Truly An Unanswerable Question

The leader of Britain’s Roman Catholics, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has appealed to his flock to treat atheists and agnostics with “deep esteem”, according to a recent BBC report.[1] He then goes on to accuse believers of being:

“…partly responsible for the decline in faith by losing sense of the mystery and treating God as a ‘fact in the world’.”

I think, for once, I’m in agreement with him.

Asked to comment on the Cardinal’s assertions, that other high priest Richard Dawkins, who is to Atheism as O’Connor is to Christianity, responded:

“There’s absolutely no reason to take seriously someone who says, ‘I believe it because I believe it.’ God either exists or he doesn’t. It’s a matter of the truth.”

Strangely, I’m in agreement with Dawkins also.

Where both these fine gentlemen go astray is in assuming an intransigence towards their beliefs that forces others to take sides. Dawkins talks of “truth”, but neither he nor O’Connor have the intellect, wisdom, or knowledge to make any decision on whether that known colloquially as “GOD” is a reality or not, and it’s the egotistical opinions of both that form the driving force of their opposing arguments.

The core of any religion is its belief in the existence of a supernatural entity, or entities. Given the vastness of the Universe, our total ignorance of its conception or what may lie beyond it, and the unlikelihood of us ever being in a position to find out due to the mind-boggling distances and time-spans involved, to deny the possibility of some divine intelligence is as patently stupid as insisting one exists. In fact, both stances are so crazy that only the human ego could ever conceive of such a reality.

A wise person would accept that the humble human brain, coupled to a mere five basic senses, is incapable of considering, let alone answering, questions surrounding the reality of a God-presence. Neither O’Connor nor Dawkins has anymore ability to form such a conclusion than a daisy growing in a meadow, or a cow about to eat the daisy. In fact, both bovine and compositae are probably better off for not contemplating the matter. After all, neither cows nor daisies slaughter their own kind en masse in the pursuit of persuading others to adopt their ideals.

At this point, Dawkins may well jump from his chair and accuse the religious of fostering wars, but neither Stalin nor Hitler were men of God. It is Homo sapiens who wages war, and whether he chooses to call it ‘Holy’, or not, war is one of the more irreligious and unholy of man’s activities, even when waged under the convenience of a God-banner.

It would seem that Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor wishes to retain the ‘sense of mystery’ surrounding God, rather than accepting the Being as a fact of life. One has to wonder, given this admission, how someone of such stature within his church can continue to dredge the bowels of humanity in search of converts to his faith? If he prefers God as a mystery, rather than a ‘fact of life’, perhaps his faith is less firm than he would have us believe?

Of itself, that’s not a problem. Neither would it be a criticism, were he to contain his beliefs within the confines of his own thoughts. It becomes a problem when his office dictates how others should live their lives; employing itself as the foundation-layer of our universal morality.

Similarly so with Richard Dawkins. The media have set him up as a scientific cult figure, a position he seems happy to occupy, arrogantly denouncing the religious and holy as stupid and simplistic.

Dawkins is entitled to his opinions, as is O’Connor. Neither has the right to force their beliefs into the social framework of our societies.

To suggest we should all conform to an atheistic ideal on the basis that it is right, is no more excusable than the suggestion that non-belief in a God will result in an eternity of damnation.

Each may have its place. After all, as thinking beings, albeit of a primitive and unevolved form, we are right to ponder the unanswerable.

But, to unerringly believe we’ve discovered the answer is simply to defer to our own egotistical crassitude.

[1] ” ‘Respect atheists’, says cardinal”, BBC, May 9th 2008

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7 Replies to “Truly An Unanswerable Question”

  1. ‘Egotistical crassitude’ Love it RJ!! I mostly agree with you.

    Half the fun in life is experimenting with all there is to try out. Religion, atheism, agnosticism, mysticism, eroticism, and yes, astrology, psychic ability, technology……whatever best floats one’s boat.

    We come here once only (as far as we can tell) – what we do, provided we hurt no other living thing or the planet, is our choice and ours alone.

    There is nobody entitled to question or criticise choices,the only criticism valid is if pressure to conform is applied – or if someone is dispensing hatred towards any section of humanity. (IMO.)

    I heartily dislike Dawkins, he along with churchmen with loud mouths are right at the bottom of my respect list.

  2. Good post, RJA.
    I also agree with you, the force-feeding of another’s belief is anethema to me. Dawkins is just as evangelical as those whom he despises.
    XO
    WWW

  3. I remember being somewhat taken aback in Dublin, when the local radio channel broadcast the pope calmly stating that he had chatted with Jesus over breakfast that morning, and Jesus had told him that women were unfit for the priesthood.

    My wannabee-a-priest (gay and misogynist) friend smugly explained that once the (male) priest lifts the host (wafer), he becomes Christ, and since Christ was male, obviously women were out.

    I explained to him that since Christ was evidently manifested physically by a woman, and no man has ever been able to manifest anything except his own ego, perhaps we should throw all those imposters out of their dresses and let the women have a go.

    Yeah, well…no, we’re not actually on speaking terms anymore.

  4. Twilight – ‘mostly’ agree? I think we’re in perfect synthesis. Better stay off the politics, though 😉

    WWW – It comes down to control, I think. What motivates the need to control others, if not ego?

    Anan – well done! It would have been worth losing such a friend just to put him in his place so ably. How egotistical, to believe one actually becomes a god, or indeed, to imagine oneself chatting to Him over breakfast. Egos have much to answer for. If reincarnation occurs, I may well choose to come back next time as a daisy, or a cow. Mind, I’ll probably be mowed away by some egomaniac landscaper, or worse – slaughtered, and roasted on Richard Dawkin’s barbecue!

  5. I too am agnostic. I think to admit that there is no way to know is the only honest approach to religion. Preaching (in all its varied varieties) is just a con job by presumptive, arrogant fools.

    I was thinking about this very topic yesterday when I was mowing my weedy lawn. The variety in my yard is amazing and really interesting. If man had his way, it would all be blades of grass. So too, man takes the infinite variety and reduces it to something they hope to control. Eventually, mankind (the most invasive species) will kill the habitat of all that variety.

  6. Me again. On of my peeves (among many) is the lumping of atheists with agnostics. They are exactly opposites – the only thing they share is a dislike of organized religion.

  7. Flimsy – you are so right to be peeved by the constant lumping of atheists and agnostics, by the religious. They see an agnostic as some sort of watered-down atheist. Presumably, not saved but still savable.

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