Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Back to the Dark Ages

Johann Hari has highlighted a disturbing trend among the world’s governments – now led by the UN – to reverse the concept that people should have freedom of speech, thought and belief (click here).

The best line in the piece? “They [certain religious beliefs] belong to the childhood of our species, and will in time look as preposterous as believing in Zeus or Thor or Baal.”

After all, Judaism, Islam and Christianity are all based on the Old Testament, written by Iron Age scholars who lived in the desert. Religion is at the core of many of the world’s problems right now: the conflict in Gaza, the fight against abortion, and the rise in global terrorism in the name of Mohammed. I have no problem with people believing in what they want to, but if you think I should respect your belief when it infringes on another person’s rights then think again.

To me, people should free to do as they please until the point at which that exercise infringes on someone else’s freedom. It’s a freedom with limits and responsibilities (I call it “positive freedom”), and if we’d not abandoned the principle in the 80s under the “I’m alright, Jack” culture fostered by Reagan and Thatcher, we might not now be on the brink of recession while staring into the environmental abyss brought about by our obsession with materialism and self-gratification. Better still, we might have prevented this resurgence in religious fundamentalism across all the major religions, which is the most morally repugnant form of religion there is – and that’s saying something.

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