Friday, March 27, 2009

And on the eighth day he said, 'Oh sod them'

If you are a UK resident, you may have seen this rather alarming news story today:


According to no less a person than the highest ranking cleric in the Church of England, God has given up on us. 'God will not intervene to prevent humanity from wreaking disastrous damage to the environment' we are told. Prayer will not work. Really? If that's the case, as my chum Stu Peel asked God on his excellent blog today ... "Remind Me, What Exactly Is It You Do Around Here Again?"

The story - especially when coupled with the recent insane disinformation from the Pope about condoms actually increasing the African AIDS pandemic - has once again opened some maggotty wounds in the debate between theists and atheists. Certainly the Twitterverse was buzzing all day today and, catching what I could in between meetings, there seemed to be a general sense of disbelief. And not just among us disbelievers either.

Ever the one to add my not inconsiderable weight to any healthy debate, I drew people's attention to my rambling post from October 31st last year. You remember ... the one about me wanting the freedom to express my atheist views without people assuming I'm attacking their beliefs? Still doesn't ring any bells? Here it is then. Or a link to it at least.

One of the wonderful surprises that emerged from writing this piece was the intelligence, honesty and reasonableness (?) of those who commented. Whether a believer or an unbeliever, everyone was willing to discuss this huge issue in sensible adult fashion. And, following today's re-publishing of the piece, a whole new set of excellent comments came in. All of which serves to remind me that the vast majority of human beings on this planet are good, kind, compassionate, smart people. It's a tiny minority of mad bastards that give religion a bad name. I think, deep down, we all know that.

Oh, and a secondary benefit of this blogpost-recycling was that three new people started to follow me here (hi guys!) and I picked up some 40-odd new followers on Twitter. So thank you @jedlomax, @redmummy, @toppage, @sorenlorenson, @neonbubble, @hennievd, @astrodad, @motgimmers, @uuo, and most especially @giagia for spreading the word today.

What did I say about the power of Twitter?

11 comments:

Debby said...

Oh, I just hate when people see themselves as God's mouthpiece. What invariably follows is something so un-Godly that it makes me angry.

Simplicity said...

I love me a good religious debate! I don't know what it is that I believe in yet. I believe there is a higher power to get us through those extremely difficult days! Denominations...now that's a whole different ball of wax!

Persephone said...

It's me, the Unitarian theist, again, Stevyn! Has anyone checked out what Rowan Williams actually said? In context? Granted, there's plenty in there to offend a card-carrying atheist, I mean, he keeps mentioning God, for Chrissake. But did he actually say, "God has given up on us?" What I find in the original is a rather wordy university lecture on the usual Anglican stuff in the usual rambling Anglican manner. (I'm married to an Anglican, so I think I can say this): stewardship, redemption, and responsibility. Now I may be wrong, but the gist of the thing seems to be: "Don't let the concept of trusting God become an excuse for failing to take action on behalf of the ecology." Is that really sound like someone who sees himself as God's mouthpiece, Debby? C'mon! Let's have expressions of opinion based on something worthier than laziness or cheap shots.

chris hale said...

'And God would not guarantee a happy ending'. How long will it be before the church starts using disclaimers like every other business (and here I'm thinking particularly of banks)? The Church of England does not guarantee a life hereafter and you may not get back what you have put in every Sunday for the past few years. Or We accept no responsibility for your chosen deity's failure to answer your prayers in whole or in part.

Stuart Peel said...

Thanks for the plug. Hey, maybe you should set yourself up as an anti-preacher. You could travel round and shout 'Dis-believe !' to large audiences ?

Stevyn Colgan said...

Hi all - A fascinating debate as always. Yes, Persephone, I did read the Archbish's speech in full - I never rely on just what the rubbish press says. I was particularly struck by 'It would be dangerously illusory to imagine that this material environment will adjust itself at all costs so as to maintain our relationship to it. If it is more than us and our relation with it, it can survive us; we are dispensable. But the earth remains the Lord's.' If we are ultimately dispensible, then what is God for? Without belief He is nothing after all. The insects aren't going to build churches in His name. No prayers will be offered by the rats. It was a very odd mix of signals from Rowan. And while I agree with your summary, I'm still left with the same question of 'What exactly does He do then?' As for the idea of being aa roving anti-preacher? Nah ... Sorry Stu, I'm no Dickie Dawkins. It's not about me changing or attacking other people's beliefs. It's about having the fredom to express my own. And, indeed, you all having the fredom to do the same. Lovely to hear your views. x

joelmead said...

You normally have to pay for a happy ending :) (or so I hear)

Stevyn Colgan said...

Joel - I tried so, so hard to avoid making the very same comment. But my puerile side could resist no longer and I was at breaking point. Thank you for the release! (Oo-er)

Persephone said...

God (sorry about that), Geez (hmmn, not much better), uh, Golly, I hate theological debates. I really do. If you grow up Unitarian, every thing's a bloody debate...

Okay, I went and looked at the comment you quoted in context, and I'm still bewildered by the conclusions you're drawing from it. The message I'm picking up is: "Don't kid yourself, it's not all about you. So don't imagine it's all going to work out because human beings think we are top dogs and creation is here just for us." How is that an odd mix of signals? I got the impression that the archbishop was saying this in response to attitudes by more fundamentalist Christians, who don't place much emphasis on environmental concerns, believing that God will take care of it. In addition, I'm bewildered by Stu Peel's response. I don't see where Rowan Williams said prayer is useless; we're on our own. He seems to be saying prayer is not enough, which is not the same thing. We have to take action too.

So, if it won't offend you gentlemen too much, I will continue to pray for the environment, and I will also continue to recycle, use non-toxic cleaners, and not operate a car. (I will also try to not be insufferable while I attempt to do these things.)

Is the BBC web site really rubbish? What a blow.

Stuart Peel said...

Persephone - Just to clarify, I was being deliberately facetious. My blog is like that.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Persephone - Sadly, I find most news reporting to be pretty dire these days. It's a shame you can't get BBC i-player outside the UK (I think) as Chrarlie Brooker's Newswipe really highlighted this shoddy state of affairs last week. As for the Archbishop business, yes ... Rowan was making a point to the more fundamentalist Christians. But underlying it all was the message that God, apparently, seems to be willing to let us all perish if we can't be arsed to help ourselves; that prayer alone is not enough. And that, for me was a bit of a cop out as I cannot square this with the concept of a benevolent creator. As a parent, I'm happy to let kids make their own mistakes ... I'm even happy to let them 'suffer' (in a non-harmful, non-abusive way) if it teaches them a lesson. But, ultimately, I'd do whatever I could to keep them safe - even from themselves. I'd die for them. God, it seems, may not bother.

Such debates are always open to interpretation. I just thank my lucky DNA that I am freed from doubts and ambiguity by my lack of belief.