Thursday, January 08, 2009

Get off the bus

Elsewhere, Idiot/Savant discusses the Atheist Bus campaign and gives some good reasons why it shouldn't happen here. I can give one good reasons why it won't happen here: Bill Cooke will not allow it.

The idea of such a campaign will be raised at the next meeting of the Council of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists (Inc), probably by an idealistic and naive member who is new to the Council and innocent of its machinations. Dr Cooke, the esteemed former Visiting Assistant Professor of Car Parking at the University of Brigadoon, will listen to the member's idea carefully, all the time glaring at the member. He will then sigh deeply, raise his eyes to the heavens and lurch into a tirade about the negativity of such a campaign. Dr Cooke, is of course an Humanist, which means he has a World View. Humanism, you will see, is better than Atheism because it has such a World View. Humanism is also better than Theism because its World View is a better World View than that of any religion. Atheism is wanting in a World View and so is inferior to Humanism (truth to tell, Dr Cooke probably thinks it worse than Religion). Humanism is Positive; Atheism is not. And so on and so on. After some time, he will stop. The other members of the Council, who are sore afraid of Dr Cooke, will sit quietly in their seats, gently quivering. Finally, the President will break the silence by saying that the matter will need further consideration. Such consideration will never reveal itself.

And so it goes. Elizabeth McKenzie, former President of the NZARH, used to mutter that nothing would ever be achieved by the Association until Dr Cooke's supporters died off. And how right she was. The Councillors are all terrified of him; they dread that he will split the Association, that he will cause a Schism. Dr Cooke knows this. He also knows that anything as vulgar as a display of Mere Atheism might upset him from his delicately constructed position of authority. Humanism is not just a World View; it is a Meal Ticket as well. Dr Cooke is a sage. He knows things. His Humanism is a complicated and difficult construction (some would say an incoherent one, but that is another matter). A simple appeal to godlessness could knock it down in an instant.

And so, nothing will be done. The Council will return to its normal business of collecting rents and maintaining the building. The threat of action will recede, as will the hair of the new member, while he waits for the opportunity to do something. Dr Cooke will continue to write his essays on the Meaning of Humanism. The members will slowly die off and the Council will arrange for flowers to be sent to their relics. Bequests will be received and invested. Occasionally, a young person will join, but will not stay long. Eventually, there will be no-one left. And so will end the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists (Inc), the once-bold attempt to represent the views of non-religious people in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, the non-religious people of New Zealand, who remain ignorant of any need to be represented in their non-religiousness, will just get on with their lives.


Idiot/Savant said...

Idiot/Savant discusses the Atheist Bus campaign and gives some good reasons why it shouldn't happen here.

More why I wouldn't bother with it personally, despite it being a good joke.

alovrin said...

Well reading IS's blog was as much a waste of time as arguing with a christian.

"After all, the whole point of godlessness is not giving a shit."

No its not

"And talking about it simply boosts the belief amongst the godful"
An unevidenced claim probably more anecdotal that anything.

"Better to avoid that, and let their delusions die a quiet, demographic death, than waste breath on it and in the process give them oxygen"

And thus the religious can continue to drag out their crutch when tragedy strikes and inflict it on the rest of us. And we must be silent as they parade their lunacy unchallenged?

Strangely enough Richard Dawkins, along with many others, thought the exact same thing.
I find his NZcentricity mindless. This is a global issue so saying she'll be right downudder. Well I thought better of this person.
I was going to subscribe, now I won't.

Hans Versluys said...

I dislike the agnostic compromise they made on the bus message. Perhaps your Professor Cooke's Humanist World View finds more comfort in that rather than "There is no God, now get on with your own fucking life without god-bothering us" plastered on the back of Stagecoach (or Magic) bus.

Word verification: realin

Idiot/Savant said...

Logarithmn: The fact is, she will (or at least is highly likely to) be right downunder, at least on current trends. In NZ, atheism has pretty much won, and we're just waiting for the rump of greying religious people to die off. So quite apart from philosophical differences about how religious you are about your atheism (you seem to feel the need to preach it; I prefer to sleep in on Sunday mornings), there's also an overwhelming pragmatic issue: why invest resources unnecessarily in a battle that has already been won? Unless your aim is the complete elimination of rival faiths (oh, sorry, religious belief), then that simply seems like a stupid idea.

And OTOH, if you want to see similar ads in NZ, no-one is stopping you. Go ahead and do it. Personally, though, I don't think its worth the effort.

Uroskin: the "probably" was apparently required in order to meet advertising standards (which seems a bit one-sided, since no "probably" is required for claims that non-believers will burn forever in the fires of hell).

Paul said...

Still, there remain areas where the religious enjoy unfair privilege, such as the charitable status of religious groups and the public subsidy of religious schools. An effective Rationalist group would be addressing these concerns.

Anonymous said...

And for that matter, why is it that the United Kingdom has repealed its blasphemy laws and we still haven't- moribund though they are?

Craig Y

alovrin said...

Whatever, go back to sleep sorry to disturb you.

OBTW accusing me of having a need to preach shows the shallowness of your thoughts on the matter.

Idiot/Savant said...

Paul & Craig: I agree, there are still inequities. And those battles are worth fighting.

Giovanni Tiso said...

In NZ, atheism has pretty much won, and we're just waiting for the rump of greying religious people to die off.

I enjoy the relative local lack of fundies compared to the home country, but find your statement far too... optimistic? The next generation might well surprise you in this regard. What heartens me is that social attitudes - towards the behaviours that most major religions consider disordered or deviant - seem truly to be evolving. But a bigoted turn is always around the corner, see what's happening with regards to abortion in countries that thought to have won this battle once and for all thirty years ago.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm. RTLNZ's court case hasn't actually changed things in practice, and is being appealed to the Court of Appeal; the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria have decriminalised abortion altogether; and Barack Obama looks set to pass the Freedom of Choice Act, and strike down all US incremental anti-abortion restrictions.

Most NZ AAs have seen better days. I suspect the pro-choice side will win due to enemy attrition.

Craig Y

Idiot/Savant said...

I enjoy the relative local lack of fundies compared to the home country, but find your statement far too... optimistic? The next generation might well surprise you in this regard.

True - they might all end up as Scientologists. But we'll burn that bridge when we come to it.

Anonymous said...

At last count, there were only about one hundred or so Scientologists, and only one church for the aforementioned NRM, in Auckland. Oddly enough, Christoform NRMs like Scientology and Unificationism have had a harder time here than the likes of the Hare Krishnas...

Craig Y

Anonymous said...

The BUSES campaign would be great here but we probably need the fundamentalists to lead off first.

Have you heard of the secular group in Wisonsin that are fighting this stuff. Great!