3. Ray drops by.

“Be generous. We tolerate toddlers screaming at us and we forgive them. We realise they’re over tired or something. But we don’t give our partners the same forgiveness. If they forget to buy the bread we take it as a sleight.
How about we give our partners the same generosity we give children and the feable-minded?
  It’s normal for our partners to retain childish immaturities. Adulthood isn’t a complete state. Of course, it’s much much harder to remain grown-up around another adult whose inner child is on display than it is being with an actual child. That’s because we can see that a child is a child. We adults have a far harder time than necessary because we are in the unfortunate position of looking like adults and therefore are always forgetting that we are not, despite the visual evidence, entirely grown-up within.”
Alain de Botton

1. We had not long begun when Speaker Ray dropped by. He asked us what he considers to be “the most important question”. i.e. ‘Is there a god?’ Of course, Ray was referring to the Christian god. No other god was mentionable, despite Mr B’s attempts to bring Zeus into the picture. Ray said there had to be a god because something had to create the universe.


2. From there we talked about myths common to different cultures. Do those myths arise from insecurities and desires universal to us all? (Uncle Pete’s near and dear neighbour, Joseph Campbell, got a mention with his book, ‘The Power of Myth’.) Or, do those common myths arise because they’re based on real events?

Noah’s Ark was mentioned as well. To where did all that water drain?

3. From there we discussed why religions exist. This postcard is from the Postsecret website.

4. In the interest of fairness, here is a believer’s rejoinder.

5. Other topics discussed:

– Steve Maxwell spoke about bushfires, and about REAL forests, the ones that have never been logged, the ones with ancient trees that can die of natural causes and rot. There aren’t many such forests about nowadays, he explained.

– We heard yet again the story of Charlotte and the Creatures of the Dark Forest.

– Andrew Toth explained why the world is doomed. He said even reducing the population by half won’t make a difference. It’s too late, he insisted. What a cheery soul is Andrew. Later, Uncle Pete got stuck into Andrew and it wasn’t pretty.

– Tommy spoke, again by public demand. He said that everything we do we do because it benefits us, even if what we are doing is a charitable act. We are getting something from it, he explained. Peter the Younger objected, giving us all an example to the contrary.

– Mirko held in his right hand two magnetic haematite balls and informed us of their infallible healing properties.

– Mirko also presented to us his Slavic phonetic alphabet. He doesn’t seem to realise that software companies have already taken his idea and ran with it. There are apps allowing people to communicate in foreign languages. Relax, Mirko, your work is done. Good job!

– What goes to heaven? A person’s personality or their soul? They’re not the same thing, because one can be destroyed and the other can’t, apparently. Are Christians merely an incubator for a soul, and destined to suffer the same fate as we atheists: oblivion?

– Mr B went into deeper detail as to why he speaks at Speakers’ Corner. A bit maudlin, really.

– We heard again the story of Ulysses and the Sirens, and the homily at the end that says we should feed our soul the good stuff and avoid the bad.

– Helmut criticised the 18th century scientists for getting so much wrong. He’s a harsh man, that Helmut.

– We again heard the story of the dandelions, and why Helmut is a dandelion.

– Will we ever have Bladerunner-type androids that can feel emotions? “No”, insisted Mr B. “Yes,” said Ben and Uncle Pete, pointing out that in future, computer “chips” will be made of DNA, proteins and other biological matter.

– Are our emotions learned? Yes, said one audience member. That prompted some discussion!

– Are young people more enlightened and aware than young people were fifty years ago? “Yes”, suggested Mr B. “No”, said Peter the Younger.

– Helmut and Mr B bickered repeatedly throughout the day because Mr B would not relinquish the Ladder of Knowledge to Helmut. It got tedious, folks.

– What is Truth? Does each of us have our own Truth? Or is there just one Truth? Or no Truth at all? Can we be certain of anything? At this point Rene Descartes got a mention.

6. This week our unusual beast in the Unusual Beast Series is the Lancet fish. It wants to be a co-editor of our Facebook page. It won’t happen.