Monday, November 13, 2006

Elton John Would Ban Religion

Elton John has a bone to pick with organized religion. From CNN.com:

Organized religion fuels anti-gay discrimination and other forms of bias, pop star Elton John said in an interview published Saturday.

"I think religion has always tried to turn hatred toward gay people," John said in the Observer newspaper's Music Monthly Magazine. "Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays."

"But there are so many people I know who are gay and love their religion," he said. "From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate."


A very astute observation on Elton's part.

The timing of his criticism could not be better, as Richard Dawkins' new book is selling like hotcakes worldwide (I am half-way through my copy) and the atheism movement in general is picking up speed. More and more prominent social figures are throwing their religious criticisms in to the ring. Even South Park had a go at the atheism movement in general, and portrayed the future as groups of warring atheist states (notice that states still existed in their vision of the future). If South Park does a two-part lampooning of atheism, then obviously the topic is a rather large blip on the radar screen of contemporary social consciousness.

However, I disagree with Elton's conclusion that religion should be banned. I certainly would not want religion banned, and I think that Elton is missing the point by displaying the same intolerant attitude that he finds so distasteful in organized religion.

If an idea or position is banned outright, then it cannot be fairly evaluated on its own merits by individuals, and therefore cannot be legitimately rejected. Therefore, it cannot be legitimately compared against competing ideas, nor can it be legitimately ridiculed or satirized.

Ideas must stand or fall on their own merits, not by fiat. Passing decrees and fiats are what dictators and communists do. Letting things stand or fall on their own merit is what scientists and lovers of reality do. It’s what Dawkins, Hawking, Einstein, Russell, etc, would do.

Elton is expressing statist sentiments to an ideology that is hostile to his kind. While it is good to see prominent social figures like Elton John being openly critical of religion, it is bad to see people wishing to ban any ideology outright, and it is especially bad to see these intolerant, statist sentiments being linked up with atheism. The reason is that religious people will point at Elton's recent comments and say, "See? We are being persecuted! Elton wants to bring back the days of Stalin and Mao and prevent us from practicing our faith! Death Camps are the atheists answer!" Unfortunately, nobody will realize that death camps are the answer of the statist and the collectivist (virtual religions in their own right), not the answer of the atheist.

If one wants to find the atheist's answer, they should not go looking for it at an Elton John concert.

What the atheism movement needs right now is a prominent atheistic Anarchist in the spotlight; someone who realizes, and can articulate, that a nihilistic God and a collectivist state are two sides of the same coin. Until then, the atheist movement will have consistency problems, because so many atheists are statists.

As the atheist movement continues to gain momentum, I fear that the state will become a bigger and bigger hindrance to its message. We must link godlessness and statelessness not only in the minds of atheists, but also in the minds of the common God fearing voter. Accomplishing this link will not only improve the purity and consistency of the atheist message, but will also pre-empt many of the criticisms being hurled at it today.

Crossposted at Goosing the Antithesis.

16 comments:

Sally said...

Exactly! Good post Aaron

Sr.Jesus said...

And what about hatred manifestations in the Bible? The book explicitly order believers to kill sinners.

Aaron Kinney said...

Sally,

Thank you! :D

Sr. Jesus,

What about it? Clearly, the initiation of aggression on another is wrong, and should be prevented. I tell you this, if a religious person tried to kill me because something that their holy book said, I would resist.

On the same token (and getting back to the point of this post), if an atheist tried to kill a religious person because of their peity, or tried to simply ban their ideology, I would resist that as well.

Ideologies can be wrong or right, good or bad. But you cannot ban them; you cannot control peoples thoughts, imaginations, beliefs, or values.

You can, however, control actions, particularly actions that are aggressions against others, or yourself.

Banning a thought or ideology is an aggression, and it is immoral, just like killing another is immoral because your holy book said something like "stone to death those who work on Sundays" or whatever.

Sr. Jesus, you will find yourself hard pressed to morally justify an Orwellian 1984 style thoughtcrime system.

But perhaps more importantly, you will find yourself in greater dire straits if you are attempting to find fault in a "free marketplace of ideas" where ideologies are allowed to stand or fall based solely on their own merits.

Intergalactic Hussy said...

I have always thought relgion was homophobic, sexist, and often racist. I'm glad more people are standing up for what's right and moral!

Delta said...

For your views against communism and collectivism, you certainly hold in high regard many who called themselves socialists, namely Einstein and Russell.

that a nihilistic God and a collectivist state are two sides of the same coin

Why do you choose the adjective 'collectivist' here? Do you not believe states in general are the same, or do you prefer a state which only carries out actions for the ruling classes (all states actually satisfy this criterion, but regardless)?

nobody will realize that death camps are the answer of the statist and the collectivist (virtual religions in their own right)

What do your private "security" firms plan on doing to the citizens who will not submit to corporate rule?

I feel like I'm repeating myself a lot, but anarchism is an idealogy which is against all authority and unjustified hierarchy, not simply against government. Government exists solely because it is the means by which a privileged minority maintains its privileged status. As long as you hold onto capitalism, you will need the state (or some private equivalent thereof) to defend property "rights" (which our society has chosen to honor only after taking the land from the Native Americans).


I am in complete agreement with you in that Elton's statement was not helpful and that more atheists need to look into anarchism (although we are so different in our views about what that is that we consider each other's idealogy to be hyper-statist).

breakerslion said...

I really don't know where to start in terms of expressing my opinions regarding your political views. The thoughts tumble like a landslide. Another day, perhaps. You are, I think, correct in your position regarding banning of religion. If that worked, The former Soviet Union would be free of the yoke of superstition. I don't think you have quite understood the whole nature of capitalism and how it creates wealth, power and disparity. I leave you with these thoughts. The internal collapse or overthrow of a government is usually followed by two things: an immediate default on the prior government's debts, and a totalitarian state.

passerthrough said...

After the accident which lead to Christopher Reeve's paralysis He was asked a simple question. "do you believe God had anything to do with your accident?" Mr. Reeve, being the astute atheist aptly responded, "I don't believe there is a God", and "but I suppose people should go on living as though there was one." The problem with banning religion (and the problem with atheism in general) is that "religion" is where "we" (the world) get laws, morals, etc. When I say there is no God, then what I am saying is that I am my own God. Which means I make my own choices based upon what I feel is write or wrong at the time. In someone on this blog said something about "moral" and "right" and i am pretty sure there was an "immoral" word up there too. The question is what is a moral thing to do? If there is no God then there is no reason to be moral, and there is no right or wrong. All of these terms are relative to the atheist. Why would anyone not do what is right to themselves in their own eyes, if it is justified to you then it is "right" right? The only reason Mr. Reeve said the second part only because he did not want to be quoted as condoling murder, theft, and every other "wrong" in society. At the very least religion gives people a reason to not kill, steal, destroy, or anything else.

Delta said...

At the very least religion gives people a reason to not kill, steal, destroy, or anything else

Then how are we going to kill the infidels Father?

breakerslion said...

Passerthrough:

Oy Vey, Ai Caramba!

"The only reason Mr. Reeve said the second part only because he did not want to be quoted as condoling murder, theft, and every other "wrong" in society."

Please state your qualification to be an authority on the inner workings of the late Mr. Reeve's brain, or quote a relevant statement of Mr. Reeve's that would support that seemingly absurd extrapolation. I will let Mr. Kinney and his friends tear you a new perspective on the rest of your beliefs about morals, etc. (if they so desire), but I could go on.

passerthrough said...

Dear Sir,
Please forgive me if I have spoken wrongly, it is not my intention to insult. So in light of that would you explain to me, for my own knowledge and for the sake of future conversations, what he meant. I am curious to find out what you believe and what, if there is no God or judgment, is the purpose of not doing what you want all the time. Dear friend, could you please explain to me what is "right" and if I am my own "God" and there is no ultimate consequences for wrong, why should I do the "right" thing. I would be at the very least indebted to you if you would honor me with you knowledge. Thank you

Frank Walton said...

An astute observation? How so? He conceded that there are good gay religious people yet at the same time Elton says religion leads to hate. So are these good gay people self-hating people? *SIGH* Ya gotta listen more, dude.

Aaron Kinney said...

Frank,

*SIGH* Ya gotta listen more dude. Elton said only that he knows lots of gay people who love their religion. He didnt say what you claimed he said.

Anonymous said...

Hey, why'd you eliminate the comments from the Abraham "challenge"????

Robert O'Brien said...

I think U.K. Christians have reason to fear; Elton John is first in line to be Queen (followed by George Michael and Camilla.)

Jason said...

"What the atheism movement needs right now is a prominent atheistic Anarchist in the spotlight."

Curious, who exactly would this person be? You perhaps?

I think Anarchists and Marxists (Not the hyphenated kind, minus a handful of Trotskyists) aren't really all that far apart in ideology. Marxist theory calls for a 'Socialist' transition phase before attaining or transitioning into communism. I know, I know...the argument is that it has never been actually achieved, as Bureaucracies end up growing so large that they collapse upon themselves. The atrocities that Mao and Stalin will never be forgotten. Ideologically, is that the transition into Communism is where Marx calls for the complete destruction of the state, stating just like you, that state and government is only in existence to serve the interest of the ruling class. To be honest, in reading Marx, Marxist theory, and various Anarchist texts I cannot see the difference between what both Anarchists and Marxist theory claims the 'end game' is. In reality, the only difference I can see is that Marxists have been the only one to actually try their philosophy in the real world. I suppose it's easy to criticize the mistakes of Collectivists when Anarchists have never attempted to apply any of their theories in the real world.

I think it' s a folly to turn an argument concerning religion into one against collectivism, which in the end is only an argument against Marxism in favor of a theory which in reality has never been attempted on a large scale, even in bastardized form. There are many kinds of Atheists. Commie, Pinko, Libertarian, Anarchist, Apolitical, Democrat and Republican. If we spend our time infighting about how to move forward, then how will we ever move forward? I think it's far more important that the misfortunes of religion are revealed by any means. John Lennon asked us to imagine no religion, and many of us godless folk sometimes imagine that at length. I think it's vital to dismiss specific political views in favor of what we are all in agreement over...science over religion.

The bigger 'enemy' is creationism and those who feel the need to teach it or have it placed in public schools. There are plenty of real issues to combat right in front of us in our daily lives, in the schools our children learn in. There are too many people on this Earth who accept superstition and don't lead their life based on facts, nor do they search for the truth, but enough about my fellow Marxists (Da-Dum-Ching!).

Thank You for writing this blog, it's not often I'm engaged like I was with this one.

Roland Phillips said...

Elton never said he was an atheist. On the contrary he admits the existence of Jesus. Organized Religion isn't a requirement of Judaism or Christianity; that's "wishful thinking" as well. The writer of this article is inhumane.