British MP defends religion -- sort of.
British member of parliament Boris Johnson, a Conservative, has written a rather odd defense of religion. It is odd because he does not argue that religion is true merely useful.
Two cretins attacked a young man and stabbed him to death. They continued to stab him long after he had given them what they wanted, his cell phone and Oyster card (the card which admits one into and out of the London tube system). Johnson confesses he wants to see these men suffer for what they did. Who doesn’t?
But he says that we are better off if they “repent” and change. And the only means he can see for that happening is through religion. He says his “own faith is a very feeble tinsel object” but “if we throw out religion, then we lose a useful tool in changing lives.” “Before we go all the way with Dawkins and chuck out religion” we should look at these scum “and reflect that, if we are to have any hope of changing them for the better, then God is a useful card for society to keep up its sleeve.”
As I’ve pointed out several times the boundaries which Johnson believes are set by religion are not particularly strong. The believer is more likely, not less likely, to be a criminal. The US is a wonderful example. It is far more religious than most Europeans nations and far more crime prone. And the Bible belt states have higher crime rates than the godless liberal states in New England.
There is no doubt that religion can change lives. Any obsession or fanaticism can do that. The young men who went down into the London Tube with bombs had become very religious. The young men who drove those airliners into the Twin Towers were strongly religious. The young men who beat Matthew Shephard to death for being gay were religious.
Now it should not matter if these two killers repent or not. Why? Because they ought to be in prison for the rest of their natural lives. Killers like them don’t deserve freedom ever. Whether they repent and become sweet guys is not relevant to the rest of us if they remain behind bars. I’m all against the death penalty but heinous crimes like this deserve life and life in prison ought to mean life in prison. Letting such thugs out in five years is a monstrous injustice.
But using false claims about a deity is just silly. Johnson is pulling the old Santa Claus trick that parents used on children. “You better be good because Santa is watching and you won’t get anything nice for Christmas unless you are.” Did that ever really work?
I would think that the religious would be insulted by Johnson’s suggestion. Surely whether or not a deity exists is important. This utilitarian approach to god is not only likely to fail but is insulting to those people who choose to believe such tales. If Johnson wishes to insult such believers then do so openly and not with this backhanded form of praise.