Religious people, I’m on your side

I know that sometimes it seems that I’m not all that sympathetic to religious people and their various concerns. As an agnostic who believes in government and religion being kept quite separate, it’s not surprising that we sometimes have disputes.

But today, prompted by a typically thought-provoking post by Fred Clark, I’d like to say something to our friends of faith: I’m on your side.

Catch the Fire nutters and adherents of other extremist versions of Christianity – look, I agree with you. It’s a terrible idea for any Islamic organisation to seek to impose Sharia law on the rest of us (including the reactionary views about women and gays with which you might otherwise agree). We should fight vigorously against any attempts to impose this religion on the rest of us.

And Islamic fundamentalists – I’m on your side, too. It’s vitally important to stand against any Christians who want to impose their religion on you. (Or me.)

Even Scientologists – you’re quite right that it’s not fair that other religions get special tax-free status just because their belief systems aren’t quite as overtly a scam as yours.

Whatever your religion, whatever irrational prejudices you hold, whatever frankly absurd theories you have about the way the universe works – we hold something in common: it’s not fair for any of those other religions to get preferential treatment before the law or to be rammed down your throat.

Basically, I’ll fight for the right of each and every one of you to be free from all the other religions.

Finally, something we all can agree on!

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33 responses to “Religious people, I’m on your side

  1. Basically, I’ll fight for the right of each and every one of you to be free from all the other religions.

    And don’t forget the rights of those of us with no religion to be free of all religion. Sadly, the one thing most religions agree on is that faith in something is better than no faith (or as they put it, faith in nothing), which is something I cannot agree with. It’s also where ridiculous ideas like “one global religion” come from.

    “You’re now adherents of this new religion that we just made up and that we’ll make up the rules for later.”

    Hmmm, sounds familiar.

  2. I think it was General George Patton who said there are no atheists down fox holes.Maybe some truth to that.However, for mine, anyone who believes in the fairy story that all religion is, as far as I’m concerned is around the bend, a stubbie short of a six pack, mad as a hatter. Most of its adherents should be locked away in an asylum, away from the un-washed, where they can’t scare the children, and mostly paid up members of the Liberal party, who either join because they’re nuts or social climbing, I’m not sure which..

    I love it when they’re out proselytizing their wares, when they knock on my door I say, come on in I wont be a mo I’m just finishing off rooting the pet poodle.Ah religion what a con.The best part is, a lot of the wankers that follow the good book of what ever religion,Well! They’re the greatest hypocrites this side of the black stump.I can just imagine them sitting around discussing the price of Cooley labor, or other such subjects like bombing the bejesus out of Iraq.Then of course it’s off to church to praise be to heaven that they are doing Gods work.And the Catholics should get special mention shouldn’t they? Nearly three quarters of the female population of Ireland worn out by the time they’re thirty, bearing enough kids to start up a small conservative club some where.They make me wanna puke.

  3. damienisbetterthandamian

    https://anonymouslefty.wordpress.com/2010/10/16/religious-nutters-im-on-your-side/
    :D:D:D

  4. Shhh! It’s the ultimate strikethrough.

    “And don’t forget the rights of those of us with no religion to be free of all religion.”

    No, that part they won’t agree with us on. The important bit to appeal to is their fear of the other religions getting power over them.

  5. I might have added a few adjectives between “irrational” and “prejudices”, some printable.
    But yes, “freedom of religion” implies “freedom from religion”

  6. “As an agnostic who believes in government and religion being kept quite separate, it’s not surprising that we sometimes have disputes.”

    If I had a religion then cannabis, salvia d, mushrooms and dmt plants would all be sacraments. As it is they are illegal. I blame the good book myself. A couple of thousands of years of war against “mystery religions” … hows that for motivation to separate church and state?

    “No, that part they won’t agree with us on. The important bit to appeal to is their fear of the other religions getting power over them.” – J

    Its not a real fear either, cos as I just mentioned, having an “other religion” having power over you is not a good thing. What you are really appealing to tho (esp with extreme Christians in our culture, tho the Taliban in Afpak qualify too) is their fear of losing power over others.

    Its a bit of a double bind.

    “However, for mine, anyone who believes in the fairy story that all religion is, as far as I’m concerned is around the bend, a stubbie short of a six pack, mad as a hatter.” – lynot

    Sanity is overrated anyway, and lets face it, anyone who isn’t driven crazy by the state of the world is probably certifiably insane anyway. I don’t have a problem with people’s fairy stories – they use them to get through those cold dark hours before the sun comes up. People who don’t have the compassion to let other people keep their fairy stories are the real problem. Whether they are religious or not.

    What about parents having the right to raise their children in their own religion tho?

    A few people have expressed the view that religious education is a sort of child abuse.

    BTW That X is here Y is everything else thing Clark mentioned is actually a religious image. Its pretty common everywhere but in the West the latest version of it was Alesteir Crowley in the book of law. Hadit manifests in nuit, or consciousness manifests in a specific place in relation to the rest of the places. Its pretty influential in the new age movement for example. Or with people who follow Sting’s version of tantra.

    So there you go, religion is everywhere and hard to avoid.

    Secular govt is probably the best option then to keep everyone else’s BS (belief system/bull shit) out of our lives. It’ll be good when we get some.

  7. ” don’t have a problem with people’s fairy stories – they use them to get through those cold dark hours before the sun comes up. People who don’t have the compassion to let other people keep their fairy stories are the real problem. Whether they are religious or not.”

    I would have thought contrary to your contention that people who scoff at and want to see religion sent to the dust bin of history, are not the problem at all.I haven’t got a problem with other peoples religion per se.My problem is, they form groups with other like minded morons and want to foist their wackiness on the rest of us who would like to think, you don’t need to believe in a man in the sky to live a good and moral life.

    At the end of the day, most people who believe in this abject nonsense have one thing in common, they’re all shit scared of their own mortality.I will agree with you that the state of the world is enough to drive anyone insane.Indeed!And who has caused most of the woe that we suffer?Religious wacko’s that’s who.

  8. Actually, there are plenty of atheists in foxholes.

  9. “Actually, there are plenty of atheists in foxholes.”

    Indeed.I am the product of a man that was an atheist in a fox hole WW2 to be precise.I am also the sibling to a man that like many of his/my time, and unfortunately still are, and although an atheist himself,was still brainwashed into serving in Vietnam, by the proxies of Christianity,”The government”. I am under no illusion about the dangers of religion.

    As an aside I like your blog I will visit often like this one, very interesting.

  10. I said:

    “People who don’t have the compassion to let other people keep their fairy stories are the real problem.”

    Doesn’t matter what your fairy story is – flying spagetti creator being or atheist universe that sprung from nothing in an instant by pure chance and grew from a pinpoint to this current state of affairs, or anything else in between or outside those limits – if you don’t have the compassion to let other people keep their fairy stories then you are gonna be a jerk.

    Its not religions that are responsible for all the fucked up ness of history.

    Its people.

    And people will use any excuse to indulge being an arsehole if it suits them, and they are an arsehole.

    Tho from my pov people who believe in an afterlife tend to have less qualms about sending other people there on a whim.

    “My problem is, they form groups with other like minded morons and want to foist their wackiness on the rest of us who would like to think, you don’t need to believe in a man in the sky to live a good and moral life.”

    Yeah that is a problem. I live a good and moral life and I believe the sky is a woman and vice versa, (well maybe not, but my “religious beliefs” or lack of them are none of anyone’s business, so lets go with Nuit.) Thats a fair point, and right now, here, in our culture most of the blame for that goes to what jerks did in the name of Jebus.

    Even now its the fault of puritanical jerks that gay people can’t get married (whether individual gay people want to or not they don’t have the option), kids can’t get reliable safe Ecstasy to go out dancing on the weekend, other kids get arrested for trying to take control of their own bodies cos they think sex is for other things besides procreation. Etc etc.

    It doesn’t just belong to religion tho.

    It comes whenever anyone thinks that reality has to fit with their opinion of how it should work. Instead of the other way around.

    Usually thats a religious problem, but it could be a political one. Cambodia springs to mind. Ultimately tho it comes down to people behaving like jerks.

    Religion is usually the window dressing.

    (Fuck Thientologisch tho. Really. Heil Thetan.)

  11. Splatterbottom

    Jeremy has got this right. The role of society is to maximise the liberty of its constituents. It should provide freedom for people to pursue happiness in the manner they see fit, limited only so far is necessary to protect the rights of others.

    Jules is also right to point out that there are a lot of fairy stories out there apart from religions. Communism was an atheist fairy story that murdered more people than any other in history. And heaven knows where will be once the enviro-nutters are finished with us. As Chesterton once said, when people cease to believe in got they don’t believe in nothing, they believe anything!

    Reason can only get us so far in our lives. Most of what we do is based on instinct, appetite and emotion, particularly important things like eating, breathing and procreating. Everybody has some form of irrational belief system. There is no one right system that can be proven to the exclusion of the others. Accordingly we should be tolerant of other peoples’ beliefs, and respect their right to hold them.

  12. “People who don’t have the compassion to let other people keep their fairy stories are the real problem.”

    Hey!I’m not stopping anyone believing in anything.If morons want to believe in a deity in the sky,or the fluid expunged fron genital warts have a healing power, hey I give a shit.However, when that belief influences my own well being, the well being of my family, culture, or anything else that may come to my attention I don’t particularly like, i.e. prejudice against gays, sexual practices, women having the right to do as they please with their own body, and righteous conservatives who think they know every bloody thing under the sun, yada, yada, yada, then it is my business.But unlike the religious wacko’s, I wont be going out trying to kill them for their beliefs.

    People are not born inherently evil, they are made that way by their own circumstance, or other influence usually outside of their own control.Of course this doesn’t apply to the religious wackos, who are in a league of their own when it comes to evil. While their in your face trying to convert you, they’re thinking about how best to root your wife or daughter, whilst they’re scheming on how to best relieve you of the family silver.

    Oh and S.B. please spare us your diatribe about communism.You haven’t got a clue, as does no other person on this planet on how many people were killed in the name of any political dogma.To assert communism was the worst at anything, is absolute nonsense.Of course you being the right winger you are, I suspect you think Hitler was a ‘Socialist’ but of course that’s not the reality is it?As for the enviro nutters, get used to them, they’re here to stay.They may be the only religion that may just save us.

  13. I can think of a few things “Communism” (as it was practiced in Russia particularly) was “worst” at possibly. Certainly living up to its goals … at least the US created a society capable of improving itself and attempting to live up to its noble fairy tales. Some of the time.

    When you look hard at it tho Russian 20thC Communism was far more like a fundamentalist religion than most people realise.

    Ok it wasn’t actually religious, but it basically replaced god with the state, which as we all know is more a ravenous demon always chasing power than an omnipotent merciful deity. It was basically a religious state without the trappings of religion.

    I doubt adding actual religion (in the traditional sense) would have made a difference tho, cos AFAIK there hasn’t been a decent religious State in history. Not Tibet or anywhere. Maybe Bhutan but I couldn’t honestly say.

    Basically when a Christian points to Communism as an example of bloodthirsty murder they don’t see it as a case of the same shit in a different bucket.

    But it is.

    “Reason can only get us so far in our lives. Most of what we do is based on instinct, appetite and emotion, particularly important things like eating, breathing and procreating. Everybody has some form of irrational belief system. There is no one right system that can be proven to the exclusion of the others. Accordingly we should be tolerant of other peoples’ beliefs, and respect their right to hold them.”

    Thats so true.

    For example your irrational rejection of anything “environmental”. But you know … I respect your right to disbelieve the evidence. When actually dealing with the damage humans have done to earth goes mainstream the same jerks that use religion and politics to inflict horror on the rest of us and generally make a nuisance of themselves will do the same thing with it.

    The only thing that’ll stop em is “us” – other people.

    “As for the enviro nutters, get used to them, they’re here to stay.They may be the only religion that may just save us.”

    Only if it actually works (ie creates physical changes in reality that wouldn’t have happened otherwise and probably won’t happen without some form of “divine intervention”. IE basically we’re fucked.) I happen to think it would and (no shit but I don’t expect anyone to believe me) actually know how to construct the rituals and what goes with them. Well know where to start anyway.

    But I’m not saying anything cos I don’t want to start a religion … :p

    And the info is out there anyway, if other people care enough they’ll figure it out.

    How’s that for irrational?

    “Hey!I’m not stopping anyone believing in anything.”

    Hey I didn’t say you were. I actually agree with most of what you said. I’m just making a point. It being:

    “…as does no other person on this planet on how many people were killed in the name of any political dogma.To assert communism was the worst at anything, is absolute nonsense.”

    I agree, in fact asserting anything was “worse” is nonsense. We don’t know, and if you are in the middle of it, it doesn’t matter if its half a million people or 300. Being murdered, usually horribly, for someone else’s belief system is about as bad as it gets for those people who are the victims.

    I find the whole religious dogma vs political dogma body count rather tasteless.

    Dogma of any sort is whats the problem.

    Its not actually religion, or political views that are responsible for those deaths. People are cos they killed other people.

    They used dogma as a justification. Thats why it should be challenged whenever possible. All dogma.

    Cos if its gone there is one less excuse for brutality.

    That whole atheist vs theist bullshit isn’t gonna contribute to that tho, imo. Cos dogma goes beyond that.

    If you haven’t seen the episode of South Park where Cartman goes into the future and comes across a “religious” war between two factions of atheists fighting over what Richard Dawkins meant he wrote something then I recommend it. Its a little bit profound actually.

    Anyway they are banging on about Mary McKillop on the telly. Apparently she won a gold medal at the religion Olympics or something.

  14. “Basically when a Christian points to Communism as an example of bloodthirsty murder they don’t see it as a case of the same shit in a different bucket.”

    So true Jules so true.I am not going to keep going on this, besides I’m pissed and on a promise.Religion is as Marx said “The opiate of the masses”and will always be so.But having said that, it wont be in my life time being nearly sixty years old, but the day will come when religion, like right wing politics and communism, socialism, or any other ism for that matter, will be something discussed in schools as a dogma that nearly caused the extinction of the human race.Unfortunately for my own good self, I wont see the enlightenment that will come, but come it will, and nothing will stop it.The future for our children will not be left in the hands of the S.B’s Iain Halls, Andrew Bolts, Julia Gillards, and Tony Abbotts, of the world.They are all like a passing fad, finished…

    Peace…

  15. Splatterbottom

    Lynot” “Religion is as Marx said “The opiate of the masses” and will always be so.”

    That is pretty funny coming from Marx. Marxism must then be the arsenic of the masses.

    “ the day will come when religion, like right wing politics and communism, socialism, or any other ism for that matter, will be something discussed in schools as a dogma that nearly caused the extinction of the human race.

    You sound like a new age prophet. Your idealism is just that: another ism. Besides, human nature doesn’t work like that.

  16. “You sound like a new age prophet. Your idealism is just that: another ism. Besides, human nature doesn’t work like that.”

    Thanks for the promotion S.B. but a prophet I aint, just a realist.

    Human nature is an on going process, we are still evolving. if you have missed it, the change has already started, slow to be sure, never the less on its way.Of course from time to time idealists like my good self will have our set backs, people like George Bush, Tony Abbott will crop up from time to time and influence the masses and throw a spanner in the works, this is the way of it.But your own worn out ideology just like communism, is over.

  17. weewillywinkee

    I’m thinking that it is unfair to delegate spiritual faith as fairy stories or to presume that there is no truth in religion.

    The fact remains that we do not actually know how life began. We have theories and we can alot of debate but that first spark of life is a contentious issue even within scientific circles as I understand it.

    I understand that science is linked with rationality and religion is linked with being irrational. Nonetheless I’m not sure delegating religion to the fable bin is accurate.

    I don’t propose to know how life was formed. I certainly don’t blindly believe in every scientific theory around. We all know that science is also a human construct and is simply on top of the hierarchy because we have attached a truth, knowledge tag to it. The reality is that there are many unexplained things in this world and science does not always have all the answers.

    That’s my two cents worth.

  18. I’m thinking that it is unfair to delegate spiritual faith as fairy stories or to presume that there is no truth in religion.

    But they are, and there isn’t. There is as much truth in the Aeniad -more, in places!- as in the Bible or the Qu’ran.

    The reality is that there are many unexplained things in this world and science does not always have all the answers.

    Exactly. Scientists do not presume to have all the answers: When confronted with ‘then how did life begin?’ the answer of a scientist is “I dunno. Yet.”

    Contrast with religion, which -of all kinds- presumes to know the truth and to tell it to us, based on nothing more than ancient fairy tales. If asked ‘then how did life begin?’ a Christian will tell you. He will have no evidence for his claim- indeed the evidence is stacked against him on other matters- and yet he will claim to know the answer. Based on a three thousand year old collection of internally inconsistent tribal myths.

    Science is a human construct, yes. It is the only human construct that attempts to examine the world around us and build the answers upon the evidence we can see and touch and hear and examine for ourselves. Unlike religions, which rely on bearded holy men and visions from mushrooms.

  19. The fact remains that we do not actually know how life began.

    Not yet we don’t, WWW, but how that relates to the validity of religious belief is a bit beyond me.

    500 years ago the same comment could have been made about the tides, the rains or why the sun appears and then disappears over the earth. Would anyone now argue that this historical uncertainty was a rational foundation for religious belief?

  20. “500 years ago the same comment could have been made about the tides, the rains or why the sun appears and then disappears over the earth”

    As well as other questions like, how was the grand canyon made?A Jew dropped five cents down a rabbit hole.Hey lighten up, you can’t take religion too bloody serious.Unless your a Catholic of course,who most of which if not already,are going blind.

  21. Was that… an anti-semitic joke?

  22. “we are still evolving. ”

    Some Christians don’t even believe in evolution, the ones that don’t often point out that it’s only a theory. They STFU when it’s pointed out that gravity is only a theory too.

  23. weewillywinkee

    I do understand your points however what I am saying is that perhaps we ought to also entertain the thought of their being a creator (non gendered).

    Religion may not be everyone’s cup of tea and certainly I don’t follow any traditional religions however I am open to the idea that perhaps science cannot explain explain everything and that all life may have actually come about through some godly entity.

    It may sound crazy to you but the idea of the world being round also sounded crazy to alot of people a long time ago. Get my drift?

  24. weewillywinkee

    In regards to rationality it is a very subjective term. We ought to be careful about delegating entire institutions as rational/irrational. Parts of all institutions are rational/irrational. I don’t think any one institution can boldly claim exclusive rights to being rational.

  25. RobJ,

    And god is the biggest theory of them all.

    www,

    god doesn’t solve the problem of the origin of life, just tranforms it into a different question – the problem of the origin of god.

  26. Evolution is a scientific Theory, which makes it, in essence, fact. There are various theories as to how it all works, but the fact of evolution is quite clear.

    I am saying is that perhaps we ought to also entertain the thought of their being a creator (non gendered).

    Why? There’s no evidence of a creator of any kind, so why bother with thinking that there may be one?

    It may sound crazy to you but the idea of the world being round also sounded crazy to alot of people a long time ago.

    .
    Actually, the world has been known to be a sphere since antiquity. The myth that people of the middle ages thought the world was round is precisely that- a myth. A pernicious myth made up in the 19thC by people who wanted to paint medieval people as ignorant and backward, which they certainly were not.

  27. Oops- that should read “…myth that people of the middle ages thought the world was *flat* is precisely that…”

  28. I do understand your points however what I am saying is that perhaps we ought to also entertain the thought of their being a creator

    We can certainly entertain it. We don’t have to ask it to stay over though . . . .

  29. “Was that… an anti-semitic joke?”

    Nein.It was in the spirit of my own antecedents.Who on my fathers side were Jewish.Hence, my family’s absolute abhorrence to anything religious.I do not need to give you further explanation suffice to say, I don’t like right wingers either.My antecedents were lucky they were from British stock.Although they did have Mosley,as an aside we have like minded in our current political ranks.

    “. Some Christians don’t even believe in evolution, the ones that don’t often point out that it’s only a theory. They STFU when it’s pointed out that gravity is only a theory too.”

    I gave up arguing with them years ago.They all share the same M.O. a vivid imagination, and a naivety only exceeded by their ability to insult peoples intelligence.You can argue with them, but at the end of the day their whole theory is based on blind faith.The quicker humanity rids itself of this stupidity the better.

  30. We all live according to some myth or fantasy. All of us. The people who create the problems are those who think theirs is not a myth but “reality”. This includes the materialists and rationalists as well as the conventionally religious. The problem is not fundamentally one of wanting to impose your view on others, although that is certainly an issue, but rather it is one of failing to understand the primacy of fantasy in the workings of consciousness.

  31. Splatterbottom

    Bloods I pretty much agree with you on this. I’m not sure about the fantasy bit, though.

    I would qualify it by saying that whether consciously or unconsciously we all take views which cannot be proven but which allow us to understand and navigate the world we find ourselves in. The basis for adopting these views is essentially that they work for the particular person concerned. I wouldn’t call that fantasy as that implies that you know it isn’t true. It is more like a best guess given what we do know. Either way, once it is accepted that a particular view is unprovable, the basis for imposing disappears.

    The problem with this argument is that the assumptions we do make for organising society – such as maximising liberty and protecting specified basic rights – are equally unprovable. In the end we are left with some form of innate feeling that as others exist we all deserve equal protection and equal liberty under the law.

    Hayek had an interesting theory along the lines that society is like a market of ideas, and that people learn the best modes of social existence by trial and error and by the the example of others . However, as this is an ongoing process, it still doesn’t allow us to conclude that some particular form of social organisation is superior and should be legislated. All we have is a common repugnance of say, murder. However, other societies, including our own until recently have a repugnance for things we now see as acceptable, such as homosexuality.

    In the absence of any provable system of laws we fall back on maximising individual rights and protections. History has taught us that systems requiring the force of law to ensure appeasement of gods or the implementation of a socialist or nationalist utopia lead to tyranny rather than happiness. If we are to all end up as votaries of some belief system, it should be by individual choice, not legislative coercion.

  32. No real issue with that SB, but the problem with religion is that in some instances, most notably Roman Catholicism and various forms of Islam, it has become bound up with the coercive power of the state. It seems to me that once a religious institution gets a taste of this kind of power to enforce its worldview on others, it never loses it. The Catholic Church, for example, maintains to this day its right to seek legislative enforcement of its view of abortion and euthanasia, rather than being content with seeking to influence our thinking about these issues as moral choices. The Inquisition is never really all that far away.

    On the question of fantasy and myth, I never use these words pejoratively. Hayek’s ideas are fantasy, as are those of Marx, Freud, Hitchens, Jung, Dawkins, the Pope, me, you or the bogan on the street in western Sydney. It is a tragedy that the words myth and fantasy have become almost synonymous with fallacy or untruth. Fantasy is not something we foolishly and childishly impose on some objective “reality” that only sober and mature adults understand correctly (a fantasy in itself), it is the means by which we apprehend experience. It is the basic function of the psyche.

  33. Splatterbottom

    Agreed, bloods. Although I see the argument about abortion as a legitimate debate about the boundaries of laws protecting people from being arbitrarily killed. Euthanasia is about choice, so people with a different view can decide not to be killed. My concern is more about coercion of the elderly and infirm, and about the ability of people suffering mental distress to make a sound decision. Many people who unsuccessfully attempt suicide end up pleased that they did not succeed and choose thereafter to go on with their lives.

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