Edward Norman

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

Two hundred years ago Jeremy Bentham wrote a tract which purported to demonstrate that the Christian religion was in effect manufactured by St Paul and not by Jesus. This was actually quite a common ploy at the time: a means by which freethinkers could assail Christian tenets without being prosecuted. And because St Paul’s writings

A dark and desolate world

Dostoevsky: Language, Faith and Fiction, by Rowan Williams While the Anglican communion has been disintegrating, its symbolical head, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has been writing an analysis of Dostoevsky’s novels. This in itself presents a need for explanation: Dostoevsky has generally been assessed as an habitué of the territory between agnosticism and atheism, but Rowan

An assault upon relativism

The materialist humanists are winning — or have, perhaps, already won — the battle for possession of the moral conscience of the modern western world. The issues involved should have been brought into focus by public debate over the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill, but in reality all the debate has done is to demonstrate

Scripture was composed by believers

It is difficult enough to evaluate the evidence that the British government is supposed to have received before its decision to engage in the Iraq war: imagine, therefore, the enhanced problem in determining the evidence for the Resurrection of Christ — 2,000 years after the event. There are also 2,000 years of accumulated attempts. Now

The withdrawal of God

Here is a book which the theological establishment will doubtless fall upon as an obese child might reach for a packet of crisps. Not that they will understand much of it: for this is a universal explanation of things, written from a philosophical perspective, and which, despite the homely illustrations to which philosophical writers are

Protesting too much

Christopher Hitchins writes with exuberance and a sense of the great emancipation which he supposes modern knowledge offers humanity. ‘Scepticism and discovery have freed them from the burden of having to defend their god as a footling, clumsy, straws-in-the-hair mad scientist,’ he says of religious believers, whom he invites to abandon their faith and to

The way, the truth and the life

It was conventionally believed, especially by liberal Catholics, that Pope John Paul II’s theological and ecclesiological conservatism derived from his Polish background. In fact his mind was deeply Western; it was formed by his early study of Max Scheler and phenomenological theory. Benedict XVI, similarly, is usually perceived as an entrenched traditionalist and regarded —

The saviour of the world

In Britain public money is being allocated to identify and promote ‘moderate’ Islam, in the hope of discouraging the ‘extremists’ and ‘fundamentalists’ whose supposed misunderstanding of the Faith is, in fact, the version most practised in those societies where it is the majority religion. The result is not likely to be much more than the