Church and State
Sir, – The defensive responses in the letters page to discussion of church versus state (“Church has overshadowed Irish society for far too long”, Opinion & Analysis, September 11th) are bemusing.
No individual from any of the myriad religions anywhere in the long recorded history of our wide world has ever been able to provide the slightest shred of objective proof that any God exists, much less that people can in any way communicate with such beings, or that said divinities have the slightest interest in anything that any human has ever thought, felt or done.
It is irrefutably the case that no religion can be shown to be any more “real” or more “correct” than any other. All religions are equally worthy and all are equally worthless. These are not just personal opinions, but established truisms recognised by many religious heavyweights.
Pope John Paul II talked about the relationship between faith and reason, expressing a view that faith is a conscious choice to reject doubt and not, as many would see it, an irresistible force that simply blows doubt away. Martin Luther King put it succinctly when he said that “faith is not something you have or lose, but something you practice”.
Faith can give comfort to many who need it, and can build bridges between people of different backgrounds, nations and classes. However, it can also intimidate and threaten those who are weak, and can divide sharply those who have everything else in common.
Religious belief, right or wrong, exists at a remove from the real world and it should remain there. The world must be allowed to find other ways of governing and administering itself, and of treating all its people with dignity and compassion. – Yours, etc,