Religion, Freedom of Expression and Evidence

A couple of articles drew my attention recently: Religion Takes Offence Too Easily in the Urban Times and a short note on the debate in the House of Lords, International compliance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights concerning freedom of belief.

From the Lords’ debate:

… Lord Singh of Wimbledon: ‘Religions do not help themselves by claims of exclusivity or superiority. This simply demeans other members of our one human race and suggests that they, the others, are lesser beings. We all know what happens in the school playground when one boy boasts—it is usually boys—that, “My dad is bigger or stronger or cleverer than your dad”. The end result is fisticuffs. My appeal to our different religions and the leaders of religion is to stop playing children’s games.’

From the Urban Times piece:

… offering my two cents. I wrote that therein lies the bane of religion. When confronted with fact, the religious deem it a mockery of their beliefs. They expect their irrational points of view to be treated with the same respect as all facts, neglecting the FACT that their claims have been proven unable to stand up to rational, realistic, or critical scrutiny. [On second thought, they demand that their points of view be treated better than facts, because you can make fun of facts, but you apparently can’t make fun of theological assertions.]

Both of these remarks seem to me to make entirely valid points. In the UK, society is certainly becoming more secular, and the suggestion that religion is needed to maintain morals and standards of behaviour is not acceptable. The argument that use of the scientific method and the requirement for evidence is some form of bullying is no less sound. I realise, of course, that not everyone will change their views despite overwhelming evidence—anthropogenic climate change, creationism/intelligent design, vaccination, the Decision Review System.

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