September 21, 2010

Horse 1107 - Everyone Has Religion... Including Despicable People

I was watching Q and A last night, and one of the panelists was a Dr Leslie Cannold. Dr Cannold according to the blurb posted on the ABC website is an author, commentator, ethicist and activist. It also goes onto mention that:
Her books include the award-winning "The Abortion Myth and What, No Baby"? which made the Australian Financial Review's top 101 books list for 2005.
Leslie regularly discusses ethics on ABC Sydney 702, Brisbane radio 4BC and on the 7PM Project on Network Ten. She is also a regular contributor to Sydney's Sun-Herald where she writes her "Moral Maze" column.
She is President of Reproductive Choice Australia, a national coalition of pro-choice organisations that played a key role in removing the ban on the abortion drug RU486 in 2006 and Pro Choice Victoria which was instrumental in the decriminalisation of abortion in Victoria in 2008.

Already and just from her blurb, she appears to have got my Feckles, Heckles, Hackles, Schmeckles up, but I find this particular comment from Q and A not only to be hypocritical but also highly distasteful.

But I also would very fiercely resist any attempt for someone to tell me that their religious values should dictate what I do.
- Dr Leslie Cannold, Q and A, ABC1 20-09-10.


If I look through the OED to find a definition of religion, I should logically ignore the first definition which involves the belief and worship of an otherwise controlling and/or supernatural being which may involve one, many or no gods.

Therefore, skipping to the second and third defnitions, we read that Religion according to the OED is:
2. "a particular system of faith and/or worship",
3. "a controlling influence on a person's life"

My great conjecture is that in broad terms, faith is what a person believes or trusts in, and that religion is a set of practices which stem from this; nothing more and nothing less. Equally the term religion could be applied to what Richard Dawkins does as some sort of evangelistic atheism but that opens up another discussion well beyond the scope of this blog post.
If Dr Cannold intends to use "religion" at all as an argument, then everything she puts forward must Vis-à-vis must instantly be refuted by her very own arguments. Dr Cannold can not deny that she believes in something because everyone in the world, has their own unique worldview, which is based on what they personally hold to be true, ie what they believe. If this is the case, then she's arguing against religion from the viewpoint of her religion.
I of course refer you to the very famous legal case of Pot vs Kettle.

The questioner correctly put the argument about the separation of church and state, however, you can't separate an individual's religion and their conscience and nor should you ever try and I agree with Christopher Pyne here that if somebody is informed by their religious views in reaching a conclusion on a matter of conscience, that is perfectly their right, in my view, as a member of parliament. They cannot - you cannot simply ask somebody to separate what informs their values.
- Chris Bowen, Q and A, ABC1 20-09-10.

Of course you can't because everybody believes something (even if you believe there is no god, which is still belief of something), ergo everybody has their own unique religion of sorts. Whether or not it is codified is entirely another matter, but since religion is a set of practices, and everybody acts (I can't think of the most general verb, but no-one is totally inanimate), then it is not a logical leap to suggest that everyone has a religion.

If all of this is logical, then even I must concede that religion breeds intolerance and ignorance, because: "everyone from the lowliest peasant, to kings and princes are motivated by self-interest"
- Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, Book 1.

The thug who robs a 7-Eleven, a lazy plumber who takes too long to do a job, the bankers on Wall St, even the priesthood who do "naughty things", are all "motivated by self-interest"; because of this, the religion that has caused more "mistreatment and unhappiness" than any other is surely the religion of self-interest? I'd say that it's caused both far more bad and good than any organised church, or codified religion ever has.

In the case of Dr Leslie Cannold, we already know that she is pro-abortion, and pro-euthenasia, which may as well be saying that she is in fact pro-death. Australia does not use the death penalty on the basis that it is possible to make a mistake and get it wrong. Once someone has died, they do not generally come back to life in my experience. Yet for some reason, even though we apply this to criminals, we're not applying the same principles to the most vulnerable members of society?

I think the states that have the death penalty are wrong to do so and I think it does indicate a lack of respect for human life and I think they should change their position.
- Christopher Pyne, Q and A, ABC1 20-09-10.

I think that this more than anything else, sums up just why Dr Cannold is so incredibly wrong. How on one hand can you suggest that you advocate "choice" which supposedly increases human dignity, yet through precisely the same act, actively show a lack of respect for human life itself.

Sorry Dr Cannold, but as Martin Luther King, Jr. said people should "not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Taking this into account and judging you on the content of your character, you are despicable.


Damian said...

This is supposed to be intelligent commentary, right? Maybe I took a wrong turn. Anyway, just wanted to point out the quote on death penalty countries changing their position came from Christopher Pyne, not Chris Bowen. I thought Cannold was a brilliant guest and showed why it's unwise to argue with an ethicist. Chances are they've thought it out better than you have - and I think that includes this blog post. Have a good one.

Rollo said...

Why it's unwise to argue with an ethicist? What because they employ ad hominem attacks and then throw away internal logic?

Dr Cannold can't argue for anything "based on religion" when she herself employs her religion to do so, it amounts to a logical fallacy.

Post edited for accuracy.