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Are Australians “losing their faith”?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal Blog titled Australian’s Lose Their Faith reported that 4.8 million Aussies marked “No Religion” on last year’s census. 

Following this article I spent an afternoon analysing the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2011 Census.

The most interesting points:

  • “No Religion” 22.34% (made up of Atheists 0.27% ; Agnostics 0.16%; No Religion nfd 21.86%; Humanism 0.04% and Rationalism 0.02%).
  • “Not Stated” 8.57% (which may be because of the design of the survey form, in which the “No Religion” option was a little hidden – see article on this here).
  • “Other Religions” (Indigenous, Baha’i, Chinese, Japanese, Nature religions etc) added up to 1.45%;
  • Hinduism 1.28%; Buddhism 2.46%;
  • a range of Christianity 61% (including Uniting Church 4.96%; Catholic 25.33%; Pentecostals 1.1%; Anglican 17.14%).

There has been a constant growth in the “No Religion” category in Australia:

  • 1991 Census – 12.9% No Religion
  • 1996 Census – 16.6% No Religion
  • 2001 Census – 15.5% No Religion (maybe people got scared after 911?)
  • 2006 Census – 18.7% No Religion
  • 2011 Census – 22.34% No Religion

Some people seem surprised this statistic of 22.34% of a population to be without religion is high. Others seem shocked that 22.34% is so low – thinking it more likely to be 22.34% religious, and 77.66% non religious.  

Over 50 million Americans (16.1% of the population of the United States) ticked the same box in their latest PEW survey That is, 16.1% ticked the “Unaffiliated” box which is broken down into Atheist 1.6%, Agnostic 2.4% and Nothing in particular 12.1%.

An assumption seemingly unquestioned is the idea that having no religion means the same thing as having no faith. I beg to differ: one need not classify themselves as part of an institutionalized religion to have faith in some thing bigger than themselves. 

We have the opportunity to interpret the Holy Books of all religions in their historical context, and see how it has been written, collected, edited and interpreted for different purposes by different power-hungry men. Learn. Question. THINK!

One need not pretend they know what “God” is, and what “He” thinks. Have we not yet arrived at a stage where we can let go of this human-centred de-contextualised ignorant arrogance?

“God” is a WORD that represents something that remains a mystery.

Sure this word has been used and abused by people who attach stories to it and consider these stories as inseparable from the unknowable creative forced that the word represents.

Science admits it shortfalls, its assumptions, and strives to keep improving theories to make them closer reflections of “truth”. But it never stops questioning (at least it shouldn’t, in theory).

Religion could benefit from being more critical of itself: of it’s doctrines, its dogmas, the methods of teaching, and the consequences of their follower’s actions for the rest of the world. That being said, so could science.

It’s ok to be critical of what you have been taught. In a democratic society it’s essential that we are.

In short I think it’s wonderful that Australians are losing their religion, but I hope that we aren’t losing our faith – in the sense of trusting our intuition and living in connection with the great mystery of life that we are a part of.


Does religion affect population growth?

What is the connection between religion and population growth? The answer might surprise you: absolutely nothing. Well, according to Hans Rosling.

In his April 2012 TED-Talk, Rosling graphs the relationship between religion, income and children between zero and fifteen years olds. He shows that there is no connection between religion and babies, and that there is a much closer connection between:

1 – mortality rates and babies born ie the more likely a baby is to die, the more babies a mother will have.

2 – women’s education, employment opportunities and getting married older and the number of babies a mother will have.

It’s well worth watching:


Using a new medium of boxes – 1 per billion people – Rosling demonstrates why it is inevitable that humanity will reach 10 billion and hence all planning for food, water, housing etc, must be taking into account an additional 3 billion people.

This is an interesting point, though he made the same point pretty clear in his last talk. I’m curious about a few cultural and religions trends that don’t seem to be captured in this animated graph.

For example, in my 2010 visit to India it seems to me that the Indian women had so many babies not due to economic or mortality rates, but as due to their culture. More babies = higher status, at least for the women of lower incomes that I met. Culture isn’t religion but the large red dot that represented India showed a huge reduction in babies. That is, my local observation conflicts with this data. That being said UNICEF confirms that the fertility rate in 2010 in India was 2.6 [1], so I suppose it must be. I guess it depends how the US (who is the provider of the data) has collected it… I’ve asked a friend in India for their opinion and will post that when I hear from him.

Another point that has me a little wary is the connection between different religious laws/controls and birthrates. For example, if Catholicism continues a ban on birth control, surely that will have an affect on birth rates? This distinction is obviously absorbed by the joining together of all the denominations of Christianity under one banner.

Forgetting the detail for now let’s consider the big population question that seems to remain: will we stop at 10 billion?

Rosling makes it clear this will happen only if we:

1 – rid the world of absolute poverty in a way that empowers people/nations to stay out of it

2 – address the various forms of violence that are preventing child survival rates

3 – provide access to child planning

4 – continue to die off when we are 65+ at the same rates as the past, i.e. not using medicine to continue to make us live longer, or preserve our brains in robotic bodies…

Will this happen? Well if you look at the world today you’d probably say no and predict the population increasing far beyond 10 billion. However if something happens to change this eg (following the order of above) we:

1 – reverse neo-liberalist policy that make the “3rd world” provide us cheap raw materials and labour

2 – we find non-violent ways to resolve political, tribal and personal conflicts

3 – the pope embraces condoms (kidding, well sort-of kidding… global family planning does require the spread of condoms)

4 – we realize death ain’t that scary and using medicine to make us live forever ain’t a good aim

So to conclude, while Rosling’s talk is all good in theory and proves the minimum population we can stabilize at is 10 billion, I do wonder about how valid the statistics and analysis are in practice… love to hear your thoughts.




Follow the bliss

‘I don’t believe life has a purpose. Life is a lot of protoplasm with an urge to reproduce and continue in being… but each incarnation, you might say, has a potentiality, and the mission of life is to live that potentiality.’

Joseph Campbell is an incredible storyteller, spiritual guru, philosopher, academic (comparative religion & comparative mythology), writer, etc etc. Another old dead guy with a wicked sense of humour that I’m sure I would have fallen for in his day.

So “How do you do it?” you may ask. How do you live your life to it’s potential?

Campbell’s advice is: “Follow the bliss.”

‘There’s something inside you that knows when you’re in the center, that knows when you’re on the beam or off the beam. And if you get off the beam to earn money, you’ve lost your life. And if you stay in the cneter and don’t get any money, you still have your bliss.’ [1]

P284-5 Campbell, Joseph, The Power of Myth – Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers (New York: Doubleday, 1988).

Mapping out religious beliefs and learning to think

I drew this up flowchart / map of religious beliefs about three years ago. I agree with this quote in part. Thinking can be terrifying. At the time I drew up this map I was at the beginning of an emotional process of learning to think – discovering where the worldview of my upbringing fit with the worldview of other people’s upbringing.

Can you see where your beliefs fit?

There seems to be an endless list of ism’s. Have I missed yours? If I’ve missed any to do with key categories of beliefs about the universe then please let me know so I can add it.

It was during this process of surfing wikipedia and exploring different ism’s that I first came across “Panentheism” (from Greek πᾶν (pân) “all“; ἐν (en) “in“; and θεός (theós) “God“; “all-in-God”) – the idea that everything is in that which we call “God” is different from “Pantheism” (πᾶν (pân) “all“; θεός (theós) “God“; “all-is-God”) which equates The Universe or Nature to “God”.

I like the idea of Panentheism so much that I’m now writing a thesis on it.

I like of pantheism too but seeing as we will never know what lies beyond what we know (until we know it) I cannot see a reason to keep the doors of our imagination open for what might exist beyond our universe. For example, the energies/macrososm we call “God” could encompass a universe of universes, or even a universe of universes of universes… we will never know. Ok, now I’ve lost myself.

I guess this is flowchart is the basis of a number of entries that I will post as I research Panentheism and Process Theology (the idea that everything is a process, an event, that nothing (even “you”) is ever a static “thing”). And by combining these ideas with what I told you about the other day – Narratology (the study of narratives) – I hope to see where and how these different ism’s may actually meet, differing mainly in the historical context that the words, images and stories that describe their beliefs developed.

“ISM” means adherence to an ideology.

Ideology refers to ideas that constitute a person’s goals, expectations and actions – what makes up a person’s view of the world.

My hypothesis is that all the above ideologies might actually meet each other in the idea of Panentheism.

That is, I think that everyone – atheists, agnostics, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, new-age people, etc. etc. – are panentheists, they just don’t know it yet.

What would this mean? Well, maybe if we see that our ideologies are talking about the same thing, it will be harder for our identities to get caught up in them. And seeing as misuse of identity-driven ideologies is a major cause of violence, from terrorism to intolerance, maybe some forms of violence will discover a peaceful resolution.

Of course a lot of people will disagree – which is the fun of having a hypothesis and exploring it.

Maybe I will like my conclusions, maybe I won’t, but it is in the process of thinking and exploring that I expect I will learn and grow and get even just a little bit closer to “truth”.

So somewhere in the intersection of philosophy, religion, and science, I have over the last few blog entries, attempted to introduce the narrative-oriented research project that I suppose will (after many years, if not my entire life), be my magnum opus.

Anyway, I’ve spent enough entries telling you what I want to do… now I have to figure out how I’m going to do it.

Any research project (at least any academic research project), starts with a “literature review”. The objective is to learn who has had similar thoughts in the past, what influenced their ideas, how their ideas evolved, how their ideas influenced other people’s ideas, (and so on and so on), and observing what practical actions have come from it.

As a friend said to me the other day, “There are no new ideas… just new applications of old ones. It’s how ideas are used that matters.” Hopefully whether or not we like the conclusions of our thinking, our ideas will be used in ways we can be proud of.


Taken at a cafe I often walk past on my way to work – it always has these cool little quotes so sometimes I stand there feeling a little silly taking a photo of it with my phone.

A deeper exploration of Resolution Theory

Following a question from someone who came across this blog, I was inspired to revisit Resolution Theory – Gregory David Roberts’ philosophical and cosmological model shared through Khader Bhai, the Mafia don, in Shantaram: The Novel.

Roberts writes:

“The whole universe is moving toward some ultimate complexity. This has been going on since the universe began, and physicists call it the tendency toward complexity. And… anything that kicks this along and helps it is good, and anything that hinders it is evil…

“And this final complexity… it can be called God or the Universal Spirit, or the Ultimate Complexity, as you please. For myself, there is no problem in calling it God. The whole universe is moving toward God, in a tendency toward the ultimate complexity that God is…

“In order to know about any act or intention or consequence, we must first ask two questions. One, what would happen if everyone did this thing? Two, would this help or hinder the movement toward complexity?” (Roberts 2007:550-551.)

I think he makes a very good point when relating such philosophies to the various religious traditions:

“Every guru you meet and every teacher, every prophet and every philosopher should answer these two questions for you: What is an objective, universally acceptable definition of good and evil? And What is the relationship between consciousness and matter?… This is a test that you should apply to every man who tells you that he knows the meaning of life.” (Roberts 2007:708.)

Hmmm… I wonder:

1. How do the things I do in my life weigh up? What would happen if everyone lived like me? What impact would this have on our collective movement toward complexity?

As it stands my job is ok (at Sydney university whose mission is growth of knowledge) although when I make a mistake on the photocopier I cringe at the paper I wasted. And I cringe at the fact that my budget meant the other day I ordered Nescafe (definitely not fair trade coffee)… anyway, one step at a time.

My Western lifestyle needs to evolve into a sustainable cradle-to-cradle model (See: Where are we going? And how?) I do see a movement toward this, for example, with the occasional biodegradable plastic bag. It is encouraging to see the directions a growing collective care for our ecosystem is taking (while of course recognising we still have a long way to go).

2. How do I define good and evil? Is this an objective, universally acceptable definition? How do I deal with the relationship between consciousness and matter?

While Resolution Theory relates good and evil to the tendency to move toward or away from complexity, I like to think of it (which is for sure  inspired by books I’ve read although I can’t remember which exact ones), as the tendency to be Creative or Destructive.

In the philosophical and cosmological model inside my head, good is defined as what is creative and evil what is destructive, which I suppose is somewhat similar to Gregory’s movement toward complexity model – as the more creative we get, the seemingly more complex we get (although sometimes the most creative solutions are the most simple)… anyway I think creativity and destruction are universal and objective definitions – a measure that can be applied to most ethical and moral dilemmas.

I think maybe inspired by Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle audio books, I imagine consciousness as inseparable from matter. I equate consciousness to the “soul”. I imagine our separate souls as being contained in the separate bodies we encompass and the collective soul (from the most macro-lens possible) as being the “soul of the universe” or if you like: “God”.

These personal answers are surely inspired by a number of books I have read and a basic understanding of different religious and philosophical traditions, which I once summarised in the post: Creativism-a-philosophy-for-life.

While recently I’ve felt like I’m drowning in the academic world, Steve’s reminder of Roberts’ theory has made me realise that my MPhil is largely aimed at providing historical religious and philosophical backing to support this philosophical and cosmological understanding of the world: What makes this understanding “true” from my perspective? and What does this understanding of the world mean for my life?

My hypothesis is that this worldview shared by Gregory Roberts, is actually already shared by the majority of the human population – just most don’t know it. It seems (to me) that this understanding underlies the major religious and scientific paradigms. It’s one thing to see this universal unity in my head, it’s another to communicate that unity with others… I know it will be a long journey. I have started and I will start sharing it with you starting next month (I want to finish the revising of peace and conflict studies first).

For a starting point of reference, I put Roberts’ questions to you:

1. Evaluating your life/choices:

a) What would happen if everyone acted the way you do – in lifestyle, job, investments etc.?

b) Would this help or hinder the movement toward complexity?”

2. Your beliefs:

a) How do you define good and evil?

b) Is this an objective, universally acceptable definition?

c) How do you understand the relationship between consciousness and matter?

They are tough questions, but good ones… so enjoy the thinking process!!!


Photo from my time in India – taken by my tour guide (like a Where’s Wally… can you spot the bridge pose?) – part of my “Bridge” series: Bridges in South America

If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend:

Roberts, Gregory David, Shantaram : A Novel (Sydney: Picador, 2007). And more of his philosophies at:

Practicing what I preach

“It’s easier said than done.” I think we all have discovered this at some point or another. A couple of weeks ago I was struggling with a few big decisions and I punched the following rant into my phone on my way to work. In short, I consider the relationship between money, stories, optimal-trajectories, and the dynamics involved in putting these into practice. It’s not always easy to practice what you preach…

When you are happy, it’s easy to say that if you’re not happy you should change something. Figuring out what to change and actually changing it is another thing altogether.

When you have enough money to do the things you want to do, it’s easy to say you don’t care about money. It’s easy to say that you let creative passions & intuitions guide your life, and never money be a driver in your decisions.

When doors are opening as you approach, it’s easy to say it’s because you are “following the signs”, “listening to your intuition”, and “traveling along your optimal trajectory”.That’s easy when you feel like you’re in sync with the universe. During times where everything is falling into place without so much as a hiccup or a sneeze, it’s easy to preach about optimal trajectories. As long as the traffic lights are green, you can keep going. But what happens when you start to get caught at reds? Is this a sign that you’re going the wrong way?

Sometimes  “the signs” are blurry. It can seem as though a sign is pointing in many directions, and there is no way to know which road you should take.

I have faced some roadblocks in this last couple of months.

First, I found out I not only missed out on the scholarship, but my grades were 1.5% too low, making me ineligible to even apply for it. Second, my iMac broke. Third, the editor I hired to give me feedback and correct the grammar on my book had been taking forever.

What was “the universe” trying to tell me?

“Maybe that door’s closing,” suggested my Dad. “Maybe it’s time for a career change.” Subtext: go and get a “real job” in the business world, enjoy the money and security it brings.

It did seem like my plans to do a PhD over the full-time for the next three years with a scholarship – was a door firmly closing on me. And how can I survive without income? A part-time PhD will take forever. If not a PhD, what was I supposed to do?

Like always, I gave the business option some thought… Is my dad right? I am 28 now… Does this mean it’s time for me to “settle down”, get married, get a proper job, a mortgage, and start having babies???

Suddenly I wanted to puke.

I hate that word: “settle”…

It implies compromise.

It implies giving up on dreams.

It implies letting fear lead you to live a life you don’t really want to live.

Life’s too short for that.

From these thoughts and feelings I concluded that the “settle down story” is not the optimal trajectory for me.

Is it a sign that I should pack up my apartment, downsize to a backpack, and travel the world some more? Maybe. But then what about the research I so much want to do? What’s more important for me to do at this stage of my life?

My research thus far into narratology led to some interesting self-reflections on these thoughts. I was clearly looking for a new story. I wanted a story that explained these mishaps and which would set me up on a new trajectory, preferably the one that is optimal for my life.

What was I doing even considering the settle down option? After all I write about on this blog: about not letting money guide my decisions; about how I’m happy to live without security or a fixed plan; and about how important it is to follow one’s dreams… and yet another part of me was saying, “it’s too hard, the door is closed, it’s not meant to be.” I guess yin and yang of life means that no matter how much you believe in freedom, the voice of fear will always creep up inside you.

Am I going to let fear guide my future? No-sir-ee I am not.

I observed as my mind processed the variables, and contemplated possible scenarios. I watched as my mind sought more signs, did more research and tried to connect with “that” feeling one gets inside – that feeling of intuitive satisfaction one feels when they imagine living out a particular future.

I observed as my mind selected one story:

I was “meant” to continue my research without a scholarship. I could start with the smaller research degree – a Master of Philosophy – and then, should I feel so inclined, I could use this degree to get a scholarship and do a PhD after that. Yes it means more work, but maybe is part of the journey I am supposed to take. Yes. I would continue. I love what I’m studying, so why should I let a money-related issue stop me from doing it?

After I had decided on this story I suddenly felt great.

I felt relaxed, and full of an energy I hadn’t remembered experiencing in a long while. The kind of energy that seems to appear when you are connected to the universe. It’s almost drug like – this energy that seems to enter you from no-where – similar to when you do lot of exercise, eat a lot of chocolate, or fall in love. It wouldn’t surprise me if when one feels they are on their optimal trajectory, the same happy buttons in our brains light up.

Observing this mental process, and the emotions and feelings that connected with different stories, got me wondering about self-determinism and predestination.

Is your optimal trajectory something that you choose, or something that chooses you?

This entry has gone long enough. So I’ll finish there and revisit this question tomorrow…

Photo credits

Photographer – Gilbert Rossi

Are the laws of science and “God” the same thing?

Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist… The question is: is the way the universe began chosen by God for reasons we can’t understand, or was it determined by a law of science?” that you could meet, and ask questions.” [1] he [Hawkings] said. ”I believe the second. If you like, you can call the laws of science ‘God’, but it wouldn’t be a personal God

This is a quote from Stephen Hawking’s latest book, The Grand Design, quoted by Laura Roberts in today’s Sydney Morning Herald in an article entitled “God did not create universe: Hawking.”

While some of the commentary on this newsarticle focused on the lack of newsworthiness of the story (for example, “Shock, horror, leading scientist doesn’t believe in God…really, this non-story is a glib plug for a new book, well done to the publicisit who somehow got this treated as news.”) I still enjoyed the article. And it got me thinking…

I do align God with the laws of science, BUT I’m not so sure that the story begins or ends there…

I think it’s important to recognise the limitations of our knowledge, for example, that we can never know what lies outside the boundaries of our universe. There could be an entire universe of universes we are unaware of. Not to mention the universes within our universe that our senses may not have evolved to sense. Just because we can not see, hear, smell, taste, or touch it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. I’m thinking of the sounds that bats hear, the electrofields that the platypus beak senses, etc etc. We simply cannot know the things we do not yet have a means to sense.

So, while I know it may well be ridiculously arrogent to think I can criticise someone as smart as Hawkings, I do question his statement “you can call the laws of science ‘God’, but it wouldn’t be a personal God that you could meet, and ask questions“.

When I think about the aligning of “God” with the laws of the universe and the idea of a “personal God” – I’m not so sure that the two concepts are incompatible.

In my mind, this aparent contradiction seems completely dependant on your language. It depends on your framing. It depends on your understanding of the universe, and of the connection between the macrocosms and microcosms that lay within it.

You can describe the awe-inspiring force of creative expansion of our universe using mathematical formula, chemistry, and universal laws; or, you can take the whole intricate system and personify it as “God”. And these two ways of describing the same thing, in my mind, are not mutually exclusive conceptions.

Just because you choose to personify the universe as “God”, and speak to it and (possibly) hear answers through your intuition and by reading the omens surrounding you… doesn’t mean that you can’t equate this peronified force “God” to the laws of the universe.

You may wonder:  How can anyone feel  comforted by a force that they are pretending to be a person? Why would anyone bother to personify it? And talk to it? How deluded! What a waste of time! …. Well I disagree.

Firstly, I don’t think anyone thinks God is actually a person. Even the most radical religious followers don’ think that – do they? I’m pretty sure that while groups may claim ownership of God, and may ascribe their own versions of historical or non-historical events to this God, I don’t believe any actually claim that God is a person. Religious believers (as far as I’m aware) would agree that the question of exactly WHAT is God, is beyond the limits of our knowledge; just as scientists (as far as I’m aware) would admit there are elements of the universe that they do not and may never come to know or understand.

Secondly, I do actually see some benefits of personifying it and talking to it. Largely due the connection that seems to appear between microcosm and macrocosm, there is a need for us to communicate with the whole that we are a part of.

Let me use an analogy:

When I twisted my ankle earlier this year, and ignored the injury for a week of waterskiing and partying, my brain decided to stop communicating with the spacial sensors located in the ligaments of my ankle. A few weeks later I twisted it again. And then again. And then again. It took a lot of time and money on physiotherapy to help reconnect my brain with my ankle, and even now every now and the communication channels are rusty and I almost go over on it.

So let’s apply this to our place within our universe, well to my limited understanding of my place within our universe…

From what I have learned in various books and lectures, every atom that exists as a vibration – electrons and protons moving at different speeds. Einstein showed us that matter IS energy (times the speed of light, squared)… what does this mean?

The line where our body appears to end and that which we sit on or touch seems to begin, is a boundary we perceive because our senses have evolved for us to see the world in this way. It’s like everything that exists is all part of the same piece of fabric, and the appearance of separateness is like a design weaved within it.

Our thoughts are not separate from this permeating fabric. From what I understand (yes it is probably due to books about The Law of Attraction and thought experiments), when we think the vibrations of our thoughts travel into the universe, and like an ankle talking to a brain, those thoughts play a role in the manifestation of the reality we experience. It seems that if you are “on the same wavelength” as someone else, so to say, if you are tuned in correctly you can pick up those vibrations and hear each other’s thoughts. Or maybe “hear” is not the right word. But you can sense them through an intuitive sense inside you – not in a sound, but in the mind.

Similarly if you “pray” to a God, or to The Universe, these thoughts connect to something that maybe similar to the “brain” of the macrocosm we are inside and generally acting within the laws of science, these thoughts attract your requests, your “prayers” are answered.

Maybe this doesn’t work for everyone, but it in an uncanny way it pretty much always works for me. Whether it’s putting in a request for a sunny winter’s day, or a rockstar carpark, and for much larger requests too. Ask and receive. Knock and the door will be opened.

Does this provide me comfort? Sure it does. It is rather like the analogy Christians give of a father’s loving embrace. When you don’t see yourself as separate from the universe, if there is no “other”, then you don’t fear it.

Does it matter whether or not you personify the macrocosm as “God”? I don’t think so really.

It helps me, but maybe that’s because I was conditioned this way since birth. Maybe it strengthens one’s relationship to the macrocosm, helps you sense vibrations at a different frequency, streamlining the communication channels amd making them more personal, or maybe it doesn’t, I’m not really sure.

I guess it’s not so different to an ankle ankleifying the brain. The ankle could say “Dear Mr Ankle that lives up top, there is a stone to the left that I need you to respond to”… or the ankle could try to communicate more abstractly with the Laws of the Body that it has experienced in the past. Maybe I’m taking my analogy too far…

Anyway, it seems that whether you are a theist or an atheist, whether you personify “god” or sciencify “the universe”, in my mind we are all referring to an ecosystem of macrocosms within macrocosms and microcosms within microcosms… we are all part of the repeating patterns that (including ourselves) are all expressions of some an energy that is both nothing and everything at the same time; we are all part of something that we will never fully be able to describe or understand.

Maybe anklifying the brain if you are ankle, or personifying the universe if you are person, is a useful tool for communicating with the whole… or maybe it’s not. What do you think???

– Is the idea of a divine force compatible with spontaneous creation?

– Might “God” refer to a personification of what scientific laws attempt to describe?

– Is it possible (and useful) to communicate with this “personal God”?

Is the question on the Sydney Morning Herald poll too limited? Should there be an option that reads:

“None of the above – spontaneous creation IS a divine force itself, whether or not that divine force extends beyond it.”

That’s the one I’d vote for.


Laura Roberts, Sydney Morning Herald (3 Sept 2010) quoting from Hawking’s latest book, The Grand Design – an extract of which is published in Eureka magazine in The Times.


A Sydney Morning Herald poll – to vote go to this site:

Why I don’t commit suicide

“Camus said there is only really one serious philosophical question which is whether or not to commit suicide,” said Alan Watts, quoting Albert Camus (going on to say he believes there are five serious philosophical questions… see audio book on you tube below)

It is a good question. If we are all going to die at one point or another, then why bother going on? Why not just do it now, get it over with?

What motivates you to get up in the morning, to do something rather than stay in bed all day?

Is it the people you love, or maybe the responsibility of looking after the family you were born into or the one you created, or maybe the desire to create your own? Is it your career, to own your own home, buy your dream boat, or some monetary goals; or maybe your religion, vocation, to help other people, the planet or to manifest some creative idea? Or is it for just to enjoy frivolous fun while it lasts?

What is it that motivates these sources of motivation? Is it for some kind of sense of fulfillment? Is this external or internally determined? That is, are you after some kind of social validation, popularity or acknowledgment from your peers? Or own inner sense of of self accomplishment, self-respect?

For me I think it’s my thirst for knowledge, the process of learning, the ongoing challenges, the brief moments of satisfaction, the creative potential I see around me… and maybe it’s a mix of all of these other things too.

All of these aspects of life seem to culminate into an inner monologue, into a story I narrate to myself, defined by the ups and the downs, and framed by my mind. As long as I can see my life having a purpose, I continue to go on. In sum, I don’t commit suicide because (referring to the ad printed on a car on the picture above) life is good, (even) when it sux.


Alan Watts is a philosopher / “spiritual entertainer”, who is well worth a listen… this first one where I got this quote:


And this is the intro to his lecture series “Out of Your Mind”


How good is his laugh!!! If you have seen me walking the streets of Sydney listening to my ipod and bursting into laughter, it’s most likely Alan’s laugh that is to blame…

Inspiration: angels, devils, and suicidal ants.

While in the past I’ve aspired to balance, I’ve come to embrace the imbalance, accepting that balance is found in the wholeness of all that exists, and over time – it doesn’t have to exist in every moment I experience. The yin and yang – the mixture of cold and hot, of love and fear, of birth and death – provide a fertile ground for new ideas to be seeded and creative potentials to be discovered.

I see this dynamic in everything that surrounds me, in the death of stars above, and in the death of tiny ants that decided to share my bed. I don’t think I shared this story when I was away…

In Pokhara I unintentionally killed a few of ants who were on my bed. I spent the next half hour watching the survivors mourn and try to deal with the death of their loved ones:

First the deceased ant’s friend lay it’s head on top of the dead body.


Then it tried to put the carcass on its back and carry it.

When it was too difficult it rolled the body into a ball and tried again.

Then it started to pull and drag it behind.

I don’t know where it thought the nearest ant hospital or grave yard was located.


Eventually it gave up and curled itself into a ball.

I thought it had committed romantic Romeo-and-Juliet-suicide.


But, when I returned from a dinner, I discovered it had pulled itself together and left the bed.

(Lucky there were two beds in my room so I didn’t actually have to share my bed with the ant carcasses lol)

These ant observations left me thinking, not only about the human-likeness of even the littlest insects, but of life and death and where I draw a line between good and bad.

In India and Nepal I had met quite a few people who do not harm an ant or fly in order to prevent a future reincarnation as an ant or fly. Did I feel bad for killing the ant’s friend? No. Not only because it was an accident, and because I don’t believe in karmic reincarnation of individual souls (I do not fear I’ll now be returning as an ant), but because (as I’ve mentioned in other entries) I see death is an intrinsic part of life.

Some forms of life live long lives, others lead short ones, and that is that.

If the ants I killed had a lot to offer our world, then I would be sad. While collectively ants are an important component of Earth’s ecosystem, there are who-knows-how-many billion more ants who will continue this ant’s job. While his friend missed him dearly, the rest of the universe won’t. I guess that’s sad, but it’s the way the universe works, the way “God” works.

Systems on all levels of our reality are microcosms and macrocosms of the systems on other levels. Human society is no different. Killing cows to eat is a product of our present place in the food chain. 60 million years ago we were rodents being eaten by dinosaurs. Life goes on. Systems and species die and new systems and species arise and evolve.

The miracle of human consciousness is the creative choice that sits in our minds – we can actually contemplate, plan and co-create the future of our world. It gives us foresight, hindsight, guilt and conscience. We humans do seem to have the world,  sitting in our palms. We humans, in this moment, have the power to create and to destroy.

As agents of “God” we have been given this choice: good or evil, with the definition of these loaded words constantly changing, but what at root appear to somewhat be connected to the harmony and disharmony of the universe as a whole.

The question we face (sorry if I come back to these points too much), is what and how: What do we want the world to look like, and how are we going to get there?

Or… am I giving the human intellect too much credit? Is global warming a sign that the universe, or “God”, has a plan of “his” own; that the laws of nature are more powerful than the laws of man?

Maybe the future of humanity lays in the hands of nature, and not the other way around. Maybe we will be a short-lived species, reaping the karmic consequences of our own neglect and making way for the rise of new species who are possibly a little more ant-like in their sustainable ecosystems and balanced metabolisms.

The future is uncertain. I guess the uncertainty and possibility is part of the fun of it.


Photographer – Cade Turner

Taken at a fancy-dress charity event I photographed on the weekend. I had to dress as “something or someone that inspires me”. I dressed as an angel AND a devil, with the philosophical justification that the existence of opposing forces keeps me challenged, engaged, and inspired.

It was a fundraiser for The Inspire Foundation – a charity established in direct response to Australia’s then escalating rates of youth suicide.

More photos from the ‘To Be Inspired’ Laneway Ball are on facebook: Click Here