Friday, August 11, 2006

Join the battle against unreason.

The battle against Islam is the battle against non-critical thinking. It is a battle we have been fighting since our beginning, long before Islam. The entirety of human progress can be seen as our continued emergence from superstition and non-evidence based thinking into evidence based understanding and fact based decision making.

When someone makes a decision to kill, maim, or severely restrict their own or someone else’s life then there should be a good reason for it. Just like courts of law require facts to pass a judgement we should require facts for our decision making in everyday life. But for some reason we have adopted a cultural norm around the entire globe that somehow it is respectable or should be respected that people should base their decisions on totally unproven faith. This is why we have so many people doing so many bizarre and stupid things. And it’s got to stop.

It’s very easy to single out Islam as a target because of its very strong connection to a great deal of modern day madness and violence. The oppression of women, the stoning of rape victims and adulterers, the execution of homosexuals and apostates and the religiously inspired terrorist violence are all wide spread examples of the madness’s we will sink to when we ignore reason and rationality. All of these crimes against humanity have been historical facts in many of the world’s religions. All of the world’s religions share a common madness however – they all encourage judgement based not on fact but simply on rules. Usually these rules are from times that virtually anybody living today would regard as barbaric. Rules from times of ignorance that most of us can scarcely imagine, when the most educated members of society were ruled themselves by baseless superstitions and had absolutely no understanding of the world or the universe around them. Quite frankly it is madness to consider that these ancients had a better understanding of how to live a life than we have today. It’s madness to assume that their rules and their views are applicable as blanket rules in a world where so much of the basic infrastructure, systems and technologies on which our societies survive are so radically different from the times in which these rules were made. Not to mention of course that most of these rules are just plain mad.

Take eating pork for example. One of the arguments put forth for not eating pork is that pigs are unclean animals because they enjoy rolling around in their own shit. I’ve seen plenty of cows caked in shit also after they’ve had a lay down in a field. In fact, a great many people prefer organically grown fruits and vegetables and a great deal of that is grown by chucking shit on fields. Shit has been a long time and traditional fertilizer but I’ve never seen a religious text telling me I shouldn’t eat corn.

Of course, the differentiation between clean and unclean is entirely artificial and has no basis in reality. It’s just an imagined rule, in part a product of an ignorant or restrictive view in which someone failed to fully appreciate reality. Just because I may fertilize my crops with shit it doesn’t mean that they are made of shit. They are made of molecules which in turn are made from atoms and atoms and molecules are never clean or unclean. They are just building blocks that can be repurposed in a vast number of ways. It’s just one example of how religion has given us a pointless and baseless rule.

Now, if anybody cares to think about it and learn the chemistry then the rule becomes meaningless. But with religion we have protected the idea of non-thinking. We have enshrined and respected a methodology of obedience without reason and it is precisely this same irrational obedience to the rules of an ignorant past that has given us an incredibly bloody history and continued bloody present. And absolutely all of this has taken place without any evidence at all. Not one shred.

There is an often used quote from Edmund Burke “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”. It’s a very good quote for sure, but not being a believer in good and evil I prefer to think in terms of preferences. Preferences come from decisions being made and I note that we get some extremely strange preferences emerge when those decision are based on faith, not critical thought.

I believe that we have less to fear from all other religions than Islam at this time because their irrationality does not lean so strongly towards violence and so I will ally with these religions for the purpose of standing against Islam. However I think we have to recognise that the minority of rational people on this planet continue to pay a very high price along with the irrational faithful majority that have created and sustain societies where respect and protection of faith is the norm. I think the rational, those with a naturalistic world view and appreciation of the value of critical thinking, have got to start to speak out and oppose religion, superstition and faith based living and we have to start to highlight the costs. We have to start demanding that the decisions of others, decisions that affect our lives, must be based on fact, not fiction. We have to start holding the faithful accountable for the detrimental effects their madness has upon our own lives.

For starters, President Bush has opposed homosexual marriages and stem cell research based on his own personal faith, not fact. Tony Blair encourages faith based schools that serve to separate society and encourage scientific ignorance and extremism. The whole world has been silenced somewhat by a furore about cartoons. We live in the 21st century surrounded by the miracles of our own ingenuity and learning with the internet offering pretty much anybody, anywhere on the planet access to a vast amount of information covering pretty much everything our species has ever learned and yet still we are losing ground to the superstitions of a distant and ignorant past.

We’ve got to defend and promote critical thought. We have to insist on fact based decision making not just in our own lives but in the lives of those around us that have influence in our own lives. We would not allow an investor to invest our money based on a whim, a dream, or a superstition and yet we are allowing entire societies every single day to corrupt our collective future, to invest our lives and the lives of our children, based on absolutely nothing at all – not one demonstrable fact. Even our leaders are obsessed with the practice of non-thinking known as faith.

I invite you to start insisting on reason from those that interface with your life. I invite you to share your thoughts and stories here so that myself and others can learn together how we can better interface with the world in a way that allows us to effectively demand and encourage critical thinking and fact based decision making from those with whom we are forced to share this world.

I am going to start with Islam by boycotting Muslims goods and Muslim stores wherever possible. Just as I never donate to a religious charity I will not buy from a Muslim until such time as the majority of Muslims are standing up and demanding certain changes in the direction their faith has taken, such as equal rights for women, freedom to abandon the faith and an end to violence. It is my own small way of providing an impetus for change. I’ll appreciate your ideas on how I can live my life to promote a more rational world.

Please share your thoughts.

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4 comments:

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...

As I mentioned on my blog a couple of months ago, I got in trouble, sort of, with my brother when I went on about evolution to his eldest son.
My brother is out of the reality loop, but he doesn't attend a house of worship either. I don't think he has given evolution much thought, same with creationism. I think he assumes God and creation, and I don't think he wants to embrace reality on the subject. In his world, you die and go to heaven.
I think a lot of people need to believe this. As long as they don't get in the way of science classes or take their shtick to the government, I find them harmless.
Of course there are those that aren't harmless.
I think we should teach kids as much as we can about evolution, because many aren't getting encouraged about it within their homes.
As soon as someone accepts evolution as fact, agnosticism at least isn't too far around the corner.

chooseDoubt said...

Hi BEAJ,

Yep, I read your post back then and I sympathise with you. I also think education on evolution is a great method of assisting faith doubts. Over on your blog there was one guy posting a while back who said that the reason he doesn't believe in evolution is because if it's true then it means that most of what's in the bible clearly isn't. He hit the nail on the head. Evolution being accepted as fact means without doubt the bible is nonliteral.

I think there are two other great ways of combatting faith that are education based.

1) Teach kids where they are. There is nothing quite as eye opening as finding out how big the universe really is and how unbelievably small and insignificant we are within it like getting a proper appreciation of scale. It makes the whole god and silly rules about things stuff look like the pure gibberish it is.

2) Teach them more about history. By demonstrating the other absurd precursor and contemporary superstitions and thus highlighting the vicious ignorance of the people at the time these myths were started we seriously damage the credibility of all religions.

But in day to day life, what can we do?

I teach my kids about physics and astronomy, mathematics, biology and history as much as I can and it's often a very different view from the simplified versions they are taught at school (by their Christian teachers). I discuss with people I meet and I challenge their views. But there's got to be more I can do. Or better still, more we can do by cooperatively setting an agenda and defining a plan of action. Wouldn't it be great to have a cooperative group of individuals, each with their own talents, coordinating to really make a difference and achieve some results? We should be doing this since the rest of the world is quite literally force feeding humanity bullshit about gods and demons, ghosts and goblins, exorcisms and hautings and other nonesence in fiction that they label as "based on actual events".

Anonymous said...

http://www.secularism.org.uk/
might be somewhere to start.
(from ru who couldn't be bothered to sign in properly)

chooseDoubt said...

I shall check it out Lazy Ru. Thanks for the link :)