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Monday, 24 October 2011

The Light That Shines The Way

I just tried a little experiment. I posted a link for an organisation that supports people wishing to leave a religion on a website promoting religious belief.
Very quickly, it was removed by moderators.
I was expecting this. It was predictable. It also illustrates that ignorance is the oxygen that sustains all belief. If people know too much, think too hard, question too robustly, it spells the death knell for the organisations built upon the faithful. It's fear really. Cold fear that the truth, when outed, will let the cat out of the bag once and for all. Only it's too late; the cats already out and it's having a high old time.  
I have a lot of friends with strong religious convictions. All moderates, it must be said, and secular in all but the most rudimentary terms. It's easy for me to be a rabble rouser, but if I were an American living in the wrong part of the States my life would be a whole lot more uncomfortable. That's not to say that the tide hasn't turned; America now has more people than ever enjoying the delights of freethinking, thanks in part to writers like Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins. Religious belief is gradually waning, and within a decade or so will probably mirror that of Northern Europe. Like all change there's friction, and my challenge is to recognise how far to poke and prod. You see, whilst I afford religion no respect I love deeply many of those who have such convictions. I don't want to belittle or humiliate anyone, but nor can I allow nonsense to propagate. Amongst my friends, few even raise the subject, which I take as a backhanded compliment. They recognise that I will become a Royal pain in the rear the moment they make a claim that I feel warrants a challenge. Let's be clear, this isn't going to change anytime soon. I'll listen patiently to all claims, but I won't indulge you. Those days are gone. They needed to go. Religion has lost its privileged position in society, and we need respect pastors and vicars no more than we respect anybody else.
It's not about winning a debate. It's about the value we ascribe to truth. And I value truth above all else because it's the light that helps us find the way. Religion cannot achieve this because it isn't trading in truth. It's wares are myth, fable, revisionist history. And if you want to persuade me otherwise you need to be able to demonstrate it, and do so in a way that can be weighed and measured.
Otherwise, you might wish to keep it yourself. Deal?

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