Blair joins the faith discussion

Tony Blair, former British PM, gave a talk addressing the role of religion in the globalized world. Here are a few pieces of this talk at Westminster Abbey.

He mentions Dawkins in the talk, here is the quote:

Reading the Dawkins book – The God Delusion – I am struck by how much the militant secularist and the religious extremist need each other. The God Delusion is a brilliant polemic but rests entirely – as does the more reasonable The Blind Watchmaker – on the view that those who believe in God believe in Him as a means of exclusion, as a frightening, irrational piece of superstition and mumbo-jumbo which then justifies the unjustifiable.

Why is religion so often exclusionary? Does true conviction require exclusion? It is interesting that Blair is making speeches now about his own faith and about religion in gernaral that he never would have made when he was Prime Minister. How does this exclusion of his faith from his political statments represent co-existence?


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4 Responses to “Blair joins the faith discussion”

  1. Marianne Says:

    I think religion seems exclusionary because there are holiness standards attached to it. For example, people who lie or commit murder are excluded from heaven.

    For those that lie or commit murder, this seems unfair.

    But to others, it is an assurance that being willing to rise to a higher standard is rewarding after all, because doing this requires commitment and self-sacrifice.

    For those who are disobedient, God may seem mean, but to those who are obdient, God is loving and kind.

    For those that think everything is a delusion, nothing I say matters anyhow.


  2. shankarwolf Says:

    Marianne, your comments remind me of a story I heard once of a yogi who meditated under a tree all his life with extreme discipline and diligence trying to attain enlightenment. One day a snake approached him and bit him and he died on the spot without ever achieving enlightenment. A few days later a thief was walking by the same tree where the yogi had sat and decided to sit and rest under it. He sat down and immediately attained enlightenment.

    I’m not sure if that is exactly how it goes, but the point is that we can never explain the workings of religion and when we try and appoint “holiness standards” we are only fooling ourselves. Thanks for the comment.

  3. blair bird Says:

    It’s really interesting that in our own Tony’s speach he makes the point about ‘ moral superiority’ and works hard to prove that should not be at the heart of religion, but can often come across as such to others of different faiths.

    ‘Faith is problematic when it becomes a way of denigrating those who do not share it, as somehow lesser human beings. Faith as a means of exclusion. God in this connection becomes not universal but partisan, faith not a means of reaching out in friendship but a means of creating or defining enemies.’

    I think when we start talking in terms of ‘holiness standards’ we are immediately widening the gap and creating the exclusion.

    But by avoiding this and trying to understand other beliefs does that in someway dilute your own faith? I don’t think so, I believe it makes it stronger, but can see the question being asked again and again

  4. shankarwolf Says:

    Very insightful thoughts blair bird. It reminds me of a discussion of the word “tolerance” I had with a Christian man. Tolerance has an overall positive meaning, but can it ever be negative? Can someone be too tolerant? What happens to your own morals and beliefs when your tolerance extends indefinantly?

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