I appreciate letter writers (February 28 and March 6) who responded so thoughtfully to my suggestion that the discovery of gravitational waves, as predicted by Einstein a century ago, confirms that this universe is orderly and rational and that we may understand the divine laws that govern it (Letters, February 21).
I agree that Einstein was not a religious believer in the conventional sense but he had a profound awareness of the mystery at the heart of the universe and sometimes used religious terms to describe it.
To believe in a creator God who loves his creation is an act of faith. Likewise I believe that an atheist position requires faith, though many atheists reject such a suggestion. To be an atheist means having faith that the universe and our world just happened by accident and without a creator.
An atheist has faith that there is no moral law of right and wrong for behaviour. An atheist believes that there is no spiritual reality at all and no possibility of life after death. An atheist believes that human beings do not have souls. An atheist believes that either Jesus Christ never existed or, if he did, he was a deluded fanatic, who just happened to inspire many followers and some of the world's greatest music and art and literature.
An atheist rejects the "Lord's Prayer" as irrelevant yet it is still used regularly in our Federal Parliament.
Atheism seems to mean believing in a whole series of negatives and we can never prove a negative any more than we can prove a positive.
To me, the atheist position requires an enormous act of faith. Personally I do not have enough faith to be an atheist.
Father Robert Willson, Deakin
Politicians whinging about pensions and entitlements are the persons for whom no sacrifice is too great, provided someone else is doing the sacrificing: of health, dignity, sanity, or even life itself (Consternation as politicians question stripping of entitlements, Sunday CT, March 6, p4).
So much for "dedicated" political societal commitment at great personal cost. Abbott's 2014 entitlement legislation, passed by the House of Representatives, should be presented to the Senate, and would, if not passed, be reasonable grounds on which to call a double dissolution.
The avarice of this coterie, predominantly male, knows no bounds. In office their basic "compensation" has numerous added perks, like overseas study leave, office expenses, stationery, away-from-home and fare allowances, travel, non-contributory superannuation, salary enhancements for committee duties, etc.
Double dipping seems a sine qua non of political life. Remember Treasurer Hockey, now Australia's US ambassador, claimed $270/night, taxpayer funded, travelling allowance to stay in his wife's majority-owned Canberra house. Not to be outdone, PM Turnbull claims $271/night to stay in his own $2million apartment in Kingston.
Brendan Nelson, now Australian War Memorial director, paid Hockey rent to live in the shed of Hockey's property. These scenarios may explain why politicians fight aggressively to prevent changes to negative gearing, family trusts, capital gains tax and estate duties.
Without any (apparent) moral or ethical qualms, politicians supplement their already generously funded retirement by smoothly transitioning from parliament to bestow insider knowledge as lobbyists and consultants for a fee, on mining, horseracing, financial services, etc.
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan
The ongoing argument about retired politicians' pensions and entitlements is essentially about legislation to retrospectively vary an employment contract after the service has been provided.
It is totalitarian rule by decree, the antithesis of everything that democracy and the rule of law stand for ("Departing MPs to get six-figure pensions for life" and "Consternation as politicians question stripping of entitlements", March 6, p4).
Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor
Louis Pretorius (Letters, March 6) asks, "If weather can't be predicted within hours, what hope is there of long-term forward predictions?" in obvious reference to climate projections.
If I roll two dice, the total of the next throw is anyone's guess, but if I roll them a million times the average of all the totals will be 7 – it's the same short-term variability with long-term predictability.
James Allan, Narrabundah
In Tony Trobe's column "Small, well planned apartments" (March 6, p25), Rebecca Stockley suggests better apartment topology (or is it typology?), because in the hands of developers, flats are becoming pokier and pokier (sinister shades of narrow-gutted Industrial Revolution housing).
Simply mandating that all bedrooms, along with all living spaces, must have at least one complete wall on an open external facade, would change the aspect ratio of apartment footprints for the better in terms of (currently rapidly diminishing) privacy, amenity, solar and natural-light access, and population health levels.
Developers and the market would cope.
Jack Kershaw, Kambah
Light rail cost
If the light rail goes ahead, the community deserves to see the full extent of the network.
It does occur to me, however, that if our city planners were so clever and forward thinking years ago, suitable corridors would have been identified and secured years ago.
Public transport involving fixed-line trains, trams or trolley buses isn't new. Resumption of land at a later date is always an expensive exercise.
I understand the value of taking the tram into the Parliamentary Triangle is a reasonable consideration, but if the carry-on about the trees on Northbourne Avenue is anything to go by, the screaming and gnashing of teeth will be deafening when they start the chainsaws in there.
My biggest fear is that the Gungahlin to Civic line will be the only line ever built. Why? Because every other line will be far more difficult and expensive.
We'd better think very hard or brace ourselves for a very expensive and unhappy future and I for one, will still be happier in my car.
A. R. (Chic) Henry, Hawker
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