New from Cape Town

Hi all. I’m interested in how far the sceptical network goes in South Africa. While sceptics are probably a minority everywhere, SA is pretty obviously one of the more credulous places one could live. I’m wondering what efforts the sceptical community makes in our country to encourage critical reflection?

I’m 34 years old, live in Cape Town, and work in a research and development capacity in a health related NGO. I did an arts and then a development degree in UCT - both of which were hotbeds of post-modern relativism at the time. Once I managed to shed some of that bogus thinking I feel a little robbed in my education.

Once working I was pretty shocked to discover that the majority of my colleagues did not accept evolution - so much so that they kind of titter rather smugly about it, as if it’s all a rather obvious hoax. I became aware, outside the ivory tower of my apartheid education, that the majority of South Africans are woefully poorly educated (like, struggle with simple arithmetic uneducated); and that this is a crisis for the economy, and for the democracy itself. In many cases, what they don’t know is literally killing them.

Over a few years of exposure to the conflict between science and bullsh*t, I was forced by experience to abandon any of the relativist stuff. It’s not just foolish, it’s dangerous.

My issue now is how far we, as South Africans should push this stuff, given the lack of popular support for the constitution. Should we, for example challenge the separation of church and state in constitutional court (teaching of creationism, forced religious instruction in schools, for example) - creating a wave of popular resentment against the constitution - or should we hold back and focus on more critical issues like exposing gross mismanagement in government, and protecting the rights of vulnerable people, tackling the more qualitative rights issues once the constitution is more secure?

Hi and welcome, from a fellow afrikaans ex-religious conservative.

In many cases, what they don't know is literally killing them

… and us. The problem is huge and creates a sense of helplessness. I guess one often wonders how to make the world to see one’s point of view. Especially since our educational system seems bent on creating a land of equal-opportunity poverty by dropping standards. I’m remiss to notice that many “more privaledged” citizens are coming out of school completely unprepared to do even the most basic of jobs, and end up living with their parents up to a higher age. Even when they find jobs the pay is usually a pittance and doesn’t really help. Universities having to introduce extra years to get students up to scratch with basic reading and computer skills… This pains me greatly, since my prosperity (and everyone else’s) hinges on these problems.

I think looking around the forum you’ll find us discussing a lot of what you’ve mentioned. But fighting woo is a tough battle I think. If people want to believe bullshit, I guess that’s preferable to them being un-educated believers so, I’m going with fix our society first. (Hopefully better education starts solving the former problem anyway)

Singemonkey - welcome.

I share your frustration as do many of the members here. Each of us, I think, will find a place to contribute in a positive way. I, for one, am tackling Christianity - not the easiest of tasks, but I’m finding more positive feedback than I first expected. My view is that there are plenty of us in SA but, like yourself, some seem to have become at first bewildered, and later disillusioned by the degree to which the gullible credulous persist in their delusion, and have found silence and anonymity to be the safer bet. But, there is currently a world-wide trend away from religion and I think we are going to see some positive changes in the near future. I have very little knowledge on how to “challenge separation of church and state in the constitutional court” but I would if I could (and had the resources).

Do you have any suggestions? Ideas are always welcome. We may talk a lot here on the forum but good practical ideas are always worth considering.

Welcome Singemonkey (Cape Town) from Barryl (Robertson).
We as atheists can contribute something to debug society from this religious viral infection. We are however very fortunate that they (religions) will eventually destroy themselves because each one of them is of the opinion that only he is right. Read elsewhere on the forum some of my suggestions as to how we can possibly be a factor - we can not rely on reason only - religion does not work that way. We have to learn/adopt a new language that they will understand (See Atheism Advanced by David Eller - I suggest using his book as a Text Book for guidance. Very importantly, if you destroy something for which there is a demand (overtly or covertly) you have to replace it with something superior.


Hi Singemonkey, check this out FIDEISM]

The more we know about the task the better we can tackle it.