"Religion is a hypothesis about the world: the hypothesis that things are the way they are, at least in part, because of supernatural entities or forces acting on the natural world. And there's no good reason to treat it any differently from any other hypothesis. Which includes pointing out its flaws and inconsistencies, asking its adherents to back it up with solid evidence, making jokes about it when it's just being silly, offering arguments and evidence for our own competing hypotheses...and trying to persuade people out of it if we think it's mistaken. It's persuasion. It's the marketplace of ideas. Why should religion get a free ride"

Greta Christina

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Atheism the winner in U.K election

So the dust is beginning to settle on a tumultuous week of post election politics and we wake up this morning to a Conservative led coalition government incorporating the Liberal Democrats.
Actually I don’t want to say too much about the details of this as the media is already saturated with coverage, opinion and speculation. Except that I think this coalition is the most pragmatic response to a hung parliament given the current financial situation and the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afganistan.
Although the alternative, a broad left “progressive” coalition of Liberals, Labour and a ragtag of nationalists and independents may have more accurately reflected the social and political mood of the electorate it would have been too much a hostage to fortune and the minority parties to be a stable government.
I am much more interested in the new face and indeed the new faces of British politics set to emerge as a result of this election and Gordon Brown’s departure as Labour leader.
I have already mentioned that Nick Clegg is an openly atheist politician and I think his rational, pragmatic and refreshingly non-dogmatic approach to politics is a reflection of this. That a self declared atheist is now Deputy Prime Minister is a positive sign that secularism, rationality and critical thinking are getting the upper hand in Britain.
I’m not too bothered that since getting so much media attention Clegg has started referring to himself as “agnostic” rather than atheist, since all atheists are agnostic to some degree and now is not the time to totally alienate the theistic elements of the electorate.
David Cameron is a C of E Christian and has declared a belief in God. However his politics is not grounded in his religious beliefs and he is reported as saying,
"I am a Christian, I go to church, I believe in God, but I do not have a direct line”
which is frankly not a statement that suggests Christian ideology is at the top of his agenda. It gives me some hope that Clegg can talk him out of his plans to expand church affiliated schools, or at least remind him that such schools need a tight control on how they teach the curriculum.
So far so good then, but it could get better. The front runner in the contest to replace Gordon Brown as leader of the Labour Party is David Milliband who is also a self declared atheist. If he wins we will have a Deputy Prime Minister and a Leader of the Opposition firmly in the non-religious camp. Just what we need for clear thinking, rational and pragmatic governance with the hope that our pressing social issues will be addressed without the encumbrance of religious dogma and prejudice.

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