Frequently Asked Questions
A rationalist believes that knowledge and truth are ascertained by using reason and logic, and not by divine or supernatural revelation.
A humanist believes in the advancement of humanity by its own efforts and rejects that there is any power or moral value superior to that of humanity.
The Objects for which the NZARH is established are:
- To advocate a rational, humane, and secular view of life without reference to supernatural agencies and which is compatible with the scientific method.
- To promote a tolerant, responsible, and open society.
- To encourage open-minded enquiry into matters relevant to human co-existence and well-being.
Membership is open to everyone who signs that they are agreement with the objects of the NZARH and is subject to approval by the NZARH Council. These objects include advocating a view of life without reference to the supernatural, and promoting a tolerant, responsible, and open society. To agree with these objects you are a rationalist and a humanist by our definition of these two words.
1,297,104 people selected the no-religion option in the 2006 Census. This is over 32% of the population. A further 13% either objected to answering the question, didn't state their religion, or gave answers outside of scope. The number of non-religious people increased by 269,046 from the 2001 Census meaning that the number of New Zealanders willing to declare themselves as non-religious has been growing by over a thousand per week.
The NZARH stands up for the rights of the non-religious, writes submissions, provides a place and opportunities for non-religious people to socialise, highlights and discusses issues of interest, and provides educational material.
Apart from the position of Office Manager, the NZARH is run by volunteers. This means that what the NZARH does is determined by what its members decide to get involved with. If there is something that you think the NZARH should be doing then please get involved to help make it happen.
Because there is no good reason to. See The Naturalistic World-View.
A society in which the government is neutral on matters of belief and where people have the freedom to believe as they wish without one viewpoint being given privilege. See The Tolerant Secular State.
While New Zealand is one of the most secular countries in the World it still has laws which give special privilege to the religious. These include the promotion of religion being a charitable activity, the crime of blasphemous libel, and religious exemptions for allowing union officials into a workplace. See The Tolerant Secular State.
It depends by what is meant by the question.
If it is asking whether Christianity holds a special place in NZ law and government then the answer is "No, NZ doesn't have a state religion".
If the question is asking whether the majority of the population is Christian then the answer is "It used to be but that is probably no longer the case. According to the 2006 Census figures those declaring themselves Christians made up just over half of the population. However if the current trends have continued, and there is no reason to believe that they haven't, then this is no longer the case."
While New Zealand did inherit the Easter and Christmas holidays, most New Zealanders treat these as secular holidays and are not involved in any religious observance. Both of these festivals have a long history prior to Christianity including most of the associated symbolism such as trees, gifts, eggs, and rebirth.
The Statement on Religious Diversity is a product of the interfaith movement in New Zealand. It makes eight points outlining the rights and responsibilities in regard to religion in New Zealand. Despite the Statement talking about relationships with media, education and government, the Statement has only been endorsed by faith organisations.
During the creation of the Statement there was much confusion about whether the Statement was an official publication of the Human Rights Commission. The drafts distributed by the HRC were titled the National Statement on Religious Diversity and at least one included the HRC logo so it seems that there was the same confusion within the HRC.
As a result of a complaint over the Statement, representatives of the NZARH met with the Human Rights Commission. During this discussion the HRC distanced itself from the Statement saying it was a product of the NZ Diversity Action Programme which the Human Rights Commission facilitates but has no direct control over. Interestingly the HRC also told us that their feedback and concerns had also not been acted on.
The NZARH believes that the Statement on Religious Diversity clearly discriminates against the the non-religious. Especially of concern is clause three which states: "Faith communities and their members have a right to safety and security" as this doesn't express the corresponding responsibility of providing the same right to others.
Information on our submission against lowering the film's rating can be found in the Decision of the Film and Literature Board. The film was the subject of an editorial in our Association's journal The Open Society.
Some argue that it requires faith to be an atheist as it is not possible to have the knowledge required to rule out the existence of all gods. This is distorting the meaning of atheist to only include those who have completely ruled out the existence of gods (strong atheism). Atheism in the widest sense of the word simply indicates the lack of a belief in any gods. Most of those who identify themselves as atheists haven't completely ruled out the existence of gods but have simply found no good reason to believe in them. This is an example of the straw-man fallacy where the opponent's position is misrepresented in order to make it easy to attack.
So does a strong atheist position require faith? The answer to this is much trickier as it is likely to come down to what is really meant by something being completely ruled out. Penn Jillette is happy to take that leap of faith in his essay There Is No God.
Some religious followers think that it is plainly arrogant to deny or question the existence of their god who loves them, listens to them, and arranges parking spaces for them. We think not.
The argument, known as Pascal's Wager, is that you should believe in god, because it's possible that god is an egotistical sadist who will reward or punish people based on their beliefs. And the rewards are so great if you are right compared to the cost if you are wrong, that it's just not worth taking the chance.
This is a very simplistic argument as it doesn't take into account the almost unlimited number of gods to choose from and the dire consequences of choosing the wrong egotistical sadist god...
Some religious people fail to understand why anyone without a belief in a god or afterlife would want to live a bleak meaningless existence. There may be some people whose lives would be bleak and meaningless without their religious faith. However the vast majority of people are able to give their lives meaning and purpose regardless of their religious beliefs, through their relationships with other people and the activities they pursue. Not having a belief in everlasting life means that you have to live the life that you do have to the full.
Thankfully no. If you examine the laws of the Bible and those on New Zealand legislation you will find very little overlap. Of the well known 10 commandments, only murder, stealing, and lying in a court of law or other proceeding are clear criminal acts. These principles are so widespread and common that any link to religious scripture can not be vindicated.
New Zealand legislation does have an arcane law against blasphemous libel which has never resulted in a successful criminal prosecution.