Chair East London Humanists Paul Kaufman says we cannot rely on fate to change some attitudes


- Credit: Archant

Quite a stir was caused by the UKIP councillor, David Silvester, who blamed our recent bad weather on gay marriage laws.

A swift and welcome decision was made by the party to expel him.

Most people will, hopefully, agree that his views are bonkers and unacceptable.

UKIP obviously did.

However, having an irrational belief about divine intervention isn’t really that unusual.

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There are probably many who still believe that Aids or ‘‘the gay plague’’ as they have described it, is divine retribution for homosexuality.

This conveniently overlooks the fact that Aids also affects, for example, children, who cannot be said in any sense to be responsible for contracting it. If there is a divine being capable of ­intervention then it is inexplicable why this being has not intervened in their cases.

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We are all prone to believe in mysterious powers, outside the realms of science, which can shape events.

Superstitious belief is deeply rooted, and this is ­reflected in our everyday language.

Even non-believers will talk about keeping their fingers crossed in the hope of something happening, or not happening, as if this could possibly make a difference.

So what about the weather? Is there an almighty being with the power to influence it? Or is it, as humanists believe, explained solely by the, albeit very complex, physical laws of cause and effect?

There is no doubt that our planet is going through a ­period of relatively rapid climate change.

The pace of change supports the opinion of the vast majority of scientists that it is at least in part due to human activity, and in particular the burning of huge quantities of fossil fuel.

The dreadful weather stories here and abroad have brought home the fact that climate change affects everyone on the planet. The sceptics who reject the scientific consensus were recently ­denounced by Prince Charles as the ‘‘headless chicken brigade’.’

Any hope of stemming the changes will require concerted and urgent action by human kind. We cannot just keep our fingers crossed. Nor, sadly, can we call on someone out there to intervene on our behalf.

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