Entrance to Easter

As many of you know, both me and Oskar are attending The University of Melbourne. I’m doing a Bachelor of Environments (a generalist degree readying us for architecture or urban planning, in my case) whilst Oskar is studying a generalist science degree with mathematics and physics as core disciplines (the only two things in life he truly loves).

As most of you know, this time of the year is special for at least to main religions. For Christians, it’s Easter. For Jews, it’s Passover. On campus, all the Christian groups are banding together in one formidable mass (no pun intended) to promote belief in Jesus (remember him?) and faith. To counter this, the UMSS (University of Melbourne Secular Society of which both me and Oskar are a proud part of ) launched a ‘chalk-campaign’ of writing quotes about religion and reason on the ground. The way we battle things out at university between different groups is by drawing, in chalk, on the tarmac and hope for the best. And the best did arrive. On one such quote, about how religion teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world, someone wrote “Religion makes you good; and go to church“. Does anyone find this slightly ironic? Here’s a secular quote alluding to the supremacy of reason and someone comes along and reinforces this, unintentionally.

The Christian groups have also tried to convert me on many occasions. On Wednesday, I was relaxing with some friends on the lawn when two boys came up and asked if they wanted free chocolate biscuits. Naturally I asked “are there any strings attached” to which they gave a negative. But as soon as I had polished off my biscuit, they launched into a tirade of biblical nonsense – thus making the ‘string’ a biblical one (presumably attached to heaven). I told them firmly that I was an atheist, that one of my friends was Jewish and that the other two were Christian, so they took head and engaged with my other two friends who happened to be Christian (Pentecostal). I thought that was reasonable of them.

I declined to debate them there and then lest I bring out my sarcastic fury and insult them; but it did get me thinking about something: Why do Christians go out soliciting their wares more than other religions? It’s certainly the case that here in Melbourne, it’s Christians that go around spreading the ‘word’ of ‘Christ’ – rather than Muslims spruiking Mohammad and his ideas or Sikhs going around spreading the word about their Five K’s. Maybe it’s because Christianity, at least in Australia, is losing its appeal with younger generations and is thus becoming more desperate. That was the atmosphere that I gleaned off the readily-assembling Christian students at any rate.

On a final note, I got accosted by a Fundamentalist Catholic on the tram recently; just thought you ought to know.

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11 Responses to Entrance to Easter

  1. Brian says:

    “…as soon as I had polished off my biscuit, they launched into a tirade of biblical nonsense…”

    I’d have given them the biscuit back…once it finished passing through my system, of course.

  2. Chowder says:

    Would be interesting if you mentioned your what secular quotes you thrown around on the tarmac there.

    Your point about the Christian faith in Australia attempting to bring more converts due to a percieved dwindling interest in younger generations seems sound, however I would argue that the Church has always been one big marketing/commercial enterprise for years and years. So this batch of attempted conversions ain’t that new I don’t think.

  3. nlthinking says:

    Reuben

    That’s very kind of you, Brian.

    Chowder, you’re right. But I think they’re becoming more desperate following the trend towards secularism.

  4. nlthinking says:

    Oskar: Christians make up about 60% of Australia, where as Muslums make up about 1%. I think I saw about 30 Christians on the prowl on Thursday, and frankly I’m not surprised the statistically indicated half a Muslum didn’t leave home that morning.

    I went and helped write some of the quotes on the ground. I suffered one of the most awkward moments of my life as 6 CU people stood around me, watching we writing. They didn’t verbally comment, but mentally commented really loudly.

    I almost laughed when I walked back later in the day to see my handiwork had been annotated by some particularly zealous Christian, who crossed out the word “science”. Whoa, what a comeback!

  5. Brian says:

    There’s an old saying. “There’s no point pissing into the wind.” If you want my advice, you’d be better off either persuing a career in science and improving the world whilst leaving the religious knobheads to their own devices, or persuing a good drink and plenty of chocolate eggs over Easter instead of chalking anti-religious slogans all over a pavement for no particular reason other than to satiate your own desire to be passive-aggressive. If you really want to stamp out small minded bigotry, you need to be big minded and positive yourselves. Pull forward and leave the past as far behind as possible, otherwise the past is going to tailgate you forever.

  6. nlthinking says:

    Reuben.

    Brian – that’s the sort of careers me and Oskar are trying to pursue. The ‘pavement wars’ were not useless – because without the UMSS – atheists/agnostics/freethinkers would be voiceless.

  7. Brian says:

    Reuben,

    Science is your voice. It doesn’t matter how ignorant and repetative and retarded these religious zealots are, you won’t see ’em turn down a microwave oven or free air tickets etc. Ironic how they use the Internet to voice their hatred against science, don’t you think?

    There will always be a small percentage of idiots in the world, just like there’ll always be football hooligans. Fortunately they’re on religion’s side, not yours. It’s probably best to leave them there. You can achieve a lot more for logic and rational thought by just ignoring them rather than trying to encourage them over, I reckon.

  8. Oskar says:

    Unfortunately its not just a small percentage of the world who hold these beliefs, and those who do tend to have a strong evangelical stance. In order to prevent the active spread of such beliefs I feel we need to actively oppose them.
    The ‘quotes of reason’ weren’t really an attempt to persuade people about the lack of existance of the supernatural, but to show that we are out there and an active group on campus. Perhaps it was an activity purely for recruitment purposes.
    The quotes weren’t just anti-religious, one of my favourites simply said:
    “Uncertainty is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”
    -Aristotle

  9. Brian says:

    Oskar,

    It doesn’t matter how many people like that are out there…no matter what you say or do, they won’t listen.

    From time to time we get Jehovas Witnesses turn up on our doorstep. Time was when I would try to reason with them. I might as well have tried to reason with a brick. Nowadays I just sneeze all over them and shut the door.

    Making it known that you don’t agree with them is fair enough, but I can’t help thinking your time would be better employed doing something positive rather than just farting into the wind.

    Just ignore them and stop winding them up. Science has already proven they’re a bunch of idiots. Now all you’re doing is picking at scabs. If you shut the door on them (metaphorically speaking) they’ll have no-one to argue with, no-one to feed their elitist, self-serving little brains, and eventually they’ll just shrivel up and disappear.

  10. Oskar says:

    I would be contented to do just that, if they did not have so much power on matters that affect me directly. My government has close ties with the Christian lobby and more than half of people i meet claim their decisions are affected by their religious beliefs.

  11. Brian says:

    In that case, I recommend a very large machine gun.

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