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. 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.
Filed under: Belief systems