Sunday, 21 February 2010

"Against all Gods"

You may recall the recent poster campaign on London busses, which read:
"There's probably no God.  Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."
I saw an interesting suggested variant on a blog today:
"There's probably no God.  Now stop killing each other and enjoy your life."
I was reminded of another passage by A.C. Grayling at the conclusion of one of his thoughtful essays in his book "Against All Gods":
"For over a centrury after Luther nailed his theses to Wittenburg's church door, Europe was engulfed in ferocious religious strife, because the church was losing its hitherto hegemonic grip and had no intention of doing so without a fight.  Milions died, and Catholicism won some battles even as it lost the war.  We are witnessing a repeat today, this time with Islamism resisting the encroachment of a way of life that threatens it, and as other religious groups join them in a strictly temporary (given the exclusivity of faith) alliance for the cause of religion in general.

As before, the grinding of historical tectonic plates will be painful and protracted. But the outcome is not in doubt.  As private observance, religion will of course survive among minorities; as a factor in public and international affairs it is having what might be its last - characteristically bloody - fling."
I do not share Grayling's optimism that we are witnessing in militant Islamism what might be religions' last fling, but it is certainly bloody.

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