiously and culturally motivated and either the result of personal choice or societal pressure.

This is an important difference. Nowadays it has become common to throw accusations of racism around whenever somebody criticizes a practice in another culture. It is, of course, possible to hate somebody else because they are part of a different culture and that too is a terrible thing. There is a word for it too – xenophobia. The Greek word literally means “fear of the strange or foreign” but in modern English it is used to refer to an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or other cultures. Xenophobia can be as much of a force for evil in the world as racism – xenophobia rather than racism is really at the heart of the current violence between Israel and the Palestinians. Increasing xenophobia in and the rise of extreme right wing political parties in Western Europe following the recent economic crisis is a deeply disturbing development. So does that mean that Williams’ joke was xenophobic rather than racist and therefore just as wrong? No it does not.

I believe that different cultures need to learn to learn from one another and to tolerate each other. There is too much diversity in the world for us all to suddenly adopt the same habits and customs and the world would be a much poorer and much more boring place if we did. Think of the art, the music, the cuisine, the languages, the philosophies we would lose. At the same time, however, that doesn’t mean that we have to shrug our shoulders and find each and every practice of foreign cultures acceptable. Practices of horrendous cruelty to animals and people, such as bullfighting and female genital mutilation, hide behind the excuse that they are a part of tradition and culture. We do not need to accept that excuse and we do not need to feel afraid of criticizing barbarism.

Millions of women throughout the world do not enjoy the freedoms that modern western women do because the culture of which they are a part does not judge them to be equal to men. Iran is one such country. If that’s not something deserving of ridicule then I don’t know what is. I know that there are many women living in Western Europe who chose to wear a hijab or a burka and even say that they feel liberated in doing so. I find that decision hard to understand but I also believe that we need to accept it. That does not, however, mean that we need to accept women being forced to conform to cultural values imposed on them by men in countries like Iran. This is a country where they way women dress is proscribed by law, a country where women can be whipped and even stoned to death for committing adultery. In 2002 the Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi publically called for a ban on stoning but it still hasn’t been officially scrapped from the penal code. As recently as 2011 the authorities were threatening to stone an adulteress but backed down under international pressure. The woman in question was pardoned for good behavior and freed in March of this year after spending eight years in prison. For what it’s worth Williams’ joke came from an appearance on the programme “Inside the Actor’s Studio” filmed in 2001.

Sometimes it is appropriate, even necessary, to criticize and even make fun of foreign cultures. I’m not trying to say that Robin Williams was deliberately trying to make a serious political point but without trying that is just what he did. I don’t think Williams’ joke was inappropriate. I think it was actually rather brave. How many of us – and I’m writing as a non-Muslim – would dare to stand up and make fun of a fundamentalist Muslim country in public? We might be afraid that we’d offend a Muslim. We’d probably be more afraid that someone would call us a xenophobe or, more likely, a racist.

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The logic of Richard Dawkins

I’m beginning to suspect that Richard Dawkins might be an alien. Either that or the world’s first fully functioning android. After all he’s constantly telling the world that his way of thinking is guided purely by the principles of logic which gives him more in common with Mr Spock from Star Trek, or Data if you’re more into the Next Generation, than it does with the rest of us mortals. It must be very difficult for him living in a world where foolish imbeciles allow their emotions to have any influence whatsoever over their opinions or decisions. That’s why he’s forever upsetting people and causing an uproar on social media. The poor man. We just can’t keep up with his superior intellect. Just yesterday he’s created another storm by replying to a woman on Twitter who said that she’d find herself in an ethical dilemma if she found out a fetus she was carrying had Down’s Syndrome. Dawkins’ logical response – as he later described it in defending it – was : “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.” In the face of the predictable torrent of abuse, such as Dawkins often has to endure for sharing his “logic” with the world, he has today, issued an “apology” or at least that’s what he chose to call it. For his “apology” Dawkins seems to have returned – no doubt the logical thing to do – to the ancient Greek route of the word “apologia” which was (and I apologize, in the modern sense, for using Wikipedia’s definition):” a form of practiced rhetoric used in self-defense and as the vindication of a person, course of action, etc.” One of the most famous ancient examples would be Plato’s Apology, which is his version of Socrates’ defense speech in the trial in which he was sentenced to death for corrupting the youth of Athens. Dawkin’s “apology” is, in the tradition of Plato, an unabashed defense of his original tweet. He writes:

“”If your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down’s baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare…..Those who thought I was bossily telling a woman what to do rather than let her choose, of course this was absolutely not my intention and I apologise if brevity made it look that way. My true intention was, as stated at length above, simply to say what I personally would do, based upon my own assessment of the pragmatics of the case, and my own moral philosophy which in turn is based on a desire to increase happiness and reduce suffering…..Those who took offence because they know and love a person with Down’s syndrome, and who thought I was saying that their loved one had no right to exist, I have sympathy for this emotional point, but it is an emotional one not a logical one. It is one of a common family of errors, one that frequently arises in the abortion debate.”

So, he’s sorry people are upset but if they are that is because they’ve let their emotions get in the way (silly people) of their thinking. If only they could have thought rationally they would have come to the same logical conclusion as Dawkins.

There are, however, signs here that Dawkins’ analytical Vulcan mind/internal circuitry (depending on whether he is a being from another world or a robot) is beginning to fail him. There are, I believe, serious flaws in this supposed logic of his. Firstly, he seems to forget that in most cases pregnant women don’t get to know for sure that the baby they are carrying has Down’s Syndrome. They are forced to make a decision on the basis of a probability. That makes things just ever such a little bit more complicated than Dawkins suggests. An even bigger hole in his logic is that his utilitarian sum supposes that the total happiness in the world must be reduced by bringing a Down’s Syndrome baby into it. There is absolutely no reason to assume that is the case. Surely an individual with Down’s Syndrome could have an extremely happy life themselves and bring unmeasurable joy to their parents and other loved ones. If we’re talking purely about increasing happiness then maybe not having an abortion is the “logical” thing to do. However, there clearly are no hard and fast rules here. Such a difficult decision always has to be a personal one which is why different people come to different conclusions. Finally in a situation in which your emotions are unavoidably going to be effected by what you choose to do – grief, relief, love, anxiety are just some of the possible outcomes of the decision – surely it is completely ill-logical to leave your emotions out of the decision.

Of course, it is just possible that Richard Dawkins’ mental capacities, great though they certainly are, are not so phenomenal as to put him in a different league to the rest of us. Could it be that his falling back on “logic” is nothing more than a trick, a rhetorical subterfuge to deflate any and every possible argument against his point of view? Is his constant recourse to logic just his way of saying “You can’t possibly be right because I’ve thought this through properly and you haven’t”? Of course you might also wonder if there is anything particularly “logical” about repeatedly tweeting messages that are pretty much guaranteed to cause offence and make yourself look like a pompous ass into the bargain when past experience has shown you that that is exactly what will happen. Perhaps Dawkins isn’t from outer space after all.

 

 

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Arguments that there must be an afterlife: (1) The Nothing Argument

I’ve talked on here before about Twitter – what it’s good for and what it’s not so good for. One of the things that it is really, really bad at is facilitating complex discussions about deep and meaningful topics. Still, time and time again, I find myself sucked into fairly pointless and superficial exchanges about the big issues – the rights and wrongs of Tory political donorship (with one of Boris Johnson’s lackies no less!), whether the Fiftieth Anniversary Special of Doctor Who was any good (it definitely was not!) and whether there is any reality outside, beyond or after this one. In the wake of Richard Dawkins’ God Delusion a popular belief has hold among some people that science has actually already solved all the big questions (well not the rights and wrongs of Dave and Boris’ tennis match, or why the hell Stephen Moffat feels the need to inject cheesy jokes into Britain’s most revered sci-fi series) but questions about consciousness, the origin of the universe and life after death.

While I firmly believe in evolution and the big bang and am very skeptical that we are all going to be judged by an old bearded man on a cloud when we shuffle off this mortal coil I don’t see much evidence that science has answered ANY of these questions whatsoever. One of Dawkins’ gripes is that religious fundamentalists – mainly American Christian fundamentalists (AKA creationists) think science has no business trying to answer them. I am completely in agreement with him that scientists most certainly do and that they will probably come a lot closer than they have at present. But, that doesn’t mean we are there yet and until we are it seems to me that there are no grounds for throwing out all the ideas traditionally associated with religion just because some ideas belonging to particular religions (most famously, the creation story in Genesis) have been proved wrong. And while science is unable to answer these questions I believe philosophy still has a big and important role to play and that is where this blog comes in.

I am, I’ll admit no philosopher myself. In my travels through the time streams I have met and discussed the big issues with some of the greatest minds in history, Socrates, Schopenhauer, Justin Bieber – hard to imagine now, but when he matures, gives up the music career he becomes seriously deep! – but none of them have really given me the answers I was looking for and to be honest I always felt a bit out of my depth in such company, though not speaking ancient Greek or German didn’t really help much in the first two cases. But that hasn’t stopped me mulling over these problems on my own. So, in realization that 160 character outbursts aren’t the best medium to put my thoughts out into the world I’ve decided to post some of them here on this blog, beginning with my reasons for believing that there must be a life after death. I’ve come at this problem from two angles, both of which have led me to the same conclusion, that we must be immortal, but today I’ll just give you one of them, what I like to call:

The nothing argument for life after death

Nothing is what those who don’t believe in life after death claim awaits us all when we die. Nothing, pure and absolute. Not darkness, stillness and rest but absolutely, categorically nothing. We won’t experience nothing because there is no experience. That’s it. We’re gone. There is nothing. The problem arises here, as I see it, because nothing, by its very nature is an absolute state. The absolute, categorically absence of anything. In nothing absolutely nothing can exist or else it wouldn’t be nothing it would be something. So far so good. Now, because nothing is an absolute state it seems to me that there cannot be different kinds of nothing. No trees is exactly the same as no footballs is exactly the same as no chimpanzees is exactly the same as no earth. All nothings must be the same. While this must be true for things that are (or are not) physically out there in the world it must also be true for things that aren’t physical like ideas and feelings because otherwise we would have different kind of nothingness which would undermine the idea of nothing as something absolute. So, no Comunist Manifesto must be the same as no Hamlet, and no hatred must be the same as no love. But by extension of nothingness when it comes to abstract entities must be exactly the same as nothingness in the physical world. No lions must be the same as no bible, no penguins must be the same as no fear. All nothings must by their very nature be equal and the same. Nothing equals nothing. And this brings us (thanks for sticking with me) back to life after death.

If all nothings are equal then no awareness must be exactly the same as no universe, no reality, no life whatsoever, nothing. In other words if I cease to exist, and cease to be aware that the universe exists then the universe does really cease to exist with no awareness there is 100 % nothingness and nothing, absolutely nothing, else. Modern physics actually gives us some reason to believe that within our physical universe absolute nothing cannot exist. Even within vacuums, which are supposed to be empty spaces, experiments have revealed that the tiny particles that make up atoms are constantly coming into existence and disappearing again. But, of course, the nothingness that some believe awaits us after death doesn’t exist in this world. It doesn’t exist at all. It is nothingness. But therein lies the problem. Where can this nothingness be and where does it lie in relation to the somethingnness which is our physical universe? There can’t be a space where the two meet because even if space is absolute nothing by its very nature must be infinite and stretch forever, otherwise its edges wouldn’t be nothing and then the nothing as a whole wouldn’t be nothing. So, nothing and something cannot both exist. This means that if my awareness reaches a state of non-being there is in effect no universe, no reality – NOTHING.

 Now, this line of thinking was in danger of leading me down a solipsistic path – a belief that there is no reality, no existence outside of my own experience and awareness. While there is some consolation in that view if you believe that there really is nothing that might be some consolation if you thought for a second that there really is nothing after this life. If the universe also doesn’t exist anymore then it doesn’t really matter if you don’t. However, all the evidence out there in the world suggests that I as an individual am nothing special. There are over 7 billion people on the planet who are also aware that they are alive, observing and taking part in this physical reality. If I die then their awareness carries on and so the universe must also carry on. But my nothingness is completely incompatible with their continued awareness because nothing and something cannot both exist at the same time. So, if their awareness carries on and with it the existence of the universe then so too, in some way, must my awareness. The only logical conclusion that I feel can be drawn from this line of reasoning is that nobody ever really dies. We all continue in some way to be aware of the world and the surely only way that we can be aware of the world is if we are in some way a part of the world so it seems likely to me that at the moment of death we must instantly reincarnate somewhere else – not necessarily somewhere on this earth – but somewhere within this reality so we can carry on being aware that the universe exists, so that something can carry on existing and nothing doesn’t emerge.

 This reasoning raises all sorts of problems, I realize. Perhaps the biggest is how could the universe have existed, as science proves it must have, for billions of years before there was life? Perhaps the answer is, that to all intents and purposes the universe didn’t exist until there was someone/something there to see it. Because why should this argument apply only to humans? But of course, this leads to a paradox because a physical universe where certain conditions apply – the existence of stars, orbited by planets with enough elements present to create water and a breathable atmostphere etc – is of course, a precondition of life itself. I’m not sure – yet – how to solve that paradox but perhaps one way is to imagine all of the things scientists say happened over the billions of years it took for the universe to develop to the point where the first life accelerated to such a speed that they all occurred nearly instantaneously – a spontaneous emergence of a life filled with life, complete with its own ready made backstory for how it came to be that way. I also realize that there is a book out there by Robert Lanza (Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe) that puts forward a similar argument but I haven’t read it yet and, from what I have read on the interent Lanza comes at the problem from a bit of a different angle. It is on my to Read list, somewhere below Wolf Hall but well above Ullyses and Tony Blair’s memoirs.

Well, I think I’ll leave it here before someone concludes that I’ve really lost the plot and decides to call for the men in white coats. I know this is all just armchair philosophy and probably my reasoning is riddled with flaws and holes the size of the Rosetta Comet but I’ve at least managed to convince myself with that on this basis alone the likelihood is that death cannot be the end. Next time, if I haven’t scared away all my readers, I’ll come at this problem from a different angle and give you another reason why I think we must be immortal. I call that (drum roll):

 …..The Infinity Argument for life after death…

Hope to see you then! In the meantime any comments, feedback positive or negative would be most welcome.

 

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