Daily Archives: 27 December 2007

RRS, Breaking The Spell and Smoking

There have been some interesting debates recently in regard to the tactics Rational Response Squad (RRS) use. Some do not like the very “in your face” style that RRS use in ‘promoting’ atheism. Others, like myself, can see that various tactics are necessary in order to promote a point of view, whatever that point of view is. I don’t agree with everything that RRS says and does, however, I read their blogs and essays and find some of them very good, hence the link on my site. I also read a lot of other atheist blogs and don’t agree with everything they say, or the way they say it, either. Such is the diversity of life and views on everything, from religion, to sports, to cars, to whatever.

We can agree to disagree on some of the tactics used, but we (all atheists) need to remember that all that binds us together is no belief in god(s). The main aim, I see, is to reduce the power and influence religion has on everyone’s daily lives (separation of Church and State, conflicts between different religions, etc).

Which made me think – What do people want to happen to religion, I’d love to hear your views.

Co-incidentally I have recently started reading Daniel C. Dennett’s book ‘Breaking the Spell’. Dennett, like many others, is of the opinion that science can, and should, study religion. Like many others I am also of the opinion that religion should be held up to scientific, philosophical and general study and debate. Religion should not be above criticism when it is warranted.

In Dennett’s book he poses the question: “What do we know about the future of religion?”. Three of Dennett’s proposals are:

Religion is in its death throes… in which religion plays at most a ceremonial role.
Religions transform … into … creed less associations selling self help… … more like a sports fan.
Religion diminishes in prestige and visibility, rather like smoking…

I particularly like the last proposal and his analogy to smoking:

…it is tolerated, since there are those who say they can’t live without it, but it is discouraged, and teaching religion to impressionable young children is frowned upon in most societies and actually outlawed in others….

Where I live (and in most parts of Australia) smoking is banned in all indoor public places, in fact some local councils are looking at banning smoking in some outdoor public places. Advertising is banned in all media (though the movie industry has been clever/evil in promoting smoking) and cigarette packets carry health warnings. It has been proven that not only is smoking harmful to the user, but also to the innocent bystanders. It is getting to the stage where smoking is only permitted in the home or special places for smokers (it’s even banned in cars if children are on-board). Thus as much as possible, without actually banning it, smoking has been greatly limited and the impact on young impressionable people has been reduced.

I quite like the analogy between smoking and religion and would like religion to go the way of smoking. Where it used to be thought of a good idea, but has since proven to be not so, and also not necessary. It is still permitted but severely frowned upon if you try and inflict it on anyone else.

 

So what do you want to be the future for religion?

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