Now Faith is the Portal to…

Have you ever observed a faith-healer or preacher in action? In this blog, David Sretenovic questions exactly what they are doing with their faith…but also what any of us are. He heralds the power of faith but from a fresh perspective.

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Faith has a lot of uses. Walk the streets, surf the web…faith activity is pervasive, in pop songs, political debates, architecture, business. In some circles it’s talked about as a commodity: it’s possible to be rich in faith, like Saudi Arabia is rich in oil. There could almost be a Forbes list of the 100 most Faith-filled Organisations, or an edition of People Magazine’s “Faithiest People of 2017”. I wonder who would make the shortlist? At the top might be a Dalai Lama or Pope, or one of those faith-healers who wield their faith like a magic wand, offering miracles to seekers.

I really question whether it works that way though.

Faith is its own reward: if you have faith, then you’ve found a treasure of matchless worth. It’s almost as if you lose the gold the moment you seek something more. And if a miraculous healing were to occur it would be truly beautiful, but not as beautiful as the faith itself.

Of course, the Disciples did famously go out and perform miracles, and the Bible does endorse the laying-on of hands in prayer. But I look at verses such as Hebrews 11:3 and find myself re-imagining the narrative. It says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Matter being formed at a command. The visible coming from the invisible. There, my friends, is a picture of unearthly power. In contrast, there’s me: so very mortal and visible! Far from capable of creating worlds. I don’t get the sense that the burden of the miraculous is on my shoulders! Yet to me, there is no question that faith is mysteriously powerful.

In my life, faith has proven to be something incredible, magnificent, truly extraordinary. Via it I have accessed the divine. All the verses which extol faith in the Bible, and which testify to its miraculous potential, make sense to me! Faith indeed sees new worlds created, and orders – reorders – my own world in inexplicable ways. So much so that the Psalmist’s words, “I shall not want”, have become like a prophecy progressively being fulfilled for me. A miracle is the last of my needs, yet the first thing I wake to each morning (well, most mornings!).

At that rare and precious moment when faith mercifully dawns on you, you feel very much alive! The next impulse is not so much to question what to do with it, but to enjoy it. In reality, I think I shouldn’t be under any illusions that I can use faith to gain or achieve anything such as an honorary listing in the Faith Hall of Fame. Paradoxically, it seems that I am powerless to use faith for my own purposes, because it is using me.

Why My Wife is Voting ‘Yes’

As much as the author of this blog website, Universal Connection, would love to sway each of his readers towards his ‘traditional marriage’ bias, he’s more interested in truth, and opening vistas of dialogue via deep, raw honesty. So, in this inaugural guest-blog, Adele Sretenovic (David’s wife) passionately opines on the topic of same-sex marriage, explaining why she as a Christian must vote “yes” in the plebiscite taking place currently.

[Written by guest blogger, Adele Sretenovic]

I’m about to write some of my perspective on the issue of same-sex marriage (SSM). I am going to say regardless of what you believe about same-sex marriage it NEEDS to be legalised. And I’m going to say it on behalf of the hurting people, on both sides.

This plebiscite is nothing more than a vote-saver for Malcolm Turnbull. He knows that it will be passed through this plebiscite, but now he can say to all those Christians who are against SSM and choose to vote for him that he followed through on his promise… AND to all those who wanted this law to pass, that he did do it. It’s just a political manoeuvre and we are the pawns and the victims of his games. I say victims because in the midst of our strong views that politicians like to believe is just law, are people. People who have hurts and pains like everyone in this world. People who don’t deserve to feel like less than people for the life that they have. People who will lash out like a wild animal in pain, when threatened and belittled, and I will admit that while this is happening on both sides of this debate it is those to whom this law matters most who are truly the victims here. Whether you are homosexual or not, whether you believe SSM is wrong or right, at the end of the day we are ALL just people. And this debate has dehumanised so many people and it is just not right.

So why do I say to Christians to legalise SSM? For many reasons, but firstly because law is not religion – religion generally tries to imagine the world as it could be. At its best it makes us strive to be better people, but it does not rule a society. The Law, in my mind, protects, it protects us from others and from ourselves. It acknowledges the reality that life is not perfect, humans are not perfect. And in this sense I can only say that Jesus himself acknowledges the need for exceptions. He said that God did not intend for divorce, yet He made allowances for it. Our law now allows people to have no-fault divorce, yet according to Jesus in the Bible unless there was evidence of adultery, divorce is not God’s intention and to remarry after divorce He declares it a form of adultery. Yet how many Christian’s today are divorced not because of adultery and are now remarried? I don’t condemn them; I understand life is beyond the ideal of Jesus’ words. In fact to be perfectly honest, I could have gotten divorced. As wonderful as my husband is, after we had children it was so hard. I wasn’t coping, he wasn’t coping and he and I just couldn’t seem to work things out (my polite way of saying, screaming, crying and arguing matches). Eventually, for us we were blessed to have counselling sessions that helped us resolve our differences and deal with our own issues.

I also believe Jesus didn’t condemn. For example, not long after he makes this declaration about divorce, he forgives the woman caught in adultery. But my question is why does not only society but many churches now accept people who are divorced? I believe it is because we understand that sometimes even though we try to understand each other in a marriage, it doesn’t always work out. And sometimes the better solution is to walk away so that we don’t spend a lifetime hurting ourselves and others. In some ways the Church can learn from the Law, it can learn to accept that life isn’t perfect and we must make allowances for this. That sometimes we need to imagine that the worst will happen, and explore how we will respond, which is what the Law does. My question at the end of this is: if you met someone who was divorced would you honestly tell them that they are condemned by God? Would you condemn them and convict them, disown them; tell them that you love them but not their actions? Would you belittle their life? Tell them of all the potential negative consequences of divorce on their children? If so, then you need to get the massive log out of your eye, because according to your beliefs, Christ died for them and he does not condemn them. If not, then how can you do this to someone who wants to marry someone of the same sex? Is it not the same thing, a lifetime decision against various verses in the Bible? Drop your stone my friends, we are guilty too. And if it is right or wrong to love someone of the same sex, it is not our place to judge. It is not our place to condemn and it is not our place to say that it should not happen. The only thing we can control is ourselves. So make a pledge with yourself to not marry someone of the same sex if you believe it is wrong, make a pledge with yourself to be a better person, but understand that this is the only true power you have in life, control over yourself and your attitudes.

For those who are willing to concede a civil union but not marriage, here is my view. The church does not own the word marriage – it was in place before the Bible and used within many different cultures and religions, many with no knowledge of the Christian or even Jewish faith. There are many different definitions that have evolved over time, from a transaction between families, to a love match. I mean, even in the Bible there are difference definitions, with the Old Testament allowing (if not promoting) polygamy: great patriarchs such as Jacob, David and Solomon all have multiple wives. Yet the New Testament states that a deacon can have only one wife. So it is not a question of redefinition of a word, such as ‘trinity’, which is exclusively used in Christianity; ‘marriage’ is a word that both secular and religious people use. I see no controversy from Christians stating that they are appalled, offended and refuse to recognise the marriage of non-Christian heterosexuals; often Christians are willing to recognise these ‘marriages’, even if a celebrant not a minister performed the ceremony and there was no mention of God in the service at all. So if marriage is not a Christian-only institution, why try to stop this redefinition? My reasoning for allowing it to be called marriage is because words have connotations (I’m an English teacher, connotation is my world) and if a civil union looks like marriage, sounds like marriage and is basically marriage, then why create a new word that will cause potential discrimination? If the only difference between a civil union and marriage is the gender of the participants, then it is discriminatory. How do you say that someone is equal if one group have one word to describe their relationship and another group a different one? It becomes a way of division instead of love and unity, a way to judge a relationship as lacking, incomplete or inappropriate. Will you also protest a civil union relationship calling their partner their wife? I understand you are trying to compromise, but it is not enough if we want to live in a society of peace and inclusion.

Finally, I just ask that those Christians putting forth their ‘no’ point of view to stop looking at this as though it is not personal. It is very personal, especially for a group of people who already have been hurt, abused and belittled in our society; they do not need your judgement too. They do not need you to say that it’s not you judging them but God, they don’t need you to espouse views that you think are impersonal, but are very personal to them. They don’t need you to say that they are going to screw up any kids that they have. As a parent I don’t think there is any perfect parent out there, and there is potential for both heterosexual and homosexual parents to damage the psyche of a child. Divorce damages, single parenting damages, but it also has the potential for good.  I know some wonderful, amazing, single mums who are doing an amazing job raising their child. Honestly, are any of these any worse than a married Christian father who abuses his child? There are many risk factors to the physical, emotional and mental health of a child, I know that, in fact I’m sure many of us have hidden scars from our own childhood. But everyone is different and we can’t judge all homosexuals on an anecdote where someone experienced pain being raised by homosexual parents. At the end of all this I just ask that you see homosexual people as PEOPLE first. Not as theology, not as right versus wrong, not as hypothetical problems, but as people. As your mother, as your sister, as your father, as your brother. That is how I believe Jesus lived, he saw people, that’s why His ministry was with the lowly, the fishermen, the tax collectors, the prostitutes. He didn’t condemn Zacchaeus’ life, he didn’t say, “You’re wrong, you’re greedy and I’ll prove all of this to you by quoting the prophets of old”; instead he said, “Let’s go have lunch together.” I get that it is hard to not feel as though SSM is threatening you personally, but in time I hope you can see the people, not the topic. I hope you can forget the topic and just love the person.

I’m not perfect, I can’t see the future any better than you, but I trust God to bring healing and wholeness to a situation that is full of hurt, confusion and righteous indignation. I trust God to help me be compassionate to all people, homosexual or heterosexual, Christian or non-Christian, and because of this I am choosing to vote ‘yes’. Because essentially the greatest commandment Jesus gave was to love God and love one another as ourselves. So before you say anything more on this issue, think whether is it loving and err on the side of silence if unsure.

And as a side note please be wary of a politician who cares more for votes than he does about the emotional welfare of his people.

iVenerate – Jerry and the Cult

This blog takes a quizzical look at the concept of worship and veneration of a “god”. David Sretenovic urges the reader to be realistic about faith and miracles … and also empathetic. [Reader note: “M-rated” for language]

So I’ve got this mate, Jerry, who I went to high school with and I have a lot of respect for. He comes up to me and tells me about this dude they’ve been visiting weekly. The dude lives nearby and works locally… apparently he’s a great guy. But Jerry and his family go there and pray to him. They worship him. Like actually, worship him … bow down, give him their money and do what he says. Jerry is an intelligent guy whom I’ve known for years, but he’s completely given up all his life plans and is simply doing as this guy directs.

Seriously concerning stuff. Hearing all this, my mind just goes, “Cult. Weirdos. How could my mate get sucked into this stuff? They seriously need help. This guy’s pulling some scam.”

The fact is though, as a Christian, all of the above is pretty much how I treat Jesus Christ (God). So, what gives? [Oh, and the above scenario: yeah not real.]

I got to thinking recently that if, hypothetically, I had lived in the city of Jerusalem where the Twelve Disciples were recruited, I would really struggle to do what they did. I seriously think that if I was told that my friends had become devotees of a local guy, claiming Him to be God and literally forsaking their past life for his agenda, I would write them off as fools. Take it further: is there any chance I would bow before some guy — just a local tradie (literally a carpenter)? I actually cannot see myself doing that. I simply see humans as humans, and no one deserves to be worshiped; I am equal, and there’s no way anyone can subordinate me in such a way.

Unless.

There is a genuine qualification I must discuss. If this “dude” proved himself to me. Then, and only then, could I possibly be convinced to elevate him in some special way. I wouldn’t lightly be convinced, but there are probably a few things, of the miraculous kind, which could pique my attention and begin to sway me. For example, if he told me things about my past which no one else knew, or read my mind, that would impress me. If he was able to materialize (like magic) certain things on demand, that would get me to think again. Hmmm, let’s say my friend was decapitated in a local skirmish, and I saw the dude bring him back to life by restoring his head — yeah, I’d be impressed with that. And if he healed my sick child, or if the dude himself was killed and then came back to life. There would come a point where I’d feel like I’m denying my own reality to consider this guy equal to me; I’d have to acknowledge he’s not a normal human at some point. So, apparently this happened to the Twelve Disciples — okay.

What also needs to be added to this picture is that the religion of the disciples, Judaism, had established, recorded prophecies which were being fulfilled before their very eyes. That would, for religious folk,  be an incredible confirmation of what they were witnessing. And these miracles continued throughout their lives, even after Christ departed. Therefore, if all of the above were true, I could not blame them for being convinced to the point of worship. Sure, if the Bible is fiction, then it’s fiction. But the logic remains. And I still need to make my point.

Unless I experienced the far-fetched, unearthly proofs I mentioned above, there is NO WAY I would come close to devoting myself to, let alone worshiping, a guy, just a local tradie.  Unless I saw and experienced some bloody impressive and mind-blowing miracles, I’m sure that I would make doubting Thomas look like a hero of faith. There is no way I could be moved to the point of worship without this context.

The punch-line to my blog is this: it would be completely out of my hands as to whether these miraculous proofs were displayed to me (either in historic Jerusalem or today). The booming corollary is this: my present faith in Jesus, and my subsequent worship of him, is completely dependent on the one with the supernatural power. God.

So I am in no position to blame or resent someone for not having faith. How f*!#-ed up that would be. Nowadays I simply enjoy my own faith, and do what I can to allow others to enjoy what I do. But the actual moment of faith, getting others to see what I have seen, and experience a paradigm-shifting miracle. Pfft! That’s His prerogative! Lol.

Blessings in Christ

David

Fifty shades of Violence

There is much more to violence than meets the eye, and in this blog David Sretenovic appeals to our personal experiences of violence and critiques the idea of “zero tolerance” … which may actually not be as wonderful as it sounds.

I have friends who have “zero tolerance” for violence. Folks I truly love and respect. But I’m afraid I have to call their zero-tolerance rhetoric a bit of a façade; or else they live in a bit of a cotton-wrapped non-reality. For me, zero tolerance isn’t realistic; from my perspective there is an optimal level of “violence”, but it’s a grey-area which the human animal struggles with.

It’s worth taking some time to break the concept down: what exactly constitutes violence? Is it only physical acts, or does it include words? What about in self-defense, or to prevent further violence? You’re welcome to have your own definition, but there’s a definitely a grey-area. As far as I’m concerned, it’s far better to go to the gym and hit a boxing bag than to hit your partner during an argument, but striking a bag is still violence. As for the gentle act of putting pen to paper: I completely advocate you expressing your emotions to your diary rather than screaming in hatred at your ex — but that vitriolic rant in your diary is still violent in nature. And at the risk of setting the bar too high, I will push the envelope even further.  You very well may have the self-control to say, “God bless you,” and walk away after someone spits in your face (and I truly salute you in that case). But that anger you overcame, that urge to strike back: those thoughts are red, hot and violent. Violence is all around us, insidiously.

Here’s my personal reality. I have toddlers who lash out in frustration sometimes — they scream, hit or push. At the age of 37, there have been times in my life where I’ve raised my voice in anger. In basketball and soccer, you bet I’ve charged at the goal aggressively knowing I could injure my opponent. Can you detect any violence?

And here’s society’s reality. We revel in sports such as football (rugby, soccer, American football…) and boxing. Leather and chicken dinners (nuff said). Violence in movies is a given. A grandparent will be asked repeatedly to tell his war stories. Literature, with all its violence, is the bedrock of childhood and adult imagination. The Bible, in its R-rated glory, is left in motels and hospitals. Many people applaud the discipline which young army reservists acquire but ignore the context. Folks proudly spruik the quality of their educational heritage, forgetting that those schools had a very non-metaphorical rod as their bottom line for misbehaviour. And if push comes to shove, even the most zero-tolerant person would find themselves striking back if attacked or if a family member were being assaulted. Zero tolerance makes a hypocrite of anyone who participates in any of the above because they all involve some form of violence.

So for me, a violence-free community (according to this broad definition) is a pie in the sky. Zero tolerance denies individuals the process of humanity, and ultimately it’s hypocritical. After sharing a zero-tolerance meme on social media, it’s all too common to proceed to stray into this violence grey-zone. Even the most peaceful of us typically have a less tranquil back-story: everyone has a journey which requires some tolerance, even if it’s just to allow your past self to have existed. We would do better to admit we’ve had violent thoughts, feelings, impulses and reactions, and aim for optimal ways of dealing with these.

To illustrate the short-fall of zero tolerance, let’s consider children. When a child lashes out verbally, snatches something or hits-out in retaliation (or even accidentally strikes another child clumsily), zero tolerance automatically condemns. A typical outflow is blaming a parent for their child’s behaviour; comments about parenting styles can be quite cutting and judgemental. But conversely, an “optimal level of violence” approach assumes that kids will get frustrated and in the process of growth acquire increasingly more appropriate ways of dealing with their emotions and conflicts: some violence — in both thought and action — is assumed and actually deemed appropriate for their stage of life. And this acceptance allows parents to find their own ways of minimising the violence in a context of non-condemnation. It’s simply being realistic, yet in no way does it advocate pain or hurtful actions. Moreover, aiming for an optimal level of violence nurtures genuine and transparent conversation about discipline styles rather than assuming that anything resembling violence — either words or actions — is automatically damnable. With kids, the one assumed common goal is minimisation of hurt — zero tolerance is only one possible approach, but not the best one in my opinion.

Another example is DV (domestic violence). Zero tolerance is flawed in that it cannot handle the grey-areas of violence which creep up in our lives, and the finger tends to only get pointed at the most extreme forms of physical violence. Sure, one individual did the man-handling, but the other was cursing and shouting. Both are violent in nature, but the one who man-handled is given the majority of the attention. It is only a surface-solution to condemn the physical violence but ignore the rest of the violence. Zero tolerance just short-circuits at the suggestion that smashing your fist on a desk is actually better than punching your husband or wife; you need to be flexible to admit that. Instead, zero tolerance imposes an arrogant attitude which says, “Well I’m perfect so you should be also.” Conversely, aiming for an optimal level of violence is empathetic in nature: it genuinely leaves the door open to the idea of finding a punching bag. All the while, there is never any suggestion that smashing anything is ideal or good. [Please note: this simplistic DV scenario aptly makes my point but certainly doesn’t adequately represent the full scope of DV where, for example, sometimes the violence is completely unprovoked and where the blame ought to be apportioned differently. However, the flaws of a zero-tolerance approach certainly still apply. The path forward is to present an empathetic solution to the violence, rather than merely heaping on condemnation.]

These examples illustrate well the impossibility of expecting a home to be 100% free of violence — at very least there will exist some angry emotions, or kids which erupt at some point. Such forms of violence must be tolerated, and assuming they are, then optimal ways of handling them can be negotiated. I am not condoning hurtful behaviour, rather I’m urging realism and honesty which leads to character growth. I am laying the groundwork for conversations such as these:

  • “I do sometimes get violent thoughts. How should I handle it?”
  • “There was a time I very nearly hit you and it scared the hell out of me. I never ever want us to reach that level of conflict again. We need some strategies for the future.”
  • “My kids are such terrors; they’re always fighting.”

“Yeah, kids will be kids!”

“But the other day they fought at the park and some stranger’s kid got knocked over. I’m afraid they’ll really hurt or influence the other kids around them.”

  • “Did you know that the Smiths actually smack their kids? I’ve shouted at my kids plenty of times but I’d never smack them.”

“Oh, when I was a kid it would terrify me when my parents raised their voice but my brother wouldn’t bat an eyelid. He would only listen if they used the wooden spoon.”

“But aren’t the Smiths supposed to be Christians?”

“Yeah, I know. Christianity is so contradictory: Jesus was non-violent but then the Bible says ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’.”

I think all parents, partners, athletes, law enforcers — everyone in society, when at their best — would like to live their life without hurting others, and especially innocent bystanders. But some people think aggressive sports are beautiful, and some folks release their steam-valve via a boxing bag. Some people use violent words in journals and in gossip. Still others use preventative violence in their vocation — for example, a policeman might restrain a drunk man — for the purpose of curtailing further violence. We are all complicit in some form of violence, even if it’s just to reduce it, so it should be clear that there is a common enemy for all of these coping strategies, and that enemy is zero tolerance. I applaud the intent of folks who preach zero tolerance — you and I are in fact on the same team — but there’s a better, more honest and compassionate path I think. And that path starts with the question, “What is the optimal way of handling the violence here?”

A Christian at a Buddhist Retreat Reading the Qur’an – Part 2: My Experience

David Sretenovic took a week off: no food, no obligations, nothing but healing and respite. This is a two-part blog which shares a piece of that inspiring escape.

Here I’d like to serve up the five-course banquet of my personal fast/retreat over the last four days here in Eudlo on the Sunshine Coast. (Some additional audio-visuals to be added in future too).

Up in hinterland, I have stayed here at the Chenrezig Institute in a private hut,  and not been approached by anyone – no reception or admin, not even a note on arrival (I think there was supposed to be a note actually!) – but it was refreshingly open, prepared, and trust-based. I had paid ahead, and all was faithfully left for me 🙂 . It’s presently Spring-time; in these parts it’s spectacularly refreshing. Some stunning views!

As for my activity, I started a juice-fast three days earlier while at home, and have continued it here. My key objectives are: physical rejuvenation (a 7-day juice-fast), personal respite and detachment from home life, spiritual incubation. I took advice from a medical expert regarding the fast, researched my location options (I had earlier inquired at a Christian retreat centre but they were booked out and told me about Chenrezig Buddhist Institute) and did a retreat-schedule which included planned and optional activities, but especially which books to take ☺.

Everything has gone to plan! It was my “Abraham’s ram in the bush” experience which confirmed the Lord’s hand of blessing. The neighbouring suburb was Palmwoods, and there I found Dave and Crystal from “Crystal Organics” – wooh! Dave gave me a tour of their rockin’ operation – beautiful organic produce – and supplied me with a stunning “juicing box” of organic leafy greens and such. Pick up time next morning was set for 6:30am, so they could pull the produce out from the soil just minutes before pick up – so fresh! Please do use these guys if you have a local organic-produce need – they’re as good as you’ll ever find! http://www.crystalorganics.org/  .

My routine has been more or less as follows: awake, make a juice, relax/read/stroll, drink water – repeat. Add to this a coffee-enema twice-daily, and occasional coconut oil-pulling. I also skipped out for a couple of massages, and had my local-dwelling Dad visit one evening. Various other soul-inspiring events transpired too, such as this and other blogs and revelations for personal and family projects (such as Dad’s book publication).

Today is the last day of my retreat, and I feel pretty amazing. I haven’t taken food for five and half days, but the vege-juices have nourished me supremely so that hunger pangs have been very rare, and sleep has been deep and refreshing. I’ve also seen ailments healed. I had had a persistent cough for about month but that has been gone since the second day. I had been having back pain upon awaking in the morning: that also disappeared. I can see a clear link between the food and my ailments! Even now I’m not hungry and I haven’t had a juice for about 11 hours (I’m due for one though). For those interested in learning about the ancient-modern practice of fasting, one resource is Paul Bragg’s The Miracle of Fasting, and here’s a link found for easing off the fast wisely http://www.allaboutfasting.com/breaking-a-fast.html . I highly recommend it; it’s a largely lost human practice which never ought to have been considered dispensable. [Four days post-fast: One additional thing worth mentioning is that I cannot overstate how intensely boosted are my flavour sensors! ALL food, including water, literally has a double-punch of flavour now. I’ve been truly amazed; I can say that I only remember tasting food this way as a child! Also, the underlying condition causing the cough I mentioned above does not seem to be completely cured (or it has returned), but it’s certainly vastly milder].

To round-out this blog, I’d like to include a little bit of Buddhism education. In addition to the iconography, I’ve included snapshots from Chenrezig’s Garden of Enlightenment stupa information-board. There is much to learn about yourself, your own beliefs, and of course others, by appreciating what different religions teach.

So, as a Christian departs a Buddhist Retreat, does he pray a blessing over it? Of course!  After all, it was an immense blessing to me, and I certainly wish for it to be a blessing to others in the same way. I now pray a blessing over that facility and its administrators, in Jesus’ name. Amen 🙂 .

Enjoy!

 

A Christian at a Buddhist Retreat Reading the Qur’an – Part 1: My Inspiration

David Sretenovic took a week off: no food, no obligations, nothing but healing and respite. This is a two-part blog which shares a piece of that inspiring escape.

It struck me at one point this week that I was a Christian, staying at a Buddhist Retreat, reading the Qur’an. I took a week off from my normal life routine to fast and stay in a private room up in the hills of Eudlo, here in South-East Queensland. And I’ve been soul-awakeningly inspired.

This retreat setting is certainly not a Christian place – there are too many statues/idols, and there’s a rule forbidding sexual contact – but it’s so peaceful; I’m reading the Qur’an and it’s plainly not the Bible – Muhammad and his sword are the heroes rather than the sword-denying Christ – but the book definitely echoes what I hear in churches and Christian literature. It’s these commonalities – brilliant gems of beautiful, shared humanity – that make me absolutely certain that we can coexist peacefully!

Oh we will undoubtedly have times when tensions and fights erupt, but it will be part of a peaceful path: the Believers in all religions will all push towards harmony together, and the Believers will carry the day. That’s what I mean.

chenrezig-3

Science Deniers and Finger Pointers

David Sretenovic loves science, but critiques it a bit too much for some “science-types” out there. In this blog he responds to a passionate spray by a denier finger-pointer. He suggests that real science leaves room for skepticism and critical analysis.

Insufferable Intollerance snip
“Insufferable Intolerance Blog” (April, 2015)

Any “science deniers” out there? Hehe … I think those opposite me in online debates sometimes see me that way. A post by “Insufferable Intolerance Blog” about “how science deniers think” got my attention (1). Ultimately this blogger sees deniers as “the problem”; specifically, deniers are “con-artists in lab-coats” and folks who can’t tell the difference between these cons and real scientists.

Well, I’m not the lab-coat wearing type. And as for not being able to recognize a real scientist… hmmm, well here’s the thing. I’ve linked an article (below) by Dr Richard Horton who is the chief of real scientists, and he admits that “much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue” (2). As a case in point, The Lancet itself published the now famously retracted study by Andrew Wakefield (linking autism to vaccines). As a long-term editor of The Lancet, I presume Horton himself would have presided over that oversight. Apparently even the chief of real scientists can struggle to separate the real and fake science … so tell me, Insufferable Intolerance Blogger, does that make him a denier, and a part of the problem?

Richard Horton snip
The Lancet, Vol 385, No.9976, p.1380, April 11, 2015

I can go one better. Although I haven’t read his article (due to inaccessibility), and I’m presuming this is an accurate quote, Horton is upfront about the paucity of the “peer review process”: “Editors and scientists alike insist on the pivotal importance of peer review. We portray peer review to the public as a quasi-sacred process that helps to make science our most objective truth teller. But we know that the system of peer review is biased, unjust, unaccountable, incomplete, easily fixed, often insulting, usually ignorant, occasionally foolish, and frequently wrong” (3).

I’m no hater, so Insufferable Intolerance Blogger, it’s cool – you’re entitled to have a spray. And the thread below your comment is a brilliant venting-ground for the frustrated boffin. I just hope you’re not pretending that you’ve made any sort of objective or scientifically rigorous case. It’s actually the same kind of subjectivity you’re accusing the deniers of using.

And for the record – I LOVE science! I simply exercise my right to remain skeptical towards any given publication, and use my critical thinking as fits my conscience. As a real scientist should.

 

References:

(1) https://web.facebook.com/InsufferableIntolerance/posts/625453310949124?fref=nf&pnref=story

(2) http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(15)60696-1/fulltext?rss%3Dyes

(3) Horton, R (2000). “Genetically modified food: Consternation, confusion, and crack-up”. The Medical journal of Australia172 (4): 148–9. PMID10772580 (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Horton_(editor) )