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Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Someone had to say it, and who better ...

There are times when you read something that simply resonates through you, and an article in The Spectator today does just that for me. Entitled "Chief Rabbi: Atheism has failed", I find myself nodding at almost every well considered sentence. A trawl through the many comments, most by those who claim to be atheists, shows the reasons why. They simply cannot get past their concept that 'religion is responsible for all the problems.' One even tries to claim that pre-Christian Europe had a better sense of morality, and another that Sweden having the highest rape count in the world is because their 'secular' society 'enables' the victims to report it.

In fact the level of commentary and opinion in the comments alone underscores exactly what the Chief Rabbi says -
A significant area of intellectual discourse — the human condition sub specie aeternitatis — has been dumbed down to the level of a school debating society. Does it matter? Should we not simply accept that just as there are some people who are tone deaf and others who have no sense of humour, so there are some who simply do not understand what is going on in the Book of Psalms, who lack a sense of transcendence or the miracle of being, who fail to understand what it might be to see human life as a drama of love and forgiveness or be moved to pray in penitence or thanksgiving? Some people get religion; others don’t. Why not leave it at that?
Ironically, those making these comments all consider themselves to be intellectually superior to anyone of faith. Once again, the Chief Rabbi says it far better than I can in his observation -
Richard Dawkins, whom I respect, partly understands this. He has said often that Darwinism is a science, not an ethic. Turn natural selection into a code of conduct and you get disaster. But if asked where we get our morality from, if not from science or religion, the new atheists start to stammer. They tend to argue that ethics is obvious, which it isn’t, or natural, which it manifestly isn’t either, and end up vaguely hinting that this isn’t their problem. Let someone else worry about it. 
That is the key. Don't worry about morality, it's someone else's problem. That is how Sweden has got where it is, with soaring rape statistics, major problems with immigrants not integrating, a loss of moral compass in many areas of public life. We should take note of his observation that humanity has been here before. In Ancient Greece in its decline and in First Century Rome as it started to slide. Epicurius of Greece and Lucretius of Rome were, in there day, the 'Atheists' and Secularists of our time. Ironic then that the Rabbi can quote Bertrand Russell to make his point -
These were two great civilisations on the brink of decline. Having lost their faith, they were no match for what Bertrand Russell calls ‘nations less civilised than themselves but not so destitute of social cohesion’. The barbarians win. They always do.
As we are learning, the barbarians are at the door, in fact they are among us, but exactly how do we fix it? The Chief Rabbi is right when he says the 'religious fundamentalists' of all faiths and none are the chief threat within, but there are others waiting without. It now becomes a question of whether we can - or wish to - pull back from the brink.

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