Wednesday 29 January 2020

God versus Aliens - why can't they all just get along?

The eyes have it: Waterford TD John Halligan says aliens are too sophisticated to make contact with us
The eyes have it: Waterford TD John Halligan says aliens are too sophisticated to make contact with us
John Halligan TD (centre)
Contradiction: Hillary Clinton
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

Here's a little test. Imagine, if you will, that you've just been born, fully formed as an adult, but with none of the emotional baggage and preconceived notions which comes from years of indoctrination.

Imagine, then, that someone told you there was a mystical being who nobody had ever had seen or heard, but who created the universe. Not only did it create the universe, but it also has an unhealthy interest in your sex life and will also take ­personal requests like some celestial DJ

Such a proposition would, under any rational analysis, be greeted with uncontrollable laughter and open scorn.

Alternatively, consider this - imagine, in your newly formed state, if someone explained that there are billions of stars in the universe just like our own sun and through a process of statistical inevitability, life developed not just on our planet, but on others as well.

That doesn't seem nearly as outlandish or, frankly, mad as the idea of a supernatural entity who is believed by billions despite there being absolutely zero evidence that it even exists.

That, I think, was the point that Waterford TD John Halligan was trying to make in a recent interview.

According to him: "I don't think there's any God - I know for a fact there's not."

He then added, for good measure, that there are undoubtedly aliens out there, but he reckons we humans are so unsophisticated they probably couldn't be arsed making contact with us.

The reaction to these remarks was interesting - not only was there social media mockery and scorn, but a general sentiment spread in the air which held the notion that Halligan is entirely bonkers and some people were so incensed that they even argued that he shouldn't be allowed to be a TD.

I have no idea whether God exists or not.

But in the absence of absolutely any evidence, I'm no more inclined to believe in Zeus or the Aztec God of war, Huitzilopochtli, than I am to subscribe to the more conventional Christian idea.

In this case, the absence of evidence is, for me, the evidence of absence. Similarly, I have no idea if aliens exist or not. But they're a damn sight more plausible than the idea of a God.

The hysterical response to Halligan's remarks immediately reminded me of one of my favourite ever episodes of The Late Late, from about 15 year ago.

Some Raelians were on the panel and they were, to use a term popular in my youth, completely hatstand.

They believe that we are basically the products of an alien genetic ­experiment and they were treated with absolute ridicule by the host and the audience.

Now, ridicule is fine and, let's be honest, a vital component of any free society - and these people certainly deserved it.

But what I remember most were the audience members who spoke openly of their Christianity while tearing strips off the unfortunate Raelians, who by the end of the show were so woebegone that I actually felt a bit sorry for them.

The thing is, while there were ­volumes of rational evidence to debunk these demonstrably idiotic and fanciful claims, an audience of ­people who believe they eat the ­literal body and blood of Christ probably weren't the best people to do it.

Those who believe in God and loftily sneer at those who believe in aliens don't seem to realise or accept that belief in aliens can be explained, or at least examined, scientifically.

The whole point of religious belief, on the other hand, is that you have to simply take it on faith. And any belief system which only has faith as its evidence is not something worth believing.

The sneering towards those who believe in UFOs is understandable, particularly once believers start talking about alien abductions and experiments which, for some reason, seem to involve a lot of anal probing. But there's a rather large difference between accepting the possibility of life on other planets and thinking that the Greys are coming to do strange things to your bottom.

Belief in aliens often leads to strange ideas. Belief in God, on the other hand, requires a strange idea as its starting point.

Both sides could agree to disagree.

But where's the fun of that?

Clinton doesn't  get it,  just doesn't care

IR US Election _5.jpg
Contradiction: Hillary Clinton

A general sentiment spread which held the notion that Halligan is entirely ­bonkers...some were so ­incensed, they argued that he shouldn't be allowed to be a TD

Did my eyes just deceive me? Did I watch, with my jaw on the floor, as the father of Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh took pride of place behind Donald Trump at an election rally in, of all places, Oklahoma?

Did I then hold my hands in a despairing gesture as Trump came out and said he had no idea McVeigh's father would be there - despite being invited by his own campaign team?

Actually, no. No, I didn't. Because Trump didn't do that.

But Hillary did.

Okay, it wasn't McVeigh's father.

But the Clinton team's decision to place the father of Omar Mateen, the Orlando shooter who killed 49 people in the Pulse nightclub terrorist attack, in a prominent position at a rally beggars belief.

The thing with Clinton is that it's hard to know whether she doesn't get it or just doesn't care.

To further add embarrassment to Clinton, the Taliban-supporting Seddique Mateen promptly contradicted her and said that, actually, he had indeed been invited to attend thank you very much.

So, Clinton - or someone on her team - invites a Taliban-supporting father of a mass murderer, whose main complaint about his son's actions was that it was up to only Allah to punish gays.

Trump, meanwhile, makes yet another poorly executed joke about guns and Hillary that goes down like a .357 lead balloon.

It's becoming increasingly clear that neither of these people would be trusted with the keys to your car let alone the greatest nation on earth.

But it might yet lead to an interesting election strategy - silence. Both candidates' biggest enemy is themselves. So, the one who says the least has the best hope of victory.

Sometimes, silence is golden...

Well, we can but dream.

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