Sunday, 8 November 2009

Remembrance Without Religion

While looking back at articles I've published in the past I came across this one on the Leicester Secularist blog from 12 November 2006 that seemed worth revisiting.

I've been thinking, along with the daylight atheist what would replace religion if we ever manage to get rid of it? These thoughts came to me after watching (on television) the remembrance day ceremonies at the cenotaph this morning and in the Albert Hall yesterday evening. It occurred to me that these ceremonies are essentially secular. It is only when the bishops come out to say their little piece, and in the wording of some of the hymns and verses, that the supernatural or theological comes into the picture.

The remembrance day ceremonies essentially provide encouragement for people whose lives are bound up in service to the state, as represented by the monarchy, or to society. That is service to all of us in providing protection, safety, security so that we can carry on our peaceful activities. The ceremonies provide assurance that lives lost in this dangerous work are appreciated by society as a whole, and also that the authorities deserve continued service.

It seems to me that very little value would be lost from these ceremonies if the religious aspects were removed. We are adult enough to know that the dead live on only in our remembrance, and don't need fairytales of an afterlife in a heaven. This is why continued remembrance is important to us.

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