I think it fairly clear that we (humans that is), look at certain objects as representations of larger meanings, ideals, ideas, beliefs etc, despite what they are in practical terms.
I’m thinking here along the lines of flags, documents like our and other countries constitutions, historical documents as well as religious texts, paintings, photographs etc. They’re not necessarily ‘granted’ this symbolic relevance as much as it may be an association built over short or long periods of time and possibly become part of a larger culture/society/zeitgeist. For example, I’m unhappy that Charles Darwin’s house and lab in Kent, UK, has been denied world heritage status, yet for all intents and purposes it is just a house. Still to me it holds much more meaning in what it represents than it does in practical terms.
I don’t have strong feeling either way in regard to the Polish flag (I couldn’t pick it out of a line up to be honest), but I’m aware others such as Polish people for instance may, and I respect that.
Obviously I’m not talking about trademarks and such which I’m confident I’m quite ignorant, although I don’t think it’s a huge leap to suspect corporate logos and such are attempts at replicating the phenomena I’m clumsily describing.
Just today a local story started doing the rounds of local and now national print and web based media featuring a locally conducted book burning, filmed and posted on YouTube.
The Courier Mail headline reads
“Brisbane atheist and university lawyer smokes pages from the Koran and Bible in YouTube stunt”
The piece goes on to describe the 12 minute film by lawyer and Brisbane Atheists member, Alex Stewart, 29.
Obviously you should view the video yourselves and make up your own mind as to what Alex’s motivation may have been. That’s what I’ve been attempting and it seems to me at least that this protest or whatever it was supposed to be is nothing more than a plea for attention. It’s not terribly original, not terribly funny or not likely to be persuasive to anyone regardless of their beliefs. Worse still this video was posted on YouTube under the pseudonym of ‘CASEwithscience’ and the description read
“A scientific experiment seeking to establish whether the bible or koran will burn the best based on bayesian analysis of qualitative data.”
So this unfunny, waste of bandwidth annoys or offends some people, embarrasses others and brings unwelcome associations between atheism, science, faith, and my home state of Queensland where we already have more than enough pseudo-science without this. If that was the intent of the creator then well done and mission accomplished!
Please keep in mind I am highly biased against all forms of book burning unless it’s really freaking cold and you’re running out of options, otherwise I’ll most likely think the perpetrator a dick.
Jayson D Cooke
Holy Smoke, Alex – Don’t be a Dick! – by Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear
Hero or villain? Neither. He’s an idiot – By John Birmingham
One way holy books can alter your brain – by PZ Myers, Pharyngula
Offend the religious and you may lose your job – by Sean the Blogonaut
Burning Your Enemy’s holy book – By Russell Blackford – Metamagician and the Hellfire Club