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Margaret Thatcher UK Death Celebrations Reveal a Sick Society

April 13, 2013


Margaret Thatcher was a deeply polarizing leader whose policies I lived under and disagreed with. But I look on aghast at the morbid celebrations of her death in the UK and at the ghoulish joy expressed by many who were not even alive while she was prime minister. This outburst of malign schadenfreude is evidence of a very sick society.

In Saturday’s Independent newspaper, philosopher Anthony Grayling describes respect for the dead as an ‘outdated and foolish principle’. I suspect that the bleak scientism of leading UK public commentators like Grayling and Richard Dawkins has contributed to an intellectual zeitgeist in the UK of total moral relativism. This in turn lies at the root of a debased social climate where the death of an old, demented woman can be celebrated with such gusto.

Every human brain is totally and utterly unique, physically and mentally. There are more possible patterns of connections within the human brain than there are atoms in the universe. Combine that with the physical shaping of a brain by trillions of bits of information in the course of an individual lifetime, then you have, at the end of a life, an astonishing thing: a single life etched into a near-infinite membrane which is unique in the known universe.

The death of a single individual is like the extinction of a species and the loss of a human consciousness is a tragedy. In his recent book Mind and Cosmos, philosopher Thomas Nagel reveals the intellectual flaws in the materialist reductionism that underpins the Dawkins-Grayling dogma of scientism. The phenomenon of human consciousness and its ‘qualia’ are a huge problem and enigma and physicists searching for the unified theory of the cosmos are stumped by it. Only naïve biologists like Dawkins think they can explain it with an airy wave of the hand.

Let me be clear: no more than Nagel, I am not a Cartesian dualist who believes that consciousness or ‘soul’ can exist separately from the beautiful biology of the brain. But as a scientist I find myself dismayed by those scientists – usually biologists and philo-biologists – who pretend a comprehensive understanding of reality by science that simply does not exist.

Neanderthal man’s advanced humanity was identified and our image of him improved when evidence for ceremony and reverence for their dead was found in burial sites. We revere the extinction of a human consciousness because we are part of an utterly amazing common human consciousness which requires reverence and mutual respect – above all when one is extinguished.

The loss of this token of common humanity in UK today is a sign of the country’s sickness.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Donal Lyons permalink
    April 13, 2013 1:51 pm

    No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

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