Thursday, 12 June 2008

The predictability of stupidity. Religion, homosexuals, Iris Robinson and Dicrocoelium dendriticum

Last Saturday I glanced the The Sun headline over Iris Robinson embroiled in a gay row. Now I knew that Robinson is 1. DUP. 2.Most DUP are born again fundamentalists. 3. Have a history of making stupid remarks usually because of Religion. (Either that or Robinson was caught with her snout deep in a womans vagina.) So by that deductive logic and by knowing what the Good book actually says I predicted that Robinson would say in no order things like “Cure” “love the sinner hate the sin” “Abomination”.
I read the article later that day in my local gym (not that I go there to read newspapers) and to Jack’s complete lack of surprise there it was on the front page of The Sun and subsequent pages. Here was the First Minster’s wife of a 21st century democracy with her own mandate over health saying things (the above phrases I mentioned) now any reasoned and thoughtful person from this country would be wanting to put a paper bag over their heads and go off into a corner.
Here is the row right here.

I decided to write to my local newspaper, The Newtownards Chronicle as well as The Belfast Telegraph and The Sun. (my letter is below)My interest in the row deepened though for the Chronicle an even handed paper who reports on controversial issue did not report on her remarks at all. Now consider that this was national news story and was reported in the rest of the UK. The best the paper did was report a mildly critical letter (the only mention at all of the scandal) from Terry Jackson not only a Christian who endorses her views but a DUP acolyte!. So I wrote another letter to the paper complaining over its brushing under the carpet what is clearly hate speech. I also intend to write to the equality commission and email Robinson herself with ten questions.

Dear Mrs Robinson I was wondering if you could take time out of your busy schedule to answer just 10 questions I have been thinking about. I will also be sending these questions to the Belfast Telegraph as well as The Sun newspapers. I would very much look forward to your response to these questions and if you were able to answer them in public.

1. Indeed the Bible both Old Testament and New Testament views Homosexuality as sinful and deserving of death. However the bible also expects Christians to keep slaves and for slaves to serve their masters well. Are you in favour of keeping slaves if not why? And by what criteria do you discern passages in the bible then? For the passages please see Ephesians 6:5 or 1 Timothy 6:1-4.
2. Do you consider Roman Catholics as real Christians? Or rather more bluntly do you believe that they will spend eternity in hell if they don’t become born again like you?
3. Do you believe homosexuality is a mental illness or disease?
4. You say Homosexuality can be cured (this implies it’s a illness) what clinical evidence is there for this?
5. Why is it do you think you have been denounced by leading psychologists and by medical councils that your views are unscientific and without clinical support?
6. You talk of love the sinner hate the sin. What is sin, can we see it? Touch it? Put it under a microscope? Is it indivisible from matter? Is it invisible, intangible? What is the difference between saying what you say and saying something like “Jonny is possessed by demons we hate the demons but love Jonny?” More concretely what is the difference from what you say and saying “we hate the rapist in Jonny but we love Jonny the person?”
7. As you are responsible for health in this country do you think that homosexuals should be treated fully and professionally by the NHS if they contact HIV?
8. Do you believe the world is no older than around six to eight thousand years old?
9.As health Minster do you affirm the danger of something like MRSA as it acquires its lethality from evolutionary forces?
10. In a TV interview you stated that people were not arguing with you but with the word of God. Do you believe then as it is wrote in Deuteronomy that non-believers or heretics should be killed?
Michael Faulkner.

By the way Dicrocoelium dendriticum is a parasite that takes over the minds of ants forcing them to climb atop blades of grass. Why? So that the ant can be eaten by a sheep. The parasite needs to get into the stomach of the sheep before it can reproduce. Unbelievable is it not that it actually takes over its mind forcing it to do something that’s not in its interest, that’s positively suicidal? It’s a rather cute analogy don’t you think? Its not mine though it belongs to Daniel Dennett. The idea of the mind hijacked by powerful dangerous beliefs, Religion as a mind virus? Forcing people to believe and behave in ways that are against its own interest. Just after reading Robinson’s comments this was the image that descended on me. For a reasonably well educated, competent adult to spout nonsense and such offensive nonsense it usually take something like religion. Robinsons remarks whether it be on gays, the age of the universe or the belief in certain magical book is not the result of careful research or a logical reasoning process but the imbibing wholesale of bronze age dogma. When you next see Iris Robinson think of the poor ant taken over by the parasite Dicrocoelium dendriticum, but as the title suggests never underestimate the predictability of stupidity.

Here is my intial set of letters.

Dear Editor

I am disappointed in this newspapers coverage of MP and MLA Iris Robinson recent remarks over Homosexuality or rather no coverage at all. For an issue which has been in the public realm for nearly a week now with good coverage in the BBC, Belfast Telegraph and The Sun I find it strange then that this Newspaper which can be open and frank in reporting other serious public interest issues be so closeted with this scandal. Can we really believe the best this paper can do on this issue is print a letter from another Christian (Terry Jackson an acolyte of the DUP no less) who although criticises her frankness fully supports her sentiments ( Terry Jackson letters to the editor) I can understand the reason my own letter was not printed not just because it is a strongly worded attack on this country’s religious sensibilities but because I failed to provide my address (I was told this was a requirement.) This is an ongoing issue, I hope to see next week some highlighting of this issue and some condemnation of her hate speech. I cannot seriously believe I’m the only person in this area who finds her remarks stupid and offensive?

I have provided my original letter for your re-consideration.
Dear Editor.
We should not be surprised at Iris Robinson’s comments over the nature and ethical status of homosexuality. When I glanced the headline of The Sun Newspaper on Saturday 7/06, I could’ve wrote the script. Old Testament scripture abound in hatred of homosexuality see Leviticus, Deuteronomy and 1 Kings. The New Testament does not repudiate these vile doctrines. Romans 1, states it is worthy of death. Timothy 1:10 and 1. Corinthians 6.9. See this as abominable. Her comments will have raised few eyebrows among the pious majority in this country, though her remarks made the front page of The Sun, little in way of consequences will follow from it.
Imagine what would happen if she asserted other theologically justified claims. That Christians should keep slaves is spelled out in both OT and NT, Leviticus 25:44-46, Exodus 21:7-11 over the fatherly selling of ones daughter into sexual slavery. Ephesians 6:5 or 1 Timothy 6:1-4 slaves should serve their masters well, Christian masters especially so. The Justification for black slavery via the curse of Noah on Ham’s son Canaan, which millions of Mormons subscribed to until the church was forced to abandon it. Or that nonbelivers should be killed, Deuteronomy 13:6, 8-15. Jesus himself is po faced on the matter John 15.6 where nonbelivers are “cast forth as branch’s and withers--thrown into the fire and burned”. Imagine the outcry if she had claimed that Catholics are fake Christians or that Islam is the work of Satan. Comments such as these would not be tolerated in other secular countries made by people of similar position. In fact her comments are most likely welcome given the beliefs of her constituents.

This is one of the most pious countries in Europe, astonishing given the divisive nature of Religion in this nation’s geopolitics. Many of the DUP are actually creationists. They along with Catholic Nationalists have continually opposed abortion in this country. Her remarks demonstrate this is clearly bronze age dogma retarding the ethical progress of a 21st century western democracy. It can rightly be described in the sentence author Sam Harris uses as a intellectual and moral emergency.
What is needed is a building up of robust secular ethics, teaching children to think for themselves not what their parents think. The ending of faith schooling and attaching religious labels to young children. The ending of faith itself is required if we are to live together without enmity. That Iris Robinsons comments have no basis in reality (she has been denounced by leading psychologists,- there is no scientific evidence to support her assertions) serves reminder of the way the religious are divorced from making claims that are supported by evidence. As Health spokeswoman, I presume she disbelieves in the danger of something like MRSA because it acquires it’s lethality from evolutionary forces. Iris Robinson should offer a full public apology or resign. Either way she should using a barb from my old tutor “take herself off by the hand”
Michael Faulkner.

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