Here, in the West, we like to have our opinions. Some of us even go to the extreme and express those opinions in, of all things, a blog! (Ahem) Now, we may argue and berate from time to time. And we’ve all called our opponent an idiot – well, okay, I’ll admit to it even if you won’t. There have, I know, even been occasions when a difference of opinion leads to a difference in a right and left cross. But in the end, when it’s all done and dusted, we know it’s just a difference of opinion. We may wish our opponent would shut the %$&! up, but it’s not the end of the world if we let him hang onto his stupid beliefs.
In recent weeks, the tragic suicides of a number of teenagers due to bullying has really raised public awareness of this vile and insidious behaviour. Bullying in any form is unacceptable – but those victims who suffer bullying because of their sexuality, get a double dose. Not only do their peers attack them, physically and mentally, but some sections of society – mostly religious – see nothing wrong with persecuting children because of their (sometimes only perceived) sexuality.
A lot of people find the whole idea of atheism impossible to grasp. In the past, I’ve actually been accused of believing in nothing, and asked how I could live like that. There’s a lot of confusion out there, particularly from people who question their own beliefs. Well, I recently came across this video – and it’s such a wonderfully clear and concise explanation of atheism that I thought I’d share it. It helps to explain a lot of things.
What it doesn’t explain, unfortunately, is why those some of those with belief expend so much hatred on those that do not believe. Atheists don’t go around yelling to believers that they should just die, or be burned at the stake. In fact, atheists are generally very gentle, non-violent people who look at all the death and destruction performed in the name of gods and wish it would stop. Atheists certainly don’t go out looking for believers to kill – and yet, in some religions, that’s perfectly acceptable. Given that, as babies, a lack of belief is the default position, why do believers feel so much hatred – or feel so threatened – by those who do not believe?
Back when John Howard was PM, a federal program was put in place to supply religious chaplains to schools, paid for by the government. This funding has now been continued for the next two years, despite a national campaign to bring it to an end. It’s interesting that, in a country where 70% of the adult population says that religion is unimportant in their lives, the government is prepared to provide religious advisors to 100% of the nation’s school children. I have to ask, why?
There’s a great story from the 2002 Winter Olympics – you may have heard of them? A wonderful skater by the name of Steven Bradbury won Australia’s first Winter gold medal when everybody else in his race was involved in a tumbling accident, leaving him to skate across the line in first place. At the time, he was referred to by some as the “Last Man Standing”.
I mention this story, Tony – may I call you Tony? – because there’s a little of the Steven Bradbury to your story, isn’t there? Continue Reading
In part 2 of this series, I look at the influences and experiences that brought me to atheism.
I went to church when I was a kid. Not with my family, mind – just me, on my own. I liked it. I liked knowing that there was a big guy up there somewhere, looking over me. It felt comforting. My Dad was in the army so we travelled around a lot. Having god up there also meant I didn’t feel so lonely, always being the new kid at school, and never sticking around long enough to develop real friendships. God was my imaginary friend. Given that I didn’t come from any religious tradition, I guess that choosing to go to church was my first attempt at rebellion :-).
In the first part of this series, we look at how it’s possible to live a good life without referring to religious ideals.
One of the biggest arguments I hear from people of faith about why I should believe in god, is that we get all our morality from the bible. To be honest, I find this somewhat disturbing, given how many instances in the bible there are where people are told to kill their own children, to stone people, to have slaves, etc, etc. I’ve never found the morality of the bible particularly enlightening – but there’s another layer to this claim: if all of our morals originated from the bible, then there can’t be any other source, can there?