Religion and The Rest of Us

The following statement was recently made by Scott Morrison. Australia’s Prime Minister and a devout Pentecostal Christian:

“People should not be cancelled or persecuted or vilified because their beliefs are different from someone else’s.”  

When taken at face value, it’s a good declaration. But this is NOT the way Mr. Morrison intended. Rather, his actual intent is that people of faith (Christianity) should be “protected against cancel culture.”

Apparently his statement comes amid concerns that individuals from churches, schools, and workplaces are unable to express their religious beliefs. According to the article, proposed legislation will protect Australians who make “statements of belief” from action under existing discrimination laws. (It also will allow faith-based organizations to prioritize the hiring and enrollment of people from their faith.)

On a broad scale, one would assume such legislation would protect individuals from ALL religions. In other words, Muslims, Wiccans, Druids, Hindus, Satanists, etc. would each have the same protection. Yet rarely is this the case in legislative decisions related to religion.

Many of us who live in the States are not surprised by Mr. Morrison’s actions. Since the horrendous four years of the Trump reign, the Christian Nationalism movement (“Taking America Back for God”) has slowly but surely permeated American civic life. Thus, it would not be surprising if similar laws were proposed by certain members of Congress in the not-too-distant future.

It’s important to those reading this post to consider that U.S. laws relating to religious freedoms in the U.S. are … complicated. Yes, we have the First Amendment that addresses guarantees and precautions related to religion and its practice, but this doesn’t stop individuals and groups from searching for “loopholes” in order to challenge the provisions. In fact, it is not uncommon to read of people and churches using the words of the Amendment in such a way as to support their own theology. (If interested, further reading can be found here.)

As a general rule, the broad-minded and more rational individuals among the U.S. populace are often willing to allow a certain amount of leeway to practicing Christians. However, far too many theists try to push the envelope. Naturally, non-believers and atheists would prefer that they just “go away” or, at the very least, keep their prayers and admonishments to themselves. 

In any event, there is little doubt that believers like Mr. Morrison will continue to assert their doctrines and practices into society as a whole. Hopefully, the “rest of us” will not allow them to succeed.

Homo Sapiens Dominance?

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The following is a brief of an article recently published in the NewScientist magazine (I only get the newsletter). I’m sharing it primarily due to the final paragraph (highlighted). 

HUMANS today are uniquely alone. For the majority of the existence of Homo sapiens, we shared the planet with many other types of human. At the time when our lineage first evolved in Africa some 300,000 years ago, there were at least five others. And if you were going to place a bet on which of those would outlast all the rest, you might not have put your money on us.

The odds would have seemed more favourable for the Neanderthals, who had already adapted to live in colder conditions and expanded to inhabit much of Eurasia. Or Homo erectus, who had made a success of living in south-east Asia. By contrast, our direct Homo sapiens ancestors were the new kids on the block, and wouldn’t successfully settle outside of Africa until more than 200,000 years later. Yet, by 40,000 years ago, or possibly a bit more recently, we were the only humans left standing. Why?

Many explanations have been put forward: brainpower, language or just luck. Now, a new idea is building momentum to explain our dominance. Ironically, it may be some of our seemingly deepest vulnerabilities – being dependent on others, feeling compassion and experiencing empathy – that could have given us the edge.

While I would LIKE to believe this “new idea” related to the dominance of Homo Sapiens, it’s difficult to see these suggested “vulnerabilities” in much of today’s modern societies. 

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Image by MANOEL M. PEREIRA VALIDO FILHO MVALIDO from Pixabay