Saturday, May 26, 2007

Secularism, almost...

The trouble with Australians is that the majority of us, in my experience, are a tad apathetic where religion is concerned so we’ve never really had any real burning issues in this area. Well, not to the extent that say, Iraq is experiencing burning issues in this area. But as the “National Day of Thanksgiving” approaches and in response to it, it’s obviously time to examine the subject once again, if for no other reason than I’ve been tagged to do it…:)

The Australian constitution does not and never has formally separated church and state. As far as religion goes, the only thing our constitution guarantees is freedom of and/or from religion which is nothing like the same thing. The section that people (like those that edit Wikipedia and for instance) sometimes confuse as a formal separation is section 116 and it reads thusly:

116: The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

As you can see, there’s plenty of room to move in that section. It seems that what it does is prevent the Commonwealth from meddling in church affairs, but there’s really nothing in it to prevent the church, any church, from meddling in the Commonwealth’s affairs. So what we have here is a separation of state and church, not the other way around.

The last statement – and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth – may be seen by some to mean that a lack of belief is perfectly acceptable in any person taking office, and they’d be right. But it also means that it is perfectly acceptable for anyone who is a Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, etc, fundamentalist or otherwise, to take a public office as well, if elected. No religious test is the key phrase here. So, the Commonwealth cannot tell me what religion to practice, nor can it prohibit me from practicing any religion I choose and that religion cannot be a barrier to me were I to seek a public office or trust, where I can peddle my beliefs (as Tony Abbot and others are want to do) to my hearts content. That almost makes a degree of interaction inevitable, if not desirable.

Consequently, our parliament has a limited amount of religious representation in The Christian Democratic Party and Family First, and our more mainstream politicians (Labor and Liberal members) seem to spout forth their religious rhetoric whenever the chance presents itself. Of course, Tony Abbot will call it a “moral” stance, but because he keeps talking about God and the fact that he’s catholic, it’s obvious that morals have nothing to do with it, he’s taking a Christian stance.

Fred Nile of the Christian Democratic Party tells us that Australia is a Christian nation. Many, including our current Prime Minister would disagree with him, but unfortunately, he’s right. His reason for believing it though, is mostly because he thinks 70% of Australians are Christians and in that I think he’s very wrong. Simple math catches the mainstream churches in yet another lie here, because if you were baptised a catholic for instance, don’t believe in God or attend church but have never formally been excommunicated, then as far as the Roman Catholic church is concerned, you are a Roman Catholic. It’s an easy ploy to use to help boost your numbers and it seems to work well enough. But what makes Australia a Christian nation really has nothing at all to do with how many people worship Christ.

Fred also likes to think we have a Christian constitution and Christian law but I really don’t know where he gets that from. Perhaps he’s never actually read it, I don’t know. Our constitution, as I’ve already mentioned, makes the point of being adamant to the exclusion of no religion or lack of it and our law is based in common (and at times uncommon) sense. Just because “thou shall not kill” makes sense (as Ingersoll said, people object to being murdered) doesn’t mean we use it because it was one of the commandments.

There is one thing that Fred doesn’t mention though, which I find quite astounding, and that is that via the auspices of legislation, the good people of this nation are forced to take public holidays on Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Christmas day. These particular days are days of observance in the Christian calendar and the Christian calendar only, and they are holidays for no other reason than they are days of Christian observance which to my mind is in direct contravention of section 116.

Remember this bit? or for imposing any religious observance. Our constitution expressly forbids the Commonwealth from imposing any religious observance, yet here we are with three days of distinctly Christian observance, enshrined in legislation. It’s a travesty and no mistake…

Excellent stuff! Gimme more...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Blog Against Theocracy - National Day of Secularism - May 26.

Eeek! I’ve been tagged by Beep over at Beep! Beep! It’s Me. It’s the National Day of Secularism on 26th May, so this one has a deadline, of sorts…:)

To the rules…

Tagging stage:
If you are tagged by the meme, then it’s the same old format; mention this entry so people can see the rules and then tag five other bloggers (preferably Australian given the nature of the NDoT.) You can link back to these rules and display the banner.

Blog against theocracy stage:
If you have been tagged then in addition to tagging others, it is also hoped that you will write a blog entry about the separation of Church and State in Australia. It could be a critique of Pell’s “normative democracy”, the historic anti-democracy sermonizing of Archbishop Daniel Mannix, inevitable discrimination by the funding of (approved) chaplains in public schools, the state backed imposition of bans on forbidden women’s dress or whatever Church-State issue you find important.

Preferably, such a blog entry would be published on the 26th, but there is no deadline as such. Just a couple of caveats:

1) the church-state anti-theocracy blog entry should mention the phrase “National Day of Thanksgiving”, possibly mentioning that the entry is a response to the NDoT, and
2) feel free to add the (again admittedly modest) banner.

Now I have to tag someone. I hate this bit because there's always someone I want to tag that's already been tagged. Damn! Oh well, here's a couple for starters...

1. Day By Day
2. Chicken Scratchings

Excellent stuff! Gimme more...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Clan Forsyth

Well, after all that reading through the records and hanging all the pictures, I fear my pride and interest in all things Scottish, has once again been piqued. So this time, instead of just reading about it, I’ll regale and bore you all with some of the more interesting bits of my clan’s history.

The Clan Forsyth is a “true blood clan”, which means that the entire clan can be traced back to a single founding father. That lad was a fellow by the name of Viscomte de Fronsoc who accompanied Eleanor de Provence to London where she married Henry III. The tradition is that Viscomte had settled in France, having moved there from Scotland. No-one can really be sure about that however, for reasons that will become apparent further down. What we can be sure about is that he was the last male de Fronsoc. After accompanying Eleanor across the channel however, he lived at the English court from 1236 to 1246 and his family obtained lands in Northumberland and thence to the borders of Scotland.

The first record of the name in Scotland however, is William de Fersith on the Ragman Roll (registered 28th August 1296), which was a document signed by all the nobles, prelates and those of lesser standing in Scotland which forced them to subscribe allegiance to Edward I of England, who then proceeded to abscond with the Honours of Scotland, The Stone of Sconce and just about anything else that wasn't nailed down, back to London. Over the years and what with all the trouble with the damnable Picties (I see there’s another push for independence recently. It’s been 700 years but they’ll get it back one day), the vast bulk of those records were lost, stolen or otherwise misplaced (the ships carrying the entirety of the clan records were sunk by the Spanish, for instance), which really sucks because now, everything that went before is lost, which is the apparent reason for the above. But that’s the way it was in those days I suppose. When you lost, you lost everything. All we really know is that the clan crest is much older.

Anyway, the next record is of young Osbert, son of Robert de Forsyth (son of William de Fersith) who whopped some serious Pommy butt alongside the mighty Bruce at Bannockburn. He did so well that Robert I (Robert the Bruce) chartered him lands in 1320 and officially recognised the clan’s ancient tartan, crest, badge and motto. Osbert’s son Robert went on to become the King’s macer in 1364 and also became Constable of Sterling Castle in 1368. His brother, “Fersith the clerk”, rendered the accounts of the “Customers” of Sterling. And so begins a long line which now includes every single Forsyth, Forsythe, Forsyte, Fearsyth, Fersith, etc, on the face of the planet and of which, I am one.

In case you can’t tell, I’m rather proud of that heritage. Who wouldn’t be? It's an amazing feeling to be able to trace your ancestry back so far. But now I’ve bored you with the details, it’s time for the regalia…:)

A more modern version of the clan crest, which we can all use, is the one heading this post, but I prefer this one. The motto on it, "Instaurator Ruinae", means "Repairer of ruin". The Armorial Bearings on the right can only be used by the chief and is the banner under which Osbert led the clan at Bannockburn. It's describe thusly: "Argent a chevron engrailed gules between three griffins sergeant azure armed and membered sable, crowned or"

We have an ancient tartan (left), and a modern tartan (right).

No, I don't own a kilt. Do you have any idea how expensive they are? Sheesh...:)

Excellent stuff! Gimme more...

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Cult Of The Ancestor

I’ve recently had a very interesting experience. My mum has had to move into an aged care facility due to crippling arthritis and unfortunately, in order to afford it, we’ve had to sell up and divide the spoils of our collective childhood and take what mum said we had to take. Being a bit of a history nut, I scored all the old photos.

Personally, I didn’t think that cameras had been around that long, but on further investigation, I proved myself wrong. It seems that the first permanent image was created by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826. The first wet plates were invented in 1850 and dry plates not until 1855, but it was the gelatine dry plate in 1871 that did the trick. No more tricky emulsions, just grab one off the shelf. Marvellous.

Anyway, I digress. The folk who’s piccies I found myself hanging were mostly born between 1840 and 1875, which means I now have a photographical record going all the way back to my great-great grandparents and to the very beginnings of photography itself. I’ve even got one that’s a framed glass plate negative. Brilliant! My kids share a sense of history, if not an active interest in it and were seriously impressed when I told them that “those two on the end there are some of your great-great-great grandparents - paternal.” Wide eyes indeed…:)

Anyway, as I began to hang the lads and lasses on my beautiful wall, I noticed a couple of things. Firstly, great-great ma-ma (paternal), Elizabeth Kay, was an absolute stunner! Secondly, I began to feel some sort of affinity with these people and that was a bit strange to me. I’d seen these guys on the wall every time I’d visited mum over the years and it had never happened before. I’d felt an affinity with certain bits of history before, but not the actual people themselves. Strange…

By the time I’d finished, I had an amazing sense of pride. Not in the job I’d done hanging them (that was crap and needs to be revisited), but simply in the fact that they were there, presiding over my entry way. I almost felt that these guys should somehow be revered. The idea of putting them high on the wall where they can peer down with their stern authority on those passing beneath seemed, all of a sudden, to be the right one. All this made me wonder a little, as you can probably imagine. So, for what it’s worth, here’s my little theory on why.

My ancestry is entirely British. No, I don’t mean just English. My father’s history is entirely Scottish (Pictish if you want to be pedantic), whilst my mothers is a mixture of Celtic, Anglo Saxon and Gaelic. That means that somewhere in the deep distant past in my family, there is a very rich history of pagan belief.

One thing among many that all the pagan religions of the isles had in common, was “The Cult Of The Ancestor”, or Ancestor Worship. Another thing they all have in common is that they are unimaginably old. We’ll never know exactly how old places like the various henges we find about the place are, or how far back the religions go, all the records were destroyed or lost when Christianity came, but that’s a different story. It’s presumed however, that the cult of the ancestor was in practice thousands of years prior to the advent of Christianity, which at a mere 2000 years is just an upstart by comparison. My theory revolves around the age of the older pagan religions however, and the length of time that they were practiced.

Could it be that the want to revere, or at least afford my antecedents a respected place in my house may be a genetic thing? How long does that take and was ancestor worship practiced long enough for it to happen? I don’t know, but if you read my blog regularly you’d have recently read about a genetically programmed belief in supernatural beings, so why not?

Well, probably because they are my great (+) grandparents and it’s just that I have an exaggerated sense of history where these guys are concerned, simply because of the various legacies they’ve left me.

I caught my son gazing at them earlier too. All of a sudden it seems, they’re not just photos anymore. He had to know who fit in where and who begat whom and he kept me at it until he’d memorised them all, all the way down to himself. Now, if only we can get him to apply that sort of dedication to his school work...:)

Excellent stuff! Gimme more...

Monday, May 14, 2007

From The Pulpit

In this series I intend to post speeches, or snippets of speeches that I’ve found that were never intended to be sermons but nevertheless, turned out that way.

First, a little bit of background about our speaker…

Clinton Richard Dawkins, ethologist, evolutionary biologist, writer and holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.

He was born on March 26, 1941 in Nairobi, Kenya and moved to England with his parents at age 8.

Education, Positions and Degrees
1954-1959 Oundle School
1959-1962 Balliol College, University of Oxford
1962-1966 Research Student, Oxford University (D.Phil., 1966)
1965-1967 Research Assistant to Professor N.Tinbergen FRS
1967-1969 Assistant Professor of Zoology, University of California, Berkeley
1969-1970 Senior Research Officer, Department of Zoology, Oxford
1970-1990 University Lecturer in Zoology, and Fellow of New College, Oxford
1989 D.Sc. (Oxford)
1990-1995 Ad hominem Reader in Zoology, University of Oxford
1995- Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science,
University of Oxford, and Professorial Fellow of New College

This speech was given at TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) and was titled “The Design Of Life”. I’m not sure what they were expecting, but what they got was a brilliant sermon on the virtues of atheism. In it, he explains why it is he’s so adamant about his disbelief, among other things.

It’s a 30 minute clip but is well worth the watch, so you’ll need a bit of time. Download it as an MP4 here and view it at your leisure, or grab a cuppa, hit play and enjoy…

Excellent stuff! Gimme more...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Atheism - What it means to me

I found myself watching a documentary series over at Beep’s the other day, concerning the history of atheism (“Atheism – A rough history of disbelief” by Jonathan Miller). It was a brilliant series which I seem to have gotten quite a lot out of. It caused me to think about some of the many facets of atheism (and belief) and wonder about what it really means to me to be an “atheist” or if indeed, I am one at all. There’s no doubt that I’ve certainly thought of myself as an atheist and have definitely been labelled as such from time to time but to be honest, I’m not sure I really fit the mould any more.

Early on in the first episode he said something that made me take notice and a mild sort of umbrage; “for those of us that enjoy the luxury of thoughtless disbelief.” I’m sure however, that most of my fellow bloggers, believers included that may read this post will probably agree with me when I say that there’s really nothing thoughtless about our disbelief (or belief) at all. Rather, it’s because we’ve thought about it that we’ve come to the conclusions that we have.

But so it seems to me when I see things like this and read Dawkins or Harris, that atheism has gained an air of staunch disbelief which I’m not sure I share quite so completely as some.

You see, if you were to ask me if I believe that God does exist, I would simply say that I do not know. If however, you were to ask me if I believe that God does not exist, I would simply say that I do not know. That does not mean that I’m not of the opinion that He probably doesn’t though, but I’ll get to that. To me it’s quite simple and logical and it was part of the process that lead me away from religion in general, not just Christianity.

In examining and discussing whether or not God exists, we soon come to the stark realisation that the argument has no tangible, or at least no observable evidence to support either side. So therefore once again, viewed in the stark light of logic and common sense, if there can be no firm case made for either the affirmative or the negative, then the answer, obviously, lies somewhere in between. To me, what lies in between “yes” and “no” is “I don’t know”, the rest is pure conjecture.

As I said however, that doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion. I am the sort of person that likes to see a bit of evidence before I believe something is implicitly true after all, and I don’t think there’s any reason why that same rationale should not be applied to God. And so it is that I’ve arrived at my opinion that due to a serious lack of evidence, God, and everything that goes with Him, probably does not exist and probably never did.

I’m also of the opinion though, that if God does exist and should deign to provide us some direct evidence of his existence, then I would certainly change my opinion to the affirmative. But this is where I seem to differ with people like those I mention above. I find I simply cannot be as adamant as some are when it comes to pure “disbelief”.

Dawkins will quite happily tell you “God does not exist”. To me, that claim seems a little outlandish. We all know, Dawkins included, that he cannot furnish any proof of that claim, so what that statement is, is pure assertion and is nothing more than an opinion. One that I happen to agree with, but an opinion none the less. That said however, I’m sure that like me, if god should meter out a bit of personal smiting in the Dawkins direction, he’d pretty soon change his tune I think. But I think the only real difference here is that I am quite happy to admit to ignorance and say “I don’t know” whereas Dawkins needs an answer.

Admittedly, “I don’t know, but I doubt it” isn’t really much of a stance to take on the whole God thing is it? But the way I figure it is this. If God really wanted me to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He exists, then He would tell me so in no uncertain and very godly terms, I’m sure. So it’s obvious to me that at this juncture, He would very much like me to remain ignorant of His Devine person, and probably His Devine plan as well, and so I shall until He (or it) deigns that I need to know.

The other problem I have with God is that if there is such a thing, I think it would have to be much bigger and better than any of the models we’ve come up with so far. It seems to me, as I look at different religions and try and make sense of the why and how of what they believe, that most deities seem at best to behave like petulant children or at worst, like “senile delinquents”, as Tennessee Williams puts it. To be honest, I don’t really think a god that has the power to create a whole universe out of nothing needs the likes of us to worship him “or else”, nor has he any business behaving the way he has in the past. No, if a god does exists in the context of being the kind of god that can create a whole universe out of nothing, then I think it’s more likely to be something so unutterably alien to us that we probably wouldn’t recognise it as such anyway. Do I worry about what might happen to me when I die? Well, here's a tip…;)

That leaves me just one more question. So what’s the bible all about? Well, it’s a fantastic collection of extremely ancient stories that carry a common theme. I think some of them, especially the Pentateuch, are much older (the stories themselves, not the texts) than we give them credit for and that others may be much younger than we give them credit for. It doesn’t matter though. As Jonathan Miller said, my life would have been much poorer had I not been exposed to those stories and the magnificent works, in all aspects of art and literature, that they have inspired.

Excellent stuff! Gimme more...

The meaning of life

If you've looked at my Eternal Life post, do yourself a favour and pop on over to Dikkii's Diatribe and have a look at The meaning of life.

I said in a comment here that they compliment one another. What I meant by that was that a meaning to life may be provided in the belief of an afterlife and that an afterlife may be provided in the search for meaning.

It's all good stuff over there that will get you thinking about 'stuff', so get stuck in. Besides, he writes well and rarely swears (sorry Dikkii, couldn't resist....:))

Excellent stuff! Gimme more...

Monday, May 7, 2007

Eternal Life

Is there any such thing? Well I’ll answer that with another question, if I may. Has there ever been a more obscure notion, ridiculous question or hollow promise uttered, by any entity that has ever existed on the face of this planet throughout its long history? Obviously and to put it mildly, I don’t think so. Logically, it is a question that simply cannot be answered by the living, and the dead, despite what Sylvia Browne, John Edward or the Pope might have you believe, are well beyond being able to answer.

Just because no evidence exists for the affirmative however, does not automatically mean that evidence does exist for the negative. On the contrary, there is just as much evidence to suggest that either case may or may not be true - or false - but only in so far as there is no evidence at all. So I’m afraid that when viewed in the stark light of logic and common sense, the best conclusion that can possibly be drawn is that we simply do not know.

The notion of “life after death”, or some sort of existence beyond the death of our physical bodies, has been with us for quite some time however. From Babylon and Assyria, to Egypt, China, Europe and beyond, it forms a part of nearly every culture. It’s a common and recurring theme and it’s a fact that throughout recorded history, minds vastly superior to mine have, and continue to contemplate, not just whether it may be true but also what nature such an existence may take.

Heaven, hell, purgatory, limbo, re-incarnation, etc. Many aspects of eternity have at once been contemplated, believed in and discarded, yet no tangible evidence actually exists for any of them that anyone can point to unequivocally and say; “See? I told you so!” and be believed. In fact, we possess no faculty, nor have we ever managed to invent any equipment that enables us to see into any world, realm or dimension other than the physical one which we inhabit. Maybe it’s because of that, the fact that I don’t possess a vastly superior mind and the unanswerable nature of the question, that on the rare occasions I do find myself thinking about it, what I tend to contemplate mostly is how on earth it became an issue in the first place and why on earth we continue to bother with it at all.

Despite the obvious lack of evidence however, the notion has been used to great effect throughout history. Religion, as we know, makes the promise of an idyllic eternity the ransom for a pious life. Learn and live by its lessons, observe the laws, precepts, rituals, ceremonies and festivals that it dictates, deny yourself the freedoms, largess and excesses it disparages and access to heaven is assured. If you disobey or disagree, then generally some version of hellish torment awaits you in which you’ll suffer horribly forever. It seems a simple enough decision but under critical examination, what it becomes is an amateurish but effective attempt to control the thoughts and behaviours of its many believers.

It seems however, that the notion that I may somehow continue to exist, that my life does not end with the demise of my physical self, is somehow alien to me. Knowing, as I do, that the thoughts and emotions I experience are a direct result of electrical impulses generated by chemical processes taking place inside my body, it seems strange to me that I might somehow continue to think and emote once the organism that produces those thoughts and emotions ceases to function as a living organism. To me, it’s basic, very simple and quite logical.

Having said all of that though, I still find myself wondering if there might actually be a legitimate reason for contemplating an eternal life in this way, for believing that our “souls” or “spirits” will go on to paradise once our bodies die.

I recently heard it postulated in a documentary (“Atheism - A rough history of disbelief” by Jonathan Miller – BBC 2003) that belief in unseen and malevolent entities may be an evolutionary step that could work well for us as a survival trait. The argument goes that by constantly being prepared for danger even when none is apparent, we are less likely to be surprised and therefore more likely to survive an attack or ambush by a predator.

That’s as good a reason as any I’ve heard for believing in such things and it made me think. If that is correct, then could it be that the belief in an eternal paradise can also work as a survival trait? It makes just as much sense and would help explain why it is that some of the greatest thinkers throughout history have given so much of their time to such a completely unanswerable question.

Consider that during both prehistoric times and within recorded history, there have been times and places where people have found survival to be a very difficult and dangerous prospect. In that case, then perhaps the notion of a paradise, that exists just beyond some metaphorical horizon (that can only be reached in death and then only after surviving for as long as possible in whatever hostile environment you find yourself) could be considered a positive trait I think. If life ever becomes difficult enough that we might want to just give it up then who knows, the species might just find a trait like that to be a rather useful tool in the quest for its own survival.

The idea seems reasonable enough to me but just the same, I think I’d like for one of those vastly superior minds to have a poke at it. But considering how long the notion has been with us, how long there’s been no real evidence for it, that we still argue about it today and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future, then I’m also of the opinion that there’s probably a perfectly valid and logical reason for it. I just don’t think that the reason, should we ever find it, will actually have anything to do with any sort of real life after death at all.

Excellent stuff! Gimme more...

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Religion - Hope or Hinderance?

Religion is perceived to be many things, but what does it really do for us?

Under its guise and in its name, we commit acts of love and compassion beyond compare. Help is sought and given, education is proffered and received, individual lives and even the fortunes of entire communities are changed. Religion also brings us together, we fellowship in its name and it unites us, providing a common bond. Warring factions will set aside their differences and work together to “defend the faith”, as it were. It provides an impetus to get things done, reasons for why things are as they are and from it we garner some of the rules and laws that order our lives.

When viewed in that light I guess religion can be seen as benign at worst, or perhaps even as a good thing. I don’t think this is the case however, especially when we consider some of the other things religion does for us. There is an opposite side to every coin and no exception should be made in this case.

Religion also provides hope and promise. Hope in a religious context comes in many forms. It could be hope of deliverance from pain or some serious illness, hope for deliverance from an enemy or deliverance in a myriad other ways from a myriad other things. It may be hope that something good will be received, or that good will come of some situation.

Promise tends to come in the form of prophesy or as reward for piety. The biggest promise that religion makes is the promise of life after death, which usually involves some sort of idyllic or even opulent lifestyle set in luxurious surrounds, a promise which also provides the greatest hope. It doesn’t matter what happens or how bad things get in this life, eternity in paradise more than makes up for it. In making this promise however, religion not only provides a reason to continue the struggle, but it equally provides a reason to give it up.

Religion also introduces the concept of an ultimate judge and arbiter. It doesn’t matter what I do or what my fellow man may think of me, for God will be my judge. In doing so however, it undermines our ability to make and enforce the laws that enable us to function as a society. Throughout history, many despotic (or just plain stupid), as well as pious and just leaders have used that adage not just to their own advantage but to the detriment of their societies.

Religious doctrine and dogma provide us with ignorance and complacency. Religious faith requires no proof and brooks no argument. But when God becomes the answer, the need to strive for further understanding is diminished. Issues arise however, when religion makes claims about the physical world and knowledge is gained that proves that claim to be wrong. Knowledge therefore, undermines the legitimacy of the religion and any other claim it may make. Over the years, this has been dealt with in many ways. Some have been exiled or forced to recant, some imprisoned or even put to death. The overall effect however, was to stifle free thought for a lengthy period of time.

Religion also brings with it, persecution. By being intolerant, religion creates for itself an air of superiority. It separates itself from those in society that don’t have the same belief and looks down on them as inferior; outsiders that somehow need “saving”, which also creates an environment of animosity. This can extend to factions within a religion who have been known, on occasion, to fight to the death for their conviction.

Which brings us to war. How many wars have there been throughout time that have had religion as their cause? How much death and suffering has been perpetrated in the name of this god or that? When religions clash, the lack of any proof that one god is any more real than another means that there can be no resolution other than to convert the other. When conversion doesn’t happen, then the only way to settle it is to see who’s god really does have the biggest stick. It doesn’t matter which side you speak to though, each will tell you that they are right to go to war and that the other is surely damned for what they do.

And at it’s most hideous, ugly and extreme, religion breeds fanaticism and fundamentalism. This generally comes in the form of young men and women who are quite prepared to kill themselves and others in the name of their particular god, so long as the others are unbelievers that is…

So it seems to me that the one thing that religion gives us more than anything else, is a reason to be at odds with one another. If we read a bit about it, we will soon discover that the most secular states suffer the least crime, the least instance of STD’s, the least teen pregnancy, that the smallest proportion of criminals have no belief and so the list continues. So why do we continue to bother with it? Surely there’s something more peaceful, less damaging to society and more worthwhile we could be doing on a Sunday morning…

Excellent stuff! Gimme more...

© Blogger Templates | Tech Blog