1. Good without God Once upon a time, a self-proclaimed fundamentalist Christian, very well known to both the atheist/agnostic and Christian blog-o-sphere for her outlandish politics and elevated sense of self-importance, attempted to ridicule me in a 3,800 word e-mail, for pointing out that Muslims and Christians both worship the same God. Despite having built an extremely profitable business, selling self-help fan fiction aimed at rightwing conservative evangelicals, and despite asserting on numerous occasions that there was nothing an atheist like me could say about her faith in Jesus that would cause her to doubt any aspect of Christianity, her knowledge of world religion wasnʼt merely limited to not knowing Allah and Yahweh are one and the same deity or that Jesus is a prophet of Islam. But what she lacked in basics she more than made up for in her judgement of others. This included a detailed prediction that I would “almost certainly burn in hell for eternity”, by having the arrogance to teach her something she should have already known about the founding principals of all monotheistic religions, including her own. Her email then went on to describe how I was incapable of understanding true love and compassion, because “your God is science and science murdered the Jews” and that “Muslims are taking over America with the worship of false idols”. " The question is, was this person just a bad example of a real Christian or is it more generally the case that both a misunderstanding of what others believe and what is objectively true, often causes some religious to think the truth-claims of their own faith are either unique, or somehow unavailable to followers of other faiths and none? What effort do most of the people the Christian reader stands next to in church every week, actually make to establish a rational explanation for their various beliefs? How much or how little, comparatively, do these people know about the scientific explanation for many of the phenomena they ascribe to the supernatural? Would they continue to hold on quite so tightly to these beliefs, if they knew the breadth and width of our very real understanding for so many of the things which were once thought mysterious and beyond our ability to comprehend, but which science has now revealed in all their natural glory. " In September, 2010 the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, published the findings of a U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey. Of the 3,412 people sampled, four-in-ten Catholics (45%) did not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion do not merely symbolise but actually become the body and blood of Christ. 53% of protestants didnʼt know who Martin Luther was. 47% didnʼt know the Dalai Lama is Buddhist and fewer than 38% associated Vishnu and Shiva with Hinduism. 48% said they “seldom” or “never” read books or visit websites about their own religion and 70% said they seldom or never read books or visit websites about religions other than their own. Overall, protestants and Catholics were the lowest scoring group in the survey with an average score of 11. Jews, atheists and agnostics were the highest scoring group with an average score of 20. The report found that “atheists/agnostics and Jews stand out for high levels of knowledge about world religions other than Christianity [and also] score at or above the national average on questions about the Bible and Christianity.” 1 ! “I contend we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer God than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours” Stephen F Roberts!
The religion one happens to have been brought up in determines what one both believes and also, therefore, that which one does not believe. If your parents are Scientologists, 1
there is a very high probability that by the time you are at school age, you will believe that your wellbeing and capability as a person are determined by the level of Thetans in your body—which Scientologists believe to be the souls or spirits of our ancestors, which were cast into several volcanos millions of years ago by the evil Lord Xenu. You will believe this as fervently as any Catholic child believes what their parents taught them; that a few thousand years ago the creator of the universe, in human form, died on a cross to fulfil a prophecy and save humanity from the sin of being created in His image. If the reader is a Catholic, the comparison to a belief system such as Scientology, which is so obviously made-up and fanciful, should perhaps offend or even cause outrage. Similarly, the offence caused to Mormons when the various crimes and misdemeanours of Joseph Smith are revealed, often embarrasses at least the mainstream media into a collective silence over these controversies, for fear of alienating or embarrassing an ostensibly popular public figure, who happens to be Mormon, when speaking of their political ambitions. " Yet the offence which is caused to those of us who are not religious, when all of the above claim their beliefs warrant a tax break, or an otherwise privileged position in society, such as an assumed constitutional right to publish, preach and profit from their extremist views, is an objection dismissed out of hand as merely sour grapes or a lack of tolerance for the beliefs of other people; that atheism and nihilism are two sides of the same coin. " For pointing out the contradicting truth-claims made by Christians, atheists and agnostics—or rational sceptics as I will later argue it is a more appropriate description— are statistically the least trusted minority in the American social and political landscape. A March, 2007 survey by Newsweek showed that 62% of Americans would refuse to vote for any candidate admitting to being an atheist. A U.S. Census Bureau report in 2007 found that 1.7% of the American population are Jewish and 12.4% are African American. Whilst a 2001 ARIS report found that 29.5 million Americans (14.1% of the population) describe themselves as "without religion"—more than the African American and Jewish minority combined. What this and other studies into the religiosity of populations tend to show, is that there is a disconnect between what people believe atheism means and the practical reality of living among a significant percentage of non-religious in day to day life; the general experience of the non-religious that those in the Christian majority experience every day. " For example, if you work in an office containing 100 cubicles, statistically at least, 14 of your work colleagues are non-religious. What this suggests, if the Newsweek survey is correct; that atheists are untrustworthy, is there should be higher numbers of atheists conducting criminal activity then among those who actively adhere to one of the main monotheistic faiths—in other words, there should be a higher probability that one or more of your non-religious coworkers will be charged with antisocial behaviour of some kind or another than any one of the remaining 86 predominantly Christian workers in the same office. " In the US there in an average of 3667 crimes per 100000 people per year. In "The New Criminology" by Max D. Schlapp and Edward E. Smith, the authors surveyed religious affiliation among prisoners in gaols across America. What they found appears to challenge the assumption that those who are without religious guidance of some kind or another are inherently lacking a moral compass and therefore more likely to commit crime. In Sing-Sing, for example, prisoners on death row, who were executed for murder, were 65% Catholic, 26% Protestant, 6% Hebrew and 2% Pagan. Less than one third of 1% were atheist. In 1997 the Federal Bureau of Prisons found that 39.1% of prisoners were Catholic, 35.8% were protestant, 7.2% were Muslim and just 0.209% of the prison population were of no religious affiliation, below Buddhists at 1.180% and Jews at 1.773% " Apologists have argued that the Schlapp & Smith data is an unreliable indicator as to the comparative good behaviour of the non-religious, compared to the religious, because there are fewer non-religious in the general population, compared to a higher
percentage of the population who are either religious, or at least believe in some kind of power in the universe which we donʼt yet understand—which for purposes of brevity might as well be referred to as God. Indeed there are much better ways of comparing and contrasting the values of the non-religious to the values of the religious than criminal statistics. Not least because this excludes those who arenʼt criminal and yet who are either religious or who think it simply less contentious all round to refer to the unknown as exactly that and remain agnostic on some of the really big questions. But more on this in a later chapter. For now, let us deal with the claim that some kind of religious up-bringing, such as a broad familiarity with scripture tends to instil someone with a solid basis for morality. " Even if there were fewer atheists in the North American population than the 14.1% found in the 2001 ARIS report, then the instances of crime among the non-religious should still be much higher than the Schlapp & Smith statistics suggest. If baptism, confession, communion, confirmation and contrition, for example, were more likely to lead one towards a more coherent moral centre, why is it that Catholics along with Protestants make up the majority of criminals in the penal system? Surely the opposite should stand, if it truly were the case that some kind of religious education is better than none at all? " The well educated generally donʼt turn to crime. It is often said that as part of a holistic curriculum, religious education in schools is as important in the development of moral thinking in children as athletic exercise is in their physical development. In that belief we have educated countless billions of children on the basic tenets of the Christian faith for hundreds of years. Yet in highly non-religious countries, such as Iceland, Sweden and Germany, where there are far more atheist/agnostics in the general population, the violent crime statistics, year-on-year, are dwarfed by those from highly religious countries such as North America, Argentina and Brazil. Moreover there is a matching curve in several other metrics, such as public acceptance of certain scientific principals. In countries such as America and Turkey, who share similarly low levels of the population who accept the evidence of Darwinian evolution, for example, a comparatively very high level of religiosity is matched by extremely low 12th grade science class score averages. Norway, Sweden and Denmark, the least religious and financially most affluent countries in the world, scored highest against bottom of the table Turkey, the United States and Cyprus on an almost exactly matching inverse curve to the public understanding of the sciences and the scientific method in general. While it would be wrong to infer from this that religious education itself is responsible for both lower scientific literacy and higher crime statistics, it certainly appears to suggest that the claim often made, that religiosity instills a sense of right from wrong and encourages open mindedness, isnʼt always borne out by the facts. " However, no right thinking person would argue against teaching children about religion in school. Religious belief of one kind or another has shaped our world in myriad ways for millennia. Religion is a vitally important part of world history and it should be taught as such. But there is a balance to be struck which no-one, on either side of the many and varied debates in these areas seems willing to find. For example, simply because a childʼs parents happen to be Christian most schools exclusively teach the tenets of that religion over that of another. No-one would argue against teaching children about the black civil rights movement, simply because their parents are white, but there appears to be a disconnect when it comes to religious education—which the general public seems to have bought into—that when it comes to religion we must teach children of Catholic parents only about Catholicism, while children of Muslims in the school across the street are taught only about Islam, children in the next school are told only about their parents Hinduism, in another school told only about Protestantism, or the beliefs of Sikhs, or Baptists, or Latter day Saints, Mormons, Seventh day Adventists and so on and so forth. We would never dream of teaching children how to play basketball to the detriment of
teaching them how to play tennis or football—much less actively teach against involvement in other sports which might teach the child something different about effective strategies and alternative ways of achieving a shared common goal. Yet when it comes to teaching religion in schools, this is exactly what we do and despite that the lessons of history have shown us time and again that religious divisions in childhood inform our decisions in adulthood. Why do we continue to do this, in the demonstrably mistaken belief that religious indoctrination towards one particular belief over another instills a basis for morality in young minds? " One might just as easily ask for how much longer do we have to sweep up the dismembered remains of Palestinian suicide bombers in the disputed territories, occupied by Israeli Jews, or how many more bombs must be dropped by drone aircraft operated thousands of feet above Afghanistan, from a computer terminal in Texas, steered via billion dollar satellites in space towards the candle lit, wattle and daub homes of people who are no more responsible for 9/11, simply because they are Muslim, than the remote control pilot is guilty for the Backwater massacre in Nisoor Square, simply because he is Christian. But the fact that each of the protagonists in these seemingly intractable conflicts are as firmly committed to their religion as their sworn enemies are to theirs speaks for itself. Just as true, is the fact that the remote pilot would no more dream of dropping bombs on people he had never met, if they lived in a predominantly Christian country, than the 9/11 hijackers would have carried out their actions in Saudi Arabia or Iran. " How these acts of violence; these wicked examples of manʼs inhumanity to man, correlate to the edict commonly attributed to Jesus, “that which you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me” is the challenge facing my co-author—a task I have no doubt whatsoever she is more than capable of rising to with some skill. But the retort to which it is often said that atheists are just as guilty throughout history of heinous and despicable acts as are the religious, isnʼt the killer blow to my argument she might be tempted to assert it is and for some very good reasons. Clearly, the Jews in the gas chambers of Auschwitz were not put to death by advocates of the enlightenment. Nor was their resolve to murder more and more emboldened by a belief in secular humanism, rational enquiry and intellectual honesty. Indeed the Nazi regime was built precisely upon a rejection of the values espoused by all free thinkers. And while it is certainly true that Stalin was an atheist and that his Russian troops were responsible for countless millions more deaths in the second world war than the soldiers of Nazi Germany and Mussoliniʼs National Fascist Party combined, Stalinʼs atheism no more proves that the non-religious have a greater propensity for evil, than the existence of pedophiles in the Catholic priesthood stands as proof all Catholics are pederasts. The actions of the few do not exemplify the actions of the many. " This is just as true for one as it is true for the other. I have written at length in my previous collection of essays ʻPlease donʼt feed the trollʼ about religious fundamentalism and the rise of the far-right, pseudo-Christian in conservative American politics and how this is just as much of a threat to ordinary Christians like you, as it is to rational sceptics like me. In that work, I attempted to explain the general understanding held among many non-religious, that there is a huge difference between shake and bake, Fox News Christianity and the vast majority of centre left, liberal democrats (as opposed to Liberal Democrats) that constitute the mainstream of modern, educated and tolerant Christianity across America and around the world. My hope for this book, is that Heidi and I can take it as a given that the reader is neither an extreme anti-theist nor a fundamentalist Christian, and drill down into some of the specifics of our shared values. Perhaps then we might begin, at least in some small way, to dispel the myth that atheists are the green eyed monsters of religious hatred—as they are so often made out to be by those who presume to speak on their behalf—and who rarely have any idea that when they attack what they donʼt understand, theyʼre often attacking their closest friends, family and coworkers, who
live a perfectly good and happy life without any belief in God, and whose need to call their non-belief atheism is no more pressing than their need to give a name to their non-belief in ghosts, tarot cards, the flying spaghetti monster or Russellʼs teapot. Is this all there is? Itʼs difficult to imagine anything more incredible than reality. We live on a rock, orbiting around 98 million miles away from a giant thermonuclear reactor, which in common with trillions of stars like it, abundant throughout the universe, bathes this planet in light and heat and surrounds it with an electromagnetic forcefield that protects our thinning atmosphere from deadly radiation, whilst simultaneously containing all the air and water everyone who has ever lived and who ever will live, breaths and drinks. We know this, not because it was secretly revealed to no-doubt ernest and sincere theological scholars, but because it was discovered piece by piece by open and rational minds. The steady incremental improvements to our mathematics and technology, ever since the scientific enlightenment, has slowly uncovered what was once obscured by ignorance and superstition, until now in the 21st century we can say with staggering accuracy not only where we are in the universe, but how we got here in the first place—and in no small way. " Not that we should rest on our laurels. Science might have made some incredible leaps forward, since the invention of semiconductors in the 1950ʼs, or the mapping of the human genome as recently as 2003 or the mapping of the cosmic background radiation with the WMAP satellite in 2010. But the scientific method, for all its capabilities is yet to help us devise a practicable solution to world hunger, or a fair and proportionate economic system, or realistic alternatives to the burning of fossil fuels. Whilst this is true of many problems facing the modern world, the least that can be said of science is that it doesnʼt demand on pain of eternal damnation that we pretend it has answered these questions. On the contrary, in fact. There is quite clearly a solution to these problems which depends upon exactly the opposite of a willing suspension of disbelief. If we are to fix the worldʼs ills, we need to apply an ever greater degree of scientific endeavour to these huge challenges that we all face, regardless of our geopolitical circumstances. Contrast this with what might happen if we sought instead to demand greater and greater religious pronouncements upon these problems. Ask yourself what we would do if a solution to the HIV / AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa depended upon the Pope in Rome, for example. Is taking Pat Robertsonʼs counsel on the situation in the Middle East, or an Iranian clericʼs advice on how to end child-bride trafficking, more or less likely to produce an optimal moral answer to these questions? And what does the fact that no serious person has to spend a single second contemplating the answer to these questions tell us about the generally held assumption that religion helps us find a balance between the spiritual and the material? Further, itʼs not as if these questions havenʼt dominated the religious discourse for centuries. These are not hypothetical questions which high theology needs just a few hundreds years more to meditate upon. These problems will persist for as long as we sacrifice ourselves to the idea that moral reasoning can only come under the remit of a prescribed set of philosophies that specifically preclude the possibility that there might not be an ultimate arbiter of morality, beyond the human capacity for learning. " Because of this belief not just in scientific methodology, but the ingenuity of humans, it is often asserted that advocates of rational, scientific materialism (as distinct from consumerist materialism) place as great a degree of faith in science as the religious place in God; that science is the God of the non-religious, with certain scientific theories and ways of thinking forming the tenets of this quasi-religious sect—more generally referred to as new-atheism. I donʼt want to spend too long exploring the uselessness of this term. Suffice to say it might as well be called new-blancmange or old-underwear for
all the difference it makes in terms of raising the level of conversation above this undue degree of reverence weʼre expected to hold for what people believe, versus what can be practically gained from what they say and what they do. " If a mystic in a simple wooden shack, somewhere in a remote Indian village, believes that she has experienced something profound about the nature of existence, whilst in a trance-like state, for all it may be emotionally pleasing on some level for us to listen to what she has to say, about how weʼre all connected by our differences as much as we are by our similarities, itʼs important to note she hasn't actually said anything which contradicts the discoveries of Charles Darwin, or the thousands of biologists, chemists, geneticists and palaeontologists since his time, who have established beyond any doubt that all life on this planet truly is connected on a profound and fundamental level. Thereʼs little wonder, then, that we feel compassion and empathy for the plight of endangered species in the rain forests of Brazil or rare insects in the jungles of Indonesia, pandas in China or whales in the ocean, when we are in a very real sense connected to and charged with the survival of these diverse and yet genetically very similar creatures to ourselves; something felt all the more passionately when we know that this is not merely an illusion we electively buy into, simply because it happens to chime with what we would like to be so, but because we can prove all life on earth is intimately interconnected and made of the same chemical building blocks which are abundant throughout the universe. " Carl Sagan provides a neat analogy of the stark difference between this and the bibleʼs position on the natural world, that teaches man holds dominion over the animal kingdom to use as he sees fit, when in his book Contact, later made into a blockbuster film with the actress Jodi Foster, he observes how genuinely profound and distinct from every other work of religious writing Judaeo-Christian scripture would truly be, if only it attempted to make at least one valid scientific prediction ahead of its discovery by the endeavours of man: such as Einsteinʼs proof that thou shalt not travel faster than light. The very fact that the bible, or indeed any religious scripture from any world civilisation past or present hasn't even come close to this level of insight and true revelation, about the nature of nature, succinctly highlights the magnitude of the challenge faced by those who hold the truthclaims of various supposedly holy texts above any sort of rational criticism—especially given how this contrasts with how detailed these texts are on the exact punishment that should be meted out to women, children, slaves and other chattel, should they commit the heresy of thinking and acting for themselves. " Arguing, then, that an adherence to ridged or unquestioning scientific principals, is the credo of the non-religious, is to correctly argue that uncritical blind obedience to a set of unshifting ideals cannot lead to any true understanding. Indeed, this mantra of Lee Strobel and Rick Warren evangelicals, who in debate with the non-religious on-line and beyond, will often paraphrase this in the term “I donʼt have enough faith to be an atheist”, perfectly encapsulates the very argument against the mindset they themselves advocate, which in addition rather blithely assumes non-theism to be a rejection of good ideas for dogmatic reasons. Further, they often demand that the atheist account for this misrepresentation of their position when even a cursory understanding of classic agnosticism, shows that it stands in precise opposition to this kind of non-thinking. !
“Faith is for fools” - The way of the Sufi, Idris Shah
What are you trying to achieve? As I write, a story on the CBS evening news, October 11th, 2010, highlights the “struggle some Christians have with Yoga, because itʼs not just an exercise, it also has a spiritual component”. The president of the Southern Baptist Seminary, Albert Mohler, says Christians should stay away from Yoga altogether, writing on his blog, “The embrace of
Yoga is a symptom of our postmodern spiritual confusion and to our shame this confusion reaches into the church. Christians who practise Yoga are flirting with a spiritual practise that threatens to transform their spiritual lives”. CBS also carried a voxpop with an ordinary member of the public, who added, “If Christians are doing Yoga as exercise thatʼs probably OK, but if theyʼre doing it to expand their religion, itʼs probably not a safe thing to do”. [authorʼs emphasis] " The question is, at which point did Christianity stop being about seeking transformative experiences? Setting aside the tacit admission of pastor Mohler that the Hindu roots of Yoga might allow its adherents to experience something otherwise unavailable to Christian meditatives, what can we say about the proposition that to explore any aspect of religion or spirituality, beyond its pre-subscribed borders, is to teeter on the edge of something forbidden? Are we really at a point where there is a black and white choice between heaven and hell, being given to millions of well meaning people, who are faced with a set of life choices which no one set of beliefs could ever hope to stand in stead of their own innate sense of right from wrong, no matter how hard they are encouraged to believe the contrary? At what point do we determine that to simply beg these questions someone must have already decided, on some level, to either embrace or reject some ultimate truth? And what can we say about someone who decides what that ultimate truth is on someone elseʼs behalf, and who themselves are either entitled to or precluded from asking these questions, simply based upon whether or not they attach some kind of arbitrary, etherial meaning to both questions profound, such as life after death, and to the phantasmagorically small minded conundrum of whether or not certain kinds of physical exercise threaten an individualʼs chances of achieving bliss. " This simply is not state-of-the-art reasoning. Pastor Albert Mohler has quite evidently never had to ponder the ultimate significance of anything more changeling than the choice between Colgate or Macleans. But weʼre faced with the unsettling notion that at least one other human being in this world, which we all just so happen to share at this fleeting moment in space-time, will live their entire life concerned more with meaninglessness than the impact his demonising fitness classes might have on the health and mental wellbeing of people stupid enough to take him seriously. What can we possibly conclude about a system of belief so fragmented by its own lack of coherence, that it affords legitimacy, however absentmindedly, to the notion that touching ones toes or crossing ones legs, while thinking non-Christian thoughts, might impede ones ability to arrive at some kind of moral reasoning or cause one to enter some forbidden state. " It takes no kind of effort, whatsoever, to see the flaws in Mohlerʼs proposition, not simply because itʼs patently naive and absurd, but because no serious minded person could imagine a situation in which their judgement might become so clouded that they would impart special meaning upon petty details. We absolutely know that there are quite legitimate mental health concerns for someone who canʼt leave the house without checking the gas stove is turned off twenty times, while standing on one leg, just as we are in no doubt whatsoever that the answer to elevating the suffering of that person rests firmly in the hands of modern medicine and psychoanalytic therapy. We simply donʼt entertain the notion for one solitary second that this person is possessed of demons or meddling with witchcraft—yet these are exactly the pronouncements which were made on people with what we today call obsessive compulsive behaviour disorders, prior to the scientific enlightenment. It was called the dark ages for a reason—and yet Mohler is suggesting we should return to this infantile model of what constitutes not only basic human decency and respect for our physical condition, but he invokes this in the name of seeking clarity on a set of presumptions only cluttered to begin with by his own lack of perspective. " But what if a personʼs symptoms of delusion are no more socially obscure than a belief, held perhaps for no other reason than it was believed by her parents and her parents parents, and countless generations before that, which says that the line of
demarkation between eternal happiness and eternal damnation, swings on whether or not one eats a cracker bread every Sunday, which has had some special words read out over it by a man—and a man only—whose only qualification for reciting these special incantations is that he earnestly and wholeheartedly believes they transubstantiate inanimate objects into the flesh and blood of Jesus. What then are we entitled to say about someone who, on one hand ridicules pastor Mohler as readily as he deserves, but on the other hand demands special consideration be given to their own nonsensical beliefs, simply because they are steeped in traditions which have special significance to millions of people around the world. What possible connection can there be between the number of people who believe in something and whether or not their beliefs are true? Not to mention that this same number of people, or at least a significant proportion of them, would just as readily dismiss out of hand the notion that tarot cards, crystal healing, or astrology can have any kind of impact upon the physical or emotional state of those who as fervently believe in these practises, as any Christian believes their particular ceremonial rites are the exclusive means by which one communicates with the creator of the universe. " I am absolutely certain my friend and coauthor will be able to cite verse after verse from the bible which addresses some of these questions from a Christian perspective. But I suppose my real point isnʼt that holy texts of one form or another are incapable of matching secular learning for profound observations on the human condition, but that they are demonstrably incapable of exceeding them. There has never been a single word written, in the history of context delimited literature, which transcends the intellect of the individual who wrote them down. Everything we will ever know about ourselves has come from our desire to find out for ourselves. We must do away with the notion that the thing which makes the bible or any religious text special, is that it was written by someone removed from reality or in-touch with the divine and therefore more capable of understanding who we are better than we are capable of understanding this for ourselves. Not simply because this is at best presumptuous or at worst egomaniacal, but because it denies that these states of being are exclusive to those whose only qualification to speak on matters spiritual is that they lived a very long time ago. Anyone who claims, therefore, that this imbues Matthew, Mark, Luke or John with the insight to know something about you personally, simply isnʼt telling the truth—no matter how earnestly they might believe that they are and no matter how learned they are on theological specifics. " Note the distinction Iʼm at pains to make between simply lying to oneself and lying to other people. There are quite obvious and well understood boundaries, in terms of cognitive learning and the internal dialogue, between self-affirmation and writing a prescription to fix the ailments which we perceive to afflict other people. I do not, in other words, say that religious beliefs of one kind or another donʼt have a positive effect on those who truly believe them—just that there is nothing inherent to those beliefs which make them universally true and therefore applicable to others. Since it is central to Christian teaching that, above all other faiths, it represents the one true path towards salvation and that in order to be a Christian one must live for nothing more than to bring that salvation to other people, perhaps this is the point at which I should give thanks for the readerʼs indulgence so far and look forward to Heidiʼs response.
Work in progress