Sunday, April 01, 2007

Turnbull slams role of religion in Australian society

Well, that might have been one take on these remarks by Australian Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“I think religion is a very poor guide to public policy,” the Minister has said.

Perhaps Mr Turnbull will next be boycotting prayers during the daily opening of the House of Representatives. Surely he wouldn’t want to be seen to be in league with the Festival of Light, which holds that “Prayers in parliament are an important daily reminder that we must all ultimately answer to the higher authority of Almighty God.”

Of course, the context of Turnbull’s remarks was that they were made as part of a rhetorical attack on the Opposition’s approach to climate change, which he says is “verging on becoming fanatical” in seeking to make climate change a “religious issue”.

There’s also a nice rhetorical flourish about how Labor “do not care how poor we have to become as long as we become pure.” Neat.

If, as Richard Dawkins argues, religious belief is a ‘meme’, then the idea that environmentalism has assumed a quasi-religious character is itself also a meme that seems to be successfully propagating itself in the petri dish of our intellectual culture.

Expect to see much more of this meme, while seeing less of coherent arguments against anthropogenic climate change.

ELSEWHERE: Caz over at Avatar Briefs has a more cogently, while at the same time passionately, argued critique of climate change evangelism.

ALSO ELSEWHERE: The Muftim Tim Blair has sparked an empirical debate over the extent and degree of last night’s ‘Great Darkening’ of Sydney. Don’t yawn, it’s another controversy we have to have. A scientific taskforce should be assembled to examine satellite imagery, including in the non-visible spectrum, to settle this crucial question of our time.


Blogger Caz said...

So, it would seem that Turnball and Abbott would be best party mates, do you reckon?

The poor and pure line is a good one, but it's not a new "mythology", is it? Oh how the environmentalists love the unclothed and starving, and their quaint and unsullied "way of life". The picking of three berries for the family breakfast, the carting of half a cup of water from ten miles away. Ah, the simple things in life, so spiritual, so in touch with the earth, the natural elements, the purity of living in harmony with squalor and an empty stomach.

And thanks for the link!

Have to apologise for not being around more; not a lack of interest, purely lack of time with some heavy-going work at pressent, so barely have time for anything bu to eat, sleep and work. Alas, not quite in that order.

6/4/07 2:13 PM  
Blogger Jacob A. Stam said...

You're welcome. No need to apologise, I know only too well about lack of time, etc. And energy...

Yes, the poor/pure bit is a bit classier and up to date than the old "they'll have us all in hair shirts" line.

And yes, the fascination with ascetics is perrenial. Many in the so-called materialistic West have long had a reverence for India - one of the most materialistic and status-conscious societies ever.

To Western eyes, Ghandi is obviously the archetypal Indian ascetic - he who admitted that his friends put themselves to great cost to keep him in poverty. Ghandi is also articulate and therefore accessible to those in the West who wish to live vicariously in his 'poverty'.

7/4/07 9:16 PM  

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