Two articles against Christianity: George Monbiot kicks off a debate by asking whether better off without God, since the stronger the faith, the stronger the function. Meanwhile, Johann Hari launches a timely Global War for the soul of Catholicism, after seeing how the church hinders the sex-education of vulnerable children. I’ve been thinking about these for a couple of weeks ago, until yesterday when I read a couple of letters in The Independent asserting that the problem with all religion is an inherent lack of tolerance.
last night I remembered Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s homily, at the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be “tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine”, seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires. We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man.
Joseph has a point, but I’m with the relativists. While losing God and your moral anchor might mean a descent into egomania and decadence, this is by no means certain, and (more importantly) it is also not true for most people worldwide! Conversely, the dogma that the soon-to-be Pope advocates must entail a dictatorship, in order for it to work. And the worst kind of dictatorship too – one that is unchanging, static, and thus cannot be reasoned with. Continue reading “On which front do we fight?”
I am not sure whether I am more scared of a British Police State, or an American Religious one. In the same five minute bulletin, I also heard that eleven parents in Pennsylvania USA are suing their school board, which has decreed that since evolution is just a “theory” it must be taught as such in schools, and only presented alongside alternative theories such as “intelligent design”, a form of creationism.
I continue to be both annoyed and puzzled by the shallowness of the “intelligent design” lobbyists, for a number of reasons. Why do they find evolution so offensive? What is wrong with being descended from monkeys anyway? I think it is demeaning to suggest that we simply appeared, perfectly formed, from the dust. I am not a clay model like Morph. The evolutionary struggle gives us a nobility, a triumph against ridiculous odds. How fantastic it is to believe in a theory which says that over the millenia, my ancestors evolved slowly from the trees, to the point where I can now be talking to the world from a laptop computer… And what rapture when I realise that despite the arbitrary and unjust nature of evolution, my genes and I have had the good fortune to succeed!
Why God cannot be described as a force of nature, or indeed the architect of the laws of Physics, has never been fully explained to me. For an omnipotent God, that should be a bagatelle! If one persists in beleiving in a God of the Abrahamic (i.e. Jewish/Christian/Islamic) ilk, then surely She would have the power to kick-start evolution at the beginning of the Earth. Since God is outside of time, She would presumably have the foresight of everything and everyone, including you, me, and Charles Darwin.
Why undermine the science that has introduced us to the idea of adaption, and therefore why species may become ‘endangered’? Why undermine the science that allows us to understand and cure genetic diseases?
Geologists deny that the earth created in six days. They say it is 4.55 billion years old. Are their theories criticised too? And if so, should we listen to what they have to say about volcanos, earthquakes, and tsunami?
Even if evolution is a theory, it is by the far the most rigorous we have. While we know we have not described the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about evolution, there is huge intellectual gulf between a few paragraphs in Genesis, and the mountains of peer reviewed experiments and tests that together make up the cannon of evolutionary theory. Let Genesis into science labs, and you may as well let in the Spaggeti Monster, and the Fundamentalist Aesopians. Its enough to make you tune in to MC Hawking.
Update: I found a quote from W.N.P. Barbellion:
I take a jealous pride in my Simian ancestry. I like to think that I was once a magnificent hairy fellow living in the trees and that my frame has come down through geological time via sea jelly and worms and Amphioux, Fish, Dinosaurs and Apes. Who would exchange these for the pallid couple in the Garden of Eden?
As a non-practicing atheist, its not really my place to give advice to the purveyors of Christianity. However, the pathetically earnest efforts of some Anglicans to spread their Word demands a comment.
I caught the latest edition of the BBC’s Song’s of Praise last Sunday. The programme featured a number of Christian rock bands and church groups, singing with guitars and drums that I assume are intended to present a modern facade to potential recruits.
Tragically, the songs weren’t great. Of all the possible music genres that could have been employed to spread the concept of Jesus, these people had chosen bland, bland pop. Accomplished musicians and singers they certainly were, but inspired the music was not. If you are singing about someone who you claim to be The Son of God, your music needs to be… well, heavenly. Mimicking the power ballads churned out by Pop Idol wannabes simply will not do, and the cause for which they were singing was critically undermined by each cringe-worthy note.
What was also missing was any substance to the lyrics. Saying Jesus’ name over and over again is no doubt an uplifting experience for people who already believe, but will convert no-one (except possibly some Westlife fans, who seem to respond to tiresome repetition in a way that the average person finds baffling).
Jesus was a radical politician who spoke for the powerless. This matters more than divinity, and it is this aspect of his life which can save mankind, not his alleged resurrection. Christian bands should be writing political songs, like Johnny Cash’s Man In Black:
I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin’ for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.
Could that song be more relevant to current affairs? I’ve also been listening to For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield today, which I think could fall into the same category.
To be fair, it seems that Churches Advertising Network (CAN) have cottoned onto the key meaning of their faith. Their Christmas 2005 campaign features images of Jesus which parody other famous revolutionaries, Che Guevara and Chairman Mao. I hope the irony of referencing two famously atheist men to advertise the Anglican Church is not lost on church-goers.