"Religion is a hypothesis about the world: the hypothesis that things are the way they are, at least in part, because of supernatural entities or forces acting on the natural world. And there's no good reason to treat it any differently from any other hypothesis. Which includes pointing out its flaws and inconsistencies, asking its adherents to back it up with solid evidence, making jokes about it when it's just being silly, offering arguments and evidence for our own competing hypotheses...and trying to persuade people out of it if we think it's mistaken. It's persuasion. It's the marketplace of ideas. Why should religion get a free ride"

Greta Christina

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Mecca has a bigger one than London - so there!

I love this…
I was alerted to this silly story of the giant clock in Mecca by Pharyngula.
The Saudi government is challenging Greenwich Mean Time as the reference point for global time by building a clock that is over six times larger than Big Ben, the clock in the tower at the Palace of Westminster in London.
First of all Big Ben has absolutely nothing to do with the establishment of Greenwich observatory as the base line from which time is internationally agreed. This was done order for sailors to calculate longitude from the Greenwich meridian, which was by convention considered to have longitude zero degrees as internationally adopted at the International Meridian Conference of 1884. I don’t think anyone is going to relocate zero longitude at Mecca just because it’s got a big clock.
Secondly inhabitants of any particular part of the world don’t go around saying “It’s five O’Clock, so it must be two O’Clock in London” anymore than Arabic Standard Time is of interest to anyone else but an inhabitant of that time zone, or someone who wants to go or ‘phone there.
If the Saudis want to flaunt their oil wealth by building a gaudy clock to time their prayers by, that’s fine. But why turn it into a symbol of supposed Islamic supremacy by pitching it as a rival to Big Ben? Some kind of penis envy I guess. Whatever, Mecca isn’t the centre of the world anymore than London, Paris, New York or Chipping Sodbury is. We live on a (oblate) sphere whether the Saudis like it or not.
The other thing is, what are they going to set the clock by I wonder? Logically they will set it to AST which is defined as GMT+ 3 Hours. Duh!

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