Thought for the Day

Since the platitudinous nonsense that is broadcast as ‘Thought for the Day’ on Radio 4 each morning presumably contributes in some small way to the fact that ours is, basically, a secular society, why are the atheists or the humanists (or whatever they want to call themselves) so keen to get in on the act? It’s not as if they’d be allowed to broadcast non-platitudinous non-nonsense, I take it, as the slot’s not supposed to be controversial or partisan, and it’s difficult to do n.-p. n.-n. without running a severe risk of being c. or p.. So it’d be platitudinous nonsense, as before, but coming from the secular rationalists or agnostics (or whatever they want to call themselves), instead of coming from the ranks of the God-squad. And the foreseeable result of that would be that listeners would be put off non-theism then, to just the same extent as ‘TftD’ puts them off theism now. I must be missing something, somewhere along the line, but right now I just can’t see what it is.

10 thoughts on “Thought for the Day”

  1. Because even though the institution has no practical value, there is still symbolic importance in getting rid of rules that unjustly bar particular groups from doing it.

    On the same grounds, I favour the legalisation of gay marriage in the UK (even though there would be no actual benefits compared with civil partnerships).

  2. Yes, but with the rule in place, T for the D looks silly, and the religious people who take part in it look silly, and non-religious people generally have an interest in religious people looking silly.

  3. Not sure it does look silly to most R4 listeners. Many are older folk who have been brought up in a society (exemplified by the 1944 Education Act) that defaulted to Christianity and regarded CofE as the furthest towards agnosticism it was prepared to go. TFTD isn’t in the vanguard of opinion-forming, but it might help bring cajole some of the troops towards the forces of light.

  4. I think you’re thinking about this too much. You’ve assumed that atheists a) actually want the slot, rather than just to get some institutions to defend not giving it to them b) have thought through the consequences of getting the slot and c) would think through the consequences of getting the slot in terms of its form and function and not in terms of the dark forces of religious obscurantism and the sublime power of rational thought.

  5. Cynical Thought 1: the atheists in question reckon they can manipulate gullible TFTD listeners into abandoning God (should they presently be believers), and that there’d be some purpose or value in doing this.

    Cynical Thought 2: it’s a pure case of “but they’re allowed to do it, so why aren’t we? It’s not fair!

    Either way, I think this is more about the bizarre egos of the in-your-face anti-god squad brigade than anything else.

    Which just goes to show, being an atheist is no guarantee against being a tit.

  6. Because even though the institution has no practical value

    This isn’t true, by the way. It used to function as an extra alarm clock, making me get me out of bed in order to turn it off. (I am not making this up.)

  7. From what I know of radio 4, they seem to like platitudinous nonsense. From what Ive read of the secularists, humanists, rationalists, or whatever they call themselves, they seem to specialize in it.

  8. Why would non-religious people generally have an interest in religious people looking silly?

    The people who do TFTD would especially tend to be of the variety who do good charitable work, and defend plurality, including the religious freedom of atheists and agnostics.

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