Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on exporting Poms, smoke-free air and God's place in natural disasters

According to a survey, almost half of British people believe they would have a better life in Australia or New Zealand than in “broken Britain.” Meanwhile, experts are predicting a more unfair and divided society over the next 30 years as a quarter of young adults are set to inherit parents' homes worth £1 million-plus.

New Year's Eve at Sydney Harbour. Photo: AP/Mark Baker

So that's two national problems. Here's the answer to both. Encourage the disillusioned to migrate to Oz or NZ on assisted passages, as in the post-war days of the “Ten Pound Poms.” Millions of UK homes thus become empty, property prices tumble, everyone who wants a house can afford one and vast inheritances are avoided.

I see only one difficulty. We could end up creating such a fair and contented society here in Britain that all the Ten Pound Poms come home.

Why does God allow catastrophes like the Syria/Turkey earthquake to happen? Atheists have no problem with this great theological puzzle. God allows it to happen because He doesn't exist and religion is basically 2,000 years of talking to the weather.

If you believe in God, on the other hand, the arguments get much more complex. Like the one suggested by one of the God-botherers on The Moral Maze (Radio 4) who said we should not believe God is all-powerful. Why not? Because the images we have of Him, as Jesus in the manger and on the cross, show not power but powerlessness.

This seems to leave us with the curious prospect of a deity who would really love to prevent earthquakes but isn't quite up to it. So why would anyone pray to Him?

I was minded of the Almighty in the ongoing debate about emissions from wood-burning stoves. One pundit declared: “We have a right to breathe clean air.” But do we? From the moment we humans were chucked out of the Garden of Eden, life has been all about risk and reward and compromises. Steak is great but killing a mammoth is risky. Fish is tasty, but you might just drown. Burning logs in your cave keeps you warm, but long-term all that smoke is no good for your lungs. Truth is, we will probably never have totally risk-free food, totally sewage-free rivers or totally clean air. That's totally real life.