Saturday, 30 October 2010

Natural Family Planning (NFP)?

When I visited the Pro-life "prayer vigil" outside Central London Marie Stope clinic I was handed a glossy leaflet aimed at persuading people not to go ahead with an abortion, and suggesting that awful things were likely to happen to those that did go ahead. I looked up one of the website referred to in the brochure ( Family Life International (FLI) describes itself as a "Catholic Pro-Life/Pro-Family non-profit making, world-wide organisation".

I was struck by the piece on "Natural Family Planning" (NFP).  It seems that any form of artificial contraception is wrong, but "natural" contraception is ok, and advice is given on how the husband and wife can help each other to confirm when the wife is and is not fertile.  The piece ends with the sentence: "SAFE's design encourages the involvement and participation of a husband in the charting of his wife's menstrual cycle, thereby allowing him to be aware of his wife's fertility."

I just can't get my head around the double standard here.  It seems to be saying that it's ok after all to have sex just because you enjoy it, as long as you use the 'natural' method.  Surely if contraception is viewed as wrong it really should not make any difference what method is used.  Am I missing something?

Friday, 22 October 2010

What happens when a nation becomes secular?

I could not resist reproducing the following snippet from the today's NSS newsletter:

According to polls, Norwegians define themselves (depending on how you interpret their definition) as up to 71% non-believers.

What has secularism done to Norway? The Global Peace Index rates Norway the most peaceful country in the world. The Human Development Index, a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standard of living, has ranked Norway No. 1 every year for the last five years. Norway has the second highest GDP per capita in the world, an unemployment rate below 2 percent, and average hourly wages among the world's highest.


Sunday, 10 October 2010

Are religious people more altruistic, or altruistic people more religious?

It appears to be perceived wisdom that religious people tend to give more to charity, they get more involved in helping those less able, and they have more of a sense of serving the community.

Let's assume that this is all true - (and I have no reason to doubt it).  Is it their religion that makes them more altruistic, or is the fact that they are inherently predisposed towards altruism that means that they find a natural home in religion?  Are we confusing which is cause and which is effect? 

If it is true that altruistic people are naturally drawn to a group where they can express this, then there is a future for humanity without religion.  As religion continues to wane, perhaps we need to find a way to replace religious groups with equivalent secular groups.

If, however, it is belief in a supernatural God is what drives people to be altruistic, then perhaps we need to continue to accept that religion is a necessary civilising influence, even if most of us are no longer believers..

Friday, 1 October 2010

An eye for an eye?

I'm always perplexed when I read about religious people advocating the death penalty for murder, on the basis of Biblical or other Holy book justice.  I saw an article recently which addressed this in a rather interesting way - Would those same people who advocated death for murder feel the same way about the State blackmailing those who blackmail, or raping those who rape?  I sincerely hope not.

Who gives? Do women make the best Humanists?

I find myself more interested in reading other people's blogs than writing my own, but this blog still provides me with a useful tool to track the progression of my thoughts and attitudes.  It really doesn't matter if nobody reads my posts, or if I repeat myself.  This is mostly so that I can capture some of my thoughts before they evaporate.  Anyway, I digress. To the subject in mind:

Last weekend I spent hours standing outside a supermarket collecting for the local Air Ambulance.  The supermarket serves a mostly affluent local population who predominantly vote Conservative or Liberal.  The thing that struck me was that probably 95% of those giving donations were female, and of those the vast majority were certainly over 50 years old.  By contrast, most men, of all ages, went out of their way to avoid me, and slunk by into the store.  This is also in line with previous experiences.

Why is this?  I can't empirically prove the answer, but perhaps these women are better able to empathise with those in need, and to feel their need, even though they have no direct relationship or benefit from helping these unknown people.

Perhaps I should come back to this having thought some more on it.