On godlessness and ISIS

On November 23, Prime Minister Turnbull gave a speech in parliament on the atrocities committed in Paris. In it, he described ISIS as  “godless murderers … who defame and blasphemed Islam itself”.

I have written to PM Turnbull in response:

Dear Prime Minister,

Since you have come to the office of PM, I have been impressed by the measured tone of your language. It is sorely needed in our national discourse.

I was therefore extremely disappointed in your use of the word “godless” in your speech following the recent Paris atrocities. For one thing, whatever it is, ISIS is not “godless”, by its own self-description. It may attract youth with negligible knowledge of Islam, but the group itself has a clearly defined and carefully thought-out theology. To describe ISIS as “godless” is not only wrong, it muddies the water on a long term solution to their defeat.

Secondly, I myself am “godless” and I am repulsed by terrorism. Your predecessors Julia Gillard and Bob Hawke are, by their own self-description “godless”. Does that make them terrorists? Your use of the word, in that context, was appalling.

The fact that I don’t believe that some supernatural agent is responsible for our existence, nor that I am responsible to said agent for my moral behaviour does not make me immoral, or a criminal, or a terrorist. To suggest that I am, and indeed in the same category as ISIS by virtue of being “godless”, is incredibly offensive.

That you can be “good without god” is demonstrably true and for you to label myself and other atheists otherwise is a grave error of judgement. I think it requires you to offer a public correction, ASAP.

If you are also godless, I encourage you to write to Mr Turnbull and correct him on this important point.

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