Page 202. " What about the Falkland Islands? "

The Falkland Islands are a group of islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, 300 miles off the coast of South America. The climate tends to be humid and windy, with frequent strong gales and severe winters. It has been the centre of an ongoing sovereignty dispute between Britain and Argentina, leading to the Falklands Conflict in 1982.

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Page 207. " God isn't compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. "
The Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo Buonarroti c.1511
Public DomainThe Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo Buonarroti c.1511 - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Scientific advance and new technology have contributed to a rise in atheism amongst young people. Science has been used to explain many things that religions claim to be 'the work of God'; some have even attempted to explain religious belief through psychology and neuroscience. Much debate and controversy surrounds the scientific theory of evolution, and the religious belief that God created the world (creationism). For some, these theories are compatible, but for many the two arguments cannot be reconciled. Some scientists and philosophers believe that science has successfully disproved the existence of God. The philosopher Frederich Nietzsche is famous for his claim that 'God is dead' – killed by rationalism and science. For Richard Dawkins and others, religious belief is merely a delusion.

Richard Dawkins at the Atheist Bus Campaign Launch, 2009
Creative Commons AttributionRichard Dawkins at the Atheist Bus Campaign Launch, 2009 - Credit: Zoe Margolis/Wikimedia Commons
From "A study done by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York found that the percentage of the population that describes itself as “nonreligious” more than doubled from 1990 to 2001, from 14.3 million to 29.4 million people."


The Times - Creationism should be taught in schools

The Times - Richard Dawkins argues that creationists are 'history-deniers' (read comments below article for an interesting debate)

The British Humanist Association (who believe humans can live good lives without belief in God)



Page 210. " Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them "
John Philip Kemble as Hamlet, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1802
Public DomainJohn Philip Kemble as Hamlet, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1802 - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A famous quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet – it begins with the well-known line: "To be, or not to be - that is the question". Read the full speech here.

The passage has been interpreted in many different ways, from a contemplation of suicide to existential musing.

The German philosopher Nietzsche argued that suffering is a part of human nature; he believed that strength and wisdom arise through overcoming suffering. One theory in his philosophy is that a harsh and testing upbringing will lead to a unique understanding of the world, one that sets a person above and beyond reality:

Man, as the animal that is most courageous, most accustomed to suffering, does not negate suffering as such: he wants it, even seeks it out, provided one shows him some meaning in it, some wherefore of suffering.

– from On A Genealogy of Morals

The discipline of suffering, of great suffering – do you not know that only this discipline has created all enhancements of man so far? That tension of the soul in unhappiness which cultivates its strength, its shudders face to face with great ruin, its inventiveness and courage in enduring, preserving, interpreting, and exploiting suffering, and whatever has been granted to it of profundity, secret, mask, spirit, cunning, greatness – was it not granted to it through suffering, through the discipline of great suffering?

– from Beyond Good and Evil





Page 211. " 'We prefer to do things comfortably.' 'But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom "

This argument between Mond and John the Savage centres around what freedom is. Mond believes that freedom is being free from disease, destruction and negative emotions, whereas the Savage sees it as being allowed to live without conditioning, according to nature and with all the negatives that come with this.

These differing ideas of freedom and human nature can be seen in the philosophy of two different thinkers: Plato and Nietzsche. Plato believed that people could only be free if they controlled their chaotic and destructive natures and learnt of the Good. This would allow the state to be stable and happy. Nietzsche argued that humans are naturally chaotic, and that this is what it means to be free. People can only be free if they live with their negative emotions as well as the positive ones, in a world of ups and downs.

Page 219. " When he had finished, he picked up the whip and began hitting himself "
Flagellants, from a 15th century woodcut
Public DomainFlagellants, from a 15th century woodcut - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

 Flagellants are people who perform self-abasement through whipping, normally for religious purposes. It is seen as a way to cleanse the soul, or as an act of atonement.

In the Zuni religion, whipping is not used as a punishment but for purification. At a young age, boys are whipped by masked kiva spirits in a purifying ceremony to drive out bad luck.  The ceremony is repeated just before puberty.

Flagellantism was a Christian movement in the 13th and 14th centuries, focused on penance. Although the act of flagellation is rarely practiced today, it can still be found in some Catholic countries, such as Spain, Italy and the Philippines.