Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Beyond Our Ken

Yesterday I took a mild swipe at the Christians for not fessing up to their omnipotent God being responsible for the earthquake. Well, I still haven't heard a peep out of Murphy O'Bullshit or that Welsh bloke with the beard.
But today's Guardian has several letters on the subject and the Bishop of Lincoln has come to the rescue. He concludes: ".....people of faith look to a horizon beyond the limitations of scientific enquiry and secular morality. It is a horizon at the limits of time and space beyond which eternity provides a perspective which might yet make sense of what science can only explain."
Thanks Bish. I'm sure we'd all agree that's really cleared things up. Doesn't it read beautifully? Like Arthur C. Clarke put through a theological spin machine and spewed out on to the episcopal writing paper. Just don't ask what the fuck it means.

I also enjoyed Mike Dixon, a parish priest in Northumberland, who decided attack was the best form of defence (the Donald Rumsfeld school of theology, no doubt). He speaks of "the emptiness of humanist atheism [as opposed to what? theist atheism?].......attacking someone else's faith system." But then he does a bit of one-upmanship himself by concluding: "at least as Christians we can go away quietly and try to light a candle rather than curse the darkness." Wow. That's really put us non-believers in our place.
As it happens, we had a power cut here just before Christmas. And you know, Mike, I didn't have to 'try' very hard to light a candle. A lighted match held against the wick did the trick. And instead of cursing the darkness I phoned the electricity supplier (after I'd cursed them) and they told me what had caused it and what they were doing to put it right. I think there's a small parable there about acting rationally. Following the earthquake disaster, anyone who starts lighting candles (or, for that matter, cursing) is just being bloody stupid. Fortunately, millions of people around the world are giving money and practical help. And yes, that includes many Christians and people of other faiths and none.
How many boxes of candles are stacked in church vestries across Britain? Stop lighting the bloody things and send them to the earthquake zones where people are without power.

The reason some of us attack Christian beliefs rather than, say, followers of the Wicca belief, is that Christians are always in our face. They're spouting on the radio, sitting as of right in the House of Lords voting on legislation, pontificating in Downing Street and the White House and trying to impose their values on other people's private lives. They also, of course, try to recruit new members by claiming that their religion is simultaneously a question of 'faith' and perfectly rational. Yet when, at a time like this, we ask a reasonable question we either get rebuked or stuff like this (this one from Rev. Macpherson in Twickenham): "Religious believers see the totality of experience as part of a greater narrative moving towards an as yet unimaginable goal."

The Art Editor writes: to brighten these dark winter days we are illustrating the blog with photographs of the Lupin Towers gardens in midsummer. They'll usually have bugger all to do with the subject matter, although today's picture is an Angel's Trumpet which we thought was pretty neat. Unlike most images on these pages, these are our own copyright. Our blogger friends are welcome to appropriate them but if we ever see them on a greetings card we'll sue the arse off you.


At 3:53 PM, Blogger withknivesout said...

as a Christian, please let me point out that I believe that God does not "cause" things to happen. rather the earth is a flawed machine, flawed by man's sin. because of this, negative things happen. hurricanes, tornados, plague, murders, etc. happen because this world is flawed. God does not sit back and laugh at what is happening, but this world's path is set, due to man's failure. i realize you will probably hack me up for this, but i want you to know that i posted because you asked for a response. if you don't like it, sorry.

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Thanks for your comment and I've no wish to hack you up. As the first person I've provoked into disagreement, I should really send you a small prize.
In traditional Christian theology, God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. He is also the 'First Cause' - that's one of the arguments for the existence of God. So I don't understand why you say he doesn't cause things to happen. I'm sure that if you had cancer and prayed to him and were cured you would say that he was the cause of the cure.
I didn't say that he was laughing at what had happened. I don't believe he had anything to do with it because I don't believe he exists.
If you are saying that man's sinfulness is the cause of things like the earthquake then you obviously believe in a savage Old Testament God. Very savage, considering that many who died were babies and small children who hadn't had a chance to start sinning.
I don't care if people believe the moon is made of cheese, so long as they don't attempt to rationalise their belief and think they can convince others through logical argument.


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