I wrote recently about Capital Punishment – a practice I despise. Since then I’ve begun a ‘discussion’ with a person on another site about the topic. He supports the practice, and would like to see it introduced back into British society.
The discussion wouldn’t be worth having if the person wasn’t an atheist. It’s his claim to be an atheist which makes his support for the death penalty – or religious human sacrifice – strange.
I have tried to explain to him how, if he supports the practice, he is a religious person without realising it. He doesn’t understand this.
This seems obvious to me, and I assumed his ‘this makes no sense to me’ posturing was just that, but perhaps he really doesn’t understand?
I’m going to set out how it is a person who supports the death penalty is, whether they say they are an atheist or not, a religious person.
The State can take your possessions and can even take you from your home and place you somewhere you do not wish to be. This won’t always involve a ‘fair trial.’ The state has a great deal of power over the citizen. Much of this power is latent.
What can one person do about this? There’s not much. If a person wanted to try to attack or weaken the power of the state they would be advised to try intellectual, not physical, attempts.
A person has more intellectual freedom than they do physical freedom. This is to get to the point: how much intellectual freedom does a person have in Britain?
The answer depends on the person.
Many of us consider our ‘nationality’ part of our identity. Many of us are ‘proud’ to be British. This expression – ‘proud to be British’ – should make us suspicious about the minds of the persons who use it. The idea a person could (never mind ‘should’) feel ‘proud’ about a thing which was not an achievement of theirs should immediately demonstrate the fatuousness of the expression. But different states around the world encourage the patriotic impulse with regular booster-jabs like the World Cups for different sports and the Olympics.
Patriotism, at best, is irrational.
In accepting the patriotic line (and who gets a choice?) the person is baptised in the first religion they’ll meet: The Order of the Holy Patriot, and without knowing it, the person has given up some of their intellectual freedom by accepting the patriotic line. The majority of persons are not intellectually free, but don’t realise it; and many don’t want to think for themselves because of what thinking for yourself actually means.
We all like to think we think for ourselves, but most of us don’t. Thinking for yourself means giving up illusions, and some of us cling to them like an infant clings to a comfort blanket.
The first illusion to go should be the idea of a heavenly father – He who will save us from death. There is (almost) certainly no survival of death, and no loving supernatural being looking over us all. We need to get over it.
The idea of loyalty to a state, or a flag, should be next to go. Different emblems and symbols and national ‘anthems’ – which can sometimes reduce otherwise intelligent humans to tears – should be seen for what they are: pieces of manipulative theatre and an insult to the intelligence.
The loyalties persons should have should be between family and friends (if they deserve it) and aspects of culture. A person should side with the ideas of freedom of speech and expression; freedom of enquiry; freedom of assembly; a person should defend the disciplines of science and philosophy, and should place truth above ‘feelings.’
Pieces of cloth with colours on them and tinny fucking tunes should be given the disrespect they deserve.
But I digress.
The religiosity of Capital Punishment comes from surrendering part of your mind to something outside itself, in this case, the state.
Once a person allows the state the ultimate power over the citizen, then the citizen has surrendered a fraction of their reasoning power to the state. Even if the citizen wants capital punishment for murder only, then it’s too late – the concession has been made.
The State, by default, is given ‘higher-power’ status because now, there are matters above and beyond the human’s need to reason: thinking has been deferred above and beyond, upwards, to the State – the God replacement.
The point here is actually simple: all a person has to do, to be a true atheist, is to reject the Hobbesian idea of Political Obligation.
But that involves placing a huge burden upon yourself: the burden which comes from thinking for yourself.
The amount of intellectual freedom you have will be exactly the amount you demand for yourself.