Have you ever wondered why the world is as it is? What can we do to make the world a better place? More specifically, what ought we do? If it is desirable that all people be equal, then we should give the same weight to the interests of others that they give to their own interests—perhaps do unto others what they would want us to do unto them.
There are many questions people can ask, and the list below is small sample of issues that is characterised either by a poor standard of debate in public fora or a prevailing policy that is unethical or inconsistent with upholding an individual’s basic human rights. In many cases, they are questions that we should ask, because the current outcomes do not lead us to better outcomes.
Consider the following questions.
- Why do some people want to impose their personal beliefs on others, especially when it concerns the rights of an individual? Examples include the opposition by conservative groups to abortion, euthanasia, and to people with sexual preferences other than their own, usually homosexuals. How does a marriage between two homosexuals, or a patient requesting euthanasia (perhaps in response to pain, suffering or indignity in a terminal illness), concern any other person? Would people who oppose individuals making their choices want others to tell them what to do with their lives?
- Why does society permit some religions to tell children that they will be punished for the remainder of the time in the universe (even nonsensically after they are dead) unless the children believe in that particular religion and its mythology and observe the necessary rituals? Religions threaten children before they have the ability to develop their own analytical thought processes Why do we permit such cruelty to children? Why do we permit their indoctrination? Shouldn’t children, the adults of future generations, be given choice so they can make their own decisions when they are mature enough to do so for themselves?
- Why do many people follow a god who has murdered people? According to most religious mythologies and texts, gods have murdered people, usually people of a different race to the race of people that fabricated the god. For example, Christians claim that the Bible says that their god murdered Egyptians. Is choosing to follow a god that kills people an indication of moral deficiency or moral rectitude?
- Why do we allow many women in many societies to have the right to their body and choose abortion when they are younger, but when they are older we deny women the right to euthanasia? At what age do women lose the rights to their own body?
- Why do we not permit the full use of embryonic stem cells in research, as cures for debilitating diseases and conditions could be discovered? The cells are not sentient beings, they have no brain, they cannot grow into humans without the right chemical environment, there is no such thing a soul, they are just cells. Why do some people object to the use of these cells when they have potentially enormous benefits? Do some people want others to suffer?
- Why do we discriminate against people with certain genomes and ban human cloning? If there is no safety risk, why is this more of a problem than any other form of assisted reproduction?
- Why do we permit organisations such as religions that discriminate against citizens? Most churches are sexist and homophobic, so why do governments let organisations discriminate against women and homosexuals? Shouldn’t politicians be protecting the citizens (who vote for their governments) from all forms of discrimination? We would denounce any organisation or religion that banned black people from leadership positions, and it is just as inequitable to permit religions that discriminate and deny women and homosexuals the right to seek leadership positions, and the right to abortions, to marry etc. Should governments be encouraging inequality?
- Why do governments support and/or give tax concessions to religions, when these religions discriminate against other people, and threaten children with everlasting punishment?
- Why do we object to the killing of people against their will, but approve of such killing under the guise of war? What can we do to change this incongruous situation? Would you kill a father of a neighbour if you knew he was acting in an unfriendly way towards you? Would you want to be killed in return? So why do we permit war against another nation’s fathers (other than in direct self-defence of us or others)?
- Why do governments allow the sale of products that cause harm to citizens of their jurisdiction, such as cigarettes? Would governments permit the sale of necklaces containing a radioactive uranium isotope if they caused disease and cancers at the same rate as smoking?
- Why do governments spend enormous amounts on defence and war, when funding should be spent on alleviating poverty, addressing disease and sustainably improving the standard of living of all people? What do we need to do as a society to address this problem?
- Why do some political leaders and others without scientific expertise reject the overwhelming consensus opinion of the world's scientific community on issues such as evolution and the human contribution to climate change? The theories of evolution and climate change follow logically from the evidence, so on what basis do some people deny what to the experts is obvious. Why don’t these same non-scientific experts deny the existence of the atom?
- Why don't we use resources in a sustainable fashion, given that sometime in the near future, key resources will be depleted? Do we not have an obligation to our children and future generations to provide them with an environment and resource base that is sustainable into the future and suitable for the ongoing continuation of the human and all other species on this planet? Why do we encourage population growth when resources are dwindling, and millions live in poverty?
- Why do governments provide benefits to people who do not need them? Could funds for education and health be better directed so that people who need them most can benefit more?
- Why do societies permit male circumcision? It is an medical procedure, carried out for no health problem, without the consent of the patient, with no benefits and possible risks, and costs time and money. Surely, men could choose circumcision when they are responsible adults, but how many uncircumcised men would choose to be circumcised?
- Why cannot some politicians appreciate the hypocrisy of keeping people alive who want to die (euthanasia is not legally available to many people), but have no problem killing people who want to live (by sanctioning war)?
- Why is it that in many jurisdictions religion is permitted to be taught in schools, often by religious people without respectable tertiary qualifications, and not allow ethics to be taught in schools by university qualified teachers?
- Please suggest more questions for this section if you wish, by visiting the Contact Us page.