So, which do you want first?
Personally I like the bad news first, that way I’m completely depressed and totally ignore all the good news because I’m so down. Just kidding. (about the motivation anyway)
So, the Bad News: Hell is real. Yep, according to the Great Lord Jebus in the sky, or rather according to his FALLIBLE human mouthpiece, the Pope.
According to The Times (see link) the Pontiff is quoted as saying:
“[Hell] really exists and is eternal, even if nobody talks about it much any more,”
Well, hmm… that’s interesting. It’s also rubbish. Not a few years ago, Limbo, a place where un-baptised children were destined to be unceremoniously banished to upon their demise simply because no one poured some water on their head and muttered some inane tripe while doing it, was deemed closed and never to have existed as it was never truly part of Catholic doctrine. Tell that to the millions of parents who (despite the fact that were believing something completely ridiculous) believed that their poor offspring was eternally damned to place of inconsequence somewhere between non-existence and apparent solace whose hearts were irreperably broken by this twisted teaching.
As for Hell, the (current) Pope has defined Hell (contrary to the declarations of other Pontiffs on the matter) as:
“[a] state of eternal separation from God, [to be understood] symbolically rather than physically”
So, Hell is merely a state of mind…? In that case everyone who believes (or believed) in Poseidon is (or was) in Hell. Everyone person on the planet who does not have a personal relationship with the pyschopathic God of Abraham is in Hell. I, as a non-believer in ANY kind of supernatural woo or superstition, am in Hell. Oh, but it’s ok, it’s just symbolic.
Well, tell that to the thousands of children who grew up in Ireland under the reign of the Catholic church, educated in Catholic schools, threatened mercilessly with the (apparent) reality of eternal hellfire (and the cliched brimstone) not only for misbehaving, but as a STANDARD PART OF RELIGIOUS DISCOURSE, and were severely psychologically shaken by this, to their dying day, never mind all the abuse scandal. And all only in one TINY country in Western Europe.
In other, better, news, Homeopathy will (hopefully) soon cease to be government funded by the National Health Service in the UK based on the recommendation of the Science and Technology Committee. Peter Harrison, a up-and-coming blogger who has been campaigning against the quackery of Homeopathy for quite some time and has quite a good article on the current news and previous other blog posts about the issue here at his blog: Reality Is My Religion
For those of you not sure exactly what all the fuss is about, let’s imagine, from the Irish perspective, that a farmer from Wesht Cork starts selling a solution that he calls Ambrosia, which looks like water, smells like water and tastes like water, and he claims to draw it from a well on his lands. By saying specific words over a small amount of this Ambrosia, he can imbue it with the power to combat any kind of affliction, condition, disease or symptom. He charges €50 for one small bottle of this solution or €25 for a packet of glucose tablets soaked in the soultion. Now, most people would think he’s a potty farmer from country. Some people would swear by him though too, because their granny was in hospital on the edge of death, and they gave her some of his tablets and the next day she was fantastic and was released a few days later with a new lease on life. Right, fair enough, the world is full of anecdotal claims to support the placebo-like effects of these non-medicines.
Now let’s imagine that the HSE spends 10% of it’s annual budget working with this farmer to promote, distribute and provide information about his Ambrosia and to help other people who have found a talent for locating this new wonder drug to get their business up and going and start distributing through large pharmacy chains like Boots and SuperDrug etc…
That’s exactly (with most of the details embellished and exaggerated, except for the efficacy of the product in question) what has been happening in the UK through the NHS for quite a number of years. Government funding has gone into supporting Homeopathic Remedies, which are simply solutions of water or tablets made primarily of glucose mixed with these solutions of water. Homeopathic Remedies are based on the misguided and ridiculous claim that “like cures like” and that an extreme dilution of a substance that would ordinarily cause a given symptom in an otherwise healthy person can actually cure that symptom in an afflicted person. And apparently the more diluted the solution of this substance in water, the more efficacious the remedy.
Now, that would be fair enough if there was any truth to this kind of craziness, but no. Time after time after time, experimental evidence shows that Homeopathy is about as effective as a “gesundheit” or a sugar pill (which is quite often all the remedies contain). Homeopathy is only effective to the same extent as the placebo effect, and experimental evidence bears this out. It’s sad that we even had to examine this experimentally as Homeopaths claim that water has a “memory” and retains some essence of the diluted substance even when the solution has been diluted so far that is would be physically impossible for the solution to contain even 1 single molecule of the original substance. Standard homeopathic remedies have a dilution index of something like 6C which means diluting 1 part of the original substance in 100 parts of water, SIX times.
As a scale of reference:
4C, 1 part in 10 to power of 8 parts water, is the allowable concentration of Arsenic in public water supplies.
30C is the dilution prescribed by Samuel Hahnemann, the originator of Homeopathy, which, on average, would require giving two billion doses per second to six billion people for 4 billion years to deliver a single molecule of the original material to any patient.
200C is the dilution factor for the popular Flu Remedy Oscillococcinum.
It is a significant victory for rational minds, skeptics and freethinkers around the world that a government body has said what we’ve been saying for years: Homeopathy is Quackery. Full Stop.
(as for Hell, we’ll just see about that…)