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Date: 15/04/12

When Reason Flees

In the light of the following news items from the past week or so:

  1. The illegal government of Honduras ('illegal' in the sense that the legitimate government was overthrown nearly two years ago in a US-supported coup d'état and opposition to the golpistas has been ruthlessly suppressed) is about to pass a law which would mean that teenage women who took the 'morning-after' pill would be liable to imprisonment; even if they took it to prevent a pregnancy after being raped. It will surprise few to know that this repressive measure has the full support of the local branch of the Rampant Misogynists And Kiddie-Fiddlers' Union (or 'the Catholic Church', as they so quaintly style themselves)
  2. The Indian sceptic Sanal Edamaruku, President of the Rationalist International, went to Mumbai to investigate a so-called 'miraculous weeping cross'. He found that, of course, it was nothing of the sort; he revealed that the 'tears' were produced by capillary action as a result of a blocked drain nearby. He later went on television to take part in a rather one-sided debate with no fewer than five members of the RMAKFU (see above), and riled the clerics to such a degree that they demanded he apologise (which he quite rightly refused to do). As a result, various stooges of the Union made formal complaints to the local police, who are keen to arrest and charge Mr Edamaruku with that curious man-made offence called 'blasphemy'
  3. George Carey, possibly the most ludicrous figure to lead the Church of England in my lifetime (Ramsey had those wonderful eyebrows, Coggan was harmless, Runcie had a touch of the liberal in him and Williams is just a good man fallen among theologians), has been at it again. His latest contribution to the world of comedy is yet another claim (in a contest he seems to be having with the equally bewildered and bewildering Keith O'Brien) that Christians in the UK are being "persecuted" and "driven underground"; and this all because the odd Christian refused to comply with their employers' dress code, or because they refused to do the jobs they had signed contracts to carry out. It seems that Christians are being "left in fear of arrest" as a result of a campaign to impose "secular conformity of belief and conduct."

    I wonder whether Mr Tambourine Man, the next time he takes his place (alongside the ones reserved for his co-cultists) in the legislature and prays for the head of his sect (no, not that nice Jewish boy; the old tart in Buck House) might wish to consider a visit to Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia or, indeed, Bethlehem, to see what oppression of Christians is really like at first hand?

    I doubt it. The advance of the secular agenda (and there is such an agenda; it involves trying to ensure that public policy is based on reality rather than scribblings on a goatskin, and trying to ensure that freedom of religion is accompanied by its important corollary - freedom from religion) has given rise to a backlash in which the unwarranted sense of entitlement of the religious has been given full rein. They suspect, correctly, that they are no longer accorded the free pass for their privilege to which they have become accustomed, and they don't like it.

As I said, given all this, is it any wonder that I respond to the request of the American biologist and campaigner P.Z. Myers for people to tell him (and his readers) why they are atheists with the following:

Why do I not believe in any gods?

No Reason.

Why do I not believe that I am constantly being watched over by some supernatural force which has the power to intervene or intercede on my behalf if I try to plea-bargain with it?

No Reason.

Why do I not believe that I will be judged on the way I live my life in such a way that I will somehow exist for all eternity either in a paradise or a hell?

No Reason.

Why do I not believe that gays are 'disordered', or that a bunch of elderly celibates with a proven track record of being either abusers or of covering up for abusers have any right to tell me (or anyone else) what I may or may not do with my own genitals?

No Reason.

Why do I not believe that allowing scientifically-unsupported superstition to have a signficant influence on public policy is a good thing?

No Reason.

Why do I not believe that it is right that religion should be permitted to propagandise children who don't yet have the resources to counter its claims?

No Reason.

Why do I believe that the planet that I'm standing on is about 4.5 billion years old (in a universe approximately three times as old); that all species living on it (including my own) developed from earlier species; that this is the only existence I will ever have and that when it ends I will permanently cease to exist; and that it's important that each of us does what (s)he can, however (s)he can, with whatever (s)he has to make this world a better place?