There’s a new Guardian article from the “be kind to little old ladies of faith” school, claiming that there is no incompatibility between religious faith and evolution. The same author also suggested, in a much earlier Guardian article, that, while we may want to approach religion sceptically, we should not deprive people of religious consolation. As the author, Andrew Holding, says:
Should we ignore religion altogether? No, but do not attack it for being without evidence; it is a pointless discussion. Question it, fight it even, when it is used to oppress, control or exert superiority over others. Just do not hurt the individual, the believer who does not want their hopes shattered.
The strange thing is that I used to be told the very same thing back in the days when I was an active priest in the church. I was told to take it easy on my radical theology, because we should be considerate of the old folks whose whole life and hope is tied up in the faith as traditionally understood. It’s odd to be told that unbelievers should also show the same kind of condescending consideration for the old faithful. In those days I thought that by bringing religion up to date, and trying as much as I could to make it consistent with a contemporary understanding of the world, that I was approaching more nearly to the truth, and at that time, like Denis Alexander and Karl Giberson, I’d have been a bit miffed if I had been told that faith and science were incompatible. But I did realise, for all that, that faith had to be redacted pretty radically in order to make this compatibility credible. As it stood, I believed, and still believe, traditional Christian faith is incompatible with science. Indeed, it seemed to me at the time that Don Cupitt was right, and that it was necessary to rethink faith in non-realist terms, if we were to be able to be people of faith (or of “faith”) in the modern world. In other words, we had to accept that the atheists were right, and that religious thought had to be acknowledged to be wholly a human creation, and that our concept of god was, in some sense, a moral ideal that we celebrated in the songs and stories of faith.