Also, my Heaven contains a beer volcano and a stripper factory.

I don’t believe in God. Any of ’em.

This is based on a lifetime of experience. Specifically, evidence of God in the world. To wit: there isn’t any.

There’s lots of people saying their God’s the right one, but actual evidence? Well, not so much.

You’d think that if there was a big fella in the sky who wanted us all to worship him he might actually, you know, show up every so often? Big booming voice in the sky, “Worship me or you’re doomed,” followed by a bit of smiting would shut all the atheists up good and proper.

Or alternatively, if He’s not feeling flashy, something a bit more subtle. Encode a message into the fundamental constants of the universe, say. Make pi or e have a series of all ones and all noughts in it that spelled out a picture, or words in whatever language He cared to use.

I mean, omnipotent, right? Should be able to put something really fucking obvious out there to quiet the naysayers.

But, apparently, no. Instead He likes to talk to people, and get them to write it down in holy books.

Problem is, that evidence also fits two other hypotheses equally well. The prophets could have been hearing voices that weren’t there, or just made it all up.

So. No good evidence for the big fella then.

A few times now I’ve been in conversation with people who’ve responded to this with “Ha! You and your damn science. It’s not about proof, it’s about faith. And I believe.”

Well, there’s a big problem with that.

If you’re rejecting proof, or even balance-of-probabilities, in favour of what-you-personally-believe, then there’s no question, no debate, no way of engaging you in conversation. Because it’s not about reason any more, it’s about faith.

If all it comes down to is faith, my faith is as good as yours, and whoever shouts loudest wins. By relying on faith over evidence you lose because we can’t even have a discussion about it.

And if we can’t talk about it, all it comes down to is this:

My God is bigger than your God. Because my God has a noodly appendage.

Why the name of a cat can be the most important thing in the world

You may have read recently about the problem with Socks.

The basic story goes like this: The BBC ran an online poll to choose the name of the new Blue Peter cat. The name Socks was winning until the end, when there was a sudden burst of support for Cookie.

A decision was made to name the cat Socks rather than Cookie. According to the Guardian this may have been due to the fact that the sudden surge of late support might have been due to people voting multiple times.

The person ultimately responsible for this decision has been fired.

So why’s this important? It’s just the name of a pet, right? And someone’s lost his job over this? Shouldn’t the BBC be reporting on casualties in Iraq or something, you know, important, instead?

Here’s why it was indefensible: They Lied.

The problem is not that the cat was named one thing rather than another. They own the cat; they can name it whatever the hell they like.

But saying to the public – saying to children that we will let you choose the name of the cat, and then taking that choice away is inexcusable. This is not a production necessity, this is not filming the Easter edition of Songs of Praise in November, this is making a promise and then deliberately breaking it.

The claim that the first name was discarded because it could have been faked doesn’t stand up – An online poll is fakeable by anyone with a computer connected to the Internet and a small knowledge of programming. And we know this. We’ve known this since the first internet poll went up. They’re just not secure. If anyone involved with making the decision to use a poll to name the cat didn’t know this then they bloody well should have.

No online poll can be considered safe, and you should never make an important decision using an online poll.

The problem with agreeing to abide by a public vote is that the public might come up with a choice you don’t like. And if you don’t like it, you have to suck it down and deal with the consequences of your actions.

You asked in the first place. Live with it.

What We Need More Of Is Science

Interesting news just in from Variety.

It seems that Jerry Bruckheimer Productions have sealed a deal with CBS to produce an adaptation of Stephen Gallagher‘s series Eleventh Hour.

I’ve talked about why Eleventh Hour failed before. To save you clicking on the link: for a series that was supposed to be about science, the producers didn’t care about science.

This is akin to the producers of House making up diseases. It fundamentally destroys the concept of the show.

But here’s the thing: Jerry Bruckheimer gets procedurals. And Eleventh Hour (the platonic concept, not what actually aired) is a science procedural in the same way that House is a medical procedural.

And the director of the pilot? Danny Cannon, who directed the CSI pilot.

The entrails, my friends, are looking good.

Scientologists prove Cybermen to be utterly terrifying

I was out during my lunch hour yesterday when I happened to pass an outpost of the Church of Scientology. And they were offering free stress tests.

Well, I had to stop really.

The machine they use – an e-meter – is a big old clunky device with an old-fashioned meter on the front, and a couple of dials to twiddle. It has two large chunky metal cylinders attached to it by wires.

A nice young lady came out and showed me how to operate the device. One first holds a cylinder in each hand, and the machine is calibrated to a neutral point, about a third of the way along the meter. The needle moving to the right detects more stress; the needle moving to the left detects less.

She asked me to think of something stressful. I did, and lo, the needle moved some way to the right. Impressed (I think) by such a large leap, she asked me what I was thinking about.

I was, of course, thinking about monsters. Which can cause a lot of stress.

My answer appeared to disconcert her, so I checked that the device was working properly by thinking about money (stressful) and my girlfriend (not stressful).

The e-meter performed as advertised.

So when next asked to think about something that relieved stress, I thought about Doctor Who.

You’ll be pleased to know that thinking about Doctor Who can significantly reduce your stress levels. I put this down to the knowledge that he can – and indeed has on several occasions – save the universe from destruction, and is therefore a good person to have on your side.

After revealing that Doctor Who helped relieve stress, I noticed that my companion seemed somewhat puzzled.

In an effort to find out more about this new technology, I brought the images of the Cybermen – terrifying half-human half-machines from a parallel world – into my mind.

The needle went off the scale.

Concerned, I think, for my well-being when faced with such a stressful mental image, my new friend enquired what was worrying me. On the revelation that it was, in fact, one of the Doctor’s most feared enemies, she relieved me of the cylinders.

I think she may have been under the impression I wasn’t taking it terribly seriously.

Songs of Innocence and Experience

Some time ago Blogful Martin tagged me with the following meme: Imagine you’re in a particular kind of movie, and what your soundtrack will be.

So, some time later, here we go:

SF Revenge Thriller
I’m a bent police officer who gets shot before the opening credits. But they missed my heart. Reborn as a murderous cyborg, I destroy all my enemies, wiring them into my own personal half-human half-machine killing monstrosity, before being killed by my female cop ex-best-friend. We may even have dated at some point.
Soundtrack: Left Me For Dead by Rob Dougan

Transexual Love Story
I’m a sexist bastard who falls in love with a beautiful woman. Her love makes me a better person, until I find out she started life as a man. This one plays just after I find out and dump her. I wander the streets upset and alone, while she looks out of her window. Much rain is involved.
Soundtrack: As Girls Go by Suzanne Vega

Welsh Comedy
It might be me that’s Welsh; it might be the female lead. Either way it’s a comedy dealing with the struggle of being poor, self-actualisation, and proving to everybody that Wales is better than you think it is. There’s almost certainly romance involved, and a really bizarre plan.
Soundtrack: International Velvet by Catatonia

Vampire Movie
An old industrial district – I’m the policeman investigating those naughty underground ravers. There was a murder at the rave, blood drained from the body. My investigations lead me back to the industrial district, late at night, when someone – or something seems to be stalking me.
Soundtrack: Blood Makes Noise by Suzanne Vega
Sadly, I am not the lead in this movie, and it is at this point I get eaten.

Serial Killer Movie
I’m a nasty, fucked-up serial killer. With a gap of fifteen years between nasty murders. Fortunately for the public at large, a cop’s on my tail. Probably Denzel Washington. And at the moment he realises that these murders aren’t the first to be done in this particular style, we run a montage of him investigating under this.
Soundtrack: History Repeating by Propellerheads (featuring Miss Shirley Bassey).

Tagsies: Christine, William, Julia, James M, and Bill C

“I’m knockin’ on your door, baby.”

Here’s a blast from the past for anyone who used to watch old 70s cop shows: Kresky, the disco-lovin’ cop.

For some bizarre reason, I’d forgotten all about it until now. But reading the episode guide brings back all those memories.

Particularly the hot tubs.

Here in the UK it was shown by LWT early in the mornings on Saturday – I’d always associate the LWT logo with watching a new episode of Kresky while Mum & Dad had a lie-in.

Back when I was 8 I even used to have a matchbox toy of Kresky’s Mustang (the yellow version). If it was still in the box it’d be worth a fortune on eBay now.

Ah well. These things are designed to be played with.