Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Secular Achievements

A Better Place in Which to Live

Here is a howler from David Farrar of Kiwiblog--betraying his ignorance of recent history.  He writes:
Countries that don’t separate religion and state almost always are worse places to live  than those countries which do.
So those countries which made a great virtue out of being a-religious such as the Soviet Union, East Germany, the entire Eastern European bloc, and Pol Pot's Cambodia (which modelled its ideology upon the doctrines of leading French Communists) were great places to live.  How anyone could suggest that anyone struggling to survive in the Killing Fields was living in one of the better places in the world beggars belief.  And in the present, those nations which still make a virtue out of secularism such as North Korea, Communist China, Myanmar, and Castro's Cuba remain great places to live?  Try telling that to the thousands in North Korea's concentration camps.  

Whatever planet Mr Farrar lives on, clearly it is not the third rock from the sun. 

To be fair, Mr Farrar was endeavouring to persuade us that the recently adopted Egyptian constitution was a bad deal.  In this we agree.
  But to suggest that secularism is a better foundation for government, justice and protecting the rights of minorities than religion represents a prodigious non-sequitur and Mr Farrar should know better.

Firstly, the tenets of a particular religion influencing government, law, justice, and rights are materially significant.  All religions are not created equal after all.  One suspects that the liberally effete Mr Farrar cannot bring himself publicly to criticise Islam and wishes to make his criticism more "principled" and acceptable to his audience.  Blame it on religion in general, not on one religion in particular--a favourite misdirection of atheists such as the late Christopher Hitchens.

Does Mr Farrar really mean to imply that there is no such thing as a Judeo-Christian legal tradition or ethic which has profoundly shaped the legal inheritance of most Western countries?  If so then his ignorance is breathtaking.  If not, then, is he suggesting that teaching people not to steal, murder, and lie in court is a bad thing and minatory to the rights of subjects?

Moreover, is Mr Farrar's conception of religion so superficial that he fails to see that secularism is intensely religious in its own right.  Secular governments make judgements about the nature of life, marriage, death, birth, justice, sin, crime and punishment.  All of these judgements impose a set of ethics and morality which call upon ultimate values, mores and truth.  Secularism believes that gods and the Living God do not exist which itself constitutes a religious doctrine.  Secularism is one of the most intense religions of our day, but dishonestly so, for it's sleight of hand in denying its own religious character. 

Finally, when Mr Farrar suggests that modern secular governments are "better" at protecting the rights of minorities, we suggest in return that he present that argument to the hundreds of thousands of children cut up and torn apart in their mothers' wombs in this country and whose blood now calls out from the ground for justice and vengeance.  It is one of the great monuments to secularism's achievements.  So much for the wonderful religion of secularism.  Rather than building a society which is a better place in which to live, it has made it one of the worst places to be condemned to death by lethal abortion.

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