"Religion is a hypothesis about the world: the hypothesis that things are the way they are, at least in part, because of supernatural entities or forces acting on the natural world. And there's no good reason to treat it any differently from any other hypothesis. Which includes pointing out its flaws and inconsistencies, asking its adherents to back it up with solid evidence, making jokes about it when it's just being silly, offering arguments and evidence for our own competing hypotheses...and trying to persuade people out of it if we think it's mistaken. It's persuasion. It's the marketplace of ideas. Why should religion get a free ride"

Greta Christina

Monday, 20 September 2010

Pope's visit a success? Meh!

Pope Benedict XVI left British soil yesterday with the Vatican hailing his visit as a “spiritual success.
Well, maybe. On the face of it he was well protected from the “aggressive secularism” he perceives as being inherent in British society and he even had the Prime Minister defending our faith credentials.
"Faith is part of the fabric of our country. It always has been and it always will be,"
he said.
But the fact is that Benedict did not attract anything like the interest or crowds expected and I doubt that any minds have been changed by his speeches on Catholic Social Teaching, or more inclusion for religion in British society.
History is against him I believe. The Church is more and more on the wrong side of the moral debate on issues such as gender equality, AIDS and contraception, and this along with its appalling response to the child abuse scandal is the reason why the visit was so lacklustre.
On Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show, ex Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy suggested that Benedict XVI position on Church doctrine and morality was not significantly different from Pope John Paul II who visited twenty-eight years ago to wider acclaim. This he suggested was due to John Paul’s greater charisma, but I’m not so sure. If their positions are the same is it not more likely that the rest of us have moved on? Grown up even?
The Pope fears secularisation, not because it really does lead to a “pick and mix morality” (no more so than religion anyway) but because a secular society can do what the Church cannot. It can move with the times and free itself from outdated dogma. It can have the debate free from preconceptions and arrive at rational approaches to civil liberty and individual human rights. It can make religion irrelevant, or at best just one voice in the marketplace of ideas with no special privileges. Which of course is exactly how it should be.

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