>Cardinal Walter Kasper has reportedly told a German magazine that the UK is marked by “a new and aggressive atheism”. Just before the Pope’s recent trip to the UK he was quoted as saying to the country’s Focus magazine that “when you land at Heathrow you think at times you have landed in a Third World country”.
What he was talking about, and it seems what the Pope agrees with if you read between the lines, is that much of Western society is moving away from religion, and in so doing becoming spiritually unhealthy.
Do you agree? Do we possess spirits? Can we keep them healthy or let them get ‘out of shape’?
When critics of Western society actually have a point they usually draw parrallels to Ancient Rome and Greece. In recent years athiests, agnostics, and those believing in philosophies of religion rather than the supernatural, have boomed in number. Ferdinand Mount, who was once head of Thatcher’s policy unit in Downing Street, has written a book called “Full Circle: How the Classical World Came Back to Us”. In this work he paints: Anaximander, a pre-Socratic philosopher, as the first Darwinian; Lucretius as the Richard Dawkins of 55BC; Mithras and Mick Jaeger as the God and semi-God on the brink of satisfaction. Mental illness, and declining belief in what we had once said the West stood for: democracy, liberalism and freedoms; have resulted in apathy, depression and a feeling of pointlessness.
So how do we avoid/tackle this problem? If they followed from the lack of strong beliefs then how do we avoid the widespread immoralities often referred to throughout Ancient Greece and Rome?
I know this picture is a bit biased but imagine it correlated against a graph showing how many people felt life was pointless. And secondly, if Mount is right then might we be headed for a new Dark Ages?
>Do you believe the supernatural is possible? If so do you think it is probable?
Someone approached me today asking if I believe in Jesus Christ. I answered that I think he was a good person but not a supernatural being. I would add that he was a great philosopher who has had a profound impact on humanity’s social evolution. Do you agree? Is it possible that Jesus was in part supernatural?
In 1994 France began clamping down on religious symbols, including the Muslim headscarf, in state schools. In 2004 it banned all “ostentatious” religious signs, including the veil, from many public buildings.
Last year Sarkozy famously said that the Burqa (a head to toe covering with a narrow slit for the eyes) is “not welcome on French soil”. Since France banned it Belgium has also jumped on board, angering many human rights organisations because they didn’t launch any national consultations as did France.
Do you agree with Sarkozy? Do you think it should be banned in your country?
>If so then how wrong? Is it right about anything?
>Do you think Pacifism has any logic? Or is it just idealistic nonsense that we are forced to abandon whenever the situation really calls for violence?
>Pascal’s Wager says that we should believe in God not because He exists but because the best possible outcome can be obtained by believing.
Let’s assume that we could just believe what we chose to believe. Was Pascal right? Do we lead better lives with religion? Or can we lead better lives without?
>Pope Bennedict XVI attacked equality legislation in the UK for running contrary to “natural law”. It’s been taken as an attack on the Sexual Orientation Regulations that came into effect last January. The regulations forced Catholic adoption agencies to consider gay couples as potential adoptive parents.
Do you agree with the Pope that religious groups should be allowed to discriminate?
>This has been one of the biggest implicit questions since the time of Aristotle. The Judeo-Christian view is that our powers of knowledge are limited, and that there will always be some things we can neither know, nor understand. The scientific view is that we can learn everything. Aristotle thought we could learn everything through pure reason. After the Scientific revolution scientists now tend to think we need evidence too.
What do you think? Can we know it all? And if so what does this mean?