God (with note)
Sunday, 5 December 2010
NOTE: THIS THREAD WILL CLOSE FOR COMMENTS AT MIDDAY ON TUESDAY DECEMBER 7th, SO GET YOUR KINDLY SUPPORT / TOLERANT AND REASONED DISAGREEMENT / EXPLANATION OF WHY YOU HAVE LOST ALL RESPECT FOR ME / UNNECESSARILY SERIOUS ENGAGEMENT WITH THE IPAD JOKE IN QUICKLY IF YOU WANT TO SEE IT POSTED.
I’ve been asked by a friend to put this week’s Observer column up on the blog (as well as its normal place on the columns page) because he thinks it’s a good topic for debate. I’m not so sure. Online this morning, it’s the usual divide: furious frothing madness on the Guardian website, punctuated by the occasional refreshing hint of sanity - but I scan through those CiF comments very fast, as I’m not sure they’re good for the soul - and, on Twitter, people generally agreeing or disagreeing with tolerance and good humour. Hurray for Twitter!
But I don’t know that this column necessarily makes for a good debating topic anyway. It’s about belief in God. I have a feeling that these debates descend quickly into “I believe”, “I don’t”, “I do”, “I don’t.”
The column is really just a funny story about going to Lambeth Palace, with a point - the only serious point I’m really trying to make - that there seems to be a false distinction gaining ground between “believers” and “rationalists”, when I think neither theism nor atheism is particularly logical. It worries me that a certain vocal group of proselytizing atheists are trying a little too hard to attack the idea that faith is a comfort (what’s wrong with that?) and that taking comfort in faith is ignorant. I say: whatever gets you through the night. If it’s prayer, or faith (whether within a particular church or - as it would be for me - a less specific, less doctrinal sense of higher power that doesn’t currently express itself regularly in any official place of worship) then don’t let people make you feel a fool for that; you aren’t one. Unless you are one. But there are as many non-believing fools as believing fools, and faith has nothing to do with it.
So I would plead, if we’re going to have a mini blog debate, please let’s not make it about whether God exists or not. That’s a pointless thing to argue about. The interesting question, and what feels topical in modern Dawkins culture, is the plusses v. minuses of trying to take God away from those who do believe. If it were actually possible to remove religious faith entirely from human consciousness (and, obviously, it isn’t), would this be for the greater good? I don’t think so. Clearly, though, some do…