Thursday, 10 April 2008

Juggling with Kittens

Well last night I debated on the motion ‘Religion should be given respect’ I was speaking against you might have guessed. Speaking for the motion was Tom, a Christian, a brave decision on his behalf as this was a Liverpool Humanist Group Meeting.

The usual weak arguments for religion were trotted out one of which caused a great deal of outrage and anger which I will briefly deal with it now.

Without religion there would be no morality.

A nonsensical and insulting argument. The Bible, Koran, Tora may have many ‘nice’ stories but they are more than compensated by numerous passages of the most awful morality.
A classic I read the other day was Kings 2. Elijah had parted the waves of a river (God loves that trick) then gives him a ride on a chariot of fire (Yawn). The interesting bit is were a group of children take the Mick out of Elijah because he has a bald head (Probably ancient Hoodies). Anyway for this ridicule God sent 2 bears to kill all 42 of the children. Now that’s justice god style he probably said on completion "I’ll be back.." A very very moral tale I’m sure you will agree.

This is just one example there are innumerable examples of Godly Petulance and of course Godly Genocide within the good book but I won’t bore you all with them here that’s a priest or Mullahs job.

Christian fundamentalists would have no problem with the Kings 2 passage. The book is THE WORD OF GOD. Less ignorant Christians would though. Fundamentalists are easy to deal with – just ridicule these deluded fools. Less ignorant, non-literal Christians are more slippery customers. They are eelish.

‘Liberal’ less ignorant Christians would argue that the bible should not be taken literally. One should just believe the nice bits. It’s a bit like saying; forget the death camp and the millions killed in the war by Hitler– but let's accentuate the positive. He did make the trains run on time and invented the VW Beetle.

There were unbelievably cruel evil experiments done on the victims in the death camps that even today the results of which would benefit the understanding of the human body. Quite rightly the UN has stopped the use of these results not because of their intrinsic worth but because ethically it would be wrong and an insult to those that were tortured and killed to achieve them. Should we just forget the bad bits and look for the nice bits? I don’t think so.
Religion gives a veneer of respectability to a lot of corrosive attitudes in our society – homophobia and sexism to name but two but there are plenty more’

So next time one of these less ignorant Christians give you the benefit of their deluded opinion ask them the question that will always stump them.

Name one thing that is morally good in your holy book that is dependent on God?

Goodness is dependent on humanity.

My advice dear readers is, give religion the respect it deserves!

And if you have to debate with one remember its easier to juggle with kittens.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Video Nazi?

The controversial film 'Fitna' by right wing Dutch MP Geert Wilders was briefly on the internet. It has since been taken off but I'm sure you could still find it somewhere on Youtube, if you must. In the film Wilders argues that Islamic Ideology's goal is to destroy freedom and it will do this through violent means as dictated in the Koran. After the launch of it there were protests in Indonesia, outside the Dutch Embassy, by Muslims calling for Wilders death. How dare he call them ignorant violent nutters! Irony must be unislamic.

Now although I agree Wilders makes some points of merit, unfortunately I feel his film is both clumsy and nasty. Not just by its use of gross and deeply offensive imagery but also with its unbalanced and over simplistic message. It was, put simply, hateful. This wasn't just someone opposed to the nonsense and dangers of religion but rather it seemed to me to smack of racism. I felt it was very similar to the anti Jewish Nazi propaganda films of the Twenties and Thirties.
The film's purpose was not to educate or elucidate but to increase loathing and fear in its audience of all things Islamic/foreign. I half expected the film to end with the Grinning Gorgeous Aryan Bombshell Geert asking us for our vote. Sieg Heil!

One of the problems of actively fighting for secularism in this age of Islamist terror campaigns* is that the Nazi fleas will soon start cosying up. As a humanist I think all racism is wrong and have actively fought against it for over 30 years. I will not follow the creed of the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Nazis are not and never will be my friend nor the friend of freedom and humanity. It is something we Secular Humanists need to challenge whenever it raises its ugly head. Humanism is a positive philosophy of life, mean spirited xenophobia has no place in it.
So watch the film if you want. It is gruesome in content and more importantly I feel, in intent.

*I know, I know, for some reason we don't call Bush and Blair's war in Iraq a Christian terror campaign. Islamists torture, Christians just go in for a bit of rendition. Islamist bombers are cowardly murderers – Christian B52 bombers who kill by the thousand, are heroes. It must be true it's on the telly.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

God's Ambassador

God has taken a hell of a beating recently - with Richard Dawkins et al raising the debate, Jewish politicians blaming earthquakes on gay sex and the Archbishop of Canterbury's nod to Sharia Law (and of course the booming success of the Liverpool Humanist Group). They've even got rid of blasphemy Goddamn them! Even I was beginning to feel sorry for the 'Omnipotent One'!

And then into the Fray comes a new champion of the Almighty, Tony Blair!

Our Tony is to teach Religion at Yale University. Now if anything is going to drive even more believers into the hands of the gloating godless it must be this. I know hypocrisy is a fundemantal part of all religions but this is a tad too much surely. This is the same Tony Blair who started an illegal war in Iraq with his best buddy Bush. If there was a just world he would now be at the Hague being tried for War Crimes. Over 600,000 people killed and counting puts him up their with Saddam himself.

True he has helped bring back that 'old time religion' to Iraq. Women are now stoned to death in the street for what they wear, if you are gay you are hung and if you aren't in the right religious sect you have a good chance of being ripped apart by one of God's Martyrs.

Of course Tony asked God whether he should devastate Iraq and I suppose God must have said ok - well Tony wouldn't have done it otherwise would he? Now normally God's reward is in heaven but our Tone seems to be getting his reward down here too. Apart from being a peace envoy - stop tittering at the back -he has his £1,000,000. a year job with the bank who has made a fortune out of financially backing the war Chase Bank (They made a fortune out of the 2nd world war too. Bush's Grandad worked for them at the time.) Zurich insurance have given him a £500,000 a year advisory position too.

The cherry on the cake has to be this teacher of religion at Yale. The lord does move in mysterious ways a bit like our Tony.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Well, well, well!

My friend Peter McKenna has certainly rattled a cage - see a reply to a letter of his about religious schools by Father Michael Williams.

THE Humanist, Peter McKenna, makes a number of factual errors regarding religious schools.
Firstly, he speaks of the non-religious majority. The fact of the matter is that the 2001 Census revealed that 37.3 million people in this country declared themselves as Christians, with 6% of the population stating that they followed other religions, including Judaism. Only 14.6% of the population stated that they had no religion. So the religious majority help fund religious schools from the taxes they pay to the Treasury.
It is important to remember that the government is called to spend our money according to our needs, one of which is the religious need.
Secondly, as a school chaplain I see primary school children showing religious commitment all the time. Religious expression is innate to human beings and any study of human history and human cultures reveal this truth.
Reaching out to God is part of our human nature. Try to suppress the religious spirit of humanity and you end up with the Soviet and Nazi death camps.
Rev. Fr Michael Williams, Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King Liverpool

I reckon Pete is off that christmas card list! I'm surprised the good Father felt the need to use statistics, which although disputable, are facts of a sort. I would expect a good churchman to use the more usual argument. 'Religious schools are good because God says they are and though I can't prove God exists, I believe in him and that should be good enough for you. Yah, boo, sucks!'

But even if we accept the Father's figures, which I don't, then is that a valid reason to have religious schools. 30% of the country watch Coronation street but that doesn't mean we should rename schools after Ena Sharples, Ken Barlow and Albert Tatlock even if we give them a titular sainthood, to pander to fans.

According to the Sun the other day,so it must be true, 99% of the British population want the death penalty but lets not have Death Penalty schools please. Just because one has a belief does not mean that you should be pandered too even if you pay taxes. (Taxes are an important part of the good father's argument which is a bit rich from someone payed by a tax evading organisation as the RC Church!)

His second argument - not so subtly linking suppression of religious spirits to death camps - is just daft. Hitler was a catholic, the Pope at the time was a Nazi collaborator. The death camps started with the communists and socialists before moving onto the Jews - a great target that played on the anti-Semitic feelings of the good christian Germans inculcated by centuries of religious dogma. As for Stalin he was a nutter (But then he did train as a priest) who put all sorts into death camps, again mainly political opponents. I could list hundreds of cases of religious massacres over millennia but I won't because really it has nothing to do with the debate on religious schools.

There are no such things as Christian children, Muslim children or Hindu children they are just children and should be free to make up their own minds when they are able.

Keep up the good work Pete!

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Been a long time...

...since my last blog.

I have a good excuse my Dad died just before Xmas. I could use this blog to say how much I loved him and how grateful I feel to have been his son. I could use this entry to talk about the terrible state of the NHS and the high number of people working in it who just don't give a shit. But I'm not. Today I'm talking about Death and the gobsmacking arrogant behaviour of religious people.

This of course isn't all religious people just a fair percentage but enough to make an annoying difference.

Religion raised its ugly head pretty soon after dad's death. My dad was an atheist, a passionate atheist who always would argue the toss with any religious follower. Some of his best friends had religion it didn't stop him being friends with them but he wouldn't pander to there beliefs and he loved a good argument.

He had said on numerous occasions that he wanted a humanist funeral. He didn't want a churchman there, he had been to an Uncle's humanist funeral and was impressed. This was common knowledge yet from the outset I had relatives saying he did believe in God really and there should be a religious funeral. Now I could be generous and say that 'they knew not what they were doing' and were responding to their own grief but I won't. To have a religious funeral would have been against my Dad's wishes and would have been an insult to his memory. It didn't stop them from trying though. They were being selfish and disrespectful.

When my mum dies she will have a religious funeral. She is not a churchgoer but she believes in God and would like her funeral to be conducted by a churchman. I know the ceremony will be more about God, Jesus, the holy spirit and heaven than it will be about her. It wont be a celebration of her life but a bit of advertising and proselytising on behalf of the Vicar. It will probably not be very good. It will be solemn though – My religious side of the family are big on solemn. You'd think they'd be happy that someone was now in eternal paradise and would be jigging and a singing. But they ain't! Go figure! I will not object to this ceremony or as they did, maintain that she didn't believe really. I will honour her wishes no matter how silly I think it is.
Anyway the humanist ceremony for Dad went ahead but the Christian relatives managed to include an allusion to an afterlife by the retelling of a story that Dad had once told to his grandson. It was retold as the TRUTH. My dad also told the grand kids about a Japanese Prisoner of War who lived at the bottom of the garden. He was a great storyteller and told many stories but he didn't tell them all as the TRUTH. He told me about Santa, the Tooth Fairy and a visit to the dentist wouldn't hurt!

Later at the reception a spiritualist friend of Dad's assured me that she'd had a word with him up in heaven and he told her that he was having his dinner with his Mum and Dad and catching up on things. Other Christian 'well-wishers' reckoned he was playing golf with his dead friends. Would he get a hole in one every time in Paradise I wondered. I bit my lip and smiled. A hard trick but it had to be done.

I suppose for some, religion is a good way of avoiding death. Immortality sounds a blast until you really really think about it. The thought of living forever is my idea of hell. I love chocolate, but every day? For eternity? With religious people? Praising the head honcho all day or else he'd torture me for eternity?

Bugger that for a game of soldiers। As both my Dad and I would say.