Vincent Browne (Village 16 November) in his editorial, says, apropos of the recently announced church/state dialogue proposals, “Let the dialogue begin.”
Unfortunately, because we live in a representative democracy here in Ireland, a problem has arisen straight away. Those who find it impossible to believe in a god based on the incredibility of the claims that form the bases of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and others are likely to feel, at best, unrepresented or, at worst, conspired against when the state gets its dialogue underway with the churches.
Further, it must be fairly obvious that religious motivations to behave in any manner at all are receding, not because religious adherence is falling – although it is – but because a great many of those who profess to believe have moved away from the historical and from the real understanding of what religion means. These people merely go through the motions for social, cultural and even superstitious reasons. The fact that representatives of the ‘mainstream' religions have apparently agreed to attend the plenary meetings related to the proposed dialogue indicates a major compromise on their part because their defining books make it very clear that their philosophies, such as they are, are totally incompatible with one another.
News stories might indicate a collapse of values of decency in society. If one examines history, it will be easy to demonstrate that this not so. The great majority of people are more likely to behave well towards one another than otherwise. That is their natural propensity.
Atheists, sceptics, agnostics and humanists are taxpaying citizens. In particular, many have a strong interest in ethics – as opposed to the inflexible defence of a particular moral code, often imperfectly understood by its defenders – and their views deserve to be taken into account. The government should make a serious effort to involve them.
Another option, of course, might be to scrap the whole idea and let all interests be represented in the way they have been, at least in recent times – by means of the democratic process.
Dundrum, Dublin 14