On the game they play in heaven

Clyde Rathbone Columnist

By Clyde Rathbone, Clyde Rathbone is a Roar Expert

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    ‘For what we are about to receive may the Lord make us truly grateful.’

    As someone never persuaded by religion the ease at which the words fell out of my mouth surprised me. It was 2002 team dinner, I was the captain of the South African under 21 team when Springbok legend and team manager, Naas Botha, asked me to “lead the team in prayer”.

    Put on the spot, my convictions crumbled as I blurted out some platitudinous nonsense in the hope of escaping embarrassment.

    I suppose I could have told one of my childhood heroes that I didn’t share a compulsory devotion to a patently fictional deity, but I must have decided that discretion was indeed the better part of valour. In Naas’ defence there is no way he could have assumed my non-belief. Rugby and religion were deeply singed into the psyche of my teammates, the support staff and coaches. In that environment it was entirely reasonable to assume a devoted religiosity of everyone.

    After my team won the Junior World Cup we gathered on bended knee in deference to god, or in my case in deference to the religious sensitivity of my teammates.

    I like to think I’ve grown up a lot since then.

    While I’ve always had good reason to view religion as a pure example of humanity’s propensity for mass delusion, I no longer feel quite so compelled to bury my opinions for fear of causing offence. In truth I’ve come to understand religion as a set of ideas every bit as deserving of scrutiny and skepticism as any other. However, it’s one thing to know something must be critiqued and another thing to critique it.

    Samu Kerevi Queensland Reds Super Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    The problem seems to be that there is so little room for nuance in our discourse. Take the furore surrounding Margaret Court this week. While it’s obvious that Court’s views are antithetical to human flourishing they are entirely supported by the religious book she holds dear. The same book that inspires post-match prayer huddles.

    These communal expressions of solidarity are widely celebrated as unambiguous symbols of virtue. While it is true that prayer huddles do in fact capture a camaraderie and sense of connection that is meaningful to those involved, they also represent a deep commitment to unreason. This is as much a problem in sport as it is anywhere else, for there is no doubt that what people believe and how these beliefs translate into behaviour really does matter.

    I’ve also observed a racism of low expectations when discussing the role of religion in the South Pacific Islander communities involved in rugby. The line taken by many is that religion provides a sense of meaning and purpose that would be lost if these communities were encouraged to think more critically about faith.

    One can read this as suggesting that some people aren’t intellectually developed enough to forgo the crutch of religion.

    While there is no doubt that losing religion can be an acutely destabilising experience, the idea that meaning is dependent on self-delusion is both ridiculous and dangerous. I know of nothing more humbling and awe-inspiring than contemplating the mysteries of the natural world. A little doubt goes a long way and a lot of doubt goes further still.

    We can’t forget that wellbeing depends on good ideas winning out over bad ideas. Everything we know about dogma, credulity and superstitious thinking suggests they are poor tools by which to navigate our way towards a greater good.

    It’s worth keeping this in mind when we see players promoting their faith by pointing skyward after every try, or inscribing their taped wrists with religious symbols. However well intentioned they may be, these athletes are doing nothing to roll back the negative influence religion has in this world.

    And while it’s obvious that they must always be free to express their religiosity in these ways, so too must we be free to point out that any good which stems from religion does not depend on accepting nonsense. Which is to say that there is no moral good exclusive to religion, or which cannot be achieved by an atheist.

    Finally, if there is a god, one does have to wonder why he appears to have damned the Australian Super Rugby Conference of 2017.

    Clyde Rathbone
    Clyde Rathbone

    Former Wallaby & Brumby Clyde Rathbone retired from rugby in 2014. Clyde is a writer, speaker and technology startup founder. A Roar columnist since 2012, you can follow Clyde via his Twitter page.

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    The Crowd Says (424)

    • June 1st 2017 @ 5:19am
      P2R2 said | June 1st 2017 @ 5:19am | ! Report

      God has not DAMNED the Aussie Super Conference….they have DAMNED themselves….two quite very different things…

      • June 1st 2017 @ 1:55pm
        Mike Julz said | June 1st 2017 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

        The Rugby Gods might’ve

    • June 1st 2017 @ 5:35am
      moaman said | June 1st 2017 @ 5:35am | ! Report

      Great read! Best thing I have seen on Religion since Stephen Fry’s demolition of the Catholic Church.

      “One can read this as suggesting that some people aren’t intellectually developed enough to forgo the crutch of religion.”
      One could flippantly apply this to all sheeple of religion but of course it is often more complex than that.

      I have always held that the majority of established religions are built primarily on tenets of good, common sense. Basic things like not killing your neighbour for covetting your good wife…that sort of thing…but like any club where more than two people congregate…( The ARU???) …avarice, corruption and power-grabbing over-ride any sense of altruism and decency and base needs are put first, second and third.
      Lord Buddha threw away his fine raiment but now temples bearing his name are bedecked in gold….
      If only ‘Christians’ would be more christian! etc

      • June 3rd 2017 @ 2:06pm
        Republican said | June 3rd 2017 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

        ……& not just the ARU.
        Sadly this devolution of sport at the elite tier is a result of a symbiosis with the almighty television $…….

    • Roar Guru

      June 1st 2017 @ 5:37am
      biltongbek said | June 1st 2017 @ 5:37am | ! Report

      Apart from acknowledging you are an atheist I don’t really get the point of the article?

      • Roar Guru

        June 1st 2017 @ 6:08am
        Shop said | June 1st 2017 @ 6:08am | ! Report

        Apart from the last sentence, I didn’t really see the relevance to the rugby section on the road either.

      • June 1st 2017 @ 7:49am
        Winston said | June 1st 2017 @ 7:49am | ! Report

        that’s what I was thinking. This is a rugby site

        • Roar Guru

          June 1st 2017 @ 10:19am
          Charlie Lawry said | June 1st 2017 @ 10:19am | ! Report

          It’s highlighting how deeply entrenched and readily accepted religious belief is in sport, when it’s an obstruction to societal progress. No God ever helped anyone score a try or win a game. How trivial a use of God’s power when global atrocities are are happening by the second.

          For me, it’s interesting how people of faith are simultaneously arrogant and humble to the point of absurdity. Arrogant that they think an omniscient being has imbued their existence with some kind of righteous purpose. Humble in the sense that they think every thought and achievement they conjure up is God’s making rather than their own. When people achieve great things in sport, they can thank their families, friends, partners, coaches, teammates and even their own hard work. Likewise these are the sources they should place their faith in. God wasn’t there for any of it.

          But you’re right, how dare someone write anything other than State of Origin player ratings today.

          • Roar Guru

            June 1st 2017 @ 10:53am
            Ralph said | June 1st 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

            How ironic that one accusing others of arrogance doesn’t provide any justification for his claims:

            ‘that religious belief obstructs societal progress’
            ‘that imbuing existence with purpose is arrogant’

            Thank goodness we have you to instruct us as to who we are allowed to thank when we achieve great things.

            • June 1st 2017 @ 1:56pm
              Country boy said | June 1st 2017 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

              You’re on the money Ralph!

          • June 1st 2017 @ 10:53am
            ethan said | June 1st 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

            I’m a believer, but agree this idea that God helps one score tries or win a game seems very flawed to me. The Bible makes it clear God gives us free will, and aside from a few select moments in history, doesn’t interact with our lives in any supernatural way. I’m open minded enough to consider he may at times answer prayers or help out his true followers, but I’d be very surprised if Rugby was high on his agenda…

            • June 2nd 2017 @ 2:10am
              Rand Curtis said | June 2nd 2017 @ 2:10am | ! Report

              I don’t believe our Heavenly Father cares much about Rugby, but I know He cares deeply about those who play it… or watch it… or love it, or hate it. Our having been given agency does not preclude His involvement in our lives. I reject the idea that faith in the divine makes one dim witted or weak, just as I reject the argument that atheist are necessarily evil. In the end, faith is not just a feeling, it is a decision. When I chose faith life has clarity and purpose, when I don’t all that is left is chaos. I chose faith. It’s a no-brainer.

            • June 2nd 2017 @ 11:10am
              Charlie Turner said | June 2nd 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

              I grew up in a practising catholic family but always felt it absurd that a god responsible for the infinite magnificence of the universe requires regular and structured adoration from our flawed species. Do I believe in god? Maybe! Do I believe in religion? No!

          • June 1st 2017 @ 11:21am
            Ads said | June 1st 2017 @ 11:21am | ! Report

            An obstruction to societal progress – ha!
            The church is the largest single provider of healthcare & education in the world, and has been instrumental in major societal advancement (establishment of orphanages, abolishment of slavery, race equality, elevation of women, our legal systems, the list goes on)
            Jurgen Habermas (atheist) stated that, ” the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love.”
            For me it’s interesting how atheists are simultaneously arrogant and humble to the point of absurdity.
            Arrogant in their self-assurance, and willingness to ignore history and most current social benefit. Humble in the sense that…wait…oh…there isn’t any humility. Guess that means your line of argument is just plain absurd.

            • June 1st 2017 @ 11:58am
              stainlesssteve said | June 1st 2017 @ 11:58am | ! Report

              elevation of women?
              it’s not known how many million were murdered by the churches, not very long ago.
              The churches ended up owning vast estates though, so maybe they can afford to look after the needy?

              • June 1st 2017 @ 12:34pm
                deanB said | June 1st 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

                Where does the money come from to support these endeavours? God?

            • Roar Rookie

              June 1st 2017 @ 12:05pm
              piru said | June 1st 2017 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

              The church?

              What Church?

            • Roar Rookie

              June 1st 2017 @ 7:41pm
              lewismarsh said | June 1st 2017 @ 7:41pm | ! Report

              I think the charge of ‘obstruction to societal progress’ is well founded.
              Many of the positive things you list such as health care and education are nowhere near as straight foward as you imply, but fair enough, credit where its due.
              However the abolishment of slavery, race equity, elevation of woman etc , these are things the church was dragged kicking and screaming from the contrary position by progressive members of the flock who could not tolerate the immorality of church policy. Immorality that was judged against the moral standards of the times.
              Its also worth mentioning that the basis of law and democracy owes little to the judo-christian tradition but much to the Greco-Roman.

              • June 2nd 2017 @ 2:17am
                Rand Curtis said | June 2nd 2017 @ 2:17am | ! Report

                “…these are things the church was dragged kicking and screaming from the contrary position by progressive members of the flock who could not tolerate the immorality of church policy.”

                What you say is an understandable position lewismarsh. But as you point out these changes came from reformers inside the church … not from the moral convictions of atheist.

            • June 2nd 2017 @ 7:12am
              Jeff dustby said | June 2nd 2017 @ 7:12am | ! Report

              Yeah, religion hasn’t started any wars or anything

              • June 4th 2017 @ 12:54pm
                Andrew Oldfield said | June 4th 2017 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

                I remember looking into this at uni,the figures I found were that of wars in the last 3000 years that were well recorded, approx 7% had religion as a significant cause.
                Makes some sense when you try to go back through history; ww2 was about lebebsraum, nationalism more broadly covers ww1, Vietnam, Napoleonic wars, Korea etc etc.
                If you’re looking at what starts wars, atheism is tainted in the same way by the communist, and even the revolutionary french

          • June 1st 2017 @ 12:35pm
            Winston said | June 1st 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

            What’s state of origin?

            Like your rant, this is everything to do with Atheism world veiw vs religion and nothing to do with Rugby

            Can’t wait for SBW to write an article on Islam on here

            • June 1st 2017 @ 12:54pm
              Jacko said | June 1st 2017 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

              Yes this is pure BS…Nothing more

          • June 2nd 2017 @ 7:48am
            Tenfour said | June 2nd 2017 @ 7:48am | ! Report

            He can write whatever he likes but if he wants to express a philosophical opinion on whether he thinks there is a God or not maybe not put it on a rugby thread

        • June 3rd 2017 @ 2:08pm
          Republican said | June 3rd 2017 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

          …….Rugby as with all sport is anything but immune from politics,culture, money, religion – the human condition…..

      • June 1st 2017 @ 10:43am
        ethan said | June 1st 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

        Pure holier-than-thou chest beating, or should I say atheister-than-thou. Shame, because he’s got writing talent.

        • Roar Guru

          June 1st 2017 @ 10:57am
          PeterK said | June 1st 2017 @ 10:57am | ! Report

          but it is well written

          • Roar Guru

            June 1st 2017 @ 11:59am
            Machooka said | June 1st 2017 @ 11:59am | ! Report

            … divinely well written

            • Roar Guru

              June 1st 2017 @ 3:33pm
              Jokerman said | June 1st 2017 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

              Clyde needs to do some astral travelling, chook!! That’ll set him free! Or a bit of acid until he get his meditations skills up to scratch !!

              You’ll believe one day Clyde! Just might be a few lives down the track!

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 3:47pm
                Jokerman said | June 1st 2017 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

                I went to edit but too late…I meant booz’n !!

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 4:56pm
                Machooka said | June 1st 2017 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

                Drugs are bad OK!?!

                Oh… except if it’s the really really good shyte 😉

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 5:52pm
                Jokerman said | June 1st 2017 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

                Haha. Sweet! 😉

          • June 1st 2017 @ 3:10pm
            Perthstayer said | June 1st 2017 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

            No its is not. I am Christian and enjoy discussion surrounding faith with atheists, Muslims, Budhists and more.

            But I do not appreciate insults. Please read these carefully before passing knee jerk comment that they are out of context. If yu feel they are then please re-read the article and seek their context.

            Many of Clyde’s observations have simply not be put in enough context and short cuts to a conclusion have been taken. Such as:

            “the idea that meaning is dependent on self-delusion is both ridiculous and dangerous”.

            “these athletes are doing nothing to roll back the negative influence religion has in this world.” Is that there task?

            “…does not depend on accepting nonsense.” Why it is not nonsense, this comment is not preceded or followed with a comment explaining this strong view.

            “…devotion to a patently fictional deity”. This needs no comment

            • June 3rd 2017 @ 2:11pm
              Republican said | June 3rd 2017 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

              …….& in this context, Clydes article does indeed hold relevance.
              Thank you Clyde & Perthstayer……..

      • Roar Guru

        June 1st 2017 @ 2:05pm
        biltongbek said | June 1st 2017 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

        OK, my two cents worth.

        I am not a practicing Christian, there are a number of reasons for this, mainly because as a child I was forced to go to church every Sunday and watched how the greedy, the disrespectful, let’s call them the unsavoury tipes come to church to ask forgiveness for their sins of the week, only to repeat those same sins the next week.

        It made me realise that faith, be it christianity, islam, or whatever belief system you may follow was a personal journey that you need to take.

        You will find con artists committing their crimes in the name of God, you will find religious fanatics committing crimes of terror in the name of their God, often a higher power is used as a scapegoat for committing crimes, as the saying goes, if you are looking for a stick to beat a dog you will find it.

        The suggestion that those with the belief of a higher power doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to forego the crutch of religion is not only ridiculously flawed, it is judgemental and arrogant.

        I have faith, it is the ability to believe in a higher power without having proof, it is having trust in a God similar to how you may trust another person.

        That trust can be wavering at times and stronger at other times. But isn’t trust something we cannot see?

        The point I want to make is each to his own, whether you are religious, agnostic, atheist, muslim or whatever, it is personal, however respect all points of view, not just your own.

        If you want your own viewpoint respected and yourself be treated with respect, then don’t sit in judgement of those around you.

        • Roar Guru

          June 1st 2017 @ 3:16pm
          Ralph said | June 1st 2017 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

          Good thoughts BB.

        • June 1st 2017 @ 6:35pm
          The Slow Eater said | June 1st 2017 @ 6:35pm | ! Report

          +1. Well put. In these troubling social times it is best to have more tolerance of others than less.

        • June 1st 2017 @ 9:05pm
          Chivas said | June 1st 2017 @ 9:05pm | ! Report

          Biltong, I’m not religious because it makes no sense to me and organised religion makes me cringe. In saying that, I completely agree with your post and appreciate you for taking the time to pen it.

    • June 1st 2017 @ 6:35am
      Onside said | June 1st 2017 @ 6:35am | ! Report

      The worst thing about being an atheist is there’s nobody to talk to when having an orgasm.

      • June 1st 2017 @ 6:42am
        G Len n said | June 1st 2017 @ 6:42am | ! Report

        The funniest one liner for a long time Onside

      • Roar Guru

        June 1st 2017 @ 6:45am
        biltongbek said | June 1st 2017 @ 6:45am | ! Report

        Yeah, they have to resort to talking dirty to one another.

        He “talk dirty to me”
        She “Dishes, washing….”

        • June 1st 2017 @ 7:01am
          Gurudoright said | June 1st 2017 @ 7:01am | ! Report

          Have you been looking through my bedroom window?

          • Roar Guru

            June 1st 2017 @ 2:21pm
            biltongbek said | June 1st 2017 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

            Only one time, I promise 😉

        • June 1st 2017 @ 7:39am
          Carlos the Argie said | June 1st 2017 @ 7:39am | ! Report

          An Argentine would say to use their name….

          • June 1st 2017 @ 12:55pm
            Jacko said | June 1st 2017 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

            And their name could be Jesus

    • June 1st 2017 @ 7:01am
      Exile In Oz said | June 1st 2017 @ 7:01am | ! Report

      First off I don’t believe in organised religion. What goes on between God and myself isn’t anyone elses business.

      I don’t believe that religion should have much of a role in sport. If you want to call on a higher being before a game then it should be for the safety of your opponents, your team mates and yourself. The result should be left to a test of skill and dedication between the two teams.

      • June 1st 2017 @ 9:02am
        woodart said | June 1st 2017 @ 9:02am | ! Report

        agree with you on the organised religion. organised religions and political parties have caused much pain in the world.

        • Roar Guru

          June 1st 2017 @ 11:35am
          PeterK said | June 1st 2017 @ 11:35am | ! Report

          intolerance of others without the same belief has cause a lot of pain in the world especially when trying to convert others to those beliefs, applies in areas outside religion as well.

          Religion including organised has also done a lot of good, throughout history they have often been the only champions of the weak, oppressed and poor and provided some support for them.

          Of course they have also sometimes lived off them as parasites.

          • Roar Guru

            June 1st 2017 @ 11:36am
            Train Without A Station said | June 1st 2017 @ 11:36am | ! Report

            And tolerance of discrimination of others is what has let much of the atrocities of history occur.

            The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

            • Roar Guru

              June 1st 2017 @ 11:41am
              Fionn said | June 1st 2017 @ 11:41am | ! Report

              Exactly right.

              If you see someone being racially abused on a train and you don’t stand up for that person then you’re accepting that racist views and behaviour are acceptable in society.

              A tolerant society only succeeds so long as the average citizen is willing to stand up for the values of tolerance and protect those being subjected to intolerance.

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 12:31pm
                PeterK said | June 1st 2017 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

                context once again

                Imagine a group of drunken skinheads acting like that late at night on a train and you are the only bystander and not endowned with much physical capability in combat and you say that person is accepting those views just because they are too scared of getting beaten up or worse.

                That is unfair.

                Sorry words hurt less than being hospitalised.

                totally different story when the abuser is one person and there are many people as bystanders, then yes they should intervene

              • June 1st 2017 @ 9:18pm
                Chivas said | June 1st 2017 @ 9:18pm | ! Report

                I would still call coward. If you can’t stand up and protect another vulnerable human being you see being bullied and intimidated even if that is a group… then I would say that person doesn’t have the strength of their convictions.

                And I have been involved in many scrapes where things have crossed the line. Often it doesn’t involve getting hurt or hurting anyone. It is bringing some sense to a situation which has gotten to a point where people are caught up in a spiralling situation.

                But failing to even attempt to assist or negotiate out of a circumstance for fear of your own hide is pretty weak in my humble opinion. Not saying it is not understandable or forgivable but I still regard it as weak.

                So you would only stand up for someone if theee were others around to cover your back? You would only help someone e if it didn’t put you in any kind of trouble? Weak!

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 12:34pm
                Fionn said | June 1st 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

                In legal terms that is known as extenuating circumstances, and I agree, but it is an extreme situation.

                Even if I was in that position I like to think (perhaps stupidly on my part) that I would never stay silent and watch someone being abused due to their religion/beliefs/ethnic background/language/gender/etc, I would go and defend them regardless of the circumstances.

              • June 1st 2017 @ 1:46pm
                Xiedazhou said | June 1st 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

                Yes, except Popper’s paradox tells us that” Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance.
                If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant,
                if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant,
                then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”

                Those willing to see the removal of the Judeo-Christian belief system from our society seem to forget that Western Society is built around this belief system, and an attack on the belief system is attacking Western Society itself.

              • June 2nd 2017 @ 7:15am
                Jeff dustby said | June 2nd 2017 @ 7:15am | ! Report

                It’s not built on religion , it’s built on greed and religion has nearly destructed the world several times

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 2:05pm
                Fionn said | June 1st 2017 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

                Western society may have its roots in Judeo-Christian history, but we kicked religion out of society and secularised through the Enlightenment, scientific revolution and French Revolution.

                No one is suggesting unlimited tolerance of intolerant views, even the US has a common law legal tradition for what isn’t okay (calling fire in a crowded room – e.g. insinuating violence against a group).

                We need to remember our Judeo-Christian legal tradition, but society is based primarily around the Enlightenment and secularism, not religion.

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 2:35pm
                Ralph said | June 1st 2017 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

                That’s a terribly inaccurate rewrite of historical fact Fionn. You do realise that the very people who invented the scientific method as we know and use it today were Christians?

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 2:38pm
                Fionn said | June 1st 2017 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

                I have a history degree, I’m aware.

                Just because many of the people who invented the scientific method were originally Christians does not mean that society is primarily based around religion. That’s like saying “the US in the 21st century is primarily based around slavery because many of the Founding Fathers embraced slavery”.

                Society in the 21st century is primarily based around the ideas of the Enlightenment, the rights of man and secularism, not religion. Society only modernised and entered something resembling its current form once it secularised and kicked the church out of society and separated church and state.

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 2:48pm
                Ralph said | June 1st 2017 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

                You claimed science as a secular movement. I just pointed out that’s not true in specific historical terms.

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 2:54pm
                Fionn said | June 1st 2017 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

                Ralph, this is somewhat semantics, but I do think the scientific method was a secular method.

                It may indeed have been proposed by individuals who were Christians, but the Christian Churches were hardly the ones supporting or leading the intellectual movement of the scientific revolution.

                Not that I am saying religion and the scientific method are inherently contradictory (the Pope has a Masters in chemistry for goodness sake).

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 3:47pm
                Ralph said | June 1st 2017 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

                I can’t see that at all Fionn.

                At the very heart of the scientific enterprise was the assumption that because God created the universe it must therefore be a rational and ordered thing. Assuming man was made in God’s image then we could use that same rational character to know.

                Contrast that with the Ottoman view, where the religious scholars tore down the observatory at Taqi al-Din in 1580 on the basis that to enquire of the heavens was to enquire into the very mind of God, which was blasphemy.

                Contrast that with Dawkins idea that the human mind is based on nothing more than unguided random chance. On what basis would we assume anything created through unguided random chance should be a reliable cognitive platform to enquire of the universe?

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 5:08pm
                Fionn said | June 1st 2017 @ 5:08pm | ! Report

                Well, each to their own mate. That’s the beauty of history, you can contest anything (even more than rugby 😛 ).

                My two cents though. Regardless of how I personally feel about religion, the Christian tradition looks to the Bible, primarily, to find answers and relies on faith rather than questioning of the Bible and God.

                The humanist/Enlightenment tradition asks one to question everything, take nothing as fact or on faith, and rigorously test everything.

                It seems to me that the scientific method derived more so from the Enlightenment tradition rather than the Christian (although many Christians were obviously central to the development of modern science in both Europe and also during the Muslim Empire, along with Muslims then).

                That isn’t not to see that Christianity and and the scientific method are contradictory towards each other. I understand it is perfectly possible to be religious of any faith and also adhere to the scientific method and the Enlightenment, just as it is possible to be an atheist and not adhere to the scientific tradition.

                I didn’t mean to criticise you or your religion either.

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 5:39pm
                Ralph said | June 1st 2017 @ 5:39pm | ! Report


                No offence taken, whenever it is offered I try to leave it where it lies.

                Every belief system has faith, even atheists, because they state things they cannot prove. Even the very meaning of the word atheist cannot be proven.

                I don’t think it is any accident of empty chance that scientific theory was invented by Christians. Just as I don’t believe it is an accident that Communist theory ended in bankruptcy and that picking a Wallaby side without a kicking fullback will end badly most of the time.

                Proving every fact is fine with me because philosophy deals with the why. You cannot use science to rigorously prove *why* I put the jug on right now. It can surmise and guess – but only if it stops using the scientific method, maybe a hot water bottle, maybe a cup of tea. But we cannot rigorously test.

                To chant “empty chance” is a lazy way of not explaining yourself. Why did the Christians invent science – empty chance. Why did I put the jug on right now – empty chance. The very opposite of the rational and scientific examination atheists usually claim to champion.

                And it leaves all the important questions of life unanswered.

              • June 1st 2017 @ 9:25pm
                Chivas said | June 1st 2017 @ 9:25pm | ! Report

                Religion doesn’t answer any of the important questions either… And I don’t have the answers, but critical thinking for me at least does not work well with some fundamental religious beliefs and attempts to answer questions about life.

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 11:03pm
                PeterK said | June 1st 2017 @ 11:03pm | ! Report

                chivas – i never stated what I would do, you made it personal, and brought the level of discussion down, which does not surprise me at all.

                I was thinking a young woman or an elderly person.

                I bit rich to resort to shaming and name calling.

                I was giving fair circumstances that doesn’t mean you find such things acceptable.
                Sure it may mean you put your safety first.

                I can never blame anyone for that.

              • June 1st 2017 @ 11:33pm
                Chivas said | June 1st 2017 @ 11:33pm | ! Report

                Of course I brought the level of discussion down PK. Your comments and opinions never do. I didn’t make it personal. I merely reiterated your point which you seemed to be if not advocating at least justifying and gave my view on it.

                Take it personal if you like. Matters bought to me. That is your business.

              • June 3rd 2017 @ 2:21pm
                Republican said | June 3rd 2017 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

                ……perhaps the answer/s is to know and indeed accept that there are none?

            • Roar Guru

              June 1st 2017 @ 12:04pm
              PeterK said | June 1st 2017 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

              sure but not many are brave or f@@lish enough to stand up publicly to stalin, the inquisitions, isis (where they control the territory).

              Context in every generalisation.

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 12:19pm
                Train Without A Station said | June 1st 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

                You are right.

                In some cases you may need to in order to not risk your life (as opposed to be unpopular or alienated).

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 3:01pm
                Fionn said | June 1st 2017 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

                But in other cases it was only people who risked their life that brought about political change.

                Those who bravely fought against Apartheid and gave their lives for it demonstrates that.

                Broadly though, you guys are correct also.

              • June 1st 2017 @ 9:28pm
                Chivas said | June 1st 2017 @ 9:28pm | ! Report

                Fair point PK, but they are extremes. You can add Hitler and that disgraceful period in our history. But many like the Poles and various others did stand up in their own way and at great personal risk. And I imagine that even with respect to ISIS and other evil regimes there will always be those that stand against it in their own ways and not just pay it lip service.

          • Roar Guru

            June 1st 2017 @ 11:41am
            Train Without A Station said | June 1st 2017 @ 11:41am | ! Report

            Though I agree that religion has lead to a lot of people doing good things.

            I personally tend to credit the concept of religion and the people, rather than the Church itself though.

            • June 1st 2017 @ 12:58pm
              Jacko said | June 1st 2017 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

              Agree Twas. The people are the ones doing the good….Religion is often the fund raiser tho…Its also a shame that we blame the religion when a human does wrong under the religions name…Even tho the religion has different values

          • Roar Rookie

            June 1st 2017 @ 6:53pm
            Frewy said | June 1st 2017 @ 6:53pm | ! Report

            How about all the millions killed in the bane of religion? Including Christianity?

            • June 1st 2017 @ 9:30pm
              Chivas said | June 1st 2017 @ 9:30pm | ! Report

              Or more recently the abuse perpetrated upon many children by the Catholic Church which they still attempt to sweep under the carpet.

    • June 1st 2017 @ 7:02am
      Jimbo81 said | June 1st 2017 @ 7:02am | ! Report

      Why do all atheists automatically assume that secular humanism is the intellectually superior way to go? this article comes off as preechy, arrogant, and intolerant in the same tone a vegan or a smart car owner or a gluten free enthusiast would lecture the “knuckle dragging masses” that don’t follow their particular new age slant on life.

      • June 1st 2017 @ 9:54am
        Jack said | June 1st 2017 @ 9:54am | ! Report

        “Why do all atheists automatically assume that secular humanism is the intellectually superior way to go?”

        Because it’s very easy to. Terrorism, organised pedophilia etc etc.

        • Roar Guru

          June 1st 2017 @ 10:47am
          Ralph said | June 1st 2017 @ 10:47am | ! Report

          Because atheists are fundamentally lazy. Finding matter and the universe and humanity as it actually is, rather than search for any explanation, throw their hands in the air and propose absolutely nothing (it’s all an empty pointless accident).

          • Roar Rookie

            June 1st 2017 @ 10:54am
            piru said | June 1st 2017 @ 10:54am | ! Report


            They find no evidence for complicated and oddly ‘biased-towards-the-people-that-believe-in-it’ faiths and instead take things as they are.

            ‘Meaning’ is irrelevant

            • Roar Guru

              June 1st 2017 @ 10:59am
              Fionn said | June 1st 2017 @ 10:59am | ! Report

              … A committed and unpolitically correct atheist might even be so bold as to claim that putting total faith in a book is the lazy route…

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 2:14pm
                jeznez said | June 1st 2017 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

                But which book Fionn? There are quite a few and many are contradictory – and beyond the presence of the books themselves there is precious little evidence that stacks up to scientific scrutiny.

                There are many people on both sides of the religious/atheist fence – who set science as the enemy of religion.

                I think more appropriate is to say that scientific method won’t accept organised religion without some evidence – this applies whether you follow Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, Indra, Ahura Mazda, Zeus, Odin, Osiris, Ba’al, L. Ron Hubbard etc, etc, etc.

                Adherence to scientific method means that hard repeatable evidence in support of a deity would mean science accepted that evidence. The lack of evidence to this point is where any opposition is created.

                Similarly if irrefutable evidence was present and a ‘scientist’ refused to accept it – then you’d have to argue they weren’t following the scientific method.

                Apologies – I’ve rambled on there.

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 2:21pm
                Fionn said | June 1st 2017 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

                Jeznez, I think we might basically be agreeing?

                I was just saying that assuming that atheists are “lazy” because they don’t believe in God and religion is in itself lazy thinking and doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

                Indeed, some atheists (and I’m not saying this, but have heard them say) might say that giving up your own powers of critical thinking and the need for empirical evidence to simply put faith in a belief system is lazy thinking.

                I don’t think either is inherently lazy. Horses for courses, believe whatever you want, just be tolerant to other people (which is, really, what most progressive religious people and progressive agnostics and atheists all believe).

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 2:23pm
                Fionn said | June 1st 2017 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

                believe whatever you want, just be tolerant to other people

                I should say, be tolerant to them so long as they are being tolerant to other people also. I wouldn’t ever be tolerance of racism, sexism, etc.

                The one time I won’t keep to this is when people defend the inclusion of Dean Mumm in the Wallabies. I can’t tolerate that 😛

                … Sorry, couldn’t resist.

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 2:43pm
                jeznez said | June 1st 2017 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

                We definitely are in agreement – I should have looped back to Jimbo’s original question regarding an assumption of intellectual superiority which is what my response was really driven by.

                I agree with your tolerance comment. For those that have personal faiths and agnostics who believe in something outside the physical (and therefore not measurable) then they may be correct and can make as strong an argument as an atheist can.

                The organised religions are harder to justify though. Their ‘evidence’ doesn’t survive scrutiny.

                Further that they germinate in locales then spread through evangelism leads to so much conflict and so many not exposed that were one of these faiths to be true then the supposed caring god behind it would be cruel beyond belief to employ that method of disseminating information.

                There are many holes that commitment to an organised religion cannot paper over which invites the intellectual comparison.

                We need to allow people to believe what they want to believe as none of us can prove our views are right – the trigger for the article however looks to be focussed on how our beliefs lead us to treat those around us and that is something we can judge people on.

                p.s. my agreement covers Mumm’s selection as well! Although I extend my complaint to him being in the Waratahs also.

            • Roar Guru

              June 1st 2017 @ 12:16pm
              Ralph said | June 1st 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

              It’s amazing how often we don’t find what we aren’t looking for.

          • June 1st 2017 @ 11:47am
            northerner said | June 1st 2017 @ 11:47am | ! Report

            On the contrary. Most atheists are interested in learning about the universe and matter and humanity in a scientific, evidenced-based way rather than relying on “God did it” as an explanation for everything and looking no further. Now that’s truly lazy.

            • Roar Guru

              June 1st 2017 @ 12:27pm
              Ralph said | June 1st 2017 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

              Science provides a tool to explore the how. It can never explain the why.

              And if the atheist couldn’t find it – well .. ipso facto – it can’t exist. Apparently.

              • Roar Rookie

                June 1st 2017 @ 2:07pm
                piru said | June 1st 2017 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

                You of course are coming from a position of assuming there is a why

                With zero evidence to indicate that this should be so

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 2:30pm
                Ralph said | June 1st 2017 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

                So is it that you asked why, didn’t get an answer and so concluded why does not exist. Or is it that you are just against people asking questions?

              • Roar Rookie

                June 1st 2017 @ 2:35pm
                piru said | June 1st 2017 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

                Not at all

                I simply stated that you assume there is a why, based on no evidence.

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 2:51pm
                Ralph said | June 1st 2017 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

                Then you are confusing questions with assumptions.

              • June 1st 2017 @ 8:14pm
                northerner said | June 1st 2017 @ 8:14pm | ! Report

                Science explains what is.

                Religions all provide different “whys.” What makes one of them more credible or more correct than another? Why is the Christian god more credible than Krishna or Allah or Thor or Jupiter or Quetzalcoatl? No reason. It’s all dependent on which God you happen to choose, not on whether one explanation is more believable than another.

                So I choose to believe in one less god than you.. And if I don’t know “why” that’s maybe because there is no answer.

              • June 1st 2017 @ 8:33pm
                Pickett said | June 1st 2017 @ 8:33pm | ! Report

                It depends on whether a bloke called Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
                If he didn’t then I’m with you.
                If he did, then very different scenario.

              • June 1st 2017 @ 9:39pm
                Chivas said | June 1st 2017 @ 9:39pm | ! Report

                Ellvis did, so why not Jesus. And if you ask god for forgiveness after whatever atrocities you commit, you can go to heaven and enjoy yourself. If on the other hand you stand up for people and attempt to provide and care for others.. but you haven’t said your prayers you got no chance.

                Besides whose religion is right. Doesn’t seem long ago there were Druids and we were worshipping the sun.

            • June 1st 2017 @ 1:03pm
              Jacko said | June 1st 2017 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

              Northerner the problem with these So called Facts is that every 10-15 years the scientists change their POV. Remember when Drs prescribed womem smokes for weightloss and stress? Remember when they told us a high protien diet was the way to go only to find that excess protien turns to suger? How wrong was science then…Leading to the obvious question of how wrong is science now…
              I am amazed at how science is starting to catch up to the “Old wives tales”

              • Roar Rookie

                June 1st 2017 @ 1:19pm
                piru said | June 1st 2017 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

                The difference is science strives to be correct, when new evidence is presented the ‘facts’ may change

                Religion is the exact opposite – it claims to already know the answer and any evidence is either shoehorned into that answer or disregarded

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 2:59pm
                Ralph said | June 1st 2017 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

                You are mixing up your categories here Piru.

                Science can deconstruct how the murder took place but can give us no information on why the victim was murdered.

                Philosophy is not a tool to deconstruct how it took place it, it deals with the questions of reason, motivation.

                It’s not much good criticising a chainsaw because it doesn’t work well as a hammer.

              • June 1st 2017 @ 6:17pm
                Jimbo81 said | June 1st 2017 @ 6:17pm | ! Report

                Man: didn’t think there was anyone else like me. I feel science is just what man unwravels and understands a past of the grand design.

                I find grand design to be the ultimate scientific guide to the existence of God: that is is statistically improbable in the extreme for the conditions that provide life for man to have come together in a freak accident, Big Bang / evolution: and while we can prove these things happen or occur, the bigger picture is thats just the way it was intended.

                Religious people are scientists too. God made man in his image and so equipped him with skills and tools; scientific method and logic being one of them.

              • Roar Rookie

                June 1st 2017 @ 5:03pm
                piru said | June 1st 2017 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

                That I agree with Ralph, but I’ve seen many people try to disregard scientific facts that don’t fit within their particular understanding of a holy book.

                Perhaps I talk to too many young earth creationist / flat earther types

              • June 1st 2017 @ 8:16pm
                northerner said | June 1st 2017 @ 8:16pm | ! Report

                Science is, by definition, self correcting. It relies on theory, evidence and testing. And repeat. It is always open to correction and improvement. Religion, not so much.

            • June 1st 2017 @ 1:08pm
              Winston said | June 1st 2017 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

              “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”
              ― Werner Heisenberg

          • June 1st 2017 @ 3:28pm
            Morsie said | June 1st 2017 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

            The really lazy ones are those who get it all from a book.

            • Roar Guru

              June 1st 2017 @ 3:48pm
              Ralph said | June 1st 2017 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

              Hm. Did they use books at your school Morsie?

          • June 1st 2017 @ 4:25pm
            Jack said | June 1st 2017 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

            Yeh, much easier to believe in a sky fairy eh?

          • June 2nd 2017 @ 7:20am
            Jeff dustby said | June 2nd 2017 @ 7:20am | ! Report

            Ralph – you are not my guru
            Maybe religious types are easily tricked or gullible

        • June 1st 2017 @ 10:59am
          ethan said | June 1st 2017 @ 10:59am | ! Report

          So a religious person committed an act of terrorism or pedophilia, therefore atheists are more intellectual?

          Sorry Jack, an argument where you equate sin to intelligence really does not help you prove your point! Quite the opposite, actually. And judged on that comment, anyone would think an atheist never sinned.

          • Roar Guru

            June 1st 2017 @ 11:09am
            Fionn said | June 1st 2017 @ 11:09am | ! Report

            Because ther has never been organised paedophilia in a non-religious institution, and there has never in history been politically rather than religiously motivated terrorism…

            You’ve got to wonder whether people who make such generalisations have any understanding of history.

            • June 1st 2017 @ 11:23am
              ethan said | June 1st 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

              Haven’t researched the history of paedophilia myself, but if you are so delusional you think it mutually exclusive to the religious then it’s not worth getting in an argument about.

              Also note: God does not support paedophilia, obviously. So the actions of a few who strayed from the right path should not taint the actions all. Just as I will not think all atheists stupid because one of them is a paedophile.

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 11:26am
                Fionn said | June 1st 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

                Mate, I was being sarcastic, don’t worry.

                Most terrorism in history was politically rather than religiously motivated.

                There have also been a lot of secular institutions that have engaged in paedophilia.

                I was poking fun at Jack’s nonsense statement.

              • Roar Guru

                June 1st 2017 @ 11:27am
                Train Without A Station said | June 1st 2017 @ 11:27am | ! Report

                The protection of them by the church surely does taint the church though.

                It’s important to remember the organisation of the church and the people who practice the religion are not the same thing.

                Most of my problems with religion relate to churches as an organisation, not the vast majority of people who practice that faith.

              • June 1st 2017 @ 11:33am
                ethan said | June 1st 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

                Fionn: Totally missed it sorry! Unfortunately sarcasm and text writing do not always work well together…

                TWAS: Agree with the issues of organised religion. I actually do not belong to any religion, for I do not agree with all their teachings. It annoys me that for many, the terms God and Religion are inseparable, when I see them as two very different things.

              • June 1st 2017 @ 4:32pm
                Jack said | June 1st 2017 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

                “So the actions of a few who strayed from the right path”

                A few? wtf? Funny how you supposed christians diminish the atrocities you perpetrate.

                Child abuse by the clergy was endemic in Ireland and the US and now, as we are finding out, in Australia too. Regardless, the point is that these were people who espoused kindness and love etc and acted completely the opposite.
                Religion is a cancer.

              • June 1st 2017 @ 4:51pm
                ethan said | June 1st 2017 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

                Firstly, you missed the part (just above) where I said I do not belong to any religion, therefore do not consider myself a Christian. I agree Religion has many problems.

                Secondly, just because one is a Christian, does not mean they perpetrate paedephilia. That is a horribly unjust claim to make.

                Thirdly, the term “a few” is a generalization obviously. I was certainly not trying to downplay the atrocity of it. But on the reporting of the numbers themselves, here is an interesting document to read (Written by an atheist): http://mileswmathis.com/spot.pdf
                Scroll down to the bottom of page 11, where he starts talking about the numbers reported.

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