Census figures and our own practical experiences both show us that in this age of reason Australia is no longer a Christian country - but the myth that it is goes on.
One illustration for this is in the use of language. Biblical expressions abound - for example, the wisdom of Solomon, the writing on the wall, manna from heaven, a fly in the ointment, and the salt of the earth. Every day, references are made to separating the sheep from the goats, killing the fatted calf, turning the other cheek, raising Cain, being on the road to Damascus or being a doubting Thomas.
The tradition of linking morality to religion has its price - a decline in faith leads to a fall in ethical standards. In Tasmania a company director has been sent to gaol for attempting to bribe a politician. On the mainland we have the hypocrisy of a bankrupt who diverted millions of dollars of public shareholders' funds into his private companies still going around giving, for a huge fee, lectures on how to manage a business.
Another appalling phenomenon of these modern times should be mentioned - the astonishing decline in business ethics. For example, an old-established major bank has been revealed as taking margins to which, according to its own legal advisers, it had no legal or moral entitlement.
Worse still, that bank engaged in "deal-switching", a practice by which it juggled each day's transaction results in relation to a particular product, placing its clients' profits into its own account and its own losses into the accounts of its clients.
The bank's board at the time showed no contrition whatsoever for these acts. Its only interest was in hushing them up. If customers can no longer trust their own bank, can they really trust anybody?
On a different issue, our education system has failed to deliver in many ways. Students are emerging with little skills in basic issues which they will encounter in adult life - issues such as writing good English, coping with credit cards, exercising their rights as consumers, using the Ombudsman or planning for retirement.
An example of the lack of sophistication resulting from this is the typical inquiry by investors to the board of a financial institution in which they hold money, "Are you all right? Is our money still safe?" It should be obvious that no organisation can possibly give an independent assessment of itself in regard to such an important matter.
Furthermore, organisations which have failed in recent times - whether through dishonesty or inefficiency - usually kept on taking new money right up to the moment of closing their doors for the last time. The least likely thing which they would have done would have been to precipitate their own demise by replying "No!" to such naive queries.
Of course, expecting an impartial assessment from a business competitor would be equally unrealistic. For one thing, the necessary inside knowledge would clearly be lacking. But, even if it were not, then for understandable commercial reasons the standard reaction would normally be to the effect that the inquirer's money would probably be safer with the institution being consulted - whether that was so or not.
Turning to a different subject, the courts are now awarding - albeit in a limited number of cases - costs to persons acquitted of criminal charges. It would seem axiomatic to any rational thinker that a person found not guilty should not be out of pocket just because the community erroneously suspected him or her of committing some offence. If that person was held in gaol pending a hearing then the argument in favour of some monetary adjustment is even stronger.
Yet the Victoria Police is on record as holding the view that costs should be awarded only in cases where the court is satisfied that the prosecution was brought in bad faith. One would have thought that such cases should entitle the unfortunate victim to substantial exemplary damages and not only a reimbursement of actual costs.
Even more worthy of substantial compensation are persons wrongly jailed for lengthy periods - such as the Birmingham Six in England some years ago. Money alone hardly seems appropriate in such cases. Perhaps the British authorities should use some lateral thinking and also give them life peerages and speaking rights in the House of Lords. Their experiences would undoubtedly enhance parliamentary debates.
Pressure to stop policy on major issues being made "on the run" in the middle of election campaigns should also be stepped up. To enunciate a firm decision on something as important as the Multi Function Polis by way of a throw-away line, as once happened, is quite absurd.
These comments, of course, refer to the decision-making process at large, not to the specific merits of this or any other particular issue.
Governments are always on the lookout for more taxation revenue, but sometimes fail to remove outdated anomalies. They seem reluctant to remove the various tax exemptions extended to religious bodies - form of cross-subsidisation which has no place in a modern secular state.
Another area where lateral thinking seems called for is the Middle East. For example, perhaps Iraq could now be divided into five parts - one being the area around Baghdad, another (in the North) an area for the Kurds to have an independent nation and another (in the South) an area for the Shi'ites to have an independent nation. A fourth area, with oil wells, could be ceded to Kuwait as reparations for the damage inflicted on that country. The fifth area could be given to the Palestinians as a homeland and in order to resolve their long-standing dispute with Israel.
The point being made here is not whether such a specific approach would or would not be the ideal solution to some complex problems, but rather that it is time for some new ideas to be put into the ring.
As always, reason rather than emotion should be allowed to prevail.