Home page of John L Perkins
atheism and economics - these are my interests. Humanism is ethical
atheism. Secularism is political Humanism. Secular solutions are needed
Recent findings on the origins of Islam: a key to countering radicalism?
The nature of Islam and its role in modern society is the subject of widespread confusion, misinformation, and wilful denial. Never in history, has an issue, of such critical importance, been the subject of such confusion, by so many, for so long. More...
08 September 2016-
email to Maher Mughrahi regarding his article in The
Your article in Fairfax (8 September) "Dirty little secrets are extending the war" contains many astute observations. These all illustrate the tragic futility of the Syrian conflict. The conclusion is particularly pertinent: "The rebellion against the Assad regime is just like the politics of the wider Middle East - it has an Islamist component that can't be excluded or wished away."
Unfortunately in most analyses, the Islamist component is indeed excluded or wished away. Hence it is gratifying to see your acknowledgement of it. The quality of this article however, contrasts rather starkly with your somewhat curious and anomalous "Letter to Pauline Hanson" published on 6 September.
In this instance you appear to castigate Hansom for seeking to understand Islam by reading the Koran. The Koran is subject to interpretation, and she would be better off talking to a large number of Muslims, you seem to suggest.
However merely talking to Muslims is unlikely ever to be a sufficient (or efficient) way of understanding Islam. In my experience, many if not most Muslims lack an understanding of the Koran because they only hear it or read it in Arabic, which they do not understand. Secondly, if they are even moderately devout they will not provide an unbiassed account, such as for example an ex-Muslim could provide. The Koran is surely a good place to start, particularly as the literalist interpretations are the ones that now tend to predominate, and which motivate jihadism.
More relevant than the Koran, and about which there is near universal denial and obfuscation, is the role of the example of the Prophet Muhammad. According to the well developed Islamic narrative, the Prophet of the Arabs was a jihadist. This is surely the driving force behind the current global jihadist insurgency. It is surely the essential part of the "Islamist component" of the Middle East conflicts without which they cannot be understood.
Would it ever be possible for you to openly acknowledge this? Or should this remain another dirty little secret?
26 August 2016 -
comment on newspaper article
When we go to the beach it is hot. The burkini will make the person hotter. When swimming, we need free movement. While it is argued it is not an encumbrance, the burkini cannot possibly assist in swimming. The burkini makes towelling off and getting dry much more difficult. Contrast that with wetsuit, which is only worn if it increases comfort and amenity.
So why would someone want to wear a burkini to the beach? So that they can "swim and practice religion at the same time". Seems innocent enough, a mere exercise of personal religious freedom. It causes no harm so it is ridiculous for the French to ban them, right?
Perhaps it is not quite so simple and the French ban is not quite so stupid. We can't simply leave aside completely the motivations behind it and the effects on society. Clearly there is a strong motivation to publicly practice religion at the beach, despite the obvious discomforts and impracticalities.
The motivation is the Koran. At 33:59 it says women must cover up so that they not be molested. What the wearers proclaim as their motivation is perhaps not relevant, because it is clear that the wearers are motivated by Islamic ideology, and that is what the ideology appears to require. Despite the fact that the Koran also says "there is no compulsion in religion", it is now characteristic that adherents feel the need assert their religion in this way.
Is it desirable for society that this ideology is promoted at the beach? It asserts that women must suffer discomforts to which men are not bound. It asserts that all responsibility for sexual harassment lies with the woman not covering up, rather than any deficiency in men's behaviour. It suggests that sexism and misogyny are acceptable.
This is not desirable. It is said that the burkini is against French values and customs. It is. The same ideology promoted by the burkini at French beaches has just been responsible for the brutal murder of scores of innocent people at a French beach. Yet is perfectly acceptable that this ideology be promoted the name of freedom and tolerance?
All personal freedoms are limited by some consideration of the public good. Perhaps it is now time to consider this rationally. We must accept that, as well as being based in unfounded beliefs, many religious practices contradict basic human rights. The promotion of them is not in the public interest. We should consider a ban on all religious clothing in public that is not worn in association with religious ceremonial occasions.
13 August 2016 -
comment on newspaper article
The principle that it was assumed that was being advanced was the acceptance of diversity, irrespective, presumably, of any manifestation of race, religion or ideology. The Olympic ideal, of advancing human achievement in the sporting arena would require nothing less. How then, does the overt expression of a religious ideology in the sporting arena advance this ideal?
Of course, Ibtihaj Muhammad is to be congratulated on her athletic achievement. Just to represent one's country at such an elite level is laudable. But why should the intrusion of religion into a previously religion-free environment be such a cause for celebration? Political statements are not allowed at the Olympics. How is it that hijab wearing is not to be considered in any way statement of political ideology?
Like all religions, Islam is based on contrived myths and constructed legends. For the sake of humanity, it is urgently required that all such myths be demythologised and deconstructed. How does our unquestioning acceptance of the promotion of such myth-based ideologies, particularly given their often-egregious nature, advance the human condition?
Such is the cultural relativism, ignorance and confusion that surrounds the whole issue of the position of Islam in modern secular society, these questions cannot even be asked. Are we to pretend, despite the political aspirations of global Islamist movements that Islam has nothing to do with politics? Despite aspirations for gender equality, are we to ignore that the Koranic motivation for hijab wearing, the protection of women from molestation, is the very antithesis of gender equality?
Given that the most obvious and relevant fact, in regard to the current global jihadist insurgency, is that the Prophet of Islam, after whom Ibtihaj Muhammad is named, was himself a jihadist according to Islamic legend, then it is perhaps no wonder that we are urged to ignore all other issues and welcome the Islamic hijab to the Olympics.
But have all the enthusiasts for the hijab really considered the implications for sport? In fencing, Ibjihad Muhammad's event, we may presume that the hijab is not much of a handicap. But in many other sports, such as swimming, gymnastics and ball sports, especially in hot environments, hijabs and other Islamic garb cannot possibly assist an athlete's competitive advantage. Far from empowering Islamic women, the increase prevalence of hijab wearing serves only to further marginalise them and discourage their successful participation. Is their use then, intended not as a sporting contribution, but as a political statement?
In "striking a blow for acceptance", sadly, the blow that we are encouraged to accept, is actually a blow against the advancement of equality, against the advancement of women, against the advancement of reason and humanity, and against the ideals of the Olympics. How appalling it is, that we have come to regard the demise of such principles as a victory to be applauded?
27July 2016 - email
to Maher Mughrahi regarding his article in The
Age published as
I do not support Sonya Kruger, Andrew Bolt or Donald Trump. Bigotry certainly exists and Muslims can certainly be the victims of it. Criticism of Islam does not imply criticism of Muslims is general.
As a rationalist and secularist, a huge problem I face is being called a racist whenever I venture to criticise Islam. My critique of religions in general is that they are based on myths and legends that are assumed to be historical fact when it is known that they are not. Historical and archeological evidence establishes that beliefs evolved over time and were constructed to serve ancient purposes. There is no foundation in reason and evidence for the religious legends of Abraham, Jesus or Muhammad.
My saying this has nothing to do with racism or bigotry. It is simple a statement of fact, as can best be determined in relation to well established independent bodies of knowledge. My motivation to raise these issues is due to humanitarian concern. The pursuance of such ancient unfounded beliefs is not only pointless but demonstrably harmful in numerous ways, and is the cause of much suffering. The people who suffer most from religion are Muslims, in my view.
The only path forward is the path of enlightenment based on critical thinking and the unbiassed evaluation of evidence in relation to beliefs. However reasoned debate in this area is increasingly being stifled by bigots on the one hand and on the other by those who seek to label any legitimate criticism of Islam as racism.
The entire debate on these matters is clouded by a fog of delusion and misinformation on all sides. The most relevant fact in understanding the issues in relation to Islam today is what is regarded as the legend of the prophet Muhammad. You would perhaps be familiar with the biography of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq. By this account, the Prophet was a jihadist of the Islamic Sate kind. (However the legend of the Prophet is not history, it is constructed). This is an undoubted source of jihadist motivation.
My saying this has nothing to do with racism. It is a statement of fact. It does not suggest that all Muslims are jihadists, which is obviously not the case. While there is a great diversity of Muslims there is only one Koran and only one Prophet Muhammad. Is it possible for a Muslim to reject the Koran or the Prophet Muhammad? I wish it were.
There is a difference between racism and bigotry. Whatever characteristics are implied by race, minimal though they may be, are inherent, genetical, and are not a matter of choice for the individual. Religious beliefs are not genetic and are a matter of choice. They are different categories and to confuse them is a categorical error. Attempting to label criticism of Islam as racist is intellectually dishonest and is most unhelpful.
These are issues that need to be discussed. The more that discussion is suppressed, by bigotry on one hand, and accusations of racism on the other, the worse the situation will become.
16 July 2016 - email
China's claim to the northern Paracel islands is understandable although the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea would surely accord Vietnam some claim.
The UNCLOS based tribunal rightly threw out China's "nine dash line" claim. The law is based on proximity to coastline and the southern Spratly islands are nowhere near China. On that basis their claim is ludicrous. But the Chinese have for decades been convinced by their own propaganda that they own it. Chinese 'blue soil' they call it on Central China TV.
Some points to note about the childish video, which is an unintended parody.
* 2000 years? There
would be no record whatsoever to support that
Last year, I went to the China National Maritime Museum in Shanghai, just curious to see what was there. Big building, fake wooden ship, supposedly of the type use by Zheng He. No mention of the fact that their maritime hero was treated as a traitor. Lots of empty space. No visitors except for us.
However the South China Sea situation is complicated. It was actually the Nationalist Chinese (now Taiwan) who first claimed the Spratleys, in competition with the French. Vietnamese, Japanese, Phillipines etc. It is still the Taiwanese who have maintained the longest standing garrison there of about 600, on the largest island, which has some fresh water.
The PRC has reclaimed land on surrounding reefs. But it maybe that Taiwan has the biggest claim to the surrounding sea. Very difficult for them to prosecute it under UNCLOS. Hence the US does not want to take sides. The PR Chinese SCS claim is tied up with their claim to Taiwan. Hence their increasing brinkmanship.
04 July 2016 - Secular
Party facebook post
Thanks to all those voters who put the Secular Party 2, 3, 4 etc. If you care about secularism, please put us no. 1 next time. We remain the only party in Australia with a serious agenda to address secular issues.
The election result is still in doubt, but the blind right are already talking about dumping Turnbull and going back to Abbott. If so, then Turnbull should split and form a new party and go into coalition with Labor. That would be the best thing for Australia. Leave the rump climate deniers to rot on the back bench.
In the Senate, it appears we will have more on the loony right than before. The comments of Pauline Hanson on climate change seem just moronic. She also says that Islam is a "totalitarian political system, including legal, economic, social and military components".
Not that all Muslims follow it in this way, but as a belief system, in which sharia law must dominate, Hanson is actually right about that. It is unfortunate that when loony right are the only ones voicing criticism of Islam, then people assume that all criticism must be right wing, loony, bigoted, "hate mongering" etc.
We will just have to keep trying to prove otherwise.
28 June 2016 - Comment
on the British vote to leave the EU
What the vote represents, to a large extent, is a reaction against Islamisation. The average person, from up in the Yorkshire Dales to down in the Mile End Road can see that Islam is not compatible with British values. But the political elites have refused to recognise this or do anything about it. Hence the reaction, which is likely to be replicated throughout Europe. The European Union has more to fear from this result that Britain.
The problem is this. The doctrines of Islam, literally interpreted, are incompatible with secularism, human rights and democracy. This is because the laws of Allah are placed above civil laws. In the political ideology of Islamism, sharia laws must dominate. Not all Muslims support Islamism, but a significant proportion do. The example of the Prophet Muhanmmad, with his mass beheadings, sex slaves and child bride, is not one that should be followed.
The only alternative to rising social tensions and Islamist violence is a more rigorous implementation of secularism. The most important step in this direction is to stop indoctrinating children with religion in schools. Any religion. Children should be taught about religions, including the mythological legends on which they are all based. Children must be encouraged to critically evaluate and make up their own minds about religion based on reason and evidence.
In Australia there is only one political party that is pledged to implement such a policy: the Secular Party. We will not only prohibit religious instruction during school times. We will not fund religious schools. We will stop any school from promoting to children that there is such a thing as the 'one true faith'.
This is the only way we can start to get society back on a more rational track, and address one of the most confronting issues of out time.
June 2016 - Secular
Party media release
02 December 2015
- the truth that cannot be spoken
This caused a furour in which he was called upon to clarify, most recently by Liberal MP Josh Frydenburg. Following that, ALP MP Tony Burke has leapt to the Mufti's defence. This was commented on in an article today in Fairfax by Mark Kenny, headlined "Some say the truth should not be spoken"
That the headline
seemed promising, as many people, including many secularists, do appear
to think that in these matters"truth should not be spoken". However if
you were looking for relevant home truths, you would not find them in Kenny's
article. First let's look at what the Mufti said.
However these are truths that apparently must not be spoken. The only way out of this mess is that these truths must be recognised and addressed. The doctrines of Islam are public documents. We need to overcome the farcical charade whereby particular peaceful sounding selections can be made, while pretending that the other selections that motivate terrorism don't exist.
The Koran says that infidels should be beheaded (eg 8:12). Why can the truth not be accepted, that the Koran does actually say that? If someone is a moderate Muslim they must surely reject this. Let them say so. Or is this a "truth that cannot be spoken"?
23 November 2015
- email group post
17 November 2015
- comment on statement by Turmbull
What could the explanation be for Turnbull's devilish comment, apart from an indication of his hidden religious mindset? The comment conjures up an apocalyptic vision of Good versus Evil. There are many religious people who would interpret it this way. This is not a helpful contribution to debate. If Tony Abbott's repeated "death cult" comments had the potential to demonise certain Muslims, then surely Turnbull's comments are much worse, literally "demonising" the Islamist extremist perpetrators.
The "in the name of God" part of Turnbull's comment is certainly correct. Recognising the religious motivations behind Islamist terror is certainly necessary. Too many people still seek to pretend otherwise. Despite all the peacefully sounding quotations from the Koran that can be carefully selected, the doctrines of Islam are public documents for all to read. From the biography of the Prophet Muhammad, we can see that the Prophet's example is being carefully followed by the Islamic State today.
Given that there
is no military solution, as in the "war on terror", what should our approach
be? Many Muslims have called for a reform of Islam. Less are keen to specify
exactly what that might entail. Some of the braver of them have called
an end to the literalist reading of the Koran.
The Islamic world
has not made this transition. The Koran is still taken as the exact word
of Allah. Hence it is supposed to be an unquestionable source of guidance
and of Islamic law. This is the cause, not just of terrorism, but of the
global humanitarian disaster that Islam represents today.
Religion is the problem and secularism is the solution. Rather than blaming the French for their bans on religious symbols in schools, we should follow their example. Encouraging freedom of thought, rather than supporting indoctrination in schools, should be our first priority. A rational approach is what is needed, not a militaristic or demonising one. Divine revelation is not a valid epistemology. It is not an inerrant source of knowledge. We should lead by our own example, following the universal principles of compassion, honesty, freedom and justice, and abandon our reliance on religious dogma, it all their forms.
17 November 2015
- email group post
16 November 2015
- email group post
28 August 2015 -
Let's not bomb Syria
It is surprising that A.C. Graying, on ABC Lateline last night (27 Aug) came out in support of such interventions. His justification was that the behavior of IS is so evil that we are morally obliged to counteract it. This seems to me to be rather short sighted. To participate in the conflict in this way would also be illegal. It would also be counter productive and strategically stupid. It ignores the wider issues. Without a Security Council resolution, such action would be legal. Australia should be working to strengthen and widen the application of international law, not blatantly breach it and undermine it.
It is nonsensical to militarily attack Islamic State while failing to properly identify and criticise the ideology behind it. It is a denial of reality to contend that Islamic State is "un-Islamic", when its fighters are meticulously following the example of the Prophet. Without any attempt to defuse the ideology, militant attacks by "infidels" will only serve to strengthen it. Military intervention in Syria would be devoid of any strategic objective. Weakening IS will strengthen the Assad regime. How can "victory" be defined? What is the exit strategy?
Finally, why Australia? Neighboring countries such as Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have air forces that are already within range and capable. The fact that these Sunni Islam countries are far more enthusiastic about targeting their Shia opponents in Yemen and elsewhere, should be enough, alone, to indicate that we should not take sides in this inter-Islam dispute.
The result is a humanitarian disaster of monumental proportions. The human cost in death and destruction is greater than any natural disaster. There are more newly displaced people now than at any time since WWII. Yet the trouble that all Islamic countries now face cannot be blamed on colonialism, imperialism, or indirectly on poverty, alienation, authoritarianism or oppression.
The basic cause, which all seemingly which to deny, is Islam itself. The doctrines of Islam are incompatible with democracy, human rights and secularism. Unless and until a concerted effort is made to defuse and demythologise these doctrines, then the human suffering they cause will only grow and intensify.
30 April 2015 - Secular
World (Atheist Alliance International)
04 April 2015 - Rally
in Pacific Park, Newcastle
08 January 2015 -
Secular Party media release
As with the Sydney attack, John Perkins, Secular Party President, again identifies the cause: "Of course we should not blame peaceful cultural Muslims. But we must blame religion", he said.
How do we explain Islamic terrorism? Some blame politics. Some blame culture. Some blame ignorance. Some blame alienation. Some blame mental illness. Some profess not to understand the cause. Some say it has nothing to do with the true "religion of peace".
All these are excuses and diversions, Perkins said. The motivation for terrorism is contained in the Koran, and was laid down by the Prophet Mohammed himself. This is perfectly clear from the Islamic scriptures and from the testimonies of the terrorists themselves. "We need to face reality: the problem is religion, and the only solution is secularism", Dr Perkins added.
The critical examination of religion is almost totally lacking from the current debate. Beliefs should be justified by evidence. However the historical origins of religions all show them to be based in ancient myth. "Before our societies are further traumatised by religions and their adherents, we must realise that reason and rationality are the only appropriate antidotes", Perkins said.
The Secular Party stands for freedom of and from religion, and is opposed to the indoctrination of children. When Islamists attempt to suppress freedom, we will seek to defend it. When religions, including Islam, cause oppression, especially of women, we will offer critical comments. When religious adherents, including Islamists, conduct egregious acts of violence, we will continue to be resolute and fearless in ascribing blame where it is due.
"Universal values such as honesty, justice, freedom and compassion should be our guides", Perkins concluded.
16 Devember 2014
- Secular Party media release
Some blame politics. Some blame culture. Some blame ignorance. Some blame alienation. Some blame mental illness, Some profess not to understand the cause. Some say it has nothing to do with the true "religion of peace".
All these are excuses and diversions, Perkins said. The motivation for terrorism is contained in the Koran, and was laid down by the Prophet Mohammed himself. This is perfectly clear from the Islamic scriptures and from the testimonies of the terrorists themselves. "We need to face reality: the problem is religion and the only solution is secularism" Dr Perkins added.
The critical examination of religion is almost totally lacking from the current debate. Beliefs should be justified. But the historical origins of religions all show them to be based in ancient myth. "Before our societies are further traumatised by religions and their adherents, we must realise that reason and rationality are the only appropriate antidotes" Perkins concluded.
The Secular Party
stands for freedom of and from religion and is opposed to the indoctrination
of children. Universal values such as honesty, justice, freedom and compassion
should be our guides.
06 November 2014
- Comment on The Age's editorial policy
Others have speculated that we must endure this conflict for 100 years, even though the response threatens basic freedoms and social harmony in our society. Julie Szego (06/11) despairs about finding any solution.
All this apparent bewilderment indicates a dedicated desire, perhaps even an editorial policy, to ignore the elephant in the room: religion. In Koran, at verse 8:12 for example, Allah declares “I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers!”. Could it be that these doctrines have perhaps a just a skerrick of relevance?
The problem is religion and the solution is less religion. How far do the values of our society need to disintegrate before we are able to recognise this? Why cannot we use reason and rationality to defuse myth and superstition? Compassion, honesty, justice and freedom are the only moral principles we need.
10 October 2014 -
Comment on Islamist dissembling
Of course Doureihi would not condemn Islamic State because that is what Hizb ut-Tahrir wants. A caliphate is their objective. It is important to understand that Islamic State is simply following the aims, methods and example of the Prophet Muhammad himself. Of course Doureihi could not express his enthusiasm for IS, because he would be in danger of violating new anti-terror laws. I sympathise with him in this. These laws should not restrict freedom of speech and Hizb ut-Tahrir should not be banned. We need to hear their views openly and debate them.
What we need to do is to seek to undermine the ideology of Islam that causes otherwise reasonable people to behave in such unreasonable ways. ... more
18 June 2014
- Comment on the situation in Iraq
Secularism was the solution to hundreds of years of sectarian conflict in Europe. In the Middle East, where the potential for sectarian conflict is so much greater, and the need for secularism so much more desperate, the concept is apparently not even thought worthy of consideration. Muslim countries, and the entire world, will be forced to suffer the consequences for decades to come.
The underlying reason for this disaster is a perception of cultural relativism: the idea that cultural and religious norms are somehow immune from objective evaluation and criticism. Symptoms are the attempt to put the blame on politics or economic deprivation, rather than identifying the true cause: the religion of Islam itself.
Jihadists are simply following the dictates of the Koran and seek to emulate the Prophet Muhammad, as they are required to do. Unless a brake is applied, the entire Muslim world will be heading for failed state status. The whole world will suffer.
What will it take for people to realise that reason and evidence should be the arbiters of belief? That the universal principles of compassion, freedom, honesty and justice should be our only ethical guides?
18 April 2014
- Video of Symposium speech
4 April 2014
- Comment on Clive Palmer on Lateline
It is clear that Palmer is a global warming denier and that the carbon trading scheme is doomed in the new Senate. His main argument was that human carbon emissions account for only 3 percent and natural emissions are 97 percent. So therefore we should do something about the 97 percent first. Garnaut responded that there was a natural balance that fossil fuel emissions had disrupted.
I was aware that about half of fossil carbon emissions are absorbed and the rest stays in the atmosphere so I was highly sceptical about Palmer's 97 percent figure. So what are the relative proportions of natural and human caused emissions?
Palmer was not that far out. In gigatonnes of carbon, annual emissions are: plant respiration, 60; land respiration and decomposition, 60; and sea respiration and decomposition; 90. Thus total natural emissions 210 gigatonnes. Human emissions are 9 gigatonnes, which is 4 percent, so 96 percent is natural.
Of the additional 9 gigatonnes, three are absorbed by land, two by sea, leaving an additional four gigatonnes, or 44 percent of human emissions, to accumulate in the atmosphere. This is an annual addition of 0.5 percent to the atmospheric carbon mass.
So if the problem is to be addressed by limiting natural emissions, as Palmer suggests, what could be done? Palmer needs to explain how microbial respiration and decomposition can be limited on a global scale. Presumably he does not envisage a King Canute type solution, but some kind of massive geoengineering.
How would we pay for that without a tax Mr Palmer?
25 March 2014 - Letter
to the Editor of Australian Rationalist
21 March 2014 - Reply
to criticism of my speaking at Symposium
9 March 2014 - The
growing problem of Islam: an atheist view
We may have our differences regarding religion, but regarding Islam, we are all on the same side. We recognise that Islam is a significant problem we need to deal with. Most people, unfortunately, don't. This applies also to many of my atheist and humanist colleagues. They strive to be opposed to all religions equally. But some religions are worse than others. By reasonable objective criteria, Islam is the worst. We need to recognise this.
I may also say that I come from a different political perspective from many of you. Again, when it comes to recognising the perils of Islam, we are all on the same side. I don't see why it should be a right wing or left wing issue. We all simply need to be aware of the facts. Islam is a danger, a threat, and it causes immense suffering. Anyone, whatever their political persuasion, should be able to recognise that. Recognition of facts does not make us extremists.
I am a humanitarian,
and a social liberal. That is why I am opposed to Islam. Islam causes suffering
and oppression, especially for women. Those who suffer from it most are
the Muslims themselves. Hence, as Geert Wilders and many others have stated,
we are not against Muslims we are against Islam. It is nothing to do with
racism. Those who claim to be feminists and humanitarians but turn a blind
eye to the misogyny and social oppression of Islam are hypocrites. We need
to raise people's consciousness. We need to focus on the facts.
15 July 2014 - Population
Is there any other area, apart from economics, where the less people know, the more they think they know? Has there been any other occasion when the Skeptics have gratefully and willingly swallowed such a load of complete codswallop? I am talking about Kelvin Thomson's lecture tonight.
Economics is about supply, demand, prices, incomes, growth, wealth, poverty, the allocation of resources, the distribution of income, development, opportunity costs, GDP, revenue, expenditure, national income, macroeconomic management, inflation, unemployment, interest rates, exchange rates, imports, exports, microeconomic management, production, wages, profits, etc etc. After finishing a science degree I studied economics for ten years and then worked in the field for another thirty years. I did that because I saw that economics was highly relevant to the nature and well-being of society. Some economists use their knowledge to espouse a right wing ideological view. I don't. Yet I know that my views differ from most or all of my freethought colleagues.
15 July 2013 - Letter
to the Editor
Dr Perkins is a senior economist specialising in global warming models, and is the President of the Secular Party of Australia.
“Trading schemes are a fashionable way of seeming to do something but actually doing nothing,” he said. “There are two problems. Firstly, the market price may be too low to do anything, as now, or too volatile, so that you don’t have a secure base for long-term investment planning. Secondly, the foreign credits purchased may be for bogus schemes such as promised deforestation reductions which either don’t happen or else would have happened anyway.”
Dr Perkins said that environmental costs have to be paid by the market in some way. “A levy is the best way of doing this,” he said. “A price of at least $30 is needed to produce any shift in production away from coal. Australia's grand plan is not to reduce emissions but to buy permits from countries like Indonesia. This is unlikely to result is any global benefit.”
Dr Perkins said that wealthier countries such as Australia needed to invest in and develop technologies for the mitigation of climate change, to give developing nations a chance to implement required technologies at a cheaper rate. He said that a carbon levy would encourage such investment, while the ETS concept was a “sham”.
“Of course, all this debate completely ignores Australia's role as a coal exporter,” he added. “The emissions from Australia’s exported coal dwarf our domestic emissions. What Australia should be doing is seeking cooperation with other exporters to impose a carbon tax on coal exports.”
Dr Perkins concluded that people need to wake up to the fact that the two greatest threats to humankind are religious fundamentalism and anthropogenic global warming. “Given the serious consequences of such threats, we feel most Australians would appreciate a government whose policies were based on reason and evidence, as opposed to those who are more interested in deception in pursuit of the popular vote.”
14 July 2013 - Letter
to the Editor
Egyptian liberals, secularists and moderate Muslims understand this. Waleed Aly (12/7) does not. This is perhaps understandable as Mr Ali is a devout devotee of Islam himself. He sees the situation as one in which the secular military is the enemy of democracy and the Muslim Brotherhood is the defender of "democratic principles".
In fact, democracy is more than just majority rule. It must also entail basic human rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion, which must include, in this case, the freedom to reject Islam. When sharia law is enshrined in the constitution, these freedoms are forbidden. Hence it is no surprise that Egyptians, having suffered decades of tyranny from one form of totalitarianism, do not want it replaced by another. Secular principles are the only guarantee of democracy, Mr Ali.
An edited version this letter, was published in The Age on 16 July 2013, from John Perkins, Secular Party
2013 - LTE
While we do not support all his views, we strongly support his right to be heard. If we are intimidated into silence by fear of recrimination, our basic freedoms are eroded, just as Wilders suggests.
We disagree with Wilders' suggestion that immigration from Islamic countries should be stopped. It should be emphasised to potential immigrants, however, that they must comply with secular Australian values, including gender equality.
Wilders describes Islam as a totalitarian ideology. While many Muslims are moderate, the precedence accorded to sharia law over civil law indicates that Wilders’ description is substantially correct.
Wilders also points out that the Prophet Mohammed was a violent military leader, and that Muslims are duty-bound to emulate him. Uncomfortable as this truth may be, it is essential to understanding the role of Islam in the modern world.
The solution is informed debate, reason and evidence-based thinking, and emphasis on the universal humanist values of compassion, honesty, freedom and justice.
7 December 2012 -
LTE and media release
The stakes are high. Islamic constitutions effectively prohibit secularism and mandate sharia law. Inexplicably, this is just what the post-invasion constitutions of Iraq and Afghanistan have done. The inevitable result will be religious oppression, and social and economic disruption and stagnation.
The beliefs of all religions are contradicted by reason and evidence. The privileges granted to religions are thus not justified. In democracies we can say this. In Muslim countries it cannot be said. We should offer our support to those in Egypt fighting for this basic freedom.
5 December 2012 -
LTE and media release
Amidst all the sycophantic adulation however, there is another aspect which is overlooked: unless something changes, the new baby will one day be the Australian Head of State. Rather than choosing our own, our Heads of State are created by an act of British royal copulation. It that what we really want?
The concept of a
hereditary Head of State does not make any more sense than a hereditary
carpenter, doctor, lawyer or politician. A new baby is very nice, but bring
on the Republic please.
28 November 2012
- Religious Challenge Media Release
People believe what they are told as children. Hence, adherence to religious belief is merely a product of culture and socialisation. This is perfectly obvious, otherwise religious beliefs would be spread randomly around the globe.
Yet beliefs are more than just expressions of cultural loyalty. They are held to be actually true. That is historically why they generate such passion, and also the religious violence, war and persecution that continues today. It is also why religions are given exemption from tax, from discrimination laws, and even from criminal prosecution.
Given the damage and conflict caused by such "cultural truths", it could be imagined that societies may seek to resolve the issue by asking the simple question: which religion is true? Yet asking this question is culturally suppressed. It is considered taboo, impolite, offensive. University religious studies departments never ask this question. The United Nations is urged to mandate blasphemy laws so that asking it is illegal.
The answer, of course, is that no religion is true. All religions rely on beliefs in historical events that never happened. Their beliefs are contradicted by historical, archaeological, biological and geological evidence. Religions are known to be false. If religions were true, they would not be religions.
But the truth about religion is unwanted, so it must be suppressed. Societies are in a state of mass psychological denial. It is a dangerous departure from rationality that increasingly imperils humanity.
To highlight the
absurdity of this situation I have previously issued the $100,000 Religious
It is now more than five years since this challenge was issued. Not a single response has been received. Is it cognitive dissonance or wilful blindness? The issue remains. I hereby reissue this Challenge.
C/o Melbourne Atheist Meetup Group
13 November 2012
(Letter to the Editor and media release)
The inquiry raises a deeper question. Why is it that religious organisations have been able to indulge with impunity in gross abuses for decades? What is it about the nature of society’s attitude towards religion in general that allowed this to occur?
Blame must be attributed to the archaic legal status attached to the advancement of religion as being, of itself, a charitable purpose. It is legally assumed that all religious activities are not merely benign, but beneficial. All the subsidies and tax concessions granted to religious organisations derive from this legal status.
It should by now be obvious that religions are not necessarily beneficial, and indeed can be harmful. Hence their unwarranted charitable status should end. Ethics and morality are better determined on the basis of the universal principles of compassion, honesty, justice and freedom.
John Perkins, Secular Party. (edited version published in The Age 14 Nov)
12 November 2012
(Secular Party media release)
In the New South Wales Commission of Inquiry the focus will be restricted to the police handling and investigation of allegations of cover-ups in the Hunter region only, rather than on the Catholic Church itself, the abuse it has perpetrated on innocent and vulnerable victims, and its covering-up of these offences.
Surely this is where
the root of the problem lies. It appears that neither the NSW Commission
of Inquiry nor the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry is really serious about
getting to the heart of the matter: who knew what about this, when did
they know it, and what did they do about it? As yet no victims have been
called to give evidence to the Victorian inquiry. At least now the Catholic
Church in Victoria has agreed to co-operate with the inquiry and provide
access to its own private files on reported cases of abuse. This is a step
in the right direction. However it is to be hoped that none of the seriously
incriminating material in these files will be withheld, and that none of
it has already been destroyed. The NSW Government claims that its inquiry
will have all the powers of a Royal Commission. Why then does it not yield
to the growing calls for a proper Royal Commission into this appalling
affair? Nothing less will satisfy either the victims or the general public.
19 October 2012 (Letter
to the Editor and media release)
The judge contended that "attendance by a child at special religious instruction does not, necessarily, indicate that the child, or the parents, hold any particular religious beliefs". We disagree.
We wonder how many Jewish, Muslim, atheist or other students go to Christian Religious Instruction. If these are not the people who are opting out of CRI, then who are? The ability to opt out does not mean there is no discrimination.
What we have now is classes segregated along religious lines. Is it possible to have segregation without discrimination? We do not think so. How can this possibly good for building harmony and social integration?
The Education Minister Martin Dixon and Access Ministries chairman Bishop Stephen Hale have welcomed the finding. So we now have the Education Minister of our public school system 'in bed with' an evangelical church with its mission to 'go and make disciples'.
Governments should not promote religions in the minds of children at taxpayer expense. It is the policy of the Secular Party that Religious Instruction in schools be replaced with studies of comparative religion and ethics.
The original secular ideals of our education system have now been trashed. Unless this is reversed, the future harmony of our society is in grave jeopardy. Only secular values, based on the universal principles of compassion, honesty justice and freedom can provide a system that is of benefit to all.
John Perkins, Secular Party.
12 October 2012 (Letter
to the Editor and media release)
Why is it that our supposed moral guardians are in fact so prone to indulgence in moral depravity? The answer, we believe, lies in the psychological processes that are associated with religious belief itself. When reason and evidence are eschewed in favour of adherence to ancient dogma, then there is no constraint on what adverse results may ensue.
Together with the known propensity for religions to promote social disharmony and conflict, this further confirms our view on religions: they do more harm than good. In which case, why do we continue to grant religious organisations billions of dollars in tax concessions, and why do provide billions of dollars in funding to religious schools?
Moral questions are best considered without any reference to religion. We can simply let the universal principles of compassion, honesty, justice and freedom be our guide.
23 September 2012
Some atheists thought that the best way to respond to violence by Muslim groups and their attempts to deny free speech was to make no comment at all, and that all opposition to such events should be left to racist extremists.
Some of us thought differently. Some of us thought that it was most important that the voice of reason, rather than the voice of prejudice, should be expressed as a positive response to religious violence. Hence we decided to hold our own protest at the State Library. We made placards and turned up, despite concerns at the possibility, however small, that we ourselves could be on the receiving end of violence.
We engaged in discussion, but disengaged ourselves from the heated exchanges that the extremists were involved with. We achieved our aim, and we are proud of what we did.
Some atheists, who themselves were too afraid to make any comment on Muslim violence whatsoever, apparently see this as damaging to atheism. We disagree. Courage, not cowardice, is what is required to defend freedom and uphold the atheist ideal.
17 September 2012
(Letter to the Editor and media release)
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not include the right not to be offended. Those who may be offended by the film need not watch it.
The film may in fact serve a useful purpose in highlighting the nature of the Prophet Mohammed in early Islamic history. According to the original biography by ibn Ishaq, it was Mohammed's military campaigns that enabled Islam to be established in Mecca in the year 630. This legacy is reflected in the Koran, and it is a relevant factor in understanding the motivation for current day terrorism and insurgencies.
Rational debate is the only solution. We should be encouraged to examine our beliefs in the light of reason and evidence. If our beliefs are found wanting, we should discard them. The truth may be uncomfortable, but it is ultimately gratifying. The secular values of honesty, compassion, freedom and justice provide the only lasting path to peace.
John Perkins, Secular Party.
14 September 2012
(Letter to the Editor and media release)
Islam was established in Mecca in the year 630, following a successful insurgency led by the Prophet Mohammed. This military history of Islam is reflected in the Koran. This legacy is a highly relevant factor in explaining current day terrorism and insurgencies. Thankfully, not all Muslims follow this tradition to extremes, however it does mean that Islam has certain characteristics that are different from other religions. Like it or nor, we all should be aware of this.
What is the solution? We should be encouraged to examine our beliefs in the light of reason and evidence. If our beliefs are found wanting, we should discard them. The truth may be uncomfortable, but it is ultimately gratifying. The secular values of honesty, compassion, freedom and justice provide the only lasting path to peace.
John Perkins, Secular Party.
30 November 2011
(Letter to the Editor, published in The Age, unedited version)
All this new-found democratic fervour is taking place within the context of Islamic constitutions that predicate these countries being "Islamic states". Not even lip service is being given to the concept of "separation of mosque and state". This concept is not just the basis of secular democracy, but of democracy itself.
Only secularism provides a guarantee of religious freedom, which Islamic constitutions effectively forbid. Without the "freedom of thought conscience and religion" as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there cannot be true freedom.
Islamic constitutions mandate sharia law, that is, the rules laid down in the Koran. These rules cannot be overturned by an elected parliament. Thus democracy is limited. Worse than that perhaps, the whole legal system is subservient to religious leaders with the responsibility for interpreting the basic law.
Koranic law can be, and is, used to justify any number of abuses, from the oppression of women to jihad, to the killing of apostates. Unfortunately, the Arab spring is likely to become an Islamic winter. But how can we blame the Arabs for abandoning secularism, when with our massive subsidies to religions of all kinds, we have all but abandoned it ourselves?
John Perkins, Secular Party.
15 November 2011
(Letter to the Editor, The Age)
Those who are mystified just need to study Islamic history and read the Koran. The Prophet Mohammed was the leader of a military insurrection. Islam was first established in the Arabian peninsular, and beyond, by means of military conquest. The Koran contains many of Mohammed's war proclamations. These characteristics of the religion are highly relevant to any understanding of Islamic insurrections and terrorism today.
The fact that such things apparently remain a mystery is a sad commentary on our inability to subject religious ideologies to rational analysis and criticism. The false assumption that religions are just benign charities is costing us dearly.
As societies, we cannot forever maintain the pretence that all religious beliefs are true, even when we know for sure that in many cases they are not. Our counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism efforts make no attempt at all to engender a more rational and evidence-based approach to the underlying ideologies. As such, they are doomed to failure. We need to at least aspire to a more rational world.
John Perkins, Secular Party.
2 August 2011 (Letter
to the Editor, published in The Age)
Aly is incorrect however, to conclude however this is leading to world in which there are "no consistent principles", and "no solution". Secularism provides both consistent principles and a solution. Secularism was devised after hundreds of years of religious wars in Europe. The more we forget about secular principles, the more dangerous the world becomes.
Secularism does not
just mean government impartiality between religions. There is a certain
moral imperative that we seek beliefs based in reason and evidence. Without
that, there is no progress. As ever, ethics and morality are best based
on the universal principles of honesty, compassion, freedom and justice.
28 July 2011 (Letter
to the Editor, published in The Age)
Here is how the situation can be resolved: require all chaplains to be qualified counsellors and remove the religious test for appointment, as the Australian Constitution requires. Then they would be counsellors, not chaplains, so rename the program the Australian Schools Counsellor Program.
That way, we will
begin to restore a semblance of secularism to our education system, a noble
ideal that has been all but subverted. As ever, ethics are best determined
on the basis of the universal principles of compassion, honesty, freedom
18 July 2011 (Comments
to Q &A)
Do burkas erect barriers between people? Of course they do, that is their purpose. Yet the questioner was rudely put down by Eva Cox.
Religions cannot possibly all be true because they contradict. We know that many religious doctrines are false. Could you not find anyone to ask the simple question: should we not try to believe what is true?
11 July 2011 (The
Age LTE and press release)
We would achieve more by scrapping the plans for a trading scheme and just having a carbon tax. This needs to ramp up to much higher levels in order to justify major investment in alternative energy.
Meanwhile, we continue to overlook the elephant in the room, which is our coal exports. In its full page advertisements, the Coal Association is attempting to erect a smokescreen. The 250 million tonnes of coal that we export will produce 750 million tonnes of carbon dioxide when burnt, which is far more than all our other emissions, and is not subject to any tax.
If we were to join
together with Indonesia and South Africa to impose an export tax, which
would then apply to the bulk of the world’s coal exports, this would be
a more effective way of reducing global emissions, while protecting our
coal industry at the same time.
27 June 2011 (The
As a consequence of the prominence given to the views of the warming deniers, public opinion has been manipulated to an extent that puts our future in further jeopardy. There is a cost to the environment to greenhouse pollution and this cost is currently external to the market economy. We need to internalise this externality. We must pay the price. If we don't begin to pay this price while it is still manageable, then the cost to future generations will be insurmountable.
21 June 2011 (Letter
to Minister Ferguson)
Dear Mr Ferguson
I write with regard to the full page advertisement in The Age today, with a proposal that I think will not only answer such critics, but provide a path to assist finding a solution to greenhouse emissions globally.
This is an issue with which I have been concerned for some time, and about which I have conducted my own economic model research. I include some references below.
The Coal Association refers to the fact that Australia produces less than 6% of world coal output. What they neglect to say is that Australia provides approximately 45% of world coal exports, a proportion that we may expect to rise, in the long term, as other producers become depleted.
Another highly relevant fact in this matter, that no-one is at all keen to acknowledge, is that more carbon leaves Australia in coal ships than leaves as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In fact, the proportion is far greater and rising.
Rather than seeing these facts as a threat to our coal industry and as a weakness for Australia in the global greenhouse debate, what I propose is to turn the threat into opportunity, and the weakness into strength.
The Coal Association says that our coal customers will simply turn to Indonesia and South Africa for their supplies. My proposal is simply this. Seek arrangements with Indonesia and South Africa for their cooperative introduction of similar carbon and resource rent taxes.
Such an agreement would not only be in the interests of all countries concerned, in terms of revenue and industry protection. It would be an important factor in putting a price on carbon globally.
Australia can and should have a key role in engineering this solution because we are by far the biggest exporter of coal. Seeking an agreement between a limited number coal exporters is obviously far easier than attaining a global agreement to replace Kyoto.
Another aspect of this, is that in a world of diminishing reserves and increasing resource prices, to avoid international tensions, resource exporters will need to be seen to be acting responsibly in the management of their resources. It should therefore be a part of the international negotiations, that a proportion of revenue be paid into a global fund to assist developing countries with mitigation adjustment issues.
I hope you are able to see in this proposal what I think would be a double win-win situation. It would be a win for the coal industry and for your government. It would also be a win for both Australia and the global community.
If you are interested to know more of my research please do not hesitate to ask.
3 May 2011
It would have been far better if bin Laden had been captured and put on trial by the International Criminal Court. Then, justice would have been seen to have been done. An ex-judicial killing by means of a long distance raid is really behaving in a manner that is little different to the terrorists themselves. Dying in this way is exactly what Osama wanted. Granted however, the complicity of the Pakistanis may have left little choice.
The death of Osama bin Laden will do nothing to end global terrorism. In the so called "war on terror", bin Laden has for a long time been little more than a figurehead. His operational base was destroyed soon after September 11. The continuing war in Afghanistan has little to do with that.
All counter-terrorism operations will ultimately be doomed to failure until it is properly understood what is behind the basic ideological motivation for Islamic terrorism. The prophet Muhammad was himself the leader of a military insurgency, a very successful one. Hence the terrorist motivation is not just an extremist phenomenon. It is an intrinsic part of Islam.
Therefore the only long term counter-terrorism strategy that will ever work is one that promotes reason and rationality as an alternative to religion. We must promote the questioning of the fundamentals, not just of Islam, but of all religions. That is our only hope of achieving peace and harmony. As ever, ethical judgements are best made in the light of the universal principles of compassion, honesty, freedom and justice, rather than on the basis of any religion.
25 April 2011 (LTE)
Frier should also be more informed about the difference between knowledge and belief. One is based on reason and evidence, the other is based on faith. Christian doctrines are the latter, not the former. Children should certainly be educated about religion, but not indoctrinated in a religion. Ethical values should be based not on doctrine, but on the universal values of honesty, compassion, freedom and justice.
11 April 2011 (LTE)
Secularists welcome discussion about religion, particularly discussion about the truth claims of religions. We think that children should be taught about religion, not instructed in religion. The Australian Human Rights Commission agrees.
Religions may instruct children, in government schools, that: “If you don’t believe what you are told, you will burn in hell forever”. The secularist alternative would be: “Religions teach that if you don’t believe what they say, you will burn in hell forever. There is no evidence for this. Make up your own mind”. Which is preferable Barney?
Traumatising children with divisive religions can indeed be a form of child abuse. Instead, we should be giving children the freedom to make up their own minds. Ethical values are best determined on the basis of reason and universal principles such as compassion, honesty, justice and freedom.
5 April 2011 (LTE)
"The internationally recognised right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, does not provide for the religious indoctrination of children in schools", said Secular Party spokesperson John Perkins. "On the contrary, religious indoctrination of suppresses children's right to freedom of thought", he said.
A recent report by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that there was a critical need for education about religion, rather than instruction in religion. The Report acknowledged that religions are divisive. "How can Australia's system of government-funded religiously segregated schools possibly promote social harmony?", Dr Perkins asks.
Human knowledge has increased to a vast extent since religious schools were established in Australia. It is high time that the whole system of government-funded religion in schools was reassessed. In its submission to the government's Schools funding inquiry, the Secular Party stated: "To receive funding, schools should not endorse, assist, or promote the advancement of particular religions."
Reason and rationality, combined with universal principles such as compassion, honesty, freedom and justice, provide an ethical framework that is equal to, if not better than, that provided by any religion.
25 March 2011
Violence in Islam cannot be understood without reference to Islamic history. Unlike other religions, Islam was founded by a military leader. The Prophet Mohammed was not just a religious leader, but also the leader of an armed insurrection against the existing order in Mecca. Many of the war verses in the Koran are war proclamations issued as part of his successful military campaign.
Thankfully not all Muslims take all of the Koranic injunctions literally. However some do, which is cause for legitimate concern.
Durie’s solution is to foster debate. This is fine, but what should Muslims and Christians debate? Which religion is more peaceful or more gratifying? Or which religion is true?
welcome this debate, and the solution we would propose is the promotion
of reason and secular values such as compassion, honesty, justice and freedom.
Such universal values are preferable to those of any religion.
Atheism is the acceptance that there is no credible scientific or factually reliable evidence for the existence of a god, gods or the supernatural. Atheist Foundation of Australia.
John L Perkins
PO Box 6004, Melbourne 8008
facebook Tel 0411 143744 email