Archive for February, 2010

Think Positive

February 20, 2010

US scientists from Purdue University have discovered that constant worrying shortens your life span by 16 years. So try and keep a smile on your face and, as Monty Python so succinctly put it, ‘always look on the bright side of life’.



February 20, 2010

“stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government. Anarchism stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals for the purpose of producing real social wealth; an order that will guarantee to every human being free access to the earth and full enjoyment of the necessities of life, according to individual desires, tastes, and inclinations”.

– Emma Goldman (Anarchism: What it Really Stands For, 1910)

Christian Morality Threatens Us All

February 20, 2010

In the Herald Sun on December 18th, 2009, Tony Abbot professed his view for mandatory Bible studies in Australian public schools, arguing that ‘I think it would be impossible to have a good general education without at least some serious familiarity with the Bible and with the teachings of Christianity’. Whatever political freedoms this sort of ‘education’ would impede upon, his words offer a much more serious threat than is perhaps initially evident to the casual reader. His argument rests upon two erroneous assumptions that, most unfortunately, may not be immediately clear to one raised in a country such as Australia.  Both assumptions are concerned with the foundation of an ethical standard, the first assuming that those without Christian beliefs are ill-disposed towards ‘goodness’, and the other that Christianity is inherently ‘good’.

The first of these assumptions is not only discriminatory to those without faith, but also those of different faiths, and with such a multicultural and diverse population that Australia is comprised of, for a government to not only endorse but to also oblige children to be subjected to religious indoctrination is almost an unfathomable concept, an abuse of power and an unwelcome intervention into spheres of personal life that governments should never have a say in. He has used his generalisation to create a false dichotomy on which he bases his argument, and by espousing views laced with assumptions that religiosity is the only path to morality, he not only advertises his ignorance and offends a great many rational-minded people, but also adds fuel to a dangerous undercurrent in society. We have so far been able to defend ourselves against the religious fanaticism that has afflicted the United States, not only threats from outside its borders such as the attacks of 9/11, incited by promises of martyrdom and Holy authority, but also domestic issues, such as violence perpetrated against doctors who administer abortions.

An incident that demonstrates not only how the first assumption is lodged firmly in the minds of many in the Western world but will also provide a segue into the second assumption is that of the murder of two employees of a medical clinic in Massachusetts in 1994. Dr. John Britton and James Barrett were murdered by Rev. Paul Jennings Hill due to their part in administering abortions and the opposition that he sustained to this action through his faith. This event is an indictment of the supposed lack of morals evident in the community of non-believers and non-Christians by those who consider the Bible to be the infallible word of God, while revealing the insidious flaw evident in the ‘Christianity is inherently good’ argument. While many religious people can agree that evil things have been done in the name of religion, they sidestep the most important part of the issue. In most cases, and indeed especially in the case of Rev. Paul Jennings Hill, his actions were done not in the name of religion but explicitly due to his religion. In his defense, he quotes the passage Genesis 9:6 ‘Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man’. As the Bible also condemns abortion, it is merely a rational step that the murder of ‘murderers’ is, in fact, Holy mandate. Some may say that these parts of the Bible are not to be taken seriously and are merely analogous stories, and that acts of violence perpetrated by the religiously-inspired are abhorrent to moderate Christians. What this argument establishes is that by having the ability to take some parts of the Bible as a serious moral code and to disregard others as symbolic stories means that we already posses an ethical foundation that we can use to discern what seems acceptable and what deplorable. Our base value systems are formed independently of Holy scriptures, and allow us to live in a society where life, liberty and equality are highly valued.  It is only after indoctrination that millennia old stories spur humanity into wicked acts based upon supposed absolutes regarding murder, genocide and martyrdom, justified in ways that very few clear thinking, logical and rationally motivated people would accept.

I would like to end this piece with a quote from Professor Steven Weinberg, which I believe captures the overall tone. He said ‘Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion’.