Mark Grealish

Cats and wizardry.


Of Faith and Reason

in me

The concept and actuality of faith makes no sense to me. What I mean by this is what I dismiss the entire idea of miracles as that of effect without cause. Somewhere deep down in my brain exists a part of me that rejects the miraculous as effect without cause.

One of the most important stories of Christian canon is the Wedding at Cana. Long parable short, Jesus turned water into wine while at the wedding. On several fronts the story offers proofs of an omnipotent and omnipresent god:

  1. The majority of attendees found the wind to be of the highest quality. God knew their tastes.
  2. God knew the subtle combination of time and process which underpins all good vintages. Perfect past knowledge implies perfect future knowledge.
  3. God accomplished without any side effects. For example god only converted the water in the jars to wine, and not, say, the water in the body of some bystander.

God is detail.

The chain of effects without cause is aberrant in the context of our ordered universe. Everything that occurs, occurs according natural physical law. The efforts of the best and brightest of our species haven’t produced any proof to the contrary. Whatever we don’t understand now, we will in the fullness of time.

And so the small acts of faith with the great. What I find to believe in has been an exhausting open question over the last eighteen months. The lessons of agency and choice, the questions of action and responsibility, have destroyed my faith in the assumed, the unseen and the unknown. As you, for me. The natural world derives from a predictable and time-reversible set of physical laws. The human world belongs to a different order of cause and effect, a system that looks like enlightened self-interest. We all look our for us and ours; most of us also try to cause no harm along the way.

If you express faith as a function of trust, then I’m not someone given to trust. I had to earn my own trust last year before I could go and earn anyone else’s. The hard truths about awful hurts I caused and the destructive ways I acted and interacted, they destroyed my faith in myself.

Now, this outlook is exhausting. I can’t go through life afraid to trust anyone because of an unbased fear in my ability to cause and receive hurt. That I realise my fear as another, negative, kind of faith leads me back toward reason and mindfulness. You, whoever you are, you I’ll trust. Give me your proofs and I’ll give you mine.

Back at the larger scale, I trust in science and logic and reason. In combination they offer a testable set of proofs on the nature of the world. They describe the nature of cause and effect and consequence in neat steps. While yes, I hold a reductive view of Everything, Everything gives me a heady sense of wonder. Across billions of years and time and space, here and now I am alive, aware, and able to find spontaneous disordered beauty in a domain of law and order.


Harold’s Cross, Early Autumn

in ireland

Harold's Cross in Dublin, early autumn

The Baily Lighthouse

in ireland

The Baily Lighthouse

I Wish I Were Lost

in me

Dublin Bay before Storm Helene lands

With Storm Helene due to make landfall over Ireland tonight, I went up and out on my bicycle around the south city out as far as the foothills.

Tonight’s wind held the promise of autumn, dark nights, close nights when gusts cut through naked trees. Happy nights, when I go out and lose myself for an hour in the wild winds. Scouring winds whipped over bare hills and dark valley. Angry and bitter winds that fly howling into the black unknown. I can’t wait for more.


Git Alias to Flag Files Unchanged

in code

Inspired by a question on Stack Overflow, “Can I get a list of files marked –assume-unchanged?”, this alias allows me to glob mark files as unchanged (or changed) from the command-line.

[alias]
  unchanged = !git ls-files -v | grep \"^[[:lower:]]\"
  thaw = "!git update-index --no-assume-unchanged $@"
  freeze = "!git update-index --assume-unchanged $@"

As an example of use, build tools in the Angular/Ionic toolchain make non-permanent changes to the committed config.xml file, in a way that’s super annoying to deal with. One git freeze config.xml makes the problem go away.


Grey, Speckled With Light

in ireland

Grand Canal Dock