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Posted on Thu 19 March 2020

Return to God because it makes sense, not because of panic

Dear Sir,

Philip Johnstone (Comment, 18March) is quite right to point out that belief in the inevitability of human progress has often been negated in the last century or so either by war or the kind of natural catastrophe we are facing now.

Science, however, on which such belief is sometimes based, is not a child of the Enlightenment but is deeply rooted in the Judaeo-Christian world view of an ordered and predictable creation and in the capacity of the human mind not only to understand it but to mitigate the worst effects of its going wrong for one reason or another.The moderate Enlightenment itself owes much to believers like Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle and even John Locke. The radical Enlightenment, from which have sprung aggressive atheism and secularism, reached its climax in Robespierre’s massacres.

The God of the Bible is not a ‘God of the gaps’ to whom we turn when all else fails but the one who has given us the capacity to steward creation for our benefit and for the sake of our fellow creatures.Any prevention of the spread of the corona virus will come from our capacity to understand the world and to use such understanding for our own use and to help others.This task, as Johnstone says, has to be undertaken in humility, with a consciousness of our limitations and with a determination not to abuse God’s good creation or our own bodies for fleeting gain or pleasure.

It should be gratitude then for what we are able to do, repentance for what’s gone wrong and awareness of our smallness which should be driving us back to church and not fear of the unknown or blind panic because of the situation in which we find ourselves.

Yours faithfully,
+Michael Nazir-Ali

First Published in the Daily Telegraph - Thursday 19th March

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