Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the former Archbishop of Westminster, at the installation ceremony of his successor, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, commented that he believed that lack of faith was responsible for war and destruction.
On the contrary Cardinal, I believe faith has been the driving force behind much of the human-caused destruction throughout Earth’s history. The fall of the World Trade Center, the 7/7 London bombings, the unrest in Gaza, and the mounting threat of Iran are just a few modern examples of faith-based initiatives.
A quote from Archbishop Nichols’ homily was referenced by Ruth Gledhill in her article at the TimesOnline blogs.
“Faith in God is not, as some would portray it today, a narrowing of the human mind or spirit. It is precisely the opposite. Faith in God is the gift that takes us beyond our limited self, with all its incessant demands….Some today propose that faith and reason are crudely opposed, with the fervour of faith replacing good reason. This reduction of both faith and reason inhibits not only our search for truth but also the possibility of real dialogue.”
Faith IS a narrowing of the human mind. It enigmatically trumps all desires for proof and evidence that are rightfully wanted. Demoting humans to beings with “limited selves” and “incessant demands” is the only way you can even suggest that faith has a place in day to day life. The curiosity and “demands” of humans are what brought us out of caves and gave us fire. These same urges gave us the automobile and space travel. Faith has given us nothing except certainty where there is none. Certainty which some people are willing to kill and die for.
Back to our friend, Cardy Cormac. He further commented that:
“But what is most crucial is the prayer that we express every day in the Our Father, when we say, deliver us from evil. The evil we ask to be delivered from is not essentially the evil of sin, though that is clear, but in the mind of Jesus, it is more importantly a loss of faith. For Jesus, the inability to believe in God and to live by faith is the greatest of evils.”
“You see the things that result from this are an affront to human dignity, destruction of trust between peoples, the rule of egoism and the loss of peace. One can never have true justice, true peace, if God becomes meaningless to people.”
“The inability to believe in God and to live by faith is the greatest of evils”? First of all, who said that I am unable to believe in God? It’s not that I am incapable of such a belief; I just do not have any need or desire to attribute the unknown and known to the unknown. While science and observation may not be able to provide answers to all of life’s most pressing questions at the moment, it would be an affront to reason to cast our hands into the air and proclaim that “God did it!”.
As for his last quote, I can’t possibly understand how he thinks that secularism has resulted in the “destruction of trust between peoples.” Differing faiths has been the driving force for conquest and destruction through so much of history including the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the modern battle with fundamentalist Muslims.
Quite the opposite of Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, I believe that when God becomes meaningless to people, we will have our first real shot at true peace and justice.
For a great read on the the reasons that faith is damaging our ability to live peacefully, check out Sam Harris’ The End of Faith.