Thursday, September 25, 2008

God's doing?

Beautiful little clip showing undoubtebly God's doing.

There is this invisible magical being, all-powerful, handling every little detail of existence, from the molecular reactions to the grand scale of biomass, in a personal concerned manner.

Of course...

Michel is 100

That would be me.

I worked for many years in the graphics arts business in TV and cinema as a designer and then as a digital effects coordinator and specialist. I directed more than a few shots. I was fun because I liked arts, artists, the many creative processes, the fantasy and anarchy that still peeks around in these circles.

Then the local production industry collapsed, and a well paid experienced specialist like me was out of a job.

I recycled in high-end call centers, and more recently, found a much more interesting job, doing deep medical interviews with all sorts of people. An enlightening anthropological experience if there was one. Not to mention the immense compassion arising in me for some of my fellow human primates.

I have had a priviledged middle-class childhood, raised by considerate and liberal light catholic parents - my other mostly, with all my primary schooling and half my high-school occuring in religious-controlled institutions. Again I've been lucky enough to have implanted in me, very early, the impulse to think for myself and not believe everything I hear, thanks Dad. I've also enjoyed good health all my life, and had lots of fun abusing some of it.

But I recently was struck with a serious illness: Myelo Displastic Syndrome, a precursor to Leukemia, Carl Sagan died of this a while back.

It was pure luck that it was discovered, but I spent a year thinking life was going to end in eighteen months - an interesting shift in perspective. Then I was lucky enough to stumble upon an hemato-oncologist who cared, and managed to have access to a compatible - and very anonymously generous - bone marrrow stem cell donor. Receiving that gift was pure hell. It involved two months of isolation, two bouts of chemotherapy, the knowledge that it could collapse anytime, annoying side effects and much much more. Pure hell.

But I think I will survive, and I can now, after one hundred days, statistically hope that there won't be too many acute or chronic GVH effects - Graft Versus Host problems. You see, in the case of ordinary organ grafts, it is your immune system that will not recognize as "you" and fight the strange organ, it must be restrained if you want to keep your precious addition.

In my case, it is the immune system that has been replaced, (bone marrow stem cells produce white blood cells and neutrophils that fight external invaders) and it is my whole being which is to be rejected, or hopefully eventually adopted. Restraining my brand new immune system becomes of paramount importance, and I'll be busy at it for quite a while.

But so far so good.

And I don't think any god or other imaginaring beings or magic coincidences or non-natural circumstances had a play in any of this. Lots of luck and the practical knowledge and compassion of some of my fellow primates are what helped me stay alive on this planet for a little while more.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Jacques passed away on Wednesday September 17 2008 at ten in the evening. He was 76.

He was a witty man, a philosopher, an artist, an interested listener and a good teller of tales. A man of charm and culture who genuinely liked people.

He was my wife's father and was dearly loved by all his family.

I've known Jacques longer than I have known my own Dad, and I know he loved me like a son. Jacques will be missed.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Solar Art


Made from scientific recordings of the sun's activity.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Harboring a fear of atheists.

As a friend said about a fierce catholic opponent of atheism: "He is one of those people who will not listen to corrections either, but keeps flogging away at the same prejudicial notions -- that atheism promotes immorality, that all atheists are radical reductionists, that only a God could explain the universe, that atheism is obviously intellectually bankrupt and so on."

A barrage of justifications to keep his fear from overwhelming him. Fear of emptyness.

These poor people don't seem to notice that atheists love their kids dearly, are generally good citizens, contribute some of the brightest minds on Earth, and are totally capable of empathy and compassion. Even with scared idiots.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We Are Animals

Primates to be more precise.

Being probably the smartest of animals has allowed us to take over the world. We are so successful we could indeed be lead to believe that the world was made for us, and that we would therefore have a purpose higher than our animal condition.

But we are still nothing but animals, and we don't even have the exclusivity of self-awareness and communication anymore. Sometimes the human polish is rather thin, showing through with all sort of very instinctual behavior, that won't sustain scrutiny for reason. In many ways we are not different from our dogs: we live, we love, we feed, we die. And we depend upon our fellow human animals for sustenance. Most of us would perish in isolation, as a pack, we rule the planet. We are that kind of animal.

This top-of-the-food-chain position will not always be all that comfortable as, collectively, we're bound to find out pretty soon when - not because of evil but because of carelessness - the system collapses.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The End Of The World?

The End of the World

Well not quite, as events like these may have happened repeatedly in our past. A god's way of regulating us?

More probably a random cataclysm that doesn't quite eradicate possibilities of organic evolution, showing to me at least, the resilience of the laws that govern matter. Do these laws require a maintainer, some sort of life force to withold them, to keep them operational? If God pulls its attention back, will gravity cease to function?

Or did life only appeared after the last such planet-conditionning? And could thereford be completely wiped by the next event? But, like the inevitable individual death, the actual end of the planetary world is something to consider.

But is it a useful perspective to contemplate? Isn't the thought that God has something better in mind for us much more reassuring? Does thinking about meaningless death help living a better life, than submitting to the will of a god?


Some use the same data on the scale of reality to prove the existence of a creator.

I don't feel the need to introduce anything supernatural in this equation. I just think things are, manipulated dynamically by all the forces acting together, towards greater entropy. There doesn't seem to be the necessity for intent, to explain our fancy primate presence, but I suspect conscious lifeforms are bound to happen, once in a while, anywhere else in this vast pool of galaxies . I'm convinced that awareness is commonly raised in exceptionnally proper craddles, most probably all over the universe.

The bad news is that there's not much of all this that'll give a shit about my personal life, the good news is that I can do what I want as nothing will come for me if I don't do good. Nothing other than my fellow people.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Huge. If you trust the measurers, that is.

The scale of the universe alone should inspire humility in any observant primate. Even though we're giants relative to our constituent particles, we, the whole biosphere in fact, are nothing but thin growth on the surface of a small ball in this spectacular universe of gas clouds and stars.

For some reason, that perspective might be difficult to hold. Again, maybe a question of not enough meaning for our subjective existence, a difficulty in finding significance with life in this worldview.

New paradigm - that awareness, the appearance of organic beings seemingly doted with consciousness, is an emergeance, a refinement a flowering in the life cycle of certain planets. Subject to weathering and expected decay, of course.

The universe hasn't been put out there for us, and we should'nt worry about any kind of retribution or justice from what is basically an indifferent reality.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Better Worldview

What is the better worldview?

The one that brings all the answers and the fatherly presence of a personal god? Or the one more unsettling view where significance and meaning must be constructed, and where death is terminal?

I guess its a matter that's only resolved towards the end of one's existence.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


We are stardust, that's all the religion I need. And it's not an issue of faith, it is poetry, the thoughts and concepts that describe my own tiny bioslot in the megascale of entire reality.

This knowledge on our local star was acquired, measured and re-measured by sophisticated observations, the assumptions based on these facts are most probably accurate, and the emotions it procures are authentic and moving. That's why I chose that worldview, because I trusted what I learnt from it: that we are stardust.

For some however, this is not even an issue. This is all the fabrication of an atheist conspiracy, and as their book says, the universe has been created, is six thousand years old, and the sun has been placed where it is for our convenience.

The problem is that many of these people did not choose to hold this fantasy worldview, it was drilled in their imagination and awareness by relentless rituals readings and preachings, as well as negative and positive reinforcements by other victims of the same delusions.

But which is the better worldview?

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Pat Condell
Is a funny, courageous man, I wouldn't want to receive his hate mail, but he's worth listening to.

Here's an interesting page at PsyBlog on how magic techniques can help psychologists and other researchers in the field of consciousness science.

A Pat Condell monologue asking the question Why does faith require respect , really just a little bit of schock therapy.

A very interesting blog on neurological sciences, with a staunch scientific approach, and a wide field of interests. Published by Steven Novella.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Proper Use Of Fantasy

Tales of fiction and fantasy are very useful, of course, as they probably have been throughtout the history of human awareness. Perhaps as social simulators, to help grasp complex social situations or as a fuel to curiosity, stories have always been the mainstay of cultural transmission between generations. No problem with fiction.

Strong beliefs in legends is another matter.

And, when fantasy provides its answers to the most fundamental questions, twists the perceptions into delusions, or makes an enemy of every non-believer, there's something very wrong. Misuse. Storytelling should be used for inspiration, practice grounds, acquiring patterns and models, behavioral simulator, whatever, anything but for faith.

I don't think there's any one book that should be taken at face value. There is no tale that can encapsulate all the answers to the big philosophical and scientific questions, they are not known yet. And in some ways they might never be. So we're going to have to wing it, as we go along, and for this I suggest reading a lot of science, fiction and fantasy.

And as Scrubious Pip would say, "Think for yourselves!"