I believe in the Inland Revenue.
I hate the very idea of involuntary taxation. I think that collaboration with it is a form of partial slavery.
I am very deeply sceptical about the uses to which my ex-money is put. There are certain things which need to be done by the state. There are certain things the state does well. But most of the money the state takes from me without my consent seems to be pissed up the wall on rubbish.
Fully fifty percent of everything that is done in England is done because the state compels it.
As a child, I was a communist. I would have thought, then, that putting half the population of England into slavery 'for their own good' was taking things a bit far.
I am not a communist any more, and yet I pay my taxes. I have not ever committed the slightest tiny tax fraud, not even claiming lunch on expenses, even though I would feel morally justified. In fact I would feel that I was striking a tiny blow for freedom.
But I believe in the Inland Revenue. If you do that sort of thing and get caught then they will make your life hellish for many years. It is not even slightly worth it, even though the chances of getting caught are tiny.
And heaven help you if you're caught in a big fraud. You can hear the rubber gloves being pulled on now.
I salute the heroes who have suffered incarceration, which is torture, in the cause of freedom.
And yet I will not be joining them.
Because I believe in the Inland Revenue.
If I believed in God, as I remember from school, there would be at least two things that I should do.
I should turn the other cheek if attacked. (What a disgusting doctrine.)
I should give all my money to the poor. Even if I were poor myself. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
If I believed in God, I would believe in a power that was aware of my every action, and which would set fire to me for all eternity if I failed to live up to His standards.
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
The bit in the bright red italics seems important.
I would find God a lot more scary than I find the Inland Revenue. I would probably go mad with terror. Certainly I would examine every tiny cryptic hint that God had ever given as to what I was supposed to do with my life, and I would do it diligently. If I believed in God the same way that I believe in the Inland Revenue.
I never heard that the Bible said that it was important to go to Church, which Christians do a lot. But it's probably not forbidden either. Probably they like the singing and the company. I would love to have some friends to sing with on a Sunday morning.
But the central messages of Christianity are non-violence, and compassion for the poor.
There are people starving. There are children dying, who could be saved with money that people who say they believe in God spend on television licences.
I do nothing about this. That is because, although I think that God might exist, I think that the chances of that are somewhere below the chances of me accidentally catching fire for all eternity. And I will not multiply an infinitesimal chance by an infinite amount of pain and act on that basis, because that doesn't work if there's more than one unlikely painful thing.
If I thought there was a 1% chance of God existing, I would become a missionary. And I would swear a vow of poverty, and I would devote my life to helping the poor, and I would never hurt anyone even if they were attacking my mother.
Because nothing anyone could do to me or my mother would remotely compare with eternal torture. In my mind or hers.
So it seems to me that the fact that I do not do these things is an irrefutable proof that I do not believe in even the tiniest chance of the existence of God.
Oooh, I have just written a sermon. I wonder if I am doing the Lord's work in spite of myself?