November 19, 2005

religion remains the greatest enemy of ethics

Here is a good article found from Religion is Bullshit by Simon Blackburn read it all.

Back already?

One bit that I would like to expand on is this:
"the association of religious belief with dogma, intolerance, and illiberalism, and the corresponding association of atheism and agnosticism with liberalism and toleration. The very word 'sectarian' alerts us to this, and a religion is only a sect with an army. The 'real standards' of religions, as Voltaire saw all too often in his own lifetime, are those of authoritarianism and separatism, of conformism within and persecution without."
What Voltaire saw of religion driven societies in in his time is just as we see them today, in a religious society there is only one god given truth, only one god given morality, and only one god given way to live. All that do not follow it must be hunted down and driven out, or killed. It is intrinsically authoritarian and can be no other way. The only time that religions start saying how 'peaceful' or tolerant they are is when they are safely down at heel. As soon as religion starts to gain power that soon disappears and the hard face of the religious policeman, the true face, is once again revealed.

The best defence against faith is knowledge, which is why religion fears it. Sometimes dressing up it's superstitious nonsense as if it where fact. Sometimes simply trying to make sure that knowledge is kept safely out of the hands the people that the religious authorities are hoping to control.
When Richard Cobden, the great reformer, looked back on his campaign for public schooling, he said:
"I took the repeal of the Corn Laws as light amusement compared with the difficult task of inducing the priests of all denominations to agree to suffer the people to be educated."
Which puts Blair's, the most instinctively authoritarian politician (or fascist to help with DK's google-bomb) that there has been in this control for a while, love of faith schools in a different light. Not trying to get selection back against Labour Party dogma because it will help education, but to reintroduce religion at the expense of education because it will help control. Good education is the sure way of helping to improve your lot in society, something that has been known for a very long time. Writing about his life in 1845 about how he managed to free himself and become the great writer and orator that he was the abolitionist and freed slave Fredrick Douglass wrote:
It was a new and special revelation, dispelling a painful mystery, against which my youthful understanding had struggled, and struggled in vain, to wit: the _white_ man's power to perpetuate the enslavement of the _black_ man. "Very well," thought I; "knowledge unfits a child to be a slave." I instinctively assented to the proposition; and from that moment I understood the direct pathway from slavery to freedom.
That pathway being education, so he taught himself to read. It is a well known and well trodden path, but also a pathway that some religions deny themselves even when it is freely offered, preferring the simply certainties of a slave submitting to his master.


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