The pain of separation
Kipilan’s moka exchange

Covid is real & we should be too


“No doc we ain’t got no COVID. Stop trying to squeeze water out of a stone. The models aren’t wrong, you are wrong. The clinical and epidemiological evidence isn’t there!” (Martyn Namorong replies to a newspaper article by asserting there’s no Covid-19 in Papua New Guinea)

ADELAIDE - I struggle to understand why Martyn Namorong, who seems a pretty smart guy, would be saying that Covid-19 is a hoax. I'll do him the courtesy of assuming he was being ironic.

The notion that Covid-19 is a hoax appears to originate, as do so many truly batshit crazy ideas, in the fermentation tank of genius and idiocy that is the United States.

The history of the USA is full of examples of truly mad ideas that somehow gain currency despite all evidence to the contrary.

Most of the world's modern Christian cults like Scientology, Mormonism, Branch Davidian and many other lesser known sects were spawned in the USA.

The USA has always been a hotbed of radicalism in religion and other areas so I guess it is no surprise that this is the case.

Of late, the anti-vaccination movement has gained a following in the USA and elsewhere and so the idea that Covid-19 is a hoax is no great leap for those who harbour anti-scientific and anti-intellectual sentiments.

It seems strange to me that, even though it is science and technology that has created the modern world, there remain billions of humans utterly convinced of the existence and power of supernatural beings, the Christian god being merely one of them.

There is not a shred of credible evidence that there is a supernatural world unless you count the truly bizarre world of quantum physics, the principles of which have allowed us to create the non-corporeal cyber world in which far too many of us spend far too much time these days.

The cyber world has enabled the rapid promulgation of truly stupid ideas, the notion that Covid-19 is a hoax being one of them.

Tell that to the families and friends of those who have died or the doctors and nurses in New York or Houston or London or Paris who have watched these people die rather horribly in their Intensive Care Units.

The self-deluding credulity of human beings is apparently limitless, which is both sad and alarming.

We will cling onto ideas that have no basis in fact for a host of reasons, the most significant of which is apparently the need to protect ourselves from aspects of reality that we find hard or impossible to accept.

Thus fear of death leads us to cling to the idea that we will be resurrected or reincarnated or otherwise go on living in some way.

The objective truth is that when we die we simply cease to be. Only the several quintillion atoms of which we are made are truly immortal.

In a somewhat similar way, it seems that some people deal with a deep seated existential fear of something like Covid-19 by deciding to believe that it does not exist at all.

Such magical thinking is a hallmark of our species and was certainly predominant in traditional societies across the world until comparatively recent times.

I guess that it is not too surprising that the ill-informed and fearful amongst us still cling to such beliefs, notwithstanding that they have no basis in scientific fact or even our lived experience.

My personal conclusion about this is that only a small percentage of humans have the necessary intellect, imagination and courage to live entirely in the real world, unhindered by belief systems designed to make them surrender themselves to unknown and unknowable supernatural forces whose self-appointed earthly representatives will invariably tell them how to live their lives so as to secure some phantasmagorical post-mortem reward.

I prefer to take the sometimes lonely journey to inevitable oblivion while entirely self-directed, free of the cant, hypocrisy and sheer bullshit that is a logical outgrowth of supernatural beliefs of any form.

I cannot honestly say that this is always fun, but at least my self-respect remains intact along the way.


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Philip Kai Morre

Religion is not fake and Christianity is not fake as some people think. The concept of a created being was always found in many cultures and Melanesian society is based on spiritualism or demi-deities.

Creation stories, myths and folklore are evidence to support our belief system. science and technology shaped the world but human intellect does not act alone.

The psyche or our sub-consciousness is always have conscious contact with our creator who is spiritual in nature.

You cannot prove the existence of god in scientific experiments but through faith.

If we humans are made out of atoms, that are physically seen or not seen, where do those atoms come from?

All matters have immaterial cause, there is form and matter. What is not seen has effective energy that cause us to live. There are many ways to prove the existence of god.

Chris Overland

In this article I mention that we are made up of several quintillion atoms. I have now found that this is inaccurate.

We are, in fact, made up of 7 billion, billion, billion or 7 octillion atoms or, put another way, 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms.

This is rather a lot of atoms but my impeccable source is "The Body" (Bill Bryson, Doubleday,2019).

So, apologies for my underestimate.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I think the Americans might be right Arthur.

From what I have observed God is certainly not a moral being. If you follow his/her admonitions in the bible literally you would end up as a real nasty piece of work.

There was an episode of 'Foreign Correspondent' on TV last night that went into the heartland of Trump's bible belt, rust bucket, supporters and it isn't a pretty sight. It remined me of the villains in the 'Mad Max' movies.

If they are God's people we're in deep trouble.

Arthur Williams

Worth a read....

24 July 2020 - Lukewarm Faith Shrinks as More Say Religion Is ‘Very Important’ or ‘Not at All’ [Survey by Pew Research Center - Reviewed by Griffin Paul Jackson]

Pew said, "Of 34 nationalities, Americans have declined the most in connecting belief in God to morality."

Philip Fitzpatrick

"So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.

"They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts."

That's St Paul telling everyone to stop thinking and just follow what the priests tell them.

Unfortunately too many people over history have followed that advice.

Philip Kai Morre

Can theology reconcile with science is a question that many Christian scientists try to answer in the changing technological and scientific world.

The Catholic church's contribution to science was enormous after they realised their mistake by accusing Galileo when he mentioned that the world was round.

Priests and scientists like Fr Nicolas Copernicus - a famous cosmologist in his time - and others gave more time to scientific discoveries.

One of the most mysterious and unanswered theories was the origin of the universe, where Fr George Lemaitre made a surprising discovery with the 'big bang' theory'.

Science and theology were not reconciled as yet but George Lemaitre make a breakthrough with a new rebirth of science and faith. Lemaitre also proved Albert Einstein wrong that the universe is not static or steady state but moving and expanding.

There were many priest-scientists in all disciplines of science including astronomers, mathematicians, biologists, geologists, physicists, chemist, etc.

The father of genetic science was Fr Gregory Mendel. And there was Fr Telard de Chardin, the discoverer of Peking man who supported Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

No less than 37 craters on the moon are named after monks and priest-scientists.

Earth science belongs to the Jesuits.

The pontifical academy of science is the biggest scientific organisation in the world where renowned astrophysicist like Steven Hawkins was a member.

What the church is trying to do is to reconcile science and religion. Theology searches for the creator and science studies the created matter. Theology searches for the truth and science studies the empirical facts.

Facts and truth are two different words but interrelated. Empirical science can be experimented but theology is non-empirical only measured by faith and reason.

Christian theology is centred around jedeo - Christianity in god's revelation to his people and fulfilled in Jesus Christ as the centre of creation.

In order to understand theology better, philosophy is also involved. Both ancient and modern philosophers have a concept of a created being, a higher consciousness.

A branch of philosophy called metaphysics is the brainchild of Aristotle that studies beyond the physical world.

Thomas Aquinas, theologian and philosopher, the angelic doctor, tried to prove the existence of God in his 8 formulas that the church valued most.

But the most evident is creation itself. The world is created in an orderly matter and behind every created being or plant or other form of life there is a perfect designer.

The church is trying to reconcile science and religion as they don't contradict but embrace each other for the benefit of humanity.

Bernard Corden

Comparative Religion studies & the Faith vs. Reason Debate:

Aldous Huxley & 'The Perennial Philosophy'

Philip Fitzpatrick

I suppose the secular equivalent of religious belief is philosophy. Whether it supplies the 'why' that science doesn't any better than religion is an interesting question.

That said, I think it sits more comfortably with science than religion because it uses the interrogation of fact as a basis as opposed to religions' use of dogma.

Lindsay F Bond

Not of mirth to interrupt
nor besmirch or too abrupt;
fundamentals of faith flow free.
Detections, collections, analysis
abstractions, deductions, paralysis
fundaments true for life agree
havings, for herdings, and remainings
stirrings, then strivings, and sustainings,
fun amendings, joinings in glee
findings, defendings of redoubts.

Michael Dom

I admire and agree with all but your conclusive lines Chris Overland:

"This human capacity for belief in the supernatural has brought both enormous joy and equally enormous grief to humanity as a whole.

History shows that the latter has greatly outweighed the former."

I was inspired by a fellow writer's loss to write;

"In life we struggle till the end
Joy, grief and peace swing hand-in-hand
Seek hope – do not avoid sweet pain
For this wisdom comes, like the rain,
That after grief we understand
God’s love, my friend."

Life is suffering. Few acknowledge this and move on regardless. Others see this and call it enlightenment. Some "rage, rage against the dying of the light".

To each his own.

But surely you seek hope too?

And obviously you have found your wisdom.

From the opposite perspective Chris, if you have indeed found what you do and do not believe, and if this helps you walk the "straight and narrow" path, then in a way you have found your own religion and you are right to follow it without needing to defend or justify yourself to anyone.

As for the supernatural, I reckon that's what we imagine we may imagine if we could imagine correctly.

Like the memory of a dream of a dream. Its all fantastically unclear.

Maybe that's because we are reaching beyond thought, and time and space into a reality where only our molecules existed in some phantasm of energy and particles.

Mi noken save.

Chris Overland

Michael Dom is correct to observe that science has nothing much to say about either theology or philosophy, let alone astrology, numerology, zoroastrianism or many other non-scientific based belief systems.

Science is not a religion and is not faith based. It is about the detection, collection and analysis of hard empirical evidence in an endeavour to understand the natural world of which we are all a part.

It does not offer much guidance in relation to why we are here in this particular universe at this particular moment. Instead, it focusses more upon the what, how, when and where questions.

The answers to these can shed some light on the why questions but I doubt that they will ever by satisfactorily answered for many, perhaps most, of us

For Michael or anyone else interested in a serious attempt to reconcile science with religious belief, I strongly recommend Professor Paul Davies' splendid book "The Mind of God" (1992, Simon & Schuster, UK).

I was not ultimately persuaded that a reconciliation is truly possible but certainly admired Davies' erudite and scholarly attempt to do so.

One of colonialism's enduring legacies in PNG is the Christian religion in its various manifestations.

The particular "brand" of religion that a Papua New Guinean belongs to is largely a function of which group of missionaries got established in his or her immediate vicinity once some semblance of order had been established by the kiaps.

I think that most kiaps tended to regard missionaries as useful contributors in areas such as the provision of education and health services but took little or no interest in religion itself.

Sometimes missionaries could be serious nuisances, especially when there was an outbreak of sectarian rivalry in the struggle for souls.

It strikes me as little short of bizarre that what began as an heretical off shoot of Judaism in what is now Israel around the year 30CE is now the predominant religion in PNG and many other places besides.

As Michael has observed, it matters not at all to him if anyone agrees with his position.

Faith and belief need no objective proof: they are sufficient in themselves for those who have faith and truly believe.

This human capacity for belief in the supernatural has brought both enormous joy and equally enormous grief to humanity as a whole.

History shows that the latter has greatly outweighed the former.

Michael Dom

Since this comment was elevated to article status I believe my response should also be placed herein.

Reading back on myself, I am stunned by the clarity and and profundity of this response, whether anyone agrees or not is, to me, quite irrelevant.

I am one with my thoughts and the reverberations of my molecules attest to it - "it's a spiritual feeling".

"It is easy to denigrate the existence of religious belief when surrounded by the comforts afforded by science and technology.

On an individual basis this is defensible under the rights and freedoms promulgated through a number of fundamentally good religious teachings for which "there remain billions of humans utterly convinced of the existence and power of supernatural beings, the Christian god being merely one of them".

Science may have lifted human civilization out of mysticism but it does not offer a higher sense of being.

Of course our molecules live forever, isn't that amazing, or do we take that for granted too?

It is being that matters most when scientifically certain death knocks on out door in one of its many guises, Covid-19 "being merely one of them".

It's the why of existence, the desire for being which religion helps us to resolve.

Technology sustains or destroys life but it does not initiate life.

Science claims no value other than itself.

The religious are right to reject this, even if it is a source of frustration to the intellectually superior.

That's part of being human: we are by nature contradictory.

Intelligence is no substitute for character.

Science does not teach us character.

Science offers only facts.

A wise man interpreted love as "the desire for being to flourish".

Science and technology have no such desire for any being to flourish.

Only our humanity, with all our contradictions, our failed intellectual capacity and our poorly applied mysticism, has the potential to change the nature of our experience: that's an almost godlike ability.

As for Covid-19, I'll leave that to more scientifically savvy people to argue the case, which should be more about caution and less about belief."

Posted by: Michael Dom | 23 July 2020 at 09:27 PM

Lindsay F Bond

Atoms too, particle comprised?
Substance being but force applied?
All else seems void undescribed?
So of those not up to the cant,
singing lilts to words of chant,
coaxing credulity can’t
prove of spoof or facts derived.

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