The word of God

To be honest ─ even at some risk to my ‘feminist’ credentials ─ I have some sympathy with the views on womanhood expressed by Kate Forbes back in 2014. Views which she has confirmed she continues to hold. I agree that women are different from men. I agree that nature (evolution) has ‘designed’ men and women for quite different purposes. I agree that these differences are to be recognised, respected and even valued. Where I part company with Ms Forbes is that I do not suppose these differences necessarily imply social roles defined in a different age. And certainly not social roles imposed by edict of established power in the guise of a supreme deity for the purpose of maintaining a social order which favours established power.

The essence of oligarchical rule is not father-to-son inheritance, but the persistence of a certain world-view and a certain way of life, imposed by the dead upon the living. A ruling group is a ruling group so long as it can nominate its successors.

George Orwell, 1984

The ‘word of God’ alone is never a rational argument. There are rational arguments for separate and different social roles for men and women. But rational arguments are always conditional. Arguments can only be unconditional if they relate to a general or universal principle. Which is, itself, a condition. Therefore, no rational argument is ever unconditional. That adult male humans are, on average, bigger and stronger than adult female humans is a rational argument for having tasks requiring physical strength reserved for men and even forbidden to women ─ lest they suffer some injury. But is only rational and legitimate where the difference in physical make-up applies. If an individual woman happens to be as big and strong as the average man, the argument that she should be prohibited from carrying out the same tasks ceases to be rational. The same applies if advances in technology e.g power-steering, negate the physical difference. The argument for different socially determined roles cannot be relevant and rational in all cases and for all time. A ‘commandment’ justified by differences that are inherent to males and females ceases to make any sense when the difference is no longer relevant.

Having read and re-read Forbes’s epistle to The Wee Flea, I find no rational argument in support of the proposition that women cannot or must not be church ministers. Only the assertion that this prohibition accords with “God’s plan”. An enlightened democratic attitude can accept that this may be a sufficient reason for ‘believers’. But it is a faith position only and so cannot be valid in relation to matters of public policy. Faith ─ of the religious variety ─ is not mere belief despite evidence, it is belief against evidence. Nothing better proves a person’s religious faith than that it withstand the onslaught of incontrovertible facts. No person is more pious than they who genuinely, sincerely and steadfastly maintain the truth of something that cannot possibly be true. But public policy informed by the counterfactual cannot be other than the most abject folly.

There is a problem, therefore, when someone who professes a rigid faith position seeks an office which affords them significant influence over public policy. This does not mean that those professing a religious faith are incapable of serving satisfactorily in such a role. It does, however, mean that as the ‘person of faith’ is considered for high office, due account must be taken of the fact that their performance in that role will be influenced to some extent by their faith, and thereby must to some extent inform public policy.

An enlightened democratic attitude will be as accepting of ‘persons of faith’ as it is of women preaching from a pulpit. But this attitude must be accompanied by awareness that in accepting a ‘person of faith’ for high office, it is allowing that faith positions will inevitably be reflected in public policy to some extent. This is a consequence which must be weighed alongside other factors when considering the suitability of candidates for positions of power.

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36 thoughts on “The word of God

  1. ” … But this attitude must be accompanied by awareness that in accepting a ‘person of faith’ for high office, it is allowing that faith positions will inevitably be reflected in public policy to some extent. This is a consequence which must be weighed alongside other factors when considering the suitability of candidates for positions of power.”

    Any less true for an agnostic or an atheist?

    Matters of degree probably.

    We have the extremes of the USA’s “In God We Trust” – v – China’s state atheism.


      1. 1) Agreed … but … ” when considering the suitability of candidates for positions of power.” (and again I suggest it is a matter of degree) . the “absence” of faith may prove to be as important as its “existence”

        2) 1 milion detained Uyghurs might question that.


        1. Equating religious faith with an absence of religious faith is like comparing something with nothing. There may be a spectrum of religiosity. But an atheist isn’t on that spectrum. Or, if they are on that spectrum of religiosity, they are not an atheist. Just as devolution isn’t a kind of independence or close to independence or like independence, the religionist and the atheist are entirely separate things.

          Liked by 2 people

        1. David Hume and Bertrand Russell had stronger definitions of atheist: one who held that the existence of God could be disproved.

          Neither claimed to be an atheist.


          1. In what sense?

            If someone says Celtic beat Partick Thistle 4-1 in the 1971 League cup final, should I reply “as a Thistle supporter I know that you are wrong?”


            1. Very poor analogy. It seems condescending to have to explain it, but what I clearly meant that nobody is better placed to know the content of an atheist’s mind than an atheist. As a lifelong atheist, I a m in a position to known that my rejection of the concept of a supreme supernatural deity has nothing whatever to do with “belief”, and is in no sense similar to religious faith. This remains the case regardless of what you believe.

              Liked by 1 person

    1. Aye JSM, in reading Forbes ‘epistle’ it is quite clear she endorses God’s word ahead of which should be an inalienable woman’s right to hold office in the Kirk of her preferred faith, duly upholding the sentiment within your comment.
      Religion is no more than a form of indoctrination to keep the masses in their place, women unfortunately in some societies paying an extreme price for the privilege(?) of believing(?) in their ‘God’.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It’s all about power. Everything always is. The reason women are generally treated as they are by religion is because they are required for breeding. When succession, and hence power, follows a bloodline, the person with the power today needs to be sure that the (male) child they will pass that power on to is of their blood. To do that, they must control the breeders. Because women are inherently ‘sinful’ (promiscuous). We know that for a fact because God told us.

      Religion provides a justification for the control. Look at the way Eve fucked things up in the Garden of Eden. We all know what that snake represents, don’t we? It’s a story of adulterous betrayal. All women are the same. So, men have to keep them in line. There can’t be women ministers because women can’t be trusted to maintain the line that women are basically just harlots.

      I know that sounds crude to modern ears. But that’s the way it was. We live with the echoes of that mentality.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. ‘Belief’ can never be more than wishful thinking whether religious or otherwise.

    Only knowledge gained from facts and demonstrated to be correct has any value.

    Sometimes the wishful thinking may be a more attractive proposition than the hard facts, which can lead to delusions.

    Politicians sometimes support the wishful thinking line rather than the hard facts, not because they are deluded, but because it buys them votes and keeps them in office, or it is good for their CV when they move on to a job outside politics.

    I know this is true.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Well, in 2014 support for Independence was at 33% compared to 50% for Devolution whereas in 2021 support for Independence was up to 52% compared to 38% for Devolution, so a lot of people changed their views between 2014 and now. .pdf (remove space)

    Table 4 (NOT the table 1, the views from England, that wikipedia cheats with)

    Analysing someone’s views back in 2014 is an interesting but historical exercise, similar to archaeological digs, and personally I don’t dig it!


    1. It’s how people would vote that matters. Polls on voting intention in a referendum have not changed since 2014.

      Read the fucking article! Forbes has confirmed that her views haven’t changed.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well Peter, at least you don’t quote the Daily Mail or the Telegraph, you quote the National.

        You may not have noticed however, that since Sturgeon resigned the National has been wall to wall “Yousaf is great”, and “Forbes accused”, with the occasional sideswipe at Regan who is considered (so far) less of a threat to the National’s main agenda, which ain’t Indy at the moment, I’ll give you 3 guesses as to what is. Even Riddoch commented on the decreasing lack of trust like this:

        But not to SNP members, many of whom back the original media ban for the straightforward reason that they distrust the entire media including, woundingly, this pro-independence paper.

        If I were you I wouldn’t take what the National says as “gospel” 🙂


        1. If you have better information, share it. Otherwise, the following may get some kind of award for ill-informed stupidity.

          “Analysing someone’s views back in 2014 is an interesting but historical exercise, similar to archaeological digs, and personally I don’t dig it!”

          Liked by 1 person

          1. If you have better information, share it.

            I just did. The National is hugely biased in favour of Yousaf and so is as reliable a source of propaganda regarding any of the 3 candidates, as a polar bear on their holliers in the Sahara desert selling ice cubes. Clearly that’s news to you – possibly the only one in the YES movement.

            Otherwise, the following may get some kind of award for ill-informed stupidity.

            Quoting the National for “info” regarding any of the 3 candidates.


          2. “If you have better information, share it.”

            The ever reliable Craig Dalzell of Commonweal attempts to follow along with the evolving demographics of Independence support, where he can, and documents the process as well as his observations and opinions.

            see for example “Appealing To The Centre”

            and previous “The Demographics of Independence – 2021 Edition”



  4. What you have to remember is that while Kate Forbes believes that God has directly condemned women having authority over men and therefore can’t be ordained, there are those who would argue (ignoring that 1 Timothy is pseudeographic) that actually the passage is not a bar on women having authority in the Church. A close reading of the Greek clearly shows that it is not a universal ban, When you look at events in the early Church (and even recorded of the Pauline Epistles) Women played an important part in the running of the early Church (some even being Bishops) It was the Roman Empire when it adopted Christianity as its poodle which made the Church be misoginistic,


    1. I think you mean pseudepigraphic. I’m not sure what the relevance is. Forbes clearly believes it’s an outright prohibition and it’s her beliefs that are under discussion. Try telling her she’s wrong.


  5. If the SNP think moving from a form of Queerocracy to a Theocracy ( by electing Forbes ) – or some truly weird hybrid of both ( lol ) is going to help progress the cause of Independence or even regain the credibility the Party is losing at an accelerating pace they’re in for a shock .

    Personally , I couldn’t care less about Forbe’s ante-diluvian religious beliefs : my concern is that she evinces zero passion about the one thing that should be the driving force and main focus of any SNP leader – getting Scotland out of Union . Urgently .

    She also seems intent on continuing the slavish adherence to Neoliberal dogma that has failed * ordinary * people globally , Scotland as much as anywhere . That said , she is infinitely preferable to the farcically inadequate Yousaf .

    To have any chance of restoring the future prospects of the SNP , Ash Regan remains the ONLY choice

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Regan seems to be the only one of the sorry lot to be be Sturgeonist on independence. Election: ask Westminster for a referendum. Ect etc, maybe. And a hyper-neoliberal climate-change-denier capatalist.

      But from what I’ve seen of the SNP membership, they might vote for Scotland being headed by someone that thinks that Lewis is a role model for Harris. And Glasgow. And Dundee.

      Anyways, I think they will be sorely troubled voting for someone that isn’t beige-coloured, male, wearing a kilt, tartan carpet, wingchair, fireplace, at least 78, and about as trustworthy as Jimmy Saville. I have a feeling that the majority of SNP members won’t vote, and view party membership akin to the Hitler Youth in civic society. Such is the party and society that PETER A BELL helped to make.


      1. Show me where Ash Regan has committed to a “Sturgeonist” approach to the constitutional issue. Here in the real world, the principal attraction of As as party leader and First Minister is that she is the only one of the three candidates which seems in the slightest inclined to ditch the failed Sturgeon doctrine.

        I’ll do you the favour of ignoring your final paragraph. When it comes to embarrassing yourself, you need no help from me.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. haha , aye , P , that ” Sturgeonist ” remark is up there with ” Humza will carry-on the great work of NS ” in the annals of ludicrous delusion .

          Liked by 1 person

    2. “To have any chance of restoring the future prospects of the SNP , Ash Regan remains the ONLY choice”

      Worth repeating, again and again and again…

      Liked by 3 people

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