Gray Area

John Rentoul

gray 300x168 Gray AreaJohn Gray is asked about religion in an interview about his new book, The Silence of Animals:

What is your own relationship with religion?

I don’t belong to a religion. In fact I would have to be described as an atheist. But I’m friendly to religion on the grounds that it seems to me to be distinctively human, and it has produced many good things.

Which seems to mix two quite separate things. You can be friendly to religion because it is human, which makes sense to me, or you can be friendly to it because it has produced good things, which does not. If religion is part of being human, which it is for most people, then humans will produce good and bad things in its name. But to judge religion purely by its results seems to separate it from humanity and to judge it on the same cost-benefit balance as Tesco or the Iraq war.

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  • Phil Ruse

    If you’re going to split hairs to that level then why not ask why you would be friendly to something that hasn’t produced ‘good things’. Or why you would be friendly to something irrespective of good or bad, but solely on whether it’s ‘human’; let’s all be friendly to global warming (insert your own bad ‘human thing’ example here). But then that would be interpreting your comment for my own ends….

  • Graeme Smith

    Insert the words ‘political party’ instead of the first ‘religion’, ‘non-political’ instead of ‘an atheist’, and then ‘politics’ for the other ‘religions’ and you get what he means.

  • Pacificweather

    Wasn’t the decision to go to war with Iraq a religious one? You certainly would not want to judge it by results any more than you would religion. Neo-conservatism is a religion in the way that all extreme political movements are in their irrationallity.

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