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Bernard

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Dear cambridge secular society,my name is Bernard and I would like to share a few thoughts with you.The almost new and modern obsession with religion is in my opinion purely media-generated.Its coverage bears no relationship to everyday reality.The average practicing christian is a million miles away from the usual stereotypical portrayal.The idea on your website that people of faith are privileged in this country is a joke beyond compare.You only have to do a small amout of research to find that people of faith"far from affecting other people"are being denigrated at more or less every level of society(have you not seen the figures for violence against the clergy and the number of chuch buildings that are vandalized everyday of the week......................In this posting i"m not devaluing your secular opinions but saying that the negative influence of religion is completely exaggerated and the positive in terms of everyday social good is ignored. One thought to leave you with on the much repeated accusation of religion causing wars and conflict in the past.Q1 Who was it who invented the atomic bomb was it a priest or was it a scientist inspired by pure science and reason alone.


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Jessie

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Reply with quote  #2 
Dear Bernard

Your post was addressed to the Cambridge Secular Society but I can only answer on my own behalf.

Firstly, the current 'obsession' with religion is not new.  People just feel more comfortable saying that they don't believe now and this seems to be being interpreted as a 'threat' by religion.

I have a number of friends who are religious and who are kind, generous and charitable.  I also have atheist friends who are kind, generous and charitable.  The religion/non-religion of individuals doesn't seem to have any effect on this.

Religious organisations are an entirely different matter.  Religious organisations which wield power without accountability are prone to abuse that power.  Just think of the way the RCC closed ranks to protect paedophile priests.

Of course, the Church of England holds a privileged position in this country.  In spite of dwindling church attendance and very few people expressing an interest in religious affairs, it continues to have specific representation in the House of Lords and thus influences, or even derails, legislation.  This is unacceptable in a democracy.  Our laws are developed by humans to make society just, equal and fair to all.  If one religion is allowed to prevail and to use law to determine morality, it will always favour its own interpretation of what it believes its own version of god wants.

Your use of the argument that science must be wrong because of the atomic bomb is strange.  Those who invent things are not usually responsible for their use.  Considering Iran at the moment, if they are developing nuclear weapons, it will be the religious who decide who to obliterate.

Science and technology have brought us good and bad things.  On the whole, I would certainly say many, many, many more good than bad.  They brought you light and heat, the chair you are sitting on and the computer you are using.  Are you actually trying to suggest that science and religion are diametrically opposed and that each of us must choose our side - science and reason or superstition and blind faith?  If so, I'll go with science and reason, thanks. 

Regards

Jessie



Bernard

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Reply with quote  #3 

In reply to Jesse:No,I"ve nothing against science.I probably wouldn"t be here if it wasn"t for medical science.The point I was making was that  anything in the wrong hands can be used for good or bad.So if religion and its values can be accused of being complicit when a group of power-crazed pychotics (9/11)kill thousands of people.Then we must use the same cause and effect arguement with other organizations,governments,ideologies,mass movements that had millions of victims in the past.Take good old Britannia.Is every citizen of this country living now resposible for the dreadful things done in its name in the past ie/ the mass murder of the slave trade,the abomination of the irish famine and the arrogance ruling classes at the time of the British empire.No we are not! We are no more resposible for the crimes of our ancestors than a person of faith is to blame when a evil pychotic uses religion and its values for their own warped agenda.It is illogical for the belief to be given the hallmark of evil, only an indiviual can be given the hallmark of evil .thank you


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Jessie

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Reply with quote  #4 
I don't regard belief as evil and I would not hold every religious person responsible for the deeds of the terrorists on 9/11.  I don't think many other people would either.  Ideologies which persuade people to hate others or to discriminate against them and treat them as inferiors are not good - whether that is a religious ideology or a political one. 

One of the real problems I have with religion is the extraordinary amount of time which is dedicated by those at the top to things like discrimination against people on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation, rather than on the broader concepts of kindness and compassion.  The way in which organised religions wield power and act to protect themselves regardless of the cost to others is despicable and they need to be held accountable for their actions.  The underlying message of many religions seems to be lost in a system of rules designed to control the lives not only of followers but also of everyone else in the community.  This is simply unacceptable to those who value the freedom to make their own decisions, as long as those decisions do not damage others.

I am so glad to see that you regard science favourably.  It is under constant attack from those who would undermine it on the basis of their faith.  Can I ask how you feel about the possibility of 'creationism' or 'intelligent design' being taught in science lessons?



Bernard

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Reply with quote  #5 

No,I don't believe in 'intelligent design' being taught in science lessons.This idea of 'intelligent design' is related more or less to one American organization the discovery institute.If this organization is an example of what you mean by science coming under attack from those who would undermine it on the basis of their faith, then you have nothing to be concerned about.It is not regarded as science by any science organization in any known country.If you go into any bookshop you won't find any books on intelligent design in the science department.On the contrary,the promotion of I D brings only ridicule upon people of faith.In the modern age it is the first and easiest thing to point to as to why a scientist,secularist,atheist can dismiss religion with whatever polite or harsh phrase they care to use.The only time I can think of using the words intelligent and design is that humankind appears to have the intelligence to recognize any design in the universe which is verified by science IE/ e=MC squared.We seem to be hardwired to naturally understand patterns,models and designs.The is probably why they are easily seduced to using the childish notion of I D.


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Jessie

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Reply with quote  #6 
I'm afraid I can't agree with you that ID can be ignored.  It is a trojan horse to get creationism into science lessons in the US but the only reason it isn't really an issue in the UK is that there is no need to circumvent a Constitution here.  You didn't actually say whether you believed that creationism should be taught in science lessons.

We need to teach people the rigours of scientific enquiry, rational and critical thinking as these are real life skills.  I'm afraid I can envisage a future where evolution will be an entirely optional part of the science curriculum, for fear of upsetting religious sensitivities, or where creationism and a literal interpretation of scripture is given equal credence in a science lesson to scientific theories of the origin of the universe and evolution.

With regard to bookshops, I don't know about their policies but Amazon certainly lists a number of ID books under 'science'.

For the record, I don't dismiss religion on the basis that ID exists.  I don't regard all believers as holding identical beliefs.  I'm not actually aware of anyone who does.

I don't really understand your last three sentences, I'm afraid, so can't comment on them.

Bernard

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Posts: 10
Reply with quote  #7 
reply to Jesse:Thank you for your response.Sorry for not making myself clear.I don't believe intelligent design or creationism should be taught in science lessons.I can't see anytime soon or in the future that ID or creationism will be taught as a formal subject equal to science.The idea that the teaching of evolution could become entirely optional due to the influence of religious sensibilities will I think be shown to be unfounded.I come from a family of teachers and you could possibly be underestimating the teaching profession and their ability to teach children without yielding to any outside pressure.......The real problem with the teaching of evolution comes from the fact that in the recent past it has  been viewed by the state as being lower down the order in terms of importance as an academic subject.Other academic subjects seem to be regarded as more important to learn in order to equip children to live in the real/modern world.In the real world there are plenty of ways a child or adult can learn about evolution.The Internet will itself have the power to uphold all kinds of scientific truths.  

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