Monday, 17 June 2013

BHA: Chief Rabbi Claims 'Atheism Has Failed'


Last week Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote in The Spectator that 'future intellectual historians will look back with wonder at the strange phenomenon of seemingly intelligent secularists in the 21st century believing that if they could show that the first chapters of Genesis are not literally true, that the universe is more than 6,000 years old and there might be other explanations for rainbows than as a sign of God’s covenant after the flood, the whole of humanity’s religious beliefs would come tumbling down like a house of cards and we would be left with a serene world of rational non-believers getting on famously with one another.'

He argues that he has not 'yet found a secular ethic capable of sustaining in the long run a society of strong communities and families on the one hand, altruism, virtue, self-restraint, honour, obligation and trust on the other.'

In comparison, last week we posted the video of Steven Pinker delivering out Voltaire Lecture on his book 'The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity.' The lecture focussed on the effect of the civilising process, the advancements of the ideas of the enlightenment, and how Humanism, rational thought and secular philosophies have driven down the level of violence on every measurable scale. From the reduction of the frequency and scale of wars, to universal human rights including women's rights, LGBT rights, children's rights, the end of slavery, and even the animal rights movement, it has been secular philosophies and shared human values that are continuing to drive this civilising process.

While Chief Rabbi Sacks says he has 'not yet found a secular ethic capable of sustaining in the long run a society of strong communities and families' he has either not looked hard enough or is ignoring 25% of the population that has said they have 'no religion' and yet manage to live peacefully and happily among their friends, neighbours, colleagues and loved ones.