Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Atheist census campaign: 'If you're not religious, for God's sake say so!'


The British Humanist Association (BHA) are evangelising again. They preach their gospel, propagate their creed and disseminate their dogma just like any other religion.

And yet they insist they have no religion.

And so today they launch a campaign calling on people who are not religious to say so (‘for God’s sake’) during next year’s census.

His Grace has already reported on changes to the ‘religion’ question from 2001.

The BHA are concerned to distinguish between the practising/believing Christian and the cultural Christian, encouraging the latter to tick the ‘No Religion’ box.

The reason for this, they say, is that data from the 2001 census is constantly used by journalists and politicians to promote policy and defend the status quo, viz. the Established Church, bishops in the House of Lords, prayers before Parliament and a Head of State who also happens to be Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

All of this persists, according to the BHA, because 72 per cent ticked the ‘Christian’ box a decade ago, which ‘over-inflates’ the significance of the faith.

His Grace must have missed something.

We have just been through a decade of some of the most illiberal, anti-Christian legislation in centuries. Christian beliefs on marriage, conscience and worship were subsumed to an aggressive secularism under the guise of ‘equality’. There were numerous dismissals of practising Christians from employment for reasons that are quite unacceptable in a civilised, liberal democracy.

The Christian foundations of the nation have been gravely undermined by Labour: under the premierships of two ostensibly professing Christians, we have seen Christianity relegated to the peripheries of public life.

We witnessed nurses, teachers, foster parents, registrars, hotel owners, B&B proprietors, bishops, street preachers, and adoption agencies all suffer immense detriment as a result of Labour’s profoundly anti-Christian agenda.

Bishops of both the Church of England and the Church of Rome have expressed their concern at the hostile culture which seemingly has no tolerance of Christian orthodoxy.

And yet the BHA believe that the results of the 2001 census privileged Christians by influencing the policies of the last Labour government, as though (for example) the decision to abolish the blasphemy laws or enact the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act were developed by ministers cognisant of and sensitive to the consciences of the professing Christian majority.

Is the BHA deluded, or is this their faith position?

Whilst it is undoubtedly true that many people tended to treat the 2001 census question on religion as a question of ethnicity - and there are indeed valid concerns to be expressed - the BHA appear to be dismissive of those many millions for whom the Christian culture of the nation is something with which they clearly wish to be identified: the ‘cultural Christian’ is not necessarily irreligious; he or she may be content to believe without belonging.

That is not the same as atheism, agnosticism or scepticism.

The BHA trumpet that a British Social Attitudes Survey conducted earlier this year found that 59 per cent did not describe themselves as religious when asked how they would describe their level of religiosity. It suggested that 62 per cent of people in the UK never attend a religious service and only eight per cent attend a weekly church service.

His Grace would like the BHA to consider that very many Christians would not wish to be identified as being ‘religious’, not least because of the negative social connotations and assumed corollaries of the term. It is possible for the Christian to profess a faith and belief in Jesus without being remotely concerned with the classification ‘religious’.

But His Grace would also like the BHA to consider the observation of Edmund Burke: “Man is by his constitution a religious animal; atheism is against not only our reason, but our instincts.”

The study of philosophy is a religious pursuit; the desire for spiritual satisfaction is a religious pursuit; the yearning for freedom and time is a religious pursuit; the search for ultimate truth and meaning is a religious pursuit; the desire to be loved is a religious pursuit; the quest for self-discovery is a religious pursuit; waiting for Godot is a religious pursuit; the exaltation of sex is a religious pursuit; supporting Manchester United is a religious pursuit; desiring fame and fortune is a religious pursuit; to be patriotic or nationalistic is a religious pursuit; dealing with the inevitability of death is a religious pursuit; and the accommodation of mystery, paradox and infinity is a religious acceptance, a resting ‘in faith’, of the unknown.

Hope is what makes life bearable: it dispels despair, wipes away bitter tears and stays the hand of suicide. To live is to hope, and to hope is to have faith; to be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Far from ‘religion’ being in decline, the institutional monolith of a bygone era has simply fractured and fragmented into a plethora of micro-spiritualities, each propounding a distinctly religious way of life, all now competing in the market place for preeminence. If 72 per cent are no longer practising Christians, it is a fair bet that 95 per cent are ‘religious’, whether they eat bread, drink wine, consult horoscopes, wish with the new moon, stand in stone circles, hug trees…

…or dedicate their lives to the propagation of atheistic humanism.

If the BHA are concerned that the 2001 census produced inaccurate and misleading data on religion (in that it grossly undercounted the number of non-religious people and greatly inflated the number of Christians), they must equally be concerned that the 2011 census accurately measure the amount of ‘religion’ and ‘non-religion’ in the country.

Insofar as the BHA are keen to identify themselves patriotically as British, philosophically as humanist and by disposition associative, they are all actively involved in the affiliative pursuit of the ‘religious’.

By ticking the ‘No Religion’ box, the BHA simply perpetuate data inaccuracy.

72 Comments:

Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

It appears that a US court supports your view:

In the case of United States v. Kauten (2d Cir. 1943), conscientious objector status was granted to Mathias Kauten, not on the basis of his belief in God, but on the basis of his ‘religious conscience’. The court concluded: ‘Conscientious objection may justly be regarded as a response of the individual to an inward mentor, call it conscience or God, that is for many persons at the present time the equivalent of what has always been thought a religious impulse.’

The British Humanist Association is endangering the accuracy of the data and is therefore unpatriotic.

27 October 2010 at 09:51  
Blogger Botogol said...

I think it's more the case that the BHA are encouraging people to give this question the the serious attention it deserves, and to provide an honest, fair and considered answer.

His grace should support that.

The wording is woolly, but surely the question is asking not about our cultural heritage, which is known and obvious, but about our beliefs - which are not.

27 October 2010 at 10:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The congregation sits in silence as Mr Davis approaches the alter to the god Rationalism. Seeking guidance, he finally turns to deliver his daily sermon ...

27 October 2010 at 10:13  
Blogger William said...

Your Grace

As perspicacious as ever.

"His Grace would like the BHA to consider that very many Christians would not wish to be identified as being ‘religious’, not least because of the negative social connotations and assumed corollaries of the term. It is possible for the Christian to profess a faith and belief in Jesus without being remotely concerned with the classification ‘religious’."

Indeed many Christians would see religiousness as being the antithesis of Christianity.

27 October 2010 at 10:34  
Blogger Maturecheese said...

The BHA are concerned to distinguish between the practising/believing Christian and the cultural Christian, encouraging the latter to tick the ‘No Religion’ box.



This is an utter disgrace as a 'Cultural Christian' as you put it, is still a Christian as they have been shaped by Christianity and not some totalitarian ( and possibly evil) creed like Islam.

As I have posted before, If we go down the Atheist road we will lose what is left of the glue that holds us together thus leaving ourselves defenceless to more destructive influences.

I suppose I am a 'Cultural Christian' as I don't practise, but I have been influenced by my upbringing where the Bible was occasionally quoted by my parents and at junior school level(overseas) I was fond of religious studies.

The point I am making is that most British people of my age have been influenced by the Bible and the history of England and Great Britain is tied up with Christianity.

I am not saying the Christian Church is perfect but it has been able to evolve to suit the times unlike a certain other creed.

At this time though the Church needs to take stock of just how far it is allowing itself to be pulled towards the Humanist/Atheist agenda. The Church's weakness and divisions are a big part of the current undesirable situation.

27 October 2010 at 10:53  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Anon said at 10.13:

‘The congregation sits in silence as Mr Davis approaches the alter to the god Rationalism. Seeking guidance, he finally turns to deliver his daily sermon ...’

Ah! Mr Davis can only do what Mr Davis does because the people live in a time when they know longer know when a thing is proved or disproved.

The methodology of ‘deconstructionism’ taught in the University department has wrought its devastation upon an entire generation. The unbeliever is taught to be skeptical about the very idea of ‘evidence’. For the humanist it is all about ‘paradigm shift’ and ‘plausibility structure’. Even though this generation’s thought will logically lead to catastrophe – a catastrophe they cannot remotely imagine ensconced in relative peace and prosperity. Och! Even when their darkened minds stumble upon the logical conclusion of their train of thought they welcome it with nihilistic delight. They do not understand that they have boarded a train, hurtling along, trying in vain to catch up with a ‘runaway station’. They do not understand because they disbelieve in the meta-narrative. If they believed in the meta-narrative they would see the station ‘running away’.

Nevertheless, they call it ‘Progress’.

27 October 2010 at 11:07  
Anonymous Flossie said...

Who was it who said 'without God, there are no atheists'?

I know many people who consider themselves cultural Christians - many of whom ticked the 'Christian' box in the last census because they are scared stiff of Islam!

27 October 2010 at 11:45  
Blogger Preacher said...

Surely, being religous & being a christian are two different things.
Nicodemus was religous- "A teacher of Israel" or Rabbi, but Jesus told him that he must be born again of the Holy Spirit to know & understand God properly, despite his ritualistic knowledge of the Jewish faith.
Going to church doesn't make one a christian any more than being born in the Ford factory makes you a car.
In my experience many atheists, secular humanists & agnostics are generally humorous, generous people with a strong sense of right & wrong, what ever they attribute this to is up to them. These traits could as you so rightly say be classified as a form of belief or religion. The main problem that I find when we talk is that they often refer to science as the basis of their beliefs, but ignore the fact that for consistent laws of science to exist there has to be a founder, creator & sustainer of these laws.
The possibility that the complex & highly intricate nature of life on this planet could in my opinion not be a product of random chance.
To sum up; in my opinion, they do have a 'religion' although they see all religion as a type of weakness so will not accept the title 'religous'. Thus they live in the unenviable position of one foot on the boat, the other on the quay. trying to be good but in their denial of God, gaining no benefit of knowing Him personally.

27 October 2010 at 12:22  
Anonymous Peter Risdon said...

I'm afraid that, beyond the circle of cheerleaders here, you have to make a case in order to be considered to have made a case. Simply using words tendentiously is inadequate.

"Evangelising", "gospel" and "dogma" can be used literally or metaphorically. In the case of organised religions they are, generally, literal: Christians have a gospel, literally, you can hold it in your hand. Humanists and atheists do not. To conflate literal and metaphorical uses of words is to commit a logical fallacy of blinding obviousness.

Without God there would be no atheists? Without blumphy there would be no ablumphists. Where does this advance us? The list of things we are not is very large indeed.

The, apparently unpalatable, fact is that disbelief bears the same relationship to belief as a prairie does to a forest. There aren't different types of trees there; there are no trees.

27 October 2010 at 13:10  
Blogger Botogol said...

we don't need a census to tell us that most Britons are cultural christians, that's a statement of the bleeding obvious.

the purpose of the census question must be to find out what people believe

27 October 2010 at 13:28  
Blogger The Lizard King said...

Throw the census in the dustbin!

27 October 2010 at 13:32  
Blogger falterer said...

If you redefine the word "religion" so that faith in and worship of the supernatural are optional elements, you can find religion anywhere, not because you're open-minded and open-eyed, but because you've muddled the word and made it useless.

27 October 2010 at 13:34  
Blogger D. Singh said...

The ability of a man to think is supernatural.

27 October 2010 at 13:48  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Peter Risdon,

You appear not to know the meaning of some of the words the use of which you deride.

'Gospel' is from Old English godspel, and simply means 'good news'. Atheists and humanists most certainly believe that they have good news to share.

'Evangelism' has its etymological root in the Greek euaggelion, meaning, again, 'good news'.

'Dogma' is also from the Greek: it has come to mean a principle or tenet of teaching, but at root it means 'opinion'. Atheists and humanists hold to principles and express an opinion.

The use of none of these words was a matter of literal versus metaphorical, as you state. They were all puposely used in accordance with their precise dictionary definitions. It is you who appear unable to divorce them from their religious connotations, thereby establishing that it is you who 'commit a logical fallacy of blinding obviousness'.

Though even there you betray a very poor grasp of meaning and definition.

Perhaps you might consider your own advice: 'using words tendentiously is inadequate'.

27 October 2010 at 13:49  
Anonymous Peter Risdon said...

Your Grace,

Unless otherwise stated and except in technical papers, the contemporary meaning and common usage of words are the meaning and usage to be taken. It is disingenuous to suggest that the use of the words "dogma", "gospel" and "evangelism" by a religious person in a religious context referred in fact to their Anglo-Saxon and Greek origins.

My point stands.

Moving to your new definitions, they are so vague as to be useless in this discussion, as 'falterer' pointed out. Moreover, I have never seen an atheist describe his or her views as "good news", although the absence of many forms of religious bigotry and violence would fall into that category.

27 October 2010 at 13:58  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Peter Risdon,

Then you need to enlarge your social circuit or broaden the 'technical papers' you take.

It is perfectly reasonable that the use of such words 'by a religious person in a religious context referred in fact to their Anglo-Saxon and Greek origins'.

It is called scholarship.

If we limited our usage of words only to what others might understand by them, we might all be engaged in tedious monosyllabic superficiality for fear of being misunderstood or misinterpreted.

When a theologian uses the word 'myth', it is not in the sense of that understood 'in common usage' (ie fantasy); when the philosopher refers to 'materialism', it is not in the sense of that understood 'in common usage' (ie a lust for money and possessions).

One can be evangelistic for any cause: it entered the vernacular some decades ago as a synonym for 'enthusiastic'.

One may also be dogmatic, that is, adhering to dogma unswervingly. This also is a contemporary meaning and quite common usage.

'Gospel', His Grace will concede.

Because he is perfectly capable of changing his mind and conceding a point.

27 October 2010 at 14:18  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

C'mon Cranny, you know very well (or at least, I hope you do) that the term gospel has technical connotations that take it beyond merely another way of saying 'good news'.

Not only is it rooted in Hebrew, relating closely to the prophetic declaration of God's return to Zion, but also it has Greco-Roman connotations, as the word specifically used to speak of the birth of an Emperor or of a great conquest by an important miltary leader. These meanings poured into the Greek word euaggelion, giving it a rich, three-dimensional meaning that would not have been lost on its original hearers.

So when Paul wrote that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, he wasn't saying simply 'the good news concerning the Messiah.'

I think you have been unjustly dismissive of Mr Peter Risdon's valid comments.

May I respectfully suggest that when in a hole you should consider wielding the old spade?

27 October 2010 at 14:20  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Duh!
..consider stopping wielding the old spade...

27 October 2010 at 14:22  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Anabaptist,

His Grace refers you to the answer he gave some moments ago.

27 October 2010 at 14:25  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

Your Grace,

what about other faiths - should the BHA also ask this of muslims, jews and hindus as well ? I wonder how many 'cultural' muslims there are in the UK?

The trouble is that the BHA thinks that culture and religion are always the same, which in respect of Christianity is not the case given that it is a world wide faith. I would not be expected to have the same culture as a Christian from China, but I would hopefully share the same faith in Jesus.

27 October 2010 at 14:27  
Anonymous Peter Risdon said...

Your Grace,

I am grateful for the advice, but I am trying to contract my social circle. In fact, if anyone knows of any good anti-social networking software, I would be grateful for the tip-off.

I think to comment further on the main issue would be repetitive.

27 October 2010 at 14:38  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Ridson said:

‘The, apparently unpalatable, fact is that disbelief bears the same relationship to belief as a prairie does to a forest. There aren't different types of trees there; there are no trees.’

Then why do men scream whilst enduring nightmares? Because they disbelieve what they see in the nightmare?

27 October 2010 at 14:41  
Blogger William said...

falterer

Could you direct me to a definition of the word religion that only pertains to faith in and worship of the supernatural? I am having trouble finding one.

27 October 2010 at 14:42  
Anonymous Peter Risdon said...

D. Singh,

People do suffer from hallucinations and delusions. Were that not the case, we would not be having this conversation.

Nightmares are unpredictable, to bring on such a state of mind on demand, I recommend fasting, sleep deprivation and solitude.

27 October 2010 at 14:46  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Cranny: 'His Grace refers you to the answer he gave some moments ago.'

Our communications crossed in the post, Cranny. Glad that you see this my way.

27 October 2010 at 15:02  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Ridson

Your answer is question begging. Who and by what authority decides that which is delusional?

27 October 2010 at 15:02  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

For the benefit of Anon, here beginneth the first lesson....

Cranmer said

His Grace would like the BHA to consider that very many Christians would not wish to be identified as being ‘religious’, not least because of the negative social connotations and assumed corollaries of the term. It is possible for the Christian to profess a faith and belief in Jesus without being remotely concerned with the classification ‘religious’.

What rot! Afraid to admit being religious, in the privacy of a census form.

If 72 per cent are no longer practising Christians, it is a fair bet that 95 per cent are ‘religious’, whether they eat bread, drink wine, consult horoscopes, wish with the new moon, stand in stone circles, hug trees…

You confuse belief with religion. Many people believe in the efficacy of anti-aging creams, conspiracy theories and other nonsense. These opinions are born from ignorance, wishful thinking and superstition but they are not religious. They do not seek to propagate themselves by entrapment of the young or by crude threats and are ultimately contestable by reason. Religion is an ideology immuned from reason by faith.

You know only too well that the previous census question distorted the reality of religious belief in this country; perhaps the current one will help redress the balance.

27 October 2010 at 15:02  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

TECHNICAL QUESTION

Is anybody else experiencing the problem that is besetting me: When I first try to log on and comment, the word verification doesn't show -- just a box with a red X in it. Also the system refuses to recognise my password and requires me to enter it a second time?

27 October 2010 at 15:05  
Blogger D. Singh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

27 October 2010 at 15:05  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Anabaptist

Yes.

27 October 2010 at 15:06  
Blogger falterer said...

William,

Seek, and ye shall find. I tried a handful of online dictionaries:

Merriam-Webster: "the service and worship of God or the supernatural"

Cambridge: "the belief in and worship of a god or gods, or any such system of belief and worship". (If a god isn't supernatural, it isn't a god.)

Oxford: "the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power , especially a personal God or gods"

27 October 2010 at 15:12  
Blogger D. Singh said...

'Religion is an ideology immuned from reason by faith.'

Mr Davis you do not believe that as evidenced by your posts that engage in 'reasoned' argument with the believer.

27 October 2010 at 15:13  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Merriam-Webster: "the service and worship of God or the supernatural"

Cambridge: "the belief in and worship of a god or gods, or any such system of belief and worship". (If a god isn't supernatural, it isn't a god.)

Oxford: "the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power , especially a personal God or gods"

Then falterer must be religious as to think is to perform a supernatural activity.

27 October 2010 at 15:16  
Blogger Preacher said...

Anabaptist:
experiencing same problem, box has words: 'visual verification'.
Password not recognised & often have to open new blogger account to post.
time consuming & boring!

27 October 2010 at 15:24  
Blogger William said...

falterer

Did you also happen to notice:

Mirriam-Webster:

"a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith"

Cambridge:

"an activity which someone is extremely enthusiastic about and does regularly"

Oxford:

"a particular system of faith and worship"

"a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion"

While I agree that God is supernatural, it would seem that religion does not only pertain to the supernatural as you assert.

27 October 2010 at 15:28  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr William

Outstanding!

And Mr Davis:

Charles Darwin himself once said:

`The horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust the conviction of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?' [Darwin, C.R., Letter to W. Graham, July 3rd, 1881, in Darwin, F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," [1898], Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. I., 1959, reprint, p.285]

Och! Even Darwin makes monkeys out of ‘atheists’.

27 October 2010 at 15:31  
Blogger Bill Sticker said...

Evangelistic Atheists? Surely an oxymoron, your grace.

27 October 2010 at 15:34  
Blogger falterer said...

William,

The cause/enthusiasm definitions are figurative, and all are secondary uses of the word, none of which detract from its primary meaning. Since the 16th century, "religion" has primarily referred to faith in and worship of a higher, unseen, supernatural power, allowing us to use the words "religious" and "secular" in contrast.

27 October 2010 at 16:01  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

Mr Anabaptist and D Singh.

I have overcome the problem by opening at new tab with my blogger dashboard signed in. This auto allows you to comment without logging into each comment window. A very strange bloody nightmare, but it works without having to sign in every time.

Good post Cranmer by the way. Without hope, I would be a goner by now.

27 October 2010 at 16:32  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Mr Singh

As a Christian Darwin was dismayed by his discoveries but eventually was reconciled to their implications. Over 100 years of scientific research since then has not only confirmed his theories but with genetics and other disciplines that Darwin could not have imagined proved (as far as anything can be proved) that life, the universe and everything came into existence without need of your supernatural magic.

27 October 2010 at 16:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has it not struck anybody that our beliefs, religious or otherwise, are nobody's business but our own. I would like to see believer and atheist unites in pointing this out on the census form.

27 October 2010 at 16:46  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

Mr Davis

"as far as anything can be proved"

Then why waste your breath in here day in and day out? I don't get it. You repeat the same mantras over and over. Are you trying to torture us into submission? It wont work you know. By all means continue, but please know this - You bore me to death with your constant ranting and raving about Darwin and bloody genes and science. Write a book or something and sell it on ebay - God strewth.

27 October 2010 at 17:03  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Jared

Apologies if my comments cause you such pain however I was responding to the venerable Singh.

27 October 2010 at 17:19  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

Apology accepted. Come clean man and be a man. If you are having feelings and questions of heart then open up and explore them, there is no need to worry about other people. Nobody has all the answers so why pretend? Be yourself man and delve in honestly and openly. You can adopt this challenging front all the time, and you will get answers this way, but you are denying yourself what it is to be human and the joys of connecting with your soul.

Throw that stupid and childish avatar away and explore the universe of your own mind openly and honestly.

Hell, you can even pop round my house for a brew sometime.

27 October 2010 at 17:37  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

Without religion there would have been no science - no belief that we live in a Universe. Every scientific discovery simply enlarges our knowledge of God's truth. The tendency of some atheists to narrow down every discussion with a religious element into an argument about the existence of God is extremely tedious.

27 October 2010 at 18:51  
Blogger LeucipottomySpoon82 said...

Your Grace, this piece of news warrants attention I feel. Personally, it disturbs me. Ignorance is one thing but for goodness sake...

http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/8474153.Muslim_preaches_at_Oxford_college_chapel/

27 October 2010 at 19:01  
Blogger Gnostic said...

I'd like to see tick boxes marked mind your own f*cking business on any questions not associated with the strict census requirements of name, dob, pob, status, address and occupation of people living full time in the place they call home. No more PC BS!

Oh and let's see a question about whether or not we want to stay in the EU. I'd love to be given a chance to answer that one...

27 October 2010 at 19:12  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

"I'd like to see tick boxes marked mind your own f*cking business..."

You know, Miss Gnostic, there might be something in that...

27 October 2010 at 19:21  
Anonymous Bob Chapman said...

Is it possible that Your Grace has let your word usage be affected by that oxymoron called "American English"? In particular, have you been affected by how the information technology industry uses the word "evangelist" in the United States?

It is common for IT firms to have evangelists to promote technology usage. For example, the careers section of the Amazon.com (US) website currently has an opening for a "Kindle Book Evanglist." The position description starts with this job description:

"Amazon is looking for an experienced professional to work with authors, agents and publishers to facilitate and encourage title selection on Kindle, Amazon’s portable reader. Kindle Evangelists will be passionate advocates on behalf of customers educating, influencing and bringing together all the interested parties who can make more titles available on Kindle."

The activity in which the Humanists are engaging most certainly can be called evangelism when taken from that point of view.

Even so, your adoption of American English usage has me worried. I am afraid the Sursum Corda in the next Book of Common Prayer may include a line like this:

"It is totally cool, rad, and sweet to always and everywhere praise the Bro."

Please consider your future word usage carefully for your good and the good of all the church. Thank you.

28 October 2010 at 00:33  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Anon 10:13 made me laugh .
Your grace touches on all the points. My early journey involved me attempting to deliver the unequivical truth , the fine appologist speakers from our great universities were an influence , but were more often than not pre occupied with the famous American court trial , and so my rather long journey through science took place and a read of some of Fred Hoyles work , for it is in cosmology that some of the more interesting questions arise .

The recent times have seen the impact of the human genome research , and it was interesting to see the large number of scientists line up to claim that man was finally able to understand him self without the need for religion . Prof Dawkins who is involved with this movement has tried very hard to tie up the differnt strands , sometimes with science that is showmanship and defiance, sometimes with some interesting questions.

This campaign utilises the residue of what science has explained over the last 20 yrs namely that with enough theoretical themes the mind cannot help but deduce that God is superstition .
The BHA still bangs on that faith is a delusion , almost forgetting that by there own system of logic they too could be deluded "the great no god delusion" is somthing they perhaps dont like , as it based on persuasion.

Any scientist will have to formulate that there is order , or else science its self would collapse .The BHA in the end postulates that the order has purely physcial laws which when understood means we can and should be liberated from stition.
The fact that they believe there is no choice begins to smack of some of the early ideas that led to national socialism .
There anger that countries still alow delusion to be preached perhaps begins to look like socialism , or at least a necessary precursor for it .
If no god then your logical political construct must be socialism .

God of course requires us to love and work our lives out in a different way , sometimes percived as a ladder of ups and downs .Such a relationship requires the incomplete to work at the perfection as god imagined for us .

The BHA continues to make a place of perfect knowledge , a mould , for us to be cast into hence its desire for totalitarisn constructs . The mould defines the possibilities for us , defects are intolerbale weakness .

If god makes the foolish to humiliate the clever I am more than happy that BHA considers me a fool.

28 October 2010 at 01:20  
Anonymous ZAROVE said...

Mr. Davies, aybe you will answer me this time.

You keep contrastign reason to religion, sayign religion restson faith and so is immune from rational critisism. But why shoudl anyone beleive this? Your definition of Faith is wropng. Your still defining Faith as beleif without evidence.


Incidentaly, yoru still misdefining Religion, too.


Your own Humanism is a Religion, because it is a set of beleifs about the nature, cause, and origins of the Universe.

Thats what Religion is.

Faith comes from the Latin Fidese, meaning "Trust" or "Loyality" , not beleif without evidence.

Really, I csnt take Atheists too seriously if they stick to this useless rhetoric to crate the synthetic image that "religous people" are less intellegent and less rational than they are...




This post was poorly written because Im dyslexic and did not have time to spell check.

28 October 2010 at 02:44  
Blogger falterer said...

Not A Machine, you may be interested in (if not already aware of) Francis Collins, the gentleman who led the Human Genome Project, who considers his work at the HGP to provide evidence for God (his book, "The Language of God", is a summary.) Agnosticism certainly prevails in the sciences, but Collins and also Ken Miller are both good scientists and Christian Apologists. It's baffling that the media continues to spin fringe religious fundamentalists as representative of "the culture war" between religion and science, while genuine Apologists like Collins and Miller are so prominent.

28 October 2010 at 02:47  
Blogger falterer said...

Zarove, I disagree that Humanism is a set of beliefs about origins etc. It would be more accurate to say it's a set of beliefs about how humans can most reliably explain our origins. Modern Humanists generally assert that our origins can in principle be explained both rationally and without appeal to the supernatural, but they don't prescribe specific explanations. For example: because natural abiogenesis on Earth is an explanation for the origin of life, and one that can be inferred from empirical evidence and experimentation, the observations of which can be independently and disinterestedly verified, the Humanist accepts it, but only until a more likely explanation is offered that meets the same naturalistic criteria. There is no loyalty to the belief that abiogenesis happened, and the explanation is met with a barrage of skepticism (distrust) all the way to its acceptance.

28 October 2010 at 04:10  
Blogger OurSally said...

>content to believe without belonging

Or like me, belonging without believing. I was brought up in a very Methodist area, in an Anglican family. Like St Paul I had an epiphany, only the other way around - there are no gods in my universe. So I subscribe to Christian ethics but without the supernatural part. That's what fits for me.

Getting older has taught me that it's no use evangelising about atheism or anything else. Some people need a god, some don't. And to my mind the Anglican way is ideal for living at peace with one's fellow humans, which is what is boils down to, in the end.

Thus the census question is superficial. If it contained two questions, to which religion you you lean culturally, and how much of the received dogma do you believe (expressed in percent), it would give a more accurate set of data. Supposing people filled it in seriously, which they don't.

Accurate data is not what they are looking for, though, they just need some data, any data, to fill out the pie charts. Presumably it affects some form of funding sometime in the future.

When I have to put my religion I put a dash - I don't have one. "Atheism is only a religion if not collecting stamps is a hobby."

28 October 2010 at 07:14  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis wrote:

‘Over 100 years of scientific research since then has not only confirmed his theories but with genetics and other disciplines that Darwin could not have imagined proved (as far as anything can be proved) that life, the universe and everything came into existence without need of your supernatural magic.’

Mr Davis one of the reasons you go round and round in circles is now evident: ‘as far as anything can be proved’. It is clear you are unable to distinguish between the different standards of belief (i.e., scientific, criminal and civil).

The very scientific research you rely upon shouts out loud and proud the workings of mind.

Whether a machine is high quality or low quality, its designer is both necessary and apparent. Information Theory states that concept and design can only result from a mind. Even the diminished quality of a poorly constructed machine cannot obscure the necessity of an intelligent designer. Machines, as defined by French Biochemist and Nobel Laureate Jacques Lucien Monod (1910-1976), are "purposeful aggregates of matter that, utilizing energy, perform specific tasks." By this authoritative definition, living systems are recognized as machines. A living organism fulfills the definition of a machine all the way down to the molecular level. And yet, because of the philosophical and religious implications of life resulting from Intelligent Design, a surprisingly large portion of the intelligentsia seek to find a mechanism by which life may arise naturally by random chance. Evolutionists admit the inconsistency. George Wald, an evolutionist, states, "When it comes to the origin of life there are only two possibilities: creation or spontaneous generation. There is no third way. Spontaneous generation was disproved one hundred years ago, but that leads us to only one other conclusion, that of supernatural creation. We cannot accept that on philosophical grounds; therefore, we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance!" ("The Origin of Life," Scientific American, 191:48. May 1954).

28 October 2010 at 08:51  
Blogger D. Singh said...

But of course regular readers may upbraid me for omitting to mention an advantage that Mr Davis has; it is an advantage mentioned by CS Lewis back in the Forties:

Screwtape said: ‘… the time has passed in which the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not.’

And in ‘The Abolition of Man’ Lewis foresaw the shackled minds of the ‘free thinkers’ of today:

‘But you cannot go on “explaining away” forever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on “seeing through” things forever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to “see through” first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To “see through” all things is the same as not to see.’

Mr Davis’s thought has not matured for two reasons: his mind is stuck in the methodology of ‘seeing through’ and as he ‘sees through’ the paradox is he does not see.

28 October 2010 at 09:18  
Blogger William said...

"Atheism is only a religion if not collecting stamps is a hobby."

Atheism becomes a religion when it starts evangelising its own dogma, as some evolutionary atheists are now doing.

28 October 2010 at 09:23  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Jared

Thank you for those kind words. However I think our views are irreconcilable as it seems that you want something that I can happily live without. I just don’t need to believe as you obviously do. This doesn’t leave me emotionally impoverished and I have a clear vision of what it is to be human.

I discovered that my mother too was an atheist long after I became one. She may have kept it from me because she couldn’t bring herself to completely acknowledge it or perhaps because she thought that I would be happier with a belief in God. She was a reluctant atheist and always wanted to believe and to exist without the prospect of an afterlife scared her.

In contrast I am completely accepting of my own mortality, I know that I will die and that will be it so I get on with business of living. I don’t want to die but as I get older and chronologically closer to it, it bothers me less than when I was young. A word that is often heard on these pages is “hope”. I am never quite sure what believer’s are hoping for. Is it to be reunited with loved ones after death, is it that life should have some purpose, is it that one’s “goodness” should be recognised? I live contentedly without being bothered about hope.

Zarove

Surely if there was concrete evidence that God existed so that even I would accept it then Faith would be irrelevant? Humanism in not a religion, it has no creed and no authority. It is simply a way of recognising that human beings have evolved with measure of morality as otherwise our species would have been unlikely to survive. Some have tried to codify it but at its heart it is simply “do as you would be done by” and try not to hurt other people. If you apply that simple philosophy to your own behaviour you won’t go far wrong. No God, no scripture needed.

Our Sally said

"Atheism is only a religion if not collecting stamps is a hobby." Brilliant!

28 October 2010 at 09:56  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

28 October 2010 at 09:57  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Mr Sing said

Mr Davis one of the reasons you go round and round in circles is now evident: ‘as far as anything can be proved’. It is clear you are unable to distinguish between the different standards of belief (i.e., scientific, criminal and civil).

I think you mean “different standards of proof”. As nothing can be proved absolutely we do indeed accept different standards of proof. “Beyond reasonable doubt” is accepted in law but it probably applies to science as well. However robust no theory is immune from challenge.

28 October 2010 at 10:09  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

You reveal another facet of where you’re thinking is confused: ‘I think you mean “different standards of proof”.’

No I do not mean different standards of proof.

28 October 2010 at 11:13  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Mr Singh

Surely it is belief that is subject to varying degrees of proof?

different standards of belief would imply very good, not so good, poor etc.

28 October 2010 at 11:40  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

‘Surely it is belief that is subject to varying degrees of proof?’

If you are sure then why the question mark? What I think you mean is this: ‘‘Surely it is belief that is subject to varying degrees of evidence?’

‘different standards of belief would imply very good, not so good, poor etc.’

No.

You are confused about what ‘standards of belief’ means. I thought I had made it clear when I put in parenthesis ‘scientific, criminal and civil’?

Let me put it another way without making it explicit so that you have the opportunity to freely think for yourself: in a criminal court would you apply different standards of 'proof' (evidence) between defendants A, B and C?

28 October 2010 at 11:51  
Blogger falterer said...

William,

"Atheism becomes a religion when it starts evangelising its own dogma."

No, mere evangelism doesn't make a religion, either. Mr. Cranmer chose the word for its etymological connotation of "good news". But not all "good news" is religious: butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers also advertise, and these are not religious professions per se. "Evangelism" can also mean proselytizing, which is something not all religions do (it's considered, for example, very un-Buddhist); and again, it can be done in a secular context: gyms and stamp collecting clubs also advertise to convert new members, yet are not religions.

28 October 2010 at 13:18  
Blogger William said...

falterer

I am faltering.

28 October 2010 at 16:53  
Anonymous ZAROVE said...

Mr. Davies, surly you aren’t really this Dense. In my need to believe you aren’t a total fool, and I mean this in exasperation, surly you simply don’t read what I actually say.

Otherwise, your proving that you can’t see part your Rhetoric into what I’ve actually argued.


“Surely if there was concrete evidence that God existed so that even I would accept it then Faith would be irrelevant?”


No, my Dear Mr. Graham Davies, this is not the case. If there was evidence that God existed that even you accepted, this means everyone would have Faith. I will repeat what I have told you before, in greater detail. Faith is not defined as “Belief without evidence”. There are six distinct definitions of it in the Dictionary, six. Only one is “Belief without Evidence”, and that one is not the one that’s always applied to Religious Faith or what Faith mean sin a Religious Context.


Faith comes from the Latin word Fidese, meaning Trust or Loyalty. In the context of Religion, Faith is referring to either Trust in something, such as the specific teachings of a Sage, or in Loyalty to such teachings or to said Sage and his Teachings combined.

Faith is not, nor has it ever been, understood as Belief Without Evidence.

So if there was unquestioned Evidence that God existed, I should hope your Trust in Gods existence would be there. That is to say, you’d then have absolute Faith.


Please stop mouthing off the repeated refrains from Barley Literate Atheist agitators, and start to do what we’re all told endlessly “Nonreligious” people like you do, think for yourself, use reason, and actually come to a Rational Conclusion about these things.

29 October 2010 at 02:30  
Anonymous ZAROVE said...

Continued.


“Humanism in not a religion, it has no creed and no authority.”


Your wrong on Three Counts.

1: You assume a Religion requires a Creed and an Authority. This is not so, as many Religions, including Branches of Christianity, lack Creeds. I grew up in the Churches of Christ, which doesn’t accept any Creeds. This includes the Nicene. Many other forms of Christianity do not hold to Creeds, as do many other Religious beliefs.

Likewise, not all Religions have any sort of set Authority.


2: Humanism actually does have a set of Doctrines and does have Authority. Its Authority is derived from what it perceives as Human Interest, and Reason as defined by the Enlightenment. (Which precludes any thought that comes to conclusions not part of that Philosophy.) The Primacy of Reason, and the demand hat Reason be defined narrowly as only a set core Philosophy, is the creation of an Authority.

Likewise, there are plenty of Humanist Originations, such as the British Humanist Society, the Richard Dawkins Foundation, and the Council of Secular Humanism, not to mention Organisations like the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which serve as depositories for Dissemination of the shared beliefs in Humanism. While you may try to create a Synthetic distinction by claiming that no one follows Richard Dawkins or Dan Barker, and that Humanists like yourself are Free Thinkers, as opposed to Religious People, keep in mind that Dawkins and Barker both have a rather obvious role as Leaders in a movement.

Indeed, one may cite the fact that they are listened to and quoted Authoritatively as evidence that Humanism does, in fact, have people within its ranks considered “Authorities”.


While you may challenge this and say that no one has to agree with everything those leaders say, my counter is that no one has to agree with everything a Church of Christ Preacher says to remain in good standing in the Churches of Christ, or for that matter one need not agree with every Anglican Priest or Bishop to remain in good Standing in the Anglican Churches around the world.

Still, those men and women who I could list who have generated a following and who give speeches, write books, and go on promotional tours are quiet clearly serving in the same capacity as Clergy. They are Evangelising the Masses into their beliefs, they are preaching to those whoa re converted to supply them with answers, and they are treated with a certain degree of respect and even adulation.

It is simply disingenuous to claim otherwise.

Just as it is disingenuous to claim they are not teaching a unified Philosophy shared by adherents in a Broad sense. And not even that Broad, mist of you types say exactly the same things, with disagreements or variances being minor.



This brings me to


3: Religion is not belief in gods and supernatural powers. It is a Set of Beliefs regarding the Fundamental Nature of Our existence. Humanism offers a Philosophy regarding the Fundamental Nature of our existence. It is a Religion because it does exactly the same thing Religion does in exactly the same way.

Why should I see it as not a Religion?

29 October 2010 at 02:31  
Anonymous ZAROVE said...

“ It is simply a way of recognising that human beings have evolved with measure of morality as otherwise our species would have been unlikely to survive. Some have tried to codify it but at its heart it is simply “do as you would be done by” and try not to hurt other people. If you apply that simple philosophy to your own behaviour you won’t go far wrong. No God, no scripture needed.”


But, the fact that you say “No God, no Scripture needed” shows that you go beyond “Do unto Others as you would have them do unto you”.

That said, if I visit any Humanist Website I see quiet a bit more to it than that. I as a Christian already live by that Rule, yet believe in God. I doubt you’d call me a Humanist. I also doubt you’d call a Buddhist a Humanist, or for that matter an Atheist who follows Ayn Rands Objectivism. The fact of the matter is, Humanism is a Philosophy that was base don the ideals of the Enlightenment, about Egalitarianism, Fraternity, and Liberty, social Democracy being a core concept. The Elevation of Reason being another core concept, and the definition of Reason as that which precludes Supernatural claims in favour of Naturalism is another such tenet.


And there’s a lot more too, if you’d want I could post links to diverse Humanist sites and they will all tell you what Humanist believe, and trust me there will be little to no actual deviation.

29 October 2010 at 02:33  
Anonymous ZAROVE said...

I realise that Humanists dislike the word Religion and people, like you, think of yourselves as having escaped the clutches of Religion, and even view Religion as a Retrograde thing, a throwback to Primitive times before Science and Reason, and as the force you Strive against, but that doesn’t really make Religion as bad as you think, nor does it make you really the opposite of being Religious.

The fact that you frame the entire debate as being between Rationalism and Religion, and therefore give all positive attributes to Rationalism and all Negative attributes to Religion, doesn’t really mean that Religion is the Antithesis of what your own Rational beliefs are. Just s it doesn’t make you own beliefs objectively Rational. They are subjectively Rational. They are Rational because you have defined Reason as that specific set of beliefs rather than a means to arrive at beliefs, and Religion is the opposite of it, and something you lack, because you define it as the enemy.

But Objectively, your beliefs do not differ from Religion, and Religion and Reason aren’t’ really mutually exclusive.

29 October 2010 at 02:34  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Zarove

Thank you for such an exhaustive reply, I am afraid mine will be brief.

My own moral compass is set with compassion for humanity at its centre so I call that humanism but if you prefer I will give it another name. Of course I don’t claim to always practice what I “preach” but at least when I have err I can recognise my wrongdoings.

I assume that you believe in a god that is recognised through a particular religion, I don’t. I cannot accept any assertion that is made without supporting evidence so that includes all religious belief systems (and a lot of other things). It is not enough to feel that something is true, there must be evidence for it or anything can be true.

I know that I sometimes appear to insult believers but I recognise that all who post here are intelligent, articulate and many probably better educated than me. However I still claim that your/their faith is kept behind a “firewall” that is impervious to reason and nothing I have read here has dissuaded me from that opinion, rather it has confirmed it.

I guess that this thread has run its course but if you want the last word please feel free.

29 October 2010 at 09:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is it that the BHA want the next, and last census, to show? Do we care about the BHA? Surely the most pressing question concerning the census is why have the ConDems, with Labour’s blessing of course, chosen to make the 2011 census the last census ever? What is it that the three main parties don’t want revealed? Yesterday’s old news that a certain boys’ name beginning with ‘M’ is the most popular might be a clue...

29 October 2010 at 11:27  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Zarove

Thank you for such an exhaustive reply, I am afraid mine will be brief.

My own moral compass is set with compassion for humanity at its centre so I call that humanism but if you prefer I will give it another name. Of course I don’t claim to always practice what I “preach” but at least when I have err I can recognise my wrongdoings.

I assume that you believe in a god that is recognised through a particular religion, I don’t. I cannot accept any assertion that is made without supporting evidence so that includes all religious belief systems (and a lot of other things). It is not enough to feel that something is true, there must be evidence for it or anything can be true.

I know that I sometimes appear to insult believers but I recognise that all who post here are intelligent, articulate and many probably better educated than me. However I still claim that your/their faith is kept behind a “firewall” that is impervious to reason and nothing I have read here has dissuaded me from that opinion, rather it has confirmed it.

I guess that this thread has run its course but if you want the last word please feel free.

29 October 2010 at 17:10  

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