Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

The question of dying and a belief in God

THE limitations of reason and argument in sorting the great questions of life are clearly evident in dealing with the reality of death, brought into sharp relief in the current debate about assisted dying.

What I find unhelpful is the withering scorn poured on those who believe in an afterlife. One tires of the persistent, casual caricature of what believers actually believe – particularly about death and afterlife.

Faith is not an affront to reason; faith and reason occupy different worlds. Faith is unreasonable only when you are unwilling, or unable, to engage in conversation about your beliefs.

What is important for the dying person is to realise that their life was worthwhile. It is for this reason that we should not focus on what we will get in another life, but what we have given in this life.

Moral life is not constituted by loyalty to some universal law, but by living out my responsibility for the other person. We all need assisted living prior to any consideration of assisted dying.

The dominant fear around death has always been the expectation of God's judgement. There remain some residual elements of this fear sustained by the notion of Hell.

A loving God is best conceived of as the counsel for defence. The judgement of such a God must be more like a knowing smile – an act of healing – than the judgement of a court of law.

PHILIP O'NEILL

Oxford

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz