Thursday, March 31, 2011

Oh What 'A' Week!

It's hard to know where to begin and end with this blog post. So much  happened to me last week. It was without doubt the defining week of my non-believer journey so far. The week during  which I came out "to the world" as an atheist. It all started with the thrill of being included as one of  Greta Christina's prominent atheists of colour.  In preparing that list for publication, Greta graciously asked me whether I preferred to be listed as caribatheist or under my actual name. It was not a very easy question to answer and I gave it a lot of thought. The truth is that I had been thinking about this issue of "coming out" as an atheist for a long time and over the last month or so the desire to be "out" had almost become overwhelming.

The longer I have been involved in this freethinking movement and read and listened to the stories of atheists who have made a break from religion, the more inspired I have become. I found myself wanting to challenge myself fully and follow them in a more emphatic way. Sometimes I even felt angry about having to  keep my new found passion to myself. I see and hear people everyday sharing the things they love with the world. The desire to fight for rights of women, children and other marginalised groups is lauded. The promotion of environmental protection and  preservation of endangered species are also considered  honourable causes. It just seems unfair that those of us that choose as our cause the  promotion of evidence, logic and critical thinking have to face vitriol.

What's wrong with "negative" atheism?

I have often heard that the problem with  we atheists is that we are too negative. Promotion of reason is a goal worth pursuing but why do we have to go about tearing down others' dearly held faith? We are told we must promote positive atheism. It  is a strange criticism because there are so many organisations that are framed in the negative. The RSPCA, RSPCC, organisations against racial discrimination and groups fighting against abuse of women are  all "anti" organisations. They are not organisations that promote something "in the positive", they promote improvement through preventing or discouraging something that is negative. Atheists are doing the same, promoting better through reducing  brain contamination that comes from accepting supernatural phenomena without supporting evidence. Promoting reason means fighting against non science, anti evidence and anti logic and these phenomena against reason are gift wrapped within the guise of religion. It's as simple as that. So, I don't think going out there and being identified and displaying an 'A' is being absurd as one commentator put it. It is just as important to stand up for want you don't believe in as to go out there on the frontline for what you believe.To me, atheists have as much right to be heard as any other organisation that has a mandate to rid itself of activities that inhibit social development.

In reflecting on these things my conviction to "come out" just got more and more intense. When I started this blog I was just trying to come to terms with not believing and adjusting to living a life without God. Now, I feel that non belief for me cannot be a passive thing. I feel I must act against the further propagation of faith and religious thinking. Atheism has become a core value of mine and I consider it necessary to engage that passion. I don't see why I should be prohibited to tell others about it. Not as an intent to impose my views but simply to let people know an important part of who I am. To present myself to someone and hide away my lack of faith is to present someone or something that is not fully me.

An instrumental taboo

I don't think that is a overstatement. I tried to imagine what my life would be like if I was forbidden to go public about another passion of mine, my music. How would I have survived over the years if I had to be an anonymous instrumentalist? If people could only hear my music if I locked myself backstage or played into a remote mike at an undisclosed location? What if people told me that flaunting my saxophone in public was an insult to my family and the country in which I was raised? What if I was told that under no circumstances could I have sax on a date with someone's daughter? Supposed I had to lie and say that my clarinet case had a camera inside in order for people to let me into a party or social gathering?  What if I had to pretend in  public that I didn't know the drummer in my  band for fear of being called evil by association? What if I was not able to "like" any type of  music on facebok for fear of a mass "unfriending?"  What if I had to  scroll down an internet  page quickly for fear someone woud catch a glimpse of a title on my screen saying,
"Songs written in minor keys are not great" ? Suppose I had to remain silent about what I did on the weekend for fear of offending people by saying I was on  stage  at the local Carifest? What if I had to worry about my job and future career prospects if someone discovered a woodwind reed in my pocket?  Having to undergo any of those things for the love of music would be close to torture and would make life almost unbearable. I could never stand for any of that in pursuing my music and I resolved that I could not continue to stand for that with regard to my atheism either.

Looking for the "coming out" moment

So, I knew I had to come out. I also agree with the philosophy that the more of us that are out there the easier it becomes for others to make themselves known; especially for those of us in the black community. I knew I had to do it  but I wasn't sure how to go about it. I have for over a year been toying with doing the electronic version of the Dan Barker strategy. Send out an email copied to all the important people in my life. E-convert  to deconvert. It was tempting because that would probably be the cleanest and quickest way to do it. Compose an email  explaining I no longer believed and just get on with my life unhindered by the dogma. I did actually write that  email , but after a year it still remains in the "drafts" folder. I think the reason I never pressed " send" was because of the instantaneous nature of emails. In the 80s when we had to rely on the postal system, I am sure I would have gotten responses drifting in at a  reasonable rate over time Not so in 2011.

In the instant email world, I had fears of waking up next morning with 200 emails  asking me what happened , or facing networks formed overnight with the mandate of organising prayer meetings to try to get me back. I really thought the best method was to have a more controlled movement. Try to get a smooth landing into "out" atheism rather than hitting the ground with a jolting thud. So, I took the approach of starting with my immediate family members and then moving on from there. Well, after getting over the family hurdle I still hadn't gone further . I knew I needed to find some way to inform people en masse without flooding my inbox. The question was when to do it. It would seem strange to just pick an arbitrary day and just put a status on facebook like, " Oh by the way I am an atheist now." I needed a context within which to make the transition. I thought of leaving it to a landmark birthday, I have one coming up. I could wait until my graduation from university and declare it as part of my intellectual further degree. But all of these seemed like a bit too much of a delay. I needed some type of trigger moment for this. It didn't take me long to realise that this was just what Greta had provided me with. So there I was on the list as " David Ince a.k.a caribatheist."  And with that my two identities  became one.

The feelings after 'A' Day

On that day and those immediately following I felt a real mix of emotions; considerable excitement, a little trepidation, but mostly a feeling of liberation. I felt confident that I had made the right decision. Over time people will come to know of my deconversion as they inspect my facebook page or talk to someone who has found out one way or another. If  anyone decides to confront me about it directly I will simply respond with the truth. I am no longer worried about that. Actually, I can't help but feel that many of my theists friends know or suspect already but I wonder if they will ever talk to me about it. I think some of them will prefer not to ask because they would prefer not to know for sure. Just like the patient who thinks he has cancer symptoms will sometimes prefer not to have his fears confirmed by going to the doctor. If they choose to live in such atheistic denial I will be fine with that. I have no time to harp on such things because I am already thinking about all the new  connections I can make with my "out" status. Indeed, I made a few new friends in "A" week and in the days following. I am just so excited about how much more effective I can be as a member of the freethinking community now.

Over the last two years, I wondered on many occasions if I would ever reach the point I got to last week. It is through the support, encouragement and inspiration of the atheist community both within Calgary and the wider internet that I have made it. I  felt compelled to write an email to some of the more influential among those people and  thanked them all from the bottom of my heart. It was perhaps the most emotional email I have ever sent, it was hard to hold back the tears as I typed. On that day, fittingly during Atheist Week the  "A" for the first time went up on my profile picture and joined the sea of  'A's out there. That upload moment was a powerful few seconds. I knew then that there was no turning back. Atheist closets don't shut back. I must admit that in spite of the liberty of being an "out " atheist, I realised I couldn't just open all the floodgates. I still am very aware that just because I am not covering it up anymore  doesn't mean that I should use every opportunity to push my atheism out on others. I need to be able to show discretion and determine when is the right time. Much as  I wanted to go out there and comment on every atheist facebook thread  I just couldn't do that. So this next stage of my atheistic journey will no doubt still be a challenge.

If this was the full story of my  'A' week, that would have been awesome enough. But, it didn't end there. Random events sometimes work in mysterious ways and it so happened that Wednesday last week I returned  to my native island Barbados for the first time in two years. I had a lot of time to reflect on the way  back and think about how different a person I was since I left to live in Canada two years ago. To mark my week of liberation, I decided to wear my  scarlet 'A' lapel pin from the time I set off to the airport in Calgary until I touched down in Barbados some 18 hours later. In addition to wearing it as part of my own symbolism I was hoping that I might meet some freethinker along the way who would come up and make himself or herself known to me. Alas, that did not happen but who knows who saw what and thought what on the way.

Back in Barbados

Well, I've made it home and it is a reall delight to trade in the cold and snow for the warmth and the sea and sand. However, it didn't take  long for the wave of religion to knock me back. A friend  picked me up from the airport and she went to collect her children from school on the way to dropping me home. When we got to the school we were surprised to find a large gathering of children on the outside. We were told that they were awaiting the arrival of a student who was returning to school after a  successful battle against cancer over the last two years.  We got out and joined the expectant crowd because there was no way that we could escape the traffic to get out anyway. It was a touching moment as the tiny student arrived to be hailed by the throng of teachers and students alike. I just couldn't stop smiling.

Then, suddenly the music started up, blurting out from two large speakers, I  heard the words," I am not forgotten, I am not forgotten, I am not forgotten, God knows my name, He knows my name!" The students and teachers started to clap and even my friend got into the " spirit." But me, I stood frozen still, because I had forgotten. After a year of sharing discussions with skeptics in the pub, attending lectures on all angles dealing with freethought, watching Atheist Experience and meeting up with friends to watch videos of Dawkins' presentations, I had forgotten. I forgot what religion looked  like " in the flesh."

When the song reached its end the children continued,  singing the words " God can move mountains!" over and over again. It was clear that some of the students were starting to tire by this time but a teacher continued to urge them on, " Sing children sing, God can move mountains, He can do miracles, all you need to do is trust in Him!" The teacher was insistent that the children who ranged in age from 5 to 9 repeated these words.This it seemed was even more important than greeting their friend who had recovered. I knew the teacher was sincere and meant well, but I felt like a manager observing the day to day operations on the floor of an indoctrination factory. After the excitement earlier in the week with  making Greta's "A"list and the whole "coming out" thing, landing in Barbados brought me firmly back down to earth. I stood there in the midst of this excitement, realising that the task before me was huge. At that moment, as motivated as I was I had no idea where I would even start in trying to reduce this hold of religion far less trying to promote a secular nation. Still, I know that the enormity of the task is all the reason why I need to remain committed. Indeed, all of us atheists need to see ourselves as a part of this struggle.

I will be in Barbados and visiting other Caribbean  islands over the next couple of months. I have no idea what new insights I will gain during that time. What I know without doubt is that the week March 20th- 26th, 2011 is 'A' week I will never ever forget.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Honoured to be on such an illustrious list!

I feel extremely honoured to have been included on the list of " prominent atheists of colour" published by Greta Christina earlier this week. It is all as a result of this blog and it is great to know that the weekly offerings from  this site have made some impact. It is humbling to be on a list that includes so many "heavy hitters" with years of experience in the movement.

It has been almost one year, April 11th, 2010 to be exact, since the first caribatheist blog post was  uploaded. Between then and now, I have interacted with a considerable number of you from all backgrounds in the atheist community and it has been incredibly  fulfilling. I look forward now to connecting with many more of you. When I wrote that first blog on my journey from faith I had no idea that it was only the beginning of the trek. So many of you have given me encouragement and  shared your experiences along the way. Your insights have inspired much of the material which has been used in these blog posts. Thanks so much for everything.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Does God move rocks or not?
We've all seen the horrific pictures. In the age of the internet and social media we get to see nature at its worst in real time.None of us can watch the pictures coming out of Japan without feeling a profound sense of sadness at the instant loss of so many people. Loss of lives and livelihoods as everything people worked for for decades was washed away in seconds. My heart goes out to all who have suffered loss in any way as a result of this tragedy.

Inevitably we have been subjected to the arguments used by persons on the two sides of the theistic divide. There is the " Where was God?" question that the atheist likes to ask and there is every manner of apologetic being used by the believer to excuse God for not preventing the tragedy. There is one argument that Christians tend to use that I have noticed once again come to the fore in the wake of this disaster. It is the position that such tragedies are Acts of Nature and not Acts of  God. I have seen Christians on online forums going into details in explaining faults and the slippage of tectonic plates, at pains to show that all of the processes in the generation of an earthquake or tsunami can  be explained in completely naturalistic terms. Excuse me? Isn't anyone else's irony meter exploding right now? Are these the same people that tell us that everything on this planet must have a creator?  I thought naturalistic assumptions were a sign of atheistic close mindedness.

God or nature?

These same earthquake apologists are the ones that scoff at us daily when we tell them that nature is in control . They are the ones that say since we don't know everything  about science we can't rule out God's involvement. We clearly don't know everything there is to know about plate tectonics since we can't predict when and where earthquakes will occur with certainty. Why is it justified to reject the idea of  a God to fill the gaps on this occasion? They think we are just trying to be cheeky when we answer the question " How did you get here?" by explaining how our mother and father got together and had something known as sexual intercourse. They emphasise that don't matter how far you go back they had to be "someone" who started it all. All of creation needs a creator, even the big bang needed a banger, but curiously an earthquake does not need an earthquaker. It is indeed strange because  the quake actually shifted a coastline of Japan by eight feet and shortened the days on the planet by 1.8 micro seconds. Are they trying to tell us that all this happened by chance?  The length of a day and the size and position of an island is not determined by God? Very interesting.

Yes,  according to many Christians when it comes to earthquakes, God just doesn't touch those tectonic plates. They seem to be implying he can create universes but he just doesn't move rocks. Unlike biological evolution, plate tectonics can occur without the hand of God.  I was trying to put all this together in my mind when I realised that the " God doesn't move rocks" theory seems to have some glaring fault lines in it. From here in Calgary we can see the majestic Rocky Mountains, which so many Christians have declared is testimony to God's handiwork. The islands of the Caribbean, including my homeland  Barbados affectionately called "The Rock" by many of us, are seen as paradises created by the Lord. Strangely, according to what the physical geologists tell us, mountains and islands are all created through plate tectonic activity, presumably the same  plate tectonics that we saw on display a week ago in Japan.  So God can be involved in plate tectonics, at least he has been in the past. Maybe, God does move rocks sometimes after all.

This fact makes plate tectonics one of the most interesting pieces of science you can find, because it seems to have two branches. I would like someone to tell me what are the difference in characteristics between "divine plate tectonics" which are responsible for mountains, islands and continent formation and the natural " Non-God plate tectonics" that were responsible for thousands of deaths in Japan, Haiti and South East Asia. On the surface it seems that the mechanisms in both cases are the same but there  must be some fundamental difference observed in the process in order for Christians to be able to classify the two types of land movements with such certainty. I wait earnestly for someone in the church hierarchy to give me a resolution of this earthly mystery.

The thing that complicates matters even more for me is that the two types of tectonic plate activities don't appear to be mutually exclusive. For example, this week a girl with a now infamous youtube video, was roundly criticised for the insensitivity of suggesting that God caused the earthquake to punish and warn people. Glen Beck later in the week received a similar rebuke for comments along the same line and we can all remember the horror of Pat Robertson's," pact with the devil" comment last year after Haiti's quake. Lest we forget it is not only atheists who condemned these comments. Christians were the ones in the forefront lambasting the persons in question for being such poor representatives of the faith. It's early days yet but we know that given time these earthquakes can one day be transformed to be seen by the masses as at least partial Acts of God.

Something new is bound to spring from the rubble left after these disasters. New communities, better infrastructure, perhaps a relook into the use and development of nuclear energy in the world. Maybe the shifted coastline in Japan will produce a coast with greater beauty than before. In millennia to come there may be new lands formed from the depth of the oceans as a result of the quakes we are getting today. And yes, unless we are successful in getting religion out of the mainstream, the future earth inhabitants will be thanking God for the tectonic activity that made their planet what it is.  I have seen it before many times, the fundamentalists will in time chide the atheists for saying that the earthquake proved that God was not there or did not care. They will  point out things that happened as a consequence of the earthquake and say that although the disaster seemed  horrible at the time it was all part of God's plan to give us something better in the long run.They will of course conveniently forget it was believers not atheists that were leading the cry at the time of the tragedy, screaming " It's nature NOT God !" Surely time cannot turn an ungodly plate tectonic shift into a divine one. Maybe I am just naive, but my position on the subject is that either God moves rocks or he doesn't. It just can't be both.

The Bible rocks

This regular practice of Christians today to exclude God from rock moving phenomena seems to be especially strange when one looks at the bible. In  both the old and new testaments, God moved a lot of rocks and stones and some of these actions changed the course of history. Most famously he was the one who supposedly "rolled the stone away" so that Jesus could leave behind an empty tomb on the day of resurrection. He, we are led to believe was right there to help David when he slew Goliath with those few little stones in a sling.

Spinning the planets in orbit

On the  other side of the size spectrum we have our own planet earth, the third rock from the sun. In fact according to the gospel song " My Redeemer Lives" made popular by Nicole C Mullen our god is " the Very same God that spins things in orbit." This implies that all the planets' movements are in God's hands and presumably other rocks such as comets and asteroids are as well. Speaking of asteroids, I have heard in many "Does God Exist ?" debates that God specifically put Jupiter in the position it is, in order to deflect asteroids that would pummel the earth if the giant planet was not there.

Unlike the average kid trying to spin a toy gyro, we know God's eternal hand must be very strong indeed, because we are told he is responsible for every  day. " This is the day that the Lord hath made." This means he not only spins things in orbit he also spins planets like ours around their axes, for that's how we move from night to day to night again. God may be a little fickle in getting involved in rocks within our planet's crust but when it comes to the rocks of the cosmos there is no pesky thing call nature that seems to get in the way of his plans. 

Rock of Salvation

Still, we find times when God likes to leave rocks alone where they are. He set one aside for Peter so  he could build the Church on it. He left the stones in the condition they were in when tempted by the devil in the wilderness to turn them into bread.  What adds to the  confusion is that he describes himself as the corner stone and the rock of our salvation. So he himself is a rock. Well, the Christians say he is unchanging and we atheists certainly don't see him moving in the world today. So, I guess we could say that God is another example of a rock that cannot be moved. I am still trying to understand as well whether God wants us to move rocks or stones on his behalf. In the old testament he certainly seems to be all for stoning whether it be disobedient children,  homosexuals or women who are not virgins on their wedding night. However, in the new testament he says to us that "he that is without sin" should cast the first stone. If we are all sinners, that should mean nobody should be throwing stones. All very confusing.

So, there seems to be no rock solid conclusion on where God stands on rocks. Indeed, as we have seen even the bible and Christians themselves rock back and forth on the question. What is apparent is that they leave no stone unturned in trying to find new persons to introduce to the foundation of their faith. However, I am glad to see that once again in the wake of the latest tragedy they are working with people from all faiths and those of no faith in removing stumbling blocks to get aid to the people who need it. To me this is clearly moving the earth without God.

Atheists are fond of asking Christians whether God could create a rock so heavy he couldn't lift it. I am not at the moment interested in such philosophical or hypothetical musings. My question to the Christians remains a very simple and practical one. Does God move rocks or not?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Unfinished Symphony

"If music be the food of love play on." This is the famous quote from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Seldom has a wiser phrase been uttered. Music is indeed the universal language and although all of us can think of times when we have  heard something that really grated on our ears, I have never met anyone who doesn't like music of some kind. Everybody has at least one piece of music that they love. That song or instrumental interlude which we would wish to have with us if we were stranded on a desert island.

Your taste in music is governed by many things. Where you were born or brought up; what you were exposed to as a youth; what your peers listened to; what your family, school, church or community taught you was good and wholesome. In addition to that there are always the intangibles, maybe just something in the genes that causes you to move instinctively or get goosepimples every time you hear certain compositions. Of course, in growing up in the Caribbean , no response to music could ever be seen as having its basis in physiology. It was always something in the "spirit" that moved you whether it was God in the case of church music or the devil if it was something in the secular world that caused you to shake your waist a little.

When we look  through history, we can see that music has changed with the times, it has been a continuous evolution. Similarly, I see the scientific developments in our world as progressing like a symphony; where instruments come in on cue then drift out sometimes unnoticed having played their respective parts. It is a  flowing piece being composed as it goes along. The universe is an "Unfinished Symphony" and  like Schubert's famous work in B minor,  it is no less beautiful because of its incompleteness.

There is an important lesson we can learn from all this because classical music is generally not as well loved when it  isn't clearly defined. I play music myself and from the time I started out as a a child , my teachers told me that the two most important notes were the first and the last. You had to be emphatic at the beginning so that the audience knew you were starting and not just fumbling about or trying to tune your instrument. You had to grab their attention right away. You also needed a big finish whether it be the high note held out at the end to leave the crowd enthralled or a distinctive slowing down and diminishing of volume before an emotional finale. Yes, get those two parts right and you were almost bound to make a great impression. What happened in between you could often cover up if you were spectacular enough at the two " ends".

I think the believer in God is like the traditional classical music enthusiast. For them the universe just needs a  clear beginning, a definite note to start on, maybe a thunderous strike of the timpani at  the moment of the big bang.  They insist that God has left his time signature there for all to see and if we don't recognise it we are just not looking hard enough. To tell them there was no time before the big bang and that therefore there was no beginning, sounds like noise rather than music, it just doesn't make sense. Similarly, for them the end of time must be triumphant. We cannot reach the finish without the blast of the trumpet when Jesus returns. To say that it all ends suddenly, often  well before the expected fanfare is too depressing for them to contemplate. For them it would make the whole symphony not worth listening to at all and they would be screaming for a refund before they left the concert hall.

We have to admit that all of us have a natural desire to wait for that moment of resolution of a piece of music. Hearing a note that doesn't fit the chord at the end of a piece is off-putting, it makes it sound unfinished. You feel cheated as a listener on those occasions,  it's just not fair to leave you hanging. I remember , listening to the priest chant the liturgy when I used to go to church. It was tedium listening  to things like the "Te Deum" but one thing you could always look forward to was the unmistakable " Awwww- Men" at the end where everybody joined in. This ending is actually very famous in music, the Imperfect cadence." It is so common it is often  referred to as the "Amen" cadence. Could this be the first time religious language has been used to describe something imperfect? I wonder.

It is lovely to have that simplicity and comfort of familiarity in music that things such as the "Amen" cadence bring. The problem is that when it comes to the composition of the universe, rarely do such simple motifs exist. This is because the universe has no composer, arranger or conductor to produce the music in the way we would like. We have to read the music in the way it has evolved in nature. Patterns have definitely emerged but it is by no means as perfectly crafted as the classical score. Indeed, going with the classical when it comes to physics does not always produce "music" that stands the test of time. Newton's Laws to explain  gravity and  the orbits of the planets had  the symmetry and simplicity of patterns that can be seen in Handel's Messiah or a Prelude by Bach. His theory was easy to understand and to apply but in the long run it proved to be an oversimplification and didn't quite represent what was happening in reality. Einstein came later to describe these phenomena using the concept of space-time and general relativity. A far more difficult theory to wrap your head around but it explained everything that Newton did and solved many more mysteries. Today the prevailing " string theory" has echoes of music in its root, but due to the lack of confirming evidence, remains on the fringes of science.

In science unlike music we look for what is real rather than what sounds good. The scientist is more like the jazz musician or the free style improviser. A fiddler rather than a first chair violinist. In jazz there is no manuscript to tell you what note to play but you just groove on the natural flow of  the music emanating around you. As a jazz musician you have to be able to listen rather than read from a piece of parchment. You must hear what the other musicians are " saying" and try to build on what they are doing.  I have had the pleasure of playing in a number of jam sessions of this type and they never fail to enthral me. I enjoy more structured  playing as well but probably not quite as much. Indeed, I always feel more comfortable playing on stage when there is no stand with music in front of me. Maybe this indicates that  freethinking was in my musical  nature long before it took root in a religious sense. It would  be an interesting study to compare the types of music that people of faith prefer compared to the free thinkers. I heard in a recent talk that psychologists have found that persons that are more dogmatic tend to prefer poems that rhyme.

In the Caribbean, classical music may not be the dominant type of music in the evangelical churches but there is still a degree of simplicity to the music that is sung. A few weeks ago I gave an example of one popular one when I adapted the words to the "Shine the Light Medley." The melody is sweet, the lyrics are simple with a repeated chorus that you can grab onto and sing along. It is a "feel good "type of music and with the predictability it is easy to just take part without too much thinking or even close listening.

The contrast to this is the music of the  atheist rapper Greydon Square. What impresses me about Greydon is his use of language and metaphors and how easily it flows on top of the music. Here is where freestyling meets freethinking and the result is a treat to listen to.  The song  "Extain"  above is one of my favourites from him. In the free form structure there is a continuous flow with no clear breaks. No verses and choruses, no sing along call and response, there is a lack of predictability and that makes you listen to the message all the more. What's more is that often you will hear that the last word of one line flows directly   into the line that follows, with lines regularly finishing with unfinished sentences, occasionally the last word of a line is simultaneously the first word of the line following.This is so much what science development is about the end of one line of research provides the start for something new to follow and there are always open ends.

There is no natural end or break  in Greydon's music as there is no natural end or break in the world of scientific discovery. In both cases we are listening to an unfinished symphony. It is great that we never get an "Amen" cadence because it means that we haven't reached the end of the line and there is more to hear and learn.  So, unlike what I was taught at the beginning of my music career I now accept that the beginning and endings are not so important. The movements in the grand unified symphony are what matter. The movement and transitions from one phase of revelation to another.

I remember one morning in Barbados when I went "toe to toe" in discussion which some Jehovah Witnesses that were going house to house. I was telling them how for me the important thing was to read widely, investigate and just keep learning, reevaluating my position all the time. I will never forget the response one of the guys gave me. He said, "But where will it end?" I looked at him incredulously " End? Why would investigation need to end?" I told him. I could see he was equally perplexed by my response. That day I realised that the Christian mindset was very keen on eternal life. I discovered that I, on the other hand, preferred eternal learning. Christians are scared of physical death being the end but I am far more worried of the prospect of the death of  new things to learn about. I guess either way, ends can be scary, but  I will try not to concentrate on them, because you quite simply can't predict them. We all know they must come and quite often when we least