The Trouble with Belief

Tuesday 22nd May

When one looks at almost all the petty wars going on, and even the civil wars in Syria and Yemen, it seems that religion is at the core of the dispute.  Whether it is explicit as in Sunni versus Shia Muslims or implicit as in our involvement in Afghanistan, where, deny it as we might, the perception in the East is that we are there because we are Christians and they are Muslims.   And why should this be, when the leaders of every religion in the world are telling us that they are so peaceful, and believe in the goodness of whatever they call their God.  Why should such bitterness be in the hearts of these religious fanatics?  Why are young men and women prepared to lay down their lives, not even for political freedoms but for the belief that their brand of religion is superior to all others.  Is it down to the very nature of belief; in order to believe one has to in effect suspend disbelief.  One has to accept that things which cannot be seen and understood are true, because some holy book or a priest somewhere tells you they are so.  One has to positively trust an unseen deity in order to have faith to believe in that which is not provable.  Therefore one has already given away the rational part of one’s mind, and accepted that things we cannot understand have an irrational but unquestionable explanation.  Therefore the person who believes is already less understanding of the world as they see it for themselves, and sees the world through the prism of their religious belief.  Quite why this should mean that in some cases they are prepared to kill people who do not share the same ideology is beyond me.   And we in the West should not feel at all superior, our religious wars and slaughter make the current disputes in the Muslim world seem child’s play.  I cannot quite understand it – I am happy for anyone to believe whatever they want, God, Allah or Green Turtles, provided they do not attempt to make me believe it also – but maybe that is because I haven’t been corrupted by belief in the first place.