Few things push my buttons like sanctimonious “love the sinner, hate the sin” declarations. The very concept of sin is a cancer that rots the mind. It is the substitution of morality with dogma. Take homosexuality. There is no moral argument to be made against it. Many have tried, and it always comes down to subjective ickiness, religion, or both. It takes religion to transform an act of love into an “abomination”, to tell people who they are is bad and that they must fight it, which means fighting against themselves. All this, even when they are harming nobody.
The past two days have been nerve wracking for the French, and for friends of freedom of speech. We’ve all been floored by the savagery of the attacks, but it’s been heartwarming to see support messages from all over the world, as well as the extraordinary unity of the French people overall, including the Muslim community and clergy, as well as all other confessions (but of course, let’s not fool ourselves, there are already brain-dead violent reactions against the whole Muslim community, which is exactly the sort of division the terrorists are trying to create).
The number one cliché I hear about atheism is that lacking an objective / transcendent / absolute morality, everything is permitted, and surely we must be eating babies for breakfast. Religious people seem to be very insistent on this point, and all but attempt to push us to be immoral, telling us that we are being inconsistent if we aren’t, and that ours is a self-defeating position.
There are quite a few parts to deconstruct in those assertions. First, can the religious point(s) of view really claim objectivity, transcendence or absoluteness? Second, are the only games in town really religion and extreme relativism?
It’s becoming increasingly clear that our so-called democracies really are plutocracies and always have been. But, I hear you ask, aren’t elections the guarantee that we the people are getting represented properly? Of course not.
Yet another response to Ambrose, whose blog doesn’t like that my comments tend to have more than 4,000 characters... He says:
"the underlying argument is that religious freedom is not absolute in the US. There have been Supreme Court cases, such as not allowing polygamy, where it has been limited."
Yes, all freedoms have limitations, which is not a big deal. In the case of religious freedom though, religious people in my experience tend to believe that it means that if their holy book mandates something, it should trump the laws of the state, or that no new law can go against what they believe. This would of course be impossible except in a single-religion theocracy
That’s not me saying it, but “Sam’s Club customers”. This is a really interesting story. Brendan Powell Smith has been publishing funny little books containing “straightforward illustrations of Bible stories using direct quotes from scripture”. They are really entertaining books, of which you can get a sample on Brendan’s web site: http://www.bricktestament.com/index.html. There really couldn’t be any outrage about the contents, right? It is, after all, quotes from the “Good Book”. Well, apparently there can.
A few days ago, French satirical journal Charlie Hebdo was fire-bombed. The decent part of French society condemned the terrorist attack and offered its help. Even Prime Minister François Fillon, who is politically diametrically opposed to the journal, had some nice words of support.
The picture should be very clear: we have on the one side a legitimate press organization doing its job, freely expressing opinions and thoughts. On the other hand, we have despicable terrorists who are trying to silence people through violence and fear. I for one stand with the press, against the terrorists. Sounds easy, right?
Let's start with this: marriage cannot be defined by the biological prospect of having children, because that would rule out sterile couples and menopausal women. As simple as that.
If I told you that the emergence of blogs, Twitter and Facebook have changed our societies in more profound ways than we imagine, you’d be justified in telling me that I’m being neither original nor very pertinent. There is certainly something to be said about the amplification effect those services have on self-centeredness and gossip, and how those are sometimes more powerful than the few examples we have of new media spreading freedom, truth and democracy. Still, I think we are seeing the first signs of a profound revolution, one that is remodeling society in a way that is more in tune with our evolutionary origins. One where the notion of tribe makes a comeback, but with a couple of twists.