Sunday, October 02, 2005

C.A.S.H.: Campus Atheist and Secular Humanist

*Why don't we have a group like this?*

While I can understand why these groups are not considered faith groups (despite many a valient attempts by fundamentalist to tar them with the words dogma and faith), nevertheless, considering that not every Singaporean belongs to one of the 7 official religious groups or that many of them professing to have a religion REALLY has one, why is it then, we do not have a group on campus representing what has to be one of the bigger groups around (the biggest I believe, are the agnostics and deist)?

This is so, espeically when one could be a secular humanist and say a Buddhist e.g. your much beloved author.

Now assuming that is the issue (as opposed to a huge group wanting to do so but being barred by the authorities), why is there this lack of interest? Lets play with a couple of hypothesis.

1. Lack of rationality. Now, if I wanted to be snide, I could probably sustain an argument that secularism is fundamentally a religious doctrine (render onto Caesar what is Caesar's kind of jazz) that then got taken up by the Enlightenment and French Revolution. That Singapore then, does not share this particular world view and hence are incapable of formulating amongst sufficient people such a state of mind.

Seriously, that's probably a whole load of crock. Singaporeans are rational, generally, or about as rational as Asians can get with our believe in the 7th Month and Feng Sui and a whole load of other superstitions. Most people would never extend that the fact we only live in a material world to the premise then that there is nothing beyond the material (otherwise known as philosophical naturalism).

Religion and in particular, faith, transends (or is in denial) of reality which explains their very lasting appeal. Once it stopped explaining the natural world (the how bit being explained by science), it turned to the metaphysical/supernatural (and the how question...but this is really begging the question of how we can understand the supernatural through the material. If anyone refers to the Bible or the Koran, I'm going to bonk their heads).

Maybe then, we still haven't gotten used to the idea that a person could be without a religion and let's face it, the idea of being an atheist has negative connoctations that being religious does not.

2. Lack of interest. Maybe the Secular humanist and atheist of Singapore don't wish to push their world view on others. A sort of reaction to the evangelism of other religions and a manner of differentiating themselves. But short of conducting an exhaustive survey, I have no idea on how to prove or disprove this position.

The other argument is that the lack of interest is based on a lack of need. That the ruling party is committed to the ideal of a secular state and therefore there is really no need to push across such worldviews.

3. Conspiracy theory. Actually there is one and they have infiltrated every organisation and are turning people away from religion and what not. Hehe...

Well, in the minds of Jack Chick I wouldn't be surprised if that is the case. And I'm running a one person grassroot campaign to open people's minds and to demonstrate why Focus on the Family is anti-women, anti-science and generally homophobic. And oh, why an abstinence only policy is simply dumb for putting ideology over what works and endangering what works simply because of a committment to a particular interpretation of what's 'right' and 'wrong'.

Well anyway, if anyone is interested in setting up such an organisation on campus, contact me. If you're just interested to have a small group of us trash out such issues, contact me. And oh, you definately can be religious and still have these discussions.


Addendum: It seems that a group called FCINUS exists, the Freethinkers Community in NUS, they're on IVLE, check them out!


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