The Good Funeral Guide Blog

We’d all be better off if we stopped believing in belief

Sunday, 18 September 2011

 

Following last week’s great debate between the GFG religious correspondent, various unbelievers and a handful of don’t-knows [here] it was gripping this morning to sip tea in bed and listen to John Gray arguing that ‘we’d all be better off if we stopped believing in belief’.  

The ten-minute talk can be heard once more on Listen Again. Better still for those who prefer their words served written, a public-spirited blogging ex-librarian in Michigan has transcribed it. Frank White, thank you. 

Gray really is worth listening to. Gloria mundi recommends him, too. He concludes: 

We’d all be better off if we stopped believing in belief. Not everyone needs a religion, but if you do you shouldn’t be bothered about finding arguments for joining or practising one. Just go into the church, synagogue, mosque or temple and take it from there. What we believe doesn’t in the end matter very much. What matters is how we live.

Now go to Frank’s website for the foregoing. Here

2 comments on “We’d all be better off if we stopped believing in belief

  1. Monday 19th September 2011 at 10:41 am

    Richard, you clearly see us as an irresistibly attractive mineral rich vein to an evangelical miner like yourself. You remind me of the Monty Python armless knight, “It’s only a flesh wound!”
    Haven’t you a flock to attend to?
    Mild Monday morning insults aside, I think belief is essential to human nature, a belief that one’s children will be okay, that climate change isn’t so far gone that there’s no point carrying on, that humanity is basically good, that your neighbour is more likely to help you up out of the gutter rather than nick your wallet as you lie helplessly stunned, that things will get better rather than worse, that all manner of things shall be well.
    If I remember John Gray’s critique of Humanism in Black Mass, saying it is basically a bastardised version of Christianity, he ends with the admission that we have no choice but to carry on in persuit of the Untopian ideal, the alternative is unthinkable. It’s not belief itself we have to give up on, we can’t, hope is the thing with feathers after all, it’s what we believe. And you and I would disagree on what that is, certainly in the details.

  2. Richard Rawlinson

    Sunday 18th September 2011 at 7:38 pm

    I enjoyed John Gray’s A Point of View on Radio 4. I agree with much of what the eminent philosopher says about religion and science, but part ways with his conclusion: ‘what we believe doesn’t matter in the end very much. What matters is how we live’.

    Christian witness is revealed in thought, word, deed and omission. This includes proclaiming the Gospel, the saving mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Evangelising will annoy, and will fall on deaf ears. There’s widespread distraction, and insensitivity to the transcendent. But there’s also a deep yearning for God. We need people who can be ‘bothered about finding arguments’ for religion.

    Sadly, such evangelisation is often marred by inter-faith strife. As Pope Paul VI wrote in 1975: ‘We must offer Christ’s faithful not the image of people divided and separated by unedifying quarrels, but the image of people who are mature in faith and capable of finding a meeting-point beyond the real tensions’.

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