Thursday, February 04, 2010

No Pope Here! Pope, come damn quick!

Cranmer has been asked to comment on the ‘Ad limina’ address of Pope Benedict XVI to the 35 assembled bishops and archbishops of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, in which His Holiness was perceived to criticise the legislative programme of Her Majesty’s Government.

His Grace has already attempted to do this, but manifestly failed miserably. He was accused of being inter alia ‘too clever’, ‘pompous’, ‘conceited’, blah, blah, blah (though not [yet] ‘bigoted’, ‘creepy’, ‘yucky’ or ‘disgusting’): the usual diatribe of puerile ad hominem vitriol which tends to be deployed by those who are either incapable of comprehension or unwilling to engage with the argument (or both).

Firstly, it would help to understand precisely what the Pope said, for the true account will not be found within the pathological distortions of the mainstream news media. When one is acquainted with the Pope’s perception of many of his 35 bishops and archbishops in Eccleston Square, it becomes evident that his 'attack' was not so much upon the UK’s anti-Christian Labour Government as it was upon his own recalcitrant bishops’ lack of unity, their obstinate reluctance to implement his reforms, and their stubborn refusal to be subject to the Magisterium and adhere to traditional orthodoxy (ie, their 'Anglican' tendencies...).

And his speech concerned ‘natural law’, though few journalists have mentioned it, and of those who did there is apparently little understanding of the term or of how it relates to issues of justice.

What has been read by most commentators as a high-handed, interfering papal condemnation of the secularist-humanist-equality-obsessed politicians in Her Majesty’s Government was more a humble and wholly-justified rebuke to the ecumenical-relativist-perpetually-compromising bishops and priests in the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

And yet the media narrative has been dominated by Harriet Harman’s ‘Equality Bill’, and she has not helped herself by the timing of her spectacular (cowardly and utterly disappointing) climb-down. After all, either she believes in ‘equality’ or she does not: if she does, why has she not pushed this Bill through Parliament irrespective of the will of the Lords, as Labour have done on so many occasions for far more trivial bills? Does the banning of hunting with hounds really merit the deployment of the Parliament Act more than ensuring the inviolable rights of women or homosexuals?

Ms Harman, is the fox’s right to life worth more than gay equality?

Of course, she has one eye on the General Election, and God knows Labour need their traditional five-million-strong ‘Catholic vote’ if they are not to be completely annihilated.

But one hopes that traditionally-Labour-supporting faith groups of all descriptions and denominations will not be duped into believing that this is anything but a temporary lull, a calculated pause, a manipulative political manoeuvre to avoid the Pope’s visit being completely overshadowed by Labour’s odious and utterly illiberal ‘equality’ agenda.

Yet the Pope’s ‘intervention’ has produced a curious coalition of unanimity:

Simon Jenkins in The Guardian says ‘the pope is right and Harriet Harman is wrong’:

‘I might prefer the opposite to be the case but, on the matter in hand, Voltaire's principle should apply. The Roman Catholic church (sic) may be a hotbed of religious prejudice, indoctrination and, somewhere in the United Kingdom, social division. But faced with Harriet Harman's equality bill and her utopian campaign to straighten all the rough timber of mankind, the pope's right to practise what he preaches needs defending.’

Even though Simon Jenkins ‘deplore(s) the attitude of the Catholic church to homosexuality, veiled as it is in decades of a hypocrisy whose consequences for many young people are only now coming to light’. And even though he notes ‘the church's historic aversion to religious debate and dissent, its pathological conservatism, its veneration of relics, its cruelty to its own adherents and its necrophilia make the pope's plea for tolerance ring hollow’, he detects in Ms Harman’s ‘Equality Bill’ a potential tyranny by which ‘a new social order’ of Labour’s own devising is being constructed.

And so he concludes: ‘Harman's interest is not social equality – which her government has conspicuously ignored – but state control.’

Andrew Pierce in The Daily Mail observes the persecution of society’s most vulnerable. He says: “Indeed, children such as me, raised for two years in a Catholic orphanage, could be the real losers of Harman's obsessive drive to force the Church to embrace her doctrine of legalised social engineering.”

“That's not to say that I agree with all of the Pope's edicts. In particular, I find the Church teaching that homosexuality is ‘intrinsically disordered’ deeply offensive. But imposing legislation is not the answer to countering such outdated views.”

And he understands that the very intolerance which has historically been expressed towards homosexuals, not least by the church, is now being directed at those who hold sincerely-held objections to homosexual equality, thereby rendering them inferior and so unequal. And he calls Ms Harman a ‘zealot’.

Brendan O’Neill at Index on Censorship is succinct: ‘It is a shocking indictment of the state of progressive politics in Britain that it has taken Pope Benedict XVI — the head of a backward church — to put the case for freedom of conscience against the UK government’s Equality Bill.’

He, too, refers to a ‘tyranny of equality’ as the State removes the right to freedom of association (and therefore the right to discriminate).

Christopher Howse in The Daily Telegraph says of Pope Benedict's remarks on the doings of Harriet Harman that ‘an irresistible force has collided with an immovable object’.

Presumably the Pope is irresistible because Ms Harman is manifestly movable (God willing). Yet Mr Howse reminds us that ‘the Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England’, and notes ‘the Primate of there before the Pope’ when he said: "If religious freedom means anything, it must mean that those are matters for the churches."

But the Primate of England was scarcely reported.

And no-one listened.

Law Central gets to the elephant in the room, about which His Holiness has been disconcertingly silent:

‘(The equality) battle is already lost and the Catholic Church does itself no favours to suggest that the rules and laws of a religion should prevail over national laws protecting the basic equality rights of others. It will find itself in uncomfortable extremist company if it persists with that line.

‘Whilst the Church still has some time to influence the debate on the draft Equality Bill, it has missed the boat completely on the existing equality laws protecting gay and female workers. These are now firmly established in the UK and are underpinned by European legislation.’

The Spectator also notes the Brussels dimension: ‘The coalescence of British and EU anti-discrimination law is but an immodest garment for trenchant ideology. Harman’s bill strives to subjugate individual freedoms, such as that to religious expression, beneath state-imposed rights. This legislation is the progeny of faith in social engineering, not social mobility; it ignores that toleration and freedom in Britain were derived from the right to religious observance free from state proscriptions.’

The Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks in The Times is more philosophical: ‘Using the ideology of human rights to assault religion risks undermining the very foundation of human rights themselves. When a Christian airport worker is banned from wearing a cross, when a nurse is sacked after a role-play exercise in which he suggested that patients pray, when Roman Catholic adoption agencies are forced to close because they do not place children for adoption with same-sex couples and when a Jewish school is told that its religious admissions policy is, not in intent but in effect, racist, we are in dangerous territory indeed.’

And he notes the distinctly English understanding of liberty which is at variance with that on much of the Continent: ‘The English approach was gradual, evolutionary, mindful of history and respectful of tradition. The French approach was perfectionist, philosophical, even messianic in a secular way. For the French revolutionaries there is an ideal template of society that can be realised by the application of politics to all spheres of life. Liberty is to be achieved by a vast extension of the powers of the State.’

And this is the method embraced by the European Union and now adopted by Labour: they are forcing men to be free. While the English tradition of liberty has been to set limits to the State, on the Continent (noably in France) liberty is imposed by the State. We have traditionally legislated to prohibit; they to permit.

And so there is very broad agreement across the political and religious divides that the Pope was right to ‘intervene’ and remind us that the Law of God transcends the laws of man, and that the Roman Catholic Church is supranational and Semper Eadem.

And yet, and yet...

There is an awful lot of hypocrisy about, especially from anti-EU Conservatives who habitually deplore the 'interference' in British politics of a meddling ‘President of Europe’ who struts his stuff on the world stage like an ‘absolute monarch’ and presides over an ‘unelected oligarchy’ or ‘ruling élite’ with a ‘democratic deficit’, aided by a complicit civil service answerable (in theory) to an ‘impotent parliament’ in a state in which no criticism is permitted, social activities are regulated, liberties are restricted, the press and media controlled, with its own army and police force ...

...just like The Vatican.

One cannot have it both ways. If Conservatives are jubilant that the Pope has ‘declared war’ on Labour, one has to wonder how they would have greeted Pope John Paul II’s ‘declaration of war’ (as Anglican bishops frequently did) against the policies of Margaret Thatcher, or how they might react to a papal rebuke of any of David Cameron’s policy proposals. And one also has to wonder at the poverty of the understanding of such notions as political sovereignty and religious authority and how, in a representative liberal democracy, these may be legitimately expressed without moving towards omnicompetent clericalism or a theocracy of suzerain monocracy.

The Pope is not simply the leader of a worldwide religion: he is a head of state. What would have been the reaction if President Bush had sought to influence the vote in Parliament on the Iraq war? Do clerical robes make such an intervention more acceptable? What if President Ahmadinejad or Hugo Chavez were to comment on UK employment law in an attempt to influence the outcome of the legislative process?

Just because the Pope’s ‘interference’ (if that is what it was) concerns a religio-political matter with which very many might agree does not render it politically acceptable. If UK law should not be subject to omnipotent directives from Brussels, then neither should it be subordinate to the infallible orthodoxy of The Vatican.

When it was decreed that ‘the Pope of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England’, it was a declaration that the government of England is not subject to any foreign prince or potentate.

But, like nature, politico-religiosity abhors a vacuum.

The greatest sorrow and tragedy is that the Pope’s intervention has demonstrated the undeniable spiritual vacuum which emanates from the black hole within Lambeth Palace, and the almost total abdication of responsibility by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Of course the Pope should not be ‘interfering’ in UK politics: that is the constitutional role of the Esablished Church. And yet, if they are silent, God will speak through another and say what He wants to say.

And the people are evidently listening, whatever their politics, religion, race, gender or sexuality: the Pope has articulated something of the English tradition of liberty and the instinct of the people for freedom from tyranny.

And the reality is that people now feel less threatened by the Pope than they do by their own government: they fear the Vatican less than they fear Parliament; they despise politics more than religion; they respect the Roman Catholic Church more than the Church of England; and they honour the Throne of St Peter more than the Throne of the United Kingdom.

It is a sad day indeed when we need the Pope to remind us of our history, customs and traditions.

But when we are already subject to a foreign power, unable to make our own laws or govern ourselves according to those customs and traditions, and when our Parliament, Government, Monarch and Church are all apparently complicit in that occupation, one must thank God that the King of the Vatican is prepared to ‘interfere’ and remind us of the source of our spiritual strength, the fount our political power and the origins of our philosophical greatness.


Anonymous Graham Davis said...

All debate here is pointless. There is no god.

Religion is only of interest in showing how primitive man attempted to find explanations for those things that he sought to understand.

That belief in god persists is due either to ignorance or to intellectual cowardice. For the latter there is no excuse. Intelligent believers place their faith behind a firewall that is impervious to reason and defend their childlike beliefs by citing the provenance of their religion and the culture that surrounds it, neither of which affect the truth.

That truth is that all the gods were invented by man. The few that are left remain because they are still embedded to a lesser or greater degree in most societies.

Why do atheists care? Because religion is a virus that restricts human development and because it is resistant to reason it cannot be challenged. 9/11 showed how dangerous faith can be and the catholic child abuse scandal has demonstrated how that religious virus subverted the political and law enforcement systems in both the USA and Ireland and probably many other places besides.

That folks here and elsewhere spend so much effort defending the indefensible shows how virulent the virus still is. Reason is the anti-venom and we need ever greater supplies of it so that future generations will never suffer from religion’s devastating effects.

4 February 2010 at 10:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pope for Prime Minister!

Forgive me, Your Grace, for going off-piste but here’s something that caught my eye this morning; The National Secular Society has lodged an official protest with the Office for Judicial Complaints claiming that Cherie Booth QC was ‘discriminating against atheists’ by sparing a violent criminal from jail because he believed in ‘God’.

As I suspected, the criminal concerned is a follower of the religion of peace.

It seems The National Secular Society hasn’t woken up to the fact that we are ruled by Islamo-Marxists and that the judiciary, including the wife of an ex-PM, must at all times tread so very softly lest they offend the sensitivities of a select, and rapidly growing, ‘minority’.

The National Secular Society, and its allies, should stick to what they are encouraged to do by our spineless and treacherous politicians – erase every last vestige of Christian culture, values and heritage from these islands and welcome the Thousand Year Reich of Sharia.

4 February 2010 at 10:12  
Blogger Ian said...

"Reason is the anti-venom" - or quite clearly not!

Intellectualism, when it seeks to replace God with 'reason' seems to invoke the most unreasonablenss in its adherents, who because they deny God, are subsequently absolved of the moral accountability with which they then choose to damn others.

They then become 'God-like' where they can behave with the utmost unreasoableness, 'freely' to project their guilt on to those who may highlight such inconsistencies.

Anyway an excellent analysis Cranmer.

4 February 2010 at 10:20  
Anonymous RichardW said...

As you acknowledge via a quotation of Christopher Howse, Dr Williams spoke on this matter before the Pope. Your derogatory response to this and subsequent disparaging remarks about Dr Williams do the C of E no favours, for you support the media line that it is regarded with contempt for its woolliness while the firm teaching of the Church of Rome is regarded with respect (like its teaching on birth control?). What you say may be true in media circles, but it certainly isn't out here in the Marches where the Church is in ruder health than many give it credit for. Your criticism of Dr Williams suggests a yearning for exactly that kind of authority which makes us glad not to be Roman Catholics. In last week's Church Times Kenneth Stevens has a good quotation which sums up my feelings on this. In a 1924 lecture Oliver Quick said that 'the Church of England has repudiated the Pope in vain if she never allows herself to have been mistaken.' It saddens me that you fail to honour the humility of approach that seeks to include a range of views rather than exclude all who do not conform to our own template of orthodoxy.

4 February 2010 at 10:24  
Blogger John.D said...

Well said again Your Grace. If I only had a fragment of your talent. I will have to make do though with what I have (or Haven't).

I find it a fascinating paradox that the Church is now advising it's people about shunning BNP/EDL members. After years and years of serial neglect, the church now finds its self in a battle for Christian hearts. While the church sits back and offers no words of wisdom over the shocking state of affairs, it now has an out of control group of very disillusioned young men marching in the streets and proclaiming they do it in the name of their faith in the Christian God and for the love of their country.

What a paradox that we have young people suddenly expressing faith and at the same time being dictated to by a church that has largely abandoned their class. The church is now forced into a position where it has to act and it finds its self vying for the faith of those it has ignored for years on end.

And as his Grace says, the Roman church is getting more and more appealing as time goes on. Maybe someone should start preaching the Gospel? Shock horror!

4 February 2010 at 10:35  
Blogger Soho Politico said...

You criticise, understandably, 'the usual diatribe of puerile ad hominem vitriol which tends to be deployed by those who are either incapable of comprehension or unwilling to engage with the argument (or both).' And yet I note with interest that you are not above dismissing the Equality Bill as 'odious', in lieu of deploying an argument against it. So it seems that some introspection is required on your part, with regards whether you yourself are meeting the high argumentative standards which you expect of others.

There simply has been *no* attempt at argument against the Equality Bill on this blog (nor in the many critical pieces which you have cited in this post). What there has been is a lot of unsubstantiated assertion to the effect that the Bill represents an unjust dilution of the right to freedom of religious conscience. Yet, *why* is this held to be so? Why does it represent an unacceptable abrogation of religious freedom for the law to state, for instance, that a Catholic school board may not sack or fail to hire a cleaner or maths teacher just on grounds that he/she is discovered to be gay? Unless it can be shown that, without these powers, it is unduly difficult or impossible to live according to one's conscience, and that the importance of being able to do so outweighs the importance to gay people of employment security, you will do nothing to quell the suspicion that opposition to the Equality Bill represents nothing more or less than a special plea on the part of religious people to be given free rein to indulge their prejudices. In a nutshell, in the absence of the equality legislation, some gay people may have their lives and livelihoods wrecked. So, if the Bill is passed, what do Catholics and others lose, which can be said to be of greater and overriding significance? This is the case which you have singularly failed to make.

4 February 2010 at 10:43  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

Ian resorts to that old canard linking god to morality. Nothing could be further from the truth as the pope exemplifies. The pope is more concerned with protecting the reputation of his church by covering up the “sin’s of some his clergy than caring for the abuse suffered by those in its care.

I try to be a moral person not because I will be judged by some supernatural entity but because like most other human beings I am capable of empathy, that’s all you need to be good. The rest is up to you.

4 February 2010 at 10:43  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Beautiful. Just beautiful.

How can one add to that?

Where, where is my Lord Canterbury?

Where? Shame on us.

4 February 2010 at 11:20  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

Having said debate is pointless, I find myself engaged in it! Can someone tell me why religious belief as opposed to any other belief should justify exemption from any law? (Please don’t say because it sincerely held, we all know where that can lead)

4 February 2010 at 11:20  
Blogger John.D said...


You will be free to express your feelings of painlessness here, it's part of the debate, but it does get boring when you hammer the same point home continuously. If it was considered pointless by everyone else then we would not feel the need to debate it, but we do feel there is a point. Wishing something would go away by repeating mantras is an ineffective way of dealing with things....try debating it.

4 February 2010 at 11:31  
Blogger John.D said...

Your Grace

The Catholic Herald has you listed in their 'Morning must reads':

The blogger Cranmer says “one must thank God that the King of the Vatican is prepared to ‘interfere’” in British politics.

4 February 2010 at 11:40  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

It is written: ‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.’

At the beginning of the English Civil War the lawyers asked: ‘Rex lex’ or ‘Lex rex’?

Please be a good chap and study Lord Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke’s (1552 – 1634) The Institutes.

You could also study the reasons for the outbreak of the Second English Civil War (commonly referred to as The American War of Independence).

4 February 2010 at 11:40  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr John D,

His Grace knows.

He has already thanked them in the comment thread!

Mr Graham Davis,

When the religion is the foundation of the laws of liberty and proposed laws are antithetical to that foundation?

4 February 2010 at 11:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two astounding pieces of Church hypocrisy:

Dr John Sentamu: Archbishop of York claims tolerance in UK has 'negative virtue'

Church of England tells clergy not to invite BNP candidates to hustings

4 February 2010 at 11:55  
Blogger Ian said...

Graham Davis - my point was to highlight to someone who extols the virtues of intellectualism, the illogicality of your statement, rather than its moral content, one to which with good grace you elude to yourself later, conceding that you are now debating a subject you insist is beyond debate.

It appears you have some sort of subliminal wish to 'debate' this subject, how ever much you wish the reality to be contrary, so therefore impressing upon us that the debate is indeed, not over.

4 February 2010 at 12:02  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

There you go again Cranmer...

“When the religion is the foundation of the laws of liberty and proposed laws are antithetical to that foundation?”

Religion is not the foundation of liberty, quite the opposite, religion in its myriad guises seeks to restrict liberty by imposing its “values”. There are of course humanistic values that are universally shared between those who believe and those who do not but these are the natural product of human existence not hand-me-downs from a non-existent deity.

4 February 2010 at 12:10  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Graham Davis, speaking as an atheist, I fear your analysis of religious belief in your first comment here is almost entirely mistaken: "reason is the anti-venom" said he, venomously.

4 February 2010 at 12:32  
Anonymous Tony B said...

It's easy to forget that the Pope is also a head of state.

>"they respect the Roman Catholic Church more than the Church of England and they honour the Throne of St Peter more than the Throne of the United Kingdom."

I'd agree with the rest of that paragraph, but not this bit.

4 February 2010 at 12:35  
Anonymous FrankFisher said...

While god and the pope might add a bit of colour, it's not the key issue here: in a liberal society we should be free to disagree, to offend, to employ or not employ who we wish. I wrote about the latest wretched marxist horror here:

4 February 2010 at 12:43  
Blogger Theresa said...


The laws that allow me freedom of religion, are the laws that allow you to be an atheist. The laws that allow Christians to only employ people of their persusion in jobs that require a Christian ethos, are the same laws that allow Stonewall to only employ workers that share theirs. Remove that and you're going to have chaos.

4 February 2010 at 12:55  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

The English philosopher John Locke (1632 – 1704) distinguished in his Essay on Toleration liberty from license. He advised us that there are freedoms that we abhor, and which it is the duty of government to extinguish. Identifying those ‘licentious’ freedoms is controversial (with the collapse of Judaeo-Christianity in this country).

A’s liberty may conflict with B’s liberty. Looking at this from the stand-point of the libertarian it seems that the function of the State is to guard and enlarge the liberty of the subject. But that, as the English philosopher Roger Scruton points out cannot be a statement that contains the whole of politics: ‘We must still devise the institutions – the minimum or ‘nightwatchman’ state, as Nozick describes it – which will reconcile the freedom of each citizen with the freedom of his neighbours, while maximizing freedom over all.’ (Scruton, The Limits of Liberty (Templeton Essay (2009))

Remi Brague said, ‘outside the Judeo-Christian tradition, it has been rare for thinkers to suppose that God endowed us with a nature of our own, that freedom is a part of that nature, and that it is through the exercise of freedom, and the errors that inevitably stem form it, that we fulfil God’s plan’ adding, ‘the mainstream tradition of Islam has certainly regarded freedom, both personal and political, as valuable – but valuable largely as a means to submission,’ (Templeton Essay (May, 2008)

It seems to me that the Harriet Harman conception of liberty, security and freedom is Hegelian (a perspective that deeply influenced Marx and continues with the Franco-Germanic axis in the EU). It is a perspective that sees the State as superior to anything known by Man. In this conception of the State the State is ‘anxious’ that each citizen should know, personally experience, the limits on freedom it has set – and that Man can only find his freedom within the limits it has set. For example, the sign on church doors throughout the land states ‘No Smoking’. No one has ever found anyone smoking in a church. The real function of the sign, it is suggested, is this: ‘Congratulations: You Have Just Met The State.’ This line of thought also suggests why the Socialists have passed nearly one law for every day in office in an attempt to address the social symptoms of the destruction of traditional morality (which restrained people without the need for interference by the law).

They destroy traditional moral norms – then realise they have created a vacuum in the civil sphere that leads to disorder – and then attempt to fill that vacuum – with more laws that might, they hope, give ‘freedom form’ and ‘form freedom’. But it has failed – as the increasing volume of laws passed demonstrates.

4 February 2010 at 13:20  
Anonymous David Davro said...

RichardW, the answer is that no-one listens to the ABC anymore because he is incapable of articulating his views in a straightforward manner. He may be a 'good' theologian, but just cannot communicate to the ordinary lay people of the Church of E, let alone the wider public. Also there is no such thing as anglican orthodoxy, all you have is liberals, anglo-catholics and evangelicals all bickering; gay priests, women priests etc. You can go to one C of E church which is for all in tense Roman Catholic, another which is the other extreme of "happy clappy" with projector screens and Vicars without dog collars or to a Church which is book of common prayer.


4 February 2010 at 13:35  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...


“The laws that allow me freedom of religion, are the laws that allow you to be an atheist”

Not so. I claim no special treatment or exemptions from laws. I hope that you don’t either.

The religious deserve no more special treatment than do cyclists or vegetarians. I will always defend your right to hold your views but if those views result in discrimination against another person or group then your rights must be forfeit as would mine in similar circumstances.

4 February 2010 at 13:47  
Blogger revjgoode said...

Your Grace, you said:
The greatest sorrow and tragedy is that the Pope’s intervention has demonstrated the undeniable spiritual vacuum which emanates from the black hole within Lambeth Palace, and the almost total abdication of responsibility by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I believe Riazat Butt thinks otherwise! More Catholic than the Pope

4 February 2010 at 13:53  
Blogger Theresa said...

Ok, can I get a job with Stonewall then? And can I sue them if they turn me down as a practising Catholic?

4 February 2010 at 14:06  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

A very good article Your Grace, and I echo D.Singh's comments.

The Pope is much more sympathetic to the English understanding of liberty than the statist (i.e French, EU, New Labour) approach which wishes to define all rights of the citizen (and by implication reserves the right to take them away again).

Fr Hunwicke has mischievously claimed that Benedict is the first Anglican Pope. The Holy Father certainly looks to these shores with great affection, as we will see when he visits us later this year.

4 February 2010 at 14:16  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...


If Stonewall discriminates against you that too is totally unacceptable provided that you are qualified and able to the job. It is no different from being rejected because you are black or disabled.

Similarly a christian organisation must not discriminate. No special pleading please because of your “faith”. Your faith deserves no more respect than my preference for real ale. I will respect you as a fellow human being but not your beliefs.

4 February 2010 at 14:22  
Anonymous Pause for thought said...

Your Grace,

The consequences of this will be :

a gay muslim women could sue for discrimination if she was turned down to a catholic priest

or if I wanted to become the head of the national secular society, I could sue because I didn't get the job because I am Christian?

I also like Graham Davies saying that the atheist needs to apply anti-venom to Christians! Excellent, next stop the gulag and socialism for all.

4 February 2010 at 14:29  
Anonymous Hereward said...

Graham Davies

"There are of course humanistic values that are universally shared between those who believe and those who do not but these are the natural product of human existence not hand-me-downs from a non-existent deity."

Does it not strike you as curious and perhaps worthy of investigation that these 'universally shared' values arose in the Christian West rather than elsewhere, and are shared only with great difficulty, if at all, in areas with different histories and traditions? For a 'natural product of human existence' they are remarkably non-ubiquitous.

4 February 2010 at 14:36  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

What the blazes is going on?

We got an Archbishop, sitting in another dimension, on the Internet, followed by millions of communicants around the world; and we got a real Archbishop sitting in Canterbury who nobody notices.

You just couldn’t make this up.

Could the real Archbishop please get up and make some pronouncements? Please.

4 February 2010 at 14:47  
Anonymous Martin Sewell said...

Graham Davis

The debate begins a little earlier than any concrete case.

Liberty is that portion of your life where the State has no place.

It was paradoxically that argument that won a place for both atheist and gay folk to do and say what they liked without the consent of the majority.

If I disapprove of anything you say or do, I may choose to tell you or to completely ignore you. That is part of my Liberty.

It is so tragic that those who have benefitted from this beneficial and highly ( small "L" ) liberal doctrine are now at the forefront of denying its benefits to others simply because they think they have ascended to the power than enables them to exercise the tyranny of the majority.

I offer you a little exercise.

Draw the line down the middle of a piece of paper and write at the top. " The majority may exercise its powers over a minority even if it does no active harm to another" Mark one side "Agree" mark the other side " Disagree". Now ascribe to each column the following, Communists, Nazis ,Socialists, Social Democrats Progressives, liberals, Libertarians Conservatives Greens

Remember the Female Circumcision Act, The Smoking Ban and the Hunting Ban before you then ascribe New Labour and The Lib Dems. Are you entirely comfortable with your bedfellows?

Finally imagine a Lesbian couple who need a children's nurse for their daughter. The only applicant is eminently qualified - but a Wahbi Muslim. Are you entirely sure we should legally compel them to employ her?

4 February 2010 at 14:52  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

[…the people] respect the Roman Catholic Church more than the Church of England; and they honour the Throne of St Peter more than the Throne of the United Kingdom.

Respect The few who are aware of the Pope’s speech may be grateful for his words but, having been grateful, one would hope that they would then remind themselves of the advantages England has gained from having fashioned a humble, if at times bumbling, Church as opposed to an authoritarian monolith.

Honour Another little jibe at Her Majesty? Your Grace and I exchanged thoughts on the Queen’s reluctance to involve herself publicly in matters of great constitutional importance, such as the Treaty of Lisbon, on the blog of a member of the aristocracy. I still maintain that the Queen should not intervene to correct the failings of her ministers. In a democracy, even one as ragged as ours, only the people should intervene.

4 February 2010 at 15:00  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

"We got an Archbishop, sitting in another dimension, on the Internet, followed by millions of communicants around the world; and we got a real Archbishop sitting in Canterbury who nobody notices."

Mr D. Singh,

A slight exaggeration on both counts ;o)

4 February 2010 at 15:04  
Blogger OurSally said...

But, but, ...

That is fine in theory but in practice this is how it works. Here in South Germany kindergarten is firmly in the hands of the Catholic church. OK, they accept all children regardless. But while my children were there, their beloved teacher got married, oh joy, what cute little presents they made. A week later she was sacked. It seemed the man with whom she had been living for 15 years had been married before! How evil! So she was sacked and there was nothing any of us could do.

This is how it works in the real world. Kindergarten is only partially financed by the church, but is fully under their control. The poor woman was a member of the church and had been blithely paying her church tax all that time.

4 February 2010 at 15:12  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...


“ these 'universally shared' values arose in the Christian West rather than elsewhere”

Your arrogance astounds me. The universal values that human kind shares did not originate in the West, Christian or not. They are simply the result of the evolutionary process. Human altruism is necessary or our offspring could not survive. As our parents repeatedly and unconsciously model this behaviour our children mimic this it during their long development into adulthood. This behaviour is reinforced culturally and that is how these universal moral values have come into being.

Martin Sewell

Another piece of breathtaking conceit...

“Liberty is that portion of your life where the State has no place. It was paradoxically that argument that won a place for both atheist and gay folk to do and say what they liked without the consent of the majority.”

Presumably you would prefer it if you could still have us unbelievers burnt at the stake! Fortunately the freedoms that allow us both to prosper are maintained and guaranteed by the State not by some Iron Age superstitions.

4 February 2010 at 15:31  
Anonymous Tony B said...

>are the same laws that allow Stonewall to only employ workers that share theirs. Remove that and you're going to have chaos.

The thing is, you see, no-one ever suggested "removing that". It remains the case, and would have remained the case, that if a genuine occupational reason can be demonstrated as to why a person must be gay, or a practising Catholic, then no discrimination has taken place.

4 February 2010 at 15:47  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

You state: 'They are simply the result of the evolutionary process.'

Don't be so bloody ridiculous man. In India the baker is better than the butcher - because of the caste system. That is why hey could not develop democracy.

Under the Judaeo-Christian west Biblical ideas clearly suggested that under God's law the butler was the same as the lord - that idea was transformed into equality before the law - an idea unknown in India.

4 February 2010 at 16:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It says on the stonewall site that they are currently welcoming candidates from black and ethnic minority backgrounds as they are 'underepresented' in this area and they say that they welcome people of diverse backgrounds. So presumably they have a good percentage of white middle class evangelical christians on their books? (tee he).

4 February 2010 at 16:21  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

You are invited to present the case that under the evolutionary process: different races emerged at different times.

4 February 2010 at 16:21  
Anonymous Joe Milburn said...

Your Grace, I personally feel that the saving grace of the Pope's intervention is that he gets listened to. Where is the leadership from Canterbury? Where is his media skills?

4 February 2010 at 16:26  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

D Singh

So the Caste system has nothing to do with Hinduism that I understand is a popular religion in the sub-continent?

Religion corrupts and subverts the naturally evolved behaviour of humankind.

4 February 2010 at 16:29  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Your Grace,

A thought provoking read as ever.

I am also glad that Graham Davies is on the site because I am interested to understand his belief that the BBC is the Church of England's "media wing". This is extremely jovial and cheered me up.

I also do not understand why freedom of speech must be given in order to speak out about criticising religion, but not race? Is there not some form of intellectual hypocrisy in this statement? It is hardly a good argument of freedom of expression or speech.

4 February 2010 at 16:31  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

Did the evolutionary process fail in India making way for the Hindoo system?

4 February 2010 at 16:31  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

Has the evolutionary process succeeded in 21st Century Britain producing feral youth?

4 February 2010 at 16:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OurSally -Germany is still that backward? God and your the most powerful economy in Europe!

4 February 2010 at 16:37  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

Has socialism defeated the evolutionary process in the 21st Century by producing the 'trousered ape'that passes for the Socialist Intellectual?

4 February 2010 at 16:38  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Ah, I have noticed on Mr Davies site, there is a link with an interview by BBC Cambridge. So, is the BBC actually the media wing of the atheists? Chuckle, Chuckle and more chuckle.

4 February 2010 at 16:39  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

Your audience is waiting.

4 February 2010 at 16:40  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

My apologies fellow bloggers, I have to leave for a few hours but I will be back so sharpen your sticks and barb your arrows for later use.

4 February 2010 at 16:47  
Blogger D. Singh said...


Get out of my sight.

4 February 2010 at 16:48  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Glovy - shut your gob.

4 February 2010 at 16:54  
Anonymous RichardW said...

It's a form of intellectual laziness to repeat the mantra of the popular press that the ABC is incomprehensible. Try reading one of his speeches (not one aimed at fellow theologians) rather than reading popularist distortions. His former Grace of Canterbury himself praised Dr Williams' speech in Rome which was both clear and intellectual, but, by implication, a courteous rebuke to the Pope for his politically motivated proposals for an 'Anglican' ordinariate.

As far as the general claims that the Pope is a champion of religious freedom, I can only assume that you are discussing some other Pope in an alternative universe.

4 February 2010 at 16:54  
Blogger D. Singh said...

'It's a form of intellectual laziness to repeat the mantra of the popular press that the ABC is incomprehensible.'

Then why do his junior officials deliver from the pulpit sermons, on Sunday mornings, as to why football is a game of two halves and why I need to repent of global warming?

4 February 2010 at 17:12  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

RichardW, Sir, I love the Church of England, but I firmly believe that she is being let down by the current incumbent of the throne of Augustine; he wants Islamic law in the UK, he is a druid, his theology is probably one which the atheists would agree with and he is barely capable of keeping the church together, either on the women Bishop or gay clergy issues. He was not tough enough to the Pope, when he was fishing for the High Church and he is just not doing enough to speak out on matters of faith, but quite content to talk about politics.

I have to say the one saving grace is that most of the clergy I have come into contact (be they Anglo-Catholic, liberal or evangelical or women) with are sterling people. All the more so, given that Williams is the Archbishop or should I say Archdruid of Canterbury?

4 February 2010 at 17:22  
Anonymous not a machine said...

A very thorough and thoughtfull article your grace .

Mt first thoughts are to Roman Catholics , His Holiness pope Benedict is sensative to the issues of state control where it is undesirable and has clearly developed some Christian thoughts that resonate with CofE . I am with Rabbi Sachs , but perhaps that is the vaccuum that Rowan Williams is pondering upon.

As I posted some time ago when the Roman Catholic offer was made to Anglicans before the general synod , there would be difficulty for the Roman Catholic church in allowing priests to marry .

The woefull ability of the bishops not to see where Harriet Harmans legislation would take us and get a united position suggests that the CofE has taken on board too much of Labours thinking and is too concerned about finding a universal message rather than a more evangelical one , I just hope that they can peel themselves away from the fly paper and realise people need some foundations .

Graham Davies I ponder is a Fabian , who thinks religion takes people no where and is whishes to tell us all there is no God but has got a little stuck .

The question I would like to pose to Mr Davies , if there is a God what would you expect life to be like ??

4 February 2010 at 17:28  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Graham Davis: We might move beyond your insulting generalizations and trivializations if (as a visitor to a Christian blog) you'd be so kind as to bestow on us your definitions of: "religion" and "a deity."

As you apparently hope to get through to Christians, you might then proceed from the general to the particular: to "Christianity," and to "God" as revealed in Judaeo-Christianity. You would need time to research, analyze, evaluate, and synthesise understanding. But once you'd got a handle on that lot, you'd show us Christians that you know what we think, rather than that you only think you know what we think. Reasoned and logical debate could then begin. Definition of terms is such a practical precursor to argument.

In the meantime, should you wish us to take you seriously, it would help if you considered how would you react if some lout walked into your house: kicked, abused, and broke everything you value...and then bellowed out commands as to how you should repair the damage?

That image lies at the heart of the marxist/deconstructionist philosophy, where the 'smiler'
tells us "Yes, everything has to get worse before it can get better. Once we've destroyed it, 'something different' can replace it."

Yet AntiChrist is incapable of originalty. He copies everything he says and does, and deconstructionism merely presents an antithesis to the paradox at the heart of Christianity. Here, the sacrifice imposed by men (but volunteered by Christ as a man) redeems the wilful crimes -old and new- of mankind: the Crucifixion transforms suffering, murder, and death into celebration, salvation, and life.

Intrinsic to this perception is the principle that every individual is free to choose, and therefore must take responsibility for, his/her actions and words. Each individual must, then, participate in his or her own redemption.

I like His Grace's variation of that principle today when he speaks of euSSR legislation, by which: "liberty is imposed by the State. We have traditionally legislated to prohibit; they to permit." For~~the moment they impose liberty on the individual, they take it away. That paradox lies at the heart of communist constructs. That is how we identify them, and their works, as instruments of AntiChrist.

AntiChrist breaks and makes from outside its works. Judaeo-Christianity, though, reveals God as Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent. As Augustine saw it, He creates from within His Creation.* That is, he infuses it. In such a light, He is even some part of you, Mr. Davis, sir.

I doubt if you've read His Grace's post through, let alone mine. Just in case you did, though, I hope you at least have the insight to recognize that the reason you are free to come here and insult us is that we, in Britain and the 'Anglosphere,' are in-formed by the tradition you decry. It is the tradition that privileges the freedom His Grace recalls one of the insular languages that is itself in-formed by that tradition.

*Augustine, Saint, Bishop of Hippo. Tractates on the Gospel of John. Trans. John W. Rettig. Washington, D.C: Catholic University of America Press, c1988;69.(2). He refers to John Ch.1.

4 February 2010 at 17:47  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

I too shall take a long walk with my dogs, Sabre, Boxer and Satan.

England expects that when Mr Davis returns, the lads will give him a warm reception.

4 February 2010 at 17:48  
Blogger Ian said...

values... Christian or not... are simply the result of the evolutionary process.

Can you please explain what happened regarding the evolutionary process, say in New Guinea, Aboriginal Australia, sub-saharan Africa or in the cults of human sacrifice in mesoamerica.

Most of these cultures practiced, at one time cannabilism and human sacrifice and only changed their behaviour in the light of Christian missions.

It was Christianity that brought light to the world and if it had not, is it not fair to assume that these cultures would still be practising their 'evolutionary' behaviours as they had done for thousand of years previously?

As D Singh says above was this not a failure in the evolutionary process that both bore and sustained such cultures?

4 February 2010 at 18:04  
Anonymous RichardW said...

Lord Lavendon, The Druid business was poor PR, but you can hardly complain when a Welshman who is a published poet attends an Eisteddford (spelling?). It had nothing to do with religion.

As regards Dr Williams's theology, try reading his books. As regards keeping the Church of England together, let alone the Anglican Communion, that is easier said than done when so many are hell-bent on criticising each other, each, sure that they alone have the truth. If the Communion is to survive, it needs people to stop shouting and listen to the Holy Ghost rather than assuming their opponents are always wrong. After all most Christians have stopped insisting slaves obey their masters. Maybe some other changes should be thought about rather than emoted about.

4 February 2010 at 18:22  
Anonymous jeremy hyatt said...

Lord Lavendon complains (of ABC)'his theology is probably one which the atheists would agree with'

Let's not be silly. He is not an atheist or anything remotely resembling one and somehow that would drive the dispassionate observer to the conclusion that atheists would disagree with his, well, non-atheism.


4 February 2010 at 18:27  
Blogger John.D said...

The ABC has written a book: Crisis of Faith in British Politics.

The problem is though that the crisis extends much further than what he seems to be able to comprehend. This lack of vision is what holds the entire church back in the doldrums. The real problems are not even registering on the church radar, and this is the tragedy of it all.

4 February 2010 at 18:41  
Anonymous philip walling said...

Your Grace in 1937 in 'The Crisis of Our Civilisation' Hilaire Belloc foresaw all this and wrote:

"Now the Incarnation raises humanity to its highest conceivable level and is at the same time the central doctrine of the Catholic Church. They that would malform, distort, and torture humanity into a mechanical mould, grinding its very soul, are necessarily at war with the Incarnation. Herein you may discover the implacable hostility between Communism and the Faith: for it is the function and glory of the Faith to consecrate and therefore to defend the nature of man."

Belloc wrote of finding in the cathedral of Cefalu, on the north coast of Sicily, which was built under the first Norman Kings in crusading times, a great mosaic over the half-dome of the apse representing Christ in Judgement. Under it runs the anonymous motto

"Factus Homo, Factor Hominis, Factique Redemptor, Corporeus judico, corpora corda Deus."

He translates this as:

"Having been made Man, I, the Maker of Man and the Redeemer of what I have made, judge, having myself a body, the bodies and souls of men: for I am God."

Mr Graham Davis, I defy you to come up with a better explanation of where what you call our natural evolutionary western morality comes from. It is simply not the case that our morality has somehow 'evolved'. We are flawed at our very core and without the Redeeming Sacrifice of our Lord we remain so.

4 February 2010 at 18:45  
Blogger John.D said...

Apologies; The book is a collection of essays called God and Government, to be published next week.

I am dosed up with painkillers and anti-inflammatories and am am away with the faeries.

4 February 2010 at 18:47  
Anonymous boolia said...

�There is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him � What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts�
(Mk 7, 14-15, 20-21).

4 February 2010 at 18:55  
Anonymous stionran said...

Beyond the immediate question concerning food, we can detect in the reaction of the Pharisees a permanent temptation within man: to situate the origin of evil in an exterior cause. Many modern ideologies deep down have this presupposition: since injustice comes �from outside,� in order for justice to reign, it is sufficient to remove the exterior causes that prevent it being achieved.

This way of thinking � Jesus warns � is ingenuous and shortsighted. Injustice, the fruit of evil, does not have exclusively external roots; its origin lies in the human heart, where the seeds are found of a mysterious cooperation with evil. With bitterness the Psalmist recognises this: �Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me� (Ps 51,7).

4 February 2010 at 18:58  
Anonymous God Bless Rowan said...

Is RichardW the ABC's spin doctor? If not he should be !

4 February 2010 at 21:27  
Anonymous Jewish Bag Lady said...

RichardW, Lavy is probably been facicious.

4 February 2010 at 21:34  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

Well said, Your Grace. The Catholic faithful will not accept priestesses, nor babyfathering priests, no matter what the neo-Jacobin Ms Harman or Titus Oates of the NSS have to say about it.

One is particularly gratified to come across a rare commentary that actually pays attention to what Pope Benedict said, as opposed to what the media said he said; and highlights his message to the hierarchy of England and Wales, the point of the address after all.

4 February 2010 at 21:42  
Anonymous len said...

God does work in very strange ways and can even use the pope to accomplish His purposes.

4 February 2010 at 23:22  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Oh very well, Mr RichardW, perhaps I was being churlish and over the top about Rowan. But I still think he would be better off being a doctor of divinity at Cambridge, than as the leader of the Anglican Church. Or perhaps Archbishop of York. But the mild mannered,easy going liberal that Rowan is, is not the kind of Archbishop we need right now.

4 February 2010 at 23:37  
Anonymous Congregation of the Holy Office of the Inquisition said...

His Holiness should of course be allowed to discuss Christian matters, even amongst the majority heathen British.

5 February 2010 at 00:20  
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5 February 2010 at 06:30  
Anonymous RichardW said...

Dear Lord Lavendon,
I suspect we are not really that far apart. My one fear is that if we had a less 'mild-mannered' ABC the C of E would fracture even more quickly.

Best wishes.

5 February 2010 at 09:26  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...

My presence here is clearly becoming an irritant to some, like the boorish guest at a dinner party the question is asked “who invited him”? So maybe I should explain my motivation. Having read some of your blogs, it becomes apparent that the literate and sometimes witty conversation here is predicated on an unchallengeable assumption. Namely that your particular brand of religion is superior, you cite its pedigree, its scholarship, its cultural significance even its moral authority but not once do you ask yourselves if it is true.

Let’s avoid any philosophical contortions, by true I mean, is there a god, for if there is not then your whole house of cards collapses?

As I suggested earlier for intelligent believers this question cannot withstand the bright light of reason and so it remains behind an intellectual firewall that allows the suspension of disbelief to continue.

Consider for a moment that you have pressed the X button on your firewall. You are now exposed, naked if you like, with none of the cosy certainties that have comforted you in the past. If you strip away the heritage of your particular faith and simply address the god question, where would you start?

Perhaps you would question what happened to the thousands of gods that nobody believes in nowadays but whose existence was not doubted for tens of thousands of years.

Imagine yourself as an illiterate peasant terrified by thunder and lightening. How natural it was to attribute this event to an angry god, indeed every Thursday we reminded of that very deity. We now have an explanation for that phenomenon, an electrical storm, the reasons for which can be understood by a 10 year old.

Historically religion has sought to explain that which we did not understand. The early advances in science were motivated by the wish to understand how god’s creation worked. As science explained ever more it became apparent that god was becoming irrelevant to this explanation. The tipping point came when Charles Darwin’s was unable to reconcile his discoveries with his christian faith.

Darwin had to press the X button before he could fully come to terms with the origin of species. His moral courage is an exemplar.

Perhaps on some Spring morning you are watching a Blackbird feeding it’s young; for hours it searches for food and regardless of its own hunger, time and again it returns to the nest to disgorge what it must have wanted to keep for itself.

Compare this behaviour to the Cuckoo who discharges its parental responsibilities to a surrogate Warbler half its own size.

Compare again to human family anywhere in the world past or present. The birth of a new child brings joy even to the impoverished. That child will have to be nurtured for many tears, to survive, like the Blackbird the parents will have to suppress their own needs in order for their child to thrive.

Such generosity is not a noble gesture prompted by religious faith but the inevitable outcome of the genetic imperative that underpins all living things.

I do not expect such a brief and partial explanation of my views to convert you to atheism but maybe, just maybe a seed of doubt will blossom into the tree of reason.

Thank you for your indulgence.

5 February 2010 at 10:44  
Anonymous Theresa said...


I think you are making quite an assumption that none of us have questioned our faith. I for one have and there are people on this forum who are formally atheists who have become Christian. I don't see myself as better or worse than you; I don't know you. I just see the world a different way from you, that's all. And in a way I suppose that we can't really help each other; you can't imagine a world with God in it, and I can't imagine a world without God in it. We can try and talk about doctrine and all the rest, but it really boils down to who we think Jesus was. We think he was the Son of God and you think he was just another Middle East preacher. We all have our reasons. And as someone else pointed out, if you start with the opinion that everyone who is religious is thick and that you are enlighted, I can tell you right now you're not going to make any converts. What you do is always far more important than what you say and maybe you should ask yourself if that's how you feel about us, and if so, what good is atheism doing you. I had a brief conversation with a buddhist monk in the street one time. He had just come out of four years of contemplation on the monastery on Arran, and at first I was quite impressed with him, but as the conversation went on it was clear that he thought everyone else was beneath him. I walked away because I thought; 'What is the point of shutting yourself away for four years, if the only thing you learn is to feel superior to everyone?' Maybe we're all a bit on edge because we're being challenged, but I have been on the Dawkins site and the key word that comes to mind is 'smug'. Smugness is not attractive whether it's coming from atheists or Christians.

5 February 2010 at 11:53  
Anonymous the BBC continues to be the media wing of the CofE said...

Graham Davies, not at all. your thoughts are most illuminating.

5 February 2010 at 13:39  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

You state: ‘Let’s avoid any philosophical contortions, by true I mean, is there a god, for if there is not then your whole house of cards collapses?’

It is worse than that.

"If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain."

St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:13-14

‘Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market-place, and cried incessantly: "I am looking for God! I am looking for God!"

‘As many of those who did not believe in God were standing together there, he excited considerable laughter. Have you lost him, then? said one. Did he lose his way like a child? said another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? or emigrated? Thus they shouted and laughed. The madman sprang into their midst and pierced them with his glances.

‘"Where has God gone?" he cried. "I shall tell you. We have killed him - you and I. We are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained the earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not perpetually falling? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is it not more and more night coming on all the time? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God's decomposition? Gods too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, murderers of all murderers, console ourselves? That which was the holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet possessed has bled to death under our knives. Who will wipe this blood off us? With what water could we purify ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we need to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we not ourselves become gods simply to be worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whosoever shall be born after us - for the sake of this deed he shall be part of a higher history than all history hitherto."

‘Here the madman fell silent and again regarded his listeners; and they too were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern to the ground, and it broke and went out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time has not come yet. The tremendous event is still on its way, still travelling - it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time, the light of the stars ‘requires time, deeds require time even after they are done, before they can be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than the distant stars - and yet they have done it themselves."

‘It has been further related that on that same day the madman entered diverse churches and there sang a requiem. Led out and quietened, he is said to have retorted each time: "what are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchres of God?"’

Nietzsche (1844 – 1900)

5 February 2010 at 13:42  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...


You’re right that I stand little chance of changing your mind but I have tried to mount a reasoned argument to support my point of view. All arguments are fought by means of reason. It is not a particularly secular or scientific tool, it is the only tool. An assertion that cannot be evidenced is simply wishful thinking.

You say that you have questioned your faith. But doesn’t your religion place faith as one of the foremost virtues? Religion is a form of entrapment; it has so many tools to keep you believing, the claim of its moral authority, its guarantee of life beyond death, its great cultural legacy, the sense of community, the indoctrination of the young. To question your faith you have to abandon all these and more and stand alone.

You say that “you can't imagine a world with God in it, and I can't imagine a world without God in it”. The critical word here is imagine. Actually I can imagine a world with god in it just as I can imagine characters in a drama. The suspension of disbelief is the core ingredient in human imagination but it is still just imagination. Religion exploits this just as a computer virus seeks a weakness in a piece of software.

You accuse atheists of smugness, well that may be true but it is also true of many posts in this blog. We are also accused of intellectual arrogance and that is certainly true. You probably do not disagree that the majority of religious adherents world wide are ignorant and poorly educated and that religious belief declines in societies as they become better educated and more developed. However contributors to this blog are of a completely different ilk and that is what fascinates me. In the light of so much evidence to the contrary how can intelligent, educated people continue to believe in what seems to me to be clearly fantasy. So I try to tease out the reasons by debating with you.

D Singh

Your quotations are powerful and deeply felt expressions of despair and cannot fail to move all but the most hardened heart. Faith has undoubtedly inspired much of western art, music and writing and often the greater the intensity of feeling the greater the art. I suppose loss of faith can be like the loss of a loved one, the latter I have endured. Maybe what I am asking you to do is to tear open a wound that you have just had stitched up. Perhaps a step too far and one that would be cruel of me to encourage.

Best of luck

5 February 2010 at 16:50  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

You state:

'Maybe what I am asking you to do is to tear open a wound that you have just had stitched up. Perhaps a step too far and one that would be cruel of me to encourage.'

Not at all. I converted from the philosophy of Stoicism to Christianity: because there was no other satisfactory answer to the subject-object problem.


5 February 2010 at 17:22  
Blogger Theresa said...

Hi Graham,

Just out of interest, have you actually ever been part of a church or believing community?

I think you should think about the word 'faith'. Faith implies doubt and it is the counterpoint to faith. It's saying we don't know for sure that Jesus was God, or whatever, but we act as if he was and trust that he was on what is available to us. If it was certain that God existed you wouldn't have faith.

Yes, arrogance and smugness are traits of believers as well as atheists. I just felt that you had made assumptions about who you were dealing with, and what kind of people they were, before engaging. Which brings me to the next point.

You assume that people who have faith, are either frightened of God or want a reward from him. People start off like that; some folk never get past that stage. But as you say, there comes a moment in your life where you are stripped of everything. For most people that moment comes in suffering; either themselves or someone close to them and that is the crucible in which faith is either broken or refined. What it certainly does is it knocks away any of the kind of crutches that you describe. I have been through that and I can honestly say that the only thing that matters to me re my faith, is that God understands my suffering, because he has been through it himself. He knows what it is like to be limited and helpless. Rewards do not matter to me; I do not want to spend eternity with a God who doesn't care or identify with me, no matter what he has to offer. I am not afraid of the devil or hell; the only thing that I am afraid of is letting down those that I love and one of those is Christ.

If you are genuinely interested in us Graham, go and study the historical Jesus. Seriously. It's a whole body of evidence that is generally ignored by atheists and consequently they don't understand where we are coming from. When you start getting into it, when you realise that Jesus was an outcast in his own society and at odds with it, when you think about how a bunch of fishermen could convince the Greeks and the Romans when their leader had been crucified, when you think that the Christian church survived three centuries of persecution and most of all when you read the teachings of Jesus himself, you start to understand how radical and unique Christianity is. And you ask yourself how it ever could have survived to this day. This'll not take you the whole way, but it might give you some insight as to how we think.

5 February 2010 at 17:24  
Blogger Ian said...

Graham Davis - thanks for your posts on this blog. You clearly are a deep felt person, who contrary to your earlier assertion IS questioning and looking for deeper meaning. Meaning that your present philosophy is currently not providing perhaps?

Faith is like a tide. At times it is strong at other times it seems all but to dessert one. But it is this rythm, seen as a myriad of perspectives, that through this myriad, comes a kind of transcendent objectivity a whole or oneness even, that I myself understood as God.

This was my first insight into an Almighty, a Higher Force or Greater being than myself, that began my journey.

That journey ended where it began, in finding that through my sin, I needed salvation and that that salvation, could only be provided by the Saviour Lord Jesus Christ.

I am sorry if I was a little hard on you earlier. I was expecting another Dawkins onslaught but my reaction was unwarranted.

The one thing I would say to you is, 'seek and ye shall find'. As long as you keep an open mind and are sincere you will find Him that is in all things.

5 February 2010 at 17:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think there can be many Christians (if indeed any at all) who became such as a result of rationally exploring the evidence and deciding that it all made logical sense. I certainly didn't become a Christian in such a way. I became one because I cried out to 'God' in sheer desperation, not knowing if he existed or not, but as my last gasp of hope. In his great love, as the Psalmist says, he heard my pitiful cry, and He rescued me from my trouble and began to set me on a new path.

I recall Christ's words, "Remember, you did not choose me; I chose you". This is as true for every Christian as it was for Saul on his journey to Damascus. As such, we cannot hope to argue anyone into believing in Christ, and neither does God expect us to. We can simply present Christianity and let God do the internal work within the heart and mind of the hearer.

5 February 2010 at 19:21  
Anonymous College said...

Anon, why is it you talk about being a christian in this post, but on the next call us all bigots?

5 February 2010 at 19:45  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Anon at 7.21 pm

Prof. C.S. Lewis.

I became a Judaeo-Christian because I reasoned that the great philosophers were correct; there is only one problem: suicide.

After all it is pointless if you live for 5, 40 or 90 years - if there is no meaning.

It was quite clear that if I produced any meaning then why was that more meaningful than my neighbour's?

5 February 2010 at 19:53  
Blogger Theresa said...


Now that i've said I'm off, I'm back. Woman's perogative..

I don't know if you've ever done the Milikan oil drop experiment. This was an experiment Milikan a physicist devised to measure the charge on an electron. You can look it up on Wiki. Anyway, the whole point of the experiment was that every oil drop measured had a value that was a multiple of the charge value (1.592 x 10-19 C if you want to know). Now, there were hundreds of results that were not multiples of that number. What did Milikan do with them? He ignored them. Now, on one level you could say he was cherry picking and being dishonest. On the other hand, you could point to the thousands of results that were quantized and say that he was being sensible; that there was a clear pattern running through the experiments and putting in the rogue results would have distorted the figures to no good purpose. So Milikan; cherry picking hypocrite or sensible scientist? You take your pick..

ITFS, I'll join you in a cyber toast; I've got some white wine nicely chilling in the fridge and by the time Ive finished it I'll be too drunk to be nice to anyone, so signing off here..cheers!

5 February 2010 at 19:58  
Blogger Theresa said...

Sorry guys,

Posted on wrong thread. Definitely time to put down the old laptop and do something a bit more profitable..

5 February 2010 at 20:00  
Anonymous Graham Davis said...


To answer you question: I was born into a family that was indifferent to religion although like many parents, mine thought it offered some moral guidance but we didn’t attend church. Aged 11 or 12 I came to the conclusion that there was no god and forgive me if this sounds insulting but a few years earlier I had come to the same conclusion about Father Christmas. This followed the inevitable questions like how did he get down a small chimney and how did he manage to visit so many children?

The lure of the fantasy was so strong that I continued to believe it even though I really knew that it was not true. However there came a time when I said to my mum “it was you wasn’t it” and the game was up.

I see a direct parallel between these two events, my belief in god was simply because I had been told that he existed. When I started to consider for myself whether god existed it didn’t take long to come to the conclusion that I have held ever since.

As I had never been immersed in any religious culture or influence this was not a particularly profound decision for me to make. The only downside was the realisation that death was final and as a teenager that did concern me. I had naively assumed that religion would simply wither on the vine during my lifetime.

For most of my life atheism has not played a significant part, I had the odd argument about god but it was not until 9/11 that I began to sit up and take notice of religion again and horrific events that can come from belief in what I consider to be primitive superstition. Since then I have resolved to try and push back religious influence wherever I can.

I am particularly concerned with the claims that religion makes regarding morality and the recent revelations about the catholic church in the USA, Ireland and beyond are ample evidence of its moral bankruptcy not its moral authority. I have long campaigned for a non religious voice on Thought for the Day and was one of 12 appellants whose complaints were recently adjudicated by the BBC Trust, who to our amazement found against us.

You ask me to study Jesus and say that it is a “body of evidence” ignored by atheists. Sorry Theresa but the bible and all who have written about Christianity or any other religion, does not constitute evidence. It is myth overlaid with centuries of what passes for scholarship but is really just delusion.

Ian suggests that I am searching for meaning whereas in fact I am content in the knowledge that there is no meaning to life. We are born, we live, we die. What we make of this, our only existence, is up to us. That some cannot accept this simple fact leads them to despair for others like me it is of little consequence. I do not want to die and at 63 I realise I am in the home straight but hopefully a long way from the finish line. I have not had a remarkable life and I have made some very bad choices as well as some quite good ones but I am happy; I have a wife of 29 years, three “kids”, some friends, a nice home, a satisfying occupation, good health, what more could I want?

6 February 2010 at 11:56  
Anonymous len said...

I believe every thinking person must come to a point when he or she questions what life is all about,everyone surely comes to that point at some time?.
It is like pausing at a gate and wondering what lies at the other side, some push through and discover what lies ahead, others stroll on sleepwalking through life.

God says " If you search for Me with all your heart you will find Me"
Conversely if you don`t , you won`t.

6 February 2010 at 13:22  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Mr. Davis.

You reveal, in your Biography, two moments at which the scales descended over your inly sight. One was when, in your infant 'wisdom,' you decided God didn't exist (Santa seemed to be giving you more, but that turned out to be a lie). You haven't revised your opinion since.

The other moment was when a bunch of primitive (to privilege your terminology) zealots attacked the advanced civilization they've always tried to prevent: the Judaeo-Christian West. (It's arguable that parts of the Bible were recorded in response and antipathy to philosophies promoted in Mesopotamia [Iraq, to you] - but you don't want to know about that... ).

Now I'm just a year or two older than you, but the difference between us is that I never shut my mind up. It won't let me. Anyway, my father was ever intent on providing all the atheists' arguments - at the same time as exposing me to Christianity. Truly. Even as he said all the things you say - our house was abutted a Chapel, on which a stone still bears the legend "Peace, Perfect Peace."

So, around the age when you shut up shop, I occasionally wandered inside that open door. I learned the words to the first hymn I knew: "There is a green hill far away ..." -- That's about the Crucifixion, which I didn't understand at all. But my 'atheist' old Pa later built a house on a hill and called it Lindisfarne. Truly.

So I always had to think for myself. And, guess what. Part of the programme involved studying science, to start with. The biggest lesson I learned - from my first degree - was how very, very much there is to learn, and how very, very little of it I will ever know. And guess what else: I still haven't stopped learning and studying.

And now you and all these rabid atheists appear and shout me down as being incapable of thought. You, sir, have the temerity to tell me that my mental capacities are inferior to yours because you -so brilliant that you never needed to think about it or read it - have determined "that the Bible and all who have written about Christianity or any other religion, does not constitute evidence. It is myth overlaid with centuries of what passes for scholarship but is really just delusion." Like Climate Change, would that be?

You just can't see, can you. Unless you read the Book and the scholarship; or unless you otherwise find out what it's about - you are not qualified to say that. You do not know what you are talking about.

Nevertheless, from such a sand-like foundation you announce (to a Christian forum) "I have resolved to try and push back religious influence wherever I can." Coming from someone who's had such a lovely life, that appears as an unjustified manifestation of zealotry. What's the difference between you and the 9-11 bozos? Or between you and (RC)individuals who betrayed the principles and the society that afforded them a living?

So because I can't see what Christians have ever done to elicit your aggression, (except provide the environment in which you prospered) - I'll adapt an old Christian adage for you: "The Devil finds work for idle minds."

As to the pointlessness of your lovely and finite life - you poor thing! Were you to turn your ineffable logic and reason to science, you might discover the elixir that's evaded all others like you.

If Logos, that is, were to extend such grace to you...

6 February 2010 at 19:35  
Blogger Theresa said...

Hi Graham,

I’m just about blogged out and turning into an internet spacehopper, as Malcolm Tucker would put it. Nonetheless you’re making some important points here and I want to try and answer.
If you don’t go to church and if you haven’t been brought up in a religious atmosphere and if the vast majority of your friends are not churchgoers, then what that means is that you are getting your impression of churchgoers from the BBC and what it chooses to report. And you mention two of the biggest scandals with religious overtones ; the Catholic church sex abuse scandal and of course, 9/11. But how much are you actually being told? Let’s test it out.
You know and everyone knows, that a number of Catholic priests abused children and that the church covered it up. My church has rightly been vilified for that and I am glad that it has been flushed out. It means that we will be a lot more careful about who we employ and a lot more honest in future. But did you know that abuse in our homes was actually a lot less common than it was in local authority homes? Do you know how difficult it is for those who were abused in a local authority home, to bring it to court? Here in Scotland after the cases involving Nazareth House (which were not sexual) all the other cases involving Barnados, Quarriers and local authorities were time barred on the grounds that it would damage the good work that they are doing now. Also, it would involve local authorities paying out millions in compensation. Do you know that last year the National Register for Children reported that a quarter of girls leaving local authority care were pregnant? And if you don’t know, why not? Because it’s not been reported.

Going to 9/11, that has been blamed on Islamic fundamentalism. And on one level that’s right; it was Islamic fundamentalists that carried it out. But look at it another way. What do you actually know about what is going on in Middle East, especially in oil producing countries? And if you wanted to understand Islamic fundamentalism, would you choose to read the Koran or would you choose a book on Middle East oil politics and the West’s continual interference in that region? Getting rid of religion is not going to solve that problem. Getting rid of the oil (if that was possible) certainly would. When 9/11 happened, 3500 people died . It was all over the news. But in Palestine that year 4000 people had died, mostly Muslim Arabs and nobody cared. Why don’t we care and why does one life matter more than another?
I have taken part in all the discussions and threads this week for a reason. There is a rise in fundamentalism, both Christian and Islam, and in order to counter that, you need the moderate majority to take control. And that is not going to happen if Dawkins and the like use our tolerance as an excuse to kick us in the teeth and make fools of us in the media. Ask yourself who is going to benefit from Dawkins’s comments. Why, Pat Robertson of course. He is going to turn round to moderate Christians and say, ‘I told you so.’ And that is why what Dawkins is doing is so damn mean, stupid and dangerous. He is someone who has unlimited access to the media and he chooses to use it in that way. There are always extremists in religion and atheism and they are kept under control by the moderates; when the moderate majority are alienated and ridiculed that is when fundamentalism can take control. Dawkins is great on genetics, but he is no politician.
Can I finish with an apology. When you first came on the site I mistook your intentions; I thought you were looking for an argument rather than a debate and I was a bit sharp with you. I now realise that I was mistaken and I’m sorry for that. I hope this has been of some help to you.

6 February 2010 at 19:56  

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