Happy Hallowe’en!

halloween pin My boys are not very excited about Hallowe’en this year, and I will be in class this evening while they hand out the goodies, so I really am not participating much at all.

Usually, I am in costume at work and read spooky stories to trick or treaters, but not this year. This year we are not dressing up at all, or reading either. However, I made myself a Hallowe’en pin to wear, which you may or may not be able to see below, where it is reposing on the first full skein of Wool of the Andes for #2 son’s sweater. The sweaters I am working on right now are gray and navy blue (that is Pipes under the gray one), so neither will make interesting pictures.

Mostly at work right now I am apologizing to people and sending them away empty-handed because we don’t have what they need. Also I fluff things and spread them out to disguise the lack of stock. Soon it will be like those Soviet grocery stores we used to hear about in elementary school back when I was a child. Our teachers always painted lurid word-pictures for us of how little there was in Soviet grocery stores, compared with our dozens of different brands of toothpaste.

The boys are not excited about Hallowe’en, but #2 son is excited about Thanksgiving, and in particular the stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which he assures me is his favorite time of year. That is of course Advent, and I like it a lot too.

We are expecting both the girls home this weekend, and that is also very exciting. #1 daughter is working till 10:00 at night right now, and then they will be leaving tomorrow on a 27-hour road trip to get here, but once she arrives it will be serious fun around here. The wedding, which will include dancing and karaoke, and the tapas party, and we are thinking that we will try to squeeze in a turkey dinner since #1 daughter and son-in-law won’t be here for Thanksgiving.

So we have a lot to look forward to.

I am also looking forward to some spirited discussion of The God Delusion. #1 daughter and Son-in-Law both are very big on spirited discussion. They haven’t actually been reading much of the book, and #2 daughter hasn’t even received her copy yet, but I may have enough scornful things to say to start a conversation, and once it is started it can be counted upon to continue.

Elizbit posted an interesting review of The God Delusion last week, and if you click on her name, you can read it. This guy is more scornful than I have been, but he makes some very interesting points. And of course he has read the whole book.

I have moved on to the next section, and I think Dawkins may be back on form. He is going to tell us how religion is bad for us. Lots of people say this, of course, including some of you guys on your xangas. There is always a large logical problem with that claim, though. Namely, religion is so basic to human beings (it is one of the ways that archaeologists decide whether a particular primate is human or not) that it is like the joke about pregnancy being caused by rain — 100% of pregnant women have been rained upon, so pregnancy is caused by rain. Claiming that bad (or good) behavior is caused by religion is just like that.

Dawkins takes this bull by the horns in his next section. Religion, he says, is as common among humans as heterosexuality. Since it is clearly a waste of time and resources, it must be for something.

When Dawkins talks about wasting time here, he doesn’t mean that people’s prayer time takes away from their TV-watching. He does say that sort of thing elsewhere, but here he is talking specifically about reproductive success: anything we do that doesn’t ensure procreation and raising our offspring to procreate successfully is a waste of time, since it doesn’t keep our genes in the gene pool. Keeping our genes in the pool is, Dawkins has said many times, the entire and only point to life.

Heterosexuality has obvious advantages in terms of keeping those genes in the pool, but religion’s usefulness in this matter is less clear. Since people keep doing it, though, Dawkins has faith that there must be an evolutionary explanation.

So today, as you prepare for trick or treaters, or carve your jack-o-lantern, or work, or put the finishing touches on your costume, or make your home ready for guests, or shape popcorn balls for your loved ones, ask yourself: Will this keep my genes in the pool? If not, it is a waste of time, so just skip it. In this way, we can attain the amazing reproductive success of insects, who rarely waste time doing anything but procreating and eating.

Just something to think about.