Religious tolerance and today’s society

“If they [other religions] see things differently then they must be wrong, mistaken in some way.”

Lord Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford, delivered the Morrell Memorial Address on Toleration, an annual event held to increase the “understanding and appreciation of toleration as an idea and as a practice”.

Harries is renowned as a maverick: As well as nominating gay vicar Jeffrey John to become a bishop and siding with renowned atheist Richard Dawkins against creationism, he vocally supported Blair on the invasion of Iraq and was made a life peer upon leaving the Church.

The lecture, entitled “Can Religions learn to be Tolerant?”, angered some as being labelled ‘non-believers’. Lord Harries cited the importance of letting people “define themselves in their own words” in order to allow tolerance between belief systems.

In Britain, Harries referred to tolerance as a civil problem, where the most religions do is to knock on your door or send you mail. What he failed to address, however, was violence in other countries, where people are still persecuted for refusing to convert.

The base of the problem, Harries suggested, was “when there is an alliance of religious conviction and political power”. Harries is a member of the House of Lords and sat in the Lords for 18 years as a Bishop, but seemed happy to put that aside For the sake of his argument.

Harries finished by saying that the seeds of intolerance are sown when people believe that their religion alone portrays the “way things are.”


  1. Lord Harries certainly sees the issue when it comes to creationism; it can never be tolerant of science because most forms are captive to one narrow sect or another.

    Intelligent design/creationism is not only cherry-picked science, it is faulty theology as well. Startling as it may seem, by continually protesting that “blind” chance could only lead to “accidental evolution”, all denialist forms of creationism contradict the Bible’s clear teachings that chance occurrence in the universe (randomness), is always under God’s direct control!…Oops! That’s heresy. Try this:

    It’s called: “Intelligent Design Rules Out God’s Sovereignty Over Chance”


  2. That article doesn’t understand the Christian faith. Intelligent Design, by definition, AGREES that God has sovereignty over chance. It states that God has power to shape people’s DNA and therefore has power over chance itself. Creationism STATES that ‘chance’ is always under God’s control and that it only appears as chance to us because we don’t understand the principles behind it.

    Look at quantum physics – every single particle in you is behaving erratically. At any time an electron could just spontaneously appear somewhere else for the fun of it – chance would dictate it in our eyes but if creationism was true then God would be able to dictate how each particle moved. Pretty cool if it was true!

    Creationism definitely isn’t tolerant of accepted science. Accepted science isn’t tolerant of creationism, however, either – and accepted science, we know, is wrong on several things. It doesn’t understand much of what it predicts and what it does understand is based on assumptions. Though it is good as a generalisation, Newton’s Laws and then General Relativity are simply extremely good approximations of how things work.

    It works two ways – creationism may well be seen as proposterous to scientists but science is probably seen as proposterous to the same creationists. To say that ONE of them is intolerant is untrue. The only tolerant opinion is that of a religious scientist – one who accepts that either could be true and that there isn’t really a way of proving either to be 100% correct.


  3. The problem with the modern view that it does not matter what you believe, is that religion is viewed as some sort of club.The reality is that God, who is the creator of the universe, established one church, which is not a building but all those who have obeyed the gospel and are seeking to live according to His revealed will.
    That most will not accept this position does not mean it is wrong. Biblical Christianity is the only true way of living as God wants. That there are hundreds of variations and cults is not a factor. Homosexuality, abortion, Islam, Hinduism etc. are all God rejecting aspects of modern life. That certain C of E ministers and whatever do not believe this is of no consequence. The Bible contains the only religious truth.


  4. Pete Hdge, do you have any arguments to support what you say at all? Or was your post genuinely intended to just be a series of implausible statements that you think others will follow blindly simply because you do. You must realise that anyone could duplicate your post, substitute the word “Christianity” for the name of any other faith and with very minor alterations make the same ‘argument’ for a contradictory conclusion. I hope you realise that it is people like you and posts like yours that lead to some seeing all religious believers as irrational.

    If you do not care about how foolish and intolerant you appear, at least ponder on the fact that your post, if anyone else bothers to read it, will almost certainly be counter-productive and will turn people away from Christianity in all its forms, particularly the narrow-minded fundamentalist perversion of Christianity that you are obviously in favour of.


  5. Jason,

    The article I posted as first comment (and you have illustrated it perfectly) shows the duplicity of the ID/creationism contradiction. If creationists truly put God in charge of chance, they would no longer have an argument against evolution. All their writings, however, continually trumpet the concept of “blind chance” without ever even hinting at the doublemindedness of their position.


  6. Intelligent Design aligns perfectly with science… Creationism does not. I’m not sure why the article doesn’t seem to understand either science or theology – or maybe just doesn’t understand logic – but it is wrong. Your points, however, don’t appear to be!

    Creationism is a bit crazy. In its strictest form there isn’t that much wrong with it as an idea but the way that Creationists have expanded that one core idea makes me think that they haven’t been educated. But God creating the world in a few days isn’t necessarily wrong – and human fallacy shouldn’t stop people from actually trying to think about the issues at hand (i.e. just because you think creationists are retards*, and there is a lot of evidence to support that theory, it doesn’t mean that their core ideas or ideals are necessarily retarded* too)

    Pete, I disagree with your take on Christianity’s values. I also disagree with the way that you argue your point. My email is [email protected] if you want to discuss it further. I do agree, however, that there is one church… and that’s why the in-fighting, such as the skirmish in Jerusalem recently, is so detrimental and irritating! Christians should just get along with oneanother and discuss their differences instead of fighting against one another and killing people.

    * The usage of this word is designed as an insult. If you are actually retarded, I apologise for associating Sarah Palin with you. Honestly and sincerely.