Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Could have, would have, should have

I am still seething about the NZARH submission on the Draft National Statement on Religious Diversity.

Before anyone concludes that I have accepted any deity into my heart, I want to make it quite clear that I think the Draft National Statement on Religious Diversity is very silly and quite inappropriate for a secular society. What annoys me is that the Council of the NZARH has made an official response which displays petulance, sloppy thinking and a woeful ignorance of the English language. An opportunity for the Association to shine has been lost. But that is their problem; far worse is that anyone reading this document might think it represents Atheist thinking.

It is not just the curious absence of the Monarchy nor the Education Policy On a Theme by Pol Pot that really bothers me, but the pompous section on Definitions. I shall now examine each definition in turn, venting my spleen as I go. Please indulge me while I get this out of my system. If you don't have the patience, you might instead want to look at some pictures of kittens.
The word “faith communities” is obviously a politically correct substitute for the word “religions” and I see no need to use it instead of the word “religions”.
It is obviously not so. A religion is a system of belief in and reverence for a god or gods. A faith community is a community of people who share a religious belief. The people are not the belief. The Exclusive Brethren are not a religion; they are a community of people who hold a religious belief and practice it in a particular way. Catholicism is a form of Christian belief; Catholics are the people who hold that belief. This priggish little sentence is really irksome for making an accusation of political correctness, which is the sort of slur one would expect from talkback callers, not an organisation with pretensions of intellectual respectability.
The word “shall” is used often in the draft Statement. It ought to be replaced with “should.”
We should have an argument about grammar at this point but I shall keep my peace.
The word “belief” should not be used interchangeably with the word “faith”. This is because the word faith means belief in something without proof or evidence. Faith is an adjective that describes the belief.
We will have an argument about grammar at this point. Faith is not an adjective. It is a noun. Faithful and faithless are adjectives formed from that noun. In any case, faith does not solely mean a belief that does not rely on proof or evidence. It can also mean a confident and reasonable belief or it can mean loyalty. I have a friend called Faith, in whom I have faith for good reason.

Enough of grammar; the next sentence of clarification is tolerable grammatically but otherwise repugnant.
Rationalism, Humanism and some versions of Buddhism are examples of non-faith based belief.
I would continue but this statement deserves a post to itself. At the risk of losing my readership to narcolepsy, I will write about this claim later.

Normal service will now be resumed.


Rob Davies said...

Pity. I was enjoying the interlude...

Paul said...

Rob, In view of popular demand (your comment) I may write some more on this and related topics.