An ‘atheistic, rationalist, secular humanist’ speaks


Thank goodness for the “small minority” that “has recently been vociferous in its opposition to the widely supported programme of teaching of values from a Christian perspective in schools”. Hugh Dickey’s article moves me to make my voice heard as well.

On his first point, that the Christian teaching programme in schools is concerned with moral principles and values and not religious doctrine, if the “spiritual” issue included in the example given – that “God can comfort us in our sorrows” – is not religious doctrine, what is it?

And I’d like to ask, what comfort could the Christian God give that human individuals can’t give each other? I have a feeling the answer would open a big can of doctrinal worms.

On his second point, the high standards set for the teaching of the Christian programmes, one would expect no less for any New Zealand’s classroom, but that’s got nothing to do with my and others’ opposition.

Having a Christian-based values programme in schools is repugnant to me for two reasons: first, that it implies these values are somehow special to Christianity, whereas they are in fact human values.

They are espoused as worthwhile for human life as much by people outside of religious affiliation as those within it.

Secondly, the teaching of a fairy story as fact in our education system can’t be justified on any level. As far as I’m concerned it will remain a fairy story until the second coming, until born-again Jesus turns out the loaves and fishes in front of my very eyes, water into wine etc. I’d be willing to rethink things at that point.

Written By: Sheryl White
continue to source article at


  1. “As far as I’m concerned it will remain a fairy story until the second coming, until born-again Jesus turns out the loaves and fishes in front of my very eyes, water into wine etc. I’d be willing to rethink things at that point.”

    Nah, those are just parlor tricks. I want to see him wither up a fig tree at a distance, or maybe cast a mountain into the sea.

  2. I love to look over Google Earth and wonder about any god who chose the Middle East – a few thousand years ago to reveal the deal for humans even though the rest of the places you can scour around were oblivious to this fact for centuries and lived their lives as if it never happened.

    Then I have to think how a few thousand years later some people in different parts of google Earth decided to run with this idea and try and make it global, though coming up against a few others who had the same notion. 

    This is why “God save the Queen.” is kinda an unspoken contradiction. Faiths include gods who want different things than other gods but which god is doing the saving?

    Now this is the Christian and faith related perspective that children should be shown simply cannot represent any universal truth – even at the level Google has got to which kinda does a good job of the whole Earth.

    Religion just doesn’t cut it in any mind mapping exercise you might wish to consider.

    Basic education, really, being cooked into something of a set of fairy cakes for general consumption.

    Ma’am, I do see your problem. It’s a pity we can’t all see sense over this, knowing as we do there will be inevitable unwitting victims of this consciousness crime! It’s a recipe oppression and unwarranted suffering. 

  3.  “evangelistic fervour”.

    Why is religion projection? Did these religious types stop their psychological education at Freud?

  4. Personally, I think I would hold out for creating an entire life-bearing planet ex nihilo.  I set the bar of proof pretty high for somebody who claims to be the Creator of the Universe incarnate.

  5. Speaking as a generic non-theist, I feel that we need to generally support one discreet philosophical stance in our opposition to Abrahamic moral strictures; I suggest the central Stoic premise that humans are happiest when allowed to live according to human nature.

    The more I have come to grok philosophy in general, the stronger associations I see between the Moderns and the original Stoics. Of the various extensions of Socrates, I feel they provided a greater understanding of human nature than the Academics or Peripatetics and their descendents.

    I know that I’m flirting with doctrine-ism here, but I notice that the Christian opposition are continually calling our bluff in that we have no agreed-upon moral source document, and it would be nice for us to be agreeable enough to sing from the same hymnal.

    Original sin and its consequences are the products of sick minds, and do not deserve serious consideration, much less respect. Ceterum autem censeo Carthaginem delendam esse.

  6. Not in my damn country! First I’ve heard of it, don’t worry, I’ll put a stop to this!!

  7.  Ceterum autem censeo Carthaginem delendam esse. 

    Show off. I Googled it, of course, and for those who did not, it means “And furthermore, Carthage must be destroyed.”

     It’s a good phrase which I’ll have to drop at the next suitable occasion, though the shorter form “Carthago delenda est” is much easier to remember.

    p.s. anyone who uses ‘grok’ must belong to my generation. Hi. (waves from the front porch swing.)

  8. Original sin is effectively psychological bully! The real sinners are the bullies perpetuating this cruelty!! To even hear this said prompts them to want to further brow beat the vulnerable just for having come to this realisation. 

    I think the fraternal modus operandi passes down their corridors as ” We do because we can!”

    I don’t for a second think rational is ever tolerated unless it serves this cause, naturally self serving aka “Original sin!”

  9. I’m sure you’d find many here who would understand ‘grok’ and where it comes from and won’t necessarily be from that generation. Stranger in a Strange Land is a great book. It’s a classic.
    What’s interesting is that I believe that book started me down the path of atheism. I think it was the insight into the religious way of thinking that did it.

    I am in agreeance with ZenDruid though it that we as atheist need to come to some agreed idea, not really a book per say, but a general statement that we agree about. This of course won’t be easy as all atheists being the individuals we are will find ‘something’ wrong with it.

  10. The minority that Sheryl White refers to is the Secular Education Network, which is
    aiming to put an end to “Bible in Schools”, a conservative group of Christians
    who tell Bible stories in state primary schools in New Zealand. The schools
    which use it are “legally closed” so the normal law of secular education is put on hold. In go the story-tellers for half an hour a week; out go all the
    children whose parents object. A number of schools have shut the Bible pushers
    down, because so many children have opted out it is difficult to find a place to
    put them.

    The network was
    set up by the NZ Association of Humanists and Rationalists, but is attracting a
    growing number of religious people, including several Anglican priests, a
    Presbyterian leader, a handful of Methodists, including myself, and a sole Jew.
    Other Jews and Buddhists have been invited to join.

    There are only
    230 of us, but we are punching above our weight, because the New Zealand
    census shows the number of non-religious people in New Zealand is rising, the number of Christians is dropping and the two are set to cross in the next
    census or two.

    So despite our
    small size, there have been hundreds of letters to newspapers; we have featured
    on national television several times, we have appeared as guests a dozen times on
    radio talkback. Newspapers are giving us full-page and double-page coverage at
    times. Numerous opinion polls are going about 2:1 in our favour.

    The amazing thing to me is the growing camaraderie between the atheists and liberal
    Christians on the network. New Zealand has always been a tolerant country and
    the tolerant majority is finding a common voice against the relics of
    conservative Christianity.

    The Bible in Schools group is in disarray. Asked which churches provide volunteer teachers,
    they cannot give us the figures; they say their database has not worked for several
    years. They are holding a prayer meeting next Monday. We are matching it with a
    church service which will be attended by atheists, calling for an end to Bible
    in Schools.

  11. This article highlights the advance of where religion is going to get more people into it. They are constantly using ‘wedges’ to get their message into public schools, specifically to younger people so they an get more adherents to their way of thinking. First it will be a ‘Christian-teaching program’ then it will be the anti-science agenda.
    The worst part even though statistics are showing that ‘nones’ are on the rise the pandering to the religious is still high on the list of politicians as they (the religious) still have lots of money and the government knows it. As long as there’s a ‘moral majority’ with funds to spread we’ll continuously have a religious agenda in government.

    Not sure how to go about changing this.

  12. Here’s what I posted on the NZ Herald’s forum:

    If Christian values come from the Bible how are we to discriminate among the “good” bits and the “bad” bits.

    Do Christians really believe that: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22.18), is good and useful moral advice? I don’t. Do they get inspiration from God’s slaying of the Canaanites and the Amorites, or the flooding of the world killing nearly everything in it? I don’t. Are they inspired when Jesus Himself tells us He comes “not in peace but with a sword”? I’m not. Do they approve of Jesus’ “lake of fire” for non-believers and the “wrong” kind of believers? I’m don’t. Should adulterers be stoned, or a person executed for picking up sticks on the Sabbath? I have absolutely no sympathy with this appalling stuff from the Bible. And there’s plenty more.

    As for the Christian ignoramuses who have expressed their disdain for science on this forum, I might ask why they bother to use computers if science is so useless. But I won’t. Their hypocrisy in using the benefits of science and then disparaging it on public forums such as this is beyond contempt.

  13. So poorly written I couldn’t struggle through it. This is not indicative of the quality of writers New Zealand typically produces.

  14. They feel they must snatch youngsters to indoctrinate them, as most adults would obviously scoff at their ideas.  This is an amusing link, one of the points made is how indoctrination of children is a plus for religious zealots:

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