Wednesday 24 July 2019

Letters: George Hook far more compelling on life's meaning than Fry

George Hook eloquently discussed his ideas about existence. Photo: Sportsfile
George Hook eloquently discussed his ideas about existence. Photo: Sportsfile

Letters to the editor

Stephen Fry's tirade on RTÉ's 'The Meaning of Life' programme against a God he believes doesn't exist received worldwide attention and millions of YouTube hits. Less publicised was broadcaster George Hook's reassessment of his own previous non-belief in a creator of the universe and long-time cynicism about life having any real meaning.

George mightn't be as "cool" or sensational a character as Stephen out there in cyberspace but for me he's by far the more convincing and eloquent of the two men.

He opened his heart to the nation on Brendan O'Connor's 'The Saturday Night Show', expressing remorse for past decisions and behaviour that he could just as easily have said nothing about. He touched the hearts of many people with his appeal to the inherent value of common human decency and his passionate advocacy of a return to the principles of his childhood faith which, despite the failings of religious institutions, now restores hope for him in a world that often seems to trample all over the smallest glimmers of hope.

And his rejection of the notion that the universe and everything in it came about by accident was no mere emotional outburst. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. The atheist/materialistic view of existence implies that everything came out of nothing, a form of reasoning that ignores the impeccable order in a universe that at times may appear chaotic and arbitrary in its functioning.

There is undeniably order in the way the planets orbit their suns, in the coming and going of the seasons, in the composition of the atom and the complex life cycles of every creature in the universe, and there is an splendour to be found in the world around us that defies description or detached analysis, despite all the horrors to which Stephen Fry alluded in his harangue.

The atheists and materialists are entitled to their non-belief, but they cannot state with certainty that there wasn't a creator. Nor can they tell us what exactly awaits us after the death of the mortal body. When our body draws its last breath, we'll personally discover if everything truly came from nothing, and means nothing; and the most heinous criminals on the planet (including the Nazis and Stalin) get the same deal as someone who devoted his or her life to relieving the suffering of other human beings.

One can claim, or imply, that the simple beauty of a rose or a daffodil or a sunset or a wedding or a birthday celebration is an illusion and a meaningless trick of the brain, that the mind is just a collection of chemicals and molecules without meaning, without any need for a creator.

It's an opinion to which one is entitled, but it sounds pretty far-fetched to me, primarily because it envisages the ultimate absurdity: an incredibly long drawn-out effect without a cause.

John Fitzgerald, Callan, Co Kilkenny


The stamp as propaganda?

The Government has been chastised in three Supreme Court judgments for acting wrongfully when spending money and using resources on campaigns that were not fair, equal or impartial but intended to influence the outcome of constitutional referenda.

Under the theme Love and Marriage 2015 and coinciding with St Valentine's Day, An Post issued a new 'LOVE' postage stamp based on a typographic form of the word 'love' and a graphical representation of a heart.

The capital letter 'E' in the word 'love' on this new stamp incorporates the equality symbol.

An equality symbol with a similar appearence and a graphic representation of a heart is contained in the logo of Human Rights Campaign, the largest US advocacy and lobbying group working for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the context of their slogan that "all love is equal".

This logo is viewed by this group as a catalyst for harnessing the passion of the public who support its mission for marriage equality.

The Supreme Court considered the McCrystal challenge following the Children's Referendum in 2012 and the court ruled that information published by the Government was clearly biased in favour of a Yes vote.

The court noted that certain aspects of the Facebook page of the Government's information campaign were unconstitutional - thus placing an emphasis on imagery in the presentation of information.

An Post is a State agency operating under the auspices of Communications Minister Alex White.

Is the Government about to be challenged and chastised in another court judgment for illegal and biased advocacy in a referendum?

Why did the board of An Post become a publisher of propaganda in a matter that is the exclusive and sacrosanct province of the will of the people to either accept or reject?

Myles Duffy, Glenageary, Co Dublin


Adams's ambition

Gerry Adams is refusing to rule out becoming Taoiseach after the next General Election.

You know what? So am I!

Killian Foley-Walsh, Kilkenny city


We're not out of the woods yet

We may be out of the bailout programme, but a whopping €13.6bn has yet to be paid off in loans according to the National Treasury Management Agency going into 2015.

This still represents a staggering amount of money for a country of just five million people, on top of the austerity measures.

It should be remembered that serious problems still remain within the Irish banking sector and another crash cannot be ruled out. We must understand that the bank guarantee scheme expired in 2010.

The ability of this country to ignore warning signs and bury the truth is astounding. It has taken six years to set up a Banking Inquiry. The banking collapse was predicted by senior economics professor Morgan Kelly of Trinity College as early as 2006. Merrill Lynch analyst Philip Ingram also raised serious concerns. It was also widely known in 2007 that the banks' share prices were falling sharply. However, it was late September before the government acted.

Both men were in a position to know what was going wrong with the system - both were ignored, to the country's detriment.

This wayward country is capable of making the same mistakes all over again!

Maurice Fitzgerald, Ringaskiddy, Co Cork


Existence and the logical fallacy

Eric Conway (Letters, Irish Independent, February 16) says that the "logical fallacies contained in Mr Fry's interview are many" with regard to the contribution by Stephen Fry on 'The Meaning of Life' on RTÉ. Yet, curiously, Mr Conway fails to name even one.

Instead, Mr Conway himself commits the logical fallacy of ignoratio elenchi ("missing the point") by criticising Mr Fry for "indulging in a long-winded rant against an entity he claims not to believe in" - Mr Fry was asked a hypothetical question by Gay Byrne, and answered it as such.

Gary J Byrne, IFSC, Dublin 1


My money's on God

Pascal Rosenstock (Letters, Irish Independent, February 14) states that "most rational people will contend that the universe came from matter in some form".

This contradicts the opinion of most scientists; they believe that the matter (and energy) making up the universe had its origins in an as-yet undiscovered source of energy.

And his question "what was God doing for zillions of years before the big bang?" is self-contradictory, as there can be no notion of a space-time dimension prior to the Big Bang.

Given a choice between putting my money on Mr Rosenstock or on someone who backed up his claim to be an authority on the after-life by rising from the dead, my money is on the latter.

P P Davis, Dublin 17

Irish Independent

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