The latest copy of Alive, the Catholic newspaper has arrived on my doorstep, unsolicited of course. As is usual for this rag, it’s a monthly journey in to paranoia, fundamentalism and a unique interpretation of the truth. There’s a lot to cover so I’ll break this up in to a few posts. Let’s start by looking at a few headlines.
UK: It’s easier to get rid of a spouse then an employee
Shock horror. Divorce is of course against the will of their god but to the rest of us, it’s simply a way to end an unfortunate marriage. Of course it should be easier to get a divorce than to sack someone. I don’t want an employer to be able to simply let me go for no valid reason, and I don’t want to be trapped in a loveless or abusive marriage.
If Catholics want to remain married, even in dire situations, then that is their business. However, marriage from a legal point of view should be treated no differently than any other contract. I personally consider my marriage to be very important, the best thing I ever did, but I don’t need the state to enforce that feeling. If Christianity is real and there are so many Christians in the world, why is divorce so common anong Christians? Most importantly, if they are so bad at being married, why should the state keep them together?
Church leaves field clear for new religion
This is such a poor article that I will present the text and rebuttals to the flimsy points. The article of the text has not been edited, other than being split in to sections. The article was in the “Editor’s Jottings” section. Incidentally, this makes little difference since the whole ‘newspaper’ reads like one long editorial.
The notion that religion is a private matter and that believers should not try to influence the values or laws of society is being pushed by the Secular Ascendancy of Ireland
I’m not sure how to respond to this. I’ve tried to find out what this “Secular Ascendancy of Ireland” is but to no avail. However, I believe they could be referring to the recent Northern Ireland legislation to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. If that is correct then the editor is either lying or just misunderstanding the purpose of the law. There is no attempt to stop believers from influencing the values or laws of society, providing they make a rational and fair argument.
Asking to be able to discriminate against a group in society purely because their god hates gays is neither rational nor fair. Being religious does not automatically turn a piss-poor and offensive request in to a good one.
Public life it says, should be a neutral zone, where people of all religions leave aside their differences and live in harmony. it sounds attractive, especially as it offers peace and maximum freedom to each person.
Hmm, that sounds quite positive. Maybe this is building up to something?
But a closer look reveals that this secularism is, in fact, really another religion, radically hostile to Christianity. And the sham promise of peace and freedom is just a slick way to market it
Yep, I knew there would be a but. Arguing that secularism is a religion is a very old, tired and easily shot-down argument. Russell’s teapot provides a good response.
“If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.”
Secularism is simply the belief that decisions should be made based on facts and reason. When we draft a law, it must be based on fact, reason, evidence and not religious beliefs. If a religious belief happens to be backed up by facts and evidence, i.e. murder should be illegal, then there is no reason why a secular law can’t adopt the same belief as a religion. Are we on equal ground when you claim that this teapot exists and I claim that it doesn’t?
It needs to be unmasked but that is an immense task, as the new faith has soaked in to many areas of Irish life.
Its fundamental belief, often kept hidden, focusses on God. It holds, as dogma, that God does not exist, or if he does he is irrelevant to how we live. This belief, and it is a belief affects everything
The first paragraph is would make McCarthy proud. A giant conspiracy against us decent folk! However, the second paragraph is partially correct. Secularism frankly does not care about gods. I will not lie awake wondering whether or not god exists, if he does I’m sure he’ll let me know. The truth is that gods are irrelevant to the way we live, as a society. Individuals are entitled to their curious beliefs, we all have some strange ones, but society should not be bound by them. Remove this safeguard and it’s bad for religious and non-religious alike. What happens when your government doesn’t support the same god as yourself? A neutral position safeguards us all.
The human being becomes the supreme being. Freedom is reduced to genes. Life loses its meaning. Hope of eternal life is replaced by the culture of despair and death.
Ah, now we get back to the claim that it’s impossible to be happy or moral without the help of the gods. Also, we see the old canard regarding genes and a loss of freewill.
In a secular society, humans do not become the ‘supreme being’. We are simply people. We may be superior in some ways yet sadly deficient in others. The editor may want to ask God why most mammals can produce their own vitamin C internally, yet humans have to consume it in order to maintain normal body function? In that respect, I doff my hat to the dog sitting outside my house because it is superior, at least in the production of vitamin C.
Anyone who truly believes that genes are the be-all and end-all of human behaviour knows nothing about biology. Genes are certainly important but they don’t provide a blueprint for human behaviour. Most of that is picked-up along the way as we grow up. Our experiences shape us. Richard Dawkins provides a good example when he points out that our genes want us to reproduce yet we defy them by wearing condoms. The might power of the gene has been overcome by a thin latex device.
If you need a belief in eternal life to avoid despair then you are missing something important in your life. Secularism isn’t about having no hope for eternity, it’s about facing your life as an adult and accepting reality. The editor could just as well argue that state-sanctioned belief in Santa is necessary to stop us despairing during the winter.
From all this flows a new morality – there is no longer an objective good and evil. Rather, “my right to chose” becomes the supreme value.
This is rather a good thing. Good and evil do tend to be relative. Some consider it evil to enjoy a beer, I do not. That’s the reality of it. I defy anyone to introduce me to someone who is honestly describable as good or evil. We are complicated things. The man who kicks a dog down the street today could be donating blood tomorrow.
The state has no role in determining what is good and what is evil. Debates about good and evil belong in philosphy 101. The state is there to enforce rules regarding what is acceptable for society.
In Ireland The Irish Times is one of the most enthusiastic converts to the new religion, conned perhaps by its shoddy notion of freedom.
From the Times it has spread to the rest of the national media, which have become its leading apostles. But they’re always careful to hide the religious dimension under the cloak of an appeal to “reason”.
The Irish Times is a newspaper, the editor of Alive may wish to buy a copy to see a newspaper operates – useful tips abound. Again, secularism is not a religion. Regards hiding the ‘religious dimension’, that is nonsense. Frankly we don’t care what you believe as long as you don’t try to push your the inane requests of your sky god on to us. Believe if you must that slavery is okay but don’t expect the rest of us to accept that simply because it’s in your holy book. Let me re-iterate that, we do not care about your religion as long as don’t use it to deprive us of our human rights.
And many Catholics have adopted many of its teachings, without perhaps realising how deeply they contradict their Christian beliefs
Obviously the editor has no problems with the contradictions in the Bible.The fact is that society changes. 40 years ago it was acceptable for a good catholic priest to beat the living daylights out of a young boy, but that is no-longer the case. No Christian follows the Bible literally, all are guilty of chosing the parts that they think don’t apply anymore. For example, how many Christians do the following?
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
This is the word of Jesus yet I see few Catholics drinking poison or magically healing the sick. I’ve seen even fewer Christians casting our demons. Most are just like you and me, people doing what normal people do. Face the fact that Christianity itself is a mess of contradictions. It’s a 2000 year old game of Chinese whispers except this isn’t a harmless game.
The issue is presented as a clash between faith and reason. it is not. It is, rather, a clash between two religions, each appealing to reason, but with secularism clinging to a shrunken, wizened notion of reason.
And with that the article finishes. I’ve already explained why secularism isn’t a religion so I won’t address that again. Let’s look at the claim the Christianity is based on reason while secularism is not.
The claim that Christianity is based on reason is a strange one. Is there a sensible reason why Catholics believe in Transubstantiation – the act of turning bread and wine in to the flesh and blood of their dead saviour? Is there any hint of reason in the claim that there is a sky god who requires our worship and love?
Consider the following claims.
“I believe that we are the product of natural processes. We live, we die and there is no evidence to suggest an eternal life. If proof emerges, I will examine it but for now I see no reason to believe in gods.”
“I believe we were all created by a god and there is a plan for us all. Although life seems to be pretty random and no-one has ever seen this god or any of his helpers, I believe he exists. I believe in Transubstantiation, demons, angels and eternal life for those who love and worship this god. If I pray, I will receive anything I ask for because I have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe!”
One of the above statements is based on reason. The other is a total departure from it, in fact it’s a total retreat in to self-comforting delusion.
Religion is not based on reason, it is based on self-delusion. Self-delusion is not a sound way to run society, imagine if we were all subject to our individual delusions. You would not be allowed to leave a house unless you turn your lights off and on three times due to my belief that the world will end if you fail to complete that ritual. People with brown hair will be banned from cafes because I believe that they bring disease. It’s a pretty horrible world that the editor wants to see.