Friday, May 09, 2008

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and the danger, yes he said danger, of reason

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor's standard of argument on Radio 4's Today progam this morning was apalling (he obviously sticks more to faith than thinking). His view is that societies would degrade into totalitarian dictatorships such as those under Hitler or Stalin if based on reason alone. Yes, this is an accurate summary of one of his main points, such as there were, when questioned by John Humphrey's about why we should believe in god and why religion should have the very prominent place it has in our secular society (you can listen to the interview again here, as well as an earlier one with Prof Richard Dawkins giving the atheist view).

He sees reason as dangerous!! Does the Cardinal not see that rule under Hitler and Stalin was certainly not based upon reason? Does the Cardinal not see that in fact faith (in a leader and in a single ideology like Nazism or Communism...) played an enormous role in the dictatorships of Hitler and Stalin? I think the reverse of what the Cardinal said is in fact true - we are much more likely to be ruled over by a dictator, including (or perhaps especially) a religious dictator, if we dont see and use the full value of doubt, questioning and reason.

The Cardinal wants '...improved dialogue between believers and non-believers to establish the shared values that sustain Britain’s plural society.' The dialogue in the interview was a very, very poor start at this 'improvement'. Science and reason cannot and will not ever explain everything fully. It should not be regarded as the be all and end all of knowledge types. However, the answer to questions like: who designed the designer that, apparently, created us? (what designer ?) ; and what is a good explanation of how life came about? (evolution by natural selection), means that I will remain of the view that the existence of god is extremely unlikely until much better evidence and arguments surface !! It is indeed convenient for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor to describe god as 'mysterious' !!