Tackling sectarianism: Whatever you do, do nothing…

IT seems everyone is on the anti-sectarianism bandwagon at the moment… they just can’t agree where it should be going. Last week, Eamonn McCann urged readers not just to respect diversity, but celebrate sameness. In his challenge to the prevailing wisdom that a balancing act between ‘the two communities’ is how to deal with division – an approach that purposefully excludes those who don’t fit neatly into one of the two tribal boxes – he suggested that the common interests of the working class could be the key to a united community.

Next, it was revealed that the just-departed Chief Constable, Hugh Orde, wrote to the two first ministers by suggesting their lack of progress on a ‘coherent and credible strategy’ for tackling sectarian hatred would leave a vacuum that would be filled by “those wishing to perpetuate the divisions of the past”. This echoes Orde’s parting shot to our politicians in August, when he lambasted them, saying that the “Shared Future strategy is not right at the top of the public agenda. It hardly seems to be on the agenda at all”. It also reflects the message he has taken to Great Britain when it comes to dealing with extreme right-wing groups there.

Today, Duncan Morrow, the chief executive of the Community Relations Council, added:

The opportunity provided by the peace process was that it would enable us to tackle our underlying issues head on. In a society which has made coming out of conflict its international calling card, the failure to agree policy to ensure a shared and better future has become embarrassing and potentially dangerous.

In response, the two leading parties have tried to deflect the criticism of having done nothing in time-honoured fashion – the DUP has blamed Sinn Fein, while Sinn Fein has published its own strategy (pdf here). You don’t have to be a genius to get the irony of a party publishing plans for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration (CSI) without involving anyone else, and Alliance seems to have taken this as a bid to scupper the ship entirely.

A BBC report added that “a DUP source insists the [republican] party’s paper bears little resemblance to a paper drawn up by officials in the first and deputy first minister’s office last October. The source said the Sinn Fein paper suggests equality is the only factor in addressing good relations, ignoring issues such as ignorance, education and prejudice. The source said the DUP had provided Sinn Fein with a framework document in July as a proposed way forward on the issue, after consultation with the Community Relations Council.”

Meanwhile, the festering problem that has been bubbling under for so long continues to wreck lives on a daily basis. Whoever’s to blame, and most of us are beyond caring I think, it looks like the politicians are fiddling while Rome burns. ‘CSI’ is well named – you’d need to be a forensic detective to find any bloody trace of it.

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s worth mentioning that Sinn Fein says that their paper has been with the DUP since July, and that they are only publishing it in the wake of Peter Robinson’s speech last week…

    The structural core of their proposal is that all decision making re community relations be centralised in OFMDFM…

    …we will establish a new Ministerially-led Panel headed by the First and deputy First Minister.

    I can see several problems with that right away, not least the fact that since neither party is capable commenting even privately on the other’s proposals in a 2-3 month period it’s effectively a licence to close down any viable form of community relations. Which may or may not be a good thing. But it would be great to have a better reason for that besides the fact that neither party can agree on anything.

    Which begs a series of questions. Not least, when does the referral to Relate kick in? Who going to make it? What authority would THEY have to make it happen? Would either of ‘the partners’ listen? And do they REALLY want to change anyway?

  • Edward

    Given that Sinn Fein built itself on the sectarian murderfest conducted by their in-house fascists is it any surprise that they want to park this in a cud-de-sac?

    They wish to keep their finger off the anti-sectarianism searchlight to ensure its beam does not illuminate their own dirty corners.

  • igor

    Now Edward, be fair.

    SF have said again and again that Republicanism has a fully inclusive approach that welcomes Catholics of all credes and beliefs provided that they subscribe to the basic tenets of the organisation and its motto ‘ourselves alone’.

  • bemused

    Mick,

    I think you need to read the DUP statement in a little more detail. Sinn Fein’s draft was indeed responded too and a number of meetings were held with them.

    The reality is that CRC, the DUP, OFMDFM officials, the Alliance Party etc etc all agree that good relations is a different issue than equality. Sinn Fein will not accept this. Although they are working the system on the ground and many of the key areas and actions are indeed good relations issues it is the insistence that any strategy must have “Equality is the foundation of Good Relations” at its core that is causing a lack of agreement.

    This is a core policy problem which is currently seemingly insurmountable. The DUP (and most others) believe the problem, and the solutions to be much more complex than a simply “equality” answer.

  • Only Asking

    Bloody great read Gonzo! Excellent analysis.

    1.It’s worth mentioning that Sinn Fein says that their paper has been with the DUP since July,

    What happened Last October. Didn’t I hear that both parties had signed off then? What became of that? Did they agree on a way forward and then stall?

    ‘CSI’ is well named – you’d need to be a forensic detective to find any bloody trace of it.

    Excellent punchline.

  • Thereyouarenow

    If the british establishment and Unionists sincerely want to make progress on ending sectaranism then they should make progress on this issue.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/mar/27/gordon-brown-royal-succession.

    If people cannot recognise that this law discriminates against catholics then there is no hope of making progress in other areas. It may be largely symbolic but symbolism when so closely associated with the head of state of a country is very important.

  • Big Maggie

    Gonzo,

    A fine post to cover a fine mess. I particularly liked:

    “You don’t have to be a genius to get the irony of a party publishing plans for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration (CSI) without involving anyone else”

    I wonder whether Sinn Féin appreciated the irony. There again, we know what their name means, don’t we?

  • I see a lot of commenters on Slugger complaining that the royal succession law discriminates against Catholics, but not so many complaining that it discriminates against women. Odd, that…

  • Only Asking

    There ought to be a category of best post of the year for sluggers’ bloggers, if there were then this one would definitely win.

  • Thereyouarenow

    Reply to (8) Andrew Gallagher

    Frankly it would be ridiculous when dealing with this law not also to deal with also where it discriminates. From my own point of view that is so obvious that I did not feel it necessary to point it out. I am against discrimination on the grounds of gender, race and religion.

  • Thereyouarenow

    oops should read

    where it discriminates against women

  • Only Asking

    Once Elizabeth dies, I doubt the royals will last. Theres not much support for them in Britain, and they are a drain on the public purse. In these cost effective times these people are an unwanted and unnecessary drain on public resources. Off with their heads!!!

    The law of succession will hardly matter or be of relevance in the future imv.

    Besides it hasn’t really got anything to do with sectarianism in n. ireland has it?

  • Big Maggie

    Andrew,

    “I see a lot of commenters on Slugger complaining that the royal succession law discriminates against Catholics, but not so many complaining that it discriminates against women”

    We take it as a given and file it alongside stuff like the divine right of kings.

    Note that there’s no law against a royal marrying a Muslim. Doesn’t have to be when the pretender can be taken out in Paris.

    Sorry. Just channelling Mo Al Fayed for a moment :^}

  • Only Asking

    We take it as a given and file it alongside stuff like the divine right of kings.

    Raises eyebrows. Really? Evidence please.

    Note that there’s no law against a royal marrying a Muslim

    You are confused she wasn’t a blood royal and after her divorce was only the mother of the princess’ so the rules don’t apply.

    Doesn’t have to be when the pretender can be taken out in Paris.

    Conspiracy theorists are worse than rumour mongers. Of use to no one.

  • Driftwood

    Ahh… Strategy,the illusion of progress..
    Maybe they should bring in more consultants..

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/masters-of-illusion-the-great-management-consultancy-swindle-1788556.html

    Carlsberg don’t do inept toytown assemblies etc

  • Big Maggie

    Only Asking,

    Only joking.

  • Only Asking

    16.Only Asking,

    Only joking.

    Ahhh……

  • They may as well have called that document separate but equal. The phrase interdependence shows how far they are from accepting that the people in this part of the island are the same, and have the same interests. The very title of the paper – Rights and Respect – suggests the extent to which this is the assertion of the rights of catholics/nationalists/republicans (delete as preferred) rather than a genuine attempt to build a united community. Which I would have thought was kind of important in building towards unity. It seems that the hope of outbreeding the unionists might not be so far out of their thinking as it seemed of late.

  • Dec

    I’d be very interested if anyone could explain to me how we square the circle that says on one hand sectarianism is very bad but on the other hand, lets give everybody two days off work to go and celebrate it in July.

    (I’ve obviously glossed over the repackaging of ‘good’sectarianism as some sort of public funds-laden carnival of light.)

  • The Reporter

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/aug/26/comment.scotland

    The real cause is not surprising, of course. Any nation that partitions its population at youth and teaches young people at schools for Catholics or at schools for Protestants is bound to end up with sectarian problems. The impact on that country’s psyche is destined to be corrosive, a point stressed by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion. ‘The troubles of Northern Ireland would disappear in a generation if segregated schools were abolished,’ he says.

  • Brit

    The royal succession law is a topic I debated yesterday. It is the one and only example of discrimination against Catholics (and even then a theoretical form of discrimination) in modern Britain which the anti-Brit contingent can lay its hands. If that’s the evidence for the prosecution to support the case that the UK is fundamentally discriminatory against Catholics then the Defence can rest.

    The law is, of course, wrong and should be changed although it would be much more logical and consistent (and I would be much happier) if they went the whole hog and abolished the Monarchy and the establishment of the Church of England. Trying to apply principles of fairness and meritocracy to the institution of the royal family, which is based on institutionalised unfairness and non- meritocratic selection is internally inconsistent tinkering.

    Muslims are the main religious group that face religious discrimination in the UK and they have a much stronger claim to be discriminated against than Catholics.

  • Brit

    Reporter and Dawkins are wrong – the conflict is ethnic / national not religious

  • Big Maggie

    Brit,

    Possibly. All the same I’ve never heard a Nordie child speak of ethnicity but of Prod and Taig.

  • Big Bird

    Whats wrong with equality being the basis for good relations? Is the problem that the DUP have fundamental objections to tackling sectarianism, racism, and homophobic hate crime? Their record on gay rights is clearly public knowledge. If not, then what is the problem? As a matter of interest… Whats wrong with the SF document? Anyone?

  • Brit

    Prods and Taigs are, of course, two separate ethnic groups. “Taigs” include the non-religious Irish Republican, the Catholic priest and the “Catholic” young woman who is on the pill and goes to church once a year. It is not their religious beliefs and practices which define them but their shared national identity. Catholic is shorthand for a form of green non Britith Irishness.
    Vice-versa with Prods or Loyalists. They are disliked by the Nationalist community (to the extent that they are) because they are seen as loyal to imperial Britain, or because they are sectarian supremacists, or because they are anti Irish and anti Unification, or because they are foreigners who came from across the water.
    I’m not saying religion is wholly irrelevant but it is mainly a label for what is a national/ethnic conflict (Note an anti-colonial conflict or religious conflict)

  • Harry T

    So there you are now, allow Catholics to succeed to the throne and send children to integrated schools.

    I suggest we bin the MLAs and have the sluggerites run the country. With such insightful analysis at our fingertips all our problems are solved.

  • Big Bird, I was just about to make teh same point. I liked the SF document more than I expected to, not being an SF supporter – my main issue with it is that it’s not very practical. But the emphasis on structural change is important, as is the proposal that the strategy is led by politicans and not by a quango – and if we don’t vote for politicians who are prepared to do this, well then it exposes the paucity of our political will and choices.

    So could someone please explain why equality and community relatiosn are different concepts and why equality is not a good basis for community relations?

  • Driftwood

    So there you are now, allow Catholics to succeed to the throne and send children to integrated schools.

    Yup!

    I suggest we bin the MLAs and have the sluggerites run the country.
    Almost there Harry T.

    I suggest we bin the MLAs and have Westminster run the country.

  • fin

    “It is the one and only example of discrimination against Catholics”

    Brit, so who else is name checked by the Established Church as the anti-christ apart from the Pope?

    and then there’s the Masons’

  • Pigeon Toes

    “The impact on that country’s psyche is destined to be corrosive, a point stressed by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion. ‘The troubles of Northern Ireland would disappear in a generation if segregated schools were abolished,

    Aye Mr Dawkins is God, he is omnipotent and omniescent…

  • Harry T

    I’m with you Driftwood. I’d go for Westminster; rather direct rule than dim fools.

  • Big Maggie

    Brit,

    We know all that. It doesn’t make a blind bit of difference to a child here. S/he identifies the others by their religion, i.e. the school they attend.

    Once we get rid of separate schools we can start to make progress.

  • Big Maggie

    Pigeon Toes,

    “Aye Mr Dawkins is God, he is omnipotent and omniescent…”

    He knows more than most people’s god anyhow.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Big Maggie,

    But with all due respect what the fuck does he know about Northern Ireland?

    It is much too simplistic.

    My Kids attended Integrated school. Then, I already “believe” in the benefits of Integrated schools, and that religion should be kept out of education.

    It would be unlikely that those with extreme views would send their children to Integrated schools.

    The only way around this is to force Integration, which then creates different sets of problems…

    I could be wrong, something that Mr Dawkins is never, therefore he is God…

  • DC

    Jenny I suppose part of the problem rests with the notion that political actors in SF do rather irrational things yet demand equality in the process.

    Perhaps a Mairead Farrell commemoration at Stormont or a walk down a road to celebrate police station closures in contentious areas, or hammer on about no hierarchy of victims.

    Under the equality banner it allows people to behave in inappropriate ways yet demand respectful treatment. So for example SF strive for unifying Ireland and allow the ends – unity – to be trumpeted despite unionists arguing about the means that were in that process – murder.

    To exaggerate somewhat, it’s like a paedophile arguing that his or her interests in children is a sexual orientation and thus proceeds to assert same rights as heterosexuals and gays however despicable you find such behaviour.

    There may well be scientific evidence in sorts to prove that, maybe there is a strong counter argument to be had that it is really pathological, but quite frankly to debate it under equality misses all the big issues and indeed all the massive massive concerns that go with it.

    A Mairead Farrell tribute may well have set the Republican house on fire while if allowed it would have scorched the unionist political earth. Enter Jim Allister, enter heated politics enter an atmosphere conducive to hate, bad relations and thus the opportunity for more murder.

    I could easily counter this and blame unionists quite fairly for stasis and encouraging dissident groups to murder by not getting it together quick enough and devolving policing sooner. So I can see something in what SF in terms of respect but to fall back on equality entirely is just not enough.

  • Jenny,

    Equality is something that should apply to the citizens of a state as people possessed of rights as citizens, not as members of some real or imagined group. The problem with this document is that in reality does not have any strategy at all for forging a common identity. In that sense, it is a figleaf for continuing communal politics.

  • Big Maggie

    Pigeon Toes,

    “But with all due respect what the fuck does he know about Northern Ireland?”

    You clearly didn’t catch his act on Talkback a year or two ago. He wiped the floor with several fundamentalists whose beliefs would have had a cretin in hysterics.

    I counted no fewer than 14 references to NI in his The God Delusion. He even cites the an old Ulster joke at one point:

    Though the details differ across the world, no known culture lacks some version of the time-consuming, wealth-consuming, hostility-provoking rituals, the anti-factual, counter-productive fantasies of religion. Some educated individuals may have abandoned religion, but all were brought up in a religious culture from which they usually had to make a conscious decision to
    depart. The old Northern Ireland joke, “Yes, but are you a Protestant atheist or a Catholic atheist?”, is spiked with bitter truth. Religious behaviour can be called a human universal in the same way as heterosexual behaviour can. Both generalizations allow individual exceptions, but all those exceptions understand only too well the rule from which they have departed. Universal features of a species demand a Darwinian explanation.

    “I could be wrong, something that Mr Dawkins is never, therefore he is God…”

    No doubt Mrs Dawkins would disagree. However I already said he knows better than most people’s god. If you compare his writings with the unscientific shite and perverted morality contained in the Bible and Quran you’ll appreciate this too.

  • DC

    Just to add another case in point about equality.

    Martin McGuinness said that if policing and justice were not devolved it would be a “tragedy”.

    http://www.newssniffer.co.uk/articles/252816/diff/1/2

    In 1989, the IRA blew up a 14yo catholic girl in Benburb along with her grandad coming back from bingo, it was described as a “tragedy” by Martin McGuinness at the time.

    http://tinyurl.com/l2szaw

    So is this a subtle threat of what may come, or are these two of the same in seriousness and even grief?

  • Big Maggie

    Correction: it was Sunday Sequence, and one of the fundies in question was Edwin “Flat Earth” Poots.

    Slugger blogged it.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Now where did I say that I believed in any religion?

    It’s Mr Dawkins particular brand of fundamentalist atheism which I find particularly peculiar.

    And like many of our more fundamental God believers, he is excapetionally fond of his “righteousness” and the sound of his own voice…

  • Pigeon Toes

    “excapetionally”, Though he probably can spell.

  • DC

    Actually on my link McGuinness was talking about an IRA murder incident in Derry, as pg260 is not displayed, but the point still stands (and the IRA did describe Benburb as a tragedy).

    The use of tragedy by McGuinness on two entirely different situations just isn’t descriptive enough for what happened hence the problems behind categorising complex emotions, situations, stances and other political things under one simple word ‘equality’.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Maggie,

    I wouldn’t have heard Sunday Sequence, being on the radio on a Sunday morning…

    8.15 am What an ungodly hour!

  • Big Maggie

    Pigeon Toes,

    “Now where did I say that I believed in any religion?”

    No idea. You could try a google on slugger.

    “It’s Mr Dawkins particular brand of fundamentalist atheism which I find particularly peculiar.”

    Atheism cannot be fundamentalist. That’s a contradiction in terms.

    “he is excapetionally fond of his “righteousness” and the sound of his own voice…”

    That’s your inference. He has a very good speaking voice. I think you’ll find if you read his work and listen to his lectures you’ll see that your opinion is wide of the mark.

  • Big Maggie

    DC,

    “Actually on my link McGuinness was talking about an IRA murder incident in Derry, as pg260 is not displayed”

    Well you tried anyway, I’ll give you that.

  • Big Maggie

    Pigeon Toes,

    “8.15 am What an ungodly hour!”

    I was likely still partying from Saturday night.

  • DC

    Yes on my link it wasn’t a teenage girl the IRA had killed that McGuinness was commenting on it was actually a 60yo daily mass-going woman and 55yo father of six, whose wife had recently died.

  • Driftwood

    It’s Mr Dawkins particular brand of fundamentalist atheism which I find particularly peculiar.

    Bingo!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharyngula_(blog)

    Blake’s Law
    Another recurring trope has been Myers’ reaction to the epithet “fundamentalist atheist”, bestowed by some upon him, Dawkins and others who espouse similar views.[19][20][21] Myers writes,
    The “new atheism” (I don’t like that phrase, either) is about taking a core set of principles that have proven themselves powerful and useful in the scientific world — you’ve probably noticed that many of these uppity atheists are coming out of a scientific background — and insisting that they also apply to everything else people do. These principles are a reliance on natural causes and demanding explanations in terms of the real world, with a documentary chain of evidence, that anyone can examine. The virtues are critical thinking, flexibility, openness, verification, and evidence. The sins are dogma, faith, tradition, revelation, superstition, and the supernatural. There is no holy writ, and a central idea is that everything must be open to rational, evidence-based criticism — it’s the opposite of fundamentalism.[22]
    Eventually, Myers summarized his stance by invoking “Blake’s Law”, which he named for the blogger who first codified it. Blake’s Law is an adage that frequent Pharyngula commentator[23] Blake Stacey formulated in 2007, based in concept on Godwin’s Law. The law states:[24]
    In any discussion of atheism (skepticism, etc.), the probability that someone will compare a vocal atheist to religious fundamentalists increases to one.
    As has become the tradition with Godwin’s Law, the person who compares the atheist to a religious fundamentalist is considered to have lost the argument.[25]

  • igor

    ” I’d be very interested if anyone could explain to me how we square the circle that says on one hand sectarianism is very bad but on the other hand, lets give everybody two days off work to go and celebrate it in July.”

    Well I suppose we also give everyone a day off in March so that students can get pissed, dress in green and riot so there’s a bit of balance.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Maggie. Okay Point taken about the “fundamentalist” bit…

    I have read his works, and I still think he is the opposite side of the same coin as the preachers in car parks, promising eternal salvation and threatening eternal damnation in equal measure.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/5674934/Richard-Dawkins-launches-childrens-summer-camp-for-atheists.html

  • igor

    Brit

    Perhaps they are disliked just because they are Prods ie because those doing the disliking are just ignorant sectarian bigots.

  • Pigeon Toes

    “Pigeon Toes,

    “8.15 am What an ungodly hour!”

    I was likely still partying from Saturday night.”

    Big Maggie, you know that’s the road to eternal damnation don’t ya?

  • igor

    If we want to end sectarianism why don’t we just ban all party politics in NI for say 20 years. Let us all elect individual MLAs but ban them from forming political parties or acting in concert and set a 2 term limit on holding an MLA post. Make every vote at Stormont a free vote.

  • Brit

    “Brit

    Perhaps they are disliked just because they are Prods ie because those doing the disliking are just ignorant sectarian bigots”

    I think you’ll find theres no sectarianism on ‘their’ side. The tricolour has orange in it don’t you know and Tone Wolfe was a Prod remember.

  • John45

    I see God and Richard Dawkins has entered this “sectarian” debate. As someone whom Republican Stones described as a believer in Sky Pixies this has been like a red rag to a bull for me. Much more interesting than sectarianism.
    Richard Dawkins – I see in him a fellow soul (how he must hate to hear someone say that.) I find his quest for truth and rage at the unfairness of life and the hypocrisy of some religious activity admirable.From what I see of him on TV, I like.
    As regards the British Royal family contribution to sectarianism – as much as I would like to think that it is an ideal institution for Britain (better, say, than democrats like Chavez or Castro)I have yet to read or hear of a member of the Royal family say anything positive to counteract sectarianism in NI. Their various comments over the years (and centuries)on Ireland have been puerile, to say the least. Please someone provide one pro-Irish remark ever made by a Royal on Ireland that wasn’t either patronising or suggesting of a master-servant relaationship.

  • Only Asking.

    We have been blessed with an over indulgence of religious nutters.

    Getting back to CSI if you really want cohesion get your uncle Hugo to be first minister with Julian Simmons as his deputy, and we’d have not only cohesion but be in heaven as well!

  • Thereyouarenow

    How could catholics be expected to identify with a head of state that is singularly prohibited from marrying a catholic.

    The excuses given for this law not been changed are comical.

    It tells us that to remove this discrimination is too much trouble because its only the catholics that are offended by it.

    What kind of a country leaves an offensive law on the statute when there is a sizable minority that are deeply offended by it.

    Is this 2009 or 1709.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Driftwood,

    Okay being a “law” abiding citizen, I surrender.

    I lost (I swear it has nothing to do with some peoples admiration for Dawkins)

  • Pigeon Toes

    But not on a bible, obviously.

  • maeglin

    There is a major problem with the Sinn Fein paper. Bad community relations can be caused by a wide range of factors – not mixing with the other side, fear, mistrust, hurt, disengagement, lack of common identity and lack respect for diversity, ignorance etc etc. Some of those issues can be influenced by a lack of equality however a robust equality framework WILL NOT resolve those problems.

    Sinn Fein have developed a “separate but equal” mentality. They want to be able to talk about “our streets” “our towns” “our culture” – equality doesn’t change that attitude. People don’t hate someone for the colour of their skin, political views or race because of “inequality”. Inequality can of course be an outcome of prejudice or hatred. However prejudice and hatred is caused by a myriad of complicated issues (including inequality at times) all of which need to be tackled by the CSI strategy.

  • Big Maggie

    Pigeon Toes,

    “But not on a bible, obviously.”

    LOL!

    igor,

    “Well I suppose we also give everyone a day off in March so that students can get pissed, dress in green and riot so there’s a bit of balance.”

    Are you saying that Jews and Muslims are insulted by this display of Christian sectarianism? I must do a vox pop among my pork-eschewing friends.

  • Big Maggie

    Well, that’s the vox pop done. My Muslim and Jewish friends tell me they’re fairly relaxed about Paddy’s Day despite the alcohol-fuelled excesses.

    One of them suggested it may be adherents of this religion who are offended.

  • Brit

    “What kind of a country leaves an offensive law on the statute when there is a sizable minority that are deeply offended by it.”

    What kind of country bans the Burka or blasphemy or holocaust denial? These are just as indefensible as the sucession laws and in the case of blasphemy laws is new rather than a relic which the state hasnt got round to removing.

    And lets not get started on abortion rights in the island of Ireland.

  • John45

    Big Maggie – do you have any Christian friends?
    As regards Richard Dawkins on “time, wealth consuming” religious rituals problem – from earliest times man/woman (same word) has always devoted wealth, time to “beautiful ornamentation etc”.This makes man fundamentallay an idiot – right?
    As regards “facts”, “science” etc the worrying thing is – don’t such approaches call for the same policies as the Nazis and Scientific Socialists – selective breeding, denials of the weak person’s rights, scientific approaches to human development, Dame Baroness Warner’s Final Solution and so on?
    I heard Richard Dawkins say on Sky TV this week, interviewed about his book, that it was unfortunate that “intelligent people”, i.e. atheists, were not breeding as fast (He actually said “don’t have as large families”) as less intelligent people (So-called “Brights” in Dr Miller’s lingo). So where does Professor Dawkins Morality (he is an anti-Darwinian Moralist) actually come from? For instance, if he believes in global warming, overpopulation etc doesn’t this have “LOGICAL” consequences?

  • Big Maggie

    John45,

    “Big Maggie – do you have any Christian friends?”

    Yes. Do you?

    “from earliest times man/woman … has always devoted wealth, time to “beautiful ornamentation etc”.This makes man fundamentallay an idiot – right?”

    Not particularly. It makes us human. Other animals rarely do it.

    As regards “facts”, “science” etc the worrying thing is – don’t such approaches call for the same policies as the Nazis and Scientific Socialists – selective breeding, denials of the weak person’s rights”

    Bit OTT for me. Don’t you think the weakest people of all are the ones we’ve been discussing: the children. Don’t they have the right for their little heads not to be filled with dangerous, superstitious nonsense that will encourage sectarian? Dawkins, rightly in my view, considers this to be child-abuse.

    “I heard Richard Dawkins say on Sky TV this week, interviewed about his book, that it was unfortunate that “intelligent people”, i.e. atheists, were not breeding as fast (He actually said “don’t have as large families”) as less intelligent people”

    LOL. Good ol’ Richard. Pity I missed that. And he has a point; we’re being outbred by the idiots. You only have to wander through Belfast city centre of a Saturday to see them. Children born with brains marinated in their mother’s alcohol having children with even lower IQs. That’s more child-abuse.

    “(So-called “Brights” in Dr Miller’s lingo).”

    Silly term.

    “So where does Professor Dawkins Morality (he is an anti-Darwinian Moralist)”

    Are you sure you mean that?

    “actually come from?”

    Presumably, like my own, from a sense of right and wrong. It’s not too hard for an intelligent person to distinguish between the two.

    “For instance, if he believes in global warming, overpopulation etc doesn’t this have “LOGICAL” consequences?”

    Not sure I follow you here. Why should his beliefs have logical consequences? His beliefs are based on logic, yes, but he’s very caring of the human race.

  • Pigeon Toes

    “I heard Richard Dawkins say on Sky TV this week, interviewed about his book, that it was unfortunate that “intelligent people”, i.e. atheists, were not breeding as fast (He actually said “don’t have as large families”) as less intelligent people”

    Would that because they are intelligent, they are having smaller families. Able to work out the instructions on the pill/Condom packet, and obviously not restrained by the teachings of their particular religion?

    Dawkins should have been able to work that into a positive message..

  • John45

    Hi Big Maggie. Thanks for response.
    “Other animals rarely do it (rituals etc) = a whole heap of issues here; I can’t agree. I live with about 20 different animals and as time goes by I wonder what marvels go on in their little brains.
    Children “filled with dangerous, superstitious nonsense” If people stuck to the essence of Jesus’ teaching (and his hellfire might be an earthly retribution for misbehaviour if you read it properly – e,g global warming – a bit tongue in cheek)-
    Richard Dawkins as “anti-Darwinian moralist”. A number of times, including Sky interview, I have heard him say this when describing his belief in social cohesion as a way of life rather than the survival of the fittest, although still stating the latter as a scientifc fact.
    “Outbred by idiots” – It’s amazing how many of the world’s geniuses came from the “thick” class (including myself).
    “Intelligent families and condoms” – another post – I believe in larger families. If something is good, the more of it the better.
    Finally, Big Maggies, it IS hard to distinguisn between right and wrong.

  • Big Maggie

    John45,

    “I live with about 20 different animals and as time goes by I wonder what marvels go on in their little brains.”

    But do they buy bling? Wasn’t that the issue?

    “If something is good, the more of it the better.”

    Of course. And if something is bad, i.e. dysfunctional families, the less the better.

    “Finally, Big Maggies, it IS hard to distinguisn between right and wrong.”

    Not for me. For instance I know that sectarianism is wrong. Why? Because it leads to unhappiness and worse. I don’t need Jesus to tell me that.

  • John45

    “..do they (animals)buy bling. Of course they do. The dog insists on keeping its silly toys long after puppyhood. The cat will not go out without its favourite collar. As for altruism, a dog in Australia kept its comatose master alive for 5 days by taking a towel to the toilet bowl, dippping it and moistgening the old man’s lips.
    I also think they believe in a god of the Old testament type (me), especially for daily bread. As for the New Testament God, they are getting there, probably before us.
    Also, one of my pet sheep ran a half a mile to round up a dog that was not responding to a call and herded it back to me (turning Scripture inside out, as it were).
    Beethoven came from a one-parent dysfunctional family, with a medical history to make lepers blush.
    De Valera came from a one-parent family and a rude backwoods cabin, yet became a professor of Maths.Lincoln was a hill billy. William the Conquerer (out of wedlock) puts present day yobbos to shame.
    The biggest dysfunctional families were the ruling dynasties of Europe, over 2000 years. They did their best to ruin true religion, as well, whilst pretending to be its defenders.

    By the way, why has no one come up with a good quote from a Royal on Ireland or the Irish?

  • Driftwood

    John45

    Being born in a stable does not make one a horse
    – A retort to being called Irish.

    http://www.napoleonguide.com/aquotes_welli.htm

    http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/harris06/harris06_index.html

    I like your stories of the dog in Australia and the cat that wouldn’t go out without its favourite collar. Good bedtime stories for the kids. Is your favouritr film ‘Babe -Pig in the city’?

  • Driftwood

    Meant to add quote to link

    Although it is possible to be a scientist and still believe in God — as some scientists seem to manage it — there is no question that an engagement with scientific thinking tends to erode, rather than support, religious faith. Taking the U.S. population as an example: Most polls show that about 90% of the general public believes in a personal God; yet 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do not. This suggests that there are few modes of thinking less congenial to religious faith than science is.

    http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/harris06/harris06_index.html

    But the whole article by Harris is worth reading.

    And the Duke is/was Royalty I think. George Osborne is also ‘Irish’ if you check his wiki. good to remember at next summers’ Tory budget.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘The biggest dysfunctional families were the ruling dynasties of Europe,’

    Indeed…

    “Let others wage wars, but you, happy Austria, shall marry”

  • Driftwood,

    John Polkinghorne would tend to disagree.

  • DC

    Boy George is Irish, interesting.

  • Driftwood

    Sammy Morse
    Polkinghorse is an exception (a la John Gorman in local politics) to the rule but no less interesting because of that. If you read the Sam Harris article he makes no claim to ultimate truth, quite the opposite. Sir Martin Rees would be in the same boat.

    DC, yes our next chancellor is Irish (not quite in the Duke of Wellington sense). maybe in the same way that the Duke of Edinburgh is British, and not Greek.