I’m not quite sure why but it seems many believers have a theologically compromised position in their defence of God. Possibly because they believe the bald reading of scripture or consider God to be capable of both good and evil. So much so that they end up portraying the Divine in the worst possible light – that is, a Deity who fluctuates between good and evil depending on Divine ‘whim’  (if there even is such a thing?)

We see this in Noah’s understanding that God was about to bring a Flood upon the earth from which only he, his family and the animals taken with him, would survive. So certain was Noah of this fact, that he presumed that only he and the family would be saved and was rather undone later on to find out that people (and not smaller undeveloped life-forms) continued to inhabit the earth long after the Flood waters abated. How confused was Noah at this outcome?!

At the core of Noah’s misunderstanding is his belief that the family and he were being singled out as lone saviours to the world. Why? Because he believed that God was for them and against others. Rather than seeing God’s instruction of making an ark to survive the Flood as pertaining to his own family’s survival, Noah presumed they were the only ones chosen and that everyone else would drown in the process, leaving them to repopulate the earth with ‘godly’ people – which is only possible if we don’t have freewill to choose!

However, what Noah and the gang didn’t understand was that God’s love would extend to all people, irrespective of whether they believed in God or not. How do we know this? well, because Jesus goes to the cross to take the sins of everyone and to make restitution for all who believe. Hence, why Noah presumed he and his family would be singled out for salvation/redemption while others would be condemned –  rather like the Pharisees who years later would despise Jews (in Jesus’ time) for having withered limbs or being born blind or having leprosy or engaged in nefarious activities such as prostitution or didn’t adhere to working on the Sabbath (to name but a few!).

In short, religiosity and belief in their own self importance led many to the conclusion that God was for them and against everyone else when really, (as shown by Jesus  who is God incarnate) the Divine loves all and does not have favourites – or least not in the sense of those being saved and others who are not.

Personally, I believe Christians would do better if they were to  ‘Keep God Good’  in  their conversations. To believe God is capable of dualistic outcomes – that is, destroying the innocent along with the guilty – is to misunderstand the Creator and sustainer of all things good and holy. It also perpetuates the idea that God is dualistic, capable of doing good and evil to bring about His Kingdom – and we know the latter is impossible.

Til next time…the gloves are off!

🙂

 

 

Okay, so where are we in the story? Well, at the end of Chapter 7 in the Book of Genesis we are told that ‘only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.’ Then in chapter 8 it continues:

‘But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.  Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky.The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.’

Oh my goodness! It looks like I’ve got it wrong! There was a Global Flood after all! Not only that, the ark came to rest on top of Mount Ararat (Turkey)!

Hmmm, well, maybe?  While there is evidence for the Flood, there is little to suggest it was an extinction event for reasons we shall consider next.

One reason ‘The Flood’ cannot be considered an extinction event is because of what happens after Noah runs aground  – and lets be clear here: when Noah looks out from the Ark at the watery world before him, his conclusion is that the entire world is completely flooded. Or put another way, Noah’s world was flooded and (by extension) so too, presumably everybody else’s world with it. After all, God had told Noah to build an ark so that he, his family and the animals could be spared, to which he presumed everyone else would incur death for their nefarious sins and rejection of God. All of which leads to:

Three problems.

Firstly, God blesses Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.’ However, there is nothing in the biblical accounts to suggest any women were onboard the ark which makes this instruction problematic for Noah and the boys – especially when you have been instructed by God to go forward and multiply after an extinction event has occurred on earth?

Secondly, the more likely reason why it wasn’t a global Flood in which all humans died is that had it been an extinction event, there wouldn’t have been anyone around to resist Noah and his family from taking the land – which is what happens for no sooner has Noah and his sons set foot on dry ground and begun to explore the land and mark out the areas they want, then they encounter people with the same  lifestyles and cultic practices as to those they presumed had died in the Flood. (Now, I’m no microbiologist but even with a best guess at the length of time needed for human life to be restored after an extinction event has occurred, I would think at least 500,000 years for amoebas to form.  And yet, Noah and his family encounter human resistance to their claim for land within weeks of  departing the ark – and that from a people who are presumably the same age as his sons.)

And thirdly, if Noah and his sons populate the whole world after it has suffered an extinction event, then how do we explain the diversity of ethnic groups such as Aboriginals, Maoris, American Indian, etc that continue to exist today? (Either they did not die in the Flood or it was a localised Flood that affected Noah’s world and the surrounding areas).

Til next time, a question to think on: What odds on four men repopulating the earth after an extinction event?

(Answers on a postcard to…)

Following on from last week’s post about why the ‘Flood’ Noah experienced was not global, we continue today by looking at the evidence that suggests it was a localised event.  And can I say here that I appreciate (that for some believers) I may be treading on cherished ideas of an ark full of rare and exotic animals gathered from the four corners of the earth. However, as you will see, the evidence for Noah’s Flood being a localised event is compelling so read on….

In the Flood epic, we are told that God instructs Noah to build an ark. While he does this,  two of each animal – male and female – find their way to the Ark in readiness for the voyage. I think we can presume here that God did not intend the animals for eating otherwise he would have sent a lot more. Maybe fifty or sixty  – enough that Noah, his family members and the wolf and coyote might have their fill. (Actually, I’m not going to venture into how you keep animals in an ark when some are predators and the others are prey).

Anyway, it rains, the waters rise and the good ship Noah’s Ark sets sail for who knows where. Soon, the crew find themselves in the middle of a vast expanse of water with no land in sight for days on end. Weeks pass – possibly months – until they become so used to  the watery horizon that greets them every day, they stop looking out of the window.

Eventually, Noah sends out a raven from the ark which doesn’t return. Presumed missing-in-action (aka ‘drowned at sea’) there was probably quibbling between them as to why a seagull or albatross wasn’t sent out as these would be better birds to go on such a  mission given that they could rest on the water when tired – however, a dove was chosen which went out, found nothing and returned.  (note – need to add here that the  ‘The Ancient Mariner’ had not been written so there were no qualms about having an albatross on board though clearly Noah thought  the dove was a better choice until it didn’t return).

Undeterred, Noah sends the dove out again and this time it returns with a leafy green twig between its beak – Hurrah! The Flood was retreating! A week (or seventeen) later, the Ark runs aground on Terra firm, much to the rejoicing of Noah, his family and the animals who were desperate to get out and exercise.

This is where we encounter our first major problem with the Flood narrative because there is a presumption that the Ark runs aground on top of a mountain –  and why not? After all, they have not seen land for months until the day they awoke to find the ark grounded on land from which water was receding – I need to add here that I am sitting on my hands as there is so much more to say about the implications of the extinction event but it will have to wait for the fourth part of this series!

Now, had the Ark ended up on top of Mount Kilimanjaro or Table Mountain or Mount McKinley or Mount Everest or Mount Blanc or whatever high place you want to name, Noah would be justified in believing the Flood had covered the whole world and an ‘extinction event’ had occurred which, as a result, had him, family and animals as the only living creatures left on earth. And let me add here, that there is no deception on Noah’s part as he actually believes the whole world had been flooded. Why? Because every day he looked out, all he saw was water, leading him to presume that he and his family are the only people left on earth.

I mean, how could others have survived without a vessel? Noah believed this because God had told him to prepare as a flood was coming. And of course the most obvious explanation (for us in the 21st century) is that a flood did indeed occur and the ark was swept out to sea and ended up circling the Mediterranean aimlessly for months on end until the water around it receded and they found ground a hundred or so miles down the road from where they built the ark. For Noah – a man who presumably believed  (like so many of that time)  that the world was flat and that the endless watery horizon surrounding them was evidence of how God had covered everything with water. Moreover, it’s quite possible that Noah may never have seen the sea prior to the Flood and sincerely believed that he and his family were the only one’s afloat and alive. A misconception that, as we shall see in next week’s post, will land both him and his son(s) in a heap of trouble.

Til then, man overboard!

ps could it be that the first dove that never returned to the ark, found land, weighed up its options and lived out the rest of his life on the rich pickings at the nearby Canaanite settlement? Hmmmm?

 

Today, we begin a five part series looking at the events of the Flood which is recorded in the account of Noah in the Book of Genesis (chapter 6). In this chapter, God tells Noah to build an ark because the people are wicked and that he, his family and animals will be spared when the Great Flood comes upon them. Now, aside from other flood accounts that hail from this region at varying points in time – most notably, the Epic of Gilgamesh – more recent geological investigation suggests the  the Black/Caspian Sea(?) tipped into the Mediterranean around this time that resulted in flooding in the outlying regions.

Now, we will go deeper into the passage in future posts but for today, I would like to discuss the anomaly of how the animals found their way to the ark.

For those of us who have ever read the story of ‘Noah and the Ark’ or bought a toy in which pairs of giraffes, brown bears, kangaroos (etc) fit into the dimensions of the plastic container (that doubles as an ark), we are immediately drawn to a problem in the scenario of Noah and the animals. Namely, how did these pairs of animals – female and male – from other continents, manage to find their way to the ark?

I need to add here that many times what I hear from well intentioned christians who think I am missing a trick is the adage that ‘God can do anything,’ Well, ‘yes’ – God can do anything. However, for the sake of the stability in our world, God does not usurp the  rules he has set in place to achieve his goals. And herein lies the problem:

‘How did animals from the continents of Americas, Australia, Greenland, Antartica find their way to Noah’s Ark?’

A few poorly thought out explanations I sometimes hear in response to this question are:

  1. The Flood event occurred at a time while all the continents of the earth were locked together – thus the animals did not have the problem of having to cross a large body of water in making their way to the Ark.
  2. God equipped the animals  so they were able to swim across the body of water to facilitate them making the rest of the journey under their own steam.
  3. Somehow God teleported (Star Trek-like) polar bears from the North Pole and other animals to Noah’s Ark because God can do anything He wants.

Okay, hold on to your hats! A few simplistic ideas are about to be knocked for six.

Firstly, geological surveys predict that the plates of the earth separated long before human existence – there’s a very good reason why this is so because the energy, gases and eruptions caused by this colossal event would have destroyed all life on earth. Had it happened while humans were alive (and they had somehow survived), there would be evidence of humans artefacts at different layers of the geological strata – but they’re aren’t!

Secondly, the idea that God would equip koala bears with the ability to swim makes little sense. If these marsupials  can manage a hundred day swim from Perth to Johannesburg without one of them being consumed by a shark – remember, there is a need for them to arrive in pairs – then why do they need to travel at all? If koalas – and other animals  – are able to stay afloat in a choppy ocean with gusts and gales, then why do they even need to travel there to get onboard the Ark?

Lastly, God cannot create a world in which freewill is established, then transgress these outcomes by interfering within it. With the exception of Star Trek IV ‘The Voyage Home’ in which Captain Kirk and the team return to earth in the 1980s to save the planet by transporting two whales to avert an incident (long story), the reality is that God does not intervene in the way we think He should.

And finally…

What are we to make of God’s instruction to Noah to make ready the Ark and take two of every kind of animal with him?

Well, if you believe the Flood to be global, it makes no sense at all as the Ark’s dimensions cannot contain two of every species.

However, if the Flood is localised to a region and Noah and his family will have to resettle after they find dry land, then having two of every animal (goats, hens, cows, etc) is providential for the fresh start that awaits them.

Til the next instalment, live long and prosper!

 

Continuing our journey into Genesis Narrative, we are – with a hop, skip and a jump – going to miss a few parts to get to the real question most people want answered – namely, ‘How did people live to such a ripe old age in that period?’

Now there are several theories that do the rounds as to why people lived so long in the post ‘Fall’ years – that is, since the time when Adam and Eve got themselves banished from the Garden of Eden.

One theory is that before the couple’s ill-fated bite of the apple, eternal life was conferred on all people with the result that the effect of ‘sin’ coming into the world, made humans susceptible to disease and decay. This resulted in an ever diminishing life span though the figures for Biblical ages do not always confirm such a theory as one would imagine an exponential decline in years.

The other theory elicits the idea that in the beginning, a protective ‘firmament’ surrounded the earth which with the Fall of humans and their separation from God and Garden, became damaged and affected our longevity.

(note: there have been a lot of ‘longevity’ myths throughout human history and you can find the supposed ages of biblical characters and notable others by clicking here  )

More interesting – and perhaps offering greater plausibility – is the idea that the size of the number has significance. Setting aside the more comical notion that Methuselah missed out on reaching his thousand year birthday because the four-figure number hadn’t been invented at that time, it is worth noting how the age of person would reflect on the blessing received from their Deity.

For example ,a long life coincide with obedient behaviour – if you are good and please God, you live for many years. If you’re bad, your end will come quickly.

While this will encourage those who consider themselves to be doing okay in their advancing years, perhaps the most likely explanation as to why people lived to a three digit age is to do with a rather unusual way of recording age and status together.

Okay, this is where memory may fail me but I seem to remember in Faraday Institute member Ernest Lucas’ book ‘Do we have to believe Genesis today? that in Sumerian traditions, the middle digit of a three digit number (ie 149) was not related to age but to an aspect of their status within the community. For example, the person was 19 years old and the digit 4 signified he was a farmer (or whatever?).

A different line of thought I occasionally hear posited suggests that the number relates to lunar cycles around the earth – for example, a husband that is 36 having lived as long as the moon making 36 cycles around the earth. Aside from the fact that 36 rotations of the earth means the man is only 36 months old and better described as an infant or child, it also negates the fact that people in this period did understand time as it related to  seasons and years – something that the Pagan community had a good grasp on from the earliest times.

In short, the idea of people living hundreds of years seems far-fetched to say the least. Even the eldest ones of us today with our ailing joints, creaking bones and loss of memory will affirm that the further into old age a person advances, the more likely they will be to slow down and tire in their latter years.

Did people live to 999 years-old, 777 years-old we can’t be sure. Though its seems more likely they didn’t age this far for no other fact than such facts as these cannot be verified and do not concur with our understanding of age and human experience.

Til next week – boldly go where no one hundred year-old has gone before….

Okay…

Following up on last week’s post about the slaying of Abel by Cain in an act of sibling rivalry retribution, we consider whether this was the first killing that occurred (post fall/Eden). And of course, I stirred the waters up last week by suggesting that many other slayings may have possibly occurred before this – which is problematic for some believers in that I am possibly treading on the toes of some enshrined thinking about God and Creation.

The first one regards the idea that, Adam and Eve were the only two people on earth.

Hence, when Cain slays Abel, population of earth goes down from 4 to 3 –  that is, Adam, Eve and Cain. However, banished to the land of Nod, Cain and his wife….WHAT???? Where did she come from? Moreover, who were her parents and how did she meet Cain? I’m sure there’s a genealogical list somewhere that will help us to understand this anomaly but basically – if it’s true that Adam and Eve had neighbours who were giving birth to sons and daughters, then the idea that Adam and Eve were parents of all is not feasible – for no other reason as to the feasibility of the gene pool created by such an event.

The second one regards the nature of murder in a newly created world.

Of course, this idea that there may have been a multitude of families with grown up children suggests that (like Adam and Eve’s children) other families might have suffered the same immature response in their children who found themselves unable to process disappointment and manage pride. Perhaps Cain’s Wife (let’s call her ‘Lileth’) had a brother (Tim) who experienced disappointment and killed someone a few months before Cain killed Abel. Maybe having realised that he’d blown it with his family or had now drawn the ire of another family that wanted to avenge the killing, he ran away to find sanctuary in a city – yes, I know it will be a surprise for many that a city might be built with so few people yet we are only a hop, skip and a jump away from the coming together of different people groups to build the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). And of course… the idea that in the years that follow…as more and more people get murdered or slain, that some cities will be singled out to be ‘cities of refuge’ where a criminal can run to and find sanctuary from relatives or neighbours who want him dead.

And the last and less referenced one, the saga of the Neanderthal

Our current understanding of history is that humans and Neanderthals lived side by side for a long time. While the coexistence of each at this time was relatively assured, it seems that human’s ability to work, think,  organise themselves and cooperate with one another gave them an advantage over Neanderthals who were unable to match this dynamism. Moreover, they were less able to defend themselves against humans who were better equipped and organised with the result that they were hunted or displaced from fertile areas and in the centuries that followed, eventually died off and became extinct.

Which of course, brings us back to the question of last week – was Abel the first person slain? Possibly though highly unlikely as there were many families on the fertile plain with equally rambunctious adult children with hot heads and short fuses. While Genesis narrative suggests that Cain brought violence into the world, there is no reason to doubt that the violence  (or lack of compassion) visited on the Neanderthal population is any different from that which others suffered. However, the more socially aware might question whether the commission placed on Adam and Eve – and all who follow after them – to care for everything in the Garden was fulfilled if Neanderthals were removed in the process.

 

Til next time…..

 

Hi all,

Okay, following on from the last post which considered the outcomes of Adam and Eve’s garden escapade with the tree, we consider what happens next and its resonance with freewill and delayed gratification.

Well, with Adam and Eve banished from the ‘Garden’ (however you want to understand that?) the couple make their home outside of it and have two sons – Cain and Abel. We are informed that one day, the sons decide to bring offerings to God. One son (Cain)  brings fruit and vegetables while the other (Abel) provides meat and wine.

Long story short, God is displeased with Cain’s sacrifice – preferring Abel’s plate of meat over Cain’s vegetable and fruit spread. Annoyed that God preferred meat over vegetables, Cain lets his anger get the better of him and he kills brother Abel.

Now I do not necessarily want to get into the accuracy of the account but it will suffice here to say that most theologians will point out that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are considered ‘narrative’ in the sense that they predate chronological accounts and so cannot be understood as historically accurate documents. However, for the purpose of this post, it will suffice that should it be true and two brothers existed and one killed the other, then it is not impossible to see how this might have happened because of one person’s failure to delay gratification.

In this instance, angry Cain gives way to his base emotion, slays his brother then buries him in a shallow grave. However, Abel’s corpse cries out from the grave to God who asks Cain, ‘what have you done?’

And so begins a rather long saga of humans killing one another – that is presuming Cain v Abel was not the first slaying?  (ooh, controversial but check out next week’s post to find the reason why it might not be!).

Yes, in this incident what we find is the human inability to delay gratification can and does override a person’s behaviour in the heat of the moment – but which is worst?

Taking a bite of an apple from a tree you should steer clear of? Or killing your bother in a fit of rage?

Presumably, the latter but I suppose it all depends on how we understand the apple and what it represents?

However, for now, what we do know is that an inability to control our human desire (good and bad) has a consequence – and yet, failure to control desire has varying consequences. For one person, the consequence for eating something (like chocolate) may have no consequence at all while another’s  impulse to kill a love rival will (if discovered)  result in them going to jail.

Until next week, resist!

 

 

In the last post we considered the christian understanding of the Fall. That is how decisions made by Adam and Eve – but particularly Eve – resulted in evil coming into the world. Be that as ‘natural disasters’ ( aka natural evil)  and ‘human evil’ in which humans do harm to one another’ (aka moral evil).

Now, while the idea of Adam and Eve  inadvertently releasing evil into the world and onto themselves (like Pandora’s box)  is a convenient idea for some, it is worth noting here that the nature of the way our physical world is constructed suggests that change, pain and suffering have always been a part of it.

For example, the issue of ‘gravity’ suggests that in the same way fruit falls from a tree so too will death and injury be visited on the town at the bottom of the valley should the avalanche reach that far. And yet we know that gravity is a good thing in that it keeps us fixed to the ground rather than allowing us to float off into outer-space like a minion in the film ‘Despicable Me.’ Moreover, gravity also facilitates the hydrological cycle through the process of evaporation in which salt-water  from the sea returns as rain to establish one of the main building blocks of life on this planet – fresh water.

Likewise, the erosion that washes peoples’ livelihoods away has a flip side- a bi-product if you will which results in alluvial deposits being laid down elsewhere for a different community where it will replenish their land with the necessary minerals and nutrients so another community may continue to farm and grow crops to feed themselves and others.

In short, the world does not seem to be out of kilter at all but is rather a mechanism through which human needs are met but (in an instance) may also be hampered or wrecked.

Today, the more rational among us would think it nonsense to believe the equilibrium of the physical, spiritual and moral world of humans might be affected through the consumption of an apple. That said, it is clear there is a growing understanding of how human activity in the world does result in changes to the environment. Changes which may (and may not be)  detrimental to health and wellbeing of ourselves and that which lives within our world.

However, this type of change is a long way removed from orthodox thinking of how the world is affected by a spiritual reality where illness and death arrived with the plucking of the apple from the tree or Adam and Eve’s bite of the apple. The problem we have is that our understanding of the world today means we are less susceptible to simplistic understandings of why the world is the way it is. Like it or not, tectonic moment can be a good thing as is gravity and the bacteria that keeps are gut healthy. That said, get caught in an earthquake, fall down a mountain or get a strain of bacteria that makes you ill, and the world is a dangerous place. Although the world sustains life, know this: it is NOT a harm-free zone. And most certainly, this is the way it was created and (imho) was never the perfect idyll we imagine it to be. Adam and Eve may have struggled to resist temptation and delay gratification but it never resulted in changes to the processes of our physical world. Why? Because they were always there and that’s the way it is!


For the next few weeks we will take a break from our posts on coronavirus. After all, it is an issue that is not going away soon and to be quite honest, a pandemic is quite a depressing subject to focus on for any length of time. Instead, following on from the last post – that touched upon the issue of delayed gratification and its resulting consequences –   I thought it might be interesting to explore the ways in which human inability to master desire has and does continue to affect our existence in a multitude of ways that are both good and bad.

Of course, for many christians, the blue print for human susceptibility to ‘delay gratification’  is considered to have its root in Adam and Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden – you know, the second and third chapter of the book of Genesis where they are in the Garden, Eve sees the apple, takes a bite, passes it to Adam (who also has a bite) and it all goes ‘pear-shaped’ (pun intended!) for humanity after that – with the consequence of painful births and a susceptibility to disobedience.

Now, while its my intention to look more closely at our human response to desire and gratification, I feel its important to allay the folly of those who believe that:

  1. somehow it was the woman’s fault that sin came into the world
  2. some kind of physical apple was consumed which had a metaphysical consequence for humanity.

The first of these I will deal with today and I am indebted to author Harold S Kushner who in his book ‘How Good Do We Have to Be?’ observes of the incidents recorded in Genesis 2 &3 in this way:

‘I can’t remember how old I was when I heard (the story) for the first time, but I can remember that, when I was still young, I found some aspects of it hard to understand or accept…Isn’t this a harsh punishment for one small mistake – pain and death. Banishment from Paradise, for breaking one rule. Is God really that strict? Why did God create a tree that He didn’t want anyone to eat from? 

Was God setting up Adam and Eve so that he could punish them? Was the woman ever told of the prohibition, either by God or by Adam? Why is the story told in such a way as to make it seem that it was all the woman’s fault? What is the significance of the first humans being unashamed of their nakedness before they ate the forbidden fruit, and feeling shame immediately afterward?

And perhaps most troubling of all, if the forbidden tree was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, does that imply that Adam and his mate had no knowledge of good and evil before they ate of it? If so, how could they have been expected to know that it was wrong to disobey God? And why were they punished if they had no sense of good and evil before they ate of it?’

Til next post…

Approximately 50 years ago, a piece of research was conducted at Stanford University which resulted in a greater understanding of the role gratification plays in the development of children’s education.

During a study into understanding child behaviour, a number of young children were led into a room and each given a marshmallow which they could eat straight away or wait for the researcher to return from an errand to reward them with an additional one should they manage to refrain from eating it.

Observed by staff through a spy mirror, some children ate the marshmallow straight away while others put up a brave fight, by turning away to face a wall so they wouldn’t have to look at it (though ultimately failed). However, some children managed to refrain with ease. Sitting there with the marshmallow in front of them with no interest in it at all – their mind was set on acquiring the prize of a second marsh mallow.

Now, fast forward 10+ years and a follow-up piece of research on the same sample of pupils was conducted, looking at their educational results. While there are always exceptions to the rule, what was generally found was that those who were able to defer gratification did significantly better in their tests than those who could not – that is, the ones who devoured the marshmallow before the door was barely closed also struggled to discipline themselves to study. In short, those who could delay gratification, did their homework, revised for exams, worked hard in class because their minds were set on a much larger goal than momentary satisfaction. Those who had not mastered their immediate desire, had less discipline in regard to preparation for exams, etc with the result they did less well.

So what has this got to do with coronavirus?

Well, everything actually! Just like the pupils who could defer gratifying desire in a way that their peers could not, we see this also occurs in the response to Covid lockdown and the lifting of some of the initial measures.

Here, in the UK, the initial relaxation of isolation measures resulted in almost 500,000 people crowding onto a beach on the south coast. The government – who had not anticipated this (though should have done) –  had to clarify further as to what constituted a sensible number which was 6 in a back garden. Something that those who didn’t attend the beach that day knew already. Why? Because their desire to survive overruled any momentary thoughts they might have had for self gratification by seeking the higher prize of not contracting the disease or dying.

On the other hand, those who rail against the limitation of lockdown, argue their rights, engage in large gatherings without masks (etc) and  have no such larger goal in sight because the mindset of gratification (like eating a marshmallow) takes precedence and to paraphrase a few I’ve met that they are ‘Fed up’ and/or ‘Done with all this lockdown!’  Obviously, some disciplined people will contract the virus , despite their best efforts not to, However, it is those who would prefer to think the virus fake or less serious than reported, who feed a mindset that seeks gratification at all cost. A high price to pay for want of self-discipline.