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Strictly Come Cricket

July 24, 2014

As Gary Glitter once sang “I’m Back, I’m Back, Its Good To Be Back”, however this is just for a day, to catch up on events over the past month, but don’t get too excited, this column will remain the sporadic musings of an old git, just a bit more sporadic that was once the case.

The inspiration to write again came last week when That Nice Lady Decorator said “I cut my foot today”. I asked how she had managed to do that and it seems that the Stanley Knife she had employed to cut her toe nails had not been quite as accommodating as she had hoped. Now call me old-fashioned but who else would be using Stanley Knife to aid a pedicure? I dared to venture this opinion out loud, but luckily the bruises had gone down before my visit to Lords, the home of cricket last Thursday, Friday and Saturday to witness the death throes of a tired old guard being kept in the game by a load of youngsters.

Yes, the fact that I am back in the UK for summer has allowed me to indulge my love for the finest game known to man. I am not talking about the stupid limited overs (and of limited interest to those of us who understand this great game, belittled still further by the predilection for the players to wear pyjamas when playing), I am sure there is not one Currencies Direct customer in the country who will admit to liking T20 cricket ahead of the real thing, 5 day test cricket.

Lords Test

Harry Judd with Penfold, aka Mr Clipboard, at Lords

Lords was a triumph of conspicuous consumption over cricket. It has such a lovely atmosphere, almost like an enormous gentleman’s  club, that  the cricket can sometimes become  a side-show, especially when England is playing so poorly. The highlight was Saturday, when myself and That Nice Lady Decorator were guests of Adidas in their executive corporate hospitality box. It is an intimate affair with just 20 people and I was able to give someone called Harry Judd from a group  called something like Macvities (?) some much-needed sartorial advice, and to congratulate him on having achieved sufficient stature to be invited to Lords. An Uppingham Public Schoolboy, who apparently won Strictly Come Dancing recently, he has clearly benefited from the experience and perhaps some of the peculiar err…experiences that one is rumoured to find in schools of this kind. I jest. He was a thoroughly charming and grounded individual.

Two of the British Rugby team, Mike a Brown and Marland Yarde were also in attendance and I was able to give then some sound advice about how to play their games next season. I think they were impressed but it was hard to tell. I think the heady mixture of Pimms and champagne (no, not in the same glass, well at least not in my glass) might have been responsible for some rather garrulous loose talk.

Returning to Arundel on Sunday, it was time to bail out that delinquent hound Banjo from prison kennels . I argued that he not served sufficient time to pay for all the indignities he has visited upon me.  He has gobbed over most of my trousers, snapped at people including children and grown into do something about the same size as a woolly mammoth. So what does That Nice Lady Decorator do in response to his continually expanding girth? She has sent him for a haircut at Muttley Makeovers. When I was experiencing a little excess in the stomach department, was I sent for a haircut? No, I was sentenced to two miserable 5:2 diet days each week and to cycle everyday. Who has the dog’s life? Me or Muttley’s friend?


Chris France

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Rev. Jeff permalink
    July 26, 2014 7:23 pm

    How nice to hear from you again Chris and what a wonderful opportunity for you to read my latest essay on God and atheism !! If Howzaaat or Patrick happen to see it I’d love to hear their comments.

    As the bandwagon of radical atheism gathers momentum and hurtles on its merry and seemingly relentless joyride towards a self-imposed oblivion, it would appear an appropriate time to explore the question lying at the heart of the ongoing evolution versus creative design debate; what do we mean by meaning?

    In order to tackle this thorny issue and throw light on the patronizing atheist barb that God is no more than an ‘imaginary friend’, we must accept from the outset, that he/she/it, can be neither the Supra Santa Claus, nor intransigent, gimlet eyed, Victorian headmaster of popular imagination.

    Indeed if we are to enter the debate on grounds other than uncritical superstition, we must be prepared to put aside much irrational traditional religious thinking and accept what science and particularly its evolutionary branch, has to teach us.

    Put simply man is the latest and as yet most sophisticated life form to have evolved from the proverbial primordial swamp. He is a biological/chemical construct, housing an indivisible intelligence/imagination, governed in the main by genetic imperatives over which he has only limited control.

    The first principle in truly grasping man’s reality is to understand that the totality of the philosophical, moral/ ethical and artistic phantasmagoria by which he defines both himself and his relationship to all other philosophical, moral/ethical and artistic phantasmagoria, is no more than an evolving, abstract and relative construct of his own and the collective intelligence/imagination.

    All moral/philosophical/ethical ideas, such as meaning, conscience, guilt, love, truth, fairness, justice, courage and hope, exist only because man has brought them into being and all are ultimately interdependent for interpretation, definition, reference and contextualisation. Even scientific concepts such as quantification and measurement are human constructs and products of this same imagination/intelligence.

    Put simply, if man did not exist, then neither would any of the myriad ideas by which he defines both himself all that there is.

    What man calls ‘consciousness’ is a product of his impossible to unravel chicken and egg psychological/intellectual evolution and embraces the sophisticated abstract thinking and self reflection/awareness that sets him apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.

    This consciousness, though fiendishly difficult to define without recourse to self-reference, comprises the interdependent relationship between his senses of ‘self’, ‘being’ and ‘reality’ and all are products of the imagination/intelligence with the whole comprising the ‘psychological structure’ that is essentially man. Man is his imagination/ intelligence and his imagination/intelligence is man; all else springs from this fact.

    Personality/character is a combination of both nurture and nature but in the main the manifestation of an imagination/intelligence formed and made unique by random chance, genetic determinism and early years exposure to psychologically moulding experience.

    There is no separate ‘soul’, ‘spiritual realm’ or mysterious ‘other’ and all ideas with roots in the transcendent; such as pre-ordained fate, destiny, providence, kismet, karma, magic, miracles, the list is endless, are no more than products of the individual and collective imagination/intelligence.

    What we call ‘free will’ is to a greater or lesser degree the result of genetic determinism. We may believe we act with free will on our ‘desires’, but from where do those desires originate? The random chance which helps mould and colour gene determinism, permeates every aspect of the decision making process of each individual imagination/intelligence.

    Love/selflessness, which lies at the very heart of religious belief, is to a great degree the work of the evolved ‘selfish gene’, which inspires behaviour traditionally accepted as altruistic in order to benefit the wider social grouping, even if proving detrimental to the individual responsible for such behaviour. The more closely related by kinship the gene, the more likely it is to inspire altruistic, or more accurately, self- serving, on behalf of the wider social grouping, behaviour.

    The real story of man is that of the historic individual and collective intelligence/imagination taking evolutionary ‘imperatives’ and imbuing those imperatives with ever more complex and nuanced ‘interpretations’ and then accepting these ephemeral interpretations as though they were ‘real’ in the same way that the physical world is said to be real.

    We can see how this works if we take ‘romantic love’ as an example.

    While embracing romantic love as a mysterious and highly nuanced emotional phenomenon, resonating with and reflecting an overarching, transcendent mystery, we must allow that romantic love is simply a universally acceptable, multi-faceted ‘interpretation’ of an instinctive biological and psychological imperative for sexual release, companionship and procreation.

    So is this the end of the story? Are atheists correct to assert that science has effectively solved the riddle of man and by so doing consigned ‘The Almighty’ to the waste bin of history labelled ‘Superfluous to requirements’?

    Well maybe, but before we write God off as superstitious mumbo jumbo, it is worth exploring further what we mean by this seemingly innocuous word ‘meaning’.

    In order to begin our exploration we must accept from the outset that if God is to exist at all, he can do so only through the mechanism by which man processes and interprets the totality of all that there is; his imagination/intelligence.

    What we can say with certainty is that modern man is the product of the psychological, intellectual and societal ‘imperative’ for ‘meaning/pattern making’, without which, proto man’s evolution could not have been sustained.

    The relationship between ‘meaning’ and the potential for the exponential intellectual expansion that marks man’s evolution is complex and symbiotic; one cannot exist without the other.

    Somewhere along the evolutionary path, as his abstract thinking/self reflection and language became increasingly sophisticated, man began the inevitable process of contemplating and rationalising his psychologically de-stabilising twin existential dreads, ‘annihilation of self’ (death) and ultimate ‘meaninglessness’ (chaos).

    In order to give these potentially evolution aborting concepts a positive interpretation, as well as contextualising all other meanings within a psychologically stabilising and inalienable ‘supra meaning’, man inevitably came up with the idea of God/gods existing in a transcendent parallel reality, which both reflected and influenced his own.

    This not only helped proto man explain himself to himself and give death and ultimate meaninglessness both contextualisation and positive interpretation, but helped shed light on the mysteries of his inexplicable and extraordinary world, as well as lending sanctified and ultimate authority to the moral codes necessary for burgeoning social living.

    We can see then that belief in a ‘supra meaning’, in the shape of God/gods existing in a parallel transcendent reality, was not a choice for proto man, but an inevitable and unavoidable psychological, intellectual and societal imperative on which his successful evolution was both founded and dependant.

    Because of this inevitably evolved imperative for a ‘meaning mirror’ unconsciously/consciously reflecting and influencing his own sense of himself in relation to an ultimate ‘meaning/reality’, modern man remains hard wired to what might be termed ‘philosophical schizophrenia’.

    While accepting on a rational level that the totality of all that there is has ‘meaning’ only in so far as meaning is a product of the individual and collective imagination/intelligence, he continues to embrace the possibility of a psychologically stabilising interpretation of meaning as though it were a ‘verity’ with roots in an eternal transcendent truth.

    Thus we see how a concept such as ‘The law’ is sanctified with an overarching, authoritative gravitas and accepted as though it had roots in an eternal and inalienable moral ‘justice’, when in reality the whole farrago it is no more than an abstract, relative and ephemeral construct of man’s collective and fallible imagination/intelligence.

    That modern man remains in thrall to an acceptance of the possibility of a transcendent ‘other’ appears axiomatic.

    God and Santa Clause may be deemed irrational, but pre-ordained fate, destiny, kismet, karma, as well as everyday expressions such as ‘I was born to dance’, ‘Good will out’, ‘What goes round comes round’, ‘It was written in the stars’, ‘The ‘gift’ of life’, ‘Mother Nature’, all testify to the universal, tacit acceptance of a psychologically stabilizing transcendent meaning mirror, informing and colouring man’s daily existence.

    This same psychological imperative for ‘pattern/meaning’ making, that leads to the often unquestioned acceptance of such irrational and contradictory beliefs, also informs and explains man’s conscious/unconscious sense of himself as the ‘central character’ in what he interprets to be the unfolding pageant of human history.

    Even then, he cannot decide if this is a pre-ordained story (destiny), designed exclusively by fate in order for him to make his long awaited entry on life’s stage, or a blank canvas on which he is able to play God and ‘invent’ his own future. For much of the time it seems to be an irrational combination of the two and largely dependant on which proves to be most psychologically stabilizing at any given moment.

    We can see then that the atheist assertion that man is now in the process of out-evolving the very beliefs that have ensured his successful evolution: continues to secure both personal and universal psychological stability and helps maintain social cohesion, is what might be termed a Dawkins delusion.

    Even if it were possible for man to evolve into a life form, which knew with absolute certainty, that there was no transcendent meaning mirror/God and that ‘conscience’ was merely a psychological product of the selfish gene; how would such a ‘new man’ behave? He would surely side step what he now knew to be the selfish gene’s often self- harming machinations, engaging instead in instinctive behaviour most appropriate to his immediate or long- term need for creature comfort and self-preservation.

    While his’ moral choices’ might at times coincide with the ‘greater good’, this would be mere chance and nothing to do with the conscience that is universally tacitly and often unconsciously accepted as being informed by a love/selflessness having roots in a mysterious transcendent other.

    In extremis, such a man would always choose his own good above that of his fellow. It would be irrational to do otherwise. Perhaps Christ’s crucifixion has something to teach us here. It also points up why the claim that ‘morality’ is qualitatively the same to both the atheist and the religious believer is so muddle headed.

    To the former, morality is ultimately an abstract self-referencing, self-contextualising construct of his own and the collective imagination/intelligence, while, to the latter morality is contextualised within a ‘supra meaning’ which was brought into being as an evolutionary imperative.

    It is the certain knowledge that all seemingly altruistic behaviour is ultimately selfish that leads man to God. Only hope in an inevitably evolved transcendent, ‘supra meaning/God, can psychologically process and re-structure the self-serving machinations of the selfish gene into the ‘agape’ unselfish love of religious longing and so able to transform man’s fundamentally animalistic and selfish nature. This at least is the theory.

    Christ’s death on the cross is vital, not because of its many guilt-laden, sentimental and frankly mawkish interpretations, but because it is a psychologically stabilizing ‘default setting’ from which those who truly understand man’s otherwise chaotic reality are able re-establish existential ‘hope’ in a transforming supra meaning.

    While supra meaning is the apotheosis of meaning, ‘hope’ is the apotheosis of supra meaning. The hope that there is more to man’s story than that of an ultimately meaningless intelligence/imagination, staring out at a largely inhospitable world, coerced by genetic determinism into unconsciously/consciously accepting psychologically stabilizing irrationalities in order to make the ‘patterns/meanings’ which ensure both its own and the collective survival.

    A world without even an awareness of the possibility of an inalienable ‘supra meaning’, is not a world inhabited by the Nietzsche ‘Superman’ of atheist fantasies, but a totalitarian, barbaric world of reversed psychological and societal stability, inhabited by increasingly nascent automata on the slippery slope of reversed evolution.

    Indeed, it is possible to argue that man without such awareness could only be man who had lost the ability for self-reflection/awareness and therefore, by definition, no longer man.

    What radical atheists really require, of course, is a world, which has expunged God and all verity based morality, but in which, man remains in thrall to all the irrational absurdities associated with belief in the possibility of a transcendent parallel reality. Many would argue, that we are already well into the process of bringing such a world into being.

    So while ‘proving’ God is akin to a blind man attempting to herd a particularly mischievous gaggle of Will-o-the-Wisps in a revolving room of double sided distorting mirrors, we can at least assert the following.

    In any uninterrupted evolutionary process culminating in a life- form capable of abstract thinking/self reflection, the imagining into being of God/gods existing in a reflecting transcendent parallel reality is both inevitable and imperative.

    It is as though, into a vast void, which man cannot comprehend because he is always present in his imagination, there appeared suddenly, the potentiality for life. Once the correct alignment of space furniture occurred and the perfect biological and chemical conditions were met the inevitable process of God and man was set in motion.

    We should not be surprised that man’s concept of God changes over time in the same way that scientific knowledge changes. Each age can only interpret God in the light of its current mores and intellectual understanding After all, both science and theology are simply uncovering incrementally that which is already potentially possible and simply awaiting discovery.

    Both religious faith and radical atheism based on prejudice are prone to the fundamentalism, which would rather stagnate inside the walls of smug, self-satisfied, self-referencing, self- contextualising ghettos, than engage in the progressive, creative debate so necessary in an increasingly polarised world. If nothing else all enlightened people must agree that any action, which, harms or puts at disadvantage any fellow human being has no place in a truly ‘just’ world.

    So before we rush like Gadarene swine to nail ourselves irredeemably to the inverted cross of radical atheism, we would do well to remember, that it is the very inevitability of this imaginary friend/God in man’s evolutionary story, that makes his possibility so compelling to those who, despite doubts, continue to live in ‘hope’.


    • July 27, 2014 8:35 am

      Blimey, I haven’t missed all that religious nonsense. Glad I did not have to read it all the way through!

      Sent from my iPhone



  2. Rev. Jeff permalink
    July 27, 2014 11:12 am

    Knew you’d love it !!


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