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The Forum > Article Comments > Non-Religious Tax Avoidance > Comments

Non-Religious Tax Avoidance : Comments

By Max Wallace, published 12/11/2012

Why would the Atheist Foundation want to be registered as a charitable 'religious or educational institution'?

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Most atheists seem to have an almost fanatical zealot's belief in the THEORY of evolution?
Almost as if it were proven fact rather than the most convincing explanation we can find at the moment, always providing the inconvenient facts, are overlooked?
I mean, life in all its convoluted complexity creating itself, is almost as probable as a whirlwind whipping through a junk-yard and assembling a fully functional and flyable 747?
One of the most fundamental tenets of science is that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, merely altered, and given the entire universe and everything in it, is just energy, which had to exist in some form before the big bang or whatever it was, that created the impossibly large of even infinite universe? Our universe, inclusive of dark matter; had therefore, to exist in some form, before the big bang!
I mean, stare at the sky at night, and realize that our own Milky Way, may well contain more stars, than all the grains of sand, on all the beaches of this planet!
Chances of that happening just by chance and or serendipity, ten trillion to zip!
Nonetheless, some will declare that it all happened by chance!
Even though trillions of stars had to die and rise reborn like perfectly timed phoenixes, rising from their own ashes, a dozen or more times, just to create carbon, oxygen, water and all the other elements, that are absolutely essential bedrock of life, as we know and understand it!
We can "explain" all of it, the mechanisms and the outcomes, but not the why, the actual how or a proven cause?
The explanations are invariably adjusted with expanded knowledge!
If I were to found a church, it would be the church of proven science, and then it would be the only one I would fund, or give tax breaks to!
The rest should treated as sham, superstition or simply unproven belief based faith/control/power, no more or less valuable, than a belief in, a six thousand year old flat world, at the centre of the universe, Santa or the Tooth Fairy!
Rhrosty.
Posted by Rhrosty, Monday, 12 November 2012 10:00:55 AM
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Interesting piece. I look forward to hearing from Mr Nicholls on the subject. It will be fascinating to hear his defence.

I can't help revisiting the fact that, underneath all the verbal argy-bargy, is the straightforward reality that an organization that is united only behind a lack of belief, has a fundamentally flawed - untenable, even - raison d'Ítre.

If someone decided to create a group that did not "believe" in professional sports, they would not get much further than a mildly amusing Twitter hashtag. Yet the similarities - there are a number of different sports, as there are a number of different religions, and the same people tend to flock to the same pews/terraces every weekend - far outweigh the differences.

In the specific case of the Atheist Foundation of Australia, however, nothing would surprise me. They display all the hallmarks of a religious organization, with their zealots, "conferences" and self-promoting rhetoric, including a complete absence of the faintest tinge of self-awareness.

I confess also that I had long wondered why I couldn't find information concerning their financial position online.

"This means the AFA and other secular not-for-profits will not be exposed to public scrutiny in the same way that religions have been exempted."

Must be really comforting that they are permitted to keep all that information secret.
Posted by Pericles, Monday, 12 November 2012 10:43:23 AM
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Evolutionary biologists do not maintain that the complexity of life forms came about by chance like forming a complex mechanism by a whirlwind. Mechanisms such as natural selection and symbiosis have played a part. Acceptance of evolution is not zealotry. Consistent with evidence it is the best available explanation for the complexity of life forms around. Rhrosty's post shows that he has not examined the evidence. The formation of complex organisms by mere chance is not consistent with the theory of evolution. The word, theory, has many meanings. In scientific use it generally means the best available explanation of a phenomenon, and the theory of evolution is an example of that. There is no other scientific explanation.

Of course Max Wallace is right. Government neutrality as to belief would deny any tax exemption to any group concerned with belief regardless of its attitude. Strict secularism would bar chaplains in the armed forces and prisons. However, government cannot completely avoid meeting the wishes and needs of its citizenry. Therefore we have chaplains in the armed forces and prisons because the services of religion would be otherwise not available to soldier and prisoners. However, there should also be functionaries in the armed forces and prisons who would provide comfort and support to those who are not associated with any religion.

Parliamentarians and schoolchildren have access to religious facilities. There is no justification for a secular government to have chaplains in the public schools or in parliament.
Posted by david f, Monday, 12 November 2012 10:49:21 AM
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Excellently argued, Max. The original intention of asking for tax exemptions for the AFA was, I imagine, to demonstrate the absurdity of granting exemptions to religious activities, in the hope of abolishing them. Unfortunately, that did not happen and subsidies, handouts and underwriting of religious activities is becoming ever more entrenched. There seems no way to remove religious subsidies, since reason, logic and sound economic arguments that you and others have put forward have been completely ignored.

While our current system of compulsory voting and compulsory preferences exists, and there is no proportional representation, we will be burdened by religious domination for the foreseeable future and, although philosophically you are correct, because of successive government's cringing forelock tugging towards even the most absurd religions, I would defend the AFA's right to share in the scam.
Posted by ybgirp, Monday, 12 November 2012 11:01:22 AM
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Since the most obvious and cost-effective way to advance science and further human knowledge is to eradicate religion, it seems to me that an atheist organisation is the prime example of a science-promoting body, and if the Tax Office considers promoting science a worthy cause then it has come to the right decision.

But should it not follow, then, that organisations which seek to hamper and denigrate science -- like religions -- should be subject to MORE tax than merely secular organisations?
Posted by Jon J, Monday, 12 November 2012 12:23:56 PM
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being totally illogical and hyprocrisy goes hand in hand with the atheiest religion.
Posted by runner, Monday, 12 November 2012 1:15:57 PM
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