Irish Government to close Vatican Embassy

As the BBC reports

The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore made the announcement with “greatest regret” on Thursday.

He said that the closure was part of government cost cutting plans.

Mr Gilmore added that although the embassy to the Holy See was one of the Republic’s oldest missions, it yielded no “economic return”.

“The government believes that Ireland’s interests with the Holy See can be sufficiently represented by a non-resident ambassador,” he said.

“The government will be seeking the agreement of the Holy See to the appointment of a senior diplomat to this position.”

The RTÉ report adds

Speaking this evening, Mr Gilmore said the closure of the embassy in the Holy See was not related to the recalling of the Papal Nuncio from Ireland earlier this year.

The Tánaiste said the Government would not be selling Villa Spada, the Irish embassy in the Vatican. Instead, staff working in embassy to Italy in Rome, which is a rented premises, will be transferred to Villa Spada.

The prestigious Villa Spada is the most valuable property owned by the diplomatic service.

A spokesman for Mr Gilmore said that it was for the Holy See to decide the manner of its representation here.

The Vatican was among the first states with which the newly independent Irish Free State established full diplomatic relations in the 1920s.

Also to close are the Irish Embassy in Iran and Irish government’s representative office in Timor Leste providing, in total, an estimated annual saving of €1.6million €1.25million.

Adds  Here’s a potentially relevant post by Mick in September on the disagreement between the Irish Government and the Vatican.

I don’t think the recalled Papal Nuncio to Ireland has been replaced yet…

, , , , , , , , ,

  • no “economic return!!!!

    “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”

    What a heathen country!

  • Looks like the Irish Government’s proposal for the Vatican to bale out the Irish economy fell on deaf ears.

  • Pete Baker

    Adds Here’s a potentially relevant post by Mick in September on the disagreement between the Irish Government and the Vatican.

    I don’t think the recalled Papal Nuncio to Ireland has been replaced yet…

  • Framer

    Vengeance is mine saith the Lord.

    Does that mean the Papal Nuncio also gets kicked out of Phoenix Park?

  • Cynic2

    “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s”

    ….. like all that information in the Vatican records on child abuse by priests that was never given to the Garda?

  • Harry Flashman

    Appalling mean minded decision, sure to appeal to the Dublin 4, Irish Times set but a slap in the face to a sizable proportion, perhaps even a majority of the plainer folks of Ireland.

  • Taoiseach

    This is the worst government ever. Kenny and co. take these decisions and then lie about them. There is no way that this is a merely economic decision. If that were the case we’d be closing our embassies in all EU states – they serve almost no point. We’d be closing our perm rep to United Nations. We’d close every development aid post.

  • ” we’d be closing our embassies in all EU states – they serve almost no point.”

    No mention of the fate of the Irish ’embassy’ at 29 Notting Hill, Malone Road, Belfast or of the ‘ambassador’, Kieran Dowling? The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs refused to give his name but a call to the Belfast office revealed it.

  • They should go the whole hog and declare war on the Vatican State. Then Ireland can confiscate the assets in Ireland of all Catholic orders, use some of the money to compensate the victims of clerical abuse, and the rest to restore the economy. It worked well for Henry VIII.

  • Cynic2

    “a slap in the face to a sizable proportion, perhaps even a majority of the plainer folks of Ireland”

    You assume that the ‘plainer folks’ are thick enough to believe in God or follow the Church?

  • Cynic2

    “Kenny and co. take these decisions and then lie about them”

    Politicians lying! My God, my illusions lie shattered

  • Harry Flashman

    “You assume that the ‘plainer folks’ are thick enough to believe in God or follow the Church?”

    If you are asking me whether a substantial proportion of Irish people are practicing Catholics my answer is rather obviously, yes.

    I’m surprised you weren’t aware of this quiet well known fact.

  • Ronan Ssmith

    I think it is time the Vatican hit back. It could organise a world-wide Catholic boycott of Eire goods. If only 10% of Catholics outside Eire were to take part in such a boycott, it would hurt Eire.

  • Mick Fealty

    €1.6 mill is not much of a saving?

  • Harry Flashman

    “€1.6 mill is not much of a saving?”

    The Brits have done something similar in SE Asia, the former UK embassy in Bangkok was a magnificent old building in the centre of the city marked by a ships mast as flag staff in the centre of the lawn. A very prestigious site in a major regional capital.

    The FO sold it claiming a great bargain of GBP20 million, which no doubt filled a very major need in the departmental paper clip budget, at the cost of losing a prominent status symbol.

    In Jakarta the UK embassy is slap bang in the centre of the city’s heart in a location the Chinese, Russians, even French would slaver over. It’s a dreary little building looking like a 1960’s municipal technical college which will be closed soon as the embassy will be moved to an anoymous office building in the suburbs.

    For all their high falutin’ training Foreign Office mandarins must have absolutely no idea of the concept of “face” in Asia.

  • Pete Baker

    I’ve updated the post to note the new estimated annual saving – €1.25million.

  • Cynic2

    “practicing Catholics”

    – presumably that’s why Church attendances have dropped like a stone

  • “– presumably that’s why Church attendances have dropped like a stone”

    Have they? The last Iona report on Catholic church attendances in Ireland showed a rise.

  • Harry Flashman

    Last time I was in Ireland the cars were parked three deep outside the church on Sunday mornings, that was about six months ago. Have attendances dropped dramatically since?

  • Los Leandros

    It was recently reported in the Irish media that 35 children had died in State ” care ” in the last 2 years ; nearly 300 in the last decade. Yet Kenny/Gilmore have been quite unmoved by this veritable Celtic holocaust. No heads have rolled, & in all likelihood none will. It merely confirms that Kenny is essentially an Uncle Tom for the liberal/anti-Catholic media.

  • Brian

    Unless the Vatican opens up their records to the Irish government on all the crimes perpetrated and hidden by their representatives than it should stay closed and their nuncios should be turned back at the airport.

    The “plain people” of Ireland have had enough of the Vatican. They still may be believers or active Catholics but that hardly means they care about a superfluous embassy at the Vatican being closed down.

  • FuturePhysicist

    They SO could’ve used that Iranian embassy now the Islamic Republic is on the verge of being a global (and possibly economic) superpower. 😉

  • Harry Flashman

    “The “plain people” of Ireland have had enough of the Vatican.”

    Have they indeed? Like I say hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Irish people vote with their feet every Sunday morning. How many voted Fine Gael in the presidential election a fortnight ago?

    The arse falling out of Fine Gael’s vote is the elephant in the corner in this whole thing, being completely ignored by the anti-Vatican cheerleaders in the Irish media. I’m not saying the vote share and Kenny’s hysterical anti-Catholic posturing are 100% connected but if it was any other issue it would at least be examined by the media.

    As I said before, Kenny’s “tough” stance would have been admirable forty or fifty years ago, coming as it does now when everyone and his aunty is sticking the boot in to the Church just shows moral cowardice.

    From Fine Gael too, that’s how nauseating it is, the lickspittle party whose previous high point in its history was when the Blueshirts were kneeling for the bishops’ benediction in Dun Laoghaire before sailing off to fight for Franco.

    Pathetic doesn’t even come close.

  • Devil Eire

    Harry Flashman:

    It’s been instructive to see how we can go from:

    Last time I was in Ireland the cars were parked three deep outside the church on Sunday mornings…

    to

    Like I say hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Irish people vote with their feet every Sunday morning“.

    Nice to see such a clear demonstration of your evidentiary standards.

    The European Social Survey found that numbers attending religious services once a week in Ireland dropped by 20% between 2002 and 2008 (albeit across all denominations).

  • Harry Flashman

    “Nice to see such a clear demonstration of your evidentiary standards.”

    It dropped by 20% from what? Off the top of my head about 80% attendance perhaps.

    The population of the Irish Republic is over five million, even if only 50% of them are attending Mass regularly – and I think it’s higher than that – it means that millions of Irish people are still practicing Catholics.

    Try to keep up, there’s a good chap.

  • Devil Eire

    Harry Flashman:

    In response to claims that church attendance in Ireland is dropping, you pointed out that one particular church at some unspecified time in the past was very well attended.

    Next, Ireland’s high level of frequent church attendance is offered as evidence that the people of Ireland have not had enough of the Vatican.

    I think I’m “keeping up” with your iron-clad logic here, but do correct me if I’m wrong.

  • Harry Flashman

    If you have evidence that the millions of Irish Catholics who still regularly attend Mass and partake of Catholic sacraments, in spite of all the scandals concerning the Catholic church over the past decade, have abandoned the institutional Catholic church then please do present your “iron-clad” evidence.

    I’d be intrigued to read it.

  • Devil Eire

    Harry Flashman:

    Back to basics , I’m afraid: you make the claim, you back it up. In this case, you claimed that high church attendance was overwhelming evidence that the people of Ireland have not had enough of the Vatican. Back it up.

  • Alias

    Perhaps you should read his claim before making demands about it? He didn’t claim that church attendance had not decreased, so it is not his function to support a claim that he didn’t make. He claimed that “hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Irish people” regularly attend church.

    Still, if we treat the majority Catholic religion with such contempt, just wait until we get our hands on NI’s Protestants!

  • Taoiseach

    Brian – name one “representative of the Vatican” who has committed a crime in Ireland. Just one. You find find any. The perps you’re talking about were Irish priests, and damn few of them to.

  • Devil Eire

    Alias:

    Perhaps you should read Harry Flashman’s post again:

    “The “plain people” of Ireland have had enough of the Vatican.”

    Have they indeed? Like I say hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Irish people vote with their feet every Sunday morning.

    It could hardly be clearer that high, frequent church attendance by Catholics is being adduced against the claim that the people of Ireland “have had enough of the Vatican”.

    This is in effect a claim that most of those Irish Catholics who frequently attend Mass would object to the closure of the Irish embassy in the Vatican. There is no evidence for this claim, unless Harry Flashman can know the minds of Irish Catholics by looking into his own heart.

  • Harry Flashman

    I have provided the evidence, Devil, I have stated that millions of Irish people regularly attend Mass and partake of Catholic sacraments.

    Now unless there’s some breakaway Catholic church operating in Ireland, the Continuity Catholic church perhaps, as far as I am aware these Catholics are practicing their religion under the auspices of the Catholic church run by the Vatican under the control of the Pope, cardinals, bishops and priests who take their instruction from the Vatican and hold their ceremonies in Vatican run churches.

    To the best of my knowledge these Catholics celebrating their Catholic religion in Catholic churches are fully aware of the link between their parish, its buildings, schools and ceremonies and the Vatican, they are under no illusion about this link yet remain happy to participate in their Vatican run religion. If they were fed up with this Vatican run Catholic church the option is open to them to join non-Vatican run churches, there are plenty of them in Ireland they are called protestant churches.

    I have provided my evidence, now if you have evidence to the contrary that the practicing Catholics of Ireland are worshiping at some alternative non-Vatican run church please feel free to adduce such evidence.

    I await the evidence with baited breath.

  • Alias

    “There is no evidence for this claim, unless Harry Flashman can know the minds of Irish Catholics by looking into his own heart.” – Devil Eire

    Likewise, there is no evidence to support your counterclaim that churchgoers don’t support the Vatican and that you can know the minds of Irish Catholics by looking into your own heart. As an opinion, it is more reasonable to assume that churchgoers do support the Vatican than it is to assume that they don’t. If they didn’t, then they could boycott the Church.

    I fail to see what relevance your claim that church attendance has declined by 20% across all denominations over a period of 6 years has to this? But as you introduced it in reply to Harry’s claim that “hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Irish people vote with their feet every Sunday morning” I assume you mean that the ‘vote’ of that 80% is cancelled by the 20% who no longer ‘vote’ that way.

    You appear to be using the ‘boycott’ argument yourself but are doing so from the considerable disadvantage that you are outnumbered by 5 to 1. Advantage Harry…

  • Alias

    One other point, if church attendance has declined by 20% across all demoninations then that statistic can’t be used to claim that a decline in attendance at Catholic churches is in any way related to public disapproval of the institutional or other actions of a particular demonination.

  • Devil Eire

    Harry Flashman: I have provided my evidence

    Your ‘evidence’ is about worthy of a saloon-bar blow-hard. Let me parse it:

    Millions of Irish Catholics attend Mass and (you assume) partake of the sacraments therefore (you infer that) millions of Irish Catholics could not be said to have had enough of the Vatican.

    Risible, particularly that final inference. What proportion of Mass-going Catholics follow Vatican teaching on contraception, for example? No doubt you can gaze within for the answer.

    Despite the burden of proof being on you, let me help you out with some 2011 survey results from the (very Catholic) Iona Institute:

    • Only 30% of Irish Catholic adults attend Mass on a weekly basis. (There are no data on what proportion receive sacraments);

    • Assuming adults includes all those aged 15 and over, this was 3,375,399 in the 2006 census. About 70% of people report themselves as Catholic (Iona survey), so the number of weekly Mass-going adults in Ireland is around 709,000 people;

    • Only 27% of Irish Catholic adults have a favourable view of the church at this time (around 638,000 people);

    • This was 16% of the population in 2006.

  • Devil Eire

    Alias:

    you are outnumbered by 5 to 1. Advantage Harry…

    Whoa, Tonto.

    I’m not sure what pigeon-hole you forced me into to get that ratio. On the contrary, it appears that your fellow-travellers are outnumbered 6:1.

  • Devil Eire

    Ahem

    On the contrary, it appears that your fellow-travellers are outnumbered 5:1

  • Harry Flashman

    Weekly attendance among adults stands at 709,000, that’s a pretty damn high proportion of the Irish population, making it one of the highest church-going populations in Europe.

    I take it people who go at least once a month, ie regular church goers by any definition, would be substantially higher.

    Now you see this statistic and still choose to believe that these practicing Catholics are in fact somehow alienated from the Vatican without producing a shred of evidence to back up this absurd claim. You nonetheless still feel the onus of proof is on me to prove that these practicing Catholics, who let me remind you regularly attend Vatican run church services and participate in Vatican religious ceremonies, are not hostile to the Vatican when all evidence points to the fact that they are in communion (literally) with the Vatican otherwise they wouldn’t be frequenting Vatican run churches and listening to Vatican ordained priests.

    Your logic is all arse backwards.

  • The arguments here are a bit sterile. I know from my own experience (yes, anecdotal only) that the majority of my very extended family do not attend Church on any regular basis, generally just for BM&Ds. That does not mean that they do not subscribe to Christian values, far from it, but I know (anecdotally, again) that this is largely due to suspicion about child abuse. They know that the large majority of priests are innocent but don’t trust the Bishops. And, given the failure to release all records or make information available to the Civil Authorities, how do you know who the few “bad apples” are?

  • Alias

    Devil, the official measure of the number of Irish Catholics is the census. It is also the best measure because those citizens self-identify as Catholic. At 86.8%, the fellow-travellers of anti-religonists are in the minority and in no position to impose their intolerant views on the rest of us…

    And, by the way, I’m not Catholic…

  • Alias

    Incidentally, just 4.3% of the population declared that they had no religion in the 2006 census. Why are we even listening to these people? I’d guess that a good chunk of that 4.3% are part of the D4 set…

  • Devil Eire

    Harry Flashman:

    You seem to have forgotten the original use to which you put your ‘evidence’:

    “The “plain people” of Ireland have had enough of the Vatican.”

    Have they indeed? Like I say hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Irish people vote with their feet every Sunday morning.

    You asserted that there are enough Irish Catholics going to weekly Mass to refute the allegation that the “‘plain people of Ireland’ have had enough of the Vatican”.

    Firstly, only 30% of Irish Catholic adults (18% of the population) are going to Mass every Sunday. So your assertion is demonstrably wrong and you have not refuted the allegation.

    Later you attempted to widen your claim to include monthly attendance at Mass…

    I take it people who go at least once a month, ie regular church goers by any definition, would be substantially higher.

    …but this does not significantly improve your case. By the way, attendance at church every ten years would also be regular, but not frequent .

    Even if there were enough Mass-going Catholics in Ireland to support your case (there are not), your inference that the majority of these would not favour the closure of the Irish embassy at the Vatican has no supporting evidence.

    However, one could argue that this inference is currently more probable than normal, given the historically low church attendance among Irish Catholics at present (i.e. only the die-hards now attend), and the fact that the same proportion of Catholic adults both attend Mass and have a favourable view of the Church (around 30%). On the other hand, one assumes that the true believers are those who partake in the Eucharist every day. Many of those attending Mass weekly or less frequently may be ‘social Catholics’ who cherry-pick from the Church’s teachings, as with contraception, for example, and so are less likely to be Vatican loyalists.

    Alias:

    And, by the way, I’m not Catholic…

    I’m aware that you claim another religion. I’m also aware that on SO’T you tend to rush to the aid of your fellow-travellers, the devoutly religious, who are most definitely in the minority.

  • Harry Flashman

    “one could argue…”

    “one assumes…”

    “Many…may be…”

    Yup rock solid deductions there chum, real hard evidence you produce.

    Meanwhile as Alias says 86.8% of the population of Ireland voluntarily self identify as Catholics and the churches are still packed to the doors every Sunday morning.

  • Devil Eire

    Harry Flashman:

    and the churches are still packed to the doors every Sunday morning.

    [Shakes head in disbelief]. You couldn’t make it up.

    No wait, you just did.

  • Alias

    “I’m aware that you claim another religion. I’m also aware that on SO’T you tend to rush to the aid of your fellow-travellers, the devoutly religious, who are most definitely in the minority.”

    You are now shifting your target from the religious to the qualified “devoutly religious” as if the latter, being a smaller number than the former, somehow legitimises your attempt – as (presumably) a member of an inconsequential anti-religionist minority – to deligitimise the rights of the near-absolute majority when, in reality, the latter enjoys exactly the same rights as the former.

    Harry isn’t Catholic either (being a Muslim), so the issue of the state targetting a particular religion for attack is wider than the rights of Catholics.

  • Devil Eire

    Alias:

    My discussion with Harry Flashman seems to have triggered one of your perennial hobby horses: the idea that an irrelevant, irreligious minority has a disproportionate voice in Irish society.

    I am not targeting any section of Irish society, merely pointing out (in a thread on the closure of the Irish embassy to the Holy See, after all) that Vatican loyalists are likely to be in the minority of Irish Catholics in the current climate (given the available data).

    I’m unsure what ‘rights’ are being trampled on by the embassy closure but as with any decision made by the Irish government, your enraged masses of Irish Catholics will have the opportunity to express their disapproval at the appropriate time in a democratic fashion.

  • Greenflag

    Of my extended family of about 80 amongst whom there are a couple of lapsed protestants there’s only an aged aunt who still goes to mass every Sunday and she lives in England .

    To paraphrase an old Irish saying ‘ just because you were seen in a stable doesn’t mean you are a horse and just like the residue of Anglicans in the UK it’s BMD’s for the most part .

    Almost Pythonesque this thread – An Irish Muslim and an Irish Jew arguing the toss over Catholic church attendance .

    Listen lads it’s all baloney -rubbish . Okay fair enough the great cultural traditions etc of these middle eastern peoples and so on and the wonderful art and the ancient learning from which Europeans learnt way back the numbers etc etc .

    But hang on a minute lads -Circumcision is barbaric but a steady revenue item for the surgeons and the 72 virgins for a martyr’s sacrifice ? Why 72 . I mean at the best of one’s health 3 or 4 might be the limit for any normal male of the species sapiens /

    As crazy as transubstantiation or the flying Loreto nuns or that old evangelical coot who has mispredicted the world’s end three times in row and still the gobshites give him their money 🙁

    I read Newt Gingrich converted to Catholicism after he divorced his third wife in the hope it might help his candidacy for the US Presidential . I tell you folks when these ultra religious farts get going they are more dangerous than a pack of wolves who have been observing Ramadan or Lent for several months 🙁

    Somebody said to check out Bill Maher the American with his production ‘Religulous ‘ . It’s worth seeing if only for the views of the elderly RC priest (An American ) at the Vatican.

    Maher is of Irish Catholic and American jewish parentage so I guess he’s experienced a double dose of the crapology that goes by the name of ‘Faith ‘

  • Alias

    Good post, Greenie. I did think it odd that no Catholics could be bothered to defend the Church… and that sort of played in Devil’s favour.

    Also, Devil, your eye for detail and its recall is impressive. But just one error, I don’t practice any religion but have a strong cultural affinity with one in particular and a great respect for the moral systems contained in the mainstream ones.

  • Greenflag

    Alias ,

    ‘I did think it odd that no Catholics could be bothered to defend the Church’

    I would’nt say there are none but they are few . The best analogy or comparison I can think of is a modern German trying to defend the invasion of Poland in 1939 or a modern Brit (excluding quite a few of the NI variety or maybe the BNP ) defending the ‘conquests’ of Ireland in particular the Second Conquest 1550-1700.

    Just like other parts of the world Ireland owes much to it’s Christian/Catholic majority tradition as do other cultures to their own particular ‘deisms’ . And in the long span of history this is not the first time the Irish have run afoul of the Roman Popes . As early as the 7th century the Synod of Whitby opted for all of England to follow the Roman ‘format’ rather than the Celtic which up to then had been predominat in Ireland , Scotland and much of Northern England including Northumbria etc. And then the Irish ‘peregrini’ (pilgrims) in the 8th and 9th centuries became after an initial welcoming a thorn in the sides of the newly emerging kings of the emerging european nations . There was always an ‘independent ‘ streak to Irish Christianity which of course became submerged after the Norman and later English conquests.

    ‘ I don’t practice any religion but have a strong cultural affinity with one in particular and a great respect for the moral systems contained in the mainstream ones.’

    Fair enough comment . I trust you balance the above ‘respect’ for the more positive aspects of ‘believers of faith’ in the mainstream ones with an understanding and fear that there remains more than a modicum of barbarity and intolerance and atavistic insanity in all of them -some much more so than others but in all of them throughout history .

    I’ll make an exception for the ‘Unitarians ‘ on Stephens Green and any Bahai out there but then they are hardly mainstream .

    Given that the universe ( the only one we know is is some 13.5 billion years in existence and our Earth a mere 4 billion) one surmises that we are not alone in being the only place in such a ‘creation’ in which the universe has become aware of it’s existence . I hope to live long enough to know one way or another that we are either ‘alone ‘ or not alone i.e in the sense of an ‘intelligent ‘ species existing in this vast universe . Either way that discovery will be a ‘revelation’ for all our earthbound ‘religions ‘

    Before the Earth came into existence there were 10 billion years in which some other ‘civilisations ‘ could have come into existence if ‘life’ is as common as some suggest ? But where is everybody ? Perhaps ‘intelligent ‘ life can only evolve only so far after which it destroys itself ? A kind of universal Garden of Eden whereby the knowledge of good and evil leads ultimately to perdition for all ?

    These are the kind of questions answerable by your nearest Ayatollah although your local Rabbi might be more sympathetic . We’re all very fortunate to have one life and to exist in this brief moment of eon .

    I think it was the bould Napoleon Bonaparte who said that
    ‘if it was’nt for religion and faith in a God the poor would have no excuse not to kill the rich ‘

  • Alias

    Greenie, moral systems and religion have always been interlinked and interdependent. They were intertwined by a plethora of profound authors/disciples/prophets by deliberate design not because religion is of little social value without a moral system but because moral systems cannot be sucessfully propagated without religion. I don’t beleive that morality can survive the death of religion – and the decline or religion in modern society is not a coincidental occurence to the rise of amorality in modern society.

    Humanism is The Man Delusion in that it irrationally believes that the most vicious animal on the planet is actually the most civilised and gentle of creatures, longing for nothing more than to share its food with the pack. When you dispose of absolutes you have only relatives, and moral relativism is used not to promote morality but to undermine it. Humanism will prove itself to the greatest evil of the lot by proving itself the greatest delusion.

  • ..moral systems cannot be sucessfully propagated without religion

    I deny that. I am an atheist and I believe myself to be a moral person, with faults of course, and I believe I have passed an excellent set of moral values to my sons.

  • Jimmy Sands

    I don’t beleive that morality can survive the death of religion

    Are you saying that the only thing between you and a killing spree is fear of the wrath of your sky god?

  • Alias

    “I deny that. I am an atheist and I believe myself to be a moral person, with faults of course, and I believe I have passed an excellent set of moral values to my sons.”

    And where did you learn your moral values from, Joe, other than from a predominatly Christian society? That is also a society that your sons now live in (assuming they live in Canada), your sons would have equally aborbed those values from that Christian society and, indeed, can only live by them because they are in a society where others live by them. That is all learned behaviour, and can’t be learned when it is no longer taught by that society. Look at different cultures for different behaviours not regulated by law, ethics or morality and you’ll observe the degree to which behaviour is learned. Indeed, isn’t it the case that atheists claim that moral values – the ones they don’t like – are learned from religion? You can’t have it both ways, Joes.

    “Are you saying that the only thing between you and a killing spree is fear of the wrath of your sky god?”

    That depends on where you stand on the argument. Atheists are forced into arguing that conscience is an innate delineator between right and wrong, but that is a highly unscientific assumption from which to proffer an alternative doctrine. There is no reason to believe that conscience is not adaptive and learned behaviour and that it would prefer one course of action over another if not trained to by reference to a system of moral absolutes. A system or moral relativism requires the type of sustained and rigorous intellectual imput that evolution has specifically designed conscience to bypass.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Alais

    You can’t have it both ways; if you believe that all morality comes from religion then you have to attribute what you call the amorality of modern society to christianity too.

    Religion got its morality – such as it is l – from (at that time) primitive ignorant humanity. It’s man-made. Religion no longer provides decent answers to or explanations for anything worthwhile – science, evolution, philosophy, ethics, morality. We’re now past that as a species. If we could chase this sinister nonsense out of scohols and instead teach children about decent ethics then we might be onto something. I think they’d also twig fairy quickly just how much poor morality lies within christianity and how the belief itself – jam-packed full of fear, guilt, threats, inducements and false promises as it is – demeans us as humans and undermines our self-respect.

    With respect to you, if you knew anything about decent contemporary ethics and morality you’d be very well aware that they depend upon christianity for virtually nothing.

  • Greenflag

    Alias,

    ‘moral systems and religion have always been interlinked and interdependent. They were intertwined by a plethora of profound authors/disciples/prophets by deliberate design not because religion is of little social value without a moral system but because moral systems cannot be sucessfully propagated without religion. ‘

    Historically true but also true that such systems were implemented by that other ‘absolute ‘ the temporal power of kingdoms or states or ideology . The more ‘absolute ‘ the State be it a medieval kingdom , or a totalitarian 20th century variant such as Fascist Italy or National Socialist Germany or Stalinist Russia or any of the modern 21st century Ayatollah led ‘Allah centred’ societies in the Middle East then the greater the transgressions against individuals in terms of what we now consider to be basic human rights . Go back to Medieval times or Victorian times to see how ‘religion ‘ can be made to serve more than one ‘master’ often in direct contradiction of a ‘religion’s ‘ tenets .

    VIctorian Age ‘gentlemen ‘ in that great age of ‘industrial awakening and technical progress’ loudly sang from their hymn books on Sunday morning while permitting 5 year old children to suffer in the narrow confines of chimneys the rest of the week . Here in Ireland we’ve listened to ‘religious ‘ leaders of all denominations tell people to follow their exhortations on godly behaviour while they themselves in too many cases were not even listening to themselves much less practicing what they preached .

    ‘ I don’t beleive that morality can survive the death of religion’

    I do . Societies where ‘religion ‘ in the sense of your absolutes is no longer extant or of minimal import such as any of the Scandinavian countries or the Benelux or modern Germany or France are generally to be found at the top of the league table in any relative comparison of ‘ethics ‘ be it in terms of criminality , childrens health and welfare , educational standards , income levels , tolerance of others , and transparency in government and in perceived ‘corruption ‘ levels in public administration and even in corporate business ethics . Meanwhile those ‘societies’ which are perceived as being ‘religion ‘ based even if some of them today are less so rate much lower on all international comparisons . Had you a choice to be born into any country on the Earth today as a person of no great means where would you choose ?

    The USA , Sweden , Iran , Italy , Ireland , Northern Ireland, Russia, UK , Somalia , Israel , Palestine , China , India , France , Afghanistan ? Would it matter and would it determine or effect your future life prospects and I’m sure that even you would prefer to see your first light of day in ‘relative ‘ freedom .

    ‘ the decline or religion in modern society is not a coincidental occurence to the rise of amorality in modern society.”

    Ironically the rise of amorality has been the greatest in those societies which ‘profess’ to be either now or in the recent past the most ‘religious ‘. Of all the developed countries in the world the USA ranks highest in murder , theft , rape , percent of the people in prison , the biggest gap between poor and rich , the highest number of white collar criminals , and in an irony which would be lost on any God if there was one -on the US national currency the words ‘In God we trust’ They don’t add on the reverse side ‘All others pay in cash or with their blood’ . Theodore Roosevelt a ‘Christian ‘ believed the very statement of such words on ‘money’ was blasphemous -but there you go .

    ‘Humanism is delusion in that it irrationally believes that the most vicious animal on the planet is actually the most civilised and gentle of creatures, longing for nothing more than to share its food with the pack. ‘

    History and modern anthropological research tells us that we were much more ‘vicious ‘ in the past even if it may seem that from some perspectives ‘nothing ‘ has changed much . What has changed dramatically is technology so whereas in paleolithic times slaughter of one’s fellow man or woman was restricted to a local area in todays world people sitting at computer terminals in the USA , China , Russia , North Korea , Israel , India , Pakistan , the UK and France and perhaps soon enough Iran have the power to wipe out most of humanity without leaving their chairs .

    ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you ‘ is the foundation of true humanism . Jesus the ‘man ‘ rather than Jesus the ‘God ‘ . Knowledge and acceptance of the fact that earthly life is not a dress rehearsal for eons of strumming harps or satisfying 72 virgins endlessly or being showered in everlasting grace implies that each human life is all we have for a brief period and that humanity’s efforts politically , economically and in our laws should be directed to making a world where no human being is lost to ignorance , hunger or an early death by war or ‘martyrdom’

    We have to look up and beyond ourselves to a world ‘consciousness ‘ which is coming about slowly but surely despite the efforts of some elites be they financial or religious or ideological to turn back the clock on humanity.

    Thats not to say that we ‘forget’ or ignore the point you make re man being the most vicious animal on the planet . We just have to make sure that those ‘men ‘ or women who happen to be the most sociopathic or selfish or irresponsible to society at large do NOT get their hands on the instruments of mass destruction be they ‘financial ‘ or ‘nuclear’. This can only be achieved by strengthening democratic forces throughout the world . This does not mean imposing ‘democracy’ from without -our ‘western model’ just may not fit other societies at their stage of development .

    And then there is the Law and Constitutions by which means the legislation necessary to keep societies from mass disorder is enacted and which must also be seen to be above reproach -which too often is not the case as we have seen in recent times in the background to the current world financial crisis .

    Thats my lot for today -getting way too preachy -I’m off to attend to the final layering of my compost heap so that I can have some rich soil to plant the spring spuds .

  • Alias,

    I got my moral values from my mother, mainly. My father , like many others, was away from home until I was about 5 years old. It was not based on religion, in so far as I could tell but was strongly based on respect for others and doing the right thing, E.G. if a shop gave you too much change, you pointed out their mistake.