Thursday, February 04, 2010

Why the public should be told if their MPs “do God”

source: HumanistLife

Why the public should be told if their MPs “do God”

Tony Blair
When it comes to politics, the right to personal belief isn’t necessarily a right to private belief, argues Penelope Blatchford.
So Alistair Campbell, when he gave evidence to the Chilcot Enquiry, maintained that Tony Blair sincerely believed the intelligence regarding Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.
During his own appearance today, Blair agrees: he was sincere… though exactly what the “45 minute” claim meant is now wrapped in cautions and qualifiers.  Perhaps we’ll never know what he really believed?
But we have to bear in mind that  Tony Blair also apparently believes in virgin births,  that wine can literally turn into the blood of a two-thousand-years-dead Palestinian man/god when imbibed (conditions apply), and that the torture and death of one individual is a perfectly acceptable way of atoning for the misdeeds of others.  For this reason,  how impressed should anyone be by Mr. Blair’s ability to assess evidence, apply reason to it and to make sensible decisions based on his “beliefs”?
We should not forget that it was Alistair Campbell who famously interrupted the then PM’s interview with Vanity Fair reporter David Margolick who asked Tony Blair about his Christian faith. “We don’t do God”, said the Master of Spin.  Unless Alistair Campbell was referring to the Royal “we”, this statement was dishonest.  As we now know,  Tony Blair does “do God”.  He “does God” a lot!
What people believe is personal,  so is why they believe it.  However,  the moment they act on those beliefs in a way that involves other people, it ceases to be private.  The affect of an individual’s beliefs on his or her actions can have far-reaching ramifications.  In the case of a politician, those ramifications can be matters of life and death for hundreds of thousands of individuals.  They can,  quite literally, change the world.
Isn’t it time the public were told before each election what the candidates religious beliefs are?
A candidate who believes that the universe is 6,000 years old and denies all the evidence for evolution has,  by definition, a distorted view of science and his or her attitude towards research funding may be highly damaging. Equally, one who joyfully anticipates the End of Days may well be influenced by this belief with regard to topics such as global warming or WMD, to the detriment of all living things.
More generally,  how seriously should we view the candidacy of someone believes that in order to get verification that a thought is reasoned,  accurate and justified, all they have to do is pray?  If they claim to have their choices affirmed by mind-talking to a being whose existence they cannot give empirical evidence for, shouldn’t this disqualify them from standing for office?  In other words, would we take seriously an individual who claimed to get advice from the fairies at the bottom of their garden and shouldn’t we at least know that this is what they “believe” before we vote for them?
Penelope Blatchford is a psychology graduate and science “hobbyist” with a particular interest in religious belief and its evolutionary and psychological origins.

No comments:

Post a Comment