Thursday, 2 August 2007

Christian style 'Taliban'

The major monotheism's seem to be peaking at this moment in history. But I just think it is a glitch in the trend. It is rather like a 'saw tooth' line on a graph. There are dips and peaks, but the overall trend is upward towards more secular societies. Much of Europe is largely secular and religion is a 'dying breed'.

In recent polls, Sweden was shown to be around 80% secular, even the UK was around the 40% mark ...These are not small numbers. Even in the UK, the majority of Christians are moderate to the point of not even attending Church. It has also been noted, that many of these so called UK Christians, are only Christian by name and simply haven't give it much thought and if they did, they would perhaps realise that they are not religious at all... at least not in the Biblical sense. So the figures for the UK may well be even higher than 40%.

If you visit America... It is not at all odd to be asked "are you a Christian" but in most of Europe such a question is rarely asked. Indeed, if someone does ask such a question; at a dinner party for example, it is liable to lead to chuckles of embarrassment. Religion in most of Europe; has partially secularized and is largely kept going through tradition and ceremony.

As a society advances it seems to naturally give up on mystical ideas, but some are harder to shake than others. We don't practice alchemy and phrenology anymore for example, although I'm sure their may be small minorities that do. But there are still plenty of subscribers for astrology and of course Christianity is still well subscribed, despite the overall trend away from religion, in much of Europe.

America seems to be a strange exception to the rule that religion is on the way out... Of course, I am talking specifically about the Christian religion, Islam is a different matter and seems to be expanding rather than shrinking. Although even here, there is evidence through authors such as Ibn Warraq, that Islam has many 'apostates' and the numbers are growing rapidly.

The point has been made by Professor Richard Dawkins, that the religious obsession within America, is perhaps because it is the only country, where religion has become 'big business and free enterprise' ...Indeed, just becoming a preacher in America can lead to generous perks; such as the huge tax breaks, that are offered to religious organizations, that apply for charity status. Many Secular societies have decided that these religious organizations have had it there own way far to long and such organizations are themselves, now applying for charity status.

Religious organizations, such of those of the late Jerry Falwell, the drug possessing Ted Haggard, the convicted 'jailbird' Kent Hovind and the megalomaniacal 'hate everyone', Fred Phelps ...These religious individuals and their organizations, often have huge power and political influence in America. Indeed, it has been noted that George W. Bush apparently has a direct phone line to Ted Haggard, or rather he did.

So, it seems on the one hand in most of Europe that religion has lost its grip and as noted by British born Physicist Paul Davies, when discussing religion, with reference to England and Australia (where Davies now resides)... He said "unlike America, these countries are essentially post religious societies... The 'corpse' may still be twitching, but nevertheless for most people, religion just plays a role that is largely ceremonial" ...So on the one hand, religion is losing its grip in Europe, but in America and much of the Middle East, religion seems to be burgeoning and it is a religion of the ugliest most fascist form... These religious fanatics will not be happy, till the 'infidels' convert or die. Now of course this applies specifically to Islam... Nevertheless, there is a form of Christian fascism growing in America that as Professor Richard Dawkins has noted, could very well be leading to a "Christian style Taliban".

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Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Here Come the 'Faith-Heads'

What is faith anyway? - To hold a position based on faith... Is really saying that one holds a position devoid of evidence. But of course that is the nature of religion. Religion without faith, would be a very odd kind of religion. Indeed, to the religious mystic, it is somehow more noble to hold a position purely on faith, than it is to present evidence for one's position.

The trouble with faith is, that by its very 'nature' it flies in the face of reason. If a person holds a position based on faith, then this can lead to unreasonable behavior and it does so, because reason is not applicable. But worse still and even more destructive than faith on its own, is the combination of faith and religion.

The fact is that the more 'honestly' religious one attempts to be; then the more one is reliant on a faith position and at the expense of reasoned behavior and this inevitably leads to dishonesty. The fact is that we now live in a World being torn asunder by individuals, that truly believe that a position held purely on faith, is somehow more reasonable than reason itself.

We now live in a World that is under attack by religious extremists, who think their position held purely on faith and without any evidence, gives them the 'God given' right to bully 'infidels' who rely on more reasoned behavior. Those infidels of course, also include the less faithful religious moderates, who while still holding irrational beliefs are at least more tolerant.

The difference between a "faith-head" who bullies and initiates force, such as in the form of suicide bombing, as apposed to the more mild fundamentalist "faith-head" who feels the need to bully in the form of religious indoctrination, by undermining science education and attempting to "pull down the Wall" of separation between Church and State... The difference is only of degree and not of kind. Each is hostile to reasoned argument and think they have the right to bully and coerce from a position of faith. Indeed, they want to drag us back, to living in a Dark Age World, where reasoned argument and scientific inquiry; are trumped by religious fundamentalism.

Many individuals hold positions that are believed purely on faith, such as those that believe in astrology or homeopathy both of which have no evidence in their favor. But the faith of astrological and homeopathic believes does not seem to lead to extreme fundamentalism. But the combination of religion and faith is a devastating combination. While we live in a World, where individuals believe that the faith of religion somehow trumps reasonable argument, then while those beliefs are held, then we will live in a World which is separated in conflict, between the reasonable and the irrational.

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