the Intolerance of Religious Intolerance

6 08 2008

When we get the opportunity, Adri and I like to spend Sunday morning drinking coffee, eating croissants and reading the paper. It’s a lovely way to start the day before we head off to church.

Last Sunday however, I was frustrated by two articles in the Sun-Herald. (I’ve really gone off this paper – but that’s another story).

The first was a piece on George Negus. The main story seemd to be something about his ideas to save the planet. I didn’t read that. What caught my eye was a small piece on his views on the “Intolerance of Religion”. He said that in his youth he was a lay preacher (didn’t say which church). However as he aged, and matured, he began asking more and more questions of the world. He then decided that it is arrogant and wrong to adhere to a religion that believes they are right and everyone else is wrong. He said he “grew up” and grew out of his faith.

On the next page was the column by Peter FitzSimons. Now I don’t mind Peter, although I think some find him fairly abrasive. He is clearly a passionate man. Last week he had a go at Aaron Baddeley for talking about God at every opportunity. This week, after seven days solid of complaints, he told the Christians in his audience that there are many god’s out there,  who are you to say yours is necessaarily any better than anyone else’s?

These two seem to be selling the same message:

  • there are many theories on God and the afterlife,
  • it would be arrogant and intolerant to hold to any one of them,
  • therefore, I will ignore all of them.

The problem with this position is this: by aiming to be tolerant, and by not telling anyone they are wrong, you end up being intolerant and telling EVERYONE they are wrong. It’s like saying “I am the only one intelligent enough to see the bigger picture and realise you can’t all be right – therefore I’m right and you are all wrong”.

Can you see my frustration? I think it is very easy for someone to take potshots at Christianity from a simplistic, high-level point of view, but isn’t it ultimately arrogance to not engage with Christianity and just assume that you know better?

Something I am probably guilty of with world-views other than my own…