Matthew Parris

Has the Archbishop of Canterbury forsaken God?

The horrible events seem to have prompted Dr Welby to question his faith

28 November 2015

9:00 AM

28 November 2015

9:00 AM

The Archbishop of Canterbury, we heard during the BBC’s Songs of Praise broadcast last Sunday, ‘doubted God’ after the Paris attacks. On a walk on Saturday (he told listeners) he said to God, ‘Where are you in all this?’

As we are in confessional mood, here’s an anxiety of my own. The Paris atrocity has not occasioned me any new doubts, but Justin Welby’s remarks have caused me to doubt Archbishop Welby. Speaking on behalf of God, I have to ask the Archbishop: ‘Justin, where are you in all this?’

I’m not a believer, but I try to understand what believers believe. Christian theology has a long and distinguished intellectual history; faith’s most difficult conundrums have all been raised and answers (acceptable or otherwise) have been offered to all the obvious questions.

Foremost among these is the mystery of evil. Like (I guess) any child, I was struck early by the spiritual puzzle that anyone following the Christian faith must grapple with: the problem of human cruelty, misery, and pain. If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, why does He let bad things happen?

Zoroastrians, Cathars and (from their language) some Muslims have had their own answer known as dualism: a universe dominated by two great powers, God and Satan, locked in perpetual battle. We are enjoined to enlist on the side of God, but the fortunes of war will ebb and flow, and both sides suffer victories and defeats. Nothing in dualist teaching claims that terrible things will not happen — to us, to those we love, or to the world. But we know which side we’re on, and we will be rewarded in the afterlife for putting on the whole armour of God.


Archbishop Welby would find no theological problem about the Paris atrocities if he were a dualist. A horrifying setback for light can only strengthen a dualist’s determination to fight harder against darkness. Celestial as well as civil powers can invoke the spirit of the Blitz, and in recent days many Christians will have responded to terrorist horrors with an invigorated, not diminished, faith. And it will at once be apparent to you that these Christians’ belief embraces a strong strain of dualism: ‘Onward Christian soldiers/Marching as to war’ and all that.

There is some authority for this in the Gospels, depending on how you choose to read them. But authoritative Christian teaching has tended to reject as a heresy the dualistic (or Manichean) conception. The preferred view is that God is omnipotent, that even Satan is ultimately beneath His command, but that He moves in mysterious ways and it may not be given to us to understand why — as it were — He lets Satan survive and evil prosper.

Some theologians, however, have essayed a possible reason for the existence in God’s universe of evil, cruelty and pain. It is that God has given us free will and wants us to choose. We must encounter things that test us but we have His commandments and He will not force our hand. We must embrace Him willingly. According to this view, good can only truly exist if there is evil too, and we can choose good. When Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden they were given the knowledge of good and evil, and (some who hold this view deduce) that is why even the serpent and the apple were part of God’s plan. Loving parents do sometimes stand back while their children learn about error or calamity the hard way.

If the Archbishop subscribed to this view then, though the Paris massacre might have shocked us by the sheer scale of the wickedness God has ‘allowed’ in His universe and the pain He has permitted innocent people to suffer, Archbishop Welby, after wincing, should have been able to reconcile the awful news with both his faith, and the ultimate benevolence of his deity. The Catholic explanation for a catastrophic earthquake in Lisbon — that all was ‘all for the best in this best possible of worlds’ — though mocked cheaply by Voltaire, is actually profound and should be enough for anyone sure that God’s in his Heaven and this must be the best possible of all worlds.

But the Archbishop struggles. Why? I can only conclude that (as he has sometimes hinted) his belief in the very existence of a deity can falter. After all, if one starts from an absolute faith that there is a benevolent God, one must simply find ways to explain or discount apparently awkward evidence — of which the problem of pain is an obvious example. If, on the other hand, one is unsure about the existence of God, one does not seek to discount troubling evidence against the theory, but approaches it with an open mind.

I suspect that describes Archbishop Welby. If so, we should not reproach him for responding to an act of great wickedness as he did — though we might enquire whether it was really a good idea to be Archbishop of Canterbury. But what I must reproach him for is this: Paris is now, close to home, and once Welby’s own home, but why should that make the atrocity any more philosophically troubling than a Lisbon earthquake centuries ago? I feel a righteous anger against people who renounce their faith because their aunt died of cancer. Other people’s aunts die of cancer all the time. ‘Why us? Why me? Why now?’ should carry no more force than ‘Why others? Why then?’

The Archbishop’s response was doubtless human, but theologically shallow. Jesus, in His agony (‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?) doubted Himself, not God. Straining his ears on last Saturday’s walk, the Archbishop might have heard a rumble from the sky: ‘My Canterbury, my Canterbury, why has thou forsaken me?

UPDATE The Archbishop has written a blog with own explanation of his remarks.

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  • Damaris Tighe

    An excellent quote from an American commentator called Stephen Molyneux. Speaking about the moderate, undecided Muslims wedged between fundamentalist Islam & western values, he says, ‘[They] won’t look at who is right but who is most certain.’

    This also applies to the young native people of Europe some of whom are now converting to Islam.

    • justejudexultionis

      There is nothing more disturbing or dispiriting than seeing a young white European convert to Islam.

      • Damaris Tighe

        I think this is going to be a huge phenomenon in the future.

        • RobertRetyred

          An interesting story, with evidence of where the problem lies:
          Ex-Muslim: Koran Revealed a Religion I Did Not Like
          http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2015/April/Ex-Muslim-Koran-Revealed-a-Religion-I-Did-Not-Like/

          • Damaris Tighe

            Hello there Robert (good to see you in this parish). Thanks for providing this link. I’ve always believed that many Muslims don’t know what’s in the Koran – it’s usually taught in Arabic which isn’t the native tongue of most Muslims. I suspect many think it’s similar to Christianity.

            If only Church leaders like Welby had more iron in their soul & worked to convert Muslims with as much confidence as Muslims have in their faith. It’s no good relying on Muslims to become atheists. As this story shows, they’re much more instinctively religious than us modern westerners.

          • RobertRetyred

            Perhaps they are just less deconstructed 🙂

          • Shona

            I don’t think they are, it’s just not taught anymore. Our values are deep and profound we don’t think about them often, but they’re there. I’ve put my finger on why I feel so opposed to the invasion of the “gimmegrants”, it’s because they are coming here for the wrong reasons, they are deeply materialist and only want the 12 euros of silver and the iphones. previous generations came for liberty and to help us build our society. They have profoundly misunderstood, the iphones are the result of liberty, they are frivolous outcrops of liberty. We can and have lived without these things. They don’t matter, the other stuff does.

        • Callipygian

          You know, I really think not. Westerners are often irrational but we don’t share the Middle Eastern mindset, which is violently opposed to ours in more than one sense of the word. It’s water and oil. Whatever happens, it won’t be by conversion.

          • Damaris Tighe

            I succumbed to hyperbole in my comment! I don’t think Europeans in general will flock to Islam in droves. I was thinking of disaffected young people looking for an ideology, & Islam is unique in providing a religion which is also ideological. We know that young people can take extreme positions. It used to be Trotskyism & Maoism. Now the only ideology around is Islam, which has the additional advantage of offering a lifestyle with strict boundaries – something which young people brought up in an age where boundaries are vanishing often want & need. Unfortunately Islam’s boundaries aren’t between life & murder but between, eg, men & women, permitted & forbidden food.

          • There’s another ideology, which is based on an unholy mixture of lies and good intentions, of materialism and utopianism,which attracts the naïve and the ruthless, and while riddled with internal contradictions is utterly intolerant of dissent: environmentalism.

          • freddiethegreat

            Quite right DT!

          • Callipygian

            Oh I agreee — except for this: Leftism is alive and well and still doing harm among the young in America. No doubt you’ve heard about our bratty students and the absurd but vicious bullying they and their enablers have been up to.

          • Miss Floribunda Rose

            Christianity and Judaism belong to a middle Eastern mind-set.

          • Callipygian

            Yes, I’m obviously not referring to the sane people.

          • Woman In White

            You belong to a bigoted one.

          • Miss Floribunda Rose

            Then I am in good company.

          • Woman In White

            “good company” meaning the self-delusional, parrot-like, bigoted, simpleton one of Moany’s recommendation ?

            How sad.

          • Sanctimony

            You are parroting me again, salope…..

          • Miss Floribunda Rose

            You are so full of Christian charity…….or perhaps yer a Muzzie! Who knows?

          • Sanctimony

            And you belong to a self-delusional, bigoted one …

          • freddiethegreat

            Christianity comes out of it. It penetrates every part of the world.

      • freddiethegreat

        Nobody can live without a worldview. When your cultural worldview is removed or destroyed – as Rowan Williamson did to so many – something will take its place. Paganism? Satanism? Islam? Whatever. And there are a lot of whatevers. Islam is just a pretty violent one.

        • Miss Floribunda Rose

          You are wrong. I live without a worldview.

          • Woman In White

            If you really think that you have no worldview, then the depth of your stupidity is unfathomable.

          • Sanctimony

            More semantics from the Tourettes sufferer… you really must control your inane witterings and gibberings if you are to escape Broadmoor and the inevitable full-voltage ECT treatment….

          • Woman In White

            If you agree with the previous poster, then you’ve fathomed the same stupidity.

          • Miss Floribunda Rose

            Titter.

          • freddiethegreat

            No, you have a worldview. For instance, do computers work in a logical way using electronics? Or is it magic? (some tribes might go for this). Or little men holding up numbers to the screen? (drug user, perhaps). But you do have a view of the world and everything in it.

          • British Lion

            No you don’t. Your brain would not be able to function without one. You’ll be saying you haven’t got an ego next.

      • jeffersonian

        …young Americans…about the same level I’d say.

      • British Lion

        I disagree. Taking a womans blouse off and then realising she is wearing a padded bra.

        Far, far worse.

    • British Lion

      Indeed. The word is “congruent”.

  • Chamber Pot

    Resign, you worldly cleric and political appointee ! Go, you lack any belief in the divine, and any faith !

  • Derek Custance

    I am not a believer either Mathew but is it not right to think that if God exists he sent man into the world equipped with a conscience, humanity, intelligence, morality, compassion etc etc together with a responsibility to choose the right path and to make the right decisions broadly based on Christian values? Why has the Archbishop chosen to doubt His existence rather than to defend him. Should he not be trumpeting that we need more religion not less? Not difficult to work out why the pews are so empty these days.

    • Miss Floribunda Rose

      Religion caused the events in Paris. We need less religion, not more.

      • Woman In White

        That’s like saying oxygen was part of every explosion of WW2.

        • Sanctimony

          No, it’s more like someone saying you are full of s… ……….

          • Woman In White

            Troll.

          • Sanctimony

            Trollop…….

          • Woman In White

            Go and zip up your anorak Moany

  • Grant Melville

    “When Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden they were given the knowledge of good and evil, and (some who hold this view deduce) that is why even the serpent and the apple were part of God’s plan. Loving parents do sometimes stand back while their children learn about error or calamity the hard way.”

    This (broadly) hits the nail on the head. If Adam and Eve had lived, prospered and multiplied in Eden, man would never have come to know God in the way in which he now can. God would never have sent His Son into the world, and thus come into blessed nearness to His creature – a nearness which will be enjoyed by creature and Creator for ever. His great, immeasurable love wouldn’t have been demonstrated fully except by the giving of His only-begotten Son as a sacrifice for sins.

    However, those who suggest that the infiltration of Satan into the world was part of God’s plan are treading on dangerous ground. It could never be the will of God that sin marred His creation. However, what has occurred was allowed to occur, and through it we see the wisdom of God. Against the background of darkness – catastrophe, tragedy, and the working of sin and Satan – the divine light shines out. It’s open to every person on earth to be delivered from all that, to be free from the system which is oppressing the world. It doesn’t mean being plucked out of suffering, or shielded from sorrow – it means having power to overcome, and a link with another world where sin and suffering have never and will never intrude, and the Man who is at the centre of that world. These things aren’t mystical or esoteric – they’re real, substantial, the daily experience of the believer.

    Another point: on the cross, the Lord didn’t doubt Himself. His cry put into words, for our teaching, His deep, holy, divine feelings at being forsaken of His God and Father. He knew, fully, the answer to the question: sin. The sin He was bearing in His body on the tree. He had been made sin for our sakes. For your sake and mine. Have you put your trust in the Sin-bearer?

    • HungryHorace

      What if you don’t believe there was ever an Adam or Eve Grant?

      • justejudexultionis

        Then you are not a Christian.

        • HungryHorace

          You’re right. I’m not a Christian. Well not any more anyway. I’m not sure why you felt the need to state the bleedin obvious. At least Grant made a somewhat coherent argument. You? well……

      • Grant Melville

        Well, you and I and everyone else are free to believe what we like: we have God-given rational faculties and I’m not about to force anyone to acknowledge the existence of Adam and Eve. However, the question I’d put to someone who doesn’t believe there was ever an Adam or Eve is this – how credible is the alternative theory? The human race evolved (miraculously, some might say) over millions of years, through countless quirks and chance developments in genetics? We developed, from single-celled organisms, into beings who are not only capable of having complex discussions about matters outside the normal scope of human experience, but are also having this discussion over vast information sharing network which we built? Now, you’ll know where I stand on this issue. And I’m not about to go into the ins and outs of the theory of evolution. There are many objections that somewhat suspect science can raise to the Biblical account of the creation of man. These don’t trouble me for a moment. I don’t need the discoveries of science to reinforce my belief in the truth of the Bible either, but sometimes they do. For example, ‘civilisation’ is widely acknowledged to have begun around 6,000 years ago. This is the time that the scriptures say that Cain founded the first city on earth. The development of civilisation was rapid, since man, after he’d been introduced into the scene, had the full intelligence of modern man and much less of the diseases and genetic weaknesses which plague us today. Other sceptics point to the discovery of flint tools purportedly used by ‘primitive man’ as proof of evolution. The relatively modern children of Israel used flint knives to circumcise their male infants. No discovery of science can disprove a single utterance of scripture.

        • HungryHorace

          Good for you Grant. I won’t argue with you.There’s little to be gained for you or me.

          • Grant Melville

            Absolutely, Horace. We both have better things to do with our time than slug it out on the net!

          • The Wet One

            Wow.

            I’m amazed that a believer and unbeliever could be so mature and rational about such fundamental disagreements and decide that they have better things to do with their lives than waste each others time.

            Now, if only we could somehow figure out how to teach everyone on earth to do this, the very cause of this article (namely man’s inhumanity to man) might just disappear or at least appreciably lessen.

            As demonstrated by the interaction between HungryHorace and Grant Melville, it can happen. That said, I’m not too hopeful of this being a resoundingly successful endeavour, but there may be something possible there.

            In any event, I salute the two you for being paragons of humanity. That’s something I do not see everyday. Bravo!

          • Grant Melville

            I think we all get a bit fed up with the interminable arguments that go on online. What I think we believers sometimes forget is that the gospel is preached from faith to faith. Getting involved in these sort of discussions with people who don’t have faith doesn’t really serve any useful purpose. Of course, the gospel must be preached to everyone, there’s no question about that. But beyond that, getting into the finer points of Christian doctrine is really casting pearls before swine. Pigs are intelligent creatures, but they have no means of valuing pearls. The same can be said about the unbeliever – they see nothing of true value in heavenly treasures. The gospel, however – while it is a heavenly treasure – is for all. “God therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, now enjoins men that they shall all everywhere repent…” (Acts 17:30). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal.” (John 3:16). The gospel is for “all everywhere”, for “whosoever”.

  • Charles Tilbury

    Matthew, as Justin Welby admits, his words have been misconstrued. See below:

    Why arguing with God is not the same as not believing in him

    THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY·MONDAY, 23 NOVEMBER 2015

    Every now and then I spend a day kicking myself for getting things wrong. Yesterday was one of those days.

    Last week I willingly agreed to do an interview for Songs of Praise in connection with the appalling attacks in Paris. During it, I was asked whether events like Paris ever caused me to doubt and question.

    Foolishly, I said exactly what I thought, in a fairly lengthy discussion which particularly referred to Psalm 44.

    The essence of my answer was that everyone has moments when they question things, and one sees that in the Psalms. The psalmist in Psalm 44 asks God if he is asleep, and challenges him in the most direct terms about his failure to deliver Israel. It is a psalm of protest.

    When there are tragedies like Paris, when friends suffer, when evil seems to cover the face of the Earth, then we should be like the psalmist.

    But that is not the same as a settled belief that God does not exist, or even any serious questioning about his reality. It’s a moment of protest and arguing.

    It’s very much part of my normal prayer life, together with praise and wonder, with delight and awe, with petition and lament, with celebration and rejoicing.

    So, for the record, I do believe in God, and that Jesus Christ is God himself, and I can say every word of the Creed without ever crossing my fingers once.

    And why was I kicking myself? Because, even as I said it, I realised that it would be too tempting for an editor or headline writer to take things out of context, a long context of a whole discussion, and to make a good headline. I really need to remember that.

    • Fair enough. He sounded like a drip – according to the headlines.

      • justejudexultionis

        You trust the media for information?

        • Nope.

        • The_greyhound

          I can recommend Whinges Over Scotland. Their stuff is freshly invented every day.

      • William Balty

        He is a drip. And his squirming “it was taken out of context by a nasty headline writer” confirms he is a mendacious drip. He is saying that he has no qualms about ‘his’ God allowing all the horrors that happen every day around the world, but that he was a bit upset by the Paris killings. Now, solely concerned with his image, he’s “kicking himself”. Pathetic drip.

    • Callipygian

      The question is, why does he believe? Why does he think Jesus was real, and what would it mean for the supposed son of a divinity to BE the divinity? The Bible is a book. Humans write books. How does a divinity enter into it? I have never understood the language of Christianity, apart from ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. That’s the best line ever.

      • “I have never understood the language of Christianity”.
        You mean you don’t understand that we are made in love, for love? And that having turned from our original nature, we have made such a mess of things we need help to sort it all out?
        This all seems straightforward to me, and fits well both with my everyday personal experience, and with my perception of art, history, metaphysics and so on.

        • Secular1Humanist

          Love? Have you actually read the bible? The last word to come to mind, after I read the bible was ‘love’. More like fascism and tyranny. Cruelty. Nativity, and a few other words.

      • Secular1Humanist

        I prefer ‘do unto others as they would have done unto them’. Just because you (not literally you, but that too) like something done to you, doesn’t mean I’d like the same done to me. Best to treat people the way they prefer to be treated by you, rather than you prefer others to treat you.

        • Uh, no. We should NOT treat jihadists (for example) as they would like to be done to.

          Back to the drawing board.

  • hatfinch

    “Loving parents do sometimes stand back while their children learn about error or calamity the hard way.”

    Because one day we’ll be dead and they’ll be on their own. It would be quite a different matter if we were omniscient, omnipotent and immortal, and they were our pets.

  • Herman_U_Tick

    I bought a copy of the Times yesterday in which Mr Parris had written an article about
    how he did an online racism test which branded him as ‘mildly racist’.
    Mr Parris reported feeling miffed and I felt slightly sympathetic.
    There was no email for replies so I reply here.
    If a bureacracy is set up, albeit an academic bureacracy, given the task of
    discovering racism then what do think it is going to do?
    Are they going to say ‘You know what, this racism thing is negligible,
    we should be paid off and laid off and given more useful tasks elsewhere.’?
    Unlikely.
    More significant, Mr Parris has previously expressed (in the Times) his
    unequivocal support for the EU and voiced scorn on those who find the
    tiniest fault with it.
    If you want a soundbite from me on this subject it’s this:
    ‘You can’t have too much sensible European integration and you can’t have
    too little stupid European integration. And in any case by consent and not by command.’
    But the EU is a bureacracy, Paid to produce legislation, the more legislation,
    the fatter the paypacket. What is it going to do?

    • Resnonverba59

      The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.

      • MC

        We’re all racist to some degree, including muslims, blacks, asians, etc. We just need to get over it and treat it for what it is: modern hysteria.
        There’s a Ray Bradbury short story in the Martian Chronicles about mass hysteria, which is a perfect allegory for the modern world.

      • freddiethegreat

        As Chesterton observed so many years ago

        • Resnonverba59

          As did Roman Historian, Tacitus in AD 98

          • freddiethegreat

            Ah! The advantages of a Classical Education. Mine was a bit incomplete and self-done. I didn’t know Tacitus had said this. I was thinking of Chesterton’s observation that when the big laws went, there wasn’t anarchy, but the small laws (like Health & Safety) replaced them

    • Ivan Ewan

      “(I am confident that Mr. Parris is not racist at all, let me say.)”

      He certainly had something racist to say in The Times about white-skinned people, including himself, some weeks ago…

  • MC

    We’re living in a post-god Christian country. Nothing wrong with that.

    • MadameDellaporte

      What I don’t understand is how I find many people not believing in God yet believe in ghosts. Very odd. Also, humans are innately religious, whether they trade organised religion with “humanism” or “spiritual but not religious” or “lets go to the museum on Sunday”. At the very core of all of this is a sense of religion.

      • Callipygian

        humans are innately religious
        I’m not. I’m innately given to self-preservation and the feeling of happiness, which has made me open to the possibilities and glories of virtue. And I do not believe, nor ever have, in a rewarding and punishing god.

        • Grant Melville

          If you’re devoted to self-preservation and self-gratification, you’ve become your own god. Everyone has an object. If you become your own object, you’ll never transcend yourself.

      • freddiethegreat

        Law: Anyone who says that they are “spiritual, but not religious” is actually religious, but not spiritual.

        • Congratulations on this piece of legislation, Freddie. Spot on.

      • MC

        innately religious? Nonsense.
        Atheists tend not to believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden, fairies on shoulders, ghosts, ghouls, etc.
        Most religious people I know believe in ghosts – indeed it is part of the religion what with your holy ghost nonsense.
        Strawman arguments at its weakest.

        • Woman In White

          The Holy Spirit is not a “ghost”.

          So really, the strawman here is yours.

          • MC

            The holy ghost doesn’t exist, so the fiction can be a ghost as in the movies.

        • Atheists don’t believe in fairies, They believe that everything comes from nothing, for no reason, and that things like goodness, beauty and truth are illusions.
          Surely it is obvious which side of the great divide is more firmly based.

    • freddiethegreat

      A bit contradictory. I think you mean that you are living in an avowedly secular country that is living on the capital of its Christian past – family silver that is rapidly disappearing, in order to purchase Islamic or pagan or secularist or…. (fill in whatever) Lotto tickets.

      • MC

        No. I mean we live in a post-god (no need for believing in fairies anymore) Christian country (the underlying morality fo the country is Christain.

        Nonsense to bring neo facist religions like islam into the mix, especially as there is no suggestion that the morality is shared – very distinctive morality differences between judo-christian societies and islamic ones – or that the islamist culture is any near mature enough to be ‘post-god’.

        • Woman In White

          God is not a “fairy”.

          • MC

            They are as real as each other.

          • Woman In White

            Puerile ontological declarations are generally divorced from truth.

          • MC

            not if they were only shaking up with each other and never actually married.

  • dukestreet

    It’s too bad the Archbishop doesn’t read his Bible and open himself to the Holy Spirit, so that he could understand what the Bible has been saying ,for thousands of years, about these very times.

    • MadameDellaporte

      The Bible does not speak anywhere about “these times”. It is a pity to use the New Testament as a Christian as a hand manual. It was never inteneded that way. The Archibishop should read some Eastern Orthodox theology where these issues have been resolved a millennia ago.

  • Dominic Stockford

    I wonder whether JW has ever read the Book of Job?

  • Mark

    What Justin could have said…..

    We live in a world where there are people who justify the murders in Paris by reference to a holy book and a prophets teaching, and they can cite their references and blame their victims for failing to live by a holy system of law and they call on their Gods greatness as they open fire or detonate an explosive belt amongst their fellow human beings.

    And I ask where was God in all this?

    And then I think of a simple Galilean carpenter who went about doing good, offering healing and calling on his followers to love God and to love their neighbours as themselves.
    And when I see the bravery of those who entered the field of fire and of bloodshed and tried to do good, to help their friends who had been wounded and killed, the paramedics, doctors and nurses, who helped the wounded, the security forces who rescued the survivors and defended the innocents……

    There is where I see the face of God, the battered, bleeding face of God, He who was tortured, humiliated, and praying for forgiveness for his torturers was nailed to the cross only to rise again in glory.

    Long live Christ the King.

    • Shona

      Superb post, thank you.
      As for the Church of England, I find it profoundly disappointing and very cowardly. It seems to have no idea what Christianity is.

      • steddyneddy

        That’s why someone like Justin Welby was picked as Archbishop, the Anglicans need spiritual advice, maybe from the Eastern Orthodox Church, who still seem to understand and practice real spiritual Christianity.

        The Anglican Church seem to have lost the real meaning and essence of Christianity. It’s almost as if they believe that charity and good works are what Christianity is “primarily” about.

        I know there are still some very spiritually inspirational people in the Anglican Church. Why don’t they pick one as Archbishop of Canterbury? They have no time to lose, soon all the Anglican churches will be gone.

        • Mark

          There is a steady stream of former Anglicans entering the Catholic Church, both its western and eastern sides.

          In truth, much of the Christian leadership, of all denominations, is far too pliable on the issue of interfaith relations, taking up a default culturally cringing position of deep respect for non Christian religions and their followers without any expectation of reciprocation.
          In effect accepting the secular creed that says “all religion is the same” when this is clearly untrue.

          Listen to Christians from the Middle East, such as the Archbishop of Mosul, they tell a different story.

          • alfredo

            Why would anyone want to join the ‘eastern side’ of the Catholic church? If you’re attracted to Eastern Christianity, why not go for the genuine article – real Orthodoxy?

          • Lagos1

            because you prefer an Eastern liturgy but also want to be in union with the Pope?

          • Mark

            I subscribe to the view of St John Paul II who held that the East and West are the two lungs of the church, and the church should breath with both lungs.

            Catholic means universal doesn’t it?

            “Ut unum Sint” and God bless you.

          • Grant Melville

            You’ve hit the nail on the head, Mark. The attitude of respect for the world’s religions is totally alien to true Christianity, for sure. We should love and respect our fellow man, but we can’t use that as an excuse to legitimise these so-called ‘alternative’ religions. It is, as you say, a secular creed. I was very disappointed to read the interview with Andrew White in the magazine. He’s an admirable man in many ways, but sadly misguided. The only outreach there can be to Muslims, or followers of any world religion or none, is through the preaching of the gospel. When professing Christians get involved with politics and world affairs, they lose the sense and distinctiveness of their true place, in another world altogether. We are ambassadors for Christ: a heavenly ambassador represents his country and his King, stands for the interests of his Master in His absence, but doesn’t interfere in the politics of the host country.

          • Shona

            Totally agree with this, how can you recite the Credo if you think all religions are the same? I do think that all gods are potentially good, but that’s why I’m a Neo Pagan, not a Christian.

          • Grant Melville

            Quite so – it would be hypocrisy, wouldn’t it? Yet, these days folk seem to prefer a religious hypocrite to a religious bigot. It’s frowned upon to claim the supremacy and sole truth of one’s own particular faith – not the done thing at all. Myself, I prefer it if people are staunch in their beliefs, even if I absolutely and fundamentally disagree with those beliefs. When the gospel is preached, I’m more encouraged by a hostile reaction than by polite interest. The world we live in is full of deception and insubstantial novelties on which people fritter away their lives. A pricked conscience, a touched heart – that’s something real. There’re stirrings of life there.

        • freddiethegreat

          Sentamu, Nazir Ali.

    • Aethelflaed

      Good post – well said.

    • Ordinary Man

      What an extraordinary post Mark. Do you, by any chance, live in Alabama?

      • Mark

        Alabama? sorry, I don’t understand, what are you referring to?

    • Miss Floribunda Rose

      Since God allowed these events to take place we can only assume that He approved of them, or was unable to prevent them, or was unaware of them, or indifferent to them, or was unable to intervene though He wanted to.

      • Woman In White

        Did you get your degree out of a Rice Krispies box ?

        How ignorant, exactly, are you of the concept and reality of Free Will ?

        • Miss Floribunda Rose

          If an omniscient God exists, free will is impossible.

          • If an omnipotent God exists, free will is possible.

          • Miss Floribunda Rose

            He cannot be omnipotent without also being omniscient. He has known since the beginning of time exactly what you will think, say and do with your capacity for free will. Hence everything you think, say and do is preordained. On the other hand, if He doesn’t know what you will think, say and do, then He cannot be omniscient, nor omnipotent, nor omnipresent.

          • When my son goes out with my friends I know he will drink too much beer. But that doesn’t remove his freedom not to.
            Meanwhile God in heaven is chuckling over the limitations you place on his doing and being. Or perhaps he’s yawning – I imagine he’s heard it all before.

          • Miss Floribunda Rose

            God has always known that you would say this. You HAD to say it. He has also always known that I would read your words, and disagree with them. I MUST disagree. It is preordained. I have no choice in the matter. I know you will agree with me. So does God. Chuckle.

          • Am I correct in assuming that God has chosen the floribundant Rosie from among all women to disclose this knowledge? Or did you simply work it out from first principles?

          • Miss Floribunda Rose

            First principles.

          • Woman In White

            If you believe that, then you must necessarily believe in the worthlessness of your typing.

          • Sanctimony

            deterministically… now I have really heard it all… and did you get that, Rose, Either way, you can be completely ignored…

            You have had it in black and white from today’s equivalent of the Delphic Oracle…

          • Woman In White

            What you fail to understand is that His knowledge of our actions is a consequence of those actions, but He knows them before we do, because He transcends time.

            You seek to define God as being restricted by linearity.

            That is a false god.

          • Sanctimony

            Another one for the b…s..t compendium… ‘linearITY…

          • Woman In White

            cripes you’re mindless, Moany

          • Miss Floribunda Rose

            It is not possible to transcend time. Belief in God is false. Be aware that if you base your life on something untrue, then you have wasted it.

          • Woman In White

            Then welcome to the utter waste of your own.

          • Secular1Humanist

            “Because he transcends time”
            What do you mean by this statement? How does anything that exists, exist outside of the influence of time? Time and space are intrinsic properties of existence. How does one exist outside of these properties? In order to form a thought or carry out an action, a sequence of moments must come to pass. This is what we call time. In order to exist, one must exist in at least one spacial dimension.

            And while we’re on free will. If there’s such a thing, one cannot both have free will and be omniscient. One cannot know what they’re going to do in the future, and have the free will to choose a different set of events. This imposes a limitation on knowledge or free will, if not both.

            Your god is a married bachelor. You’ve gotten greedy and given him so many properties, they’re inconsistent and contradictory with each other.

          • Woman In White

            Your illiteracy is not the source of all truth.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Only to gullible Muppets.

          • Woman In White

            So you’re saying that the skeptic lacks free will ?

            Can you even see the self-contradiction ?

          • Woman In White

            Yep, Rice Krispies.

          • Miss Floribunda Rose

            God knew at the moment of creation that one day you would come into being and would say “Yep, Rice Krispies”. You have no choice in the matter. All is preordained if an omniscient and omnipotent God exists. Hence, you MUST do as you do. Snap, crackle and pop to you.

          • Woman In White

            Idiot. Troll. And do you wear a pink anorak ?

          • Sanctimony

            Ah the friendless oracle and spout of all knowledge has another Tourettes seizure coming on ….

          • Woman In White

            Idiot troll stalker.

          • Sanctimony

            Idiot, trollop attention-seeker…

          • Woman In White

            I’m not the one deliberately seeking others in order to insult them.

          • Sanctimony

            Yes, you are….

          • Woman In White

            Rubbish, you horrid little troll.

          • Miss Floribunda Rose

            Pink? One abhors pink.

          • Sanctimony

            I see your uptick recommendations have gone berserk this evening…. are you looking for friends ???

          • Woman In White

            Troll.

          • Sanctimony

            Trollop !

          • Woman In White

            cripes, and then the anorak accuses *me* of parrotism …

          • Sanctimony

            Wow… a troll is a dwarf or giant of Germanic folklore inhabiting caves or hills… a trollop is a slovenly woman or a slattern…. I’m astonished you don’t know the difference….

            And I believe that the correct description is parrot-like… parrotism is yet another of your isms, asms, itys etc that flood from your guppy gob in trying to drown out anything that does not conform to your propaganda and dogma…

          • Woman In White

            I’m not the one with nothing better to do than follow people around to scream moronic insults at them.

          • Sanctimony

            How strange…. I thought that was your sole raison d’etre…. to shout down everyone who tried to confront your long-winded, convoluted and quadrasyllabic pronouncements on this site… you must be bored to distraction in your high-rise condo or trailer park in the banlieus of Frejus… might I suggest that you take yourself off to the bar Le Vogue in the rue du Suquet where you will find many kindred spirits….

          • Woman In White

            I am unsurprised but disappointed to discover your over familiarity with the frontiste bourgeois bien-pensance that has ruined that town.

          • Sanctimony

            No, it was my buddy, Dave Spart, who put me in touch with the CPNT… Chasse, pêche, nature et traditions… hang on…. or was it the PCOF …Parti Communiste des Ouvriers de France…my memory is a bit hazy… but they were all a blast and we enjoyed many bibulous evenings together.

            I might be able to introduce you as Deirdre, Dave Spart’s long-suffering ‘partner’ … I’m sure you would go down a treat ….

        • Sanctimony

          You really are a sour, frustrated b..ch, aren’t you… and where did you dream up your degree…. a first in B.lls..t…

          • Woman In White

            I lack the anorak’d insecurity that you display daily.

          • Sanctimony

            Au contraire, salope…. Je suis bien habille…… forgive me, I can’t type the acute accent on the last word…

          • Woman In White

            Tu es un imbécile de première catégorie, car tu imagines que le bien peu de savoir que tu possèdes suffit à t’élever au-dessus de tout.

            J’en ai plein le fion de toi depuis je ne sais plus combien d’années que tu as passées à vomir ta haine et ta bêtise de merde, signes d’une très profonde connerie, et que tu as gaspillées dans la trollerie et l’aveuglement.

            Tu n’as eu, pendant tout ce temps-là, très exactement RIEN à dire d’intéressant, et à la place tu as contribué parasitage, autosatisfaction, futilité.

            Dégage — ou alors commence à taper sur ton clavier de merde autre chose que du vomi de chien.

          • Sanctimony

            vomi de chien… did you hear that, Rodney ???

            It’s almost as good as bonnet de douche, defense de fumer, mangetout… etc etc… you really are a huge sucker, aren’t you… you fell for it hook, line & whatever… I just knew you would jump at the chance of showing off your hackneyed French and an opportunity to deflect all the neglect and consequent self-absorption that you suffer on here…

            I will pass on your message to my mates in the MBC in Chamonix…. and warn them that there is une vache enragee… on the loose in the condominiums of Frejus….

          • Woman In White

            hackneyed French

            Tu ne comprends rien à rien.

        • Secular1Humanist

          You did an excellent job of refuting his case. Well done. /s

    • Secular1Humanist

      “And then I think of a simple Galilean carpenter who went about doing good, offering healing and calling on his followers to love God and to love their neighbours as themselves.”

      -Would that also happen to be the very same Galilean carpenter who said he came not to bring peace, but a sword. And to set families against one another? Created a specific place to torture those who disbelieve, for ever? But those who do believe will have all their misdeeds forgiven. Because this delusional carpenter valued what a person ‘believed’, over their works.

      That same guy? Not that different from Mohammad, really. And considering he’s claimed to be the same entity in the Old Testament, he would be much, much worse.

      • Woman In White

        Your reading “skills” appear to be a little deficient. Perhaps you should sign up for a remedial course at play school ?

  • GreenWyvern

    I had the same reaction to Welby’s comments as Matthew Parris.

    If Welby has never thought seriously about the problem of evil in the world, then he doesn’t deserve to be even a parish priest, never mind Archbishop of Canterbury.

    That he has so little common sense, and so little sense of the duty of his position, as to publicly question his faith means he’s a fool.

    That a person like him has reached such a high rank in the church, means there are serious problems in Anglican Church – something we all know, anyway.

  • NBeale

    Except Welby (from the BBC Clip) never doubted God, he merely asked God where He was in this.

  • Rocksy

    What do we call a person who doesn’t believe in God? Hint…begins with an ‘A’

    • freddiethegreat

      Anglican?

  • The Great Satan™

    This is what shook his faith in God? Has he been living in a cave all his life? Has he never seen children stricken with cancer, or read of the horrors of the Holocaust, or watched the medieval barbarity of ISIS in the middle east? He asks where is God in all of this? God may be watching in amusement, indifferent or nowhere to be found. It doesn’t matter, God will not save us. Bomb isis, deport the islamists and save yourselves.

    • JJD

      I suppose he’s just trying to come across as human. Little moments of doubt are often part and parcel of having faith. A moment of doubt does not preclude faith.

  • alfredo

    I was perplexed by this, and still can’t see why Paris should suddenly have led Welby to doubt God’s presence. To put it simply: if you believe, as Christianity does, in free will, then there is no philosophical problem – though there may be a huge emotional one – about human beings choosing evil. It’s usually all those instances of suffering where no human agency is detectable which understandably lead people to reject any idea of divine providence.
    His subsequent explanation doesn’t help very much. It now appears that his ‘where were you?’ wasn’t a real question at all, but merely a rhetorical one.

    • Woman In White

      His subsequent declaration merely confirmed his worldliness.

      • rationalobservations?

        I’m a little surprised that you are still ranting away with your repeatedly debunked bunkun WiW?
        You ran away from a previous comment column after your myths were so conclusively busted.

        • Sanctimony

          Yes, she’s essentially a bully and a coward… and when someone stands up to her pontificating nonsense she starts hurling the most puerile insults about looks and clothes etc… very highbrow…

          I called her out once for misquoting me and she returned to a previous post and completely altered its content …. she is a duplicitous, deceitful and utterly un-Christian (in the truest sense of the word) thug….

          The tepid response she receives on these pages is evidence of the apathy and scorn she receives…. sadly she is so strident and insulting in her responses to those who disagree with her fallacious dogma and hectoring that they avoid her like the plague and seek to engage with more agreeable and better-mannered contributors….

          • Woman In White

            I called her out once for misquoting me

            Moany, believe it or not, the world does not revolve around your typing.

          • Sanctimony

            And, more significantly, around your own non-stop diktats….

          • rationalobservations?

            Oh! The irony….

          • Sanctimony

            Well… go on tell me that you didn’t alter an earlier pontification to make an early taunt by you look more rational…. and remember that lying is a mortal sin… you wouldn’t want to share an eternal spit-roast with me in Hades…. would you ?

          • Woman In White

            Editing is not sinful, you idiot.

          • Sanctimony

            It was NOT editing…. it was proposing a diametrically different proposition to your original statement in order to cover your tracks… you are, as I said earlier, a mendacious, deceitful poseur and psychotic, self-obsessed fraud….

          • rationalobservations?

            Oh yes. Many have cut and run when it is made clear that their dishonest and debunked bunkum is revealed and their recycled lies exposed.

            I just wish that religionists didn’t get so angry when presented with the evidence that damns their particular childish superstitions and the dishonest human origins of their particular evil death cult.

          • Woman In White

            Ratty, I’m not “angry”, your personal opinion is not “evidence”, I do not belong to a “death cult”, your presentations are not “rational”, and the adolescent anti-religion gibberish that you post is foreign to Science — fact is, you’re quite simply not worth talking to.

          • rationalobservations?

            Your terror and fury leak into each and every debunkunked bunkum auto-denial you write.

            “Not worth” = “frustrated I can’t answer”.

            Never mind, dear lady. No one else has ever had any answers to the evidence that damns your pitiful (and rapidly becoming moribund) little death cult.

          • Woman In White

            “not worth” = “not worth”

            Your insults and your indoctrinated repetitiousness, closed-mindedness, and narcissism do not provide an interesting background for even the most shallow debate. Even Moany occasionally posts something that’s not completely stupid.

            I will very soon resume not responding to anything that you type.

          • rationalobservations?

            Denial is not rebuttal, dear lady.

            Your furious denial and obvious frustration at being unable to justify or defend your particular death cult is obvious to all who read your hysterical little rants.

            Please don’t bother me with your mindless and evidence free angry tirades. It’s your own time you’re wasting.

            On the other hand:

            If you ever do care to make an attempt at answering these evidence based questions with authentic verifies and verifiable evidence supported answers., by all means get back to me.

            1) Can you refer to any 1st century originated evidence of the life and times of one of many messiah claimants (only much later Greek scribes employed by the 4th century Romans) named “Jesus”?

            2) Can you name a complete bible text that dates prior to the oldest/first 4th century Roman Codex Sinaiticus christian bible and matches any complete text within the oldest/first 4th century originated Codex Sinaiticus?

            3) Are you aware of – and can you explain – the almost endless differences between the oldest/first 4th century handwritten Roman Codex Sinaiticus bible and those many diverse and significantly different versions of NT bibles that followed it?

            4) Can you explain the confusion and internal contradiction, historical inaccuracies and scientific absurdity that is contained within all the many,many diverse and different versions of christian bibles today?

            5) Can you explain the absence from Jewish literature of the Jewish prophesies that the god-man “Jesus” is claimed to have fulfilled exclusively within christian authored texts that only appear for the first time in the 4th century CE?

            6) Can you explain why “Jesus” (according to the legends within NT bibles) fails to meet the specification of messiah that actually exists within the Torah and other Jewish literature and tradition?

            Note:
            Opinion is not evidence.
            1600 years of xtian lies and propaganda that began in 4th century Rome is not evidence.
            Dodging all issues is not rebuttal.
            Denial is not refutation.

            Next..??

          • Woman In White

            Denial is not rebuttal, dear lady

            Your personal opinion is not the warranty of truth, and you’re an idiot if you think that an obviously fictional Star Wars avatar is an autobiography.

            Just as anyone would be an idiot to take your own crappy so-called “rational” avatar at face value.

            Meanwhile, your deluded egotism continues to be devoid of anything except a psychiatric interest.

            You are not worth talking to, no matter **what** delusional constructs you may possess inside your brain to whatever opposite desire.

          • rationalobservations?

            Still no evidence based answers then?

            How does it feel to be exposed as such a total and absolute failure?

        • Woman In White

          My boredom with your pettiness does not constitute “running away”.

          It’s worth repeating that my opinion of you is that you are not worth talking to.

          • rationalobservations?

            Yes , you poor little delusional woman.

            Your terror and fury leak into each and every debunkunked bunkum auto-denial you write.

            For “Not worth talking to” read – “furious and frustrated that I don’t have a single evidence based answer or argument in support for my childish claims and ridiculous cult”.

            Never mind, dear lady. No one else has ever had any answers to the evidence that damns your pitiful (and rapidly becoming moribund) little death cult.

          • British Lion

            OK I get it. This is your hobby.

  • freddiethegreat

    There has been a deep-rooted theological weakness in Anglicanism from early on, with only luminaries like JC Ryle as exceptions. Welby is just a continuation of dithering, ill-educated archbishops (if much more likeable than his predecessor). The Anglican Church missed a big opportunity when they bypassed Nazir Ali and Sentamu.

  • sebastian2

    The Almighty is, if nothing else, at least fair. He (or She – whatever) is to the C of E what the C of E has been to persecuted Christians and others in Sudan, Syria, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt ………….. anywhere where there’s a mohammedan jurisdiction. In other words, not a lot. God has ignored our weak and simpering, irrelevant Archbishops as they have ignored the dire plight of others. Blame yourselves.

    You have betrayed all those who believe in or respect and support our Judaeo-Christian heritage. While churches were being trashed, you have mumbled timid pieties; while people were being crucified or executed, you have murmured conciliatory, empty phrases; while sharia courts condemn to death converts to Christianity, you’ve muttered the inevitability of that brutal code; faced with mohammedism’s unforgiviing intolerances you have urged useless, appeasist multiculturalism; while this savage creed has boasted of its peacefulness, you – as guardians of the truth in all things – have yielded to the lie.

    You (with some exceptions – Michael Nazir Ali, being one) are a total disgrace, The cathedrals and abbeys which remind us of what once was, would never have been built under yourselves. The best you can do now if you wish to survive at all is to hand over the empty or almost empty churches – and there are hundreds – to Syrian Christians who have at least lived and died for the faith you seem to have forgotten. If you have any lingering sense of your duty to God’s work, that should be your starting point.

    • Woman In White

      He (or She – whatever)

      Your notion of ascribing sexual characteristics to God is pagan.

      Christ is a man , do not confuse Him with the other Persons of the Trinity.

    • JJD

      Good rant, Seb – but you’re getting carried away at the end, there.

      • sebastian2

        I started at “carried away” and have worked myself down ever since 🙂

    • freddiethegreat

      On the nail

    • Germainecousin

      superb.

  • Miss Floribunda Rose

    The Almighty is an unnecessary hypothesis. Since the Almighty never appears to intervene in the affairs of mankind, we may as well assume that the Almighty does not in fact exist.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      I’ll drink to that.

      • Woman In White

        It’ll be an alcoholic orgy of the ignorant.

        • Sanctimony

          Better than a coven of frustrated ratbags …

    • Sanctimony

      Or care….

    • freddiethegreat

      Hun? Are you in a permanent alcoholic stupor or something? Bible: Record of God intervening in the affairs of mankind. History: Record of God intervening in the affairs of mankind. Current affairs: Record of God intervening in the affairs of mankind.

      • Miss Floribunda Rose

        Incredible.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Ah yes, the Jewish Book of Fairy Stories. I wondered when we’d get to that. Man made, written by self-serving men.

  • SPW

    Dear Matthew

    What an excellent article and, may I say, for someone who professes not to be a Christian your insight is just wonderful.

    Humbly I submit that what is missing from the article, and what seems to be missing from the CoE, is the Judeo-Christian belief in the Fall. The Fall brought sin and death into all creation and the earth was cursed as a result. To have some notion of what God is doing, where He is in the world, one has to start with the Fall. The Law given through Moses was there to define and prove sin. God’s choosing of the Israelites was partly to show mankind’s inability to deal with sin through religious observance. The coming of Christ was to deal with sin and death. The establishing of the Church was to proclaim forgiveness for sin and victory over death in Christ. And this is where God ‘is’. He is in the business of rescuing sinners. All that is needful has been provided. Fallen creation still languishes under the curse and sin and disease and natural calamity are the result. God, having lovingly granted an escape route from His righteous dealing with sin, is withholding the day of judgement, wishing all to escape.

    This is my personal summary, as a believing Christian. I can provide scripture that underpins it – I didn’t invent it myself! Through this understanding I am often troubled and sorrowful but have not yet been confounded. I commend the work of Christ to you Matthew!

    • freddiethegreat

      Excellent

  • Mad Mitch 21

    The article is superb. It expresses deep frustration with Christian leadership shared by many. Here is a time of extreme danger; a war underway against the church and the state which it shaped. Politicians who are at sea, unable to frame the reality correctly. Surely Canterbury has insight and words necessary for this time. Matthew Parris flushed Wright out. We wait for the reply. Perhaps it is wiser if he doesn’t.

    These men should use their last days of established authority wisely. Parris, an atheist, probably a baptised Englishman, is screaming at them to phophesie ( in the broad sense : bring the mind of the Lord to the table). What do the oracles of God say; directly opposed by Islamic civilisation.

    I want to hear him too.

  • JJD

    The article is not correct to say that the Christian (or Catholic) position is that this world must be the best of all possible worlds. Some Christians may have claimed that. Leibniz famously did. But the mainstream view is that God could certainly have made a ‘better’ world than the one he did actually make. Do we really think that, among all possible worlds, this world is the one that most fully expresses the twin ideas of omnipotence and benevolence? I certainly don’t. And as I say, that’s the mainstream Christian view.

    • Woman In White

      But the mainstream view is that God could certainly have made a ‘better’ world than the one he did actually make.

      That is a highly dubious notion, and a kind of cosmic back seat driving.

      • JJD

        There’s a sense in which it is false, and a sense in which it is true. In terms of what is called real/metaphysical perfection, God could certainly have made a better world, one more replete with beings that more closely resemble Him. But in terms of God’s Wisdom, the world most endowed with metaphysical perfection was not the one he chose to make. And the Christian would have to hold that this was perfectly wise, and therefore best, even if lacking in metaphysical perfection when compared with other possible worlds.

    • freddiethegreat

      “But the mainstream view is that God could certainly have made a ‘better’ world than the one he did actually make.”

      Fatuous. God DID make a better world. It’s all there in Genesis 1 – 3.

      • Alexsandr

        nothing to do with the big bang then?

      • JJD

        God made a better world than the one he made?

        Back to logic school with you.

  • Grace Ironwood

    Our Anglican hierarchy have long preferred the new values of the post-sixties west to scripture.
    Why all the surprise at their agnosticism?

  • Grace Ironwood

    Is this the best kind of man to lead a church?

    I would have thought belief would be the barest minimum.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Come on, Grace. Do really think Church top brass actually believe that BS they’re peddling? Religion’s for the little people, the servants. And obviously a nice not so little earner.

      • Alexsandr

        opiate for the masses.

        • Woman In White

          Your clichés for the masses are quite stultifying.

          • Alexsandr

            unfortunately you seen to have missed that is a qoute. a well known quote.

          • Woman In White

            unfortunately you seem to have missed that your “well known quote” is an over-used cliché.

  • AliceS

    Is it me or is Parris not the brightest bulb?

    • Terry Field

      Parris has expressed concern with the condition of himself in the bushes of London parks.
      Burning in the bush.
      Says it all.
      It’s a queer old world.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Never trust a Bush unless it’s burning.

    • God and Mr Browning

      He certainly isn’t as bright as Welby.

  • Terry Field

    The trivial little oilman is the perfect Archbishop.
    No real profundity, bland,bland, bland.
    God, The soul, eternal considerations, proper respect for thought!
    Don’t be silly, this is geriatric Britain, and the doddering C of E!!!!

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    If God is so powerful and omnipresent, how come He lets bad things happen?
    Let me get back to you on that. Something about free will, wasn’t it?
    Do we have free will?
    Of course we do, the Boss says so.

    • Woman In White

      Free Will is part of our nature, whereas evil is a consequence of Sin, so they’re not inextricably linked, in Christian philosophy.

      But “bad things” is pretty vague, given that evil includes things we might like as well as things that we might dislike, whereas not everything that individuals dislike is evil. “Bad” and evil are not synonyms.

      Good and evil are not the consequence of each individual”s likes and dislikes, because these are themselves subjective by definition, as well as being, partly at least, individual consequences of the Original Sin.

      The words good and evil can indeed only have meaning from an objective, common point of view, which isn’t that of the individual. Whatever is by definition good must be universally so, even for the sinner who wilfully embraces its opposite ; and what is evil must also be universally so.

      Matthew Parris’ article is interesting, but it does tend to conflate suffering and evil, as if they were the same ; but they’re not.

      Human suffering, which is a moral condition (and different to pain, which is a sensory stimulus), is a consequence not of Free Will but of Sin, the Original of these being our knowledge of good and evil. So this suffering is endemic to the human condition, even though it is not part of human nature — the human condition is of our mortal life, whereas human nature also belongs to the human soul which is created eternal, and is intrinsically good and directed towards good.

      The Paris attackers and their leaders have been agents of suffering, so that insofar as the attacks are evil, they are the cause of that evil ; this is not the same as the incidental suffering that may occur from events in nature, whether they are individual or collective, because these events are not themselves evils.

      It is natural to seek to avoid suffering insofar as we can, whereas it should be clear that evils are the actions of those who seek to willingly cause it. So it can be seen that evil is the deliberate misuse of Free Will towards suffering rather than towards good, just as it can be seen that suffering is a subjective product of our Sin, and not in the nature of our Souls.

      Do we have free will?

      It would be hard to devise a system of Law or Morals that assumed that it didn’t, and all existing systems are based around the reality that it does.

      Even though it’s limited by physics and biology.

      • Sanctimony

        Tu brasses trop….moulin a paroles…

        • Woman In White

          Range ton français scolaire au placard, à côté de ton parka.

          • Sanctimony

            C’etait un parka, il y a moins de vingt minutes…. qui se passe…?

          • Woman In White

            qui se passe…?

            ??? ça veut rien dire.

            quand on te dit de ranger ton français scolaire, c’est qu’on t’a pas demandé de l’étaler en public.

          • Sanctimony

            La culture c’est comme la confiture, moins on en a plus on l’étale….

          • Woman In White

            Tu es aussi débile dans une langue que dans l’autre, Moany, et je te signale pour la cinquante mille énième fois que ton attitude insolente est aussi puérile que dénuée d’intérêt.

            Ta façon de passer l’essentiel de ton temps online à venir poster des insultes sans objet ni contenu démontre que t’as la tête vide, le coeur déséché, un manque flagrant d’éducation, et rien d’intéressant à raconter. C’est pitoyable.

          • Sanctimony

            Might I suggest that you stick your head up a dead bear’s bum… you are an endlessly chippy, overbearing, oppressive termagant who sees this blog as your personal fiefdom… you ceaselessly attempt to shout down everyone, but everyone…. and screech your parroted dogma at one and all…. va te faire foutre……

          • Woman In White

            Your posting history is an endless litany of trolling. This activity cannot realistically be blamed on others.

  • Ilmarinen

    Brilliantly clear analysis of the troubling inappropriateness of Archbishop Welby’s comment.

  • Leftyliesrefuted

    Presumably Welby’s faith was not shaken by 9/11, in which nearly 3000 people died? If it was, why did he not mention it when talking about Paris?

    But I guess that Americans’ and (especially) Jews’ lives didn’t matter nearly so much … and in any case, as practically every hard-Leftist remarked afterwards, “they had it coming to them”.

    Welby has never struck me as being remotely Christian, by the way.

  • God and Mr Browning

    ‘Why do bad things happen to good people’ (theodicy) is one of the perennial problems for people who believe in good, loving God.
    It seems to me that all Welby was doing was saying that the Paris attacks were just another example of the many things that try every Christian’s faith in such a God. Welby isn’t a fool, and his faith wasn’t rocked this time any more than at any other.
    Sadly, he made a remark that any Christian would understand, but which was difficult for non-christians to fathom.

    • British Lion

      I disagree. I’m not a person of faith, but I can understand his faith being rocked by such a terrible event. We all lose faith sometimes. Be it in a God, person or system.

    • johnb1945

      It would be great if he could just succinctly explain Christian theology on good and evil.

      For the benefit of our burger munching, £99 Ibiza weekend designer clothed consumer horde. And interested Muslims.

  • Precambrian

    The Archbishop clarified this later. Cheap news.

  • Jacobi

    “Justin, where are you in all, this “

    That is a rather unfair question to ask of an Anglican? Evil is Satan, a fallen angel. He exploits the Fallen Nature of Man. The Christian God is not a remote, directive pagan god as is the Muslim god. The Christian, and remember pre-16th century read that as Catholic, Triune Loving God offers the choice of Salvation, but does not impose it. It is up to us to choose.

    Suffering is not inflicted by God but is a consequence of the nature of Fallen Man and the fact that we have chosen to live in the natural world with hurricanes and climate variation and so on, and not in a nice comfortable (sort of) zoo.

    Its all quite simple really. I mean what school, did you go to?

    • British Lion

      Christianity and Islam:

      Two cheeks of the same ar se.

      • Jacobi

        No. Christianity is the Faith of the Loving Triune God, which started in 33 AD .
        Islam is a pagan/Judeo/Christian heresy thought up by a deranged mind in the 7th century (that is circa six hundred years later). Got it?

        • Secular1Humanist

          Well… You’re half right at least.

      • johnb1945

        Unfortunately not true.

        Markedly different in every way. Only the parochialism of liberal determinism allows you to even believe that.

        Absolutely crazy.

        • British Lion

          No.

          My own emperical observation lets me draw my own conclusions.

          You’re suffering from framing everything through politial theory glasses instead of using your own eyes and brain.

          • johnb1945

            Oh well, if they are your own “empirical observations” they must be true.

            Do you consider that my observations may be empirical?

            Try reading the Qur’an. It describes a model of religion.

            Try reading the preaching of Jesus, as recorded in the New Testament. It too records a model of religion, or rather, faith.

            I promise you will find significant differences between them, and you will see parallels between those differences and the differences between the values of erstwhile Christian society and Islamic society.

            The attitudes of Jesus and Muhammed to violence and secularism are a good place to begin. once you have those relatively straightforward ideals out of the way you can move onto the more subtle – such as the distinct differences in the Judeo-Christian and Islamic concepts of God, and the way scripture is treated in the two traditions.

            There are many comparative religion websites which can aid you here also if you do not wish to invest time in reading scripture.

          • British Lion

            Stop pushing your over-investing frame on to me and frankly, get a life.

            You wouldn’t do this in a social situation. You’d get slappped. It’s wrong and just plain weird.

          • Woman In White

            You wouldn’t do this in a social situation

            Would you provide those religious insults in a social situation ?

          • British Lion

            They’re not insults.

            You’re choosing to be insulted, which doesn’t make you right.

          • Woman In White

            They’re not insults

            Nonsense.

            And you haven’t answered the question.

          • British Lion

            Yes I have.

            All religion is outwardlly invested nonsense used for social proof and power.

          • Woman In White

            No you jolly well haven’t.

            Would you utter those religious insults in a social situation ?

            Simply rephrasing the insults (and BTW lies) is not an answer to that question. (though I suppose at least that it demonstrates the dishonesty of your own response to johnb1945’s rather sensible suggestions)

          • British Lion

            So.

            You ask a question.

            I give an answer.

            You call me a liar.

            Basically you have set a dishonest trap using the horns of a dillemma, so whatever answer I give you’d take apart for your own petty agenda.

            Dishonest, hypocritical and frankly all the hallmarks of a Gamma male incel who uses religion as an ego boost.

          • Woman In White

            You ask a question.

            I give an answer.

            An evasion is not an answer.

            You call me a liar

            Actually I think you’re just repeating some lies that have been devised by others, but I imagine that you believe them yourself. They’re still a VERY false representation of the nature of religion as such.

            Basically you have set a dishonest trap using the horns of a dillemma, so whatever answer I give you’d take apart for your own petty agenda.

            No — I simply asked you whether you’d utter those insults in a social situation.

          • British Lion

            “You wouldn’t do this in a social situation”

            “Yes I have”

            What part of “Yes I have”, don’t you understand?

          • Woman In White

            you haven’t answered the question —> Yes I have

            Lack of clarity on your part ? Possibly just Disqus ordering the responses in the wrong way. Anyway, it’s clear how that happened.

            If you meant “yes, you have uttered those insults in a social situation, it’s not what you appeared to have written.

            Have you insulted people’s religious beliefs to their faces, or did these social situations involve only others with similar views ? Do you insult people frequently, sometimes, or only rarely ? Have your insults ever provoked a physically or emotionally violent reaction, and if so, do you think that it’s OK to risk these sorts of reactions in social situations ? Have you ever insulted any of your hosts, or been asked to leave because of your aggressive religious views ?

          • British Lion

            Interesting.

            How many more hypothetical/made up situations would you like to pull out of your a rse to push your agenda? I could add a few more. It’s too easy to be this dishonest isn’t it? It’s just wishful thinking on your part. Do you really expect me to answer made up questions from made up scenarios created for your own mental masturbation?

            Nice try at a pushing your frame.

          • Woman In White

            No, I’m just trying to point out the sorts of responses that insults are liable to elicit, and wondering why you think your insults are socially appropriate but johnb1945’s response to the insults is socially “wrong”.

          • British Lion

            Because over-invested, unsolicited advice is socially uncalibrated. The subject matter is irrelevent.

            You’re getting your religious butt hurt mixed up with being a social Aspy.

            If you can’t see that, I suggest you may be suffering from the same trait.

          • Woman In White

            over-invested, unsolicited advice

            what — like describing religion as “outwardlly invested nonsense used for social proof and power” ?

            religious butt hurt

            And you still claim that these are not insults ? /roll-eyes/

            (PS I can assure you you’d be getting far stronger reactions from me face to face)

          • British Lion

            Mate. You’re a grown man with P. Leia as an avatar. You roll your eyes like an estrogen fuelled fa g g ot.

            You’re a neckbeard who wouldn’t say boo to a goose….

          • Woman In White

            Thank you for having demonstrated the limitations of your maturity so eloquently. So you’re just another twerp who thinks that carrying a juvenile attitude and a chip on your shoulder is a positive.

            Whatever.

          • British Lion

            “Whatever” combined with femine shaming language.

            I rest my case. You’re a petulent little incel.

            Off you pop, fa gg ot.

          • Woman In White

            You’re a grown man with P. Leia as a n avatar

            You’re a grown man who phwoars about girls’ “dalek bumps” at the “den of geek”.

            Would you have preferred an Amy Pond avatar instead ?

          • British Lion

            So you’ve spent the last hour stalking me to reply to an old comment? You must be seething with Gamma, incel rage.

            I’m a healthy hetrosexual male who likes a bit of banter.

            I don’t have a chick as an avatar.

            Again. with the girly shaming tactics.

            You’d make a cracking feminist chief. I suggest you try tinder.

            Incel saddo.

          • Woman In White

            So you’ve spent the last hour stalking me to reply to an old comment?

            Nope, 5 minutes looking up your history to see who I was dealing with.

            The irony was simply impossible to ignore, given your earlier comment, which I then responded to. TBH I was rather glad to see that your interests are nowhere near as narrow as those of our resident trolls, and I have no irrational hostility against you, I just think that you’re very very wrong in your opinions about religion, and sorry but I find them to be unacceptably narrow.

            But I do see that you have a point of view based in politics, and I’ll never try and fault you on that.

            I wasn’t “stalking” you, and I unreservedly apologise if you thought so ; this place has occasionally been infested with trolls and sockpuppets, so consulting people’s posting history is no more than a precautionary measure. Please don’t take it personally.

            (I am NOT going to stalk and vex you about the internet, I’m NOT like the two ghastly creeps posting hereabove)

            girly shaming tactics

            Was just pointing out that you were VERY ill-placed to make your silly Princess Leia comment.

            (to be fair, “Heaven Sent” was a bit of an instant Doctor Who Classic, wasn’t it ? And Star Wars in two weeks. I’ll always prefer Star Wars to Doctor Who, but DW at its best really is quite glorious isn’t it ?)

          • British Lion

            Good grief.

            Pro tip: never, ever overinvest.

          • Woman In White

            Fair enough

  • Dutch_Boy

    I think it’s very simple. We define evil as the nasty things that may happen to one particular species of carbon-based life on one particular planet, 4.5 billion years into its existence.
    God doesn’t exist. Or defines it differently. Or has no use for the notion.

    • “I think…” Are you sure you do?

      • Sanctimony

        Cogito ergo sum… as that great philosopher, Derek Descartes, once mumbled into his beard…

    • Woman In White

      We define evil as the nasty things that may happen to one particular species of carbon-based life on one particular planet

      That’s not how the Catholic Church defines evil, and bad/nasty is not a synonym of “evil”.

      Matthew Parris has conflated suffering with evil — it’s the main flaw in his otherwise quite interesting piece about certain philosophical limitations of Anglicanism, as they appear in the teachings of the arch-banker of Canterbury.

      • Sanctimony

        I am sure Mr Parris will be thrilled with your qualified, but prissy and patronising, endorsement of his article as ‘quite interesting’…

        • Woman In White

          You obviously fail to understand the meaning of “quite”.

          • Sanctimony

            I can quite hear you saying ‘quate’… you finger-pinking, purse-lipped old Doris….

          • Woman In White

            Time to clear out the wax, then

    • Jadissock

      No. Evil requires Man to effect it. Deaths via tsunamis, earthquakes, and other natural disasters are tragic, but not evil. Famines can be triggered or exacerbated by humans so may fall into either category.

  • Mad Mitch 21

    Your science is meaningless. Fortunately before there was cultural awareness of matter God inspired the mighty words of Genesis. There were no eye witnesses. However Genesis provides information and meaning not otherwise derivable but infinitely more important. Like there is a creator. He set things up the way he wanted. We are made in his image. He separates things. We wanted equality with him and are responsible for the screw up. No other input from us except more of the same. Now the lights of history are switched on. There are eyewitnesses. Day 1 part 2. Sunday morning. Empty tomb. Jesus is resurrected. Meaning – God’s appointed Universal King for all. Is evil explained? This Khan is not like other pretenders, he takes pain for us and answers the question face to face. Can science derive history? Can science provide answers at that depth. Contemporary Western Christianity is introspective and insipid. This is what is under discussion. Contributors have noted this. Beckett Langton Hooper Cromwell 1, Oxford trio – were these guys Christians of a different kind? Wait and see. MP needs the Archbishop to be certain. The movie theatre ad should be bullet points on the origins of the Koran along the lines of “judeochristian heresy”.

  • johnb1945

    I want an Archbish who defends our heritage.

    I guess while the church s established this may not be possible. Too constrained by the muzzle official government policy.

    • British Lion

      No. Constrained by decades of living the easy life, likee the rest of the western world.

      Falll of rome etc.

  • A world that permits third-rate journalists like Matthew Parris to carry on writing obviously does challenge some people’s Christian belief, but I am sure it’s all part of God’s greater purpose.

    • Sanctimony

      In the same way as one has to wonder what purpose he had in creating a smug, ugly, self obsessed, pointless git like you… your avatar says a lot… your output is smug, complacent and self-congratulatory… now just push off back to the Catholic Herald, or somewhere similar….

  • British Lion

    There is no such thing as a religion of peace. The moment you say “My
    belief is correct and yours is wrong” makes it inherently hostile.

    • Woman In White

      The moment you say “My belief is correct and yours is wrong” makes it inherently hostile

      So your atheism is inherently hostile then, glad that’s been cleared up.

      • British Lion

        My hostile atheism doesn’t blow up buildings and burn non-believers and have a belief system based on zero evidence.

        Some perspective please, incel.

        • Woman In White

          Can’t seem to remember blowing up any buildings nor burning any non-believers, so your comments about “perspective” are risible.

          • British Lion

            Atheism isn’t a belief, incel.

          • Woman In White

            Atheism isn’t a belief

            That’s one of the core doctrines of atheism.

          • British Lion

            No. It’s called grammatical inference, incel.

          • Woman In White

            An incorrect one — the absence of belief is called agnosticism.

            Atheism is to believe in an absence. It is a belief system that is predicated entirely around its core belief that “God doesn’t exist”. Agnostics lack that belief.

          • British Lion

            I suggest you take English lesons, incel. That’s one big, fat strawman argument.

          • Woman In White

            You appear not to understand what “strawman argument” means, either.

          • rationalobservations?

            Oh…, the irony!

          • Woman In White

            Your ignorance is monstruous, Ratty.

          • Sanctimony

            Is ‘monstruous’ one of your highbrow neologisms… or are you simply displaying your lack of education ?

          • Woman In White

            Idiot.

          • Sanctimony

            A comprehensive and incisive response…. yes, I am being self-mocking… before you get carried away…

          • Woman In White

            As I said, you do very occasionally post stuff which isn’t bullsh*t — Ratty doesn’t.

          • rationalobservations?

            Your inability to provide an evidence based answer any question., or present any evidence supported case for your death cult business of religion – is becoming “legendary”.

            Well done you! Your bilious diatribes and blanket denial may do more to spread the good news of peaceful, egalitarian, charitable democratic atheism than even Dawkins and Co.

          • Woman In White

            Your inability to consider anything that you disagree with as plausible is a cognitive pathology.

            I feel sorry for you.

          • rationalobservations?

            You demonstrate cognitive dissonance and the Dunning-Kruger effect all rolled into one furious and hysterical package of ignorance, venom and terror.

            I have considered all that you have dredged up – and a whole mountain of similar nonsense that you have yet to discover. None of your claims – or the claims of your exclusively self serving death cult business of religion – measure up to even cursory historical scrutiny.

            You are long on claims but totally devoid of logic, evidence or reason that supports those claims.

            My sincere sympathy goes out to you., but even more to any family or friends you haven’t already scared away with your anger, aggression and fanaticism.

          • rationalobservations?

            Christians are often baffled as to how atheists could deny the existence of their god, “Yahweh” and their god-man “Jesus”. But they shouldn’t be. Christians deny thousands of the same gods that atheists deny. Atheists just deny one more god than Christians do (or is it three, maybe?).

            Some of my favorites? Pratibhanapratisamvit, Buddhist goddess of context analysis. Or Acat, Mayan god of tattoo artists. Or Tsa’qamae, north american god of salmon migration.

            Anyway, here’s a handy comparison between the gods Christians deny and the gods atheists deny. We’re not so different, after all. Let us celebrate our vast agreement on the non-existence of thousands of gods!

            – See more at: http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=285#sthash.r5kdVp5F.dpuf

          • Woman In White

            Christians are often baffled as to how atheists could deny the existence of their god

            Also spracht Ratty, even though he’s talking to an ex-agnostic.

            I am in no confusion whatsoever how someone with an actually open mind might not believe in God.

            But you don’t have one. You have decided that something is true on the basis of exactly nothing.

            If you were rational on the basis of your personal experience, you’d be agnostic. You’re neither.

            Atheists just deny one more god than Christians do

            Smug self-serving cliché is not “reason”.

          • rationalobservations?

            The thing is: Your repetitive vacuous denial counts for nothing.

            Now if you could answer these evidence based questions with evidence supported answers – that would be impressive.

            1) Can you refer to any 1st century originated evidence of the life and times of one of many messiah claimants (only much later Greek scribes employed by the 4th century Romans) named “Jesus”?

            2) Can you name a complete bible text that dates prior to the oldest/first 4th century Roman Codex Sinaiticus christian bible and matches any complete text within the oldest/first 4th century originated Codex Sinaiticus?

            3) Are you aware of – and can you explain – the almost endless differences between the oldest/first 4th century handwritten Roman Codex Sinaiticus bible and those many diverse and significantly different versions of NT bibles that followed it?

            4) Can you explain the confusion and internal contradiction, historical inaccuracies and scientific absurdity that is contained within all the many,many diverse and different versions of christian bibles today?

            5) Can you explain the absence from Jewish literature of the Jewish prophesies that the god-man “Jesus” is claimed to have fulfilled exclusively within christian authored texts that only appear for the first time in the 4th century CE?

            6) Can you explain why “Jesus” (according to the legends within NT bibles) fails to meet the specification of messiah that actually exists within the Torah and other Jewish literature and tradition?

            Note:
            Opinion is not evidence.-
            1600 years of xtian lies and propaganda that began in 4th century Rome – is not evidence.
            Quoting from any of the diverse and different versions of bible written by men since the 4th century – is not evidence.
            Dodging all issues – is not rebuttal.
            Denial – is not refutation.

            Next..??

          • Woman In White

            yay cut’n’paste crap AGAIN

            You’re not worth talking to

            You’re the atheist version of a UFO MJ12 conspiracy theorist

            Next..??

            Nothing. The End.

          • rationalobservations?

            Yep. It’s clear that you have no excuse for your death cult or answers to the questions regarding the apparent fraudulent origin of that death cult.

            Run along now that you have so clearly demonstrated your inability to defend your position of blind and unquestioning faith in magic and the supernatural.

            “not worth talking to” attempted cop out and failed excuse once again??

            Next…!?

          • Jadissock

            Oooh – MJ12 – haven’t heard much of that since the X Files slithered into oblivion. Are there still believers?

          • rationalobservations?

            Yep. Still no answers and no evidence and nothing to offer but terrified denial that is sound and fury that signifies nothing.

            I almost feel sorry for you..

          • Sanctimony

            You forgot Moshe, god of the mohels…..

          • Woman In White

            Yeah, and he forgot the Babylonian fish hat, Jupiter’s Toe, the MJ12 alien conspiracy, as well as the more relevant fact that he is inflicted with paranoia and tunnel vision.

          • rationalobservations?

            Careful., you could get burned as a pagan and heretic for your knowledge of and belief in all those gods…

            What are your grounds for the allegations of paranoia and tunnel vision?
            Oh – hang on – that’s your stock diversion when unable to form a coherent and evidence based argument, defend your sad and evil death cult., or answer any questions.

          • rationalobservations?

            Not forgotten. There are just too many “gods”, “goddesses” and “god-men/messiahs” to list here.

          • Secular1Humanist

            No. Gnosticism (Gnosis = Greek for knowledge) addresses knowledge.
            Theism (Greek word for belief in god) addresses belief.
            The prefix A in atheism means “not” or “without”
            An agnostic is someone who claims to have no knowledge on the subject.
            An atheist is someone who claims to have *no* belief, or is *without* a belief on the subject.
            An agnostic atheist is someone who doesn’t claim to know for certain either way, but lacks a belief.

          • Woman In White

            An agnostic atheist

            cripes, this nonsense again …

            Atheists can type whatever rubbish atheist doctrine they like, but agnostics are neither atheists nor “theists”. An agnostic either doesn’t care either way, or is someone who accepts the validity of either position, outside the binary mental games of the atheists.

          • Once you open your mouth to claim that material existence does not have a non-material cause, you are stating a belief.
            It may be your personal grammatical inference, but the rest of us grammatically infer that any statement about immateriality is a belief.
            I think that what you are saying is that you do not want to stray beyond the boundaries of the empirically verifiable, but reason itself does not support you.
            Reason supports faith, not the lack of it.

          • British Lion

            “Reason supports faith”

            Good grief.

          • With one bound you move from dubious inference to factitious expostulation. Come back when you have had a little look at St Augustine’s Confessions, or Blessed John Henry Newman’s Apologia, or St John Paul II’s Fides et Ratio, and try to persuade us that your belief in nothing is superior to their belief.

          • British Lion

            See this is the problem.

            Your only point of reference is religion based scripture and you expect non-believers to argue you on your own platform.

            A bubble of existence based upon a comfort zone and reality avoidance.

            All your points of reference defer back to the same point of origin.

            Very arrogant – “please refer to my belief to prove my belief”

            What????

            Get a grip you circular logic dimwit.

          • Secular1Humanist

            “Once you open your mouth to claim that material existence does not have a non-material cause, you are stating a belief.”
            Which isn’t a claim atheism makes. Atheism is merely a position on a claim. The claim is “there exists a god, or gods”. The atheist is not at present convinced the claim is true.
            Also, learn the difference between belief and disbelief. Disbelieving something doesn’t necessarily mean you believe something else in its place.
            The the number of gumballs in this jar I hold, is either even or odd. Just because you reject someone’s assertion that the number is an even one, does not mean you believe it to be odd, either.

          • TL

            To be an atheist is to not believe in God. By logic, atheism is the negation of theism, and nothing more. You are confusing atheism with materialism (or physicalism), which many atheists (and some theists) today subscribe to. The materialist believes the world can be understood as object alone. But there is no object without subject. In setting out to describe the world as object, the materialist forgets to account for himself as knowing subject.

  • British Lion

    Here’s a question: I keep seeing people saying that we need to be respectful of people’s faiths. Why?

    Why do I need to respect the fact that you believe that your delusion is real?

    If I should truly respect you for having your delusions then I should be respected for my delusions too. Darth Vader is on his way here to take me as his apprentice on his Star Destroyer. I believe it in all my heart. You can’t prove it isn’t true and therefore you must respect it.

    • Secular1Humanist

      Well said.

  • mikewaller

    When I first came back to the Spectator, MP was the writer I came most to admire. Sadly, he is rapidly turning into a waspish old fool. Does he really suppose that an effective padre, talking to guys about to go over the top, gives them a lengthy disquisition concerning the various arcane arguments that have been adduced over the centuries to justify and explain the position they find themselves in? Of course not. He seeks to connect at a human level, and is therefore likely, amongst other things, to share with them his own doubts and uncertainties. This at least makes clear that he is not just going through the motions.

    The former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway, now an agnostic, has made the following far more telling point:

    “The fundamental difficulty is that all religious systems and the claims they make for themselves are … fragile… . The word faith is the giveaway. The opposite of faith is not doubt, it is certainty. Where you have certainty, you don’t need faith.”

    And, contra Parris, if you have certainty in such an ultimately uncertain context, you are at risk of starting to pose just that kind of threat to others that is all to frequently found among fundamentalists of all stripes.

    • Woman In White

      He’s still one of the very few journalists of the old pre-Falklands Times era who can still write between the lines, as every proper article of that newspaper was written, back in the days before tabloid, jingoism, and PC partisanship.

      You might not be reading between the lines of this one. It’s a more subtle critique of CoE Anglicanism than you may realise.

      • Sanctimony

        I’d say that Mr Waller probably has the measure of your cymbal-clashing, intellectual shortcomings and as you refer to the pre-Falklands Times era, you are not only a stupid bat… you are a stupid, old bat…

        • Woman In White

          Moany,you are a veritable fount of prejudice.

          • Sanctimony

            More likely, prejudicity, prejudiciality or some other overacademicalicalised gibberish you had drummed into you at some institute of higher learning in Outer Mongolia…

          • Woman In White

            Carry on banging that head against the wall, eh, can only ever do you a world of anorak’d “good” ?

          • rationalobservations?

            So writes the woman in denial regarding the fraudulent origin and nature of her near moribund (in the democratic western world) death cult business of religion.

            Oh.., the irony…

          • Sanctimony

            Enough of this anorak c..p… I’ll put you out of your misery and advise you that my upper garment is: a Helly Hansen Men’s Odin Mountain Jacket,…£499.95

            You can get one at most specialist ski or mountain shops in London or the Alps…

            You might then be equipped to visit any of the high-altitude Alpine refuges where some sex-starved guardien might be prepared to take a deep breath and put you out of your misery and return a smile to your face…. you could, of course, quietly sing a Te Deum or any number of psalms, while this exorcism was taking place…

            I wish you luck….

          • Woman In White

            Enough of this anorak c..p

            Only if you stop yours.

          • Jadissock

            And the rucksack?

          • Sanctimony

            Ah, the rucksack, a good question… it contains the complete works of Sartre, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Diderot, Voltaire and… for some lighter reading, the short stories of Maupassant, before syphilis destroyed his brain and body…

            I find a tin hut at high altitude on a long winter’s night a great place to read some of the classics when one’s mind is focused by sub-zero temperatures and thin air…

            It’s certainly more efficacious than a down-at-heel trailer park in the suburbs of Frejus where the sibyl of this blog hangs out….

          • Jadissock

            I am tempted to upvote you for the poetic vision you conjure up, but I fear WIW may come after me with a light sabre. In some ways, I suspect she is your muse.

          • Sanctimony

            Well, she sure ain’t Erato… but she might fit the bill as Thalia if one wanted to indulge one’s sense of black comedy …..

          • Woman In White

            You should dump all of that rubbish down the mountainside, and fill up with Chaucer, Rabelais, Shakespeare, More, Augustine, and Montaigne instead, to protect yourself from brain rot.

          • Sanctimony

            Sir Thomas More…. He ruthlessly tortured and torched ‘heretics’ despite the qualms of even the psychotic Henry VIII, his boss & patron.

            A hero of the Catholic Church, he received his comeuppance when Henry tired of his obduracy and conceit and had him summarily executed in 1535.

      • davidshort10

        I don’t want to have to read between the lines.

        • Woman In White

          Your loss.

          • davidshort10

            Not at all.

      • mikewaller

        Please explain it to me in all its brilliant subtlety.

  • davidshort10

    This is a very stupid column and it’s time for Parris to be let go.

    • Gilbert White

      He is the feminine alter ego of grabbing Peter Gain?

  • Roger Hudson

    Man created God in his own image, so we can un-create ‘him’ when we need to.

    • Woman In White

      I’m guessing that religious studies were non-existent at your Primary School.

      • Sanctimony

        Oooh… Cruella has sharpened her fangs for another unsuspecting sucker… no, that’s not right… she, of course, is the insatiable vampire….

        • Woman In White

          Those who post unsolicited atheist doctrines can hardly expect gratification

    • sidor

      Do you mean God has an image? Something like an old guy with beard who you can see in Catholic churches?

  • sidor

    A man asking God “Where are you?” is a miserable pagan. The interactive God he believes in is something like Santa delivering goods on request. The concept of transcendental God is clearly beyond his comprehension.

  • Gilbert White

    The previous incumbent used to jet off to Africa doing good during the abysmal english winter. God’s carbon emissions plan works in mysterious ways. It seems if these pampered got out of their bubble they would find people in dire straits whose faith is increased by adversity?

  • Secular1Humanist

    Has Welby not read the Old Testament? The god character in those books was a pretty nasty dude. Genocide wasn’t beneath him. Neither was encouraging or instructing tribal wars or sending bears to maul cheeky children (” but that’s the Old Testament!”). So it is. It’s also claimed to be the same figure who appears in the New Testament as Yeshua.

  • Secular1Humanist

    Has Welby not read the Old Testament? The god character in those books was a pretty nasty dude. Genocide wasn’t beneath him. Neither was encouraging or instructing his followers to engage in tribal wars. Or sending bears to maul cheeky children (” but that’s the Old Testament!”).
    It’s also claimed to be the same figure who appears in the New Testament as Yeshua (Jesus). Who said he came not to bring peace but a sword, and set family members against one another. The same guy who invented H ell for those who disbelieve the myth. So clearly a nice guy all round.

    • You seem to be arguing that the Christian deity does not exist, because you don’t like what he sounds like (according to some parts of Christian scripture).

  • Lazy Thor

    Supposedly, the last time God appeared was in an impoverished desert community filled with illiterate tribesman two millennia ago. And since then, only Mary has appeared on pieces of burnt toast.

    Life is brutal. As Nietzsche said: “Faith is not wanting to know what is true.”

    • Would you happen to know where Nietzsche’s life journey ended? Are you recommending him as a guide?

      • Sanctimony

        There is much controversy as to whether Nietzsche died of advanced syphilis or brain cancer, which many opted for in defence of their hero…

        Much the same argument is now put forward for the demise of Winston Churchill’s father, Randolph, by those who champion the Marlborough family…

      • Lazy Thor

        I am aware. It doesn’t make his statement any less true – or in your case, it seems, false. Quoting someone doesn’t necessarily mean you endorse them.

  • Nemo

    The Archbishop is only thinking out aloud, which is laudable, and I’m sure it’s more common in religious people than we might think – only they don’t verbalise it. Although, the head of the Church, in theory, shouldn’t be saying this – it’s not very reassuring for the C of E members.

    I would suggest that everything makes so much more sense when there’s no God in the equation. Human nature makes much more sense when we remember that we are part of the Animal Kingdom. We do things that are irrational. If you believe we are a product of ‘Divine Creation’, I feel that a satisfactory explanation for a tragedy will always fall short.

    It reminds me of something I read about the earthquake in Lisbon in 1755: a fair portion of the city was in ruins; many churches were completely destroyed; yet, the red-light district – the hotbed of ‘sin’, supposedly – was unscathed. Again, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation if we assign it to geology. However, the explanation is rather hard to come by if God is in the equation. Again, humans are making nature out to be so much more obscure by bringing God into it.

  • Badger

    The Church of England has forsaken God.

  • teigitur

    The C of E forsook God a long time ago.

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