Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
Another terrorist atrocity. This time Manchester, England. A stoic northern English city. It gave us Oasis, Davy Jones of the Monkeys and former Prime Minister David Lloyd-Jones. Home to the mighty Manchester United, home to great seats of learning. Home to innovation and industry. A city with a diverse culture, and not without its problems. Yet, a city that reinvigorated itself in recent decades to gain a certain cogency.
Now it's the site of an evil attack. Targeted by a religious nut job filled with hate. An attack aimed at children and young people enjoying themselves. It’s a cliche I know … an attack on our very culture and way of life. The origins of this attack germinated in the tenets and incantations of religion. On this occasion, it's an Islamic religion. In the past, Christianity bore similar fruit. Campaigns against nonbelievers, wars and whole community destroyed.
We have to recognise that all religions assert their supremacy. They are the chosen ones, the right path. Which in extreme cases leads to the slaughter of those who are opposite. Granted, not all religions are at equal fault. Although, each has the possibility of fostering hatred of those outside the fold.
We must recognise that “religion poisons everything” to quote Christopher Hitchens. Anthropogenic fantasies formed in antiquity morphed into the religions we see today. These twist minds by providing simplistic solutions, the easy fix. Especially if that mind is already traumatised by events. With a morality based on ideas developed centuries ago, you will struggle in the modern world. If you draw upon a world-view formed by ancient illiterates, things will look out of kilter. One would hope that since the enlightenment we'd moved forward. The evidence suggests not.
No one should deny that religion can provide comfort and solace. No humane person would deny a grieving parent or partner that opportunity. Moreover, religious gatherings can lift up the spirits, bounding people and communities. Religion gives propose to some. Yet, I can say the same of the Caravan Club or the Boy Scouts. God, whoever he is, doesn't always have to enter the equation.
If we are to defeat terrorism we need to finally put to bed silly notions of Gods. The associated hubris that surrounds religion distorts the human in us. As sentient beings, we already know right from wrong. We don’t need religious texts ladened with threats to recognise the correct course of action. Likewise, we don’t need to set 'man-against-man' because each holds a different opinion.
Religion is in many ways an easy option. It offers certainty, answers and solutions. The snake oil salesman makes the same claims. We’ve learnt not to buy the snake oil. Standing on the shoulders of Newton, Darwin, Einstein and Dawkins, we can cast aside the fantasies of the past. Embrace a rational humanists approach. Then we will stop blowing up eight-year-old girls attending pop concerts.
Walter De Havilland is one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Hong Kong Police.