Friday, September 17, 2010

Where the Pope is wrong part 1 - atheism is not the problem

Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live. I also recall the regime’s attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives. As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a “reductive vision of the person and his destiny

So said the Pope yesterday in his opening remarks. 

As someone who doesn't believe in God, I find the use of the word atheism in that context extremely offensive. I might not believe in God, but, do you know what, that doesn't mean I want to persecute those who do, or those who aren't the same as I am. I try to live the best life I can, treating people as well as I'm capable of, like most human beings on the planet. We're like that because we're human beings and we have to live together in as much harmony as possible with our fellow human beings. It's just practical.

The idea that a belief in a deity is necessary for morality is utterly ridiculous.

The Nazis and the Communists were evil, nasty regimes, there's no doubt about it. But religion, or the lack of it, is irrelevant. It's not as if religion has delivered unbridled peace and harmony in the planet in the past. There are nasty people who will try to exercise crushing social control, to tyrannise and bully people and will use any excuse to do it.

Let's have a look about what would have happened to me a few hundred years ago. I'm a woman, for a start, so I wouldn't really have had a right to an opinion anyway, but I have many that deviate from the cultural norms, including not believing in God. I wouldn't have made it until the age of 43. I would have been a large pile of ashes at the foot of a stake. The fact that I'm allowed to be me is, I would argue, progress.

The Pope is wrong and is making lots of people angry. I think the thing we have to remember is that however much he probably wants to ban most of our hard won liberties, he isn't and never will be in a position to do so. 

This post is part of my way of dealing with the Popes' visit - to offer calm rebuttal to the things he comes out with that I really don't agree with. 

2 comments:

RJ said...

I don't think the pope's comments were directed at you. He used the specific words "atheist extremism." Just as most atheists do not argue against religion but rather "religious extremism."

Trevox said...

The problem with most statements that include the word "God" is that the reader has either a different, or no, idea of what the writer means by the term, unless it was first defined. The nature of God is different to different people. Is it "the sum total of all good", or a metaphysical being with an overview of the world, or something else?

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