It seems I’ve now written a few items on religion, and that subject is emerging as one which really gets me going. I’ve been particularly motivated by the discussion relating to education, another of my areas of interest.
Having read many pieces by the religiati, I am now getting a fuller picture of the religious ‘universe’, as well as the tactics being employed. I have enthusiastically dissected a couple of articles now, which is actually very satisfying. But now it’s time to make some general observations.
I think the most obvious thing from the pieces I’ve read and dissected is the desperation which is inadvertently conveyed. Why desperation? Well, it seems it’s not enough for those of faith to simply believe and enjoy their faith for whatever reasons. They also have a giant chip on their shoulder which they need to shake off. They need to ram home to the unbelievers the legitimacy of their beliefs. In earlier posts, I’ve shown a number of examples of this, and they can be grouped as follows:
- Appeal to science (deductive truth) – using the cover of a legitimate discipline to give credence to a range of concepts (See stuff on Jeremy Begbie), or conclude from observations the existence of god. Stephen Jay Gould dubbed religion and science as ‘non-overlapping magisteria’, and I think it should stay this way.
- Appeal to reason (inductive truth) – using various debating tactics or chains of logic to demonstrate the truth of religion.
- Appeal to ignorance – we don’t know how X came to be, therefore it must be god. This is a variation of deductive truth.
This list is not exhaustive, but you get the general idea.
This whole ethics in schools issue is a particularly pernicious form of proselytising, in that it is not constrained to a simple ‘we believe X, and it’s great, so why not join us’. It has now become ‘we don’t want you to do Y, because it undermines our X, and we can’t have that because we are so special’.
In other words, the tactics are no longer passive invitations, but active interference in the business of non-believers. This is what troubles me the most. If the religiati suggest that I will burn in hell, then I can live with that, since I have sat in the middle of a partisan Collingwood crowd and survived. But when they start trying to control the education of my family and community, it’s personal.
People like Neil Ormerod sneer in their pseudo-academic way at atheists, and draw on all manner of logic, reasoning, philosophers etc. But, in the final analysis they have absolutely nothing but unfounded assertions to peddle. Such assertions as so easy to refute that it’s laughable – like shooting fish in a barrel, as they say. They claim that ‘you can’t teach ethics without reference to the bible’. I say prove it. I say I can. And this is indeed happening as we speak in the trial in NSW schools. This is just another example of religion appropriating all things good as the works of god, with the rest being the work of the devil. Human beings have developed and agreed a set of principles by which to live, therefore they can only have been put there by god. A monumental appeal to ignorance, right?
To the likes of Neil Ormerod and Jim Wallace, I simply say, by all means have your faith, pursue your academic analysis of the bible, and comment on popular culture. But leave me, and those who wish to pursue a different course, the hell alone. And especially don’t muck around with the education of our children in your desperate bid to brainwash them into accepting dogma and magical-thinking, rather than simply look at the world around them and think for themselves.