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Monday, February 20, 2006
Religion in the Dock 19th February 2006
RELIGION IN THE DOCK

Recently Richard Dawkins presented a programme on Channel Four suggesting religion is the main cause of evil today. Actually of course religion is natural to human beings. We are more than matter and need communication with God like the plant needs sunshine. A few lines from a December Spectator article by Mark Steyn makes fun and fruitful reading on this theme.

“In fact, in the 20th century … Europe’s post-Christian pathogens of communism and Nazism unleashed horrors on a scale inconceivable even to the most ambitious Pope. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot: you’d look in vain for any of them in the pews each Sunday. Marx has a lot more blood on his hands than Christ — other people’s blood, I mean — but the hyper-rationalists are noticeably less keen to stick him with the tab for the party.

… A thinking atheist ought to be able to appreciate the benefits the secular world derives from monotheism — for example, the most glorious achievements in Western art and music. By comparison, militant atheism has given us John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, that paean to nothingness whose lyric — ‘Above us only sky’ — is the official slogan of John Lennon International Airport in Liverpool. Two years ago, in America’s Weekly Standard, Joel Engel pondered that favourite hymn of sentimental secularists, apparently so anodyne and unobjectionable that, in a world twitchy about the insufficient multiculturalism of ‘Jingle Bells’, never mind ‘Away in a Manger’, the holiday concert at my kids’ school nevertheless gaily programmed John Lennon’s fluffy nihilism as an appropriate sentiment for the season:
Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try, No hell below us ,Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people living for today...

‘Okay,’ wrote Engel, ‘let’s imagine that; let’s imagine six billion people who believe that flesh and blood is all there is; that once you shuffle off this mortal coil, poof, you’re history; that Hitler & Mother Teresa, for example, both met the same ultimate fate. Common sense suggests that such a world would produce a lot more Hitlers and a lot fewer Teresas, for the same reason that you get a lot more speeders/murderers/rapists/embezzlers when you eliminate laws, police and punishment. Sceptics and atheists can say what they like about religion, but it’s hard to deny that the fear of an afterlife where one will be judged has likely kept hundreds of millions from committing acts of aggre-ssion, if not outright horror.
Nothing clears the conscience quite like a belief in eternal nothingness.’That sounds right. There’s an important exception, of course: the challenge of Islam is precisely that it’s a religion whose afterlife appears — at least according to many of its more blood-curdling spokespersons — to reward ‘wars and bigotry’. But the question then is what kind of society is best equipped to defend itself against such a challenge? It’s not just that a radical secularist present-tense society will produce more Hitlers and Stalins — not all of us want to work that hard — but that millions more will lapse into the fey passivity of Lennon’s song. For full article see spectator.co.uk

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:38 am