On a personal level I happen to think that faith in God is pretty silly. This is a growing belief shared by many atheists and can broadly be said to be a belief consistent with The Liberal Agenda ™ as expressed by much of the media in the western world. However, another part of the TLM ™ is the logical fallacy that all people that do believe in god are inherently stupid (and conservative in their political leanings). On a personal level, I do believe that believers in god are more dangerous than atheists – as Richard Dawkins has pointed out they have the ultimate fall back of an irrational justification for pretty much anything you can care to think of – but I don’t think theists are stupid. Not by a long shot.
I don’t believe in patronising them and I don’t believe in creating an unhelpfully elitist “us and them” attitude to them. I think that faith in a monotheistic god will gradually drop away from mankind, like a vestigial tail, over the course of several hundred years. I think this started in the last century and will continue into the next. As a result, I’m not all that bothered by theists and don’t feel the need to berate them for their faith, as long as they understand that they have no right to impose their doctrines on the rest of society.
Anyway, with that as a backdrop, it was with some disgust that I read a story on the BBC news website this morning concerning a complaint made against the TV station ITV in the UK. Thankfully, ITV has had its wrist’s slapped. I’ve partly paraphrased the gist of this story below:
An ITV News report that Tony Blair was guided by God ahead of the Iraq war breached rules over accuracy, regulator Ofcom has said.
An interview on the Parkinson chat show in 2006 carried an exchange asking if Mr Blair prayed before sending troops.
In the interview, host Michael Parkinson asked: “So you would pray to God whenever you make a decision like that?”
Mr Blair replied: “Well I don’t want to go into – this side of this but it’s – yeah I… but you of course, it’s… you struggle with your own conscience about it because people’s lives are affected.”
ITV said the answer justified the report that faith in God had played a part in the decision to go to war.
Clearly, Tony Blair did not state that god told him to invade Iraq – but to the news editors working in ITV the day this story broke, the temptation was too create to resist. The really interesting thing here is the degree to which personal bias can effect what gets reported and how.
You can read the entire BBC report at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/6400035.stm