Although we are opposed to religious belief per se, our vehemency derives less from the belief itself than from its real world consequences. I blog against religion in general, because I’m against it in all its forms, but my main targets are homophobia, sexism, creationism and Intelligent Design, the indoctrination of children, the destructive notion of hellfire, and so on.
On issues such as global warming, I’m quite happy to make common cause with religious people who share my worries. I also don’t think that when religion causes human suffering, that suffering is inherently worse than the everyday kind.
For instance, I strongly oppose the Islamic doctrine that husbands are allowed to beat their wives if they don’t obey them (Koran 4:34), but I don’t think the suffering of those women is any worse than that of women whose husbands beat them for reasons which have nothing to do with religion.
Having said that, we wouldn’t normally let people who publicly supported wife beating take over schools, and I don’t see why Islamic faith schools like the ones we now have in the UK should be an exception. For that matter, there’s plenty of material in the Bible which would justify a long hard look at the involvement of the churches.
If you’re American you don’t have this problem, although you do face others. As a matter of political principle, we would try to get faith schools abolished in the UK, and oppose their introduction in the US.
With regard to science, we would seek to defend it against religious attack, where that attack takes place. Richard Dawkins, for instance, has compared the experience of being an evolutionary biologist defending his science against creationism to that of a lecturer in Ancient Roman history being attacked by a religion that belives the world started in the nineteenth century. He has shared an anti-creationist platform with the former Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, and I would applaud him for this.
Posted: July 15th 2007
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