In a pamphlet for the Saltire Society last year entitled A Plea for a Secular Scotland, the former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway, said the advance of secularism had the Enlightenment as the dynamic behind it, which he characterised as “that revolt of the 18th century against the intolerance and divisiveness of religion”.
The turning point in shaping our culture was probably the end of the 17th century, with the state and Kirk-sanctioned murder of Thomas Aikenhead for blasphemy in 1697.
It was the pivotal moment at the dawn of the Enlightenment, and it is this that has shaped our culture these past few hundred years – the progress of reason and rationalism in rolling back the murderous tide of primitive tribal myth and superstition. Holloway also noted in his essay that “while religions are adept at taking advantage of the tolerance that secular governments extend to them, they rarely return the compliment”.
We need only look at the recent same-sex marriage debate to see what he meant.
It is sad to see the Westminster government intent on fostering religious division and sectarianism in Britain.
I hope Alex Salmond takes note as he ponders Scotland’s draft constitution.
National Secular Society
Dr Mary Brown (Letters, 24 April) is correct: Jesus said nothing about homosexuality during his earthly ministry. He challenged his followers to review their understanding of many aspects of Old Testament law and their own culture, but he did not mention homosexuality.
Only the most determined revisionists claim that the Bible’s teaching does anything other than unambiguously prohibit homosexual sex.
Dr Brown’s approach to the Bible perplexes me. She does not regard it as God’s revelation and rejects its teachings where they don’t fit with her personal philosophy. That is a mistaken but consistent position.
When trying to convince Christians to abandon their adherence to Biblical principle, Dr Brown should therefore urge them to join her in rejecting Biblical authority, instead of inciting fanciful revisionism.