Exposing the truth

Three rather interesting short articles on the BBC, the first clearly shows how seriously we should take Critical Race Theory.

Lack of ethnic diversity among egg and sperm donors
Richard Drax: Jamaica eyes slavery reparations from Tory MP
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Author warns about ‘epidemic of self-censorship’

The fault, and cause, of a shortage of resources in a minority culture is clearly to be attributed to the dominant culture for whom the greatest of opprobrium is to be reserved. The particular shortage is of the shortage of the two essential elements in the making of a human being, and though the answer is of course a mother and a father that is not what they mean, they focus purely on the biological elements, eggs and sperm derived from a minority culture in the UK. It is described as a lack of ethnic diversity by the HFEA. In this instance the minority culture highlighted was West Indian, and by inference Afro-Caribbean. Common sense may find a different and more plausible cause and dismiss the suggestion of fault and blame altogether.

The second also takes us to the Caribbean, and in particular to the island of Jamaica, whose government joining arms with Barbados is considering seeking reparations from the current British owner of a plantation for the treatment of slaves before 1833. The grounds of the case may rest in Critical Race Theory or Identity Politics – as these are mercurial concepts I leave it as an exercise for you, dear Reader, to make the correct assessment. The article does not say whether reparations will also be sought from those who made their fortunes and built their kingdoms in West Africa from the enslavement of those who were taken by sea to the Caribbean or overland to the Middle East. I dare say any law firm which takes up the case will be kept busy for many a day, whether or not their solicitors benefited from the education they received at the institutions which were established or funded out of wealth derived from estates established long before 1833.

The third article reports on an author who, seeing through all of this nonsense, speaks of an epidemic of self-censorship and the inability to ask questions because of a fear of asking the wrong sort of questions. This author speaks of a place for valid criticism, which is essential if there is to be meaningful debate, but of no place for an ugly, violent backlash against those who speak a view which is contrary to your own. The aim of debate is not to silence but to convince. Where would we be without the progressive Hypothesis-Antithesis cycle which leads to greater understanding and better hypotheses? But in Cancel Culture the Antithesis must not be spoken. What progress can be made? The proponents of Darwinian evolution have successfully cancelled academic examination of their stories, despite Darwin’s own warnings to them that his hypothesis would fail in the absence of certain conditions, one of which remains absent, a second of which has been strongly overturned. This cancellation has turned biological science into a blind alley seeking to prove that which cannot be proven and failing to pursue enquiries which will yield beneficial results.

It is good to see their willingness to expose, albeit perhaps unwittingly, the short falls, indeed perils, of that which has taken deep root in a society which, in its post-modernist thinking (if thinking is a post-modernist activity), has lost its moorings, Critical Race Theory, Identity Politics, Cancel Culture and a host of other ‘critical’ theories which are no more nor less critical than the sledgehammer used of the builder to demolish* a wall. How we need to return to the law of the Lord which makes men wise.

Look at how King David spoke of it: Restoration – pursuing the right paths. Making wise – enabling us to understand the vast universe in which we live. Rejoicing – do we not when we look at all of the marvels of nature: the stars, the galaxies, the cosmos, the depths of complexity in the living cells, the molecular machines that keep us alive. Enlightening – revealing the secrets of the universe to us. Enduring – they are not fickle, they are unchanging, we can rely on them. Righteous – they provide the grounds on which human society can flourish.

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.
Psalm 19

*The oxymoron is deliberate. Builders do not demolish, they build. In true Critical Language Theory style as set out by Lewis Carroll so long ago: builder “means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less”.

Health Care or Profit

I am astonished. I find myself in agreement with a sociologist. ‘The market in health care is not a means of achieving competitive efficiency but a pseudo-market for creating private value at public expense.’

But I suppose agreement comes in that he is speaking to the least favourite part of my education in accounting, economics. Now when a sociologist speaks to economics one would wonder whether you need to find a pinch of salt, but then you already know that you need more than a pinch when you read any of my comments on economics, so my agreement with the man does not lend any support to what he wrote.

However little I understand economics, the use of words like competitive efficiency and pseudo-market, or even market on its own let alone any pseudosity about it, are warning signs of the first degree.  As an aside, if you know what a warning side of the second degree is you are at least one step ahead of me; please share your thoughts. The conclusion however stands up to all the scrutiny of the much less glamourous side of accountancy. If a service is provided by a non-profit organisation then it will, all other things being equal, cost less than an organisation that is set up for profit. This is an obvious conclusion for there is one significant cost within the organisation set up for profit which is not in the non-profit organisation. That additional cost is not taxation it is the return to the owners of the organisation. That return may be in the way of dividends or the super-profit of the owner being the amount in excess of the wages he would have been paid had he been employed by the organisation.  

Of course not all other things are equal, and the inequalities in the other things will drive the cost up or down. The costs of raw materials are likely to be different for the greater purchasing power of the National Health Care System (NHCS) should be capable of procuring raw materials more cheaply than the other organisations. Staff costs may be different in the other organisations for several reasons:

  1. The other organisations will not be bound by the national agreements of the NHCS;
  1. rates may be higher as a consequence of the expectation of staff that working for a private organisation should be remunerated at a higher rate then working for the NHCS
  2. rates may be lower as a consequence of the transfer of the pension costs away from the NHCS
  3. Base staffing levels within the NHCS may be kept lower if an other organisation is providing staff. The risk of having more staff than can be usefully employed is passed over to the other organisation.
  4. The other organisation will wish to be compensated for taking on the staff level risk.
  5. Where base staff levels are inadequate, the NHCS becomes dependent upon the provision of staff by the other organisation who are then able to charge a premium for the staff they provide.

On balance I would consider that it is likely that staff costs will be greater when taking into account a value for each of these factors, notwithstanding that in some local cases the costs may be lower. I am sure there are economists out there who will point out that I have missed many other factors which influence the cost as not all things are equal.

I cannot but then agree, though I say it with a heavy heart being on the purer side of the spectrum of scientists, with the sociologist that the market in health care is a means of creating private value at public expense.

Or, as the man on the Clapham omnibus might say: Those who wish to make a pretty penny out of health care will relish the thought of its privatisation. If we wish to retain our NHS then efforts to privatise any part of it should be resisted.

The sociologist is Robert Dingwall. In https://www.socialsciencespace.com/2022/11/the-covid-pandemic-in-france-a-review/ he is reviewing two books which analyse the response in France to the presence of Covid-19 in the population, and draws interesting comparisons with the UK’s response.  I commend it to you.

Evil: the problem of it

You will have heard it said: I cannot believe in God. Look at the evil in the world! Or perhaps more personally: I saw how they treated each other even though they believed in God. I cannot believe in that.

I should like to show that the very reason that is given for not believing in God, is the very reason that says you must believe in him. Now this is a short article and will not necessarily answer all the questions you may have, and certainly will not be an exhaustive description of all the possible understandings of the problem.

We do not shy away from the fact that there is evil in the world. We acknowledge it. It exists. Nor do we shy away from the fact that evil must be redressed. There is within each one of us a sense of justice. That is wrong, we say, it must be put right. The perpetrator must be punished! We want justice. At times we want revenge, but that is a desire for justice coupled with an evil intention on our part. The one who does wrong must pay. Recompense for wrong must be made. Compensation is required. All of these thoughts and the feelings associated with them arise because evil exists and we know it is wrong.

So, there is a problem of evil which we must face. There is also its corollary, the problem of justice. If there is a problem of evil, then there is also the problem of justice: how shall evil be dealt with fairly and rightly?

In a world where gravity rules, and objects without support fall inexorably to the ground, it is no use pretending that we as human beings can fly. We shall learn quickly, but only briefly, that we cannot. Of course it is possible to mitigate the effects of a fall. It is also possible to design machines that will support us in the air, and allow us to fly, no, rather fly for us. In order to do this we must have both a correct understanding of gravity, and its operation, even if we do not understand, and as yet we do not, how it operates and a correct understanding of the materials used and their interactions, for example aerodynamically, for the construction of the machines.

In the same way in this world where evil is, it is no use pretending that evil does not exist, though of course we wish it did not. As with gravity we must try to understand it, in order to mitigate its effects and potentially overcome it. It is when we commence this journey of understanding that we discover how difficult it is.

So we might ask: who opened Pandora’s box? This is an old, but the not oldest explanation, of the problem. There was a time when evil was safely locked away in a box, but the box was then opened. The solution then is to put everything back into the box. That is more easily said than done. I shall not describe the failure of the process of repacking the box, it is really self-evident. In any event, this explanation ignores the obvious. It sets evil apart as if it were distinct from men and our actions.  We know however that it is men who commit acts of evil against other men. The problem is one in our own hearts, as each of us knows. We find it in ourselves, though we say that we are not as bad as Mrs Neredogood or Mr Al Waysbad.

The atheist, building upon the nineteenth century works of uniformitarianism and Darwinian evolution*, has come up with the novel explanation that our evil acts are in fact good acts. Nature is red in tooth and claw for the benefit of the species. The arms race which we see in nature is necessary for the progress of the species. The rule of law is non-existent, unless the survival of the fittest is regarded as law. Death is non-existent; it is merely a rearrangement of the cells and chemical machines which make up the cells. Disease is simply a mal-functioning of the machines, or evidence of a potentially lost battle in the war between the species. There is no problem of evil, it is simply the way we describe the important and necessary tools which brought the human species out on top and will pave the way for the emergence of superior races in the future.

This atheistic hope, or religion, however fails on its own grounds. It believes that the war must continue. It believes that the individual has no intrinsic value apart from being a type of the species, but it is unwilling to reach, or is that articulate, the obvious conclusion that it is right, as we see in nature, that the weak, the sick, the lame, the blind, the deaf, the deprived are entirely disposable. It is the fit that must propagate, not the weak. Just as nature promotes the survival of the fittest not of the weak, so then should we. But the atheist does not go around disposing of the weak, rather he shows humanity and care for them. He promotes their rights. But what rights are they? On the basis of his doctrine, no man has any rights, he is just a chemical machine. The atheist cannot suppress his humanity, the doctrine of which rests upon an entirely different foundation than that on which he rests his faith. The atheist also wants to defeat the very forces (of evil) which brought us into (in his understanding) existence.

The atheist offers no answer, only contradictions.

Many religions recognising the problem in this world lay before us a separation of good and evil. In this system of apartheid, there is the prospect of another place in which there shall be no evil, and a system of rites is set out which may enable the devotee to gain access to that other place. On the other side, set apart, there is the place where evil continues to be perpetrated by beings which are wholly evil on those who fail to acquire the right to enter the better place. There is a way to escape they say. Do this!

Others recognising the problem of evil is actually in our hearts look forward to a dissolution of our whole being into a cosmic enlightenment. More properly this could be regarded as the dissolving of our identity and personality in the eternal being. What ’being’ means in that context is a disputed concept, and I suppose if true, cannot be properly understood until you are there, but the generally considered view is that when you are there you are no longer you. You have not ceased to exist, but rather you have been completed. In being completed the things that made you you have been taken away. I found it helpful to think of an extension being added to a house. Whilst it is being built (life on earth) it has a separate existence to the house, but the day arrives when it is assimilated into the house. It does not cease to exist, but has no existence apart from the house. It has no personal identity, it shares the identity of the house, and before long no-body knows that it was ever not there.

Both of these positions address the problem of evil, and face up to it, but both do not deal adequately with the problem of justice. The way they face up to the problem of evil is however only to offer an escape from it.

In the first case they say if you do right you may go into this good place. That does not deal with evil. The one who goes into the good place takes with him his own nature which has within it all the elements of evil that were present in this world. How soon then will it be, and it matters not whether it is a short time or an eternity, before the evil in that heart is manifest in the good place? The problem of evil has not been taken away.

Secondly, it does not address the problem of justice. There is an acknowledgement that all do evil, but the good that is done may at the end outweigh the evil and allow entrance to the good place. What about the evil that has been done by these, and which has not been dealt with justly? What if that evil had been done against one who had not been admitted to the good place, will that one not have a valid complaint that justice has not been done on his behalf? The solution offered is one that appeals to the wicked heart: I am alright Jack.

In the second case evil in the heart has to be dealt with before the dissolution or completion can take place. Various rites are proposed for the dealing with this evil heart, which can lead to an almost endless cycle of being. The rites however only deal with the appearance of evil, not its internal roots. The washing of the flesh; the discipline of the body concerning food or sleep; the provision of alms; these are all external matters, and do not deal with the desires of the heart, soul, mind or eyes.

And again the problem of justice is not addressed. We sometimes say: he escaped justice. We mean the man died before he could be brought to court to be punished. A man may reach the completion stage before those whom he previously wronged have been given justice.

Religions in their many forms merely offer an escape. The escape is both from the evil of this world, and from the justice which they justly face.

If there really is an answer to the problem of evil, it must also answer the problem of justice. I have shown so far that men only offer two answers. One says there is no problem. The other offers an escape from one and no answer for the other. So is there no hope? Is there really no answer?

No, there is an answer which satisfies both the problem of evil and the problem of justice, but it is not an answer of men’s devising. It runs contrary to our ways of thinking, turning on their heads our ideas of success, wealth, health, prosperity, goodness, love, wisdom, leadership and many others, most of which we have no space to consider here.

There is only one teaching which addresses completely the two problems. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, everything in them and man in his own image. The man failed to be obedient to God and brought sin into the world. On that day God placed a curse upon the world, and gave a promise that one day he would lift that curse through a child born of a woman. We have a saying: like father like son. Some we know escape from that, but in general terms it is true. We read that Adam had a son in his own image. That image contained the same rebellion and disobedience that Adam had admitted into his own heart, and the heart of every man since has been tainted with the same disobedience, so that we cry out: we shall not have this man to rule over us. It is as true today as when it was first said. We hear it often – only recently in both of the United States the supporters of the loser have raised the same cry against the winner. The cry may be against men, or against our Maker.

This is the problem of evil which we clearly recognise. It is both external, in the curse upon the world, and internal, in the state of our hearts. The external evil is both punishment (eg in toil you shall eat bread) and reminder (eg thorns and thistles the ground shall bring forth). The whole of creation is pictured as groaning under the curse longing for the day that it shall be lifted. And we are the cause of it. The state of our hearts results in all manner of evil in our lives. Some exhibit these things more than others, and some in different ways than others. They may be described in this way: Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like (Galations 5:19-21). Now you may not agree with all of the items on the list – the adulterer may not like the first item, but the one who is wronged who is his partner is unlikely to want to remove it – but you will agree with at least some of them. These are the things that are in our hearts and which cause evil in this world in the mistreatment of others.  The problem of evil is not ignored and not downplayed.

The problem of justice is also addressed: Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. (Romans 13:3-4) Provision has been made for justice to be done in this world. Of course there are always those who escape this justice, but cannot escape justice itself. Given that God has made provision for justice we are told (Romans 12:19) do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; and then to show that no-one shall escape justice for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Men may escape the justice of the underlords of this world, but cannot escape from the overlord.

So Christian doctrine then clearly recognises the problems of both evil and justice; is a solution also provided? Christian teaching does indeed provide a solution, again not based on the ideas of men, but revealed to us from God.

Firstly we note what God has said: (Deuteronomy 11:26-28) Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known. This is echoed back in the New Testament (Galatians 3:10): Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.

The religions of men set before men rites, rules and regulations to follow, but fail to make it clear that it is not a matter of measuring how many times you keep them against how many times you fail. It is made very clear you must continue in all things, not just some of the time but all of the time. Any failure, no matter how slight, breaks the law (James 2:10) For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. Many say: Oh, it is but a peccadillo. But if it is such a little thing, why do it? The law says drive at 20mph, but you drive at 21. It does not matter you say, it is only a little thing. If it is only a little think why is it such a difficulty to you to obey the law? To stumble in one point, however small, reveals the attitude of the heart towards the law, and the readiness of the heart to break it. Christian teaching places everyone guilty under the law. The problem of evil is not ignored.  

Furthermore, the manner of cleansing from the guilt of this evil is not downplayed. Religions often have regulations concerning washings, food and drink, but what do we read? (Matthew 15: 17-20) The Lord Jesus said: Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man. Again, we see that it is not external things that can assist or defile us. They do no good, but are merely (Hebrews 9:9-10) symbolic for the present time. In [the Tabernacle] both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience –  [they were] concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.

The washing with water, whether in a baptism or a river; the sacrifice of food or drink, whether on an altar or by denial; these things do not change our hearts though they may discipline our bodies.

The solution is not in a system of rites, regulations and rules, but that system does provide a symbol of what is required. In the system gifts and sacrifices were offered which could not make perfect, clean or complete, but each one was symbolic of a sacrifice that would achieve that.

For the solution we go back to the first promise, that a man would come to deal with the curse. That man, Jesus, came born of a virgin as foretold. He is the seed of the woman, not of Adam. Here we have a real man, born of a woman but not of the will of man. This man came into the world to be born. We came into the world when we were born. This one was in the beginning with God, by nature was God, and is a real man, who could be touched and handled.

This man is the one who would deal with the problem of evil in both its internal and external forms and the problem of justice.

There is no solution unless it addresses with both of these problems.

Jesus in his ministry demonstrated his ability to do just this. He showed his power over external evil by healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, casting out demons, feeding the hungry, crushing the power of the storm and in many other things. He taught that the heart had to be changed, and that we could not do that of ourselves a man had to be born again of the Spirit. It was not a making better of the old that was required, but a new heart altogether. He would be the provider of that new heart. The old would be taken away. Paul expressed it in this way: (2 Corinthians 5:17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

He demonstrated an approach to justice which took some aback. A lame man was brought to him. Jesus pronounced his sins forgiven. An adulteress was brought to him for stoning, and he refusing to condemn her told her to sin no more. When asked by his disciples how often they should forgive their brother he replied: (Matthew 18:22) I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. He then told them a story about a lack of forgiveness at the end of which he intimates that if we wish to be forgiven, and we may be, then we must also forgive others. The servant who refused to forgive another was required to pay his debt in full for justice is required: so my heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother.

But on what basis could forgiveness be offered? Justice does not provide for forgiveness and cannot require that a man forgive another for the wrong that has been done. Justice requires a penalty which exactly fits the wrong. It is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life. Justice may require a pound of flesh, but it cannot in the process also exact even a millilitre of blood. Our attempts to measure the penalties for any wrong doing are flawed and inadequate, but in some measure in our societies we try to achieve a balance between the demands of the wronged and the rights of the wrong doer in order to fulfil the requirements of justice. There is one who has no difficulty, and whose judgement is never flawed or misdirected. David recognised this when offered a choice of penalties for his sin: (2 Samuel 24:13) Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man. Only if justice is done can we think about forgiveness.

So then, we have found that Christian doctrine takes seriously the problem of evil and the problem of justice. Justice requires a penalty for evil, all men have in some way contributed to evil, and none is able to make any change to the situation. We are condemned, and any right minded person must understand this. Men’s religions recognise this, but in seeking to minimise the implications can only offer failing solutions.

The solution is found in that justice is done.  Jesus himself declares that it was for this very purpose that he came into the world. Whilst teaching his disciples about leadership he said of himself Mark 10:45: For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. If men are condemned by the law, then a penalty must be paid. This penalty is the ransom price. The price is high; it is a life for a life.

And so Jesus in due time was taken by his enemies and handed over by them to be crucified as a ransom for many. He did not deserve to die. Even the man who condemned him asked: Mark 15:14 What wrong has he done? And on more than one occasions stated John 18:38 19:4 and 6: I find no fault in him. The Lord gave his enemies an opportunity to present their case: John 8:46 Which of you convicts me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? They did not answer him but rather suggested, as they knew well he was not, that he was a demon possessed Samaritan.

The real man Jesus then was crucified, becoming a curse for everyone who hangs on a tree is cursed (Galatians 3:13). In becoming a curse he becomes able to lift the curse that is on creation. He had already demonstrated his power over creation, in his death he acquired the legal right to give effect to the necessary transformation. In his death he also paid the ransom price, by paying the penalty that was due to us for our sin. The penalty was paid not for himself, and as the penalty he paid was far greater, for though he suffered death as a man, it was God who hung on the cross. The price he paid then is a ransom price not for one but for many.

On the basis of having fulfilled the law’s demands therefore he acquired the legal right to forgive sins. We have already mentioned that the Lord had said: Vengeance is mine, I will repay. On the cross he did that. He exacted vengeance and paid the debt. Now he may offer and give forgiveness to men. And we who receive that forgiveness learn to forgive those who do evil against us. Justice is satisfied.

The Christian doctrine then takes seriously the problem of evil and the corollary problem of justice. It does not play down any aspect of either but faces squarely up to both. It also holds that God in his Son Jesus has dealt with both of these problems by an act in our history and the history of this world.

No other religion, ethic or philosophy faces up to the problems adequately, leaving either one or the other unfulfilled.

Another aspect of the Christian doctrine of evil is that it is intrinsic in the heart of man, as we have shown above – out of the heart of man proceed… – but that God deals with this by giving men new hearts. Again we made reference to this above – a man must be born again. This is a radical change in the nature of a man. It is not completed in this life, for the new heart is born into the old body. This life for a believer in Christ become a place of conflict. It is not an external conflict, but an internal one in which the new heart struggles to overcome the old. The Christian is encourage not to be conformed to the [oldway] but to be transformed and become like Christ. The transformation is guaranteed to be completed on the basis of the promise and the power of God in Jesus Christ and his faithfulness to his own word.

Christian doctrine thus address both the problem of evil and the problem of justice. Forgiveness is obtained by ensuring that justice is done, thus satisfying the problem of justice, and the evil heart of the forgiven man is removed and a new heart given thus removing the root of evil in men.

Concerning the future, there are rightly identified two outcomes for men, but neither are the outcomes posited by men’s religions. Neither outcome would adequately address the twin problems of evil and justice if any aspect of Christian doctrine were removed.

If we may refer to these as the good and the bad outcome in order to avoid prejudgements, the good outcome is that the curse shall be lifted from the present creation, and believers shall live on a renewed earth, which shall be the same as, but utterly different than the present earth, in bodies which shall be the same as, but utterly different than our present bodies. There is not another place for us. The characteristics of this place may be described in the following terms which Paul uses immediately after describing the characteristic actions of evil: the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). The detail is left for another day for (1 Corinthians 2:9) eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him. If we enjoy the blessing of God in this world, alloyed as it is with evil and sin, what joy will it be when sin has been removed from the world and your hearts!

The bad outcome is not as posited by some a place of torment by demons and other evil creatures. It is a place of justice. Vengeance is mine, I shall repay says the Lord. The Lord described it as a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. It is a fearful description and the physical reality of it is beyond our imagination, but it is not a place where demons have a free reign of terror over men. They too are consigned in chains so that they cannot torment men ever again. The weeping and gnashing of teeth hint at what is going on. One of the Psalms references the place also, in a description that is perhaps more fearful than we find here: Psalm 129:8 Let not those who pass by them say, ‘The blessing of the Lord be upon you; We bless you in the name of the Lord!’ I have only quoted one verse, it is enough. That place is a place where the blessing of God is absent. All of the good things we enjoy here shall be gone. The love of family and friends, the sound of singing, the sound of gladness of heart, the sight of dancing will all be gone. Men will grieve over what has been lost never having given God thanks for it, and now having lost it curse God for their loss. The punishment will not be anything more or less than is deserved, and men will know that. As one thief cried out to the other: (Luke 23:40-41) Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong, they will know that they are there justly. And this worm shall not die.


You will have heard it said: I cannot believe in God. Look at the evil in the world! Or perhaps more personally: I saw how they treated each other even though they believed in God. I cannot believe in that. But no, I can only reply: Look at all the evil in the world! Look at how they treat one another even though they believe in God! I must believe in him for he is the only one who has, and has provided, the answer to all of this.

* This article is not the place to discuss the failure of both uniformitarianism and Darwinism. Suffice it to say that whilst they fail as a consequence of external evidences, they actually fail on their own terms and internal structures.

Judgements (ASA)

If you apply racial stereotyping to this post then as Coco is not a chocolate bean but if this article has been written by a stereotypically white middle class male who wears a tweed jacket you must presume that it is racist and anything that Coco says will be understood to have racist implications, Coco has therefore on the basis of stereotyping Coco’s readers, no expectations that when Coco speaks against these matters anyone shall listen or rather Coco has every expectation that no-one shall listen. If it has not, then on the basis (provided or otherwise) of Critical Race Theory then you must believe every word.

In the youth of the writer the expression it takes one to know one was often used to rebuff those who promoted negative ideas about or images of another person, but there is a certain element of truth in the saying, just as there is an element of truth in all stereotypes, such as references to the similarities between the Thai, Shona and Irish temperaments, or the short arms of deep pocketed men from the West Riding or Scotland. So, when an accusation of racism is heard it is as well first to analyse the accusation itself for any racism which may be inherently in it before considering whether the actions, words or individuals so accused merit the accusation. If the accusation itself is racist, then those who made it must necessarily reconsider their own position for as we well know those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

What then do we think when we read a judgement like this:

The ad(sic.) [a video advertisement promoted by The Ministry of Justice in support of a prison officer recruitment campaign] formed part of an overall campaign advertising job roles in prisons that had used images of prison officers and other prison staff from a number of different ethnic backgrounds. However, the ASA assessed the post as it would have appeared to consumers in-feed on Facebook and not in the context of the overall campaign. We understood that there was a negative stereotype based on the association between black men and criminal activity; we therefore assessed whether the ad reinforced a negative ethnic stereotype.

The ad showed a real white prison officer and black male inmate in a prison setting. The inmate wore an afro pick comb in his hair – a tool we understood was uniquely associated with black culture. The ad made reference to prison officers being “problem solvers” and “life changers”, and we considered it drew a link between the officer depicted and those attributes. On the other hand, the black prisoner was depicted as a criminal, without those positive attributes. We considered the ad did not suggest that all black men were criminals, or were more likely to be so than any other ethnic group. However, it showed an imbalanced power dynamic, with a smiling white prison officer, described as a “life changer”, and a black, institutionalised prisoner. We considered the ad’s focus on the positive qualities of the white prison officer and negative casting of the black prisoner was likely to be seen as perpetuating a negative racial stereotype.

We concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence on the grounds of race, by reinforcing negative stereotypes about black men.

Is there any element of racism within this analysis? Of course I would not be writing this if I did not think that there were, so the answer is yes. You, dear reader, may disagree with me, but first consider the reasons:

The first thing we note is that the thing in the forefront of the mind of the judge is colour. The words used are: The ad showed a real white prison officer and black male inmate in a prison setting. Colour is the most significant thing in this advertisement to him. The purpose of the advertisement has faded into view. The people depicted in the advertisement have vanished. All that the viewer sees is the colour of their skin.

If the first thing that you see in another person, who is just like you, a living human being made in the image of the God who also made you, is the colour of his skin have you not already uncovered racism in your own heart? Does the colour of the skin matter to you more than anything else? That is racism.

We have found racism at the first hurdle. I do not need to go, for it is enough to find one element of racism in the argument that racism exists to know that the argument fails. But let me go on briefly.

In the same sentence the word male is only used once. It is used to describe the prisoner, here called an inmate. Ask your self why would the prisoner be described as male, but no such attribute be given to the prison guard? If the word male is important for one it, or female, is important for the other also. It is there, I submit, to emphasise the racial difference. Here we have a black man confronted by a white man, without saying as much, is what is being said. So in one sentence we have two evidence of a racial bias, which is racism.

Thirdly, we have a reference to a comb.  It is a type of comb which they associate uniquely with African culture. It is an incorrect association. I have seen many such a comb in exclusively white European households, and not merely seen but seen in use. Once again picking up on this element in the advertisement demonstrates a prejudgement of racism and racism hidden within their own thoughts.

Fourthly they contrast the difference between the guard and the prisoner. There is a difference. One is said to be a problem solver and life changer, both of which descriptions may be true of both, but we are not here to discuss that aspect of the advertisement, so we shall leave it that the description was intended to throw light on aspects of the guard’s duties other than the locking and unlocking of doors. The other was depicted as a criminal. Those two things would be true whatever the colour of the skin of the two individuals being described. The judge however again focused not upon the characteristics of the two individuals but the colour of the skin. As I have intimated already, to see the colour of the skin as being the prime characteristic is racist. What we should see first are the rôles of the two individuals in society.

Fifthly, the prison officer is described as a smiling white. Just as the use of the word male is used earlier to describe the prisoner, here we have an emotive word, smiling, used to describe the guard. Why did they choose to describe the guard as a smiling white? Was it to give reinforce their own prejudice that the white man was smug in his position of authority over the black man? Both smiling and white were unnecessary adjectives unless racism was already in the heart of the person saying it.

Finally, that there was an imbalance of power is irrelevant to the matter. In the prisoner-guard situation there is necessarily an imbalance of power, but the imbalance does not arise out of the two individuals concerned but the authority of the law under to which both of them are subject. The imbalance does not arise by reason of the colour of the skin.

The ASA has been misdirected by its agents who have applied their own racist analysis to the advertisement. They have missed the point of the advertisement completely and have allowed their own prejudices to colour their assessment of its aim, which was to encourage people, of all colour, to join the prison service.

I wonder what they would have said had the prisoner been a Geordie or an Irishman and the guard a Cockney, or perhaps worse if the guard had been a Greek and the prisoner a Cretan, all of whom we know on good authority are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.

The BBC article appearing to be unbiased perhaps also indicates a bias. It is good to see that the MoJ shall appeal. We await the outcome of that, but wonder whether we shall see it.