The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, like the British one (are the two related? or is the ABC just a slavish imitator?), has a Religion and Ethics page, as if the two were a natural pair, as if secular ethics didn’t and couldn’t exist, as if religion had a lock on the subject.
The page is (apparently) reacting to the Global Atheism Convention with an orgy of atheism-bashing.
There is for instance a numbingly self-important and over-written jeremiad by someone called Scott Stephens. I don’t know who he is; I hope my Oz readers will clue us in. Have a sample of the jerry:
But what is most pronounced and historically novel about this form of “agonistic hyperpluralism” is that it is dispersed among individuals themselves, and not simply bound up in adjacent communities. This reflects, does it not, the great cultural revolution that has taken place over the last four decades, a revolution every bit as thoroughgoing and perfidious as those that ravaged the East in the first half of the twentieth century.
Unlike socialism – which invariably took the form of the radical assertion of the state over the economy, culture and indeed the bodies of the people themselves – the revolution that has defined our time and continues to hold sway within western liberal democracy is the assertion of the freedom, the rights and the pleasure of the body over every other person or institution that might stake some claim over it, whether it be nation, tradition, community, marriage, children or religion. Or, as Herve Juvin has nicely put it, the western body is “a body without origin, character, country or determination.”
Interesting, isn’t it. Sophisticated in language, while the idea expressed is deeply sinister.
One could point, he says, to
the widespread abrogation of our morally symmetrical responsibilities to the unwanted elderly and the inconvenient unborn: one group shovelled away behind the walls of third party care and the other sentenced to death; both in the name of choice and out of fear that our lives might be dragged down into their servitude.
Or to the increasing desperation with which voluntary euthanasia is being legislatively pursued in the West, where the fear of the slow loss of autonomy in old age has usurped the fear of death itself, and where the choice of one’s own death is deemed the ultimate assertion of freedom.
And there the Catholic bullshitter comes out from behind the sophisticated mask. That’s such crap. Nobody thinks the choice of one’s death is the ultimate assertion of freedom; people (in large numbers) think it’s sometimes the best option for people who want it.
It’s interesting that this ABC page is deluging Richard Dawkins with scorn and loathing while promoting good old-fashioned authoritarianism and Your Body Is Ours thinking.