Christians these days need thick skins and good debating skills. I say this because their religion is so often picked on and picked apart. Take the figure of Jesus, for example.
Critics have long complained that he is depicted as European in features in most religious paintings and icons. They argue that since the faith had its origins in the Middle East, then surely he would have looked quasi-Arabian – dark hair, swarthy complexion and facial features in keeping with those of the region. His European-ness, say the detractors stems from mediaeval and Renaissance painters who painted in their own image – long cloak and tunic, bearded and paler in complexion than the other side of the Mediterranean.
Curiously, those same detractors have so far declined to point the same accusatory finger at the Virgin Mary, ever seen equally white-faced and dressed somewhat nun-like in long, blue shift, hair demurely covered with a wimple, yet presumably the same argument would hold water.
There is, perhaps, a stronger argument for depicting Mary and husband Joseph as middle-eastern in appearance since we know from the bible that they were residents of Galilee who travelled to the city of Bethlehem for the purposes of a census and would therefore have undeniably been Arabian in ethnicity; Jesus, on the other hand, if we accept the biblical writings of the virgin birth, would therefore not necessarily have to be genetically related to either his mother or father, but might have had whatever racial and other features his heavenly father chose to bestow on him…….but wait, stop right there. Did I say ‘father’?
Another week, another controversy but this time the theological argument comes from the highest priest in the Anglican Church, none other than the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who has stated that God is neither man nor woman but gender-neutral. The Archbishop told an audience at St Martin-in-the-Fields church in London’s Trafalgar Square that God should not be referred to using a gender because 'our father' was not male or female.
According to the Most Rev Justin Welby human language is inadequate to describe the Christian deity and that despite the use of words such as 'king' and 'lord' – he is not male in the human sense. “God is not a father in exactly the same way as a human being is a father. God is not male or female. God is not definable. It is extraordinarily important as Christians that we remember that the definitive revelation of who God is was not in words, but in the word of God who we call Jesus Christ. We can't pin God down.”
He may, of course, have a point. In the Anglican hymn ‘Immortal, Invisible’, the verses tell us that God is ‘ in light inaccessible, hid from our eyes’, which rather suggests that He has a form unrecognisable to us mere mortals, by implication nothing like the human shape s that we inhabit.
There is however a counter-argument in that almost every Christian pamphlet, scripture, treatise or papyrus scroll he is referred to in the male gender. The Catechism addresses ‘God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost’, the Holy Trinity which even the Catholic Church can’t quite define. The Lord’s Prayer begins ‘Our Father which art in Heaven’ and everywhere in the Common Prayer Book God is referenced as ‘Father’ and ‘He’. Also, if not a he or a she, that only leaves an ‘it’ which even the devoutest of atheists would surely consider a bit impertinent. So, what’s the Archbishop on about?
Well, he’s not the first church leader to make this assertion. The Catholic Church catechism of 1993 stated ‘God transcends the human distinction between the sexes, “He is neither man nor woman: He is God.’ Ah, but when God sent his only son down to earth to help us mortal sinners, he certainly had human form, even if it’s rather Italian in all the pictures?
So what does the Bible, the Christian manual, so to speak, have to say on the subject? Well, even there it is not cut and dried. Mostly God is referred to as a man, but there are feminine reference, too – “like a woman in labour” in the book of Isaiah, “like a mother hen” (Matthew), “like a mother eagle” (Deuteronomy). Scholars suggest patriarchal Judaism was building on the foundation of earlier matriarchal religions but that argument doesn’t hold much water since those few references are greatly outweighed by the preponderance of those to ‘He’ and ‘Father’.
And with apologies to the Archbishop, the Bible is fairly clear that God created man in his own image. I give you some of the many references
Genesis 1:26 Verse Concepts Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
Genesis 1:26-27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Genesis 5:1-2 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created.
1 Corinthians 11:7 Verse Concepts For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.
Genesis 9:6 Verse Concepts "Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.
James 3:9 Verse Concepts With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;
Well, that’s fairly consistent, then. And now, as we find ourselves in the run up to Christmas, the birthday of the Son of God, this is as good a time as any to debate such issues but, wait! There’s another controversial statement. Apparently there are many clues in the scriptures indicating that Jesus wasn’t born at this time of the year at all, cold, wet and wintry in the Levantine, but in much balmier conditions, warm enough for shepherds to watch their flocks all night, living out under the stars, so almost certainly not December then. And of course, it would also be a fair question to ask why God gave Mary a boy child, not a little girl, but perhaps we shouldn’t go down that particular path today!
In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.
It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.
… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan
With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.
Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.
If I say the word ‘robot’ to you, I can guess what would immediately spring to mind – a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and tv shows. Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name, Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama, Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…
Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator, Box in Logan’s Run, Police robots in Elysium and Otomo in Robocop.
And that’s to name but a few. As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves. And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of robotics in the workplace.
ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.
A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles. It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.
DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.
AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,
AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.
INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour
These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.
This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count! For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars. It’s a theory, at any rate.
Already,customers at the South-Korean fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic. The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners. Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.
‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP.
Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions.
Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders. Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.
These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.
And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth. Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.
But there may be more redundancies on the way as well. Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable? So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid? Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!