Roll the Bones - Agnostic's Anthem?

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Slaine mac Roth
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Roll the Bones - Agnostic's Anthem?

Post by Slaine mac Roth » Sun Oct 31, 2004 3:08 am

As some of you will have noticed, there have quite a few posts on the nature of faith and religion recently and, the more I think about it, the more I feel that Roll the Bones seems to sum up the position of the agnostic in this world.

At first, I felt that it was an atheist's anthem but, upon closer reflection, the more it seems to represent the agnostic's viewpoint.

A number of the questions raised in the song seem to echo questions asked by both atheist and agnostic. "Why are little ones born only to suffer/For the want of immunity or a bowl of rice?" being the most pertinent on. However, if you consider the line before - "Faith is cold as ice" and a line later on in the verse - "If there's some imortal power to control the dice", the agnostic view becomes clear.

Taking the first of these two lines, initially it could stand for either viewpoint. However, the cold as ice speaks to me of a certain degree of remoteness in the questioner. It conjures a very dispassionate view of the matter whereas an atheist is equally passionate about the non-existence of god as theist is about god's existence.

The second of the two lines is the clincher. By putting it in the form of a question, Neil is placing the song firmly in the court of the agnostic. For an atheist, a more appropriate phrase would be "When there's ni imortal power" because an atheist is sure. The question is the realm of the agnostic, especially if that question begins with if.

Anyway, these are just some idle musings with I've passed the day but I'd be interested to hear what anyone else thinks.
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awip2062
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Post by awip2062 » Sun Oct 31, 2004 10:11 pm

I agree with you, Slaine. It does seem to be agnostic, not atheistic.

And there are some age old questions there too. Good ones as well. Ones that need to be answered if one is to truly know the worldview they hold.
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Fridge
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Post by Fridge » Sun Nov 07, 2004 11:17 am

I think the jurys out for me on this one Slaine....

I can certainly see why you have arrived at this conclusion, and I wouldn't say that you are wrong, indeed you may be spot on.

I still think there's room for a little doubt though, as I thought the line was "Faith AS cold as ice" which does change things slightly. It could mean just what you say, or it could mean that faith is so blind that it appears cold?

As for the other line "If there's some immortal power to control the dice" could simply be Neil asking a sarcatic question.

On conclusion, I think that yours is probably the right explanation, but there is a possibility it could be interpreted another way.
Ach, if Dougie was here he'd tell you himself....

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Slaine mac Roth
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Post by Slaine mac Roth » Sun Nov 07, 2004 11:46 am

I think that is one of the things I like most about Neil's lyrics - they can work on so many levels and can mean different things to different people. Of course, the only person who can say what they really do mean is Neil himself.
'Do not despise the snake for having no horns, for who is to say it will not become a dragon?'

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