Saturday, September 12, 2015

Dying for change

The topic of change (and no change) has loomed large in our political lives over the last couple of days; yesterday MP's voted not to create a new law on assisted dying, i.e. a law that would have made it legal for doctors to assist people who have reached the ends of their lives, often suffering terribly with incurable conditions, and that wish to choose the place and time (and dignity) of their own death. My own view is that we should have such a law, it seems to me to me the moral thing to do and this decision is disappointing for all of us, after all, we're all going to die. It seems obvious to me that having such a law would not alter the number of people dying but would reduce the number of people suffering.

The other kind of change is complete change, and it seems that the Labour party has voted for that. Jeremy Corbyn has been elected the new leader of the opposition party (announced today) against the advice of many party sages and to the surprise of almost all political commentators. Corbyn is probably the most left leaning leader this party has had in many years, perhaps ever, and seems to have spent most of his years as a politician in opposition to his own party let alone the actual opposition. Anyway, I know very little about the man and have not heard him speak much, but from what I've read about him he seems to be one of those highly principled (academic) politicians holding views that are utterly impractical and out of touch with the main stream of UK society (apart from his atheism of course), it will be interesting to see how things pan out for him; I suspect many more center leaning Labour supporters are fearing years in the political wilderness from this point on.


Archdruid Eileen said...

Not a big fan of atheism as a policy. Names like Mao, Lenin, Stalin and Pol Pot keep coming into my head. I think atheism is a perfectly reasonable view as long as you don't impose it on others.

My concern with Corbyn is that he appears to believe in magical economics, where he can produce non-inflationary money that's only for use on worthy projects and never impacts the money supply. Frankly it's more conceivable that the frog in the Big Pond is an ancient water deity. But I suppose we've all got to believe in something.

Steve Borthwick said...

AE, we're all atheists when we're born, unfortunately religion of one kind or another is imposed on 99.9% of all children before they are old enough to understand the difference; I'm sure the world would be a very different place if that weren't the case, but even if it were, I'm pretty sure we'd still have sociopaths.

I agree about Corbyn, his economic wish-thinking is a big worry, although I don't suppose he'll ever get into government unless he does some pretty nifty deals with the SNP. You never know, perhaps he's just there to scare us all into voting for an as yet unseen moderate candidate, a kind of reverse psychology trick?

Archdruid Eileen said...

"we're all atheists when we're born" - disagree. We're all kind of unthinking agnostics when we're born, open to all possibilities and experiences. On the whole I'd rather bring a child up to be a sensible, rational theist than a religious fundamentalist of any stripe. That's because I believe in a rational, loving God that I'd like children to get to know forever. I'd put atheism somewhere in the middle of the two, but with that massive caveat that goes - "this is what I believe, but the most important thing you can ever do is constantly question. Regardless of which orthodoxy it is you're questioning."

Steve Borthwick said...

AE, Thanks for your comment, I can certainly see why theists would prefer the interpretation you describe; for me, I view ignorance as an unbelieving state, i.e. if you're agnostic about something (i.e. you don't know about it) you can't believe in it either, i.e. in the case of God(s) that makes you an atheist, or possibly an atheist agnostic. A pedantic point perhaps but an important one IMO. It takes an external agent to put the possibility of believing something supernatural into the mind of a child (whatever the something is, i.e. God, Santa, Superman etc.) I would agree that it's possible for a child who grew up in isolation to formulate their own hypothesis of some kind of supernatural being(s), actually I think we might agree that this is probably quite likely as our species does seem to have an innate need to find meaning where there is likely none and to invent explanation rather than accept ignorance.

I couldn't agree with you more on the point of teaching kids to always question assumptions, conclusions and ideas on their journey through this life, discovery is what makes it such a delight (unless it involves Microsoft Project of course!).

Archdruid Eileen said...

Maybe it was the search for meaning that got us out of the trees. That and the belief that the tree god was really evil, whereas the god in the mountains over there was a good one.

Steve Borthwick said...

AE, you could be right; I reckon monkeys would probably always favour tree gods though..