Mind Open, Brain Falling Out…

First off, I’d like to be upfront about my attitude: I am an atheist, and a proud one. These last two weeks, however, I’ve been reading Christopher Hitchens’ “God is not Great”, which has upped my ‘militancy’ factor a bit. Having thus disclosed, I continue…

Yesterday’s Globe & Mail had a story about a community of Hutterites in Alberta who seek the right to possess drivers’ licenses without photographs, as that will violate their beliefs in regard to idolatry. Apparently, they had won their dispute on this issue back in May 2007, but Alberta has seen fit to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada on this issue.

Ahem. “Idolatry”. Right. An interpretation of the term, apparently, that is not shared by the balance of Christianity (that I know of), and in any case derived from an inconsistent piece of badly-written fiction. To suggest that the superstitions of a small minority gives them some status not inherent in the remainder of the population is absurd, and frankly insulting. Other citizens of the province adhere to the rules, why should this or any other religious group be exempt?

The questionable practice of being ‘flexible’ in applying the law based on religious belief is offensive. The law is just that, the law. The Alberta Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Canada are independently established, legally recognized authorities in determining what must and must not be done within Canada. The abstract concept of ‘god’ has no legal validity and does not constitute a defense or excuse, to my mind. If religious belief can be used as a ‘get out of jail free’ card in this case, could we not consider a precedent to be set?

Tell you what: Zeus called me the other day and told me I don’t have to pay taxes any more. By ‘called’, of course I mean appeared in the form of a… swan, yeah, that’s it. He wanted to sleep with my wife, too, but I said no. That Zeus and his mortal women, I tell ya.

As I pointed out in a previous post, I am against religion as a concept, because it discriminates (and yes, I believe allowing concessions or privileges to a minority is discriminatory). The law, at least ideally, does and should not. Religion is about how certain people are special and preferred over other people, and that some omnipotent being is taking a personal interest in someone’s well-being and happiness. This idea alone should be sufficient to convince people that religion is a selfish and arrogant viewpoint. As a society that prides itself on helping others and having empathy for others, doesn’t religion seem out of place in this context?

Humanity needs to move past outdated, tribal superstitions, and to remove any religious justifications for ignoring or bypassing the law. As I pointed out here, I have exactly as much evidence as the religious zealots to support my Zeus story or any other argument I may choose to make.

If the law does not apply to everyone equally, without prejudice, or even try to do so,  then it is of little use, in a practical, order-keeping sense.

It’s a Faithless Flash Fact.


3 thoughts on “Mind Open, Brain Falling Out…

  1. By way of background I’ll freely state that I was raised as a christian by christian people whom I both loved and/or (sometime both) respected as intelligent people. That I’m not one now is due to the influence of family members who fall into the same category. Kevvyd knows my Dad and will, I think, cheerfully confirm this. So to cut to the chase, I can categoricly state that not one of the aforementioned christians would have held any respect for foolishness of this sort as they all recognized that, well, it’s no longer the thirteenth century. we’ve moved on since then. Flash, I agree that with you that the law is the law. Views of this nature, however, have less to do with being christian than they do with trying to force a confirmation of a certain world view that is based more on fear of the other, change and your own ability tofunction in a world you have little control over. I suppose I’m really just commenting here to add my support to your post but you’re correct in what you say here. Fearfully clinging to ancient philosophies is fine if it gets you through your day. Just don’t try to force the rest of the us, who get by just fine on our own, to play along with your silly game.


  2. Following Doug’s example of background, I’ll say that I was raised Roman Catholic, but strayed away from the Church as I grew older. However, 2 years ago, I began dating a woman who was a Minister in the United Church of Canada, and have found the church to be a good fit for me – it’s a very progressively liberal organization and very active in social justice causes. Which I guess is my roundabout way of saying that this post puts me in a state of antinomy, in that while I’m torn between agreeing with Flash, a person I deeplly respect, and agreeing with the woman I love.

    First off, let me say that on the subject you originally posted on, I’ll absolutely agree – the law is the law of the land, and no-one has the right to decide it doesn’t apply to them by virtue of their beliefs, whether it’s these Hutterites, or the Muslims in Quebec who refuse to take off their hijabs for photo ID’s.

    But, I do think that you and Hitchens are painting Religion with too broad a brush – if we take the United Church and it’s members, I find it extremely hard to believe that people like Jack Layton, Bill Blaikie, Lorne Calvert, Ontario MP Cherie DiNova, CCF co-founder Stanley Knowles, and Former PM Lester Pearson could be described as ‘lacking in empathy’ – these people have fought numerous battles over the decades for social causes. And on a local level, I can say – because I’ve volunteered for them, that we have provided a lot of support for others, whether it be by asking for food and other items for local food banks or by supporting outreach programs like Stella Burry Foundation and Bridges to Hope.

    So, to sum up, I agree with on this post, Flash – but I aso disagree with you on some parts of it. I absolutely support your right to say what you have, and I wish you every happiness in the path you choose – but it’s not one I can follow at this juncture of my life. Whether that affects our friendship, I don’t know – certainly I hope not.


  3. I would say not, Dan. You should know me well enough by now to assume I’m not going to make an enemy of you because you think differently. Kevvyd and I don’t agree on everything (although we do on a disturbing number of topics), however I attribute that to Kevvyd’s fuller knowledge of some topics – I am always willing to be corrected in matters of fact.
    As far as religion, well, some individual adherents are virtuous, I freely admit – the law of averages says it must be probable. I’m not sure that I would attribute the kindness or generosity specifically to religion.
    Anyway, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. As an aside, while I am enjoying Hitchens’ book, and (obviously) agree with the philosophy behind it, he is guilty of one common mistake that I have seen frequently – he overgeneralizes. I am guilty of the same thing, frequently, but I think it may be a reflection of my anger while writing some posts and the limited space we have to make a point.
    In any case, to both you and Doug, thanks. I always appreciate your comments.


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