Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Religion and reason should go hand in hand

A KEY principle in any organisation, including churches, is to find out what is wrong with what you are doing before others do.

Organisations thrive on honest, transparent evaluation on the assumption that the truth will set us free. We all tend to conspire to allow our whispered discontent and suspicion that all is not right with Church, or state, to fizzle out in a general haze of unease.

Instead of harvesting these secret murmurings of disillusion, we collude in silencing them.

What I find sad is that opportunities to reinvigorate our commitment to the world around us are often wasted by turning our faces heavenwards, while ignoring the realities of everyday life.

Pope Francis has recently reiterated his desire to see an increasing focus on life at the parish level. The abuse scandal was not so much the cause of discontent in the Church, but the trigger for the escape of years of repressed anger at the failure to engage the intelligence of our people.

The role of the bishops has become dysfunctional and will be difficult to redeem. Thankfully, we have gone beyond the day when we allow religion to morph into various forms of benign dictatorship from which many turn away with angry declarations of disbelief in God.

The separation of religion from reason eliminates rational debate and promotes idolatrous worship of scientific reasoning, restricting the infinite range of human intelligence and imagination.

PHILIP O'NEILL

Oxford

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