My, but we seem to be getting a lot of comments about offence and hurt feelings around here lately. This is the first of two posts talking directly to that. It is, I suppose, a brief "Why I do what I do" post. The next, hopefully this evening but probably tomorrow morning (I have a computer to rebuild for a friend in the meantime), will be about what goes on under the line, in comments.
For the most part this is a secularist blog (subject to change at my own whim). That's not to say that I don't have a direct pop—often, even—at the subject of religion and what I feel is wrong with it as a system of thought. Especially fundamentalist religion. Even then, though, my main point, across all such posts, is that I don't want it or the resultant moral/political doctrines forced upon me—or, indeed, anyone—by violence, by social convention or by law. I criticise core religious beliefs and religiously-based thinking because they effect the political and social world I inhabit.
At the same time, I recognise that when talking of religion and politics, and especially the conjunction of the two, I'm going to be attacking beliefs and opinions around which some people base their identity to greater or lesser extent; and thus I am bound to deeply offend some people. And, in some of those people's cases—people for whom I have a lot of respect and often liking—I regret this necessity.
That said, one of my own deeply held beliefs is that governmental policy and such should be, as much as possible, evidence-based. I find "toe-the-party-line," and "no U-turn in the face of evidence" ideological politics intellectually and morally offensive, and I find equally offensive the idea of having policies based upon MPs' and/or their voters' interpretations of the purported wishes of a being in whom I do not believe and who, if scripture is anything to go by, I would consider my moral inferior if he did exist.
Unfortunately, I live in a country, a world, where policies are debated and decided along such lines. Which means, Gentle Reader, that unless I want to shut up and put up with a situation which I find offensive, I cannot help but talk about politics, religion, and the intersection of the two. Which means that—given that I'm criticising core-beliefs—along with pissing off some people I dislike, I'm bound to piss off some people I do like.
To quote Martin Luther, ironically enough, given the context: "Here I stand. I can do no other."
I believe that religion is a system designed to trap people not only into false beliefs, but into a false idea of what constitutes good evidence and good logic, because that's the only way it can propagate itself and support those false beliefs. If someone can find me a way of saying that which will offend no one, I'd be interested to see it. Until then, to be blunt; if you find that offensive, then either don't read the blog or learn to deal with feeling offended.
As an aside, I'm planning on reading the Qur'an soon, and posting my impressions on here, chapter by chapter, as I go. I'll be interested to see how many Christians, who've claimed to be offended as I criticise their beliefs (more often than not because I've typed "religion," and they've somehow read "Christianity"), manage to be offended at my having the temerity to criticise other people's equally sincerely and deeply held beliefs.
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