Now I’ve heard it all!
Angels, you’ll be interested to know, can’t fly. And how have I come by this startlingly important, world-saving piece of vital information? In the UK’s Daily Telegraph.
And how did the Telegraph come by it? Well, a scientist – a real scientist, being paid – has come up with this after studying flight characteristics of birds and other stuff.
“Angels depicted heralding the birth of Jesus in nativity scenes across the world are anatomically flawed, according to a scientist who claims they would never be able to fly,” we are informed.
“A leading biologist has compared the physiology of flighted species with the representations of spiritual and mythical creatures in art and found the angels and fairies that sit atop of Christmas trees did not get there under their own steam.”
This guy who seems to have too much time on his hands is Professor Roger Wotton, of University College, London, who has found that flight would be impossible for angels portrayed with arms and birdlike feathered wings. Now, if this information is just a by-product of something important, such as designing the next generation of airborne transport, then I apologise, but the fact that the Telegraph has seen fit to print it seems to be a waste of column inches.
And centimetres, too.
“Even a cursory examination of the evidence in representational arts shows that angels and cherubs cannot take off and cannot use powered flight,” says Wotton. “And even if they used gliding flight, they would need to be exposed to very high wind velocities at take off – such high winds that they would be blown away and have no need for wings.”
The paper says that the power of angels to capture the imagination is so strong that a survey last year revealed that most Americans believe in them. Well, knowing the religious persuasions of most Americans, that’s not exactly surprising, is it?
That study came from the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life, which found that 68 per cent of the 36,000 adults polled thought that angels and demons were at work in the world.
Oh, Jesus Christ on a stick, leave it out! The world is being torn apart by religious differences (as you can see from a glance at the latest issue of Gay & Lesbian Humanist, which is now online*), and we are truly God-damned.
Why not a study to highlight this, and show up religion for what it is: divisive, controlling and in many cases plain evil. Yes, yes, yes, people do good things in its name, but people do good things without it, too. They’re good people.
* If you find yourself reading this post beyond early February 2010, you'll find yourself directed to what will then be the current issue, but you can navigate your way to the December 2009 one from the archive link.