Two Recent English Language Use Changes: Invention and Omission

These two changes show how republicanism and atheism are slowly beginning to impact language use.


426799067_55027d4244_zSince the General Election on June 8, 2017, and the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower Fire, I have been listening to and watching media broadcasts more than usual, and have noticed two significant changes in language use.

One change is limited to a very specific occasion, though it has been growing in popularity over the years.  It is quite consciously deliberate and requires a degree of determination, even courage, on behalf of the speaker.  The other change is usually less obvious, though it too requires a slight degree of determination (if less planning than the other one).  The second one has been around for a lot longer and is growing in popularity (and acceptability).

Continue reading “Two Recent English Language Use Changes: Invention and Omission”

Mother Teresa and the Cat

The NHS could do with a few miracles at the moment to help relieve the pressure from using science, but strangely the miracle workers never seem to be able to convincingly help out in sufficient numbers.

510750075_eeee488cd6_zI have a strange relationship with my neighbour’s cat.  At best we can be said to tolerate each other.  We view each other suspiciously and then I glare, hoping he will go away.  He sees my garden as his personal fiefdom.  I frequently challenge that perception and sometimes secretly wonder what life will be like once he has “passed on”.

But, bear with me … just suppose that he did “pass on”.   And just imagine that I had this strange conversation with my neighbour afterwards.  She tells me: “Tiddles was a perfect cat.  He got rid of the mice and occasionally bought me dead birds as a present.  I accidentally walked over the spot at the bottom of my garden where he was buried yesterday and I felt a strange sensation in my foot.  When I got to bed I noticed that my bunion was healed.  It was a miracle.  I know for certain that he has immediately gone to be with my invisible friend in the sky, and I know that when I want my other bunion healed, I can either walk on his grave again or I can talk to Tiddles who, I know for certain, will talk to my invisible friend for me and get it fixed.”

I go inside, put the kettle on, and make a mental note to self to avoid future neighbourly chats at the garden fence as much as possible.  What she said to me is wrong, on so many levels!  
Continue reading “Mother Teresa and the Cat”

My Five Problems With Prayer

If prayer really works, why does god never heal amputees?

426799067_55027d4244_zI used to pray, but I don’t any more.  For nearly 40 years I prayed in the mornings and evenings; I sometimes prayed when driving alone;  I prayed privately and in public;  I prayed silently and out loud.  Now, I no longer pray.

For an account of how I lost my faith see Jesus Didn’t Work For Me.  But I want to focus in this post specifically on prayer.  After many, many hours spent doing it (I think I have some credibility in this area, and over a lifetime have perhaps spent more hours doing it than many of my readers and objectors), I have now five problems with it.

The beneficence failure

If prayer is, in part, at least, about asking good things for people from a good, all-powerful and all-knowing god, why doesn’t the good, all-powerful and all-knowing god just grant the requests before they are asked for the benefit of everybody concerned?  Why do I have to ask a good god to make good things happen?

If prayer really works, what kind of deity denies good things happening to others on the basis of my inadequate prayers or my inability to pray?   What kind of parent would say, “I’m not feeding your young sister because you failed to ask me to give her food, or you asked for the wrong things, or you were a naughty boy when you asked”?

Why should an imperfect me have to persuade a god to do good?   Continue reading “My Five Problems With Prayer”