Friday, August 24, 2007

Does "faith" trump justice?

Listening to the news last night two stories caused me to lapse into a fit of Tourette's and swear out loud at the TV, it wasn't dignified. Who knows, perhaps its my age, perhaps I should drink less caffeine or maybe I should just stop giving a damn and switch over to big brother and let rigor mortis of the brain set in and be done with it.

Let me share what outraged me so much, first there was the Jehovah's Witness paedophile who was convicted of 13 offences against children over a period of several years the youngest of whom was only 18 months old, this is bad enough right, but not what triggered my outburst. In a "surprising" turn of events this man walked free from the court with only a 3 year community sentence, again pretty outrageous, but not what sparked my rage. No, the thing that triggered me off were the reasons that the judge gave for being so lenient, there were three reasons given, I only remember the first 2 as the second one insulted my intelligence so severely that I stopped listening. So, first reason, he pleaded guilty, oh, ok, so that’s nice (apparently he gave himself up only when one of his victims threatened to turn him in), second reason, he is a man of FAITH.

At this point I need to scream, so this criminal doesn’t go to jail because he “believes things without evidence” and has an invisible friend in the sky. This totally stinks, I wonder if the Judge is a Christian of some flavour, and I bet no one will dare to call him out on it, because we just don’t criticize faith do we. This man should go to jail, for a long, long time, his so called “church” should be prosecuted for public safety offences and be ordered to fully and generously compensate all the victims from their no doubt ample funds, and this Judge should be fired without a second thought.

Then, as if to rub salt into my intellectual wounds, we had the story concerning the shooting of an 11 year old boy in Liverpool, again, pretty bad, but who should the ITV news team decide to talk too in a filmed “walk about” through the streets where he lived? Perhaps the police chief, maybe a social worker, criminologist, witnesses, no, the FUCKING Bishop of Liverpool that’s who, just what the hell would this man have to professionally contribute to this debate I thought? When asked what he thought should happen, his first comment was that we should all “get on our knees and pray for the victim”.

I had to retire to bed at that point, before I threw something and regretted it, as Christopher Hitchens so succinctly and simply states in his recent book (a great read BTW)

…religion poisons everything.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

American companies and religion

A new behavioural hypothesis has been forming in my mind recently, something I hadn’t thought about much before I started to research Atheism and Religion more seriously, it goes like this. Having personally worked for several different American corporations over the years and recently reading about the (real) religious landscape in a lot of the USA, something struck me, that is, how one is so strongly a cultural reflection of the other.

There seem to be a number of principals that are engrained in the zeitgeist of the American corporation (at least the ones I've worked for) and are similarly important attributes of most religions (especially in the USA), Dilbert author Scott Adams has already covered most of these in spades here, but IMO the key ones are

1. You can't criticize anything
2. The truth isn't important
3. They are not meritocracies
4. They are dogmatic
5. They don't evolve (in fact they don't believe in it!)
6. Faith is more important than quality or ability

Of course, I'm not saying that all corporations have all of these properties; but I bet most people can recognise some of the elements where they work. The few UK corporations I have experience of certainly seem to have some of these traits but to a lesser degree; scepticism and it's darker cousin cynicism seems much more evident here, in fact is almost valued in some places, although having said that, we seem to have much bigger social issues with evolution (in a business sense) and social etiquette/class than over the pond.

Another interesting facet of this is where the company is located; this seems to correlate very strongly with my perception of the religiousness of the state, i.e. less around the edges and more in the middle; what you would expect I suppose.