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A would-be PM and right wing think tanks

By John Turner - posted Monday, 8 April 2013

Tony Abbott, would be Prime Minister, in a speech to an Institute of Public Affairs dinner on 4 April stated:

In contemporary Australia [we have] rightly left behind the old cult of forgetfulness about our indigenous heritage. Alas, there is a new version of the great Australian silence -- this time about the Western canon, the literature, the poetry, the music, the history and above all the faith without which our culture and our civilisation is unimaginable.

A culture without faith might be unimaginable to a man who through indoctrination during his youth has been welded to the Roman Catholic faith but such a civilisation is very imaginable to me and to many like me who believe that careful clear thought and evaluation of evidence can lead to a really grand society.


In fact such societies already exist. In a study "Social Justice in the OECD", conducted by a German research group and published late in 2011, that bastion of so called democracy the USA rated 27th, only ahead of Greece, Chile, Mexico and Turkey. Australia rated a little better at 21st and the best placed English heritage country was Canada at 8th.

Countries where faith has little or virtually no place in the public sphere, the Northern European countries, with Iceland, filled the top six places. Finland wasn't better placed than fifth because one of the eight measures considered was expenditure on preschool education. Finland apparently believes in letting children be children when young but when formal education starts Finland has spectacular results and leads the western world.

Success in establishing a socially just society seems to require the absence of faith. It certainly requires the absence of right wing think tanks who receive most of the funding for their anti-democratic propaganda as tax deductible contributions from business. It appears we subsidise businesses to undermine our freedom and liberty. Businesses certainly campaign to minimize the ability of the lower strata of society to argue against business interests.

Mr Abbott went on to say:

In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve believed they could do almost as they pleased. But freedom has its limits and its abuses as this foundational story makes only too clear. And yet without freedom we can hardly be human, hardly be worthy of creation in the image of God.

Surely a future Prime Minister should be past believing that Adam and Eve were really part of our foundational story and that we are created in the image of a god. I wonder when he thinks that the change to god's image occurred. Surely not in the days of the early one metre tall Australopithecines or when Homo habilis roamed Africa. There is irresistible evidence that both were among our forefathers after we split from the evolutionary line of those primates that became the other great apes. We are Risen Apes, not Fallen Angels contrary to what Mr Abbott appears to believe. The last thing we need are believers in superstition and the in ravings of theologians leading us. As Christopher Hitchens wrote:


Faith is the surrender of the mind; it's the surrender of reason, it's the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals.

It makes me wonder if Mr Abbott understands any science or technology. I wonder how he, and his cardinals and archbishops explain or cope with the actual fact that our sun is only about one third the age of the universe; that our earth contains many elements produced in the end life of an earlier sun during a supernova event. And how do they cope with the fact that the earliest Homo species only came into being after 99.99% of the life of the universe to date had already passed.

Mr. Abbott, later in his speech, praised Rupert Murdoch, describing him as one of three Australians who have "most shaped the world" (the others being WWI military commander John Monash and penicillin developer Howard Florey): "His publications have borne his ideals but never his fingerprints. They have been sceptical, stoical, curious, adventurous, opinionated but broadminded. He's influenced them but he's never dictated to them."

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About the Author

John Turner has an applied science degree on top of a diploma in metallurgy.

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