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Religion is the Homeopathy of Ethics

What is the harm it? If it makes people feel better, who are you to tell people they shouldn't have it?

These are the sorts of things athiests hear endlessly when they dare to speak their minds about religion. Because, don't you know, athiesm is the party-pooping attitude of the curmudgeon who just won't allow others a few fluffy comforts. Who among us hasn't heard these questions from a half-hearted religious friend or acquaintance? As though the intellectual cowardice of a grown-up believing something which completely contradicts all the principles and knowledge on which their everyday reality rests is justified because it makes them feel fuzzy inside. My imaginary friend gives me comfort and gets my kids into a better school, so lay off rationalists, or I'll call the Archbishop.

The late Christopher Hitchens famously argued that, by these standards, theists should all be taking hard drugs. They make us feel better, right? Well, it strikes me that in fact they do take drugs on this very basis, although perhaps not of the rave party variety.

Homeopathy is bunk. It doesn't work. And there is not a single study which shows conclusively that it would. The NHS recently stopped endorsing homeopathic 'treatment' after one of its leading lights tried to convince a panel of doctors that it works a great if you just make a wish and stir it instead of shaking it (perhaps the other way round). The James Bond cocktail meets Tinkerbell theory of the memory of water or some such bullcrap, babbled in front of a panel of doctors whose patients were waiting back in the hospital for some actual treatment, was enough to send them packing. 

But here's the juicy bit. In my view, homeopathy is to medicine what religion is to ethics. Both organisations claim to be offering harmless comfort to the needy but as soon as the public eye relaxes just a whit, they will promise you the earth and seek control of any bit of it they can get.

Homeopaths constantly get in trouble for claiming they can treat actual illnesses and offer actual remedy, claiming medical authority where they have none. Their governing organisation (their 'church', you might say) claims that homeopathy is 'complementary' to medicine and makes no claims to having real medical effect. An yet when homeopaths are repeatedly caught trying to treat cancer or other serious conditions with stacks of expensive little pills which have no more effect than drinking a glass of water, the Magisterium comes floating down to support them rather than stop these quacks in their tracks.

The Catholic Church is now renouned for educating and protecting the poor children of the world with priests who have turned out to be molestors. Rather than set an example by bringing them to justice, the Vatican shelters these criminals. It considers itself so moral that it sits above the justice systems of other countries which would punish paedophiles using the same rules which apply to the rest of us.

The moral depravity of Catholic priests was common knowledge in Ireland by the time these 'scandals' erupted. The Church had the run of the country, and it was easier to count those who hadn't encountered the wandering hands of a priest than those who had by the late 90's when Father Ted was airing on the BBC. 

Nobody literate in the developed world takes the Catholic Church seriously anymore in matters of ethics. They simply don't have a leg to stand on when proffering supposedly infallible moral principles while sheltering child-rapists from justice.

Isn't it time homeopathy was given the same treatment when it comes knocking? Its priests are being repeatedly caught with their pants down, but somehow they keep on going. It's only going to be a matter of time till the scandals of untreated cancer patients erupt. Let's just call it quits and agree to kick them out definitively before it gets too ugly. Failing that, treat them as you would a real doctor who sold fake drugs to patients. Sue the worst offenders, use the money to pay or real treatments for their patients and ban them from practising.

We can't punish Catholic priests. Let's at least name and and shame the shamans of homeopathy and do what we can to limit their damage.

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