Tuesday, April 28, 2015

So on the idea of 72 waiting virgins in Paradise

So on the idea of 72 waiting virgins in Paradise

The Quran like other scriptural texts may be talking about a host of topics that may or may not be taken in the literal sense. I’m certainly no expert. It’s been said for example that there are many things in paradise that can’t be described, understood and compared with Earthly notions.

But when it comes to the 72 virgins waiting in Paradise, I thought I’d run the numbers.

1. Let’s start with the ration of men to women her on Earth. It turns out, according to the United States' CIA the Male to Female sex ratio ranges from 1.02 (Malawi) to 1.08 (Singapore). For simplicity let’s say that there are as many Males as they are Females for the sake of the calculation.

2. The virginity rate for men and women aged 25 to 45 is about 14 per cent for men and 10 per cent for women.

3. So if you’re one of 1000 Males who just arrived in Paradise one would want to believe that 1000 Females made it too. But for a Male to find 72 waiting virgins, there must be at least 9,000 (remember 10% of women in the age of 25 to 45 group are virgins) women from which 10 percent would be virgins.

4. For each of the 1000 men to find 72 virgin women about 7200 women must be available and waiting. Imagine a place where there are 10 times more women than men.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The hardships and desperations of the marginalized

As we know the global financial crisis began in July 2007 with the credit crunch, when a loss of confidence by US investors in the value of sub-prime mortgages caused a liquidity crisis. Before the financial crisis, one in eight Americans were poor, a very high level for an otherwise affluent society. The financial crises pushed an additional 7.5 to 10 million people into poverty.

So the 2009 film Broke. had no issue with timing. This beautiful, gritty film Set in a pawnshop, the cinema verite masterpiece tells the story of the unlikely friendship between a cynic pawnbroker and his sweet but psychopathic assistant. Broke. won the prestigious Donald Brittain Award  and was the best social-political documentary of 2010.

Broke. is a complex, powerful account of the day to day life in a pawnshop. The documentary gives us an intimate glimpse into a world most of us luckily do not have to know. Although often as funny and surprising as a sitcom, it bluntly points to the hardships and desperations of the marginalized. As the pawnbroker states: “You don’t see it in your rarefied living conditions, you don’t see how the poor people live, unless you come here. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Depression history among different professions

Gallup recently decided to rank the occupations in which workers are most likely to suffer from depression. The takeaway: Your boss is probably in a pretty decent psychological place. Managers, executives, and officials were the least likely to have ever been diagnosed with depression. The clerical and office staff who toil beneath them, on the other hand, were diagnosed at somewhat higher rates. Meanwhile, workers in manufacturing or service industries were the most likely to have ever been depressed. The drudgery of clocking in on an assembly line or at a cash register apparently takes a toll, just in case you were wondering.

See below

Monday, April 6, 2015

The direction of last things

The direction of last things

I’m writing this piece on the first day after Easter Sunday. Most will know this is the most important and oldest festival of the Christian Church, celebrating the resurrection of Christ. For me, it also marks the passing of a close family friend after a long illness. It’s times like today that urge us to reflect about life, the meaning of life, and the role religion plays when facing death.

Aldous Huxley once wrote most human beings behave as though death were no more than an unfounded rumor. But what happens when you realize the rumor is true. Many see death as a new beginning. We say a person passed away. In Judaism for example the word 'death' is avoided altogether since the person's soul does not ever die. Instead, it passes away or passes on to a different plane of reality, a spiritual realm.

Not all of us have a strong religious predilection and yet the idea of saints and sinners, heaven and hell still shape our thinking. What will lead and inspire us in a world free of all gods. How can an atheist find meaning in life.  How can we face death without the comfort of the afterlife.

More and more people today believe there is no God. Religious values, however, have dominated our lives for hundreds of years and still have a hold over us. What can reason and science offer us in the place of religion.  To bring comfort in the face of death, help us tell right from wrong. Or provide meaning in an indifferent and uncaring world. If there is no God, what is the meaning of life. What’s the point.

One of the oddest reactions to facing up to life without God was that of the Great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy. He was bought up Christian and as a young man lost his faith. He had wealth, a family and a celebrity status thanks to his novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina. But in his late forties he began to question everything. Tolstoy was in despair and staring down into an abyss of suicidal depression – he could find no answer to what tormented him. Why do I live? Is there any meaning in my life that will not be annihilated by the inevitability of death?

Perhaps this is part of the explanation why religion evolved in the first place. It satisfied our desperate desire to find meaning and order in the chaos.  Is it possible that evolutionary science tells us a lot about ageing and death.  If we look at death from a genes point of view our bodies become nothing more than a kind of a survival machine for genes. Once our genes get us to a reproductive age and copy themselves into a new generation, our bodies began to have less purpose. Time bombs inside us go off. We age – we die. So rather than looking upon ageing as the wearing out of our body perhaps we should see it as a side effect of how our genes work.

And whilst talking about evaluation - evolutionary psychology suggests that we have evolved a sense of a separate mind or soul because it’s useful to us. A soul that’s in control of us.  An executive function makes it difficult for us to shake off the religious way of death. We are programmed to believe in something such as a soul.