Sometimes people ask me this question, and this is the answer I give. Obviously I’m not going to do the whole topic justice, but here is my simplistic way of looking at the question.

First: what do you mean by “god”?

If you mean “god” as a concept, obviously it exists. Virtually everyone on the planet has some kind of concept of a god, and it is possible to have a conversation with references to a god and be confident of some meaningful exchanges of information.

If you mean “god” as a physical entity that currently exists then the relevant facts are all the scientific information we have gathered about the physical world. None of those facts indicate the existence of a physical god, so we can be exactly as certain that there is no god as we can be that there is no unicorn, no Easter Bunny, no Santa Claus etc. In my view that is a high level of certainty, but whether it leaves room for doubt could be a matter of opinion.

If you mean “god” as something else eg a non-physical entity, or an entity that existed in the past but no longer, then the burden of definition is yours to bear. If you can’t define what you mean, then you can’t expect me to argue whether it exists or not. That is “agnostic by definition”.

In my view of the world, “god” exists as a concept of human invention and does not exist as a real, physical entity. I think the facts available are sufficient to reach that conclusion with a high degree of certainty, and that the process of getting to that point is highly rational. Regarding other kinds of god, I deal with those on a case by case basis as anyone offers a definition of what “god” means.

Aren’t you glad you asked?

I personally know a handful of OA or similar award recipients, and in many cases what I see is the effectiveness of the networks they belong to in rewarding their own, rather than any intrinsic worth. Is it enough if their peers think it’s enough?

I am directly involved in the awarding process in two organisations, and I have to say it’s not easy to do. No-one wants to give an award for “just doing your job”, but if you have a candidate for recognition within their chosen profession or speciality, what exactly is it that they should have done to justify that award? Not an easy question.

The guidelines used for some the awards I am involved in include:
1. “Took a risk, made a difference; encouragement in mid-career ”
2. “Distinguished contribution to the field of …”
3. “Outstanding and distinguished lifetime achievement in and contribution to the field of …”
4. “Very significant lifetime achievement in and contribution to the field of …”
5. “Extraordinary and long-term contribution to the … organisation”

They all imply something more than just “doing your job” but how much more?

Another question: in many cases we look to a recipient as a role model, for the young to emulate. What if you have someone who makes a truly outstanding contribution, recognised by everyone, but cheats on the tax? Or perhaps molests little girls? Where do you draw that line?

Let me know if you find some easy answers. I don’t know any.

Laws generally fall into 3 categories: (a) protecting the rights of individuals or minorities (b) regulating conduct (c) operating the state.

Type (a) laws only limit freedom to the extent that rights are in conflict: the protection of the rights of the victim restricts the rights of the perpetrator. Most laws in this category are a net positive for personal freedoms, and laws such as those in a Bill of Rights are entirely about freedoms.

Type (c) laws are relatively neutral on freedoms. The laws that set up the parliament, the police force, courts, ATO, banks, industry, contracts, public transport, infrastructure, corporations, etc have little impact on personal freedom. The agencies they create may have an impact, but not the laws themselves.

Type (b) laws are the ones we should worry about. They include laws on topics like public drunkenness, affray, most traffic laws, public nuisance, censorship, etc, etc. These are the “do-good” laws that sound great in theory but add up to the nanny state.

So what about banning the burqa?

I don’t favour a ban, because I see it as type (b), regulating conduct with no great contribution to the protection of rights. However, there are some undesirable aspects and it would be relatively easy to introduce 2 specific laws, to make it:

  1. A criminal offence for a person to engage or attempt to engage in any commercial, contractual or regulated transaction or activity, or the creation, signing, production of any document related to personal identity, without exposing one’s full face, except with the prior express and written permission of the other part(ies) or the relevant regulating organisation as the case may be;
  2. A criminal offence for a person to impose or attempt to impose any obligation or demand or exemption on any other person or organisation on the grounds of any religious belief, principle or claim.

The rationale is that you are personally free to do what you like but transactions with other people give them the right to know who they are dealing with, and you can hold what beliefs you like but not impose them on others.

So, you can wear your burqa, but you cannot buy or use a ticket for a train, tram or bus; cannot drive a car; cannot go shopping; cannot buy food etc unless you are willing to remove it whenever you interact with anyone; and you cannot use “freedom of religion” as an excuse to force your requirements onto others.

These are type (a) laws that protect the freedoms and rights of the people and organisations you interact with against unwelcome religion-based demands and obligations. I would like them to extend to a number of other religious groups, but we won’t go into that now.

Just ran across this link
Kohlberg describes the following.

Many people have had taken a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or Jung style of psychological test. What you get back is a 4 letter category such as ENTJ, which is supposed to be an assessment of how you perceive the world and how you like to make decisions.

Here is a free one you can try:

But it appears there is more to the story. (more…)

The question arises whether religion should be taught in school, whether it should be banned, or whether some middle position is preferred.


Astrology is bunk. Lots of people believe in astrology.

Short discussion.