Atheists are astonished by the latest attempt from Cardinal George Pell, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, to demonise the growing number of Australians who live without religion.
Speaking at a Mass celebrating the appointment of General Peter Cosgrove as Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, Pell preached that atheists “are frightened by the future.” He went on to say that “It’s almost as though they’ve … nothing but fear to distract themselves from the fact that without God the universe has no objective purpose or meaning. Nothing beyond the constructs they confect to cover the abyss.”
Once again, Pell’s comments fly in the face of all evidence. In truth, atheists live their lives with an integrity and intellectual rigour that Pell and his Church can only dream of.
Far from seeking to cover the abyss, the atheist looks a hostile universe full in its face without recourse to the emotional security blanket of religion and the supernatural. Unlike Pell’s Church (which has become a byword for superstition and resistance to scientific thinking) the atheist sees the world on its own terms, without the rose-tinted glasses of the promise of an afterlife.
Not content with mischaracterising atheism as weak and fearful, Pell went on to make the extraordinary proposition that “Australian society will become increasingly coarse and uncaring … if Christian principles are excluded from public discussion.”
To state that without the supervision of the Church the Australian people would turn to delinquency is frankly insulting. Millions of atheists and agnostics around the world live their lives ethically and with integrity.
Perhaps what Pell finds so threatening is that they do so according to principles drawn from their own reason and experience, not from slavish obedience to the adulterated writings of ancient and ignorant tent-living goat herders.
Moreover, given the damage that “Christian principles” have inflicted (Northern Ireland and the former Yugoslavia to name two recent examples), surely the days of Catholics claiming moral superiority should be over.
Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc
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