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Jun 27 2013

National Prayer Breakfast and a further Dig at Atheism

The National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast is not a big event in the British Parliamentary Calendar.

It is however a day set aside to claim that Christianity has a role in making the UK what it is today. With the usual “Christian” spin on it. It’s the usual fallacy that without Christianity the UK will just implode into a world where sinister men wear long johns, cod pieces and bowler hats and visit violence upon the homeless.

It’s the usual batch of apologists. I mean remember these were people (AKA Lord Tebbit) who opposed gay marriage because it would lead to “a lesbian queen” (I imagine old Elizabeth turning around going “PHILIP! Apparently if we allow gays to marry I will have to give up the cock!”. Knowing Philip he probably replied with “Mmm…. Can I Watch?”)

It used to be harmless nonsense. The pitiful  attempts of politicians to desperately try to insert Jesus into a society that doesn’t trust religion be it the hypocrisy of the Catholics, the silliness of the Church of England, the madness of Islam. In fact the only groups with any real faith currency are Hindus, Jews and Sikhs because all three groups are law abiding and don’t try to insert their religion into other people’s lives.

But then people started trying to knock “atheism“.

Oxford University Professor John Lennox told over 600 people at the National Prayer Breakfast why he is not convinced by atheism.

Well clearly! If he was convinced by atheism he wouldn’t be at a “prayer breakfast” and instead would be “at home”.

OR appearing on FTB’s CONscience Online Conference!

The math professor told guests at the Bible Society-sponsored event that atheism was a “delusion” and a “fairy tale for those afraid of the light”.

I am sorry? You believe that you have a special boss who tells you what to do and what must be done and communicates only to you and cannot be detected by any scientific process. Any evidence for the lack of said entity is put down to the failings of science to detect it or a test by said entity. And that said entity claims that there are no other entities like him.

He may be a professor of mathematics but he certainly isn’t aware of the definition of “Delusion”.

We must extend this to its logical conclusion.

On a purely philosophical scale, what makes John Lennox’s god more valid than Allah or Vishnu?

He urged Christians to have “the courage to create public space” for the discussion of “a biblical worldview”, as he pointed to the example of Tyndale, who translated the Bible into English 400 years ago and would eventually be executed.

No. Because the Biblical world view is not the elegant secularism of modern Britain nor does it espouse values of the humanist revolution that we as human beings aspire to..

It is a book of superstition. You may consider this statement “harsh” but I am sure John’s take on Hinduism is that “it is superstition”.

If you wish to create a public space to discuss your superstition then you will create the public space for us to flog Hinduism, Islam or indeed sit around and point out how silly it is to try and run a country based on ideas that were considered outdated a thousand years ago let alone today.

Dr Lennox, who has been an outspoken critic of “God Delusion” author Richard Dawkins, blamed new atheism for the “moral drift” in society.

Oh what a cruel world! What sort of Mathematics professor is incapable of understanding that overall crime has fallen.

We live in the most equal society that the UK has ever had. We live in the most diverse. We live in the most safe society.

Now Dr. Lennox looks at the “plebians” of society and goes “Look at this Moral Decay! See how poor people commit crime! If only they had Christianity!” but the USA has Christianity. They have problems with “Crime” too.

The notion that atheism doesn’t teach a moral code is moronic.  Atheism is entrenched in humanist principles and many of the ideas of Jehovah who is alleged to be the purveyor of perfect morality are not acceptable by the standards of humanist principles.

To take up the morality of the Bible would be to take a step backwards in the process of morality.

He also dismissed the common assumption that science and religion are not compatible.

I am sure Dr. Lennox can prove the existence of Jehovah using “science”. He just chooses not to. Just like he chooses not to use statistics.

“There is no necessary conflict between science and God, the real conflict is between worldviews, atheism and theism,” he said.

“God is not the same kind of explanation as science is. God is the explanation of why there is a universe at all in which science can be done.”

It’s not an explanation.

Where do presents come from on December 25th? SANTA!

So you leave your sacrifice of milk and cookies  and obey the rules of this scarlet beast, only to find out one day that he doesn’t exist. It’s a natural phenomenon.

Why should god be any different to Santa? Children cannot explain the sudden appearance of presents after everyone has gone to bed. So they are willing to believe that a jolly fat man is capable of entering any house while he leaves things for you like some reverse cat burglar.

One day you figure it out. Your understanding of the world makes you realise why this isn’t the way the world work.

The existence of a god is not an explanation,  it raises more questions. Simple ones.

1. Where did he come  from

2. I the universe MUST have a creator, then who created him? What wonderful creature wrought the gods? And what made them?

3. We don’t know what was around before the “Big Bang”. To suggest the existence of a wonderful creature such as a god is not a valid logical argument. It is literally suggesting that the source of the Big Bang and all of creation is through “magic”.

4. Are you even sure it’s Jehovah?

There are more questions… But the crippling problem here is that this fantastic explanation for the existence of the world has no proof and actively requires the existence of beings outside the boundaries of the Universe.

Dr Lennox admitted his fear that the contribution of Christianity to the moral foundations of British society would be forgotten in the prevailing climate. This could be seen already, he suggested, in the parliamentary expenses scandal and the Leveson inquiry.

Because during the heyday of Christianity there were no royal wankers oppressing peasants? Everything was shining and fun and free.

Except if you were one of those peasants or the middle class. There was a reason why there were revolutions. Like the English Civil War? Or the French? Or the Russian? The theocratic monarchies created systems where religious people were in power and being religious doesn’t make you good.

Parliamentary Excess occurred due to a lack of oversight and indeed the NECESSARY spending of money by some MPs. The MP from Orkneys for example had a higher spending than London MPs because they had to travel form the fucking Orkney Islands while the London MPs got to drive in.

The lack of oversight meant that it was easy to abuse this. What was meant to be a fund to enable MPs to travel and make arrangements to represent their constituencies without undue distress became used for “selfish” reasons. It’s like a company car where the company pays for your fuel so you start using it to go on road trips on the weekend…

It’s a selfish move but it would have occurred had “We Been More Christian”. If Christianity made you less susceptible to greed then there would be no colonialism.

The Leveson Enquiry is into illegal phone tapping. Will the sudden interest in Jesus Christ and the resurrection stymie public interest in celebrities which encouraged the red top rag that is the News of the World to spy on celebrities?

Lastly? Religion and government should not mix.

It’s a bad day  when surrealist comedy makes more sense than mathematics professors irrespective of where they work.

“The playing field is not level since atheism has become so dominant … and is often regarded as the default position in the media,” he said.

Would you like me to call you a waahmbulance? It’s okay? I am a medic.

The playing field is not level. Which is why there are no members of the House of Lords who exist SOLELY because of their atheism while there are representatives of all faiths within it who were selected as they were religious leaders.

The default position in the media is secular. Because “Flogging Jesus” insults people and it’s a safer bet to just not bring religious views lest you turn into Fox News. The BBC and Channel 4 have strong secular ideas DESPITE the running of Songs of Praise on BBC (A Religious Program – Christian). The reasoning being that their international appeal is down to their secular and often non-partisan viewpoints. That no one wants to watch priests go on about Jesus when they could do something  else.

“If we teach people that morality is an illusion, they will begin to believe it. Many already have with the result that our institutions are awash with scandal, families are increasingly fractured, people are lonelier than ever and trust is at an all-time low. We have sown a wind and are reaping a whirlwind.”

Morality is NOT an illusion. Morality is a carefully thought out process by which we determine whether or not an action is good or not on a case by case basis using everything from intellect to experience to judge whether the actions are good or not.

We aren’t “Lonely”, we just hear more about lonely people. We live in the most connected period of human history. Fuck a duck! I can romance a pretty lady from India without having to resort to letters that use sentences like “I long for the touch of your lips and even the most simple thoughts about you leave me aflame with roaring passion like a steam engine as it prepares to cross the Thar Desert.”

Families are increasingly fractured because of a lack of morality? Or because women and men have equal (or are trying to have) agency in relationships and “marriage is no longer for life” as women and men are less likely to stay in relationships that they are unhappy with and “move on”?

And explain how the fuck is the NHS meant to balance the books through adoption of the Bible rather than sensible business practice, reduction of red tape and a streamlining of service? That perhaps the NHS should look to increasing the ability of doctors to see patients rather than faff about with paperwork?

There are real reasons for this problem. To claim that “it’s the lack of Christianity” is “stupid”. Trust is at an all time low? And you want us to trust institutions that were complicit in the abuse of trust by protecting paedophiles? The trust about religion was lost not due to the rise of atheism or secularism but due to the hypocrisy of religion and a growing scepticism about the notion that you need a god to be good.

On the same day as the National Prayer Breakfast, Prime Minister David Cameron issued a statement affirming the place of Christianity in Britain.

“It is encouraging that Christianity still plays such a vital role in our national life. We are a country with a Christian heritage and we should not be afraid to say so,” he said.

Which is fine. Until you start claiming that the reason for all our woes is the lack of faith rather than actively think about issues that affect us.

Prof Lennox responded, “No one in this country seems to have a problem with doing atheism in public. Let us not be ashamed of doing God.”

What a daft sod. Last I heard you aren’t being stopped in the streets and arrested if you are packing a King James.

This statement sounds wrong. “Hey Avicenna are you doing atheism?” “Oh yes! I am! I am doing it Hitchens Style”. Okay that was just a puerile joke about “doing God”, but no one is stopping you from expressing your Christian faith in a public place. We may think that you are a dick if you try and flog Christianity in a public place, but I have seen street preachers in the UK and they are mostly treated with mild puzzlement.

I am afraid “doing atheism” consists of going out for a pint and maybe a kebab. Or going to a match or a museum or the cinema.

We don’t really have atheist “stuff” that we need to do. I don’t need to snackrifice a lamb to appease Dawkins…

Guests at the National Prayer Breakfast included MPs Fiona Bruce, Gary Streeter and Tim Farron.

Matthew van Duyvenbode, Head of Campaigns, Advocacy and Media at Bible Society said, “In a society searching for deeper meaning, a compelling witness to hope is required. Within the Scriptures, we find a tantalising vision of hope – one which stimulates, provokes and invites us to become the signs of hope for others.”

As I said.

I don’t think belief in god provides deeper meaning.

Just because you believe you are on a mission of great importance for the Intergalactic Senate and need to rescue a princess from some sort of Doom Sphere, doesn’t mean you should be in a used car showroom demanding a car where the speedometer goes up in Km/Hr because you don’t wish to have any Imperial entanglements.

I think believing in a god is a placebo. It’s the illusion of a deep meaning.

Let’s look at this statement.

In a society searching for deeper meaning, a compelling witness to hope is required. Within the Scriptures, we find a tantalising vision of hope – one which stimulates, provokes and invites us to become the signs of hope for others.

Versus

There are no gods. No deity exists that will save us. Humanity is responsible for it’s own actions. We are here on this planet due to a series of natural steps of evolution due to a complex system of interaction between the mode of inheritance of traits in our genetics and the environment. We were forged in the crucible of evolution and we recognise that the universe and it’s complexity function by natural processes and that these processes can be harnessed to our benefit. However as we are responsible for ourselves and that humanity is the sum of it’s components, we are responsible for each other too. Because the universe is a vast and uncaring place. So we must look out for each other, so we can be better than the sum of parts and produce a world that we would like to live in. And we decide what is better through our humanity, our empathy, our knowledge and our experience rather than blind obedience to a set of immutable rules. And we are fantastic. Humanity is the only known species that will endure absolute pain and agony solely to say “I DID THIS”. We climb mountains, we touch the bottom of the ocean, we leap from stupid heights and we demand to touch the very stars themselves. And this is amazing. This is what we are. Not some  creeping worm fearful of the dark but the beasts that tamed fire and brought the light to cast away the shadows. We are the light in the dark, the very hands that first created the sparks that fuelled our meteoric rise from ape to  technological masters are our ancestors. To claim we achieved all this due to the machinations of an unprovable entity is to deny humanity its heritage.

I think the only reason why people think religious thought is deep and spiritual is because it has the air of mystery about it. You are dealing with forces that man cannot comprehend! And when we do try and comprehend the goalpost is shifted from “Can Not” to “Should Not”.

8 comments

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  1. 1
    Analisa Emas

    That is very attention-grabbing, You’re a very professional blogger. I’ve joined
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  2. 2
    CaitieCat, getaway driver

    I particularly like this bit:

    He urged Christians to have “the courage to create public space” for the discussion of “a biblical worldview”, as he pointed to the example of Tyndale, who translated the Bible into English 400 years ago and would eventually be executed.

    …because of course, Tyndale was executed by atheists for his religious views.

    Or, wait…weren’t there some other Christians sort of tangentially or vaguely involved? You know, like all the people involved in his being sentenced to death, all the people who carried out the sentence, and pretty much everyone watching it happen? In fact, wasn’t it specifically because of their Christianity disagreeing with his that he was killed?

    So WHAT THE FUCK DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ATHEISTS? Christians killing one another in sectarian violence: not our bloody fault. And certainly not a public space I’m willing to cede to ANY Christian for their sectarian violence.

    What a completely revolting revision of history that paragraph is.

  3. 3
    Kimpatsu

    We must extend this to it’s logical conclusion.
    Would you please pay me money every time you misuse the apostrophe? I would get very rich very quickly.
    Thank you.

  4. 4
    William Humenansky

    One of the best blogs I’ve read lately. I’ll be checking in daily even though you mostly report about the UK. I’v e had a special love for the UK since my childhood back in the 1950′s.

  5. 5
    Avicenna

    William – I am British! I do American stuff but it’s kind of hard to get involved in stuff that doesn’t affect you personally. My best stuff is the things that I am closer to.

    And I report more on India than the UK!

  6. 6
    Lee Turnpenny

    Ah, Lennox the apologist. He operates out of here, invoking science as ‘reasoned defence’ and proof of Christianity; the undisprovable metaphysic as scientifically rational. Because Newton believed it, it must be true, apparently.

  7. 7
    blgmnts

    @5: Not every reader is American, so carry on ;-)

  8. 8
    yoav

    @CaitieCat #2
    beat me to it, but I guess it only count as “biblical worldview™” if it’s the interpretation that happens to further whatever agenda Prof Lennox is trying to push at the given moment.

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