God Botherer

Written By: - Date published: 10:27 am, July 17th, 2016 - 461 comments
Categories: climate change, Deep stuff, Ethics, Globalisation, human rights, International, science, Social issues, sustainability, war - Tags: , , ,

I’m a little worried about God.

Not only does God not exist, the reasons for needing him to exist are fast fading. The human race is approaching the end of its adolescent years and is heading for maturity. We have the ability to control our world. Only a couple of centuries ago, control was local, regional and for some European nations, pan continental. But now we all think in global terms.

Climate change is evidence of our race’s planet wide ability to get things wrong. But most of us believe we have the capacity to end global warming, though the willpower is still lacking. We aren’t waiting for God to step in, as once would have been the case.

Clearly, the world’s population is still mostly religious. But the countries where citizens are happiest are, for the most part, agnostic and social democratic. The Nordic example is where the world should be heading as a next step.

Given that there is no God and no reason for there to be a God, what do we do about religion? Should we remain tolerant of the unfounded beliefs of the billions of adherents? Should we continue to parse individual religions, identifying some strains of faith as being acceptable, while decrying other, more militant, sects?

I think it’s time to end religion.

We could start here in NZ by removing the weird and unjustifiable tax break churches and cults pretending to be churches enjoy. No more taxpayer subsidies for the Catholic church, the global buggerer of small boys. No more assistance to Pope Brian Tamaki or the Scientologists. An end to it. Now.

The next step is to teach religion in schools. By that, I mean to teach that religion is a sham. Atheist studies, if you like. If the next generation of kiwis can learn that we are the masters of our own destiny, then there may be hope for the future. We may bring up a generation focussed on ethics, not compulsion through fear.

The next idea might be a step too far for some readers. I think we should look to ban religion altogether. Give it a grace period of a decade or so, then close it down. No more brutalising and poisoning our citizens with notions of heaven and hell. Let the next generation be free to think for themselves.

If NZ can set an example for the world, as we have done in the past for  democracy and peace, maybe, just maybe, we can end some of the madness that is currently brutalizing our small, beautiful world.

Peace be with you.

 

Steve Bell's If … 14.01.2015

 

461 comments on “God Botherer”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    Not a suitable post for The Standard imo, as it hatefully attacks the values and culture of many diverse people who are spiritually inclined, religious, or who come from religious backgrounds.

    • RedLogix 1.1

      Oh I can hardly complain … I’ve done one or two “unsuitables” myself in my time. 🙂

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.2

      One of the worst things about unctuous lickspittles is the way they demand the right never to be offended by anything. Hence blasphemy laws.

      Always ready to cast the first stone, blinded by the deciduous forest sticking out of their eye.

      • Colonial Viper 1.2.1

        Carefully. The liberal left founded, and continues, that trend in both politics and society.

    • Dr Terry 1.3

      It will be difficult to go on supporting the Standard if this kind of offensive rubbish is to make the headlines. Many people of the left (and socialist) lead very spiritual lives in which is found deep meaning for our world and its inhabitants.

      • ropata 1.3.1

        yeah i was thinking the same, “political correctness” taken to its logical conclusion.

        but presumably it’s just a thought experiment for discussion, as it’s obviously off the cuff rubbish, not a particularly nuanced philosophy

    • ropata 1.4

      before the stupid polarisation into the “moral majority”, the “religious right” etc, the left had its own values ascribed to religion, hence old michael j savage and his “applied Christianity”

      like any human activity, religion can be subverted by dickheads, but so can politics, education, science, sports

      in my experience this sums up most atheist arguments on the internet
      Sam Harris vs Straw Priest

    • b waghorn 1.5

      You’re completely wrong cv. trp has very bravely stuck his head above the parapet on this one.
      I bet once upon a time someone said the same as you have when a brave soul said that the world was not flat.

      • Colonial Viper 1.5.1

        TRP ain’t no Galileo.

      • Bill 1.5.2

        ‘No-one’ ever believed that the world was flat. Climbing any fairly tall hillside and looking out to the horizon was all that was needed to see the curvature of the horizon.

        • Phil 1.5.2.1

          There’s a bit more to it than that, Bill. 😛

          But, basically, we as a species have known the earth is a sphere since at least the time of the Egyptian empire.

    • Guerilla Surgeon 1.7

      “Hatefully”? Would you like to quote the sentence that shows the hatefulness? Because all I can see is a rational takedown of the idea of God. And if that offends religious people so be it. Religion should be up for rational debate just as much as any other subject. I must admit, banning religion – not exactly a step too far – just ridiculous. The capacity for religion is hardwired. There will always be some who believe in sky pixies. Banning it won’t stop it and neither will rational discussion to be honest.
      But still…

      • Colonial Viper 1.7.1

        It’s easy to come up with rational analyses proposing the destruction of entire faiths, countries or peoples. Beneath the clever intellectualism is always a deep despising of what others stand for and believe.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.7.1.1

          Yes, because you’re always so respectful when you encounter someone who believes in the free market, or trickledown economics 🙄

        • Guerilla Surgeon 1.7.1.2

          So you can’t provide any examples then? Just an inference that has no rational basis. Much like religion. I might say that although New Zealand is not quite as bad as the USA, there is plenty of “hatefulness” on the religious side, and plenty of rather patronising assumptions as well.

        • ropata 1.7.1.3

          Yep, there were probably some very civilised arguments deployed by the European settlers when they decided to steal Maori land. Just replace “God” with “Maori Culture” in the OP to get the picture.

          • Matthew Whitehead 1.7.1.3.1

            Except Christian culture will continue to exist whether the religion does or not, (cultural Jews are a good example, and many atheists are arguably just “cultural Christians,” for instance, I celebrate Christmas) wheras oppressing Maori will suppress or destory Maori culture.

            Racism and secularism have nothing in common. Secularism calls for everyone to get equal religious rights and no special treatment. Most atheists believe that secularism, applied fairly to everyone, (ie. objective and unbiased religious education where it is offered or required, and full rights for all religious and nonreligious groups) will eventually make religion irrelevant to the population. That’s not the same thing as making paternalistic agreements with Maori and then failing to keep up the bargain because of settler racism and a doctrine of European cultural supremacy. (which, it turns out, can be cured with the appropriate policies and liberal values)

            • ropata 1.7.1.3.1.1

              The OP isn’t arguing for secularism, it’s calling for religion to be abolished.

              Secularism is the only sensible solution for a multi-faith/multi-cultural society and I applaud it. That’s probably what TRP *should* have written, instead he went off the deep end.

              Oh well, at least it was fun batting arguments about

              • Macro

                The OP isn’t arguing for secularism, it’s calling for religion to be abolished.

                Which when you think about it is kind of stupid – if not impossible.

                “In reality, there are as many religions as there are individuals.”

                Mahatma Gandhi

                I think we have seen a fair demonstration of this truth in the range of comments posted here.

              • It’s not really a huge jump from “secularism is good” to “we don’t need religion and should be teaching values that allow people to get along without it.” (which is about as close as TRP gets to “eliminationism” in his post, advocating that we explicitly teach atheism) All the author and I really disagree on is that I don’t think doing that will entirely get rid of religion, or that we need to. It just needs to have its influence on politics greatly shrunk, (because “christian values” pandering has an outsized and in my view mildly negative influence on anglosphere politics, and probably every nation with a significant european population too) and that anything getting too close to eliminationism is rhetorically dangerous.

                What I think religious communities need to get over is this idea that they have a right to unduly influence the religion of their children. Religion of itself isn’t a value, and that’s actually really creepy. I think we can agree that you wouldn’t think it appropriate to teach a child that they have to support unions, or any other type of political message, but apparently telling a child that they’re Christian or Jewish or whatever before they even have a chance to learn about it and make a choice themselves is okay. We certainly agree that other types of behavioural indoctrination like “reparative therapy” trying to stop people from being queer is wrong, so I’m not sure why we haven’t made the leap that everyone needs to be teaching their kids to have an open mind about religion. Saying that the quality of information we give children about religion should be better isn’t inherently discriminatory about religion- (although what TRP advocates goes a bit further and does actually amount to state endorsement of atheism, which I don’t think is either good or necessary, but if we’re going to let Christian school teach Christianity, I think it’s reasonable to have some schools teach atheism) in fact, I greatly support open discussion in school about what religious text actually say, as it’s probably the best way to make people understand how odd religious values can be and why a completely secular morality and decision-making process leads to better results for all of society.

        • …What?

          There is no hatefulness in this post, in fact it EXPLICITLY wishes you peace, does not attack anyone’s right to be religious, just asks for teaching of an atheist/secular point of view in similar ways to how christian schools have taught their point of view in the past. (as an aside, freedom of religion has done more for atheism than about any other idea in the history of political and academic thought, so generally humanist atheists will be the first to defend your rights to religious liberty)

          I actually agree with the OP that in the long term, religion is harmful, and will become vanishingly less popular no matter what we do about it.

          I don’t think we will ever successfully destroy the idea of religion without resorting to extreme measures like genetic therapy, and boy does that make the idea of actively trying to “destroy entire faiths” look stupid to me.

          None of these beliefs involve any type of internalised hate of religion as far as I can tell. My father is very Christian, and taught me to be open minded to religion and to other ideas, and overall I consider him a role model even though I think he believes some things that aren’t well-founded when it comes to religion.

          Most of the harm from religion is of the “teaching people to believe things for the wrong reasons” type. If people are willing to accept, on irrational grounds that they often admit to having no rational defense for, (ie. “it’s about faith” or “I was taught that way” or “but it makes me feel better to believe”) the existence of a God, then what other beliefs will they accept for flawed reasons? (as an aside, I’ve never heard someone give a logically consistent reason for believing that they honestly admit is actually the reason they believe. Most logically defensible theologies bear no resemblance to any modern religion) It’s easy enough to get things wrong when you have a high standard of belief for everything, it makes it much harder to have informed political debate in a country where religion is common and people are strongly indoctrinated. Fortunately in New Zealand, most of our religious institutions are of the liberal variety, that are more about community than about literal interpretations of faith, so we don’t have it so bad as say, the United States, where most people say they’d never vote for an atheist as President.

    • seeker 1.8

      Totally agree with you Colonial Viper (first time for a long time). This post nearly put me off reading TS again, but your comment has helped me to reconsider, and because I believe in the Trinity of the Almighty, I will pray for TRP ‘s enlightenment, no bother.

      • Colonial Viper 1.8.1

        Hi Seeker. People are always limited in their perspective and inevitably deformed if they believe that they themselves are the grandest thing in the universe.

        • seeker 1.8.1.1

          So true CV@4.29pm.
          Well, what a Sunday this has been – and in the midst of all the misery in NZ and the world.
          As I said before, your no. 1 comment, plus this one have helped greatly. Thanks.

        • b waghorn 1.8.1.2

          Not believing in a god doesn’t mean thinking one is the “grandest thing ” in fact it’s the opposite. Not believing is to except that you are just a tiny spec of a vast and unknown space.
          Feelings of grandness is far more likely in people who think they are gods favoured species .

          • ropata 1.8.1.2.1

            how can you make claims about religious people’s feelings? that seems rather presumptuous.

            yes some religious people are up themselves but you find those kind of idiots everywhere.

            it seems to me that a lot of ego is required to reject the notion of God and be the captain of your own soul.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.8.1.3

          What about people who have noticed that there is no practical difference between the self and the world, if only one can abandon the self to experience it?

          Or that in doing so, the self ceases to have any importance at all?

    • AmaKiwi 1.9

      God is a woman. And is she pissed!

  2. RedLogix 2

    Well logically any divinity that the limited human imagination can encompass and comprehend wouldn’t be God anyhow. So no the God you are ranting about really does not exist. Certainly not the one in the cartoon.

    But if you want to claim a sufficiently omniscient knowledge that you can go the next step and rule out the existence of ANY God, then I’d advise you are on slippery ground.

  3. Pat 3

    you think by banning religion human beings will act any better?…..you are as deluded as they are

  4. Richardrawshark 4

    I disagree, your notion God does not exist, it is probably 50/50 at being false.

    I would agree, the human history of god making is completely false, in the hundreds of religions around the planet not one would be true.

    However in science and facts, we do know the universe was at one point a singularity with infinite density and energy. This expanded into the known universe.

    Where did that singularity come from? And just because god doesn’t talk to us, and life is so horrible with terrible things happening does not mean there is no god, perhaps just a god that we are unimportant too. In the grand scheme of things we may be nothing more than the scum on a tablecloth in gods home. Who knows.

    Humans, we think we are so important that god would have created us specially.

    arrogant and self important, like most humans.

    • …it is probably 50/50 at being false.

      How do you figure that? If you’re calling whatever caused the universe to come into existence “God,” then surely it’s 100% that “God” exists, because the universe does. However, if you’re thinking “God” in terms of all the different flavours of bullshit that religions have come up with over the millennia, the odds of any of that being true are microscopic.

      • RedLogix 4.1.1

        The challenge for the limited human mind when considering anything abstract or non-material, is that we are compelled to resort to symbols, metaphors and fables.

        But almost always the literal minded among us will very soon turn the symbol into the reality and then proceed to dress it up in layers of vain imaginings until almost nothing can be seen of the original idea.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1

          +1

          I’d say that that is what’s happened with money as well. Instead of it being treated as a tool it’s now treated as the Prime Resource.

          • RedLogix 4.1.1.1.1

            I like that DtB.

            • Macro 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Me too.
              And the god we worship these days is to be “found” at the many temples of the “Hidden Hand” open for trading on a Sunday.

          • ropata 4.1.1.1.2

            “money is like blood, if all the blood goes to one tiny part of the body then shit gets fucked up”! 😂

      • Richardrawshark 4.1.2

        No, PM either the universe and all it’s energy were created, or it’s part of some science we do not yet comprehend. Multiverse. big bounce theory, IE 50/50

        13.7 billion years ago everything that we now see was a singularity. From here it’s all theory, how did it come to be, why 13.7b years? what was before that?

        Perhaps there are laws we do not know that will fill this missing science or perhaps god created it, in another dimension.

        To get even weirder, before 13.7 billion years, there was no time? get your head around that.

        So not only was the universe created 13.7 billion years ago time going forward was started then.

        Can something come from nothing? IE 50/50 of a god, whether he gives a flying fuck about us is another question if he does indeed exist.

        • b waghorn 4.1.2.1

          Get your head a round the fact that everything that is, has alway been, its form may change .
          Believing a sky fairy magiced up a universe just because one doesn’t know where it came from shows a lack of thought.

          • Colonial Viper 4.1.2.1.1

            Most Christians don’t believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis. Don’t take the piss out of what you don’t understand or out of some strawman argument that you set up.

            • b waghorn 4.1.2.1.1.1

              So at the end of the universe what happens. A big wall ?
              You want me to understand then you need to explain with out using the word faith once.

              • Colonial Viper

                Maybe you should start with understanding what “having faith” actually means, because it’s clear that you haven’t thought it through for more than 3 milliseconds.

                • b waghorn

                  So you can’t explain so you just go on the attack like a good old closed mind.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    How am I supposed to know what happens in 10 billion years time FFS? And if I told you, how is that going to change a thing???

            • ropata 4.1.2.1.1.2

              Dunno about “most christians” CV. I think “most” christians are just as badly educated and subject to marketing scams as anyone else.

              http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/82066434/Son-of-a-preacher-man-Brian-Houstons-empire-of-faith-head-home

              An embarrassment to anyone capable of critical thought: 7000 kids convening in wellington to hear this guy preach his “literal” biblical faith and prosperity gospel ponzi scheme. Not to mention covering up for his pedophile dad.

              (edit: Christianity has a rich intellectual tradition but you wouldn’t know it from what you see in the media, and RWNJ “think tanks”).

              • Macro

                An embarrassment to anyone capable of critical thought: 7000 kids convening in wellington to hear this guy preach his “literal” biblical faith and prosperity gospel ponzi scheme. Not to mention covering up for his pedophile dad.

                Yeah ropata – but that is not Christianity. You are trying to argue from the particular to the general here, and that’s always open to error.

                • McFlock

                  It’s one branch of christianity.

                  No true scotsman, and all that.

                  Like most religions that spring to mind, there are figurative believers who might go so far as to say that the entire sacred text is simply allegorical, literalist extremists who even believe the bits that contradict each other, and charlatans exploiting one or the other group, in christianity.

            • b waghorn 4.1.2.1.1.3

              I meant explain how a god makes all these supposed things happen with out using the word faith or you just gotta believe type arguments.

              • ropata

                Perhaps this will help?

                • weizguy

                  Oh dear… you really think Kalam is a good argument?

                  It’s question begging and special pleading coated in a veneer of philisophical language.

                  This might help: http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Kalam

                • b waghorn

                  If you believe the big bang happened , and i tend to, it doesn’t prove god exists just because we don’t know what lead up to it.
                  For all we know there is a force so huge it can compress a whole universes worth of stuff down to a dot . leading to it exploding into a new universe.
                  Most humans struggle with these three words ” i don’t know” i use it often , try it it’s liberating .

                  • ropata

                    I was simply replying to your direct challenge, not claiming to know all the answers. But you have decided to ignore that, pretend to get upset, and change the subject

        • Even a multiverse requires something to be logically possible to exist. That rules out most people’s conception of god right from the start, and means any revised conception has to contend with the Problem of Evil.

          Beyond that, postulating that something existing or not existing is 50/50 without any evidence demonstrates an extremely lacking understanding of probability. Until we observe something of a broadly similar type to what you’re proposing exists, its probably of existing approaches zero, with the more unique attributes you give to a being bringing it closer and closer to null likelihood. As most understandings of God posit a completely supernatural being that defies the laws of physics, as opposed to a merely very powerful natural being, we HAVE no similar type of being to the one you’re proposing, therefore agnostic atheism (ie. “we have no evidence that God exists.”) is the default and most likely assumption. You’re perfectly welcome to cheer for the less likely option, but please don’t run around saying that it’s “50/50” because there’s two logical possibilities, God and no God.

          Note that all this doesn’t even rely on me reminding you that there are many different conceptions of God, and that the probabilities are further narrowed that any God that does exist even approaches being similar to what you believe in. So it’s not God vs no God, it’s no God vs every logically possible god.

          If you want answers as to whether something came from nothing or something always existed, look at the various elaborations on the Big Bang theory. That’s where it all started as far as our universe is concerned.

    • Rae 4.2

      Here’s how I see that whole 50/50 thing. Picture a pie chart divided into two halves. On one side it says, “there is no god” and on the other “there is a god”. Ok fair enough, but, how many religions do we have in the world, let’s divide the “there is a god” side to represent all the ideas of what is god(s), I will even allow you to carve out a single larger chunk for Christians, Jews and Muslims, as apparently it is all the same god they worship.
      You can see now where the smart money should be going in this one, don’t you?
      You could, if you wish, divide the original chart into 3 parts “there is a god” “there is no god” “maybe there is a god” but you still have to divide what’s given over to there being a god into all the bits representing the different gods, looks even worse for the “there is a god camp”

    • Draco T Bastard 4.3

      However in science and facts, we do know the universe was at one point a singularity with infinite density and energy.

      Actually, we don’t know that. We have a fairly good idea of what was around pico-seconds after the Big Bang and we know that the Big Bang happened but we have no idea what was before then.

      • ropata 4.3.1

        +1
        science is full of mysteries, the singularity of the “big bang” is mathematically undefined. we still don’t know why the expanding universe continues to accelerate. we do not know the size of the universe (our observations by the hubble telescope reach 13 billion light years but there is more beyond that)

        As Prof Stanley Jaki observed, in light of Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem, a complete TOE is impossible.

        so faith in human science to solve everything is somewhat unrealistic.

        • Colonial Viper 4.3.1.1

          In fact, human scientific endeavour, combined with human greed and human post grad education is one of the major technologies used to fuck up our planet irretrievably.

          • red-blooded 4.3.1.1.1

            And yet, God, apparently, created humanity and put us here to fuck up the world? (And if you take the Christian viewpoint, we are created in his image – if we’re “he'”s – we “she”s are just add-ons, because the first “he” got lonely…)

            And before you tell me not to take the Bible literally, I’m going to reassure you that I don’t. Humanity has always looked for meaning and generations ago that meaning came from myth and magic. For some people it still does, but I agree with trp that that’s sad; it creates conflict, limits people’s thinking and is a big limitation on women’s lives, in particular. While I don’t think we’ll get to the illegal position anytime soon, there’s no reason why churches should have tax-exempt status. While some do some active charitable work, the funding for that work mostly comes from government coffers anyway, and any charitable group can register for tax exemption; they just wouldn’t be able to cross-over funds and use them for proselytising.

            Make a mental comparison with political parties or fan groups. These belief and values-based groups don’t get tax refunds; why see churches differently?

            And in answer to the comment from OAB (5) – we already tax donations to all sorts of groups; schools, political parties… You just require audited accounts, showing the sources of any income. It might change the way some churches collect donations, but it would fit just fine with the (odious) tithing system used by many.

            Good on you for putting a challenging discussion point on the table, trp.

        • Guerilla Surgeon 4.3.1.2

          Yes, but as Dara OBriain says “Science knows it doesn’t know everything. Otherwise it would stop.” Whereas religion just says “God did it.”

          • ropata 4.3.1.2.1

            problem is that guys like Dawkins and Hawking have a bad habit of making obnoxious claims about “God” while ignoring all existing scholarship on the subject

            BTW your “goddidit” objection is a silly strawman, there are plenty of religious people working at all levels of academia in all sciences

            • Colonial Viper 4.3.1.2.1.1

              Whereas religion just says “God did it.”

              Further, not even the Abrahamic religions think this, let alone all the other religions and spiritualities in the world.

              The religion of atheism – which is little more than an outcrop of the ridiculous and limited philosophy of rational materialism – seems to think it has the right to smack down all other religions while it somehow stays above the fray.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Except for one tiny detail: atheism isn’t a belief. Refusing to accept religious doctrine doesn’t involve a leap of faith.

                Religions do a good enough job of smacking one another down. Atheists just pick the bones clean.

                • McFlock

                  Actually, atheism is a belief (in the absence of god).

                  The theory that a god exists is unproven, based on wishful thinking, and an assertion of faith, but it still might actually be true. However unlikely that might be.

                  I believe Dawkins has an argument along the lines of a reasonable agnostic assessing the existence of god as being so close to zero as to make them indistinguishable from atheism, but I also seem to recall Aquinas had the opposite argument in favour of theism. Really, until we die all bets are off.

                  But even if there were a god, most magic books damn you for choosing the wrong magic book, to odds are we’re fucked either way…

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    I do not believe pigs can fly either. A leap of faith involves more than not making a leap of faith.

                    I believe there are no underpants gnomes. Not exactly a creed, is it? I imagine most believers might find the comparison insulting if they weren’t already reeling at the unspeakable offence of being questioned at all.

                    • McFlock

                      I believed that dogs didn’t have webbed toes, until I watched Attenborough last night and he showed a species of dog that has just that. Who knows if there’s a Laotian pig with glide flaps that flits from cliff top to cliff top.

                      We can name every single hokum belief out there, and in any single one your belief that it is false and [cthulu or whatever] doesn’t exist will almost certainly be correct.

                      But there are a very large number of hokum beliefs. All of them are probably bunk, but that collective probability is significantly smaller than the probability of any individual one of them being bunk.

              • Atheism isn’t a religion. It’s not even close to one in any sense, principally because it’s the result of rational thought. It doesn’t rely on unprovable faith or mystical revelations or horror stories of what will happen in the next life if you break the arcane rules of the churches’ teachings. Atheism is entirely logical and as I said in the OP, as a race, we are leaving childhood behind. We don’t need to be afraid of the boogeyman or to be bewildered by Big Ideas. As the Philosopher Carlyle once said “Heaven is a place on Earth”. How right she was.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Not only is atheism is a religion, many atheists like yourself seem to hold that your own religious beliefs and views are superior to that of others.

                  Your faith in the superiority of rational logical materialism is a faulty belief in of itself.

                  • 100% correct except for all the bits you got wrong, which is, er, everything you wrote.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      One more thing – taking a position denying the existence of God is very clearly taking a religious position.

                      Many religions and spiritual traditions out there are not theistic.

                    • te reo putake

                      No, that’s a position on religion, not a religious position.

                    • Indeed. CV is essentially, as an analogy, claiming that opposing the National Party requires you to support some other political party. That obviously wrong, as there are (unfortunately) many non-voters out there who don’t particularly like the Government.

                    • Macro

                      Not liking governments can still be considered a political position.
                      Abstaining on a vote – like Peter Dunne when he can’t get off the fence – Is still a political act.

                • ropata

                  Atheism makes a rather presumptive and intellectually arrogant claim to *know* that there is no God. And its proponents seem to delight in claiming the something comes from nothing… logic fail

                  Perhaps a more reasonable position would be Agnosticism or Humanism.

                  • tangled_up

                    I can’t speak for all atheists but my understanding is that generally atheists acknowledge that no one knows how the first space, time, and matter arose. That ergo there is no evidence to support the existence of God and to believe in things without evidence means truth loses all meaning as anyone can believe anything they like and state it as true.

                    Now when it comes to God as described by Christianity et al (read: an intervening God), then by logical reasoning it can be said that this kind of God does not exist.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Then again, there are those who understand that a mathematical model of the early universe is not the same as the early universe.

                    Conflating popular science memes with the actual understanding of cosmology contained in science is the logic fail. Professor Hawking has shown that the universe needed no prime mover. You can show the flaw in his workings, no?

                    Didn’t think so. The fact is that arguments for deity based on gaps in knowledge are doomed to fail, and an insult to faith.

                    • ropata

                      Hawking hasn’t “shown” anything of the sort, he has made some far out conjectures that’s all. The opinion of another eminent physicist is that “Hawking has given up” the attempt to make a coherent argument (and he is not alone, Woit links to several others in the field) :

                      One thing that is sure to generate sales for a book of this kind is to somehow drag in religion. The book’s rather conventional claim that “God is unnecessary” for explaining physics and early universe cosmology has provided a lot of publicity for the book. I’m in favor of naturalism and leaving God out of physics as much as the next person, but if you’re the sort who wants to go to battle in the science/religion wars, why you would choose to take up such a dubious weapon as M-theory mystifies me. A British journalist contacted me about this recently and we talked about M-theory and its problems. She wanted me to comment on whether physicists doing this sort of thing are relying upon “faith” in much the same way as religious believers. I stuck to my standard refusal to get into such discussions, but, thinking about it, have to admit that the kind of pseudo-science going on here and being promoted in this book isn’t obviously any better than the faith-based explanations of how the world works favored by conventional religions.

                • One Two

                  Transferring ones own personal belief of atheism, is neither logical nor rational

                  It is the mindet of those who keep the handbreak on the uplift of collective consciousness for those not able to recognize it

                  Not understanding such an elementary concept, is unsurprising when reading previous articles

                  • te reo putake

                    I can’t ‘ transfer’ the known universe, I can’t transfer reality. But I can point out the bleeding obvious to anyone that cares to read the post. Whether they get it is entirely up to them.

                    I don’t really see this as a philosophical matter anyway. It’s been great in some ways, but do we need it? Or do we need to trust ourselves?

            • Psycho Milt 4.3.1.2.1.2

              …Dawkins and Hawking have a bad habit of making obnoxious claims about “God” while ignoring all existing scholarship on the subject

              What “scholarship” can there be in a field that consists entirely of speculation? There’s plenty of scholarship relating to people who’ve made religious claims, but that’s of historical or anthropological interest only – it tells us nothing about the existence or non-existence of gods.

              • ropata

                WTF PM? Dialogues about these subjects stretch back to the dawn of time, this habit of dismissing them so casually is a stunning modern conceit, and unworthy of anyone claiming to be educated.

                Read some philosophy you philistine.

                (edit: this comment keeps getting junked by the dupe detector and never published! arrgh)
                (edit 2: removed unicode greek symbols)
                (edit 3: totally removed link to wiki on “philosophy”)

                [Sorry about that. Not sure what the issue was. There were three comments stuck in the mod queue, but I see you’ve managed to get your point made eventually! TRP]

                • I’ve read plenty of philosophy. Bringing the supernatural into it is like bringing alternative-reality fiction into the field of history. It wouldn’t matter how long people have been doing it for or what respected intellects have indulged in it, it still wouldn’t be scholarship.

                  • ropata

                    And thus we get guys like Dawkins mindlessly repeating the most sophomoric canards that were dismissed centuries ago, then patting himself on the back for being so clever. In other words, you have no interest in honest dialogue, preferring a dismissive hand waving gesture requiring zero intellectual effort.

                    • weizguy

                      You have it completely ass about face. The arguments that Russell, Grayling, Hitchens, Dawkins etc make are persistent because they haven’t been rebutted. The devout may have dismussed them, but not for any good reason (you posted a video about Kalam, for goodness sake).

                      I can understand why you would disagree, particularly because you misunderstand Atheism. It is merely a rejection of any and all God claims that have as yet been presented. It is not the claim that Gods do not exist (though that claim is a subset of Atheism). As in all things, the burden of proof lies with the party making the claim – stop trying to shift it.

                    • ropata

                      Dawkins has been debunked many many times, do you really think his mantra “Who made God?” is original and clever?

                    • weizguy

                      That entire “debunking” is, in itself, an ad hominem. Dawkins may have resorted to all manner of fallacies – whether or not he did is irrelevant to the failure of christianity (and any other religions) to meet their burden of proof.

                      I’d also be vary careful about turning to this Lund chap for authority on anything. A quick scan tells me he thinks there’s a distinction between “micro” and “macro” evolution, tries to conflate evolution with abiogenesis, and believes that Ben Stein’s claims of academic censorship have credence. His “debunking” either relies on a serious misunderstanding of the subject matter, or a deliberately dishonest approach to same.

                      “Who made God” is a perfectly legitimate question, when you’re positing Kalam as a reason to believe in God. Kalam posits that all things that began had a cause, but excludes God from the set of things that either began, or had a cause – for no other reason than God is somehow special. It’s pure special pleading.

                    • ropata

                      Somehow I don’t think any argument I posit will ever meet your criteria of sufficient proof. But for those who might want to know there is some excellent work by NT Wright , John Lennox , and here Matt Flanagan notes that Atheism also relies on unproven premises, so it is not fair to judge religious belief according to those premises.

                      God’s existence is one of the great philosophical questions, I’m glad He cannot be explained in a few blog comments!

                    • ropata

                      PS weizguy, here is an example of your heroes hating on philosophers, because the philosophers have dared to question some of the wankier cosmological theories conjectures being bandied about.
                      http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2012/05/01/151752815/blackboard-rumble-why-are-physicists-hating-on-philosophy-and-philosophers

                    • weizguy

                      I’ve read from all of these before – they’re all hugely unconvincing. The fundamental question you need to ask yourself is whether you’d accept any other existential claim on the flimsy evidence presented for the existence of God.

                      I find the empty tomb arguments risibly weak. They require so many leaps, they can only be taken seriously by those who already believe. Lennox, in particular, relies on childish certainty and proclamations of truth that don’t stack up.

                      And what makes you think Dawkins is a hero of mine? I included him because you did.

                      I agree with Flanagan to an extent. We cannot prove the logical absolutes, I can’t even prove I’m not the (only) brain in a vat. However, unlike Flanagan, I don’t accept that the appropriate answer to hard solipsism is to throw the baby out with the bathwater – which seems to be what he proposes. It’s a misunderstanding of epistemology – essentially, because we can’t be absolutely sure that we even exist (or trust our senses), we can’t truly know anything, so all belief systems (and ways of knowing – in his case, faith)are equally valid.

                      You wouldn’t apply this approach to any other field of enquiry. It’s the same old special pleading wrapped up in philisophical language.

                    • ropata

                      Yes there is a leap of faith required. “Seek and ye shall find”.

    • Jan Rivers 4.4

      In my view “Does God exist in any form?” is not a useful question to spend much time on. The other issue – do we need to grow up as a species – the answer is yes.

      What is much more interesting is that there is good evidence to show that communities who share a belief system – one that coordinates temporal behaviour have had a survival advantage – religion functions to organize groups in very practical ways to achieve secular ends. David Sloane Wilson’s 2002 Darwin’s Cathedral is a good read on this topic.
      http://web.csulb.edu/~kmacd/books-dswrev.html is a review of this

      Secondly organised religion helps various things to happen that we are pretty hopeless at getting to working well with without it. Alain de Botton’s Religion for Atheists is a good place to start. http://alaindebotton.com/religion/

      Finally Terry Eagleton (an academic, a Marxist and a Catholic writes and speaks on the Death of God and the Rise of Terror. Excuse the self promotion – I know its bad form – but I summarised a lecture he did last year in the UK as the ideas have stuck with me strongly. http://www.publicgood.org.nz/2015/08/13/the-death-of-god-and-the-war-on-terror. Essentially he describes how he thinks that the value free use of market power in the West (as religion has left the public sphere and retreated to the personal) has had a big hand in the rise of fundamentalism in Christianity and Islam.

      There are more questions that answers in all of this of course but I think more useful than the binary exists / doesn’t question.

  5. One Anonymous Bloke 5

    Ban false beliefs? Good luck with that. What are you going to do about the National Party?

    I agree about the tax breaks. I don’t see how you can tax donations though.

    The loving do not act.
    The kind act without self-interest;
    The just act to serve self-interest;
    The religious act to reproduce self-interest.
    For when Tao is lost, there is love;
    When love is lost, there is kindness;
    When kindness is lost, there is justice;
    And when justice is lost, there is religion.
    Well established hierarchies are not easily uprooted;
    Closely held beliefs are not easily released;
    So religion enthralls generation after generation.
    Religion is the end of love and honesty,
    The beginning of confusion;
    Faith is a colourful hope or fear,
    The origin of folly.
    The sage goes by knowledge, not by hope;
    He dwells in the fruit, not the flower;
    He accepts the former, and rejects the latter.

    Lao Tsu.

    So the problem has been around for a while, to say the least. Meanwhile, there are more pressing concerns in the false belief line: right wing government policies, chiefly.

    • I don’t see how you can tax donations though.

      Donations are income, so it’s pretty straightforward – as long as the people receiving the income are honest. Honesty does tend to be in as short supply among religious authorities as it is among politicians, but no doubt IRD could make examples of a few of them.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.1

        By definition, donations – ie: gifts are not income.

        • Psycho Milt 5.1.1.1

          OK, it’s gift tax, not income tax. Still easy enough to arrange.

          • Macro 5.1.1.1.1

            Around 100,000 people a year are given assistance by the Salvation Army alone, through the form of food banks, housing assistance and other social services. About 81 per cent of donations go to help people in need. This is one of the highest rates among New Zealand charities.
            If the donations were taxed then the assistance that many people rely upon for their existence would be reduced.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Why? The service provided is surely tax-deductible. As it stands, the fact that the IRD doesn’t get a proper look at the books is a Bishop of Bling’s charter to fleece.

              • Colonial Viper

                Profit making operations and charitable operations will not be held in the same taxable entity.

          • Craig H 5.1.1.1.2

            Gift tax was repealed in 2011.

            • Psycho Milt 5.1.1.1.2.1

              That which can be repealed can be re-instated.

              • Craig H

                True, but gift tax was also on amounts over $27,000 per annum and never applied to donations.

                Generally speaking, donations can’t be considered income because they are not specifically earned.

                • Colonial Viper

                  and more than that, they are usually monies that income tax has already just been paid on.

  6. The next idea might be a step too far for some readers.

    Certainly is for this one. I agree that religion needs to go and that to progress towards that we need to stop pretending irrational beliefs must be respected, end tax breaks for religious organisations and teach comparative religion in schools, but trying to ban religion would be a bad idea even if it was feasible, which it isn’t.

    • Richardrawshark 6.1

      PM , i’d imagine the wealth the Vatican possesses god would be more than interested in it being dispersed amongst the poor. So I have no hesitation to say these religious organizations who use tax loopholes of charitable trusts but never spend any of it amongst non believers should be forced to hand it over.

      Bishop Brian Takeyourmoney
      The Vatican
      Church of scientology

      just to name a few, no one polices the church these tossers have been doing more harm unchecked since the dark ages and it’s still has not been corrected.

      They run under the protection of laws they set up 100’s of years ago and no one dare question them. Whilst they sit on a mountain of tax free money, and tell people rape abortion is a crime, and condoms increase aids.

  7. Colonial Viper 7

    TRP, let’s see what the community’s reaction is when you decide to cut all state funding to Catholic schools in this country.

    Talk about hateful Fundamentalist Atheism.

    • leftie 7.1

      Are Catholic schools private? If so, why are they receiving state funding?
      I don not believe private schools should be state funded, it comes at the expense of the state school sector, which most Kiwi kids attend.

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.1

        So-called private schools receive massive amounts of state funding.

        • leftie 7.1.1.1

          And they shouldn’t be, and that was my point.

          • Colonial Viper 7.1.1.1.1

            Well off peoples’ children go to these schools; no political party is going to antagonise them.

            • leftie 7.1.1.1.1.1

              Private schools can fund themselves with their rich people’s money, they don’t need state funding. I would like to see future governments end that.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.1.2

        Most, if not all, catholic schools these days are ‘integrated schools’:

        In New Zealand, a state-integrated school is a former private school which has integrated into the state education system under the Private Schools Conditional Integration Act 1975, becoming a state school while retaining its special character.

        One does wonder if keeping the ‘special character’ is worth it though.

        • Macro 7.1.2.1

          That is the beauty of NZ education system Draco and you have to go back to the 1877 Education Act to understand how it came to be. The provision of special character allows many diverse form of education to be followed in NZ and I have had the pleasure to be involved in a number of them over the years. I say thank goodness for alternative forms of education and the best and worst experiences I have had as an educator have been in alternative forms of education.

      • Rae 7.1.3

        Yeah but, x amount is kind of allocated for each child at school, doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, you are entitled to as much free education as the next. You can kind of look at it where private schools go, that the education allocation of kids still go to the school and anything over and above that should be paid by parents. Then there are the decile ratings, which mean that the lowest receive a bit more than the highest. Not arguing about which is the best way to go, but that is how it is now.
        I’m actually a fan of alternative education, all of my grandkids experience it, from Steiner schools to home education with the addition of an “outdoor school”. I could even be in favour of the “charter” idea (hate that name though) but it would have to have the profit element removed. I also believe we could offer some forms of alternative education via our current education system.

      • Macro 7.1.4

        No Catholic schools are state integrated schools like many other schools. The are essentially state schools.

  8. Colonial Viper 8

    I withdraw my previous comments. Nice post TRP, great clickbait. Fell for it for a moment there.

  9. ropata 9

    if this is a response to the Nice attack, you are totally off base

    “It has nothing to do with Islam” – Neighbor of Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the truck driver in the #Nice attack.https://t.co/BQdwjgOW9z— AJ+ (@ajplus) July 16, 2016

    so your first step in getting rid of religion is to outlaw christianity? any particular reason why you chose a faith whose central tenet is “love thy neighbour”?

    what happened to freedom of religion? any other human rights you want to crack down on? sexuality perhaps? maybe ban males because war is always prosecuted by those hairy apes

  10. Bill 10

    pfft

    Swap out “god” for terms like Stalin or Lenin, and instead of focusing on belief as exercised through mainstream organised religion, consider belief in terms of how it relates to political cults. And where are you?

    Well, instead of standing or kneeling before a church alter or whatever, maybe you’re standing beside Lenin’s tomb or some such, and referencing some tome that’s probably much drier than the Bible or Koran (or whatever).

    Essentially there’s no difference in how belief plays out and whether it’s attached to notions of a higher being or the thoughts and ideals of dead people. It’s exactly the same and carries exactly the same capacities for both carrying out and excusing abuses.

    You want rid of religion or to retire notions of god? Then instead of hypocritically finger pointing the beliefs of others, finger point your own belief system and your own deities. And then see how it goes.

    • Jenny 10.1

      Churchill, Hitler, Stalin, Poll Pot, Te Reo Putake, atheists all.

      Keep your eye on them.

      • Bill 10.1.1

        All (I think with maybe the exception of one) frighteningly ‘true believers’ in ‘the path’ though, aye?

        There’s a thought that holds political belief to be the poor cousin of spiritual belief. A lot to be said for that take in my opinion.

        Given that there is more or less an entire universe outside my window that I can never hope to comprehend – does it matter if I call all that is unknowable ‘god’…or ‘love’…or ‘eek!’?

        The only problem I see is when charlatans claim to hold some special knowledge of the unknowable and use it for ends of their own devising. A pale echo of that claim to specialist knowledge is writ particularly large when we look at political belief…and it has an ongoing and devastating impact in supposedly secular societies.

      • CynicalJester 10.1.2

        Hitler was a Catholic

      • Roflcopter 10.1.3

        Hitler had a Roman Catholic upbringing, and in fact the Vatican provided a supporting voice for the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis.

  11. Quite a good parody post – thanks for the laugh on a cold Sunday voice.

  12. whatisis 12

    Religion provides the glue for community.
    Think Catholics, the majority don’t believe in God or Jesus in my experience, however the belonging provides them with a certain something that it seems the majority appreciate and use their entire lives.

    Personally I believe we are genetically manipulated by aliens. My church consists of only me so far, got a coupla kids of my own i’m indoctrinating… The idea that you could outlaw my beliefs are ridiculous and would only drive a further wedge between me and the community of society/government.

    Definately remove tax free status, but not ban belief/faith.

    • mauī 12.1

      Your alien beliefs are not fit for this world, but I’m betting the Pagani, Leggett & Quinn belief system will be allowed to slide by 😉

  13. ianmac 13

    Being a devout Catholic has helped our Minister of Finance, Bill English, to show us the right way on the path to humility, and the deep concern and action for the welfare of our society.
    Bless you Bill.

  14. Stuart Munro 14

    I think a lot of people don’t understand religion very well, and that lack of understanding breeds intolerance. The kind of ignorance promulgated by Richard Dawkins – that it is acceptable for an academic to lead uniformed critiques of religion – is unhelpful. It is like mistaking the views John Lennon proposed in Imagine for a credible path to pacifism. The actual popular 20th century pacifist was Gandhi, and his thought was very much informed by religion.

    Religion is very useful for new artists – it covers concepts of great meaning and concern. Life and death. Good and evil. It is of less importance whether artists embrace or reject religion, than that they have some inkling of some of the questions it has attempted to address. It is unfortunate that many of the self-styled atheist community don’t have a better understanding. I blame student loans myself – anthropology isn’t very marketable, but marketability is not really the best measure of humanities disciplines.

    • ropata 14.1

      it’s a shame that Dawkins with his fine intellect made some basic errors in his philosophical musings, would have benefited from an editor with some background in philosophy of religion, as half of his book was already answered centuries ago

      however it’s a useful resource for taking potshots at stupid things done in the *name* of religion

      • Stuart Munro 14.1.1

        Mmm – much as I find myself apalled by stupid in many spheres, it’s maybe more the not-stupid we need help finding – it’s rarer and thus more valuable.

  15. cyclonemike 15

    Baby steps, TRP. First we could get rid of that ridiculous prayer at the start of each sitting day at Parliament.

  16. Glenn 16

    Damnation with out relief!
    The Devil Toby speaks.

    • Craig H 16.1

      One of my all-time favorite sketches.

      “Christians, are you here? I’m sorry. It appears the Jews were right…”

  17. Observer Toke 17

    Te Reo Putake Stupidity.

    . There is no basis for ethics and morality. As we know from the huge number of criminals within the population of New Zealand.

    There is no basis for banning slavery.

    There is no basis for abolishing infanticide. which is a major past-time of too many New Zealanders.

    There is no basis for requiring cars and trucks to drive on the left of the road. It’s a free country and “I can do what I like”. Which is why the number of our deaths and maimings on the roads is outrageously high.

    There is no distinction between right and wrong. You can hunt through science for a lifetime and not determine good or bad. As you well know Te Reo Putake.

    There is no reason to ban Dictators. they have a perfect right to establish their Gulags and grind fellow humans into hell.

    Yet the Spirit of our species (and other species of Animals) brings sets of desirable behaviours and goals for their various Societies.

    Whether you like it or not matters not. Let me know Te reo when you root out the Salvation Army. What a pack of religious ethical bastards they are!

    You stupid man or Woman. Why don’t you set about growing up?

    • mlpc 17.1

      Well said, Observer Toke.
      It takes a special kind of stupidity to say that there is no God, since (as Stephen Hawking rightly noted) it is possible neither to prove nor to disprove the existence of God.
      TRP is really on the level of the five year old who wants to demonstrate their rebellion and cleverness by shouting “Willy, Bum, Pooh, Bugger!”
      He’s really so stupid that he doesn’t realise that the sort of atheism he espouses is a religion in itself.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 17.1.1

        Hawking has publicly disavowed this propaganda about his opinions.

        Why are you bearing false witness?

      • Observer Toke 17.1.2

        .Hi mlpc
        .
        Uneducated people tend to think we know everything about the Universe. And they declare they are super sure of their knowledge.

        For instance they pretend to know the origin of Life.

        But as the Astronomer Royal has said “…that first cell is most mysterious”. Even cynical Richard Dawkins has had to agree with him.

        Unfortunately for the uneducated, there was no Dawkins or Hawkins or Atheist to observe, monitor and study the First cell of Life. Mankind is completely ignorant of the origin of Life. (Please remember Darwin spoke of the Origin of Species. Not of the origin of Life).

        However, there must be an adequate reason and explanation for the mighty phenomenon of Life.

        I agree with mlpc, that the highest stupidity is to blithely make things up. And having made them up bathe in selfie arrogance.
        .

        • Draco T Bastard 17.1.2.1

          However, there must be an adequate reason and explanation for the mighty phenomenon of Life.

          Must there?
          Why should life need a reason?

          • Observer Toke 17.1.2.1.1

            Hi Draco

            . It is probably difficult for you to understand that unlike fantasy, reality of even tiny things have an adequate explanation of their presence; their form and function.

            . It might help if you were to ask the question: “Why does Draco T Bastard breathe ?” If you fail to find a reason, pack your Kit up and admit you have everything except a functioning brain.

            Einstein delighted in the fact that our universe is capable of being understood. And cheap smart ass responses are the prerogative of preteen boys. Grown men and women work hard at finding how things function. They don’t call upon childish fantasy.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 17.1.2.2

          Hi Observer Toke, in fact abiogenesis is a fairly well understood phenomenon. There are currently about five known ways in which it can occur, if memory serves me correctly, all of which conditions existed on Earth before life began.

          The “miracle” of life turns out to be a more-or-less inevitable consequence of the physical laws of the universe. Whether that confounds faith or supports it is another thing entirely.

          • The lost sheep 17.1.2.2.1

            ‘More or less inevitable’.,
            Otherwise stated as ‘only known to have occurred once in 13 billion years’.

            But let’s not split hairs eh.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 17.1.2.2.1.1

              Thought to exist everywhere there is water in liquid form, but what would NASA know.

              • The lost sheep

                ‘Thought to’

                “I do believe that we will someday find other forms of life …” Nasa Administrator Major Charles Bolden.

                So you do believe in belief after all OAB.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Yawn. Is that going to be your contribution, Sheep? Idly tossing off empty debating points?

                  Google “abiogenesis”, I dare you.

                  • The lost sheep

                    Abiogenesis? The transition from inorganic matter to organic life is only known to have happened once, here on Earth, and the mechanism for that transition is unknown.
                    Beyond that we only have Hypotheses.

                    But feel free to believe what ever you like, including the intervention of a supreme being.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      No, the mechanisms for the transitions are not unknown.

                      The reactions are:
                      FeS + H2S → FeS2 + 2H+ + 2e−
                      FeS + H2S + CO2 → FeS2 + HCOOH

                      3Fe2SiO4 + 2H2O → 2Fe3O4 + 3SiO2 + 2H2

                      Reaction 2: Forsterite + aqueous silica → serpentine
                      3Mg2SiO4 + SiO2 + 4H2O → 2Mg3Si2O5(OH)4

                      Reaction 3: Forsterite + water → serpentine + brucite
                      2Mg2SiO4 + 3H2O → Mg3Si2O5(OH)4 + Mg(OH)2

                      2 Ca2SiO4 + 4 H2O → 3 CaO · 2 SiO2 · 3 H2O + Ca(OH)2

                      …and so forth. Source: Wikipedia.

                    • The lost sheep

                      Either you do not understand the difference between hypothesis and fact, or you are deliberately mis-stating the evidence in order to avoid having to concede a point.

                      As you have taken the trouble to read the Wikipedia article, I presume it is the latter.
                      You do know very well that the formula’s you quote are supporting evidence for two of the many hypotheses around possible mechanisms for the creation of organic life.

                      Abiogenesis, to quote the Wikipedia article, is studied ‘in order to make reasonable conjectures about what pre-life chemical reactions may have given rise to a living system.’, and currently ‘There is still no “standard model” of the origin of life.’

                      I’m all for allowing people to believe what ever they like OAB, so I’m as happy for you to believe these hypotheses are fact as i am for someone else to believe God is the mechanism.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      I suggest you read what I said. It is a fact that there are ways it can occur. It is a fact that current scientific thinking is that life can be expected where there is liquid water.

                      “Your” “argument” – which I’m sure I’ve heard somewhere before – is that we don’t know everything, therefore we know nothing. That and feebly misrepresenting my comments.

                      You bring nothing to the discussion as usual.

    • Draco T Bastard 17.2

      There is no distinction between right and wrong. You can hunt through science for a lifetime and not determine good or bad.

      That would be true only if you exclude the social sciences, especially philosophy which specifically asks the question of how things should be, from your definition of science.

      Yet the Spirit of our species (and other species of Animals) brings sets of desirable behaviours and goals for their various Societies.

      The one desirable behaviour that we should have learned by now is that cooperation brings about better results than competition. In fact, it is only through cooperation that we even survived to become the dominant species on the planet.

      What a pack of religious ethical bastards they are!

      Religion does not necessarily bring about ethical behaviour. Just look to Bill English and his double dipping or the Tamaki’s and their religion of greed. In fact, religion has often been used to bring about unethical behaviour.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 17.3

      Hi Observer Toke.

      Shall I cite the various secular philosophies – Humanism, the Tao, etc etc, that confound your belief that morality and ethics are the sole preserve of the faithful?

      It’s a silly conceit that can so easily be debunked.

  18. Craig H 18

    Our LEC would be devastated by this proposal as a lot of the voluntary work and administration is done by the local Anglican churches.

    Most religious organizations in NZ would qualify as charities anyway on the basis of advancement of education and/or relief of poverty.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 18.1

      Are you saying the Labour party can’t figure out how to run the country so that we can do without private charity? Especially where the suspicion arises that such charity is a front for indoctrination.

      • Craig H 18.1.1

        Not sure what you mean – the large churches are generally public charities as anyone can go along and join (insofar as that’s even necessary).

        Labour can run the country, but whether or not they would continue to get the same level of volunteer or administrative support in the LECs is another matter. Still, it’ll never happen under Labour, so I guess it’s a moot point.

  19. Sabine 19

    Virtual demons via Pokemon go.
    http://www.rawstory.com/2016/07/end-times-pastor-warns-isis-could-use-pokemon-go-to-target-christians-with-cyber-demons/?utm_content=buffer52694&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    Lol……

    the bearded sky fairy, the father the son the holy ghost (mothers and daughters need not apply) the flying spaghetti monster, etc etc etc should only be of private matter.

    They should have no impact what so ever on the decisions of law makers. the law and society is one thing, religion – regardless of how it is practised – should be entirely private.

    but hey, thanks to religion we can subjugate a whole gender class pretty much anywhere (and yes i know that the vagina carriers are better off in the western world then in other parts), can treat children as if they were objects rather then human beings, can deny health care (cause miscarriage, abortion and all that stuff is icky), can start wars cause my god has a bigger one than yours, can even claim that poverty is nothing but an act of god cause one has not tried enough – here hungry homeless child have a set of bootstraps and so on and so on.

    Hmmmmm, maybe its time we go back to Matriachy for a time and see how that goes?

    • Colonial Viper 19.1

      Women in charge of the two most powerful western countries, coming right up

      • Ovid 19.1.1

        Well, three if you count Germany.

      • Sabine 19.1.2

        funny now that the only reason you have them in England is because all the blokes ran away. 🙂

        What does that tell us? That they can break the china but need a women to clean up?

        poor CV all these women and not one of them is like you would have them be?

        But then i don’t actually speak of this at all, but you can’t be bothered listening can you now? I speak about the unduly influence of the Church/Mosque/Temple of male gods and make no mistake there is no female god in the christian world – Mary the virgin would have been most likely a 14 year old raped and married just in time to prevent a stoning, there is no female god in the Muslim world – oh some speak about the daughters of Mohamed as scholars and important but still – and even Buddha is always just a happy fat man. but then Hey, England has two quota women now cleaning up (or continuing to enforce the programme laid by Cameron and Ian Duncan Smith) after the blokes ran away once all their toys were broken.

        I speak of secular hospitals merging with catholic ones (or other denomination) and the lack of sexual health care in particular for women
        https://rewire.news/multimedia/podcast/choiceless-dr-debra-stulberg-catholic-hospitals-abortion-contraception-care/

        I speak of little girls having to carry the babies from their stepfathers to term cause every sperm is sacred so sayeth the bearded sky fairy
        http://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/13/americas/paraguay-young-rape-victim-gives-birth/

        i am speaking of women not earning the same even when highly educated
        http://time.com/4398888/doctors-gender-wage-gap/

        I am speaking of women being killed in the name of honor
        https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=honor+killings+world+wide&rlz=1C1CHLI_en-gbNZ474NZ475&oq=honor+killings+world+wide&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.5895j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

        but that would be real life, and you are no women so it does not affect you and if it affects some women you know oh well t’was always like this and nuthing can be done about it, lookit over here we have 3!!!!!!! important women now in the world so just shut up? Right?

        so why don’t you take your three female quote stooges and have a cup of tea.

        • Colonial Viper 19.1.2.1

          The west has become increasingly secular over the last 50 years, hope you like the result enough to keep pushing for more of the same.

          • KJT 19.1.2.1.1

            Well CV.
            Researchers have shown that children bought up in a religion are less tolerant, less charitable, and less likely to have friends outside their group, than those bought up without religion.

            And most of the advances in human rights, equality and medicine are due to the Enlightenment’s rejection of religious dogma. The times when religion had power in the West, were not called the “Dark ages” for nothing.

            However much as I may agree with TRP, I think it would be much better for the Standard, if he refrained from the rather juvenile written equivalent of putting a match in a petrol tank.

            I know a great many religious people, including yourself, who are decent, kind and thoughtful. Muslims, Christians and several other isms.
            I rather like the current Popes rejection of unfettered capitalism.
            Though I think it is in their character, despite, not because of religion.

  20. Ant 20

    Unfortunate post, needlessly disrespectful towards the many folk who year in and year out live fruitful and socially responsible lives, inspired by elements within consciousness that sustain a vision of humanity living cooperatively rather than competitively.

    For some these ‘elements’ are actioned via scripture or worship, for others they come as a sensing of ‘the other’ as portrayed by Krishnamurti in his many books.

    Clearly Buddha knew about ‘the other’ and steered his disciples away from futile speculation on the existence/non-existence of God. In stead he taught ethics of the highest order in the knowledge that certain disciplines we have come to call ‘spiritual’ illicit an inner response that frees us from the tight little world of ego, weaken temporarily the grip of the rational mind, and open areas of consciousness that are at once inspiring and aligned with the highest interests of one’s fellow man.

  21. Jay 21

    Scientists recently discovered why our fingertips wrinkle when held under water – it improves our grip and facility when carrying out tasks with wet hands. And this was perfectly obvious and right at our very fingertips! It made me think, what else don’t we know we don’t know?

    This leads me to suggest that we know about .01% of .001% of everything there is to know.

    It is now common for atheists to sneer at people who believe in God, to laugh and rail at them, to deride them. They say the most offensive things about their beliefs, and shake their heads and laugh sardonically at their foolishness.

    They usually refuse to accept that we can thank Christianity for our entire belief system – it’s no coincidence that we don’t like liars, thieves, murderers or adulterers. Many prehistoric societies held no such beliefs, proving that we aren’t born with a moral code. We were given it by modern Christianity.

    Nowadays though, a vehement belief in nothing is almost a religion in itself.

    The best way to point out the arrogance of this stance is to ask the question – “how on earth could you possibly KNOW that there is no God?”

    Now that you geniuses have single-handedly solved the God question, would you like to come forward and solve any of the other mysteries that our universe holds?

    It’s as if these people think that they’re the same kind of all-knowing beings that they love to hate.

    At least have the sense and humility to sit on the fence! And if you don’t have the sense to do that, could you try be a little less rude about it?

    • Richard Christie 21.1

      They usually refuse to accept that we can thank Christianity for our entire belief system

      Behold, the Stupid.

      • Colonial Viper 21.1.1

        I think its a fair point. It’s not a surprise that it was the followers of Christian sects in the north west USA who first took a strong moral stance against slavery.

        • TeWhareWhero 21.1.1.1

          You could equally say it’s not a surprise that many slave traders and owners were Christian – and Christian churches were not averse to making money out of slavery.

          The move away from slave ownership and the rise of abolitionism among Quakers came about in part as a result of a sense of fellowship with slaves because of the persecution Quakers had experienced at the hands of their fellow Christians.

          • Macro 21.1.1.1.1

            The Quakers also had a hand in the ensuring the Treaty of Waitangi.

            In the years leading up to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi most of the 25 staff members of British Colonial Office were also members of William Wilberforce’s Clapham Sect. This wide-ranging group of influential,evangelical Christian friends include the Colonial Secretary himself, Lord Glenelg. The Gospel’s vision of equality and God’s justice inspired these parliamentarians and civil servants to passionately campaign against slavery for the rights of indigenous people. This led them to campaign for the protection and preservation of Māori society. At the time they form only one voice amongst many competing ones on the issue of colonisation. The overall effect of the debate in Britain was the realisation that the government needed to enter into a formal treaty with Māori that would protect indigenous Māori rights over land, bush, river and seas in exchange for British protection and sovereignty. Lieu-Governor William Hobson is therefore dispatched from Sydney in January 1840 to achieve that end

        • Stuart Munro 21.1.1.2

          Hutcheson may have had something to do with it.

          http://www.humanistni.org/dynamic_content.php?id=151

          http://www.rc.umd.edu/sites/default/RCOldSite/www/bibliographies/CUP/thomas/thomas1.html

          Adam Smith reiterated his anti-slavery arguments in Wealth of Nations, but may have missed the point – slavery was an investment bubble like Auckland property so arguments based on its inutility were moot. Like the Key government, there is no overall benefit, but opportunity for large unearned profit for some.

          It is Hutcheson’s anti-slavery that found it’s way into the US constitution.

    • Richardrawshark 21.2

      Your arrogant assumption that Christianity is the foundation of all this and morals is laughable. Have you ever studied or researched other religions like the Greeks , Egyptians, and Judaism, know which order they came in and the relationship between the stories in each?

      How does Stonehenge figure into your Christian belief or that the planet is only 6000 years old?

      and when science gets in the way of the continued history of man trying to explain that which he cannot, and puts it down to God, he works in mysterious ways bla bla.

      As one Stephen Fry said on the Question of Christianity, What sort of monsterous God creates a worm that burrows into childrens eyes and eats it’s way out.

      The God you are praising is a non thing. It is Bullshit, that fact there maybe a god is not. Do not confuse the two.

      If there is a god and we are even on his radar, I hope there is no afterlife, the things is see on this planet, make me scared to meet it.

      and getting back to TRP’s point, the misuse of people saying they know god, and amass wealth on it’s behalf from Mormons to Christians and every other flavour should be forced to pay taxes, because they are full of shit.

      • Jay 21.2.1

        I never said I’m Christian. Because I’m not. I don’t agree with much of their doctrine, but I do believe in a higher power. Sometimes a serious illness and/or the loss of someone close to you is enough to awaken a sense of the existence of something more than we can see and touch, and that’s certainly how it came about for me.

        Despite not being Christian I am wise enough to realise that our society rests on a Christian foundation. Regardless of what influences led to the Christian set of beliefs, it is perfectly fair to say that Christianity is the foundation of our society, law, and the moral code that most of us follow, not the Least of which is charity, humility and compassion.

        You have provided a nice example of the anger and outrage that seems to be exhibited by modern atheists. Why so angry? If there’s no God, then nothing matters anyway. Not what you or I think, or even life itself. In the absence of God, there isn’t even right and wrong, since we all eventually die and cease to exist and nothing mattered after all. Right?

        • Draco T Bastard 21.2.1.1

          Regardless of what influences led to the Christian set of beliefs, it is perfectly fair to say that Christianity is the foundation of our society, law, and the moral code that most of us follow, not the Least of which is charity, humility and compassion.

          No it’s not as it quite simply isn’t any of those things.

          Our laws can be traced to ancient Rome, Greece, Ireland and a few other places. Check out the Code of Hammurabi for starters.

          Our laws tend to be based upon moral codes and those moral codes can be found across the world in numerous societies most of which had nothing to do with Christianity. It really doesn’t take must thought to figure out that a society simply doesn’t prosper if it allows murder, theft and greed (even though many RWNJs seem to think that it does in regards to the latter).

          • Jay 21.2.1.1.1

            In fact many “primitive” cultures considered theft, rape, cannibalism, slavery, murder, infanticide and deceit to be virtuous. Native Americans and Polynesians to begin with.

            • joe90 21.2.1.1.1.1

              Native Americans and Polynesians to begin with.

              Do tell…

            • Draco T Bastard 21.2.1.1.1.2

              [citations needed]

              Put it this way. Within British law, which was imported wholesale into NZ, it was considered impossible for a man to rape his wife until very recently. NZ, thankfully, dumped that law before Britain did but we still had it on our books for over 120 years.

              Britain allowed slavery until the 1830s.

              Are these solid Christian values then?

              Compare Native American:

              281
              Native American sexual customs might provide another explanation for why Indians did not seem to be interested in rape. Anglo-American colonists frequently commented on the sexual availability of Native American women. In his narrative of southern back country travels, William Byrd repeatedly recalled occasions when Indian women “put on all their Ornaments to charm us.” In his Revolutionary-era travels, Nicholas Cresswell wrote of continually being “obliged to accept”
              Native American women’s sexual companionship. “If I do not take a Squaw to myself,” he wrote, he would “often meet with” unrelenting sexual overtures from Native American

              A sexually open culture pretty much precludes rape.

              As for deceipt:

              Employing samples from Hong Kong, Hawai’i and the Mainland U.S., the study revealed that people who strongly valued their own independence and individuality over the social relationships in which they are embedded reported having a lower overall motivation to deceive. By contrast, people who possessed cultural self-identities which emphasize placing group needs over the individual reported having a greater overall motivation to avoid telling the truth.

              An interesting twist, however, is that when people were presented with a scenario in which deception would serve to benefit them, those who valued their independence were actually more willing to use deception than in cases where deception would benefit someone else. People who valued social relationships over individuality, however, reported a greater willingness to use deception to benefit others rather than for self-serving purposes.

              It’s rather complex.

        • red-blooded 21.2.1.2

          “If there’s no God, then nothing matters anyway. Not what you or I think, or even life itself. In the absence of God, there isn’t even right and wrong, since we all eventually die and cease to exist and nothing mattered after all. Right?”

          No – absolutely wrong. Knowing that we don’t have eternal life makes us cherish the life we do have and value other people’s lives and their rights to make the most out of those lives. Knowing that we all die and cease to exist (just like generations before us and the generations to come), helps us to see that we are part of a continuity of life; that the circumstances for our lives (the knowledge, cultural beliefs, the shaping of and impact on the physical environment…) have been formed by the people who preceded us and that we can help to form the circumstances that those who follow us will enjoy (or not). Maybe we learn a little humbleness; the world wasn’t created for us as a species and it’s not shaped around each one of us asking for favours because we’ve been good (not a great motivation for true virtue, anyway), the world continues to have meaning for the living and some of that meaning comes from things passed on from the dead.

          And once we’re dead? Well, life goes on for others. When I’m dead, things will be the same for me as they were before I lived. There won’t be a me. While I understand that this could be seen as a bleak idea (what will the world do without me?), it doesn’t have to be. In some ways, it’s comforting. The matter and energy that briefly formed my body and consciousness won’t be destroyed; they’ll just be moving on to their next assignment.

          • Anne 21.2.1.2.1

            Excellent comment. Thanks red blooded.

          • Draco T Bastard 21.2.1.2.2

            +1

          • Ant 21.2.1.2.3

            “The matter and energy that briefly formed my body and consciousness won’t be destroyed; they’ll just be moving on to their next assignment.”

            A great idea and very close in reasoning to the tenets of the great body of literature known as esotericism.

            Blavatsky, Steiner, Bailey (et al) held that the universe is composed of energy in many forms, reaching its most dense expression as matter. Within the human we have energy, (driving the action required for life), as well as matter (the flesh and blood) forming the living agent. The two poles (energy and matter) are linked by a third eIement: consciousness , which evolves to become self-aware over millennia.

            It is this element (consciousness) that persists as an entity beyond physical death; but it bears little or no recollection of the material sheath worn, any more than we have any recollection of a T shirt we may have worn on a given day three years ago.

            In time, after many gatherings together of energy and matter as a fleshly beings, the consciousness element becomes self aware, according to its own evolved identity, – not that of any particular physical body + personality.

            Such folk amongst us today who have this awareness have no need of religion, dogma, faith or creed. They know instinctively that humankind is a brother/sisterhood .

            “What ye do to the least of one of these ye do unto me.”

            Perhaps one day the truth of this (if it is true) will replace the need for what we in the past have called “religion.”

          • One Anonymous Bloke 21.2.1.2.4

            Well said R-B.

          • marty mars 21.2.1.2.5

            +1 yep nice comment

        • Psycho Milt 21.2.1.3

          Sometimes a serious illness and/or the loss of someone close to you is enough to awaken a sense of…

          …wishful thinking.

          Despite not being Christian I am wise enough to realise that our society rests on a Christian foundation.

          Our society rests on a great many foundations, many of which have become superfluous over time and been discarded as such. Nobody would find our tribal or feudal foundations useful for basing anything on now, and the same should apply to Christianity.

          You have provided a nice example of the anger and outrage that seems to be exhibited by modern atheists. Why so angry?

          A disdain for irrationalism isn’t “anger.” Funnily enough, the people exhibiting the most outrage and anger at the moment are the ones cutting people’s heads off for being unbelievers or apostates – people with a very strong sense of “something more than we can see and touch.”

    • ropata 21.3

      I agree that modern science arose from the intellectual tradition of “naturphilosophie” nurtured by the clergy through the Middle Ages, whose scribes preserved much of the ancient knowledge from the great empires of the past.

      But faith is just one of the cornerstones of “western civilization” (according to Kurth)

      1) the classical culture of Greece and Rome;
      2) the Christian religion, particularly Western Christianity; and
      3) the Enlightenment of the modern era

      Also some historical accidents gave Europe cultural sway over the world; i.e.
      wheat, horses, the printing press, gunpowder, fiat money, the black death (yes really) and rise of the middle class.

      • Bill 21.3.1

        The thing about Rome – the remnants being the Holy Roman Empire or the Catholic Church – is that Rome was culturally and in almost all ways backwards and, well…fucked.

        Rome left a swathe of destruction over much of Europe, the near east and N.Africa and destroyed a goodly number of vibrant, fairly humane cultures in the process.

        And yet, here we are today, lauding some mythical idea of Rome and referencing it as the highest ideal or pinnacle of human expression within the so called ancient world. Odd. Very odd.

        • Stuart Munro 21.3.1.1

          Rome was adaptive – not exemplary in its morality. It had Commodus’s virtues:

          “Ambition. That can be a virtue when it drives us to excel. Resourcefulness…”

          and his vices.

        • Observer Toke 21.3.1.2

          > Hi Bill

          . The Romans were meek and mild compared with the British who terrorised and raped the resources of 91 Nations.

          They are by far the most destructive race in History. Their enslavement of men women and children (Queen Elizabeth 1 invested a lot of money in the British slaver raids) have caused unbelievable turmoil throughout the world.

          They have never apologised for what they did.

          Pity you don’t know much History.

    • The best way to point out the arrogance of this stance is to ask the question – “how on earth could you possibly KNOW that there is no God?”

      It’s actually a very crap way of doing that – first, because it puts the burden of proof in the wrong place; second, because it demands someone prove a negative; third, because it’s acceptable shorthand to say something doesn’t exist if that existence is highly unlikely (eg, you can’t prove there are no fairies at the bottom of my garden, either, but you wouldn’t feel uneasy about asserting their non-existence).

      They usually refuse to accept that we can thank Christianity for our entire belief system – it’s no coincidence that we don’t like liars, thieves, murderers or adulterers.

      If I understand this correctly, you’re asserting that pre-Christian people had no objection to lies, murder and adultery. Seriously?

      • Colonial Viper 21.4.1

        The Ten Commandments have been around longer than Jesus Christ.

        • Psycho Milt 21.4.1.1

          That doesn’t make the assertion less ridiculous.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 21.4.1.2

          Is a failure to answer the question meant to look like waving a white flag?

          • Colonial Viper 21.4.1.2.1

            [Pointless abuse deleted. Wittier barbs, please. TRP]

            • Psycho Milt 21.4.1.2.1.1

              Your answer was quite understandable – it extends the timeframe of “Christianity” back a few thousand years on the basis that Christianity nicked various things from Judaism, including the ten commandments. Fine, but it doesn’t make the claim that Christianity is the reason people in our society don’t like lies, murder or adultery any less risible.

              • Colonial Viper

                You said “our society.” Where were the mores and norms for “our society” here in NZ in 2016 received from, if not substantially from Judeo Christian roots.

                Other people from other cultures around the world may have received their mores and norms from a non Judeo Christian heritage, but that’s not the case for an anglosaxon dominant society like NZ.

                • 1. Shifting the goalposts. The original claim was not that mores and norms of our society derive substantially from Judeo-Christian roots, it was “we can thank Christianity for our entire belief system – it’s no coincidence that we don’t like liars, thieves, murderers or adulterers.”

                  2. The evidence suggests that those Judeo-Christian injunctions against lies, murder and adultery derive from human mores and norms, not vice versa (that evidence being, first, that pretty much all cultures identify those as immoral, and second, that the ten commandments also include things we now pretty much ignore – no gods except Yahweh, not taking Yahweh’s name in vain, not making graven images, keeping the Sabbath holy).

                  3. Modern NZ is full of norms and mores that our Christian forebears would be horrified by if they were alive today: atheism, rejection of our racial superiority, acceptance of all kinds of sexual perversion, no-fault divorce, criminalisation of rape within marriage, it’s a hell of a long list and it didn’t arise from Judeo-Christian heritage.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    I’m not arguing that some of those moral norms aren’t also found in other, non judeo christian societies, and for them they sourced their mores from other sources. I’m saying that in NZ, they were sourced from a strongly judeo christian heritage.

                    Neither am I saying that there isn’t ultimately some other universal, non religious basis, for moral norms.

                    As for accepted behaviour in modern NZ. What the institutional church ended up teaching was not necessarily reflective of the actual example left to us by Christ.

                  • Macro

                    It is understood that many of the 10 commandments actually originated in the Jewish period of exile in Babylon.

      • Stuart Munro 21.4.2

        Perhaps because God is a complex idea with multiple roles.

        God is a metaphor for the universe – hence all the ‘omni’ superlatives about power and knowledge. Also another name for truth, or for goodness. And a name for the conscience – the ‘better angel’ of human nature.

        Quite right though that preChristian cultures had moralities as fully developed as Christian ones. Egyptian Ma’at is one with the virtue of having left a written record.

    • mikes 21.5

      We don’t know what gravity is.

      Also, scientists have said it is entirely possible that we exist in a computer simulation, would that make whoever programmed us God?

  22. Richard Christie 22

    Banning religion outright is very counterproductive and anti-personal liberty. It is also stupid, if only for the reason there is nothing like the sense of persecution to flame fanaticism and/or self righteousness. It is hard to take such a call seriously.

    Certainly it is time to dismantle the special historically based privilege that religion wields.

    Remove religion based tax breaks; revoke charity status that based purely on the grounds of being an organisation that is a religion or promotes religion; remove or secularise religion-based national holidays; remove prayers from state protocols; remove reference to any god from the national anthem.

    • Colonial Viper 22.1

      Yes now let’s dismantle the outdated and privileged status of unions, charities, not for profit social organisations etc.

      Ban religious symbols, clothing, and Muslim head dress.

      But we shall maintain all the privileges, signs, symbols and celebrations of consumerism, materialism, capitalism and high finance.

      Oh I see where this is going. You lefties have really lost your way.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 22.1.1

        Does pretending that RC’s opinion is that of all Lefties seem like a clever debating device to you?

        • Colonial Viper 22.1.1.1

          You disagree with his views too? Do explain.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 22.1.1.1.1

            Sure: for someone who knows all about unconditional heavenly bliss you do use a lot of dishonest rhetorical tricks.

      • DoublePlusGood 22.1.2

        There’s a massive difference between a religion being tax free and a charity being tax free.

  23. b waghorn 23

    At a weak time in my life I got a good old dose of shiny eyed Born Againism, it took ten years to clean my brain of the guilt and fear based scarring that one year of that shit induced.
    If there was any form of almighty god it would smote child killers ,sicko priests and killer muslims on the spot ,telling victims that the shitheads that do evil to them will be punished in the after life is the belief for the foolish.

    • tangled_up 23.1

      What gets me is that (pretty much) all religions believe in a God that DOES intervene in their lives. Yet, God DOEN’T intervene in the lives of someone who dies every 3.6 seconds of starvation. Or the millions of cases of child abuse, torture, rape murder etc etc etc. Mysterious ways alright.

      • ropata 23.1.1

        We live in a fallen world, the human race was supposed to look after the place not trash it. But this vale of tears is a temporary state of affairs

      • b waghorn 23.1.2

        I suppose saying it’s gods will when something shitty happens is a coping system,

    • ropata 23.2

      Guilt and fear is not from God, it’s from the other dude that masquerades as an angel of light

  24. In Vino 24

    Well, that’s enough discussion. I move that the motions be put to the vote.

    • In Vino 24.1

      Still no seconder? Why is it that so many people want to wallow in their intangible spirituality? I think spirituality should also be banned – it causes too much waffle.

  25. Ad 25

    The camouflage around this post is the attacks from ISIS converts in Europe.

    So instead of having the courage to analyse its underlying religious impulses, chose the easier, more morally muddy route and wonders aloud: why the whole world now look brown?

    TRP, be bolder. Throw your obvious fear away. Analyse the dangers in the world with more precision.

    Be really bold, and join me at Mass.

    • ropata 25.1

      +1 Ultimately, Jesus Christ is only solution to the human condition. Not politics, education or human philosophy. We need moral and spiritual reformation from the inside out. Everything else will spring from that (love)

  26. Cricklewood 26

    Calling to ban religion makes the poster no better than the folks that want to push their religion on others.

    If believing in some kind of devine force makes you happy fine by me.

    My only ask is that I don’t want you to push your beliefs on me or other people or insist on special treatment. To that end I’d be more than happy to remove bible studies from state schools and tax breaks around religion.

  27. Herodotus 27

    Just paid the car parking fee at Middlemore hospital, ovef the weekend the price has risen 11%, this at time when we are being continually reminded of low inflation.

    • Herodotus 27.1

      Sorry posted under the wrong post , and I see that we are now unable to modify or delete a posting

  28. Rosie 29

    No to banning religion. Why? As pointed out already there are many folks of a religious persuasion that contribute much in society. Here’s a line for you. “One of my best friends is a Catholic”. He has done more than his far share for the union movement and human rights promotion than any of the self centred agnostic/atheists, that I know, myself included. He’s one of the steadiest people I know, and compassionate in a completely unconditional way. Would you deny a great person like him, or even a plain old non contributing person their right to practice their faith just because you think it’s pants? Kind of a thing they do in dictatorships no?

    Totes agree on getting rid of archaic tax laws that favour the religious business. Start taxing Sanitarium – they’re one of the country’s biggest food producers, and see some serious tax dollar roll in.

    I do have a question for you TRP – it is a personal one, you may choose not to answer. Or you can choose to move it to Open Mike.
    One of our comrades here at TS, Rogue Trooper, was religious. He was also one of our most gentle and clever commenters. Would you have said to him, ban your faith in God?

    Roguey passed away some time ago. You knew what caused his death but didn’t want to disclose it. Are you ready to disclose it now? I have lost two real life friends whose cause of death hasn’t been explained to me despite my enquiries. I really don’t like that, as there is a question mark that hangs over their last days. Roguey and I chatted a bit but obviously in a forum such as this we are only on line persona’s with no personal connection. I would still however, like to know his cause of death. I think that would be respectful to the memory of his on line life here.

    • Colonial Viper 29.1

      May he rest in peace, Rogue Trooper.

    • ropata 29.2

      On the topic of suffering, Lennox notes that many people reject the existence of God on the basis of suffering. Adamant atheists such as Dawkins claim in response that the universe has no good and evil. To this, Lennox notes that this particular “atheistic solution doesn’t remove the suffering. And indeed, it could make it worse, because it removes all hope.”

      RIP Rogue Trooper

      • Rosie 29.2.1

        Wise article thanks ropata. Faith based hope, whether I/we, agnostics/atheists believe it’s naive or not has shown to be beneficial for those coping with adversity. No data to hand sorry.

        • ropata 29.2.1.1

          faith certainly has helped repair a lot of broken lives, there is indeed “good news”

          “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

      • One Anonymous Bloke 29.2.2

        In what sense does it remove all hope? I certainly don’t feel that being part of such an astonishing thing as the physical universe – with all its unknown quantities – is a hopeless situation.

        I note that this argument is usually advanced by believers. I wonder if they’re projecting much.

        • Colonial Viper 29.2.2.1

          Removes the hope of experiencing and joining with an unconditional heavenly bliss both in this lifetime and the next.

          • marty mars 29.2.2.1.1

            for some people it Removes the hope of experiencing and joining with an unconditional heavenly bliss both in this lifetime and the next and for others not so much.

            Personally I find a lot of belief systems seem like an expression of a fear of death.

            “unconditional heavenly bliss ” lol – is this where you are at cv

          • One Anonymous Bloke 29.2.2.1.2

            That’s an interesting mish-mash of mumbo-pocus you have there. Reincarnation and heaven in the same theology even.

            I note that your argument is based upon projection, as usual. These things do have to be experienced to be grasped, after all.

        • ropata 29.2.2.2

          The existential despair that arises from living a finite life with zero significance in a vast cold universe.

          Being told you are no more than a freak accident of nature caused by amino acid goo zapped by lightning in some primordial soup.

          Being told that there is no ultimate cosmic meaning or narrative to your life.

          That the untold sufferings of the human race mean absolutely nothing.

          Pretty bleak

          (the popular claim that the universe came from nothing is patent absurdity and i am surprised when i hear otherwise intelligent people repeat it without thinking)

          • One Anonymous Bloke 29.2.2.2.1

            What existential despair? What lack of meaning? Sounds more like a self-serving failure of imagination to me.

          • robertina 29.2.2.2.2

            ”That the untold sufferings of the human race mean absolutely nothing.”

            Thing is, it’s usually when humans are deluded and/or oppressed by a grand narrative – cosmic or earthly – that people suffer and bad stuff happens. And often what they suffered for is indeed meaningless and that should be acknowledged, while of course feeling compassion too.
            I don’t think anyone is seriously suggesting banning religion, but containing it would be nice.

            On an individual level, I find it a comfort that life is in large part random – we don’t choose our family etc – how you react to that and develop your potential gives life its meaning.

            • ropata 29.2.2.2.2.1

              Ahh yes the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity, the “power of one”, etc. Quite popular in Hollywood these days. But a lot of people do *not* find comfort in randomness and end up dulling the pain with alcohol or other distractions. Not everyone is able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

              • robertina

                What?? Now you’re questioning the reasonableness of dealing with one’s belief system on a personal individual level?
                You don’t see the irony in that?

                The point is I am talking only about myself, how I find meaning and comfort. Others may find that through religion. There’s no problem unless they impose it on others.
                That you try to belittle my perspective with nonsense about Hollywood and bootstraps says a bit about you, and nothing about me.

                • ropata

                  I am happy for you, just pointing out your belief system doesn’t work for others

                  • Robertina

                    Coming over all patronising doesn’t make you appear less ridiculous for proclaiming to know what’s best for everyone else.
                    And remember, that was your delusional claim – that those not signed up to the idea of a grand cosmic narrative have a ”pretty bleak” outlook.
                    I don’t have it all sussed – it’s a struggle sometimes.
                    But – and this is a key point – I’d take that any day over the religious triumphalism that you exhibit.

                    • ropata

                      How ironic that in a thread about how great it would be to purge religion from society, anyone who responds in kind is arrogant or triumphalist!!

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                The mental health of a society corresponds to the GINI coefficient. I am not aware that it corresponds to the amount of evangelist charity available.

                I note the recent criticism of Jehovah’s Witnesses targeting grief. Clearly the situation is more complex than you say.

                As for the “power of one”, is that like when Vishnu, or one of that crowd, makes the heavens and the earth?

                • ropata

                  “Power of One” was a reference to that inspiring work of existentialism by Bryce Courtenay. What a lonely universe some people live in

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    I note that many believers argue for their faith by attempting to belittle the life experiences of others. It’s almost as though they can’t conceive of a substantive argument or something.

                    • ropata

                      you criticise my ideas, I criticise yours.

                      no hard feelings, just forthright opinions

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      In fact, you set up a feeble strawman – that a “lonely universe” awaits non-believers. In order to criticise my ideas you have to at least be able to articulate them.

                    • ropata

                      you asked at 29.2.2 “in what sense does it remove hope”… my opinion of atheism is taken from my own experience of living with a massive amount of despair.

                      The argument for faith is one of hope and a future

                    • red-blooded []

                      So, ropata, you feel despair when confronted with a universe that you see as uncaring, and feel the need for “hope for the future” (afterlife?). I feel inspired by the vastness, beauty and completely of the universe and seek to create hope for a better future here, in the sphere we know for a fact exists and can actually help to improve.

                      If religion has helped you out of depression, great. There are other ways to find meaning and hope, though.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    In my experience, atheism provides hope and a future. Stop projecting.

                    • ropata

                      hope for oblivion? seems rather empty to me.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Then clearly my comment at 1.8.1.3 sailed right over your head. In the sky, perhaps.

                      I’m sure you can come up with a lot more projected negative characterisations, and in what sense does that differ from “sneering”?

          • Psycho Milt 29.2.2.2.3

            The existential despair that arises from living a finite life with zero significance in a vast cold universe.

            Physical reality shouldn’t be a source of existential despair. It’s the height of arrogance to demand that your life must have cosmic significance, and utterly delusional to believe that your demand for cosmic significance trumps physical reality.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 29.2.2.2.3.1

              All those lessons about humility fell on deaf ears, it seems 😈

            • ropata 29.2.2.2.3.2

              It’s immensely comforting to know that the fundamental principle of the universe is love, that there is more beyond this life, that God actually cares about us.

              It is a source of wonder that in the immensity of the universe we are known by God.

              • McFlock

                Well, that got a snort at my workstation.

                If there is a G, then it certainly doesn’t care about us enough to ameliorate the suffering of billions.

                The immensity of the universe is a source of wonder, imo. And the finality of this existence makes each death and vicious act more tragic. That’s where morality comes from: not a god, but the fact that murder, for example, is just a massively dick move.

                Eat, drink, and be merry, is my philosophy. If god exists but is a dickhead who watches us suffer just for fun, who would want to spend eternity with them, any?

                • ropata

                  Of course God cares about us. That is the good news of the Gospel: we can know God. Jesus came to announce the Kingdom that is here but not yet fully realised. There is much work to be done in this fallen, dark world.

                  Eat, drink and be merry indeed: you will be following the advice of Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes. But it is all meaningless without God.

                  • McFlock

                    Great, god cares. And how does this manifest itself? Famine, slavery, disease, rampant greed and capitalism unchecked… well, if god “cares”, atheism is functionally identical anyway.

                    Song of Solomon is pretty good, but without god there is still meaning. John Donne also wrote a decent line or three. The meaning is the connection between the individuals concerned. Making it in service of god actually cheapens that meaning, imo.

                    Morally, I try to not be a dick because that would be a dick move, not because god told me it was a dick move. I don’t do what I think is right because I fear god, I do (or fail to do) what is right because of my struggle to not be a dick.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    What hubris! To describe people’s lives as meaningless. Arrogant and insulting, and all because someone poked a bit of fun at your belief in fairies.

                    Too late to turn the other cheek now, shaman.

                    • ropata

                      Wasn’t me. Blame the author of Ecclesiastes, who said *everything* is meaningless about 100x in his book.

                      Ecclesiastes is a funny old book, deeply influential to Western thought, admired by Abe Lincoln and Thomas Wolfe, but its deep pessimism and skepticism doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the Old Testament. It’s almost atheistic in tone. Highly recommended to anyone with a poetic soul, believer or not.

                    • ropata

                      (prompted by OAB’s comment “eat drink and be merry“, I assumed you knew what you were quoting)

                    • McFlock

                      that was my line.
                      Lots of good lines are hodge-podged from the bible. I’ve also been known to quote Shakespeare with passable accuracy. And thrown “license my roving hands” about once or twice, as well…

    • te reo putake 29.3

      The result of a deppressive illness, Rosie. And I reckon he’d have forgiven my transgression. He seemed to me to be a lovely guy.

      • Rosie 29.3.1

        Yes, he would have, you’re right.

        Did he suicide? You can say it. It’s important. It does matter a lot.

        • te reo putake 29.3.1.1

          I’m not from John’s family, so it’s really not my place to say, Rosie. But you can read between the lines.

          I only met him once. I bought him a coffee and he gifted me some of his home grown veges. It would be arrogant of me to think there was anything I could have done or said that would have changed his situation, but if there was, I would have done it in a heartbeat. As I think all of us would.

          • Rosie 29.3.1.1.1

            Ok, thats fine TRP.

            I’m sorry I pushed you. I have reasons. I’m tired of the S word being treated as a taboo subject when we have such a high suicide rate in NZ. I understand your viewpoint though, and I see you are being respectful to his family’s privacy.

            We spoke of his depression. He had a really good handle on it, knew it, understood it – he did have a degree in human development so understood it from a theoretical view as well. At the time we spoke, on line here at TS he was at a point where he thought he had control over it.

            When you had mentioned he had passed I had a suspicion he had suicided, but hoped it he hadn’t. You’re right, if we could have done anything to prevent it we would have.

            Thanks TRP and RIP gentle John.

            • KJT 29.3.1.1.1.1

              If he died of that horrible illness. No reflection on him.

              In fact often rather the opposite, in managing to cope with it for so long.

              It often seems to be the best people who are prone to things like depression.

              The uncaring, arrogant, very fortunate and self interested sail through life’s and others difficulties without a care.

              I hope that his beliefs were some comfort to him.
              Even though i don’t share them.

    • rhinocrates 29.4

      Damnit, I missed him when he left here, and now this…

      I would have liked to have seen his contribution.

      My condolences to those who knew him, and a salute to his memory.

    • Ross 29.5

      there are many folks of a religious persuasion that contribute much in society

      Presumably they contribute much in spite of religion, not because of it. In other words, they wouldn’t stop breathing if religion were banned.

      • Rosie 29.5.1

        In the case of the person I was referring to, he would fight for a person’s right to express their faith. Just as he has fought for his friends thrown in jail overseas for expressing their right to a democratic system.

        Us agnostics and atheists can be very smug when it comes to what we expect of religious members of society. It’s not for us to suppress a person’s faith.

        • Ross 29.5.1.1

          You missed my point: presumably the person you speak of would carry on doing what he’s doing irrespective of his religious beliefs.

          • Macro 29.5.1.1.1

            I sincerely doubt that.
            You obviously have no understanding of what you are saying.
            You might want to read “Letters and Papers from Prison” By Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
            This is the type of commitment and love for fellow humans that Rosie is referring to.

            ps Dietrich Bonhoeffer was given the chance to escape from prison but declined to take the chance fearing the results of reprisals against the families of his helpers. He was subsequently executed on 9 April 1945.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 29.5.1.1.1.1

              I sincerely doubt that.

              On what basis? Examples* of atheistic altruism are easy to find in rebuttal.

              *NB: I make no statement regarding this study’s conclusions.

          • Rosie 29.5.1.1.2

            No I didn’t miss your point. This person’s compassion for humanity springs largely from his religious beliefs.

            There is a difference. Those of us who are agnostics/atheist have a compassion that springs largely from intellectualising a situation. Somewhere in between religion and atheism compassion can come from the heart, or even from teaching.

            The other day I saw a child, age approximately 10, go up to a begging homeless man and hand him a $2 coin. His friends were with him. It was such a touching scene. Clearly the child had been taught compassion. We don’t know if he was a from religious household or a liberal progressive household – so I do understand your point, or your gist about religion not being an influence in compassion, it is universal but for some giving is a requirement of their faith.

            That child taught me something too. I followed his lead. His actions encouraged me to go and sit with the man and listen to his story. I was with him for about 20 minutes, and gave him what I could too.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 29.5.1.1.2.1

              agnostics/atheist have a compassion that springs largely from intellectualising a situation.

              …and yet neuroscience shows us that our “intellectual” thoughts are the consequence of emotional activity in the brain, after which the rationalising (for want of a better word) starts.

              Visceral and other emotionally charged reactions are powerful motivators regardless of faith.

              • Rosie

                I wouldn’t disbelieve that OAB, re the neuro science findings.

                And this

                “Visceral and other emotionally charged reactions are powerful motivators regardless of faith.” Of course, as I have already pointed out in my example of interaction with the homeless man above.

                But I don’t really care what it is that motivates us to be compassionate caring helpful people in the end. Just as long as the work gets done.

  29. Rosie 30

    TRP, you’re a bit a musical guy right? Where would we be out without the Christian aspect of the Blues:

    And Gospel Choirs, they’re cool too.

    • This is my favourite gospel song, Rosie. The Clark Sisters with You Bought the Sunshine.

      Though I’ve been known to knock out a version of this song on the guitar from time to time when I’m in a devilish mood. The Nirvana cover on the Unplugged album is pretty good too:

      • Rosie 30.1.1

        Well thanks for introducing me to the Clark Sisters! Weren’t they full of the good times! I’m sure such music is capable of raising serotonin levels. 😀

  30. Jenny 31

    “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions…..” Karl Marx

    The statement “There are no atheists in foxholes” is an aphorism used to argue that in times of extreme stress or fear, such as during war (“in foxholes”), all people will believe in, or hope for, a higher power (and there are therefore no atheists).
    Wikipedia

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_are_no_atheists_in_foxholes

    • One Anonymous Bloke 31.1

      Religion is not merely the opium of the masses, it is the cyanide.

      Tom Robbins.

    • In Vino 31.2

      Jenny – Do you know that a number of atheist soldiers have rubbished that spurious claim about foxholes? Somebody’s wishful thinking?

  31. CynicalJester 32

    Tax the churches and appraise the lord! I disagree with humankind having a future part though! Infancy? Deathbed more like! the half arsed attempts to tackle climate change that are being implemented are going to do more than delay the inevitable by a few decades… And while the center right corporatists like your buddy Hillary in power the world over half arsed attempts is all we’ll ever get!

  32. Xanthe 33

    The quakers believe that god is in each of us as our conscience, if you can still the clamour of desire, ego and self interest in the silence that follows you will hear the voice of god speaking to you from whithin that place.

    God is inside every person but some have lost the ability to hear. With love and compassion it can be re awakened in them

    • Colonial Viper 33.1

      That sounds about right. Some are so afraid of that spiritual silence that they have to replace it with thinking noise and clever analytical static.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 33.1.1

        Some are so dishonest with themselves that they believe projecting thoughts and feelings onto others provides insight into anything but themselves.

        • In Vino 33.1.1.1

          I said it should have been put to the vote ages ago. This will end in tears…

        • Colonial Viper 33.1.1.2

          Hi OAB that overthinking going well for you? Keep it up then it really suits you.

        • ropata 33.1.1.3

          believe it or not religious people wrestle with their faith a lot more than atheists

          faith is not blind. it is a leap but not completely into the unknown. we are spiritual beings and it is natural to seek meaning & connection with a higher power

          atheism is an historical anomaly, in many cultures it is an insult meaning a person with no morals

          • One Anonymous Bloke 33.1.1.3.1

            …atheism is an historical anomaly…

            What does that even mean? Some sort of pretence that Taoist (for example) criticisms of faith never happened and influenced nobody?

            While we’re on the subject of the Tao, do you believe that its atheism means it has nothing to say about spirit? Ignorance is a condition we all share, after all.

            • ropata 33.1.1.3.1.1

              Judging by your quote at comment # 5 above clearly Taoism does have some valuable insights into the human condition.

              Does atheism have something non sneering to say about spiritual matters? First I’ve heard

      • red-blooded 33.1.2

        Goodness! We wouldn’t want to encourage cleverness, would we? Thinking might led to challenging faith, and then where would we be? Let’s just stop thinking and keep the faith.

        • Colonial Viper 33.1.2.1

          Lots of thinking and analyses serving us so well nowadays is it? Good oh, keep it up, we’ll just keep trucking along the same old tracks then.

          • Draco T Bastard 33.1.2.1.1

            Lots of thinking and analyses serving us so well nowadays is it?

            Well, it would but the people of faith keep getting in the way:

            Sure enough, we see the same trend as with political affiliation: The more religious a person is, the more likely they are to deny climate change. Whereas 80% of atheists accept climate change, only 56% of all very religious Americans agree.

            • Colonial Viper 33.1.2.1.1.1

              So very religious Americans agree with atheists at a 2/3 rate. Thats pretty good. I bet the ratio is even higher for “moderately religious” Americans.

              So what’s the problem? The gap is not huge.

              • Draco T Bastard

                1. You need to relearn maths
                2. The religious have a more influence due to there being a higher percentage of them in the population

                • Colonial Viper

                  80% versus 56% means the “very religious” rate is seven tenths that of the atheist rate.

                  Maybe you should relearn YOUR maths.

                  As for the religious outnumbering the atheists in numbers and influence. That’s life in a democracy. If you want more support, get more popular.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    80% versus 56% means the “very religious” rate is seven tenths that of the atheist rate.

                    Yes, quite a massive difference. Quite a bit more than just statistically significant I’d say.

                    That’s life in a democracy. If you want more support, get more popular.

                    Even decisions in a democracy shouldn’t be made on popularity but on facts. They most certainly should not be made on faith.

          • b waghorn 33.1.2.1.2

            poke mon go proves many aren’t thinking at all!!

            • Stuart Munro 33.1.2.1.2.1

              Pokemon Go shows many people want more than bare reality – they want to see past the shadows on the wall of Plato’s cave and encounter the numinous. Defeating it and collecting it takes some explaining though.

          • robertina 33.1.2.1.3

            CV you imply that thinking, rationalising, and analysis is the province of the secular alone, but that’s not the case.
            For example, Canon law in the catholic church facilitates civil law breaking through the codified sacrament of clean slate, or ‘grace’, whereby the confession box process absolves them. Already emotionally dead/damaged, the priest is then able to square the abuse on a rational/faux intellectual level and continue to offend.

            • Macro 33.1.2.1.3.1

              Your interpretation of the doctrine of grace is somewhat oversimplified. the “priest is then able to square the abuse on a rational/faux intellectual level and continue to offend.” In which case the priest would have fallen out of the state of grace.

              • McFlock

                +1

              • Draco T Bastard

                Talking about a misinterpretation of ‘grace’ how’s this for a headline:

                From young billionaire to bust: Elizabeth Holmes’ fall from grace

                The implication being that she fell from grace because she went from being rich to being poor. Personally, I doubt that she was ever in a state of grace.

              • Robertina

                Are you suggesting that priests never used the clean slate afforded them by the grace doctrine in order to silence their conscience?
                This isn’t an argument about theology, but about practice, abuse, and rationalisation.
                The wider point is that it’s a false dichotomy to imply (like CV does) that religion and secular systems are so very different in certain respects.
                They both codify rules, laws and hierarchies; no system ought to be above reproach, challenge, scrutiny.

                • McFlock

                  I don’t know what those jerks used to clean their conscience, even if they had one.

                  But I do know that the so-called “clean slate” only counts if you’re 100% honest in confession, both about your sins and about your intent to not commit them again, and your remorse has to be genuine. Not “convince the priest” genuine, actually genuine. That’s what I was taught as a kid, anyway.

                  • That still seems a rather irresponsible thing to teach.

                    Admitting to things privately (or even just in your own head!) and moving on is fine for petty crimes or honest mistakes that didn’t hurt anyone else. But the belief that the consequences of hurting someone else go away just because you privately owned up to it and promised yourself you’d never do it again is something I find problematic. Because you can still be completely wrong about that promise, and forgiveness doesn’t require you to do anything to actually prevent yourself from doing the same thing all over again by growing and changing yourself for the better.

                    • McFlock

                      But that’s the point, it does require you to grow and prevent yourself from offending again, otherwise your penitence wasn’t genuine and the forgiveness doesn’t stick, for want of a better word.

                      My feeling on the failings of the catholic church (as well as similar issues in other churches and organisations) is that the hierarchy confused: their spiritual role and their roles as managers; with their wider duty as citizens. As in they took reports from the public (parents) and tried to deal with them internally when they should have referred the matters to external, secular authorities.

                    • Robertina

                      Well said.
                      According to people who’ve counselled paedophile priests that is what many did – confessed and moved on as afforded by Canon Law.
                      The doctrinal vagaries over whether they were sufficiently contrite to pass the clean slate test or whatever are immaterial as far as I’m concerned.
                      What matters is that priests did not receive the treatment they needed, they were able to continue offending, the system was not reformed, civil law was circumvented, and victims did not receive justice.

                    • Macro

                      Of course this interpretation of the doctrine of grace was one of the major separators in the past between the Protestant and Catholic traditions – Luther’s “Disputation on the Power of Indulgences” – majorly critical of the church’s sale of indulgences – being the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. More recent theologians have shown that the older “medieval” interpretations of grace were deeply flawed.
                      Theology like all of human knowledge and experience is constantly developing and acquiring deeper understandings. Much of the argument being batted around here shows a very limited appreciation of modern theological theory – The argument that god is dead for instance is very old hat and causes few eyebrows to be raised in theological circles.

                    • Robertina

                      What’s your point, Macro?

                    • Macro

                      I’m saying that the priests who think that they are in a right relationship with god simply because they have confessed are very much mistaken. The church, should it consider that to be all that is required, is also much in error, and has been since medieval times. Luther pointed that out in his dissertation in 1517, and many others have shown that the church was in error many times since.
                      Redemption lies not only in an expression of failure, but also in positive action to address the wrongs committed.

                    • Robertina

                      It has been a prominent issue in catholic parish abuse scandals overseas, the fact of confession enabling abuse to stay secret and continue. The theological argument might be interesting for some people but it is a moot point.
                      This interview with The Dark Box author John Cornwell may be of interest:
                      http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/5375766

                      ‘It has become evident that many of the priests who were offending were squaring their moral and pastoral lives and their offending lives by going to confession,’ says Cornwell. ‘Several years ago an ex-priest admitted in court under oath that he had confessed to sexual abuse 1400 times to 32 different priests.’

                    • Macro

                      They may think that – but any one with a cursory understanding of the teachings of Jesus would reply Matt 7:21-23

                      I Never Knew You
                      21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonderful works in Your name?’ 23 But then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice evil

                    • @McFlock: Yeah, most of my disagreements on religious philosophy are with the more evangelical or conservative religious schools of thought, as opposed to liberal religious traditions which tend to have less problematic beliefs and do better in promoting mental health, at least in areas that don’t hurt their religiosity.

    • b waghorn 33.2

      Its funny how in that silence the listener normally hears what they wanted to hear.

      • Colonial Viper 33.2.1

        The Kingdom of God is to be found within yourself; not within a book or within the words of a self appointed preacher.

        • marty mars 33.2.1.1

          bit of a cliche that

          please don’t suppose you speak for most or even many with the views of what you believe – for instance I don’t believe that god is in all of us any more than a book or the words of a self appointed preacher and I don’t believe in a kingdom or even a single god

          you believe what you want and speak for yourself not others

          • Colonial Viper 33.2.1.1.1

            hey MM, in the same vein, you don’t get to tell me what to do.

            • marty mars 33.2.1.1.1.1

              you are the spouting forth like some thinkyouknowitall – speak for yourself LIKE I did dick

              • Colonial Viper

                You’re off your rocker. What the hell made you think I was speaking for you or for your family? Or that I would be interested in even doing so.

                • “The Kingdom of God is to be found within yourself; not within a book or within the words of a self appointed preacher.”

                  thus spake the speaker

                  all I said is that, the above definitive statement, is YOUR belief and I said how it wasn’t my belief.

                  mate – too many threads, too many comments, too much kneejerk reaction – you need to get a life and take a break from the net – for your health – call it friendly advice 🙂

  33. Timbeau 34

    It’s an in David Bentley Hart. What do they teach them in schools nowadays?

  34. aj 35

    The latest Upfront episode has some tangential relevance to this thread.

    “In a special on religion, we speak to Karen Armstrong and debate New Atheism with Lawrence Krauss and Greg Epstein”

    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/upfront/2016/07/religion-blame-violence-160715094649293.html

  35. roy cartland 36

    Change “God” to mean ‘good’. As in the metaphor for all that is just. That’s what it really means anyway.

  36. “…. we can thank Christianity for our entire belief system – it’s no coincidence that we don’t like liars, thieves, murderers or adulterers. Many prehistoric societies held no such beliefs, proving that we aren’t born with a moral code. We were given it by modern Christianity.” (21)

    Jay – if we can ‘thank Christianity for our entire belief system’ does that mean we can thank it for inventing the concept and hierarchy of race to legitimise slavery?

    Does it mean we can thank it for entrenching and codifying – in religious lore and secular law- a phallocracy that systematically oppressed women?

    How about thanking it for its part in creating and perpetuating cruelly exploitative, inherently unfair, wasteful and destructive socio-economic systems?

    How do you know that ‘pre-historic’ peoples – ie peoples who left no written or oral record – had no moral codes? The survival of early humans very probably depended upon powerful group mores and codes of behaviour and what you subsequently describe as ‘primitive’ cultures certainly did. They may not have been the same as the moral code you idealise but you don’t have to look far back in Christian history to find some pretty disgusting and brutal behaviours that were once regarded as perfectly moral.

    Let’s not forget that Christianity didn’t emerge in a puff of divine smoke with its dogma and ideology fully formed and agreed upon. The development of its moral code was a literal battlefield- and still is – and it remains quite astonishingly equivocal.

    Christianity, which holds to the moral precept of thou shalt not kill – has always granted dispensation to or turned a blind eye when killing serves powerful interests. Christian churches and states have killed untold numbers of their co-religionists and citizens – sometimes in spectacularly horrible ways.

    The moral precept that people should not commit adultery arose when men had conjugal rights and women had conjugal duties. The main thrust of it was the guarantee of paternity within patriarchal and patrilineal societies. The injunction could be and was used against men by more powerful men when it suited – but was mainly exercised against women.

    The precept that requires people not to steal rested on a definition of property rights that have always enabled the powerful to steal with impunity – and even to label their theft as just (divine) reward for honest work.

    As to us ‘not liking liars’, apart from the question of truth being a slippery little sucker of a concept, clearly people do like and even valorize outrageous liars when it suits them.

    And there’s that big whopper at the heart of it all — that god created us in ‘his’ image. Some religions or at least some adherents within them do move beyond an anthromorphised god and see the creator as unknowable and beyond simplistic ascriptions of such things as gender but no religion to my knowledge developed a word to use when referring to god in the third person – ie a sacred pronoun that was neither female or male.

    The use of the male pronoun is common to all the monotheistic religions and even the claims that it was and is just a ‘literary convention’ speak to the complete dominance of men within those religions – and to them having conceptualised god in their own image.

    I’m an atheist and a materialist. I don’t like laddish internet atheism because it is often boorish and intellectually lazy. Religion is a massive part of human history and contemporary affairs. People like to believe – and some people need to believe – that there’s an essential ‘me’ – a spirit or force that has some sort of existence independent of, and greater than the material body.

    Those who do not feel that shouldn’t mock it in others. I think it was Gorky who wrote that if you rip the religion out of people’s hearts you must have something to put in its place. Perhaps what is needed is a greater understanding of our biological selves, of the material basis of cognition and of our sense of self which can only exist in the company of others of our own kind i.e. social, complex, diverse, adaptable and splendidly creative animals.

    • ropata 37.1

      +1 A bit of honest dialogue and humility goes a long way. Fundamentalist ideology of any stripe is inherently dangerous.

      In the interests of fairness

  37. Rolfcopter 38

    Isn’t it funny that the only true God is defined by what country you are born in.

    Great post TRP.

  38. ropata 39

    Some interesting stuff on RNZ right now, just played a TED talk by a guy who was involved in Islamist groups and then had a change of heart in an Egyptian prison

  39. Ross 40

    Not only does God not exist, the reasons for needing him to exist are fast fading.

    What are those reasons? I wasn’t aware there were any. 🙂

    • ropata 40.1

      Some strawmen no doubt. Regrettably the empty rhetoric of rabble rousers like Dawkins/Hitchens/TRP produces more heat than light.

      We need better atheists!

      • Chuck 40.1.1

        “If Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris brought a single essential insight to modern atheism, it was the idea that atheists could and should be unapologetic about their disbelief.”

        For Heina Dadhaboy, who blogs on Skepchick, that was critical as she moved away from the traditional Islamic beliefs of her family.

        I think that sums up Dawkins/Hitch/Harris pretty well…

  40. Observer Toke 41

    . To Whom It May Concern

    . When Te Reo Putake gets his gangs together and pursues his weak minded effort to rid the towns and villages of New Zealand of what he insultingly calls “God Botheres” will those people who have tried to do good be protected by the Parliament ?

    Will the Parliament value the sheer goodness of Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul, Anglican City Mission, and Methodist Mission, and The Presbyterian services to the Community .. ? Or will they foster Te Reo Putake’s determination to remake New Zealand into an unalloyed haven of primitive savagery?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 41.1

      Have you looked up abiogenesis yet? Or are you too busy projecting your fears?

    • I haven’t called anyone a God botherer, OT. Or more correctly, it is myself as the writer of the piece who is the God botherer.

      As to the good works some churches do, I have no doubt that there is goodness in the heart of the individuals who do charitable work in the churches’ name and equally, I have no doubt those individuals would keep doing good work if there were no churches.

      • Observer Toke 41.2.1

        .
        . I respect your reply to me Te Reo Putake.

        . I doubt however that your followers would be similarly thoughtful. The experience of Religions throughout history is that ignorant redneck rabble have a lust for murder and mayhem. No morals. Led by so-called statesmen.

        The collection of “illustrious” Atheist dictators within the last 100 years, have cruelly murdered millions of religious persons. As you well know.

        For the record – the present day churches preach peace. It is always the State which bombs the daylight out of civilisations. When Meg Thatcher, Blair and Bush go to war on a cushion of lies, it is not the Churches pushing for that.

        It is not the Red Cross. It is not the Doctors or the Nuns. It is not the Mothers with babes.

        It is endless streams of atrocious red necks who take up arms, all fired fired up by the lust to kill. As you well know.

        One of the great shames is that The British and their offspring the Americans, have carried out most of the wars since the hash up job done on Korea. Appalling. TRP.

        • ropata 41.2.1.1

          It’s not “rednecks” it is the churches themselves. Apostate IMO

          Read The Military-Evangelical Complex by Paul Rosenberg. While Rosenberg’s politics may be somewhat suspect (a self-described “lifestyle capitalist”), he nonetheless makes a good deal of sense, speaking of “inverting the most fundamental elements of the Judeo-Christian tradition” in American society.

          (hat tip Otagosh)

        • te reo putake 41.2.1.2

          Thanks for those points, Observer. I agree entirely that it’s states that start wars, often with the complicit support of the the military industry. However, it’s common for those wars to start with a prayer. The likes of Reagan and both Bushes were very quick to invoke a deity before launching an attack. That probably applies to Clinton and Obama too. I think it’s generally accepted that all parties in wars go into them claiming that God is on their side.

          For all that, I don’t think taking religion out of the equation will end war. The geopolitical forces at play around the world will still resort to force when they think that it is required. And I can only see more grief heading our way in years to come, particularly over water and soil as climate change starts to bite. But I remain steadfast in my belief that the human race’s next big philosophical step is to accept that there is no need for faith based structures. Once we understand that we are entirely in control of our own destiny and that heaven can be man made, then we will really make progress.

          • Roflcopter 41.2.1.2.1

            Actually, there’s no problem with “faith” per se, in a non-religious setting… faith in the ability for us all to achieve a better outcome for everything based on a strong moral background.

            The problem is that religion tries to monopolise ownership of faith and morals, that it invented moral code and that it is only religion that can manage us to ensure we don’t stray… it’s a sick joke.

            For all that, I don’t think taking religion out of the equation will end war.

            It would end about 95% of it… which isn’t a bad start really.

            • ropata 41.2.1.2.1.1

              Bollocks. War is about political power and access to resources. Religion is just a cloak of legitimacy used to motivate the troops.

  41. One Two 42

    So low the number of comments exhibiting sincere intention or understanding. Plenty of ‘do what thou wilt’

    The article and subject are click bait in essence, but it provides a measuring stick for those who seek endorsement of their perspectives

    All rather predictable

    • Draco T Bastard 42.1

      And your ignorant concern trolling is also rather predictable.

      • One Two 42.1.1

        That’s your ‘self ‘ speaking incorrectly about the intention of my comment

        Go ahead and challenge it by all means, don’t just poke your tongue out and blow raspberries, while affirming the point I had made

        • ropata 42.1.1.1

          your waffle does not merit a re

        • Draco T Bastard 42.1.1.2

          You didn’t actually say anything which is what turned it into a troll comment.

          • One Two 42.1.1.2.1

            That it went over your head does not afford you the sanctury of ignorance!

            • McFlock 42.1.1.2.1.1

              um… actually, if something does go over one’s head metaphorically, then by definition one is still ignorant of the nature of the pretentious flying pig in question.

              • Andre

                I get the feeling you might be dealing with something like…

                http://wisdomofchopra.com/

                • McFlock

                  bwahahaha!

                  “The universe grows through dimensionless phenomena”
                  “The soul is mirrored in an expression of human observation”
                  “Emotional intelligence corresponds to ephemeral force fields”
                  “Information is the womb of total potentiality”

                  One or two commenters might be using this 🙂

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Hah, that’s the best one of those I’ve seen 😈

            • Draco T Bastard 42.1.1.2.1.2

              I fully understood what you said and in the final analysis it came down to nothing but concern trolling. Since then all you’ve done is continue to prove your ignorance.

  42. Ad 43

    The author should clarify whether they welcome Christans, Muslims, Hindu and Buddhists to remain active in the Labour Party and in unions.

    This is the most powerful left site in New Zealand. This direct attack on all religion on a Labour-supporting site from a union activist is an attack on me, my colleagues and my friends.

    At the next Labour or union conference, believers could be asked to raise their hands. TRP can ask them all to leave, since he believes they are worthless because of their faith.

    The editors need to think again about the effect of this post on the reputation of this site and its’ standing within Labour and within unions.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 43.1

      🙄

      Yes, because TRP is the dictator of the NZLP, and everyone in the NZLP does whatever he says.

      • Ad 43.1.1

        TRP should be able to own this opinion in front of the Labour Party congress, and any LEC, and any union meeting.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 43.1.1.1

          an attack on me, my colleagues and my friends.

          No, it isn’t. It’s a challenge to your beliefs.

          • Ad 43.1.1.1.1

            Nope, it’s written as a challenge to the whole of religion entirely.
            That includes therefore me, and all others who believe in a religion.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 43.1.1.1.1.1

              No, it challenges your beliefs, the same way you challenge the things right wingers believe. Your beliefs are not off limits, and the fact that you think challenging them is a personal insult says something about you.

      • te reo putake 43.1.2

        If only! We’d be campaigning on the UBI, climate change mitigation, the nationalisation of foreign owned land, housing and businesses just for starters. And, because I’m a man of principle, the moment we took power, I’d resign so that a woman could take over and do the job better.

        And Ad, this is not a Labour party blog. Never has been, despite the claims years ago from some on the right (and Bomber Bradbury when he’s in one of his moods). Having said that, I’d have no problem putting the case for the end of religion in any forum. You organise it, I’ll turn up.

        • Ad 43.1.2.1

          Didn’t say that it was a Labour Party site.

          Put your attacks elsewhere. They are offensive and unwelcome.

          This site is getting less and less well moderated compared to the other major ones.

          Well overdue that Lyn and the founders looked hard in the mirror on editing its posts as a collective – it’s dragging The Standard to be no better than Trump or Whaleoil.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 43.1.2.1.1

            What is so sacred about your beliefs that they are off-limits to challenge? Why do you bear false witness and pretend that challenging your faith is a personal attack?

          • ropata 43.1.2.1.2

            I would applaud a follow up post Ad, showing how left wing policy is informed by religious values and grassroots movements can engage with people on a more spiritual level.

            For example
            https://www.openbible.info/topics/social_justice

            • One Anonymous Bloke 43.1.2.1.2.1

              Unless this potential post intends to bear false witness, it will have to acknowledge the secular roots of its moral code, lest I take to quoting vast swathes of books that were written at least 5,000 years before Mary’s pregnancy.

              This greedy and hubristic claim to be the fount of all virtue doesn’t seem very humble to me.

              • Colonial Viper

                Secular roots?

                So you’ll just ignore all the moral principles stemming from the very many religious traditions common throughout pre-Christian Mesopotamia?

                IMO the trend is for religion, faith, spirituality and tradition to become increasingly popular now as ‘godless-secular-scientism’ is seen to provide few modern answers, and many severe modern problems.

                lest I take to quoting vast swathes of books that were written at least 5,000 years before Mary’s pregnancy.

                You are so completely full of shit. Go on then, name me 10 secular non religious books dating back at least 5,000 years before Mary’s pregnancy.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  According to the book (can’t use theirs it’s all lies! Gotta use mine!), the ten commandments were dictated by a sky-fairy. The book says other gods and religions are false.

                  As you rightly note, they in fact had secular provenance. Thanks for pointing that out.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    As I thought, you have nothing.

                    You must also think that Laozi developed his philosophies and insights from secular rational intellectualism.

                    What a desperate desert you live in.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Lao Tsu is quite clear about his sources: “How do I know this? By trust in my senses”. As I said, some of these things have to be experienced to be grasped.

                      Unless you’re going to argue that the Codes of Ur Nammu were dictated by Yahweh too, it is you who has nothing, Gummy.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      But do you understand what Lao Tsu meant by “his senses”?

                      Do you really think that he only meant: sight, sound, touch, taste, smell?

                      As I said, some of these things have to be experienced to be grasped.

                      Spot on. And where are these things experienced? Particularly from a Buddhist or Taoist point of view – both spiritual traditions that Lao Tzu was very knowledgeable of.

                      Unless you’re going to argue that the Codes of Ur Nammu were dictated by Yahweh too, it is you who has nothing, Gummy.

                      These codes are apparently 2000 BC. You short changed me by 3 millenia, according to google.

                      You said many books dating back at least 5,000 years before Christ.

                      I’m still waiting.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      “Where are these things experienced”? Anywhere at all. You might notice that being “spot on” doesn’t exactly gell with the “desert” you project onto me, and you can still experience such things in a desert.

                      As for “spiritual”, the sage dwells in the fruit, not the flower.

                      PS: 5,000 may have been a tad optimistic (I have a persistent bad habit of conflating centuries BCE with millennia), unless you’re going to argue that Yahweh dictated the Dispilio Tablet too.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      There is only one place where it is experienced, and that is via the mind door aka the mind sense aka the awareness/mindfulness which includes consciousness but also extends beyond consciousness.

                      PS: 5,000 may have been a tad optimistic (I have a persistent bad habit of conflating centuries BCE with millennia)

                      Yeah no prob I was just niggling you on a technicality

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Pointing to real world experiences as evidence of deity is doomed to failure, a very poor argument indeed.

                      When science gets fully to grips with the “mind door” as you put it, and explains the physical phenomena behind it, the “god of the gaps” will have one less place to hide.

                      Better hang your faith on something less mundane.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Has characterising the physics of water made a glass less refreshing on a summers afternoon?

                      Modern science is not going to get the centuries it needs to ponder round and round these topics. It’s not even going to get 50 years.

                    • McFlock

                      lol
                      CV’s fallback position: we’re all doooooomed!

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Hi McFlock, good to know that you take the medium term as seriously as our current crop of politicians.

                      Personally I think we will be sitting clear over 3 deg C global warming at that time, and most people will not be able to access a litre of diesel or petrol for love or money.

                      That’s not “doom” necessarily, but it is an end to current day institutions and current day economic arrangements.

                    • McFlock

                      Oh, problems I take seriously.

                      You’re not a problem.

  43. One Anonymous Bloke 45

    we are the masters of our own destiny

    At this point we’re too busy bailing the boat out to even hold the tiller, let alone command the ocean.

  44. Jens 46

    Religion is nothing more than a method of control, it’s branded spirituality IMO. The revenue collected globally for various ‘imaginary friends’ is enormous, whether it be offerings to help the poor or monies to either support of create war in the name of a god.

    Interestingly enough research tells us that the more intelligent a person is the less likely they are to be religious.

    No one needs an imaginary friend to know right from wrong, they just need good morals and to be taught that humanity is not restricted to the selfish ideals of one line of thought. And there are many wonderful religious groups that do good, but there are also many religious leaders infested with the thirst for power and control that they create wars and suffering, while living like kings.

    Watched ‘Up Front’ on Al Jazeera in the weekend, the topic was.. “Is religion to blame for violence?” fascinating discussion it was.
    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/upfront/2016/07/religion-blame-violence-160715094649293.html

    I feel if we all lived by the one ancient lore of “Ye harm none do what ye will;” life would be happier for many, no imaginary friends required. Love is the answer

    • Colonial Viper 46.1

      Religion is nothing more than a method of control,

      I look forward to you writing a treatise against laws, courts, fines and prisons which appear to me to be “nothing more than a method of control.”

  45. Your gods are just a result of the time and location of your birth.
    If you were born 500 years ago on a volcanic island, then you might worship the great ungamunga god in the volcano, and that guy would have the same relevance as Yahweh today, which is – fuck all.
    Get a piece of string run it from Auckland to Wellington, that represents the lifetime of earth, (8 billion years?) then lay a hair across the string at Taupo, that is your/humans gods = about 20,000 years.
    The Easter island Gods did a shit load of good 😉

    • Roflcopter 47.1

      Your gods are just a result of the time and location of your birth.

      +1

    • Puckish Rogue 47.2

      I see your Easter Island gods and I raise you:

      • seeker 47.2.1

        Another excellent clip PR.
        Saw Arthur in in 1967 at The Metropolitan Hotel, Brighton, England. So long ago, so young. Loved the performance and music never really took in the meaning of the words as too teenage.
        Met my husband there (not that I knew it then!) I heard that he had recently died and I prayed that he would be ok.
        The Grand Hotel is next to the Metropolitan on Brighton seafront, the very hotel that was bombed by the IRA in 1984 and where Thatcher nearly met herself a bit earlier than she wanted.
        Strange how life pans out.
        Death could be even stranger for many.

        • Puckish Rogue 47.2.1.1

          Thats a nice story (well not the bombing) and there I was thinking it was a bit of a whimsy post, you just never know how these things work out

      • b waghorn 47.2.2

        why oh why did we ever make drug taking artists a no no , so much hardcase shit we miss out on.
        i dont believe in man made gods but opening the doors to the brain is a must.

  46. framu 48

    on the subject of proving god: to prove god means to lose your faith in him/her/it

    faith is what you require when you dont have proof

    asking believers to, or having believers, attempt to prove their god exists is a bit of a trap really – it requires the destruction of their faith for it to succeed

    • One Anonymous Bloke 48.1

      Which is why arguments pointing to unexplained phenomena as evidence for deity are self-defeating.

      “…man goes on to prove that black is white and gets killed at the next zebra crossing…” Douglas Adams.

      • framu 48.1.1

        good ol douglas adams 🙂

        • ropata 48.1.1.1

          Douglas Adams again:

          “And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small café in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.”

          Unfortunately the Vogons turned up shortly after…

        • te reo putake 48.1.1.2

          If you ever find yourself in London and fancy a stroll, I recommend Highgate cemetery. You’ll walk past the grave of Douglas Adams on the way to Karl Marx’s tomb.

          • ropata 48.1.1.2.1

            I wonder which of the two has been a better influence on the human race.
            My vote goes to Adams, I have actually read his books for starters.

            • te reo putake 48.1.1.2.1.1

              You should read some Marx, too. There are plenty of ‘Marx for dummies’ style websites around to get a basic idea of what he was writing. In short, there is an inherent contradiction in capitalism that means the workers will always be alienated from the wealth they create. Religion acts to disguise that fact.

              • ropata

                Agreed in the case of *institutional* religion, but the original teachings are often quite revolutionary / anti-establishment, but nobody is crazy enough to actually do what the book says (usually)

        • Macro 48.1.1.3

          Fortunately we all know the answer now – it’s 42.

  47. Andrew 49

    It’s extraordinary that a preeminent poster on NZ’s foremost social democratic website uses his platform to prosyletise atheism and belittle people of faith.

    We want to unite people, not drive a wedge between sections of society. This shit is essentially a form of sectarianism.

    I believe that we should encourage religious people to participate in progressive politics and to be more progressive. Your strategy is bounderish and crude and will not help the Left.

    • Chris 49.1

      Whether you’re a believer or not you have to accept that Jesus in the Temple is a good yarn.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 49.2

      I find it revealing that so many believers misrepresent having their faith questioned as a personal attack. You find it “belittling” to have to justify your opinions? Bearing false witness with a failure to turn the other cheek on the side.

      • Colonial Viper 49.2.1

        Actually maybe atheism should be made an offence, and all atheists forced to attend religious schools (there would be no other kind) and be made to study and be examined on scripture.

        I’m sure a false witness such as yourself would not consider this proposal a “personal attack” but merely having your own belief system “questioned.”

        Right, OAB? You OK with this?

        • One Anonymous Bloke 49.2.1.1

          If you have a problem with TRP’s opinions take it up with him instead of projecting them onto me, you dishonest little wanker.

    • red-blooded 49.3

      Andrew, can you show me where in his post trp belittled people of faith? The comment that comes closest is the one about child abuse by Catholic priests. This might not be a comfortable subject to confront, but it’s true (not of all priests, of course not, but of far too many, and hidden by a complicit and complacent church hierarchy for far too long).

      Your religion is obviously close to your heart. Fine. I also have beliefs that are close to my heart, but none of them is beyond debate.

      This site is aimed at provoking debate. trp has succeeded in doing that. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he (she? – I think I’ve seen you referred to as “he” in other comments, trp) has said, but that’s OK. I think it was a great post; it confronted us with a viewpoint and gave us a chance to tussle with the issues it discussed.

      Thanks, trp.

      • Colonial Viper 49.3.1

        The entire piece and its assumptions belittle people of faith.

        That you can’t understand that shows that the Left don’t actually give a shit about culture and diversity, unless it is within your own narrow intellectual-secular framework.

        Fine. I also have beliefs that are close to my heart, but none of them is beyond debate.

        Bullshit. The Loyaist Establishment Left enjoys shutting down debate all the time, and enjoys belittling people who don’t share its views, all the time.

      • te reo putake 49.3.2

        Nicely put, red-blooded. While I knew the post would be controversial, even confrontational, I tried to avoid being deliberately offensive to individuals and their beliefs. I capitalised God and Him for that reason. However, the post is really aimed at institutionalised religion and the damage it does. I think breaking down those institutions will lead to a more personal faith and, over generations, rejection of religion altogether.

        And yes, I’m male.

        • ropata 49.3.2.1

          Hah, misread that as “rejection of reason altogether”

          Which seems to be happening quite a lot lately in politics, economics, religion, media

          • te reo putake 49.3.2.1.1

            The rejection of reason might make for a great blog post title. All I’ve gotta do is find an angle…

        • Macro 49.3.2.2

          But were you trying to start another Civil War akin to the War of the Roses TRP?

          eg.
          In 1621, James re-called Parliament to discuss the future marriage of his son, Charles, to a Spanish princess. Parliament was outraged. If such a marriage occurred, would the children from it be brought up as Catholics?

          From 1625 to 1629, Charles argued with parliament over most issues, but money and religion were the most common causes of arguments.

          Charles also clashed with the Scots. He ordered that they should use a new prayer book for their church services. This angered the Scots so much that they invaded England in 1639.

          Be careful what you wish for. Wars have been fought over much less than what you have proposed in the above post.

  48. Tiger Mountain 50

    there is an old joke–a Buddhist approaches a hot dog stand and says “make me one with everything”

    anyway, a worrying number of you appear to be milquetoasts on this issue, put me down for TRPs first two measures but not the last, not into banning things generally, but really philosophy aside, religion sucks for two elemental reasons–it is relentlessly anti women and it indoctrinates kids before they are mature enough to develop their own independent world view

  49. Xanthe 51

    A Zen master visiting New York City goes up to a hot dog vendor and says, “Make me one with everything.”
    The hot dog vendor fixes a hot dog and hands it to the Zen master, who pays with a $20 bill.
    The vendor puts the bill in the cash box and closes it. “Excuse me, but where’s my change?” asks the Zen master.
    The vendor responds, “Change must come from within.”

  50. Xanthe 52

    How do you teach a bunch of kids about God—who He is, and what He does?
    Gather them all in a classroom. Then never show up.

  51. Andrew 53

    Proposing to ban religion is being sensitive? Get off the fucking grass.

    Should we allow people to be socialists or conservatives? Maybe we should ban the Green Party, Labour and National?

    Also are we allowed to have religious thoughts? Just thought it would be good to ask these questions while you’re still not banned or laughed out of the Labour Party.

    • Colonial Viper 53.1

      this is the modern day intellectual liberal leftie version of respect for diversity

  52. framu 54

    once, long ago – but not 2016 years ago 🙂 – i saw a cool doco on the life and actions of the historical (as opposed to the biblical) jesus

    it was told all through the lens of the church being the power structure of the day – ie: jesus was a political activist

    the did a really good job of going through each act (ok we cant know for sure) of jesus that was physically possible and explained how it fitted into the power structures of the day

    even for a hoary old atheist like me it was a really interesting way to look at things

    • In Vino 54.1

      Nice to see a moderate comment like that, framu. Too many others here are too tied up in their own pompous complexities. I am sure that many of them will agree with that, concerning the others, but will see themselves as innocent.

      But it is nice to know that people still seek the truth. The trouble is that they then stake their own self-respect upon their imagined success in finding it. And the endless debate goes on …

  53. emergency mike 55

    As Carl Sagan once said:

    “Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists.
    To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed.”

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kathyschiffer/2014/11/wait-what-carl-sagan-was-not-an-atheist/

    Certainty about the existence or nonexistence of God implies an intellectual failure IMO. At first I found this post somewhat arrogant and offensive. TRP declares his religious belief to be the true and correct one, suggests that be taught in school, and that the others should be banned.

    But that made me think of the fundamentalist Muslim groups who would do exactly that with their faith, so I wondered if perhaps TRPs intention was a kind of role-reversal flamebait thought piece. A plea for freedom of religion, reminding us of the horror of a state controlled thought police. If so, nice job.

    But at face value it’s a bunch of trite rubbish.

    “But the countries where citizens are happiest are, for the most part, agnostic and social democratic.”

    Measures of agnosticism in a population vary greatly, and census figures for Finland and Switzerland, in the top 5 of your happiness list, say that about 70% of people identity themselves as some kind of Christian, (NZ 48%). Besides, you don’t show any causal relationship between agnosticism and happiness. Perhaps its the social democracy part that makes them happier, or maybe social democracy encourages more agnosticism? Who knows.

    “Given that there is no God and no reason for there to be a God, what do we do about religion? Should we remain tolerant of the unfounded beliefs of the billions of adherents?”

    So some people here don’t see how this could be construed as arrogant, offensive, and insulting to religious persons?

    “The next step is to teach religion in schools. By that, I mean to teach that religion is a sham. Atheist studies, if you like.”

    Funny way to get rid of religion, with compulsory indoctrination of religious beliefs in schools. I think a less vomit inducing thought policey idea would be to teach religious studies in the comparative sense. Giving a broad understanding of the philosophies and spiritual centers of all the major religions, including atheism. Plus civics, pure logic and criticism. Then the kids would be able to think for themselves and make their own choice, because that’s what a religious belief should be, a choice.

    “I think we should look to ban religion altogether. Give it a grace period of a decade or so, then close it down.”

    OK this encourages me that you really are just taking the piss. Phase it out over a decade? It’s been a part of us since always. But even allowing for a less alarming timeline, how? What will you do with those who defy the ban, who won’t believe what they’re told? The ununbelievers. The idea does have a certain child-like simplicity, but I don’t mean that in a good way.

    “Let the next generation be free to think for themselves.”

    Except for the compulsory religious viewpoint that you gave them at school.

    “If NZ can set an example for the world, as we have done in the past for democracy and peace, maybe, just maybe, we can end some of the madness that is currently brutalizing our small, beautiful world.”

    And just maybe not. But keep on praying for miracles, I respect your right to your faith based belief.

    There is a reason why freedom of religion is considered a fundamental part of freedom. And that is that that no one should be told what to believe about the ultimate nature of their own life. That’s my own choice, you know, like being free. That’s why my religious choice and others choices should be respected.

    This post is the very same awful low-brow shite that wide-eyed Ayn Rand loving prog-rock humanist bands of the 70s used to spout in their lyrics before it became too embarrassing.

    • ropata 55.1

      +1 googolplexian

      Best comment in this thread IMO

    • Draco T Bastard 55.2

      The existence or non-existence of the gods is immaterial.

      If they don’t exist then it makes no difference to us.

      If they do exist then it makes no difference to us either as them interfering in the mortal world would prevent us from learning anything and so they won’t.

    • KJT 55.3

      Nothing like banning something to make it flourish.

      I was bought up by religious parents.

      My father was a Presbyterian Minister.

      I had a pretty good education in comparative religion, which lead me to reject it.

      I support learning about all the options at school and allowing free choice.
      Having State funded schools, which indoctrinate children in a religion, and expect Teachers employed to hold a certain religious belief should not be part of a secular country.

      Unfortunately many religions, mostly the ones that take money from their adherents for the leaders, would oppose the idea.

      Banning religion, however, is impossible. Suggesting it is simply childish flame bait.
      What do we ban next. Intemperant blog writers?

  54. There is a reason why freedom of religion is considered a fundamental part of freedom. And that is that that no one should be told what to believe about the ultimate nature of their own life.

    So, we should just ban religious indoctrination of children by their parents or anyone else, then? I guess I could support that kind of ban – pretty difficult to enforce though.

    • Roflcopter 56.1

      Hitchens sums it up…

      Question:
      “My question to Christopher is, how you can justify wanting to take something away from people, that gives meaning to 95% of the American people, and replace it with something that gives meaning to just 5% of the American people?”

      Response:
      “Ha! Well, what an incredibly stupid question. First I’ve said repeatedly that this stuff cannot be taken away from people, it is their favourite toy and it will remain so, as Freud said, it will remain that way as long as we’re afraid of death. Which is I think likely to be quite a long time.

      Second I hope I’ve made it clear that I’m perfectly happy for people to have these toys and to play with them at home, and hug them to themselves and share them with other people who come round and play with the toys. That’s, absolutely fine. They are not, to make me play with these toys. I will not play with the toys. Don’t bring the toys to my house. Don’t say my children must play with these toys. Don’t say my toys, might be a condom, here we go again, are not allowed by their toys. I’m not going to have any of that.

      Enough with clerical and religious bullying and intimidation. Is that finally clear? Have I got that across? Thank you.”

    • emergency mike 56.2

      Don’t know about that PM, of course we are all influenced by the people who raised us to varying degrees. They made us who we are in deeper ways than most of us realise. We didn’t have much say in that, so as you imply we can’t be perfectly free.

      If you’d like to offer ideas about how we could educate parents to be religion neutral in their parenting then good luck with that. But the relative merits of various parenting styles in this area wasn’t the subject of my comment was it. It was about objecting to the idea of the state dictating religious thought on a population. Not the same thing eh?

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