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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lay in a Course, Mr Chekov.

Had I not been a Knight, what could I have been? We make choices that set the course of our lives and this choice denies us that other one. I couldabeen a human factors scientist in my middle years.  I came to Oz with that intent: to work on aircraft design. But as touched upon in the last discussion in this place of Ales and tales, the aircraft bizzo was packing up.

But science, aviation, cosmology, exploration, adventure, machines that fly are all deep in my soul and remain in abeyance. I am relegated in my sunset years to observing rather than doing.

I spent many a year telling pilots where to go. Yea, even unto correcting Navigators who needed a fix. But that was with my feet on the ground and my backside in a swivelling chair.  I could see a very long way. Not so much now, but....  as now, I could not see as far as some.

I saw this chap coming though, and had a pint waiting for him.

A facinating chap - although he looked anying but -  dropped in to tickle my fancies and entertain with a superbly informative and so very well delivered talk in the bars. 

I am busy right now wiping tables (someone has to do it) so I shall let Mr Paul Shillito take it from here and expand your minds.

If you like maths and science and space, be like the crew of the Enterprise and thoroughly enjoy.


Pull your own ales. I am out there somewhere.

Pax

Monday, December 11, 2017

Pique Warplanes - the Arrow on the Way Back ?

In a fit of pique Canada's PM, Justine Trudeau, recently gave America's newest military money pit the seal of approval.  He decided against buying the F-35 - which some customers were talking about in the Tavern recently - so it must be better than some think. In his seemingly usual Prime Ministerial style of operating at full pique of which even conservative Canadians are tiring, he had a spat with America over the deal. Which leaves the question open as to what will Canada have in the near and further future to defend its borders.

Perhaps he can get something from the nations - mostly Muslim - he seems hell bent on replacing  white Canadians with. Whoops, no. They haven't made anything since the chariot (plans borrowed from Greece).




To 'stop-gap' the strategic needs, Canada is planning to buy old Hornets ( F18s) from Oz.  

Hah! Can you believe it.  

Oz, of course, like Muslim nations, does not build any hi-tech aviation gizmos, not since the 'black box'. 

But it does seem to have relighted the pride and frustrations of Canadian airplane affectionados who are taking a new look at the Arrow. The CF105. Actually the Mk 3, 5th Gen Arrow, as the original has not seen the air since 1959.

The fifties. What a great decade that was for military aviation. And what a period for pique.

The Arrow went the way of its UK stable-mate, the TSR2 and for much the same reasons mulled over by 'experts' and some which few like to talk about.  Both aircraft were very advanced.  Both were well ahead of anything else.  Both were 'not American'. 

Both were killed by Pique Politicians, perhaps with a push here or there from America. Maybe even from elsewhere. (Nod and a wink. Say n'more guv).

The British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2 was a cancelled Cold War strike and reconnaissance aircraft developed by the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) for the Royal Air Force (RAF) in the late 1950s and early 1960s. 

The TSR-2 was designed to penetrate a well-defended forward battle area at low altitudes and very high speeds, and then attack high-value targets in the rear with nuclear or conventional weapons. 

Another intended combat role was to provide high-altitude, high-speed stand-off, side-looking radar and photographic imagery and signals intelligence, aerial reconnaissance. Some of the most advanced aviation technology of the period was incorporated in order to make it the highest-performing aircraft in the world in its projected missions.

The TSR-2 was the victim of ever-rising costs and inter-service squabbling over Britain's future defence needs, which led to the controversial decision to scrap the programme in 1965. With the election of a new government, the TSR-2 was cancelled due to rising costs, in favour of purchasing an adapted version of the General Dynamics F-111, a decision that itself was later rescinded as costs and development times increased.

The replacements included the Blackburn Buccaneer (a Great warplane) and McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, both of which had previously been considered and rejected early in the TSR-2 procurement process. Eventually, the smaller swing-wing Panavia Tornado was developed and adopted by a European consortium to fulfil broadly similar requirements to the TSR-2. But that was decades later.

Across the pond in Canada a similar debacle had occured. The Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow, often known simply as the Avro Arrow, was a delta-winged interceptor aircraft designed and built by Avro Canada. The Arrow is considered to have been an advanced technical and aerodynamic achievement for the Canadian aviation industry. 
The CF-105 (Mark 2) held the promise of near-Mach 2 speeds at altitudes of 50,000 feet (15,000 m) and was intended to serve as the Royal Canadian Air Force's (RCAF) primary interceptor in the 1960s and beyond.

Canada tried to sell the Arrow to the U.S. and Britain, but no agreements were concluded. The aircraft industry in both countries was considered a national interest and the purchase of foreign designs was rare.

The Arrow was the culmination of a series of design studies begun in 1953 examining improved versions of the Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck. After considerable study, the RCAF selected a dramatically more powerful design, and serious development began in March 1955. The aircraft was intended to be built directly from the production line, skipping the traditional hand-built prototype phase. The first Arrow Mk. I, RL-201, was rolled out to the public on 4 October 1957, the same day as the launch of Sputnik I.

So where is the Arrow now? Like the TSR 2 the first 
planes and plans and jigs were wantonly and deliberately destroyed, 
leading many to suspect collusion between America and Russia against 'other' nations making planes and making it easier for one another to focus attention on what each had.

Now the Arrow is back in contention. David Ljunggren tells of the new deal first.
Canada scraps Boeing fighter jet deal, will buy used Australian F-18s instead

Canada is scrapping a plan to buy 18 Boeing Co Super Hornet fighter jets amid a deepening dispute with the U.S. aerospace company, three sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
Instead, the Liberal government will announce next week it intends to acquire a used fleet of older Australia F-18 jets, the same kind of plane Canada currently operates, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation.

The move underlines Ottawa’s anger at a decision by Boeing to launch a trade challenge against Canadian planemaker Bombardier Inc, which the U.S. giant accuses of dumping airliners on the domestic American market.
Piquie Trudeau has borrowed heavily to prop up Bombardier - which I hasten to add is a fine manufacturer. One wonders what role it will play in 'next gen'. 
It also casts into question the future of Boeing‘s military sales in Canada. Boeing says its commercial and defense operations in Canada support more than 17,000 Canadian jobs.

Canada and Mexico are currently locked into increasingly acrimonious negotiations with the United States over the NAFTA trade pact, which President Donald Trump says has not done enough to protect U.S. jobs.

The Liberal Party of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau initially said in late 2016 it wanted the Boeing jets as a stopgap measure until it could launch a competition for a permanent fleet to replace Canada’s aging CF-18 jets.

But as relations with Boeing deteriorated, Ottawa slammed the firm for not acting as a trusted partner and began looking at the Australian jets.

Two of the sources said Australian military officials had been in Ottawa late last month for talks.
One source said that by buying the Australian fleet, Canada would save money as well as avoid the need to train its pilots on a new aircraft or spend money on a new supply chain.
Officials had previously said that if the purchase went ahead, some of the Australian aircraft would be used for spare parts.
The offices of Public Works Minister Carla Qualtrough and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who share responsibility for military procurement, both declined to comment.
Boeing declined to comment. The Australian mission in Ottawa was not immediately available for comment.
Canada is due to officially announce the requirements for its new fighter fleet in early 2019, kicking off an open competition.
One potential contender is Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 fighter, which Trudeau initially said he would not buy because it was too expensive. The government has since softened its line, saying the plane would be allowed to compete.

Another is the Arrow. 

Elton Hobson downed a pint and stepped up.
55 years later, biggest question surrounding Avro Arrow remains “what if?”
Fifty-five years ago today, on March 25, 1958, the infamous Avro Arrow made its very first test flight.
The plane was the crown jewel of Canadian aircraft manufacturer A.V. Roe Canada, better known as Avro, then the third-largest company in Canada. The hypersonic fighter was on the cutting edge of aerospace technology at the time: it could reach a speed nearly three times the speed of sound, travelling at an altitude of 60,000 feet.

The first flight of the Arrow should have been a crowning moment for the Canadian aerospace industry. Yet the plane was scrapped by the federal government just a few months later, in a decision that remains controversial to this day.
For many Canadians, the Avro Arrow has come to symbolize both the potential, and the unfulfilled promise, of Canadian innovation.
“The Arrow represents a period when Canada stood up on its own and did its own thing,” 
Paul Squires, a historian with the Canadian Aeronautical Preservation Association, told Global News. “In many ways, it’s become a symbol of the country.”
“At the time, we were in the top three of the largest producers of aeronautical parts in the world. But the cancellation of the Arrow absolutely devastated the Canadian aerospace industry.”
So why was the Avro Arrow cancelled by the Canadian government in 1959?
“The official reason given by the Diefenbaker government [at that time] was that the Arrow was too expensive, and it was no longer worth the money,” Cohen said. “Avro as a company was going through millions of taxpayer dollars.”
“The government had an agenda to destroy it. 
They wanted the money for other things, so they came up with all kinds of reasons why they didn’t need it,” Squires said.
The reasons for the cancellation of the Arrow were a mix of politics, timing, and bad luck. The CF-105 (as the Arrow was officially known) was originally designed as a long-range interceptor, meant to meet and destroy Soviet bombers.
But on October 4, 1957 – the same day as the first Avro Arrow rolled off the production line – the Soviets launched the satellite Sputnik, becoming the first nation to put a man-made object into orbit.
And just like that, everything changed.
“It really was a case of the worst timing,” Squires said. “The same day as Avro rolls out their aircraft, you had millions of people around the world looking up at the stars, trying to look for Sputnik.”
That development changed the focus for militaries on both sides of the Cold War, away from conventional bombers and towards atmospheric weapons like intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Such might well be an official statement, but what is the reality? The F-111. The B-52. Hello? 
Then there was the often-contentious relationship between conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, and Avro Canada president Crawford Gordon, Jr.
“Diefenbaker didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, he was a complete teetotaler,” Squires said.  “And in walks Crawford Gordon with his hip flask, a cigarette in his hand, pounding on Diefenbaker’s desk. They were complete polar opposites.”
There was also the changing politics surrounding the creation of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD. One of the specifics of this deal was the purchase by the U.S. Air Force of the new Avro Arrow fighter.

“When we were negotiating NORAD under the St. Laurent government, the U.S. would send a note, and the government would haggle over specifics and send one back,” Squires explained. “Well Mr. St. Laurent lost [the 1957 election], Mr. Diefenbaker came in, and the newest U.S. paper now says they no longer wish to purchase the Arrow.”
“Diefenbaker just looked at it, said ‘looks good’ and signed it. Even Americans were shocked, because they expected some pushback.”
The cancellation of the CF-105 Arrow was a deathblow for Avro. It was also a serious setback for the Canadian aerospace industry as a whole.
“Fifteen thousand people lost their jobs at Avro [as a result of the Arrow’s cancellation], but many more people outside of the company lost their jobs too,” Cohen said. “People in the supply chain, parts manufacturers, the support network. Within six months, thousands more were out of work.”
What might have been.
To many Canadian aerospace experts, the real loss in the cancellation of the Avro Arrow wasn’t just in the plane itself, but the possibilities for what Avro may have done in the future.
For instance, SPAR Aerospace, the company which designed the CanadaArm, was originally the Special Projects and Research branch (hence the acronym “SPAR”) of Avro Canada.
“Avro had a top secret design department with the brightest and most innovative thinkers. Total out-of-the-box thinking,” Cohen said.
Some of the special projects at Avro were right out of science fiction. Others were years ahead of their time. The company had plans for a lunar rover, a flying saucer, and even a hovering truck.

Cohen notes other plans, such as a monorail system for Toronto from Union Station to what is now Lester B. Pearson airport, cameras that could capture and airplane travelling 1,300 mph and technology that could capture a rocket blast.
For Squires, the connection to Avro Canada is particularly personal – his father helped worked on the Avro jetliner, the C102.
“It broke four different records during first flight to New York,” Squires said. “If they had built the jetliner, they would have jumped 10 years ahead on commercial aircraft, and it would have given Avro another leg to stand on.”
Today, the legacy of the Avro Arrow is one of both pride and frustration for most Canadians.
I am in Oz where we do not have an aviation manufacturing industry at all. Sweden produces fine fighters with just 6 million people. Our four times as many population gave up after the black box.

Shame.

At least Canadians have a dream.


Perhaps The Kanucks and Oz could put their heads together and come up with a joint effort. Eh?

Hey, just dreaming too.

Drink up.

Pax 






Sunday, December 10, 2017

God in Secular Oz (Pt #2)

'Conversation' is one of those long understood terms now captured by the Left wreckers, the chosen method of whom is to riot in the street or harass bakers and florists with all the forces of 'discrimination' Law.  The homosexuals are showing us just how to do it in the 'new, progressive' manner. 

The promised protections for Christian folk - you know, the ones who built this nation - have melted away: each and every one suggested, rejected by the politicians who promised them. 

They had a 'conversation' amongst themselves  in Parliament, after the 'public vote', in the Q & A manner with the podiums stacked with liars and decievers. We can see that they do not believe in God and prefer the Prince of Lies instead.

Earlier we were treated to a short run through of the very basis of western civilisation when Greg Sheridan took up far too much drinking time. But now we can turn to the issue of how we are to respond, as Christians, to the increasingly intolerant thuggishness and deliberate provocations of the secular left in Oz. And their running hare du jour, the gays. 
Pillock. Presides over Abortion too.

Personally I do not think the homosexual lobby has really thought through what they are being pushed along to do, and neither do our politicians see the ramifications of their duplicity.

But to hell with them as they howl outside the Tavern's borders, when we have our own responses to consider. It is fortunate that I am in my elder years. As a far younger man I would have my sword in hand and be on the other side of the hedge doing a bit of trimming.

Stephen McAlpine has a more measured and thoughtful, not to say less hot-headed approach and he took his turn on the table:
Is it Really the Christian Way? 
Yes, Actually, it is.

That’s the question asked, no doubt, honestly and with great depth of meaning by a young gay relief teacher, Craig Campbell on the ABC last night. Mr Campbell is no longer on the relief list of a Perth faith based school after he revealed he was in a gay relationship.
In the wake of the same sex marriage vote in Australia it’s no surprise that suddenly the next question being asked is whether the old way of looking at marriage in Australia is allowed to co-exist.  
More to the point, can faith based Christian schools be allowed to discriminate in this area when choosing staff.  That’s the pointy matter.

Mr Campbell, first came to prominence in the local newspaper, before the national broadcaster, the ABC, ran a story on the matter last night.  You can read the story here, or watch the story here.

It’s worth pointing out that Mr Campbell was a relief teacher, and not on full time staff.  However the question is fairly moot, because the bigger issue is whether faith based schools will be allowed to receive government funding should they not sign up to anti-discrimination legislation in areas of sexuality for staff.
Don't you just love this? Government funding? What that means is children in school getting the dollar benefit of their parent's taxes, just as non-faith-based schools do. Except those schools get their full whack while faith-based ones do not. 
There are myriad issues surrounding this, but the key matter I want to address is the question that Mr Campbell raises, and that was the headline in the written article; “Is it really the Christian way?”
Both of these  lying scum claim to be Catholic.
They should be excommunicated.
Here’s the context in which Mr Campbell asks that question:

"I recognise there is a need for religious freedom but does it come at the expense of some of the most vulnerable in our society? Is that really the Christian way to act? I don’t think so."

In asking what is the Christian way to act, you have to ask what was and has been the Christian way to act down the two millennia since the followers of Jesus took foothold in the Roman Empire.
And the answer is this:  Christians were known first and foremost in a brutal empire to look after the most vulnerable in society.  They were defined by it.
But here’s what else they were defined by.  The Christian way to act when it came to sexuality was to hold to the gold standard of the Old Testament, and this was reaffirmed by both Jesus, Paul and the other apostles.  The early Christians did sex completely differently to the empire.  They were known for it.  That was the Christian way to act.

What is striking about the current debate is how the nature of who the most vulnerable in our society are. Up until recently the most vulnerable were constantly viewed as the poor, those who were trodden down by the rough economic forces of our rapacious culture.

That’s no longer the case.  
Christianity runs all but one or two of the biggest charities in Australia, precisely because the government has outsourced care for the poor, and has ramped up middle class welfare at the same time for those who think they are doing it tough but are not.

But secondly, since sexual ethics according to the Old Testament, Jesus, Paul and the apostles was, has been and will continue to be, the Christian way, then the culture and the church is headed for a showdown on this.

Mr Campbell articulates the tension perfectly in his question because he recognises the need for religious freedom also. 
  He’s going to be disappointed if he thinks that both will be able to live side by side. 
Let’s be frank, these two matters will be unable to co-exist.  One will have to yield.
And I find it ironic that progressive organisations such as the ABC, who seem to have little understanding of faith communities at any level, are confident enough to challenge Christians about what the Christian way actually is.

WA’s LGBTI Advocacy Group, Maxine Drake made it clear on the ABC report that things have to change.

The group is pushing for the state’s Equal Opportunity Act to no longer provide an exemption that allows faith-based schools to dismiss staff if their beliefs are at odds with the teachings of the school

To which I would say, it’s not simply beliefs, it’s actions, as Christianity is a corporeal religion.  We believe that God came to us in a body, lived among us in a body, died in a body, was raised in a body.  Therefore we are called to glorify God with our bodies.  
And the Christian way of doing that in terms of sex is heterosexual, covenantal marriage.  
Everything else does not glorify God, and even sometimes that is done in a non-God-glorifying manner.

So a school’s teachings have to be changed to accommodate those who do not hold to them, nor practice those beliefs.

Unlike say, a trade union or The Greens for example? But I digress.

According to Ms Drake:
"That exemption is now out of date and out of step with community feeling. This is no longer a political issue. This is a human rights issue."
Again. What is this 'community feeling' she talks about? The 2% at most homosexuals? What of any larger 'community feeling'?  Heck, Mulsims comprise 2% too. 
The very human rights that the Christian gospel gave to the Western world are going to be torn off and used to beat Christian orthopraxy over the head with.  This is a critical time.

I think schools will eventually lose their funding over this.  Not that we should take this lying down. But in the end the terms of reference have been framed, and not by us.  Ms Drake’s view is generally the culture’s view, this is a human right issue.  
It certainly is, but in our sexular culture sexual rights trump all others.  
Hmmmm. Do they? I wonder if Muslim caterer will have to serve bacon at a gay wedding reception, or  muslim bakers provide cakes with a firmly Homosexual topping.  I cannot see Parliament ordering that, can you? But someone should try it and see. Put these trumped-up Tribunals to the test. A hot iron to their feet.

Will a homosexual baker, asked to provide a wedding cake with a legend along the lines... "Only Holy Matrimony will do",  or " Married for Real, not the fake SSM Way" agree to provide it? It should be tried out. 

Provocation can work both ways.   
I believe that at some stage faith based schools that are funded by the government will have to line up or lose their funding.
Selling the schools to the State will reap a huge windfall for the Christian Churches in Oz and saddle the Gummunt with a far higher per-capita cost for pupils, currently subsidised by parents. 
Whatever the outcome, we should behave with dignity, love, compassion and moral clarity.  It may not give us the outcome we desire, but that was, after all, the way of Jesus and therefore is the Christian way.
The way of Jesus was to overturn the tables and take a knotted rope to merchant's backsides.  In 'modern' 'progressive' terms it means, to me, turning the tables on the homosexuals and their political bum-boys. 

Yes, by all means be compassionate: but not gullible. Have moral clarity and take it to the Powers that Be. They have feet of wet clay.

Excommunicate any Catholic MP who voted for SSM and voted against religious freedom protections.

Just look at the hospitals built by and run by the churches.  The Oz medical infrastructure depends upon them. Sell them and take the money. Make the State and its God-forsaking taxpayers foot the bill. Turn hospital and school buildings into homeless shelters.

Use the billions raised by the sale of schools and hospitals to harrass, sue, drive into the pit, all the vipers that have crawled out in the past few decades. Fund the lawsuits against homosexuals who villify and insult. Use their laws about 'hurt feelings'. 

Enough with the trendy progressive churchy mob. They have encouraged the rise of scum. Get rid of them too, all the lesbian 'decons' and 'priests' and 'pastors': all the homosexual priests. Throw them out.

Put them to the metaphorical sword.

It will be a battle, long and hard and fit for a Christian and may even bring some new Knights on line. 

Then, when we have driven the scum from the Temple we might have some .....

......Pax

God in Secular Oz (pt #1)

I am a chap who believes in God quite firmly, whereas increasingly Australia does not. I am not a theologian: I am a Knight and a Tavern Keeper. It makes for some difficulties these days as we have seen unfold over the past few weeks as the nasty, vicious forces of darkness beyond the Tavern's hedges swept away any semblance of 'conversation' along with what has always been 'Marriage'. 

Not that it was what the secularists said marriage was - that is, simply, one man and one woman pledging their troth -  which is slightly, but with an important distinction, different to Holy Matrimony, as a Catholic sees it. 


That difference is God

A man and a woman joined to be One in the Sight of God. A Sacrament.

I cannot claim any moral high ground personally as my own track record is poor indeed. But let me state my position in words everyone can (should be able to ) understand.
Credo in unum Deum, Patrem Omnipotentem.

Fewer and fewer say that in Oz today. 

I do not 'argue' with the beyond the hedge dwellers. I may pass on 'The Word' but they are free to tell me to sod off. And many do. They have free speech, although increasingly I do not.

But we did have two fine fellows stop by  for some cleansing ale and they had some things to say. So I welcomed Mr McAlpine and Mr Sheridan, both well regarded in their fields (not theologians either) and gave them the floor (and some lubricating pints.

Greg Sheridan was first to his feet. He had quite a bit to say:
The God question: listen to your inner voice


And what remains when disbelief is gone?
— Philip Larkin 
It is more rational to believe in God than to believe there is no God. In fact, belief in God is much more rational than atheism. The resting place of the mind, its natural equilibrium, as it were, is belief. 
This is, in truth, a statement of the obvious. But it seems radical, shocking. This is because in Australia, and in Europe, many of our leading figures, certainly the loudest of them, and a substantial and growing minority of the population believe, or at least pretend to believe, in the religious faith of atheism, the faith that holds there is no God.
Not to mention the growing Allah mob. Allah ain't God. He ain't even a god. 
In subscribing to atheism they are in radical opposition to the vast majority of people on the planet today, and the overwhelming majority of people who have ever lived in history. There’s our first clue. 
Last week the Institute of Public Affairs published important research that showed most Australian university courses make no coherent effort to teach the main elements of Western civilisation. 
This is partly because Western civilisation, like most civilisation and human nature itself, rests on the knowledge of God. 
Knowing and believing in God has always been entirely rational. It is not only rational, of course. To know much more about God than merely that he exists requires faith. 
But faith is not, as it is frequently represented, the enemy of reason. 
Rather, faith is the basis of reason. 
Almost all of rational life is based on faith. Most often faith is not a question of what you believe but who you believe. 
Hmmmmmm.
I have faith that I am the son of my parents. I have no real empirical evidence for it. It makes the most sense as an explanation of my life, it is the proposition that best fits with everything I know. But the main reason I believe it is faith, my regular, normal faith in my parents. So this is a faith-based belief, entirely rational, confirmed by experience, but certainly not rationally proven. 
Most of our lives are lived in this way. 
I have faith that my car will work when I turn the key in the ignition, but I have absolutely no idea why or how. Nonetheless I am convinced that my faith is consistent with rationality, that my faith itself is rational. 
Part of the crisis of belief in our society is a crisis of knowledge. 
Because the high points in our elite and popular culture have been colonised by a militant and intolerant atheism, our young people have been denied the fruits of thousands of years of intellectual effort on matters of faith and belief by the best minds humanity has produced. 
This is wickedly unfair to children. 
To have a rounded sense, even intellectually, of the idea of God it is necessary to use all the human faculties — reason, spirit, intuition, emotion, conscience, memory, imagination — to name a few.   
Nonetheless, you can get to a knowledge of the reality of God through reason alone. It is important to understand that atheism is also consistent with rationality. Atheism does require its own radical leap of faith, but its biggest problem on rational grounds is that it is inconsistent with the world and life as we know it. It is a hypothesis with feeble powers of prediction. But it is not altogether irrational.
Modern science has not made atheism any more or less rational. 
Science tells us a great deal about how, but nothing about why. It is a misuse and a misrepresentation of science to pretend that it answers the why questions. There were atheists in the ancient world. The Psalms of the Old Testament refer to people who deny the existence of God. It was always open to a person to say: the world is complex, I don’t understand how it works, but I don’t believe that God created it. 
And some people did think that. It is the most insufferable condescension and unjustified vanity on our part to think of all of the rest of humanity, in the past, and beyond our little slice of the West today, as trapped in superstition, while we alone are wise, enlightened and free. 
For while more than just reason is involved in faith, reason always played its part. The philosophers of ancient Greece, long before the birth of Christ, reasoned their way to God. This is most often associated with Aristotle, but it was a movement among many philosophers and poets of ancient Greece. 
Their insights were integrated into Christianity in the 13th century by the greatest of the Christian philosophers and theologians, Thomas Aquinas. 
Famously, Thomas provided his five ways to God through reason. Some Christians mistakenly took to referring to them as the five proofs of God. In truth, by reason alone you cannot absolutely prove God or disprove him. 
Thomas was trying to understand, not to prove, though understanding often leads to belief. 
First, Thomas suggested that motion had to start somewhere, that there had to be an unmoved mover. 
Second, the chain of cause and effect is so long, but it too had to start somewhere; there had to be an uncaused cause. 
Third, contingent beings — that is, beings who rely on some antecedent for their existence — must inevitably proceed from a being who relies on nothing for their existence, a necessary being. 
Fourth, there is so much goodness in the world, it must correspond to or proceed from a self-sufficient goodness. 
And fifth, the non-conscious agents in the world behave so purposefully that they imply an intelligent universal principle. 
That is a crude summary of what is called Thomas’s argument from design (which bears no relation to the modern fringe theory of evolution called Intelligent Design). And it all seems pretty dry. People don’t generally come to any serious belief in God purely through this or any other rational process. 
But it is important to understand that there is nothing in reason that contradicts God. 
That our public culture so routinely suppresses this knowledge, mocks it and teaches the reverse, demonstrates just what a strange and dangerous cultural dead end we have wandered into. Yet even in our moment, in our society, there is already a nostalgia for God. 
Reasoning from first principles, of course, is not even the primary rational way you can come to a rational knowledge of God. For it is one of the central realities of humanity, one of the deep mysteries of the human condition, that all truth involves a balance of truths. Rationality needs a context in order to be rational. 
In isolation from all the other human faculties, it becomes a cult of hyper-rationality. And this is not more and better rationality but distorted rationality, and often leads to irrational conclusions. For example, you may describe in exquisite, painstaking rational detail a finger pulling the trigger of a gun, which fires a bullet, which kills a child. The description can become extraordinarily detailed and rational, following an unassailable logic. You can claim as a consequence that you have rationally and exhaustively explained the death of the child. 
Yet you have not explained murder. You have said nothing about the morality, or even in a larger sense the cause, of the child’s death. 
Rationality alone is not sufficient — necessary, yes, but not sufficient. 
Consider something entirely different. In one of the most important decisions we make in life, rationality is a part, but only a part, and not always the most important part. When you choose, say, your life’s partner, the decision is partly rational but not purely or wholly rational. There is a spark of romance, an intuition of commitment, an excitement, a sense beyond the rational of adventure and deep homecoming. 
These types of considerations are not irrelevant to a rational belief in God. 
Let’s look at that a bit more. The subject that humanity understands best, and has the most experience of, is humanity. The proper subject for the study of man is man. 
What clues does humanity itself offer us about belief in God? 
All of our strongest instincts, all of our strongest desires, correspond to a strong reality. Hunger indicates food. Tiredness suggests sleep. Sexual desire implies sex. 
This is true not only of physical desires. Loneliness implies friendship. The desire to behave decently implies the existence of decency. 
And as long as we have known human beings, they have yearned for and believed in God. It makes you ponder, this long, consistent, human intuition, or it should do. The long hunger for God implies God. 
These are just clues, they are not proofs, but they are clues that are powerfully consistent with God. 
In his magnificent book, From Big Bang to Big Mystery, Brendan Purcell, among countless scintillating insights, assesses our professional or scholarly knowledge of several of the earliest human burial sites that we have found. 
These date back many tens of thousands of years. Almost every one involves some ritual, and some symbolism. Many involved artefacts, or tokens, or tools buried with the dead, which paleoanthropologists believe indicate a belief in the afterlife. The tools buried with the dead are symbols of what the person would take with them to the afterlife. 
There are clues and questions beyond humanity, which belief in God answers rationally but to which the faith of atheism offers no answers at all. 
Why is there something rather than nothing? How come our world is so incredibly receptive to the evolution of life? It’s highly improbable statistically. What caused the big bang? Why is nature so regular from one minute to the next? 
Most of these questions are not necessary or sufficient proofs of God. They are open to atheist conjecture. But cumulatively they make more sense with God. 
There is a variety of sneering, intolerant and remarkably poorly informed atheism popular on TV talk shows and the like. It is faux clever but strangely old-fashioned, trotting out a venerable retinue of cliches and platitudes but demonstrating an almost complete lack of familiarity with theology or metaphysical philosophy. 
This kind of atheism is associated with figures such as Richard Dawkins, who wrote The God Delusion, which sold three million copies. Dawkins is an eminent scientist in one field, with no particular expertise in any other field and an apparently wilful ignorance of the variety and subtlety and history of the claims and ideas of Christianity.  
He is a kind of atheist fundamentalist and he conjures an extreme, fundamentalist Christianity, a rhetorical straw man (unrelated to the main lines of Christianity) that he can beat down with science.This kind of atheism is also associated with Christopher Hitchens. 
Hitchens was in some ways a splendid journalist, brave and witty and engaged, but he was a poor philosopher, a tremendously tendentious historian and an astonishingly ill-informed theologian. 
With a few other popular atheist celebrities, men such as these seek (or sought) to impose the new, and frighteningly narrow, religious orthodoxies of our day. They mount a million wild attacks on belief in God, most of them absurd. Let’s consider just two. 
One is that evolutionary science has replaced God in explaining humanity. 
This is nonsense. Evolutionary theory and science offer marvellous explanations of how, they offer no explanations of why. This is no challenge to belief in God. In fact, it is a fundamental point. If God brings the physical universe into being then of course he uses physical processes. Understanding the processes a bit better doesn’t bear on the questions of why, of purpose, of meaning, at all. Most scientists believe that evolutionary science is consistent with religious belief or atheism. I think they’re right. 
Nonetheless, evolutionary theory poses a much bigger problem for atheism than it does for religious belief. Some atheists argue that human beings evolved a religious instinct because it enhanced their chances of survival. 
There is some appeal in this proposition, and also a lot of logical problems with it. But let it pass. 
Consider, however, its implication. 
If the rational power of the human mind is so feeble that for countless millennia it could believe in God, when this belief is a delusion for which allegedly there is no evidence at all, how can we now accept that this same mind has miraculously developed a new capability to get to the truth and to understand evolutionary theory? 
If the mind is shaped by evolutionary theory to irrational ends throughout history it might just as well be shaped to irrational ends when it embraces evolutionary theory. 
This is not what I believe but it is an inescapable implication of the Dawkins style of atheism. 
If our minds and personalities and consciousness are no more than physical atoms and electric impulses, what basis do we have for believing that the mind can reliably apprehend reality at all? 
The answer is that there is no basis for such belief within this atheist framework. You have to take it on faith. It is one of the many leaps of faith required in atheism. 
The other frequent ground for a sneering assault on religious belief arises out of the science of the big bang itself. 
That we now know so much more about the history of our planet, of our solar system, of our galaxy, leads some to the mistaken conclusion that God is superseded as an explanation. 
I think rather that what all this knowledge really indicates is the majesty and generosity of God. That the physical universe we know is apparently 14 billion years old tells us nothing about who created it or why. 
Dawkins and Hitchens and the others spend hundreds of pages claiming that God is impossible. Then when they admit that they cannot disprove God, they assert, with absolute dogmatic certainty, that God wouldn’t behave in a manner they deem inefficient or unsatisfactory or worse, profligate. 
How would they know how God would behave? 
It strikes me as absolutely characteristic of God that he would spend 14 billion years preparing a gift for human beings. 
There are countless clues of God throughout our world and within humanity itself. There is the strange phenomenon of joy, the even stranger delight of humour, the inescapable intimation of meaning in beauty and music. There is the mystery of love, along with the equal mystery of our consciousness and our self-awareness. 
It’s a lot of clues to ignore. 
There is one clue I like more than any other — the clue of the inner voice. Is there a single person alive who has not said, in some difficult moment: let it be this! don’t let it be that! 
Who are we talking to at those moments? 
Most of our life is spent with our inner voice, thinking things over, weighing things up, rehearsing our triumphs, dreading our failures, contemplating the people in our lives, anticipating the future, interpreting the past.
Isn’t there a sense in all this, that we are involved in a conversation?
Conversations require two people to be looking at the same thing, albeit from different viewing positions, and telling of what they see. They can 'fill in gaps' for one another.  They are not 'arguing', as I pointed out before. 

In secular Oz, one side shouts and curses. It throws things and assaults people. It uses the Law in a psycho's game of 'Let's you and him (the police and the lawyers, the tribunals and the Courts) fight'. 

This is not a 'Christian way', and so it fell to Mr McAlpine to take us through that.

But hey. Mr Sheridan took up some fine drinking time with his long  - but pertient - ramble through the basics, so let us charge our glasses, drink a few cleansing ales, and return to this bizzo in Part #2.


Greg Sheridan is a foreign affairs journalist and commentator. He joined The Australian in 1984 and worked in Beijing, Washington, and Canberra before starting his tenure as the paper's foreign editor in 1992. 
He specialises in Asian politics and has written four books on the topic. 

I did say he was well regarded in his field.

Meanwhile let's hear that Creed again, in a better manner than I can express.  My Supplier likes us to remind ourselves from time to time.


Pax