Archive for category Religion
Has there ever been a time when the slogan on this shirt was more appropriate?
I was so disappointed to hear that the German government has caved in to superstitious pressure and will now allow the mutilation of small boys after all. Surely they must have realised the sort of fuss that passing a law banning circumcision would cause? If they weren’t prepared to stand up against that then why pass it in the first place?
Dr. F. Bunny
What puzzles me is, if there is an after-life and it is as wonderful as all the various religious leaders profess it to be, then why are they all still here? Crazy as they were, at least our friends from Heaven’s Gate and the various other suicide cults put their money where their mouth was. They believed there was something to go to that was better than their current earthly existence, and they acted on that belief. I have to admire the courage of their convictions.
As opposed to all the other living religious leaders, who spend an enormous amount of time asking their followers to martyr themselves, without ever volunteering to do so themselves. If this life is so miserable and transient and the next one is so glorious I would have thought they would be tripping over themselves to get there. More’s the pity that they are not.
And why rail against all the infidels and injustices in this life, when it’s all temporary and an eternity of paradise awaits just around the corner? Surely killing all the unbelievers is counterproductive, because they are receiving a quick trip to their version of paradise, rather than being left to suffer a bit longer on this plane of existence. Except for the murdered atheists, who just stay dead and buried. At least we won’t have to put up with an eternity of preaching, hymns and virgins. Actually I could probably cope with the third one, although I’ve never quite worked out what the virgins get if they martyr themselves.
Dr. F. Bunny
By painting a picture of life with God in it as more colourful and exciting than the mundane existence of a god-less life Yann Martel’s book “Life of Pi” attempts to convince us that, as we cannot definitively prove or disprove God’s existence, we are better off with the version of life where God exists. After all who wouldn’t want a life that was full of angels, heaven and the promise of everlasting life, compared with rotting for all eternity? Me.
Do you really want to live forever? All that is good about life is connected to the fact that it is finite and fleeting. We love our friends and family as fiercely as we do because we know that they will not be there forever. The prospect of death lurking around every corner governs the way we live. While we certainly do not welcome death and try to delay its inevitable approach to actually defeat death would be disaster. The constant spectre of death forces us to sharpen our focus and live in the moment, although some of us appear to live as if death does not exist. Without death life would lose its poignancy. Things that are transient are appreciated so much more than the perennial things we take for granted.
In the Dark Knight Rises batman is unable to complete the final leap that delivers freedom from the pit because he no longer fears death:
“Blind Prisoner: You do not fear death. You think this makes you strong. It makes you weak.
Blind Prisoner: How can you move faster than possible, fight longer than possible without the most powerful impulse of the spirit: the fear of death?
Batman: I do fear death. I fear dying in here, while my city burns, and there’s no one there to save it.
Blind Prisoner: Then make the climb.
Blind Prisoner: As the child did. Without the rope. Then fear will find you again.”
Needless to say he succeeds and saves the day, but the point is made that the fear of death is what has driven us to some of our greatest accomplishments and moments of outstanding heroism.
Eternal life? Eternal ennui. You can have it. I would rather fall to my final rest knowing a life well lived lay behind me and that, even if I could, I was too damn tired to live forever.
Dr. F. Bunny
For those not familiar with it, The Gruen Transfer is a regular program shown on the ABC that looks at ads, advertising and the various techniques used to sell products. Each episode features a segment called, “The Pitch” where two advertising companies compete against each other to create an ad designed to sell an unsellable product. Some of these have included bottled air, lowering the national drinking age to 16, and convincing people that Facebook is uncool. My favourite, however, is the pitch designed to convince us that banning all religions is a good idea. Mind you, it didn’t take much to convince me. Both ads are very clever and thought provoking and well worth a look. The whole thing takes less than five minutes to watch and can be found at: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/gruentransfer/poll4/vote/past.htm. Pitch 6 is the one you’re after. I can only hope and “pray” that one day we will see these ads for real.
Dr. F. Bunny
Last year the Dutch banned religious slaughter of animals. Now Germany is to be congratulated for banning circumcision (http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/06/27/germany-circumcision-idINDEE85Q0GN20120627). Predictably all the same religious groups that complained about not being allowed to cause unnecessary pain to animals are now affronted that they can no longer cause pain to small boys. They conveniently see it as another attack on their religious freedoms and ignore the real reason for the ban: infants cannot decide for themselves whether or not they want pieces of themselves cut off as part of an arcane, outmoded ritual. There are no medical reasons to cut off a foreskin. While Herodotus suggested over two thousand years ago that circumcision was done for the sake of cleanliness I believe that, in the twenty-first century, we are not only able to wash behind our ears, but behind our foreskins as well. If an adult voluntarily consents to have things snipped off that is different but to subject an infant to this practice is unacceptable. Perhaps we should bring back witch burning and human sacrifice? Female circumcision was outlawed in the US in 1996. Why should male circumcision be any different?
Dr. F. Bunny
Let us say, just for a moment, that God exists. That leads us to the difficult problem of religion, or rather, religions. Presumably the devotees of each faith believe theirs is the one true religion. In fact they may believe it so fervently that they are prepared to kill or die for that belief. But how can they know that they are right? Best case scenario: all religions are false, except one. Worst case scenario: they are all wrong.
If we assume that one religion is the real one, how do we know which one that is? Presumably Christians believe they are right because the Bible says so. But the Muslims have the Koran and the Jews have the Torah. Surely there cannot be more than one correct holy book? And what of the Christians? There are Catholics, Protestants, Methodists, Anglicans, Jehovah’s Witnesses and who knows how many others. How can they all read the same book, be provided with the same information, but come to conclusions different enough to make them want to start their own unique true religion, and reject the other false ones?
So, here is my dilemma. As a non-religious person how do I know which religion to choose, as I want to choose the right one, and there appears to be a similar lack of evidence supporting all of them? What if I make an honest mistake and choose the wrong one? Do I burn for all eternity? What of people living in the jungles, who haven’t heard of any of these religions? Do they burn solely because of their isolation?
A similar situation exists in medicine. Whenever a disease pops up for which there is no satisfactory cure a huge range of therapies appear, some conventional and some alternative, but all with the same characteristics: a lack of hard evidence proving that they work. Where a disease has a definite cure and there is evidence that the cure works, penicillin in the case of scarlet fever for example, that treatment dominates and the others disappear. I wonder if the same cannot be said of religion. Could there be so many religions because none of them are right?
Dr. F. Bunny
Atheists are commonly asked, “How can there be morality without God?” This is the wrong question. The question should be, “How can there be morality with God?” God is incredibly divisive and regularly pits his followers against the non-believers. The trouble is that all theists consider themselves to be his followers. God must be very keen for people to come and stay with him because he has been, and continues to be, one of the major causes of conflict throughout the history of the world. Before judging the amoral atheists consider that atheists do not raise armies to destroy non-atheists. Atheists do not blow themselves up, or anyone else for that matter. Atheists are very tolerant of other people’s imaginary friends and do not force them to recant their beliefs. They don’t burn people at the stake, behead them, threaten small children with eternal damnation, subjugate women or build extravagant monuments to their imaginary friends. Atheists decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong. They don’t rely on anachronistic scribblings to tell them what to do, scribblings such as those I have listed below. Unfortunately these edicts are a little too general and need some clarification and updating. I would appreciate it if anyone can help me out.
a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odour for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbours. They claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
b) I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obliged to kill him myself?
c) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev 1:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?
d) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her (While visiting Morocco I was offered 1000 camels. Of course I refused. He then increased it to 2000 camels. That represented serious currency. Unfortunately my wife threatened me with serious violence, so I was forced to decline his generous offer, much to my daughter’s relief)?
e) Lev 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Indonesians, but not New Zealanders. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own New Zealanders?
f) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15: 19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.
g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or are there some allowances for reading glasses?
h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?
i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean, but may my son still play football if he wears gloves?
j) My uncle, a farmer, blatantly violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). I have also heard him curse and blaspheme. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16). Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair?
Definitely an oldie but a goody. How can there be morality without God? I’m sorry what was the question?
Dr. F. Bunny