Monday, 24 October 2011

Headington shark reaches 25 years

In the suburbs of Oxford (UK), far from the sea, there is a bizarre and eccentric sight.  This year it reaches its 25th anniversary.

It isn't a photoshop creation!  This thing is real and I have often enjoyed the sight myself as I have passed the end of the road.  Obviously some of the neighbours objected at the time and the series of appeals for planning permission reached the Home Secretary, Michael Hesseltine.

Small update (29th Oct):  This started off as an interesting anecdote, but the comments have developed into an interesting discussion about atheism, so I have added the Atheism tag!


Derby Sceptic said...

Having also seen this myself I can verify that it is for real, and does take you by surprise when you first see it. Amazing!

Hilary said...

...and by 'real' you mean...?

Derby Sceptic said...

By real I mean there is solid evidence for it. It appears in many photographs, I have seen it with my own eyes, and if the owner permitted you could even arrange to go and touch it.
If you were to visit you too could do this.
What more do you want?

Hilary said...

...but you don't actually mean real in the absolute sense do you because if you did then you would mean it is a real shark, which obviously it isn't!

...and actually the photos are not proof under your definition of proof, neither are seeing and touching...according to what you would accept as proof in your arguments against Christianity...

...after all, in your world, touching it could simply be an illusion, as in you see the photo so you appeal to the viewers sense of wanting it to be true...

...also, your so called proof is merely anecdotal, according to your views on what evidence should be...why should I bother going to see it or touch it when all I have to go on is your word and P.E's word...merely both want it to be true...

I mean who in their right mind would really believe that a shark is on someone's roof in the middle of Oxford, clearly you and P.E are both of unbalanced mind and that excludes your nice little fun story...

...this you see is how you argue against the truth of Christianity...which is clearly a preposterous way of arguing...:)

Derby Sceptic said...

Touche - I did fail to state that I knew it was a real SCULPTURE of a shark! I understand it is made of glass fibre (more correctly glass reinforced plastic or GRP) and is fitted to specially constructed roof beams. The construction facts I have not yet verified however!

My belief it is real is because I have seen it. Seeing and touching are in my opinion proof but only first hand - so if I touched it I could not expect you to take that as proof, but if you touched it I would.

You could indeed define the evidence from P.E> and myself as anecdotal which is why you would need to experience it first hand.

I am still waiting however for my eyes to be healed as evidence of the power of prayer (they are still good enough for me to see things the size of that sculpture however).

Derby Sceptic said...

We have drifted off topic anyway - the focus should be on this amazing sculpture.

Hilary said...

Haha I'll take a look next time I'm in Oxford, but of course why should I think that just because I experience it for myself that it therefore it is real (fibreglass real of course) as there could be other more obvious explanations and I of course could be merely I would clearly want to and expect to see this apparent shark... this is the answer I have been given on more than one occasion to my suggesting that experiencing Christianity for oneself is necessary.

Oh and if your eyes suddenly were healed...would that make you believe in Jesus Christ as your Saviour and healer?


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Plasma Engineer said...

Thanks to @DS for helping to keep things on-topic while I have been away on holiday for a week, but I'm going to stay off-topic to answer @Hilary.

Let's gather ten christians from ten different sects of christianity and set them two tasks.

1/ We arrange for them to examine the Headington Shark as closely as they like for as long as they need, and then we ask them to come to a consensus about the nature if its reality.

2/ We ask them to spend as long as they like discussing the nature of God and the living Jesus who they know in their hearts and to come to a consensus.

In the first case I think we would expect that a pretty good agreement could be reached in an hour or two, because, let's face it, the thing is real and there's not much to argue about.

In the second case I suggest that no such consensus could ever be reached. Even the survivors would not but able to persuade each other to change their minds. The only way they could reach any sort of agreement would be be the use of metaphor to obscure the lack of agreement about the existence of any actual facts, and attempt to persuade the ignorant that they had reached a consensus.

So THIS is how I would argue against the 'truth of christianity', and this approach is clearly not as 'preposterous' as the idea of trying to invoke anecdotes and alternate realities in a rational argument.

Incidentally - this started as just a 'fun story' but seems to have become more interesting than expected!

Plasma Engineer said...

'Anonymous' made a comment that was 'ad hominen'. Please confine your criticisms to the argument even if you are tempted to attack the arguer.

Hilary said...

Ah but you are soooo wrong P.E as in fact I have many christian friends from every sort of christian denomination/viewpoint(sects do not count as they are as far from real christianity as east is from west) and the one thing that all christians agree on is the living reality of Jesus Christ risen from the dead and alive today in the hearts and minds of those who know Him. It would prob take less time to come to that conclusion than it would to evaluate the for real...the shark is not real, it is made of fibreglass...

now, on reading "The Quantum Universe" yesterday, I came across many interesting quotes for example, "We should not worry that we have no direct way to sense a wave function, in contrast to a temperature field. The fact that it is not something we can touch, smell or see directly is irrelevant. Indeed, we would not get very far in physics if we decided to restrict our description of the Universe to things we directly sense." (p.40 para 2)

How interesting a statement is that, considering it is one of the atheist's arguments against there being Divinity. There are lots of interesting quotes and statements like that in this book as there are in most books on the subject of quantum physics.

Apologies btw for going off on a tangent from your post but in a way I don't think personally I was necessarilly going off on a tangent as you did profess this shark to be real! I could hardly let that pass by now could I?

Derby Sceptic said...


I don't need to worry about whether I would believe in Jesus if my eyes were healed for two reasons:

(1) It is an event that I personally believe will never happen. Similarly I don't have plans for what to do if sea level were to rise some 300 feet and lap at my front door.

(2) Many other faiths would doubtless claim that my eyes were healed by their 'god'.

Derby Sceptic said...


By the way - current indications are that my eyesight continues to deteriorate, not apparently slowing down in this.