I decided to splurge a bit of loot on some new books (which i hope i’ll have time to ever read) with the money from a few invoices clearing over the past couple of weeks.
Here’s what I ordered… There are some great books here which i hope you’ll consider looking at:
- Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel C Dennett
- The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil
- Consciousness Explained by Daniel C Dennett
- Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer
- God is not Great – How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens
- Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris
- Phantoms in the Brain – Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind by V.S. Ramachandran
I’m going to detach from my usual writing paradigm and shift over to the world of current affairs. As many of you may already have heard, the British Humanist Organization has come under fire recently for a new advertising campaign akin to their previous campaign (depicted below) that appeared on the side of several buses all over Britain.
This campaign was the invention of Ariane Sherine – a beautiful and intelligent proponent of the Humanist movement. This previous campaign enjoyed much notoriety and contention, and it had the backing of such highly public atheists like Richard Dawkins – one of my favourite authors and advocates of free-thinking and Atheism.
The BHA’s new campaign strays a little from the previous campaign’s focus of religion, and instead turns its attention to the highly controversial issue of children and the labeling thereof. The new advertisement (shown below) offers the view that metaphysical and ideological labels should not be tacked onto children before they have the mental capacity to invoke and employ Carl Sagan’s famed Baloney Detection Kit.
This new campaign will be seen across Britain but on billboards, not buses.
I was incredibly delighted to see an advertisement of this ilk being publicized and lately it has been popping up in vociferous articles in newspapers and on the net.
I personally applaud Ariane and the BHA for putting together these controversial and discussion-provoking posters. This debate about inculcation and indoctrination of very young and malleable minds is a heated one. We have all heard the impassioned and ardent rationalizations by the religious community advocating the teaching of scripture to children at a young age.
I’m tempted to invoke the practice by Islamic fundamentalists of raping their childrens’ minds with religious zeal and righteous dogma that finally evolves into a fervent hatred for infidels and the wielding of automatic rifles; it is not spurious to draw a parallel (in principle, not practice) between these extremists and the incredibly widespread Western practice of bringing up our children to believe in any of the not-yet defunct religions (and even sometimes defunct ones!).
Naturally, one will hear shrieks of indignation at this statement. I believe that it is not hyperbolic to assert that religious belief – whether it be a mawkish one like Anglicanism or a belligerent one like Islam – has the latent potential to turn an otherwise rational and calculating person into a mercenary for god. Now, if scripture can mar the mind of a full-grown human being, it can destroy the mind of a child if used in the wrong way.
What I love about this campaign is that it not only speaks out against religious labeling of children, but also shows a juxtaposition with ideological labels that we would never give to children – and they’re right! Why do we not call our children “Marxist” children or “Libertarian” children? That’s because to be a Marxist you need to (at least) understand political history and economic structures; to be a Libertarian you need to understand the concept of liberty, free market capitalism, etc.
If we are to actually take an interest in the future of our childrens’ lives, we need to afford them the opportunity to not have to be besieged by religious practices; to afford them the fundamental gift of critical thinking and rationality.
Religion can be used as a vehicle for good when it’s good, and for evil when it’s evil, but children have no business whatever is the mental masturbations of their parents.