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The Big Questions Series 7 - Episode 3 - Review - Photo Courtesy of BBC
The Big Questions Series 7 - Episode 3 - Review - Photo Courtesy of BBC
The Big Questions Series 7 – Episode 3 – Review – Photo Courtesy of BBC

Benefit streets is the topic of the day and the debate on The Big Questions was no different to many other discussions on the BBC. A few people, notably Jim the plumber, believed that we have too many people scrounging off the benefit system, however the majority of debaters and audience were offended by the notion. The statistics do not seem to support the claim that the number of fraudulent claims are significant at all. What Channel 4 has done with this program is pretty much what trolls do on internet comments sections. The government’s big soundbite regarding the welfare system is making working more desirable than living on benefits. They have gone about doing that by cutting welfare drastically and making it much harder than before for people to remain on benefits, however, they have not taken any meaningful initiative to make working more desirable yet.

Next was the issue of abortion due to gender. It was suggested that to avoid this abhorrent practice we should, like some other countries, make knowing the gender of the child before birth illegal. This might just work to reduce the number of these types of abortions, but would people with dubious moral codes who are capable of aborting a child for her gender stop, just because it is suddenly made illegal?  This problem should be solved through reform of the culture by people in the culture, although some measures should be taken by the government to raise awareness and make it clear that abortion for the sake of gender is wrong, immoral and no better than murder.

The last question and the strangest question, was regarding the devil and his existence. It is always tempting to take this sort of issue less seriously if it was not for the fact that child exorcism is still a common practice in some countries. Watching the program it was worrying to see people in this country who believed that children and people can be possessed. The side who believed in existence of  the devil predictably held the argument that it is not child abuse and the devil is real. It is hard to understand that out of all the explanations for the miseries of the world why one should find a fictional one.

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The Big Questions Series 7 - Episode 3 - Review - Photo Courtesy of BBC
Courtesy of BBC

The new season of the Big Question has started, and I have finally decided to fulfill my old idea of writing a weekly review for this show. This week’s episode was slightly different than the rest in having only one “Big Question” and that question was Should Human Rights Always Outweigh Religious Rights? The answer should be a simple one if we refer to article 9 of 1998 Human Rights Act. We are all humans so we all should have human rights but we are not all religious or even from the same religion, therefore while religion is a big part of many people’s identity, it is the religious rights that might conflict with human rights and not the other way around.

The religious side of the panel started the argument by stating that religious rights are part of the human right and by restricting the religious rights of a sector of society you are infringing on their human rights, which I suppose is true in some way, but as it was mentioned by a member of the audience, religious rights are just a part of the human rights and it cannot overrule human rights of others.

I hate to sound biased but the religious side did not do themselves any favours by constantly contradicting themselves, and looking hypocritical. The Christians were all for wearing crosses in public but against wearing Niqabs in public. Reverend Betty King went as far as praising the French government for imposing a ban on the Niqab in public places. Reverend Lisa Rose was all for a B&B Couple discriminating against unmarried and gay couples but not for M&S Muslim employees to refusal to sell alcohol and pork.  The Muslim section were all for wearing Niqabs and segregating seating arrangements between men and women while being against a secular group wearing Jesus and Mo T-shirts. Regarding the B&B couple, the Muslim lady believed that it would be wrong for her to act on her true belief in thinking homosexuality is wrong while next minute she claimed that manifestation of one’s true belief is a human right.

Islam is a strange religion, they cut off your genitals’ head when you enter it, and they cut off your head when you leave it.

Ubayd Zakani, 14th century Persian poet

Rabbi Neil Janes was presented to defend the right of parents to circumcise their male infants. His argument was that children do not have much choice about anything in their lives, and parents do not circumcise their children to  cause them harm but to bring them up with their religious and cultural values. I personally view circumcision as an unnecessary act; there is still debate on the benefits of circumcision, however even if circumcision is done for hygienic reason or to reduce the risk of STDs such as HIV, I fail to see why a male child cannot go through with circumcision in his later life when he is old enough to make a decision for himself.  It seems to be a very random act, and if it was not for religion I do not believe many people would think of circumcising a child as a good thing. As a circumcised male myself I believe that infant circumcision is an unnecessary act and even though there are not enough studies on the negative effects of infant circumcision, it is better to be stopped as a precaution.

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To begin with I should mention that this program is ridiculously amazing as Bill Bailey never quite knows what he’s doing but somehow he entertains you.

For those of you who have not seen it yet I should remind you that this is not a comedy but it is funny! Jungle Hero is an adventurous historical scientific TV series taking you through astonishing diverse locations each episode, aimed to reveal you an important forgotten history bout the theory of evolution.

Jungle Hero starts when you see Bill Dressing as a Victorian Naturalist; in a cream suit and Panama hat, with a local carrying his heavy, old-fashioned suitcase; taking you through a journey of natural exploitation starting from South East Asia in the footsteps of Alfred Russell Wallace who was the first to synthesize the great theory of evolution.

Yes you heard it right, in fact Alfred Wallace was the first to come up with theory of Evolution and this is exactly the key core of this program. Bill Bailey believes that Wallace, who came up with the theory of evolution through natural selection independently of Charles Darwin, has been unfairly forgotten.

Therefore he’s on a mission to have him re-remembered. And that means heading east in his footsteps to the islands of Indonesia.

1853_PalmTrees_S713_fig194Baileys emphasis for reminding us of who Wallace was derives from the incredible personality that he was and the amount of work he has put into understanding evolution and yet no one knows anything of him. Wallace unlike Darwin did not come from a rich family; in fact he was very poor and was born when his family could no longer afford to stay in London and moved near the Welsh boarder in Kensington Cottage on 8 January 1823.

Wallace, who joined his brother later on back in London, spent his London evenings in an educational “Hall of science” for working men where he became influenced by was deeply impressed by Owen’s utopian social ideals. In 1843 his father died. With a decline in the demand for surveyors William (Wallace’s brother) no longer had sufficient work to employ Wallace. After a brief period of unemployment in early 1844 Wallace worked for over a year as a teacher at the Collegiate School at Leicester.


1905_MylifeDuring this time, Wallace also read the hugely controversial and anonymous book Vestiges of the natural history of creation in 1845. Vestiges‘ argued for the progressive physical “development” of nature and species over time in a progressive, upward direction.

In 1848-1852 Wallace who red a recent book by American traveler William Edwards: A voyage up the river Amazon, including a residence at Para, sailed for Brazil.


In 1854 to 1862 Wallace again set off for the tropics to work as a specimen collector and headed to South East Asia.

Over the next eight years Wallace made dozens of expeditions and amassed a massive collection of 125,000 specimens of insects, birds, mammals and so forth. Wallace discovered hundreds of new species including the world’s largest bee and rarest cat!. In October 1858 Wallace prepared a brief note ‘Direction for Collecting in the Tropics’ for other collectors which give some insights into his career as a collector.

However the thing that impresses Bill Bailey most about Alfred Wallace was the fact that not only he was a naturalist but also an artist and a collector. He has made phenomenal drawings and collections throughout his life on every single place that he journeyed and every single thing he studied.


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I have to say that I have actually been waiting for some years now in order for somebody to come along and make a short TV program about the great Isaac Newton who has never been fully introduced to the public.


My emphasis for that is simply due to the unknown hidden side of a man who changed our world for ever at the time when there was not even a particular name for the subject science and it was almost referred as “study of the physical world” and there was no academic knowledge whatsoever anywhere apart from the old inherited theories left from Aristotle. In other words Newton is referred as a man who bridged our medieval darkness era into the age of enlightenment in the history of human civilization.

Newton is a well complicated character like most geniuses of all time. In Isaac Newton; The Last Magician the core purpose of the program is to unveil the other side of Isaac as well as his rational and scientific mind. Of course to the general public Newton is recognized by the symbol of that famous falling apple that led him to discover gravity. To the more informed group of people Newton is known for his actual valuable work such as his work on the nature of light, inventing mathematics from scratch like calculus, calculating motion and creating mechanics and coming up with famous formula of Gravity that changed the course of humanity on earth once and for all.

Of course Newton’s theory of gravity still governs our world even though it does not explain gravity in greater depth like Einstein’s famous relativity and it does not cover some the very modern physics on the basis of extra dimensions, but it is still a building block of everything we base our modern civilization and technology upon and it is fully applicable in our planet and surroundings. Newton’s theories of motions is what derived humanity forward and led us to sent rockets into the space and explore the universe as we know it today.

These are well recognized by anyone having gone through Newton’s formula even with the slightest interest and understating of them.

Because of all these reasons Newton has always been recognized as a rational figure and a well established scientific mind whose work were based on pure rationalism and logic.

In this program the viewers get to see the other side of Newton that has been distinctly less noticed and perceived before in the mind of the public as a controversial figure.

It was in the mid nineties that his ever unread and locked away papers that he left in Cambridge before moving to London were found, sold and studied. In those papers a completely new side of Newton was revealed and surprised everyone by a large degree. Those papers were never published by Isaac at the time since he did not end up anywhere with them and could not come up with the rational conclusions that he came up with in his physical and real life studies studies.

The papers coherently reveled that Newton was first of all a very religious and illusive man; he spent a bulk of his time going through alchemy, ancient history of human civilizations and religious studies in order to help with his desired philosophical theories to explain the world though a kind of spiritual Christian perspective.


Alchemy plus his religious studies would allow him to explore the universe’s spiritual entity and the science of the inside as he believed; this way he would complete the other side of science in which the physical world and mechanical formula could not explain.with his alchemy he wanted to explore the idea of what’s so called “transmutation” an idea that suggests mass and energy are part of the same property and can convert just like anything in nature that converts, kind of like another version of Einstein’s Relativity that explains mass and energy are two sides of the coin. but he was in a way thorough he wrong channel of doing it and thought alchemy is the way to proceed that proposal.


He genially believed that there was a science of spirits and a missing link in our physical world that could connect us to the great lord Jesus Christ. For that reason he fooled himself into the belief that he is Messiah “the special servant or sender from God”.  His studies of bible were so accurate and from that he got to a new angle of interpreting Christianity that would almost count as heresy at the time.

Therefore the program intends to narrate a biography of him as being both “a hermit and tyrant, heretic and alchemist and maybe a rationalist and a believer.

That is what makes Newton as an individual a complicated figure, a figure that history has never seen of its kind.

During his life he had massive rivalries with the greatest thinkers of his time such as Robert Hook who initially rejected Newton’s published work and called them nonsense, but when Newton’s fame eclipsed him gradually and his work were approved by the scientific community of his time, Hook claimed that he was the first to come up with gravity years before Newton and Newton who did not share credits with anyone said he does nothing but to pretend and he is too poor a mathematician to even understand the calculations involved.


Newton had yet another twist to his bizarre personality nearing the end of his life. He eventually became man of power by becoming a Member of Parliament in Cambridge and even awarded a position at the tower of London to become the president of the Royal society. By then was the dominant intellectual in the world and that gave him the platform to reveal the nastiness and spiteful side of his character. With Robert Hook dying a year earlier He obliterated and burnt everything that he did, wrote and published. He left no portrait of him and wanted him out of the recorded history while ensuring his own presence  He treated all the other thinkers and famous astronomers of the time as his servants and not collies to collaborate with.

All of that made Newton a psychopath and a deranged mind in the eyes of the other thinkers. Newton was a man of rationalism and absurdity, Christianity and heresy, science and alchemy, visions and illusions or a genius loner but tyrant with the given power. a man of great contrasts. All of that was Newton.


He invented the formula to calculate the rate of change, invented telescope, pattern of a spiral shell, inventing projectile and calculus in maths to estimate the change in quantity, calculating and forecasting eclipse, explaining tides and most importantly his 3 famous laws of motion that explains how everything moves or in other words mechanics.

He also spent a bulk of his time on rubbish, absolute rubbish that he got nothing from and made him sleepless and melancholic that led to his nervous breakdown and he could no longer concentrate on new things due to the too much use of mercury. So he then turned into a man of authority when he could not think properly.


Many believe that Newton was actually the resemblance or the representation of the era that human civilization was stumbling on, an era of confusion from pre-history to modernism or darkness to enlightenment.  And in between all that Newton had full reasons to consider alchemy as a part of science and false notions as part of universal laws.

In one final sentence Newton was the Last Magician of all time and the image of falling apple form a tree has become the symbol of genius and inspiration.