On Sunday mornings the Beeb carries ’The Big Questions’, a vox pop discussion programme about faith and ethics. I watch it now and then just to marvel at some of the dimwitted vacuous flummery. Occasionally you get somebody who can string together a/a complete sentence, and b/a coherent argument, but these individuals are few and far between. Because of the general tenor of the programme you get a load of religious wackjobs talking over and refusing to listen to anybody who doesn’t agree with them.
The vacuousness of the responses may be due at least in part to the vacuousness of the questions posed by the affable host Nicky Campbell. Last Sunday this blinder of a query came up. ‘Do we have the right not to be offended?’ The basic contention, of course, was that if somebody disagrees with you, they shouldn’t, because you’ve taken umbrage and they have no right to trigger you in that manner.
My immediate response was the one you might expect. ‘You cannot be serious!’ However, the participants lapped it up, with godbotherers of various faiths and denominations being particularly vigorous, and generally dismissive of the atheists. As usual, you got the hardliners stating baldly that atheists cannot possibly have a moral compass when they have no faith.
This is a charge that has been levelled at me more than once, and if I have the right not to be offended, as the accusers make out that they have, then they have no right to offend me, do they? Works both ways. The good news is that I’m not offended. You have to try hard to offend me, though it is possible. I generally get annoyed, not offended.
One thing about the lack of a moral compass. Here’s the thing. I can rape as many women as I want. I can murder whomever I feel like. I can mug as many pensioners as I want. I have in fact lived my life doing this, and in all three cases the number I did was zero, because that’s exactly the number I wanted.
Then we have the whole notion that a moral compass that’s set by fear of what will happen to you after you die isn’t a moral compass but a whip to keep you in line. Don’t get me started on this.
As sure as night follows day, we got the frequent line that Christians feel beleaguered, sidelined in their own country, much as lots of Americans get triggered by any suggestion they might just be wrong and/or simply overreacting. I’ve tackled this elsewhere before, but I can sum it up easily. If your religion feels threatened simply because a chain of coffee houses doesn’t use red and green cups at certain times of the year to celebrate your beliefs, then I reckon your beliefs are a bit rickety. A house built on sand. Matthew 7:24-27.