I have been going the rounds of various stories about the antics and words of religious leaders and believers over the last few days. Not feeling quite up to snuff, but able to wander around the internet reading stories about Christians’ reactions to the slaughter of the innocents in Newtown, Connecticut, about the polio workers in Pakistan being killed because they were doing infidel work, about the Irish government’s new legislation that will clarify (is the way it’s put) when an abortion may be provided when a woman’s life is at stake (and Christine Odone’s stunningly stupid response to the way this was, she thinks, driven by media hype instead of for the right reasons), or about the woman in Mali sentenced to 60 lashes for “adultery of the tongue,” and then there’s the story of the pope blessing the “Kill the Gays” Minister from Uganda, or telling his followers that gay marriage is a threat to peace in the world, and various other droppings of religious idiocy and nonsense, I think it’s safe to say that these things, in themselves, argue against the truth of religious beliefs. No doubt saying that is a garden variety informal fallacy, but it’s hard to see how the truth about the universe and the reason for our being here could lead to such completely unhinged nonsense. I mean, just think about it for a moment. God specially intervened — that’s what John Lennox (a professor of mathematics at Oxford, no less) thinks, and that’s what Pope Wojtyła believed — to make us somehow distinct from other animals, so that we alone get to go on living after we die (now there’s a conundrum in itself), and the result of god’s intervention is the nonsense that is spouted in his, her or its name, and that litters the most sophisticated communications media ever devised by the brains of human beings. And, it seems to me, it’s just a bit loopy to suppose that all this — well, call it what it is — bullshit is not an indication that religious belief is just as loopy as the things that religious believers say and do.
Let’s just go through a few of those things as a for instance… Take, first, because I can’t stand the woman, Christine Odone’s view about abortion in Ireland. She titles her Telegraph piece, “Is Ireland’s abortion U-turn based on a mistake?” And then she tries to hoodwink us by talking about the case of Savita Halappanavar, like, maybe neither she nor her husband asked for a termination, or perhaps she died from septicemia, of some other complication unrelated to her pregnancy. But she’s already said this:
I’m a Catholic but I believe abortion has to be legal. Yes, it is a sin; and yes, there are women who use it as contraception. But the risk of having a long roll call of tragic deaths like Savita’s is too cruel to contemplate. Like divorce, abortion should be available, but reserved as a last-resort nuclear option – and when the mother’s life is in danger is precisely such a scenario.
So, what’s her problem? Well, maybe the Irish government was pushed into it by bad information about Savita Halappanavar. Perhaps it responded to pressure that wasn’t warranted by the case, so they did the right thing for the wrong reason. Now, doesn’t she see a fault in her logic? She’s given a good reason (and the European Court had told them to anyway) why abortion should be available in extreme situations — even though it is a “sin”! — Christ! This woman irritates the hell out of me! — so the Irish U-turn (as she calls it! — U-turn? — it’s not even a swerve!) is based on the right reason. Of course, it doesn’t go far enough. It’s still going to force raped women to bear their rapist’s child, and various other intolerable implications of the “nuclear” option. But, the provision that will save a woman’s life should have been there from the beginning, whatever the Vatican and its demented inmates think. So, it’s not being done for the wrong reason. Can’t be. It’s not being done for Savita Halappanavar. They killed her already! They did it to save the next woman who’s in a similar situation. And all the speculation about what went wrong with Savita Halappanavar is completely uncalled for and unacceptable from this interfering Catholic freak at the Telegraph. Don’t they edit their copy?
You see? Now, how can this be the outcome of religious belief, if religious belief is anywhere near true? Sure, I know people can be wrong. But she’s toeing the Vatican line, and they think everyone on earth should be forced to abide by their narrow-minded idea of what is right and wrong. And they don’t even want to see an exception made in the case where the woman is going to die. She should die. That’s their god’s decree. Does this make sense to anyone? Well, it doesn’t to me. And it makes me angry, I tell you, angry, that idiots like Christine Odone, who used to be the editor of the Catholic Herald, get to sound off in such mind-bogglingly stupid ways.