Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Don't do God

It couldn't have happened in America. Other there, Republican and Democrat presidential hopefuls alike are falling over each other in the rush to boast about how many impossible beliefs they manage to hold, from Mike Huckabee's openly espoused creationism to Mormon Mitt Romney's proclamation, in his speech at George Bush Senior's Presidential Library, that he believed every one of his religion's preposterous doctrines. One of which, I believe, states that Jesus came originally from the planet Kolob. Romney also made the frankly terrifying statement that "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom".

In Britain, by contrast, we now find ourselves in possession of an avowedly atheistical party leader. Asked on Radio Five "Live" whether he believed in God, he paused for a moment, and let it slip out.

No.

Such clarity, bravery even in the current faith-obsessed climate, almost made up for his stumbling performance on the radio yesterday, when he feigned ignorance of Shane Macgowan's masterpiece Fairytale of New York.

Sadly, he went and spoiled it all a few moments later, once the spin doctors had got to him, with the following statement:


I have enormous respect for people who have religious faith. I’m married to a Catholic and am committed to bringing my children up as Catholics.

However, I myself am not an active believer, but the last thing I would do when talking or thinking about religion is approach it with a closed heart or a closed mind.


In other words, I may think it's all a load of baloney, but I don't mind teaching it to my children. Presumably he's been warned there aren't many votes in atheism.

According to Paul Woolley of think tank Theos (they of the Christmas general ignorance survey),

“If he is saying that is he agnostic, obviously that is probably not quite so serious politically as saying you are an atheist.”

Indeed. Except that he was asked if he believed in God, and he said "No".

What part of No aren't we meant to understand?

Don't listen to the advisers, Nick. People in this country couldn't care less what their leaders believe. If anything, given the disastrous foreign wars and pseudo-moralism of God-guided Blair, an injection of full-blooded atheism into the body politic might go down very well.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I came here from the Telegraph article to congratulate you on your correct apprehension of what the Archbishop said re: the Nativity. Biblical scholars have long said as much: this Jesus guy was not likely born in December, or anyway the December date was established to replace a pagan festival; the Magi could've been any sort of 'wise' people (teachers, even sorcerers); no likelihood of snow, etc.

I appreciate your setting the record straight, in the comments on the Telegraph article. I say this as a committed, conservative, dare-I-say evangelical Christian. Or at least, my heritage is evangelical.

However, I do find it too bad that you have dedicated your site (heroically?) to attacking religions and those who believe. I suppose you revel in the ignorance displayed by the other commentators on the Telegraph article. I suppose you think that your superior knowledge in this regard makes you the possessor of truth, and all believers either mindless drones or liars (to themselves and others).

Pity. But it may well be Christianity's fault, not yours, that it produces such easy targets for your scorn.

For my part, I've spent a great deal of thought on existence, and haven't, as you have, come to the conclusion that I haven't any evidence of God's existence. How's that for a vague double-negative?

But more than that, over the years, I've come to believe that what evidence I do have, points toward Christianity being the most accurate mythological understanding of the universe, God, and the relationship between God and humanity. Once a lot of the false legends are stripped away, and once you accept that the Bible is historically accurate in some places and _allegorically_ accurate in others (e.g. Genesis), the rest of the Christian myth comes to make a great deal of sense.

Well, we all do the best we can, to muddle through existence. Only I don't think you're doing people any favors by trying to win converts to atheism. Pointing out inconsistencies in Christian/Muslim/Whatever belief, that indeed is a good, and a service to those who believe, and even to those who don't. But peddling atheism as a higher form of living or a more enlightened existence? That, I think, is not so much an insult to believers -- as a waste of your time.

I can only assume that you think the religious beliefs of others to be harmful to you and/or to society at large. Otherwise, I can't imagine what motivates your crusades against belief.

Then again, you call Nick Clegg 'heroic' for admitting his atheism. Maybe you think yourself heroic?

Fascinating. I knew Hitchens as an evangelical atheist, and Dawkins, but I didn't know there were evangelical atheist bloggers out there, fruitlessly casting their rage into cyberspace, hoping, I guess, to change a few minds. Someday I'm going to open up one of you evangelical atheists, to find out what makes you tick.

I wish I could allay your fears that religion is evil or harmful. I grant that there are some real jerks out there, who call themselves Christians, and they do harm society and their fellow human beings, but, frankly, when has that not been the case among any religious peoples, or even among atheists? I'm an humanist as well as a Christian, but despite my high regard for the human creature, I really believe human nature doesn't change; you'll find idiots among the Christians, the atheists, the Muslims.

So try not to be put off Christianity/Islam/etc., and all mad about it, just because a few of the examples are less than exemplary.

Sincerely,
Matt Barber
Wooster, OH, USA

Tim said...

he feigned ignorance of Shane Macgowan's masterpiece Fairytale of New York.

Do you reckon? I think it might be even scarier than that - he really didn't know it. Never underestimate how out of touch a politician can be. Even if Shane and he did go to the same public school.