In the name of God

Written by on 4 February 2015 in Comment

Rab tackles the question of religion

One hesitates to write anything light-hearted about religion, nor yet to drag my page-sharing cartoonist buddy into anything controversial, but if we stick to good old Christianity we should be OK.

Christianity used to be violent but is pretty nice most of the time nowadays, except in Northern Ireland, obviously, but even there it’s a bit of an add-on that nobody takes seriously.

So I shall treat Christianity with the respect it deserves. I think that, on the one hand, most people regard Christianity today as a sort of childish, lower order of spirituality. On the other hand, the elderly people on my street who waddle churchwards on a Sunday are all very pleasant, and it’s undeniable that religious folks are often nicer than atheists, who tend to act superior with their grim logic and mocking laughter.

Logically, therefore, I write in the wake of shock news that there’s an MSP who believes a top deity created the world, though he’s unclear about how many days it took (one problem with the theory is that days hadn’t been invented at the time). Getting our hands out again, we find that, on the one mitt, a suspiciously large number of politicians declare themselves to be Christians, which hints at their fundamental dishonesty.

And, on the other paw, it was thought that only Northern Ireland’s Assembly had creationists and that this was all part of the otherwise estimable province’s peculiarity.
Now, we have one of our own. Perhaps John Mason’s coming out, so to speak, will encourage others, standing up to declaim in the chamber: “I too have odd ideas.”

Mr Mason, an SNP representative, has put down a motion claiming that neither the belief that God created the world in six days, nor the one that he took a bit longer, nor yet the one that he didn’t create it at all on account of not existing, could be proved or disproved by science.

Reporting on this controversial revelation, The Herald noted archly that, in the 18th century, Scottish scientist James Hutton disproved that the world could have been created in six days. Hutton got his rocks off on geology — of which he is said to be ‘the father’, though neither in a holy nor biological sense — and he demonstrated that geological processes had taken too long for the Bibble, as I believe it is called, to be accurate.

However, such annoying details do not deter true believers, who have faith, which is sort of like truth without evidence, and which allows one to bury one’s head in the biblical sand when the winds of reason whip up a sandstorm.

The admirable Mr Mason told The Herald: “I also believe that Jesus turned water into wine.” This new information sent shares in Haddows tumbling and caused consternation in the highest ranks of the SNP, which consists mainly of beer drinkers.

I’ll be uncharacteristically honest with you here: I don’t know how the universe was created. Nor why. Bits of it are awesome and bits of it are rubbish.

The idea of a deity creating it over a period of days troubles me, as it implies a kind of nine-till-five aspect to the operation, and gives rise to visions of His Awesomeness in a set of overalls saying: “This is going to cost ya. Best part of a week’s work in this job. And that’s before you take into consideration tools and materials, which I haven’t even invented yet.”

It’s all kinda cookie. A friend of mine who endorses creationism also believes that the moon landings were fake and that 9/11 was a conspiracy by the CIA.

“Mr Mason has the edge over Mr Murphy, since creationism has more intellectual credibility than unionism and involves fewer rituals by moonlight”

Mind you, although Mr Mason believes in creationism, he dislikes the term, much in the way that Jim Murphy, Labour’s leader in Scotlandshire, believes in unionism but dislikes the term. However, Mr Mason has the edge over Mr Murphy, since creationism has more intellectual credibility than unionism and involves fewer rituals by moonlight.

Well, we live in a free country and you can believe what you like. Live and let live, I say, and while this does not accord with the cruel world of nature created either by God or by Charles Darwin, it seems to me that the more beliefs the better.

The key is not to ram them down anyone’s throat, and Mr Mason, to his credit, does not seem intent on doing that. Whether such beliefs should be taught in schools is altogether more problematic. Rationalists and humanists, if I have my terms right, say that evolution is not a belief, it’s a fact and should be presented as such.

Broadly speaking, I am in agreement with this. A compromise with creationism would be to explain to children that some people hold such a belief but to point out that, factually, it is twaddle.

In a surprise development, meanwhile, the Scottish Secular Society has welcomed Mr Mason’s motion being placed before the big, unruly classroom at Holyrood, believing it to be a balloon they can burst with a mighty big bang.

That’s assuming the parliament itself wasn’t created by a deity with a wicked sense of humour. 

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