Standing up for the 'godless'
angry doc wasn't aware this special report (who reads newspapers these days anyway?), but thanks to this letter in the ST Forum, he is clued in:
You don't need faith to be good
THE Saturday Special report last week ('God wants youth') stated that religious groups were determined not to lose a generation to godlessness, especially now with youth gangs in the news.
It also noted that what is at stake is the potential of losing the youth to cynicism, violence and even fanaticism.
These remarks suggest a prejudice against those without any religious affiliation.
The last census in 2000 showed that roughly 15 per cent of Singaporeans did not have any religious affiliation.
The article essentially suggested that this group, 'the godless', are cynical and prone to violence.
As a society for non-believers, the Humanist Society (Singapore) disagrees.
The reality in societies everywhere is that there is no difference between non-believing youth and the religious youth in their propensity towards violence. There are actually higher levels of violence among those who identify themselves as 'religious' or 'faithful'.
As for cynicism, there is certainly no correlation between non-belief and a cynical attitude. Many non-believers are involved in the world around them, trying to make it a more humane, compassionate place.
The two largest charitable donations in the history of the world were by atheists: American investor Warren Buffett and his fellow American Bill Gates of Microsoft donated US$30 billion (S$39 billion) and US$11 billion respectively to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, a charitable organisation whose main goals are to enhance health care and reduce poverty worldwide.
I know of many non-believers, people who identify themselves as humanists, atheists and agnostics, who regularly donate to charity. Many also do volunteer work for humanitarian causes.
One does not need to have a religion to lead a good, happy and meaningful life and to have compassion for our fellow human beings.
Humanist Society (Singapore)
Now angry doc thought the statements:
"The reality in societies everywhere is that there is no difference between non-believing youth and the religious youth in their propensity towards violence. There are actually higher levels of violence among those who identify themselves as 'religious' or 'faithful'."
were contradictory, and so he went to look up the Humanist Society's webpage; sure enough the original letter submitted by Mr Tobin read (emphasis mine):
"The reality in societies around the world is that there is either no difference between non-believing youth and the religious youth in their propensity toward violence or there is actually higher levels of violence among those who identify themselves as "religious" or "faithful." [See, for instance, the studies cited in Michael Shermer’s book “The Science of Good and Evil” 2004 pp. 235-236]"
That made more sense...
If the Humanist Society sounds familiar to you (as it did to angry doc), it may be because you've read about them earlier in this news report; a bit of equal air-time, perhaps?
angry doc is ambivalent about the idea of a group that aims to shape our society based on humanist ideals ('ethical' and 'humane' aren't really angry doc's favourite words, you understand...), but he can see why some people feel the need for those without religious affiliation to come together to represent their interests - the fact that "community leaders" believe that the social problems such as gangsterism and dysfunctional families can be solved by making young people believe in the same gods as they do is a scary thought indeed.
angry doc will not be rushing to join the Humanist Society yet, but he certainly thinks it is an organisation to watch.