Belief and a question of perspective

SIR - A reader asks why a local paper wastes space on the old debate as to whether or not we should believe in God.

Most of us do not “believe in” torture, although there is woeful evidence that it exists. Most of us believe in fairness, but there is little evidence that life is fair. In this sense, it is possible to “believe in” God without any evidence for the actual existence of such an entity.

The relevance of this to our local newspaper is that many of us do believe in Sidmouth as a civilised, coherent community, caring for its environment and its residents and welcoming visitors to our attractive town, even though, at times, you might be hard-pressed to demonstrate the existence of such a town.

I suspect very few of us believe in gated communities, or in large retail and industrial developments on the outskirts of the town, and we do not believe in international corporations such as Boots the Chemist taking money on Fore Street while paying low wages and putting no dividends into pension funds and handing over no corporation tax to our national economy. But there is plentiful evidence that these things exist or are being planned.

The big question, therefore, is not whether or not God exists in Sidmouth, but what Sidmouth people reject and what we place our hope in for the future. And what we do about it.

And if the concept “God” helps you to grasp the obvious fact that the universe is utterly contingent, that the whole thing is an inexplicable gift, this could help you to give thanks every time you gaze out over the sea or up to the hills, or meet your neighbours in the street. Merry Christmas, and God bless us, every one.

Robert Crick

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2 Glenisla Terrace, Sidmouth