I've not been calling by here much. I go through phases of things and just now I'm in a Facebook phase. Facebook's amazing - this week I've reconnected with my schoolfriend, who was my bridesmaid way back in 1993. And recently I've also reconnected with a former colleague from my days working for the Department of Social Security (as it was called then). I remember debates we had in the pub at work nights out, he being a convinced atheist and me being an equally convinced Christian. Well, nearly twenty years on we've picked up from where we left off. (Incidentally I don't think debating/arguing really works in achieving anything - we just get more and more entrenched. So maybe I should quit while I'm (not) ahead.)
I thought I'd share today's debate.
In the unlikely event I have any readers left here after my faithlessness as a blogger of late, you'd be welcome to join in/argue with either or both of us.
Norman's post, which started it, was: "Blasphemy is a victimless crime." Richard Dawkins.
Then it went like this:
Neil: What a hero.
AnneDroid: Been thinking about this. I would happily fight for the right for people to blaspheme if they want. Free speech etc. But at the same time it actually really hurts us as Christians to hear blasphemy and I don't really get why people want to use God's name/Christ's name all the time the way they do... what do they get out of it? I never say anything but I don't like it. I do know Dawkins wasn't thinking of humans as victims by the way and it was a very clever joke!
Norman: Oh, it's just a joke of course. However, if you make it a crime, as I believe they have just done in Ireland, then it ceases to be funny. Would you hang Dave Allen?
AnneDroid: No I love him. Which I suppose shows I'm not always offended, as with Dawkins' joke which doesn't offend me either.
Norman: It's a question of how we all get along together. The Danish cartoons of Mohammed were deliberately provocative and some Muslims love to be provoked. I am an atheist but have a Christian background and many Christian friends. We all rub along well enough until a subject comes up that divides us on faith lines. The Scott Rennie business, for example.
Neil: The trouble with blasphemy as a crime is that nobody else is protected by the law from being offended. I have no doubt Christians are hurt by some blasphemous comments but I was hurt the other day by the teenage girls following me down the street calling me a fat smelly bastard. I just have to deal with it and get on with life. Christians, I am afraid, need to develop thicker skins.
AnneDroid: Yes Neil that's very true.
Norman: Well, of course behind the idea of a sanction for blasphemy is the idea of any law being dictated by religion. That's less about the sensitivity of Christians than their wish to force their views on others. The various attempts to force Schools to teach Creationism in Science classes for example. That is applied ignorance which cannot be tolerated.
Neil: Hear hear.
(few hours gap)
Norman: AnneDroid, I don't know if you are so offended by the tack this discussion has taken that you've decided to say nothing, however I'd be interested in your view on Christian values in a secular society.
AnneDroid: No not offended esp as my thought for the day is to develop a thicker skin!! Gross over simplification of my view: don't want a Christian version of Shariah law imposed on you or anyone else. But do think kids at school should be taught what faith groups believe, inc that many believe God made the world. Have had many a debate with an atheist who in fact doesn't really know what we believe at all. Appreciate some values are shared between us and secular law, eg "do not murder" and some aren't, eg "do not commit adultery", "do not covet", "love your neighbour as yourself" etc.. That's fine - we can and do live with that tension. But on the other hand as a mum I do sincerely wish some of the messages of the secularist media and state education were not constantly washing over my kids as if they were absolute fact.
Norman: I can live with most of this but "...on the other hand as a mum I do sincerely wish some of the messages of the secularist media and state education were not constantly washing over my kids as if they were absolute fact." Example/s?
AnneDroid: E.G.! (1) that women are to be judged according to their appearance - "read" any women's or men's magazine. (2)That people are valued by what they have - the constant use of the word "worth" in the media - so and so is "worth" sixty million pounds or whatever. (3)That school age sex is just the next developmental stage and nothing to do with belonging in a long term committed relationship - the way it is sometimes presented even by healthcare and educational workers but certainly in the popular teen media. (4) the rampant mateiralism/consumerism - my mobile phone is so last year so I must have another one. (5) the big atheist lie that we must choose between science and faith which is total crap. I love science and the more I learn about it the more my faith is encouraged. I think of at least three Christians I know well who are nuclear physicists, one of whom has twice shown me round CERN, and so on. (6) the fact every time a religious person appears in a TV drama they are mad.
Norman: I'm not sure if any of these are taught in schools! They're certainly not the values of everyone and " the big atheist lie that we must choose between science and faith" is not a universal view among atheists either.