2B3 A Freethinking Space
There are many issues which impact on us as individuals – religion, politics, economics, science, philosophy – in essence it is the power of ideas manifested in such areas which have profound effects on the society that we are a part of.
In the pluralism of ideas decisions are made by those that show up – and while I am not saying I have all the answers this is an opportunity to stand up for those views that I have. Namely that religious freedom needs protecting just as the rights of infidels and those without religious belief do too – that a secular state is the only mechanism which safeguards these liberties. That science is an exploration of the observable and the universe around us based on evidence and empirical observation – which we undermine at a cost to humanity. Innovations which improve our existence and knowledge about the universe we live in depend on science. To deny these advances or the learning of what science tells us is nothing short of a scandal.
Yet people will claim, on the basis of religion or ignorance, to know the truth of these things. That medical research should not go ahead, that vaccinations in schools should not happen, that science classrooms should not teach evolution. The basis of this is a conviction that they have something called truth, verified in text sanctified by their conviction of authorship. On this basis people who do not believe render themselves to eternal torment in hell or are blown up. With circular reasoning their argument in a nutshell is you are going to hell if you do not – yet by their actions they would make it hell for us on earth right now.
No doubt some people are very comforted by their religious belief, and that for them it motivates good deeds where they would not wish to harm a fly much less wish harm on other people. It would be a mistake to consider all people of religion to hold views that endanger the human rights of people in society or to bring destruction to life on earth. Indeed it was persecuted religious minorities that were so vocal for a secular state. For those that treat their faith as metaphor rather than the last word and think for themselves is not the problem.
If the moderates cannot hold back those that would in the name of their faith add to the suffering of people, that with God on their side there is no question of democracy deciding these things, then we have a problem. Because evaluating the consequences and impact of their policies on women, the poor and spread of disease is not how they score these things; any suffering that may happen is incidental compared to obeying God. That we are free as long as we follow this supernatural being, that cannot be verified accept by faith, telling them what we should be doing.
The only defense of public reason is to protect ourselves from supposed mandates from God – the secular state. That prevents people imposing their religion on others. That public policy serves the citizens who politicians are ultimately responsible to. On the basis that all citizens are free and equal.