I’ve consistently said that religion and politics are perfectly analogous. Nat and Kath disagree. I’m not sure about Oskar…though I’m sure he’d disagree with me just for the fun of it.
But what of this analogy? Well, according to Nat (who believes in Determinism…which states that our ideas and opinions are dependent on our environment and our experiences – so therefore we can’t be blamed for our values), this is all a bunch of bollocks. And besides, religion doesn’t cause externalities so we shouldn’t bother with ’em. Leave those bible bashers in peace! But I beg to differ.
Firstly, let’s put aside the determinist ideas espoused by Nat (and Kath…but purely for convenience sake I suspect). It’s a grey area that’s undergoing immense debate (and will be posted on shortly, we hope). Here are the strong similarities of religion and politics:
- Religion and politics both form a basis for one’s own opinions on any variety of subjects. Euthanasia – for example – is a topic that usually results in some sort of moral high ground being claimed. In such a debate, someone else’s politics and religious identity becomes quite clear. Religion is often intertwined with other issues. To say there are no externalities that exist with personal faith is either blissfully ignorant or disingenuous.
- Politics and religion both dictate our way of life. Religion is more direct, with commandments such as “you mustn’t eat pork” whilst politics is more indirect…but still plays a major role. Vegetarianism – more often than not – is a political statement as one example.
- There are many political parties based on religion. The Christian Democrat Party and Family First are two examples I can think of off the top of my head. There are also plenty of theocracies in the world – I’m thinking Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel (though Israel is certainly the most democratic of all the theocracies) and the Vatican.
- Religion is often associated with conflict. Think of the Israeli/Palestinian Crisis, the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ and the Indian/Pakistani animosity as classic examples. Obviously religion isn’t the sole factor in such bloodshed, but I think you’ll find it plays a significant role. The Hamas dogma explicitly calls for the destruction of all Jews. Within Israel, the most critical factor in the segregationist social paradigm is religion – except in Haifa, a city in Northern Israel. Does anyone seriously think these conflicts would be just as intense if we removed religion as a factor?
- Atheism, as an ideology, is antagonistic to the Abrahamic religions in close similarity to the way The Greens are antagonistic to the Liberal party. Their ideologies have very few, if any, similarities. Atheism states ‘there is almost certainly no god and religion is stupid dogma’ whereas the Abrahamic religions state ‘there is a divine tyrant in the cosmos that will wreak vengeance against sinners’. The Liberal party would demand that we ‘lower taxes for corporations and free up land in the outer suburbs for urban sprawl’, whereas The Greens would want to ‘curb urban sprawl and place greater taxes on housing to account for other costs’. The interplay betwen these various ideas is quite parallel and analogous.