Vexen Crabtree 2015


Vexen Crabtree's Live Journal

Sociology, Theology, Anti-Religion and Exploration: Forcing Humanity Forwards

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Vexen Crabtree 2015


Nigeria is on the verge of public stonings after adopting Islamic Sharia law [2]
Nigeria has recently adopted Muslim Sharia law. One woman, Amina Lawlal is sentanced to death by stoning for having a child outside of marriage, and there are two other such horrific public executions waiting to happen, although as yet none have been carried out. Election campaigning is believed to be the reason why these cases have suffered delays. Another woman under simlar charges was let off after a massive worldwide outcry. Presently, more than 2 million people have signed the petition, I signed it 2 weeks ago it is simple. Sign it here: (for instructions, visit the National Secular Society's homepage at the URL below)

What we learn from this: NEVER ALLOW RELIGIOUS BELIEFS TO FORM PART OF GOVERNMENT OR LAW MAKING PROCESS. So, for example, Sunday trading laws, anti-homosexuality, etc, should be opposed as should any law that exists only because of religious beliefs. Such things are a slippery slope. Do not accept EVEN YOUR OWN religous beliefs as part of common law. Third world countries and the USA have problems about this, so do Muslim countries and Greece, due to it's Christianity.

[2] 2003 Mar 28 NSS newsline

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Every law and government in the world has been informed in some way by religious beliefs stemming from religious moral ideology.

Religion is merely the principles and beliefs of a culture or individual lived out. The 'religion' of an atheist is atheism, the 'religion' of a pagan is paganism, the 'religion' of many westerners is Capitalism, etc.

It is too simplistic to say:


as though culture and religion were entirely separate things. Religion is a product of a culture, not vice versa. Should the ancient pagan Celts not have allowed their "religion" to be apart of their laws and governance? Should a shamanistic tribe never allow their "religion" to be apart of their laws and governance? To say that no country or group should ever allow "religious beliefs" to inform their government would be to assume that one could even separate a culture and its religious ideology from one another. In most parts of the world, this is impossible, even in the west.

Additionally, to say that "religious" ideology should not be allowed to inform laws and government is merely to suggest that another ideology should inform it: secular humanism. It is not a matter of religion versus secular humanism however, since many religious people uphold the values of secular humanism. In reality all we are talking about is competing world views.

Additionally, these kinds of statements fail to acknowledge the important role religious ideology has played throughout history to bring about more humane laws and governments in the world (from overturning slavery to women's rights to fighting racism to the concept of the freedom of religion to the building of hospitals to the provision for education for all people in the west to the reason why science was developed, etc. ad nauseum). "Religious ideology" is behind practically everything.

The solution to these atrocities is not to falsely separate religion from culture from government, but to argue for humane world views and laws in general. When nasty world views arise, whether they are Nazism, Stalin-esque Marxism, social darwinism, racism, sexism, or fundamentalist Islam or Christianity, they ought to be fought against. The problem is not religion, the problem is sick and twisted ideologies of any kind.

I don't think it's right to say the "religion" of an atheist is atheism, because the term "atheist" like the term "theist" does not imply any particular religion other than the belief or non-belief in God. Likewise, I wouldn't describe "Capitalism" as a religion. Even if some people behave the same way towards, for example, Democracy, as they would otherwise do towards their chosen religion, it would be wrong to call Democracy a religion. Ideologies, although they attract some of the same behaviors that religions attract, are not the same as religion. "Atheism" is not even an ideology, whereas Humanism is, because the word implies specific beliefs. You couldn't say that "AHumanism" is the religion of Hindus because they're not Humanists, which is the same reason you can't say "Atheism" is the "religion" of atheists, simply because they're not theists.

Sorry for the over-long paragraph on that particular point, I know you wouldn't say that atheism is a religion, merely that some people hold religious or secular beliefs to a comparable and strong degree, yet (especially Southern Baptists...) keep saying that "atheism" is a religion.

On the other points, I am not saying that government laws should not take into account the religion of the people, merely that any laws passed should be passed for rational reasons, not religious ones. If the two agree, then all the better, but the terminology and reasons should be secular, so that no particular religion becomes discriminated against. This neither admits nor denies the past role various religions have played during most of Human history, but is simply the best way to behave in any multi-religious and multi-cultural environment.

The main motive behind slave freedom first came from the slaves themselves, who staged increasingly succesful revolts, and then finally the old English empire, following economic advice, enforced a ban on the slave trade and policed international seas towards that aim. The main religous opposition first appeared amongst the Quakers, who were also almost completely non-political and without power. However, except from that, Christianity was in many cases a force for good when it came to slavery, supporting marriage as an escape from slavery and generally fighting for the rights and humane treatment of slaves.

In the case of both slavery and women's rights, various religions have both officially accepted and later opposed oppression. In the case of equal treatment of women, religions such as Islam and Christianity remain in the past and are generally more misogynistic than mainstream society. (For example, some military roles are not suitable for women, for logical reasons, but the same denial of equal treatment of women within some religions is for religious reasons, but unless there are scientific or logical reasons to deny women equal treatment religions' anti-womens rights should not be incorporated into common law). Though there are misogynistic people everywhere, there are very few secular institutions where ideological support for anti-women feelings can be found, whereas the male-dominated religious world is troubled by a series of powerful and anti-woman figureheads. Islam appears to be continuing through it's own dark ages, and Human rights records towards Women is very poor in most countries that are officially Islamic republics, the most powerful political pressure on such countries is secular, via the UN and Human Rights Commission. Such bodies may well embody some Christian ideas and be supported by Christians, but, they derive their morals through rational non-religious ethics, as is a requirement for any authority that crosses religious boundries, because any modern multi-cultural lawmaking and policies work best when they are secular, and therefore not discriminating against any particular religion.

I simply wanted to demonstrate that the problem is more complex than -merely- keeping religion separate from politics. The term "religion" can mean any belief or world view a person holds to...and I used the term "religion" in that sense only to demonstrate that the "problem" is not "religious beliefs" but any inhumane beliefs people cling to, whether they stem from religion or not. There are a great many evil "secular" philosophies, beliefs, and political concepts that people have held to throughout secularism's short history and there are many religious beliefs that restore and uphold humane values throughout religion's long it is not simply "religious" versus "secular" as though only secular folks right wrongs in history or bring about anything humane.

Secularism is extremely new on the historical front and is a product of industrialized western culture...most cultures in our world today still know nothing of "secularism" and telling tribes in Africa to ditch their religious views for secular ones would be wrong. Westerners always want to impose their ideas on to other cultures in our belief that we are superior. --That-- is ugly and inhumane and that is something I oppose.

For clarity, I strongly believe we ought to aim for separation of church and state in developed nations which are multi-cultural and religiously diverse. My point is that the -solution- is not merely keeping "religion" out of politics (since it inevitably influences laws due to it being apart of most cultures and since it can be a force for either good or ill) but that -any- inhumane concepts ought to be fought against whether they are religious or "secular." In this way, a liberal religious and a secularist could fight together for humane laws rather than polarizing one another.

For instance, racism is often merely the product of "secular" or "non-religious" (or otherwise neutral) notions stemming from fear and ignorance. With racism (or any "ism"), psychology tells us which comes first: first people experience fear and feel threatened of the unknown, THEN, they turn it into a wider world view of some kind in order to cope with it. The problem isn't "religion" in this case, the problem is people's tendency to want to condone their fear and hatred by turning it into a a higher purpose: whether that purpose is religious or political or self-satisfying in any way.

That doesn't mean that having a higher purpose is evil, it means that using that higher purpose to justify evil is the height of evil and the real root of the problem. If one's higher purpose is treat all people with dignity as sacred...then that is a good thing and could influence laws in a positive way.

Is this clearer? It seems like we would agree on some of this. :)

Actually... I agree on pretty much everything you just said. I could respond and word things in a different way, but it wouldn't change the fact that I basically agree.

You mentioned that racism is frequently secular in it's cause, and I agree with this. It is basic cultural xenophobia, biological in nature, and something which people are prone to for basically naturalistic reasons, ie, human nature. But, if a person seeks to justify or intellectualize it, it can form part of a religous belief. For example The World Church of The Creator, the most famous racist-religious group. It is as you say, beliefs that are taken strongly can easily adopt the same behavior as religionists, or come to form part of a religious framework.

It works for positive and negative things, too. (And this is basic rewording of your ideas that I would do). I would argue that like xenophobia, the positive aspects of religion are also human nature, secular, in origin... natural social instincts. But when intellectual explanation of them is sought, historically it has been culture-religion that has provided the answers.

These aspects of human nature, positive and negative, are part and parcel of the religious history of mankind. In the modern world where, partially due to religious pluralism, religion and authority are seperate, secular institutions also come to represent the negative and positive aspects of mankind. Historically only religious groups took this role. So, we get secular racists who use science to justify themselves, secular immorality, but we also get secular charities. The biggest Human Rights organisations such as the U.N. Human Rights Commission are necessarily secular due to having to deal with a large variety of religious populations.

I believe that religious liberals and secularists *do* very frequently fight side by side for the same ends, frequently very openly so, such as for gay rights, against fundamentalist and mainstream religion.

Many religions *do* support completely secularisation of government, and seperation of religion and government, because ... well, for example, the Prime Minister here selects the head of the Church... and basically there is very little to justify this kind of religious-political interference.

Secular governments should not be either pro- or anti- religion, people really do have a right to believe whatever they want to believe, and government should legislate for peoples' actions, not their internal worldviews or thoughtcrimes.

You know, Vexen, I think you're on the right track in terms of keeping religion out of government. IMO, it's the only sensible way to govern. Why? Because religious beliefs can derive from ancient writings and practices that have no meaning or place anymore in the modern world. Because religion can prompt people to ignore their rational (and often more humanistic) side. Because there are too many religions in existence, and when there is more than one in any particular area or country, then the political question is WHICH religion to incorporate, if they differ in significant realms. Would anyone disagree that the concern for people's welfare is not a RELIGIOUS trait, but a normal HUMAN concern that would exist whether or not religion did? Religion is based upon BELIEF. Beliefs can be difficult to justify when there's nothing concrete to support them. From that springs problems such as why should women be considered unequal to men, or inferior to them? Ask anyone who makes that chauvanistic claim just WHAT the basis for their belief is, and nine times out of ten they'll end up quoting some religious reference.

To complicate things, however, I do agree with most of empiress's assessments, except where they fall short in explaining how certain religious ideologies have actually BLOCKED progress in the human rights department, both politically and socially. Religion may certainly be a product of culture, but not everyone wants their culture to be the product of religion, and THAT I think is what some of us are fighting against. Also, it's possible that a religion itself teaches positive values, but the PEOPLE end up twisting it and that is where one of the real problems lies. However, I'm curious how some people can defend certain beliefs that are deeply ingrained in some religions! I agree that humane laws and social policies should be the goal; however, the trick in that is who decides what is humane and what isn't? The hypocrisy I see is that the U.S. is *supposedly* a mostly Christian nation, and yet we still have capital punishment (the death penalty). Do you see the problem? People claim that religion in and of itself is "the most humane" way to go and then still uphold laws that completely contradict that humanity. Where's the humanity in banning birth control (thank you, Catholics!)? What is so wonderful about genital multilation??

To say that religion is the humane force behind politics and government and cannot and should not be removed is a bit short-sighted, and IMHO, a definite part of the problem!

I agree that religions have supported good values, but also supported bad ones. Many individuals are swayed by religious beliefs and taken down bad paths, yet many bad people are also "improved" by taking on a religion. It is complex... and this will happen with anything. So, for example, communism can bring out the best in some people (working for society, etc, highly supportive of altruism and social morality) yet the worst in others (lack of motivation to work hard).

Yet, religions have caused some of the worst elements (such as some of the ones you mentioned) to become institutionalized, and the problem is with religious beliefs is that they can control a person and make them unwilling to change, whereas with secular and scientific beliefs there is an enforced attitude of progression and development, so that things are always being improved, because there is no "absolute" of religious law or god's absolute moral goodness to stop at. Secular society, even when it produces written constitutions, is free to change and improve those over time, whereas religions tend to get "stuck" when supernatural beliefs about written texts cause development to become anti-institutional, all the "improvers" of religion from the stories about Jesus, to Luther, to liberalism, have also been opposed by religious institutions.

Atheist ideologies, or any ideology that has no supernatural elements, are much less inclined towards such fundamentalism.

OK, enough of being religiously evil... (I am honestly sorry when I insult those who are pro-religion, but the social rule of "religion, sex and politics" is that you can't really speak on these topics without insulting people!)

"Satanism is not just an atheistic stance but a anti-theistic stance. We prefer destruction of mystically-oriented religions through active opposition rather than simple non-participation."

"Secret life of a Satanist" by Blanche Barton p217

If in doubt, it is in general a good general rule to agree with Empiress, she generally knows what she's talking about and is a force for good in this world. I use anti-religious pretences in order to support morality, whereas she uses religion to support morality... and that's probably our largest difference when it comes to looking at the history of religion. (Except, of course, having some opposite beliefs on the cause of such religions).

Thankfully (here, at least) most Christians, especially the liberal ones, but importantly also the fundies here, also want seperation of church and state (I'm not so sure about the states, but it's a much bigger scene out there so it'd be harder to generalize), so on uk.religion.christian we've had entire threads of conversation where the liberal Christians and myself, and the fundies, have talked it out and agreed all the way on this issue... it is always disturbing, because all 3 groups are normally disagreing, and it almost feels like some misunderstanding must have occured when we agree on something :-)

I wasn't all that much in doubt, but if I ever am in doubt, I tend to ask questions first and then make up my own mind. Call me a hard-headed freethinker, but I refuse to simply agree with someone just because someone else says it's a good idea! ;) Actually, I prefer people to back up their statements with evidence, but LJ doesn't quite support that in comments. The disagreement I have is in using religion to support morality as opposed to the idea that morality is humanistic in nature and therefore not truly originating in nor dependent upon religion. I understand that many laws and implicit social contracts have their basis in religion, but I think only to the extent that people LABEL these values as being religious in nature. I see there is a problem with religion claiming a monopoly on "values." I also see there is a problem in religion and government intertwining because of the inherent moralizing religion is so caught up in!

There are so many people in this world, and so many religions, but only so many governments. It's very tricky, I know, but what's happening here in the U.S. is nowhere near as benign as what's going on in the U.K., obviously. Of course, there will always be disagreement on many issues, but what I was attempting to point out was that perhaps people could just try to get past the religious aspect and the _assumption_ that there would be no morals if it were not for the existence of religion. Does that make sense? I certainly wasn't trying to insult anyone, but we all have a right to express it as we see it. If you're going to limit some, you have to limit everyone. I'm also not saying that disagreement is a bad thing. Quite the contrary.

I agree, morality arises from human nature, so does religion, but without the sciences of biology and modern thought often the actual reasons and justifications for morality were given religious status... many religious myths are attempts at explaining why particular things are seen as moral or immoral. In turn, though, religions to, from then, affect what we see as moral. Unfortunately, their processes aren't scientific or maleable philosophically, so they can get stuck, or too caught up in their own dogma, which is why governments should not support any particular religion.

(I don't think you insulted anyone, I was being paranoid over my own text...)

I agree with the problems you see with religions claiming exclusive moral authority... Dr Charles Kimball (Empiress summarized some of his book) points to this type of behavior as being one of the causes of evil in religion.

Thankfully, as a result of evolution and other sciences, we understand morals and social morals and no longer need to rely on religious explanations for them. Aside from that the most ancient philosophers, including atheistic ones, derived morals from common sense, it really is true that they are part of human animal nature, and any religious or mythical justification of them is superfluous. In tolerant society, religious symbolism is best kept seperate from official authority, as no particular religion should be state-sanctioned, and with modern science, religion is not required for lawmaking or authoritive social order.

In Bertrand Russels' words, "Love, guided by knowledge" is a natural human instinct, and it needn't be confused by using any particular religions' expression of human compassion.

Paranoid over your own text? Because it's in the 'sex, politics, religion' sinkhole? :) (Doesn't bother me. :))

I understand religious mythology. (Gotta remember, I've been 'studying' this stuff for over ten years.) I understand the difference between science and religion, and the malleability--or lack thereof--in each. I know that philosophy is not the same thing as religion, no matter what some recent authors suggest. (I've also read Bertrand Russell. :))

I agree, religion is superfluous in terms of justification for morals derived from common sense. Religion should NOT be required for law-making. Unfortunately, what's happening here is that with GW as president, this line is in serious threat of being crossed. I am ALL FOR the separation of church and state, and this current administration is doing what it can to erode that separation. It's becoming very worrisome to those who disagree with these actions, and seen as a grave error than can only turn back the clock on freedom in this country if they succeed. I just hope it doesn't go that far, or that the next administration (and hopefully it WON'T BE BUSH AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!) can undo the damage.

ok believe me, all this exemples that you are giving to ridiculise islam are ok, first point, there is a big difference between islam and current muslims, islam never ever will let somebody kill a woman because she had a child out of marriage, but nigeria has tribal laws and to make is sound nice they said it's a islamic law. pakistan thoose people don't have a clue about islam why??????
because they don't speak arabic the true islam is writen in arabic , so their leaders do what the hell they want and they explain it, "OH this is islam law"
jus for your information , all christian values are included on islam, so if you think that christian didn't came from evil , well islam neither.
just PLEASE befor judge the religion, get some kuran in english and read it, befor listen to some news and make yourself think that you are expert.

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