Posts Tagged Religion
John Blackwell, president-elect of the British Veterinary Association, is to be congratulated for his call to make religious slaughter more humane (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britains-top-vet-sparks-controversy-with-call-for-ban-on-slashing-animals-throats-in-ritual-slaughters-for-halal-and-kosher-meat-products-9173258.html).
There is no scientific reason why an animal should have its throat cut while fully conscious. As Dr. Blackwell rightly points out a sheep with its throat cut will remain conscious for seven seconds while cattle, which have an extra blood vessel in their spinal column, can remain conscious for up to two minutes. This practice was presumably instigated many moons ago to ensure meat was fresh. In this modern age such a justification is no longer applicable, and animal welfare concerns should take precedent over religious superstitions. The Danish recently managed to ban the slaughter of animals without prior stunning and it would be wonderful if the British followed suit.
Unfortunately, as soon as anything is suggested that a religious group does not like, such as banning religious slaughter or circumcision, they conveniently ignore the scientific reasons and start screaming about religious freedom. Why superstitious beliefs should take precedent over animal welfare is beyond me.
See also my post, “Religious Slaughter” written in 2011 in response to the Dutch banning the practice.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.” Lao tzu
Dr. F Bunny
Scientific research relies on rigorous systematic testing that involves treatment and control groups and extensive peer review to prove or disprove hypotheses. That way we can be confident in the result, regardless of what the findings may be. In reality this is not always the case, people believing what they want to believe regardless of the evidence. Look at the trouble Copernicus and Galileo had trying to convince people that the Earth revolved around the Sun. Sadly, despite being scientifically trained, I am not really any different.
As an example, coffee is a marvellous drink proven, through scientific research, to increase energy levels, improve physical performance, and lower the risk of developing type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, liver cancer and colorectal cancer. Much more spurious research that obviously needs to be repeated with a larger data set seems to link coffee to sleep disturbance, increased blood pressure and raised levels of cholesterol.
The research is similarly biased when it comes to alcohol consumption. I like nothing more than to sit back with my very full glass of red and read how the resveratrol in my Shiraz keeps my heart healthy and further protects me against diabetes and Alzheimer’s. All that nonsense about depression, cancer, cirrhosis and memory loss is surely just that?
The list goes on. Any research that supports an activity I engage in and enjoy is sound while anything that contradicts it is suspect. Science even has a name for this, confirmation bias. I suppose religions would call it faith.
Dr. F. Bunny
Testing. Testing. Is this thing on? Okay. Thanks.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am fed up with having sympathy for the devil, giving the devil his due or being the devil’s advocate. For someone who whinges about not getting enough air time Lucifer seems to be everywhere these days. Well I say, what about me? Isn’t it time we heard from the other side? From me? From God?
Well, ladies and gentlemen, today is your lucky day.
I will give him credit. Lu has made evil into an attractive proposition. It’s cool to be bad and dreadfully old fashioned to be good. But what exactly is cool about mass murder, genocide, theft, or rape? I don’t remember too many smiling victims saying how cool it felt to be slaughtered or have their houses burned to the ground. Never mind greed being good, good is good. Good is the new cool.
How cool is it when you forget your wallet only to have it returned, credit cards and cash intact? How cool is it when you are trapped in a wrecked car because a drunken idiot slammed into you and a bunch of strangers stop and pull you out? This is the sort of stuff you should get excited about, not gang wars, drugs and violence. Nobody wants to be a part of that.
And please stop trying to defend my honour. I am God and I don’t need anyone to fight my battles for me. I don’t want people to blow themselves and their neighbours to hell, because that is certainly where they are going, on my behalf. I am a big boy and I can look after myself. People have been killed in my name for centuries and I want it to stop. Now. I have to admit that I am really looking forward to meeting all those guys who tell everyone else to die for me. Oddly enough they don’t seem to be in any kind of rush to come and visit. I wonder why?
And what is it with the sex thing? I love sex. After all I invented it, didn’t I? Stop making it into some kind of dirty disgusting thing and have fun. Contraception is fine too. Everyone knows you can’t just keep reproducing forever. But celibacy hurts my feelings. It makes me think you don’t appreciate my gifts. So stop acting like Lucifer’s the fun guy and I am the stick in the mud. Lu’s idea of fun involves children and doing things without people’s consent.
Unlike Lu I want you to get on with your lives, with minimal interference from me. Sure I made you but, like a good parent, I know when to let go. I don’t want to tell you what to do every second of the day. I am happy to give you advice but you can take it or leave it. I want you to make your own mistakes and learn your own lessons. And don’t believe what is written in all those so called holy books. You know what the media is like when it comes to reporting facts.
Now, I like you, I really do. After all I made you in my image. But, like any parent, I can’t play favourites. I have to treat you all equal, so if you decide to break all your toys I am not going to make you new ones, and if you drive yourselves to extinction that will be sad, but I am not going to intervene. I have other children on other planets to worry about and I can only devote so much of my time to you. Personally I think it is time you all grew up, took responsibility for your lives and got on with it. I will always be here and I will always be your parent but now it is time for you to leave the nest and fly.
Good luck. And Ozzy, God is not dead, not by a long stretch.
Hopefully this post won’t be as painful as the last three. I have just finished reading the latest Jared Diamond book, “The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies?” Apparently one of the things we can learn is that all societies invented some kind of religion. However, just because everyone else is doing it does not necessarily make it right.
Diamond advances a number of reasons for the apparent ubiquity of religion. Firstly, we want to know why things happen the way they do. We want reasons and answers and, when we can’t find any, we make them up by inventing mysterious forces to explain the workings of the world. The more science removes the cloak of mystery the less religion is needed to explain the universe. These days we rarely see Apollo and his chariot zipping the sun across the sky each day.
Secondly, religion is used to defuse anxiety and provide comfort when things go wrong. If we think our dead loved ones are going to live on in some magical place like heaven we tend to feel a bit better about it all. When our plane hits that turbulence and we start praying to avoid dying in a fiery crash we feel a bit more in control of the situation and believe we still have influence over the outcome. Unfortunately praying is a little bit like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it does not actually get you anywhere.
Thirdly, religion is used to generate a code of behaviour to which followers are expected to adhere. This has the double advantage that it allows leaders to demonise external groups that do not follow the code and justify wars against them. Those heathens over there eat pigs, kill cows, etc. Therefore, they cannot be the chosen ones and we are doing God’s will by putting them all to death and taking their land and resources. To make doubly certain that we do not accidentally smite members of our own team religions come up with all manner of rituals, such as cutting off the end of the penis, that confirm our membership of the club.
Diamond states that religion is a peculiarly human trait. No animals have religion. He does not, however, come up with any evidence to support his assertion. While it is true that no other species appears to erect edifices to imaginary friends or engage in bizarre rituals for no obvious purpose, our animal friends may have come up with their own unique ways of worshipping things that don’t exist. Dolphins are, after all, anatomically ill equipped to build cathedrals.
Diamond thinks that animal intelligence has not evolved to the point where it needs supernatural comfort or answers to the universe’s unanswerable questions, and so has not been able to develop religion. But could not the opposite have happened? Could animal intelligence have developed to the point where animals are happy to admit that some things cannot be explained and that when you die you rot or are eaten in order to continue the circle of life? Is it possible that they accept that life has no higher meaning and we are just alive for the here and now, and are perfectly comfortable with that fact? Are they secure enough in this life that they need no imaginary support or comfort?
Dr. F. Bunny
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
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
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