All 16 entries tagged Religion
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March 01, 2007
I cannot quite believe quite how long it’s been since I last blogged… the evil Facebook monster has been eating up my time.
Thusly, to rectify this situation:
I was listening to Radio 4 in the morning a few days ago, and several eminent persons were having a discussion about religion. One of the speakers came out with the oft-heard line of argument, (to paraphase) ‘well I don’t believe in God, and don’t understand why others do, because I no-one can prove to me that he exists’. Despite not being of a religious bent myself any more this angle of thought always irritates me slightly. Surely the whole point of a ‘faith’ is that it cannot be proven: it is a ‘belief that is not based on proof’, according to Dictionary.com. Your strength of conviction that something is true when it cannot be substantiated is what makes you ‘religious’ or ‘faithful’. If there were proof for any particular religion this belief system would simply be truth and there would be no ‘faith’ required to believe in it.
March 21, 2006
Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,,1735730,00.html#article_continue
My dear friend Phil pointed out this story to me when we bumped into each other in front of the newspapers in Costcutter this afternoon.
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has stuck his neck out and said in an interview that he thinks creationism should not be taught in schools. His reasoning is that if creationism is presented as a stark contrast to evolutionary theory it will lower the value of Christian, and particularly creationist, doctrine. Williams is, quite rightly, concerned that, when held up as an equal to evolution, creationism falls far behind: indeed, evolution is accepted by the vast majority of the scientific community. However, he is likely to be heavily criticised by members of the Christian community for admitting that a part of the Bible might not be literally true. He seems to, though the transcript of the interview does not suggest that he presents his ideas particularly clearly, suggest that he himself believes in God as a creator but not in the way that is described in Genesis.
- How many Christians, or indeed non-Christians, still believe in strict creationism? How do they explain the discrepancy between their beliefs and evolution?
- Is it time that the Church caught up with the times and accepted that a strict belief in the word of the Bible is completely at odds with convincing scientific theory? Is it then time for more daring changes, such as the admission of gay clergypeople? After all, if you bend the rules once, why not again?
- How significant is Williams's admission in terms of a giving in to the possible inaccuracy of the Bible? Does it not weaken the authority and reliability of the rest of the text?
- Will this declaration cause Williams and the church to gain or lose respect within the agnostic and atheist community? Why?
- Should religious teachings form any part of the curriculum for secular state schools? Surely any theory explaining the creation of the Earth or any other mystery should be given equal consideration, thus giving those that learn the chance to make up their minds based on the evidence. Williams seemed to be suggesting that removing creationism from the syllabus would strengthen it because it would not be criticised when compared to scientific theory, but is this tantamount to pulling the wool across people's eyes?
- Williams is obviously in a position of huge authority and his opinions are important, but in terms of theological reasoning he is just one man and he cannot possibly hope to represent the entire Church of England unless he never makes a decision on a contentious subject. How much influence should his ideas be credited with? Would is be better for him to keep quiet on this subject as he will always otherwise disagree with some of his church?
- How significant are the current issues dividing the church viewed in terms of its credibility? Is it merely a case of the old-fashioned coming head-to-head with the more liberal or is it more damaging than that? How can the church maintain its popularity as it gradually begins to be more at odds with the changing times whilst avoiding giving in to the extent that its very foundations are removed?
January 17, 2006
Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view
Several times recently people have asserted that others are 'wrong' merely because they don't conform to the perceived majority views of western society. In the entry above the debate is centred on the expression of an anti-homosexual viewpoint by Sir Iqbal Sacranie, president of the Muslim Council of Britain. Although I do not personally agree with his standpoint I have no problem with him, or anyone else, expressing the convictions of their faith providing that no active persecution takes place. Yes, religion is entirely opinion and cannot be proved, but how can the reverse viewpoint be proved either? Yes, religious extremists contradict what we believe to be correct, but from their viewpoint our feelings are blasphemous, and who’s to say who is ‘right’?
Why should people be forced to limit what they say simply because it might offend others? If we follow that argument to its logical conclusion no debate should be allowed at all, because all possible arguments offend someone!
It seems to me that everyone is extremely hasty to proclaim the necessity for free speech, providing that those speaking agree with them personally or with the popular or politically correct concept.
By defending the rights of the persecuted in an attempt to promote free speech are we going too far and as a result merely creating new victims of persecution?
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Voltaire
December 16, 2005
Apologies for the return of the recurring subject, but I rediscovered something I wrote down several weeks ago which is too interesting to ignore.
In a Radio 2 interview:
"The greatest political power in the world is religion"
December 12, 2005
Another entry on religion…
Was (again) listening to Radio 4 recently and heard a debate between a Christian and an atheist about C.S. Lewis's Narnia series. The atheist said he had really enjoyed 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' when he'd read it as a very young child but that he'd felt utterly manipulated by the author when he became older and realised the Christian message behind it.
We live in a free country, thought I! Every author we read writes from a certain point-of-view and puts forward his own opinions through the medium of text. Should we ban any writing that is any way persuasive? In that case the removal of advertisements should be at the top of the list for risk of influencing people!
Are people not capable of reading the opinions of others and assessing them, thus coming to their own conclusions? The atheist is not crediting human beings with much intelligence. He had, himself, read the story and yet still come to the conclusion that he did not believe in God. He was clearly not 'manipulated' sufficiently to change his mind.
Why do we apply different rules to Christianity than to any other religious, or other, idea? Noone would ever think to criticise a Hindu or Buddhist for writing something that enabled people to understand their religion better, or in a different way. Why are so many people desperate to purge the persuasive media of the Christian message?
December 07, 2005
I was listening, for only 5 minutes before I arrived at work this morning, to an interesting programme on Radio 4.
There was a guest who, I unfortunately can't remember her name, has an agony column in a national newspaper. She was talking about her responses to the letters she had received for her column, and was asked about the influence of her strong Christian faith. She said, interestingly, that she thought Christian morals could not be taken separately but had to be considered within the context of a strictly Christian life. She said this was because Christians have the promise of a life in heaven as a reward for their lives on earth, which atheists cannot look forward to. This seemed to me to be an unusual viewpoint, and one with which I don't think I agree. I no longer count myself as a Christian, but nevertheless lead my life, in the most part, according to Christian morals.
Do Christians live good lives, according to the morals of their faith, only so that they can get to heaven? Is it not a fundamental part of what makes us human to want to be law-abiding and good, irrelevant of our faith? Why shouldn't non-active Christians or atheists lead their lives according to Christian morals? Are the people in this category, in fact, morally more virtuous as they lead upstanding lives without the hope of a reward at the end of it?
How can you remove Christian morality from life in a country whose society, laws and customs are based on it and whose citizens have, in the most part, been educated in it?
November 30, 2005
Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4480588.stm
The Catholic church has renewed its convicton that homosexuality is a tendancy rather then an orientation and that practising is a sin. It has renewed the ban on gay priests, saying that those who have indulged in homosexual practises must have renounced their former activities and been celibate for at least three years before being considered for the cloth.
But why the surprise?!
Would we not criticise the church for backing down on one of its fundamental beliefs? Wouldn't the headlines then read something like:
'Church abandons its teachings in favour of pandering to the general feeling of society'?
Surely an organisation cannot be strong without believing emphatically in the rules upon which it is based. Surely one of the reasons the church has become weaker, particularly during the past century, is because some of its fundamental principles have been challenged, for example by the theory of evolution. So why should the church be expected to backtrack on another of its beliefs when presumably, as a result, it would be weakened?
November 16, 2005
November 05, 2005
From the letter Justin mentioned:
'These are days when people of all faiths need to come together and identify what we have in common, as well as respecting our differences. We must learn to live together in peace'.
Too much time is spent haggling over people's differences nowadays, and we are too sensitive to things that are even only slightly controversial. However, trying to merge all the world's peoples in to one by integrating them completely is not going to work either. People of different cultures and religions are proud of their identity (in the most part!) and thus shouldn't be forced to dumb down any part of it. Individuality is important, and there's no reason for people to fail to get on just because they come from a different background as long as they just accept that there are going to be occasional differences of opinion. Crikey, there's enough division in the Anglican church at the moment and they're all supposed to believe in the same things!
November 03, 2005
I don't know about anyone else, but I'm so completely hacked off about so many aspects of this Christmas stamp business (link) that I thought I'd have a rant. So, in no particular order:
– Why on earth did the Post Office officials not assume that something like this would cause offence? To me depicting Hindu characters in a position that could imply the worshipping of a Christian god would obviously be controversial to both Hindus and Christians. And so it has been.
– Why did the PO think it necessary to include icons from other world religions in the Christmas stamps? Christmas is about Christianity, not about any other religions. As a Christian state why should we try to soften our celebration of our own religious festivals? It's political correctness and racial equality gone barmy! We are so fanatical now about respecting the religions of our ethnic minorities that we forget to defend and uphold our own!
– And above all, why is the world so preoccupied with this when there are thousands of people dying from floods and earthquakes in India and of food shortages in all parts of the third world? We are getting to the point where we get so bogged down with tiny details that we forget the bigger picture!