Episode 7 The Big Questions

Episode 7

The show live from Leith Academy in Edinburgh. Nicky Campbell asks: Should Christians rise above their differences? Should assisted dying be legal? Do religions need gods?

Similar Content

Browse content similar to Episode 7. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Today on The Big Questions: Church splits, assisted dying, and godless


religions. Good morning, I'm Nicky Campbell.


Welcome to The Big Questions. Today we're live from Leith Academy in


Edinburgh. Welcome, everyone, to The Big Questions.


This week, the Archbishop of Canterbury told the Church of


England's General Synod that it might have to accept changes that


many members won't like at all for the sake of unity. The Church should


not be afraid of incoherence and inconsistency or untidy


arrangements, he said, to avoid splits over issues like gay marriage


or women bishops. Up here in Scotland, there have been several


defections in recent months by Church of Scotland ministers, elders


and members to non-conformist churches because of differences over


gay clergy. Should Christians rise above their differences? Colin


Wilson, good morning all stop we were having a Coffey earlier on.


This issue of gay marriage has troubled youth. You used a memorable


phrase. You said it is reversing gods architecture. What does that


mean? It means the family, the heterosexual family is a basic


building block of any society. What is happening is turning that process


on its head. I think it is probably the biggest piece of social


engineering we have seen. Who knows what the social consequences will


be? What do you think they might be? Back is up for conjecture. We have


departed from God 's basic plan for a healthy society and that is the


problem. Who knows what it will lead to? Do not let them put you off,


Colin. We will hear you out. Let me ask you, it is something of great


concern to you. What if one of your children was gay and married their


partner? Would you attend the wedding? The important thing is to


realise that God loves each one of us. His love is such that he loves


so much, he does not want to leave us as we are. He wants to shape us


into the standards and righteousness and the form of living, into the


belief system, that he has set for us. That is why you left. Regarding


the Church of Scotland, it is ruling beyond the pale. Do you want people


like Colin in your church? As soon as you create systemic division, you


belittle all of us. We should struggle with our difference and


find ways of celebrating it, rather than saying I am in my corner and


you are in yours. I do not agree with Colin but I understand where he


is coming from. I want to work to improve our relationship, rather


than saying, see you later and I am over here. It is not a good moral


for the rest of society. We are an enormously diverse place. You are so


much stronger together, surely? God came to bring unity but unity


between the individual and God. He did not necessarily send Jesus


Christ to create unity amongst society. I know a guy who runs a


place in the occupied territories. He is a Palestinian Christian. He is


surrounded by illegal settlements, who are trying to encroach on his


land. He says to me, I refuse to let those people become my enemies


because he knows if he does that, it is all over. I want us to continue


to do that kind of thing here. It is far better for all of us. The point


is, this is a point for you again, and everybody else. If this is an


abandonment of doctrine, this is such an abandonment of doctrine,


they say you might as well make it a social club. You said that, didn't


you? The key issue is, I work for an organisation promoting unity. We are


about unity of Christians. It cannot be at any cost. If we start to lose


the distinctive things that make us Christians, we kind of loose


everything and we did become a kind of a social club. We become


something which is just about getting together. We can get


together and do some good but there has to be a unity. That is about who


Jesus was, what he taught, what he lived, what he said. The framework


would be around the place in the Bible, the Scriptures. We will have


debates - all sorts of debates within that context. For us, that


has to be the context. The point is, you are both reading Scriptures. You


both read them day and night, one reads black and one reads white. I


understand that the world is full of great as well. For most of Christian


history, the family was not what Christians thought was the highest


weight of God. They thought it was celibacy. There are a number of


equally valid interpretations. The churches have to find a way in which


they can bring together people who have different views. So far, they


never have. Christians have never been able to deal with difference.


It is urgent they find a way of doing that. Why would you want to be


in a church with someone who believes that the earth is 6000


years old who believes that Lot 's wife was turned into a pillar of


salt? My relationship with God is enhanced by my capacity to be able


to love somebody with whom I fundamentally disagree. Those around


me become a better consequence -- become better as a consequence of


that. My son goes to school on Diversity Day. They show us how we


can celebrate diversity and deal with difference. What can I learn


about that and how can I continue to be with people when I disagree with


them? That has to be a better way than to say, I am right, you are


wrong, see you later. What do you want to say to all of this? This is


one of the fundamental issues with religion. In an area like science,


in principle, you can sit down and look at the evidence on either side


and come to a conclusion. Since the only evidence that Christians have


for their beliefs is the interpretation of scripture and some


traditional stuff, and some revelations that people have had,


how can you... ? The evidence shows revelations that people have had,


that about 30%, 40% of the variation in sexuality is shown by genetics.


It is strange that God would have done if it were planned for everyone


to be heterosexual. The men who broke the Bible did not understand


about human sexuality. Why are you laughing? Men wrote the Bible. God


wrote the Bible through men. Men were really God 's mouthpiece. They


put his words onto the paper. Right, OK. You think there has been a


curtailment of freedom of speech, don't you? If you say anything, gay


and lesbians, it is fine but if we say anything, it is shot down in


flames. I have gay friends and they have been friends no problem at


all. Are they your best friends? One of them is very close. One of my


employees is a lesbian and we get on fantastically well. There is no


difference. We have unity. When it comes to the Bible is getting


married, I do believe it is a man and a woman and God has preordained


that. That is the basis of the family. Sexuality should not come


into it at all. Why not? Do you think the Church is


upset with sex? Absolutely. It has caused so much trouble over the


centuries. It has caused so many wars. I could go on and on. I think


they say too much. What would you like to say? Behind you. I will be


coming to you in seconds. I wonder if Cindy believes her good friends


who are gay will go to hell. I believe they are Christians and that


is between them and God. If they have made a commitment for God and


ask for forgiveness, that will be OK. The gentleman at the front was


saying that God wrote the Bible through men. Why were some of the


chapters drop throughout time? How do we know he did not say, two guys


together are all right because they are making a go of it, they are


bringing up children who are orphans. How do you know? Who was


King James the fourth 's Bible? What was that like? The Bible is a book


we need to engage with. The basic problem is that when people come to


the Bible, they put themselves on the same level as God. Almost in a


sense that they are equal to God. There are some things we have to


accept. The word of God we accept by faith. I would concede that. It is


only by faith we will accept the faith. I would concede that. It is


Bible is the Word of God. It is only by faith we will accept that Jesus


Christ is God 's son. Only by faith would we see him like that. I


understand people come to the Bible with their own views. The way the


Bible is read today is different to what it was 100, even 50 years ago.


Is it worth working for people to stay together? A Church that stays


together is more powerful in society. In Matthew, there are clear


rulings that a man should submit to a woman in marriage and divorce is


adultery and therefore a sin. There are a whole range of views taken on


that. The views on divorce of the father of all schisms in Western


Christianity. There is a point where you have to respect each other's


right to take a different view, a different interpretation, and to


work together. I attend Unitarian Church which has the perspective


that your own view of how the universe is ordered, whether there


is a God and all of that, that is your business. While we are here on


us, let's be nice to each other and respect each other. That is a


unifying principle. Some of my closest friends are Christians. I


have a concern that if the Church breaks up into more and more niche


areas with more specific ideas, especially concerning homosexuality,


that will bring up children with more close minded viewpoints.


Considering we live in a society where homosexual teenagers are


committing suicide, is it a good idea to have the church breaking


off? It is said that God created man in


his image. Is it a possibility that humans are creating God in their


image, with their attitude is? Have you done that? I think society, in


general, is trying to create God. Really? By shifting the doctrinally


goalposts? Exactly. As trends change, as fashions change, what is


in flavour today will be outdated tomorrow. And this is the good thing


about the word of God. It doesn't change. It is absolute, total and


comprehensive. It doesn't change? You are shifting with the winds of


liberalism. That's what you're doing. After World War Two, the


Church of Scotland had to grapple with the issues of divorce in a way


it never had had to before, for a number of reasons. It took 11 years


to work it out. It got to a point where they could understand and


accept how that could happen within the context of the faith, and


providing space for those who still struggled with that. The point is,


they took time to do it, because people had to change where they were


coming from. They succeeded, and we can do it again, because our


understanding of ourselves, our world and God has to change, in the


same way that the Bible has changed ever since it was gathered together.


If you think it is absolute, why are you not knocking on the prison door


now saying, free the captives? That is an interpretation. We do that all


the time. We do that in our relationship with God. You are a


humanist. I am. Somebody brought up the question of freedom of speech.


As a humanist, I accept that freedom of speech only counts for something


when you are listening to something you don't want to hear. I am


actually in favour of the split you had, because Colin, I want you


telling everyone every Sunday what they think, so that they can vote


with their feet, and hopefully come to your church instead! Thank you


for that. One of the problems, the big problem is that we have, as the


church sways and follows every wind of doctrine, is that people are


looking for a truth. God isn't happy at the moment? He's never happy! You


have said that God is not happy, and the unhappy God is what -- is with


what we are doing in society. And what will happen is more floods and


things like that? The more we apart from God's standards, the more we


expose ourselves to serious problems, and that can be said right


across the global spectrum. The big problem is that the Church message


is so woolly now that people don't know what to believe. They are


looking for absolutes. Know, people are looking to find the right path


in their own lives through reason and compassion. This is why Humanism


has become so popular, because people have the power to think for


themselves. One more on this. We have other topics to discuss. A


question from earlier on - if one of your children were gay and they


married their gay partner, would you attend the wedding? Yes. Well, there


you are! Thank you all very much for taking part in that one. If you have


something to say in that debate, log onto our website and join in the


discussion online, or on Twitter. We are also debating life today, should


assisted dying be legal? And also, do religions need gods? Please send


us any ideas or thoughts you have about the show. The Scottish


Parliament is currently considering a bill to legalise assisted suicide


for the terminally ill, and those with degenerative conditions. It is


the second attempt by the independent MSP, Margo MacDonald,


who has Parkinson's disease, to give people the right to die. Recent


polls suggest 69% support the measure across Scotland. Should


assisted dying be legal? Leslie, we have to start with you, because he


went with your brother John, who had motor neuron disease, to a clinic in


Switzerland, where they help people to die. Why did you, why did John


think that was the right thing? John thought that he had authority and


control over his life. He thought it was to do with as he saw fit, and as


he was very clearly dying of motoneuron disease, there was no


miracle cure, there was nothing that was going to change the fact that by


the middle of 2003 he was going to be dead. So when he saw the idea of


Dignitas, he couldn't speak or communicate, so he tapped on his


screen, that's the way I would like to go. My reaction was, yes, I will


help you. So in May 2003, we were in that one Mac's small flat in Zurich,


and John literally held out his hand, and in those few moments


between taking the medication and falling asleep, he smiled at us to


say a final goodbye. We were comforted by the fact that he was


dying peacefully and in a very dignified manner, albeit not quite


at the time of his choosing. If he could have had the same treatment in


the UK, he would have lived a few weeks longer, but he had to have the


ball deep -- the bodily strength to get to Switzerland. I have good


memories of that day, of him smiling and sharing a laugh before he died,


because he was happy to be in control at the end. And I believe


from the time that the barbiturate was administrative -- was


administered from the time he slipped away, it was about 20


minutes. Yes, you fall asleep within two or three minutes, so he was so


fast asleep that the he didn't know we were there, but within 20


minutes, his breathing had stopped, his heart had stopped beating, and


those were 20 extra ordinary minutes which I will never forget. What I


will never forget about them was the fact that he literally embrace this


opportunity to end what was, for him, intolerable suffering. And


there was no palliative care that could have eased that? He was unable


to be stand -- he was unable to stand, speak or swallow. For him, it


was a question of living a dignified life that he could take part in. He


could still type with one finger of his left hand, and he could show


some expression on his face, but it was getting to the point where he


would be called a living head on a dead body, no input at all to life.


John didn't want to live like that. He had been a fit, strong, funny,


independent man, and to be reduced to that condition, and to be dying,


meant that, for him, the only solution was to take this way out.


And it was the only out. For him and for us. A light went on in his eyes


when he realised this was a possibility. Very powerful to hear


that. Gordon MacDonald, what Leslie said there was incredibly moving for


everybody. What ever side you are on Mr Bate. But she also said that it


should have been available in this country. -- whatever side you are on


this debate. There is real dangers associated with legalising assisted


suicide, or euthanasia, and the role of Parliament is to take into


consideration all the facts, not just an emotional or difficult


situation, and to consider what is the best for all of society. The


dangers are that people who are depressed or who people who feel


they are a burden on their family or the NHS will come under pressure,


either from external or internal sources, that... The bill makes it


quite clear that mental competence is vital here. This is all about


personal but on me. It is, but the bill doesn't have any mechanism to


ensure that people are not depressed when they access assisted suicide.


The bill has many mechanisms to make sure that the vulnerable are


protected. At the point of registering your interest in having


an assisted suicide, you have to have two separate doctors assessing


new at four independent times. Doctors are very good at telling


when people are depressed, and if there is any level of doubt at all,


they will refuse that person an assisted suicide. So the vulnerable


are protected all the way through, and no one with any interest in that


person's life, anyone who can have any financial gain from their death,


can be involved at any point at all. We believe that friends should be


working at the end to setup a campaign to work on this but also to


share information about it. If you go to our website, everyone can see


all the questions and answers. I just wanted to come in and talk


about the independent living movement, and how they feel about


this. People have been campaigning for the right for legislation for a


assisted living and independent living, and we feel it's not the


time to have this debate just now. At the moment, there's a lot of


disabled people who are being oppressed by the cuts to social care


services, health services, welfare benefit... So a lot of people under


pressure. Yes, and that is what makes life intolerable for people.


As a society, we should be supporting the right to life, and


there are too many dangers and risks with this. There is no right to


death. We talk about choice and autonomy over death, and we would


absolutely support that people have a dignified death. That means that


health services, assisted care services... People talk about life


being intolerable, but it is often external factors in society that


makes life intolerable. The way that the media portrays disabled people.


I just wanted to say that in the last British Social Attitudes


Survey, 70% of people with disabilities supported the right to


choice at the end of life. In Oregon, where assisted dying has


been in place for ten years, there is no reports of pressures for


anyone to end their lives. That is an important point. Everyone uses


the phrase slippery slope. If we go to a certain place here with this.


are talking about. Someone mentioned euthanasia. We're not talking about


euthanasia in the bills. We are talking about assisted dying, where


the patient himself or herself takes the final steps. Why would it not


move further if this were to go through? You mentioned Holland and


Belgium. At the start, these countries had the possibilities of


moving beyond the terminally ill. If you look at Oregon, there's been


absolutely no movement whatsoever in the 16 years the bill has been


placed. There was no suggestion that people have been coerced into taking


an early death. There has been evidence that that has not


happened. As a country that believes in compassion, we ought to be


ashamed and angry that we don't allow people who are dying the


dignity in death that so many seats. -- so many are looking for. For far


too many relatives and grieving friends, the legacy is not of a life


well lived, it is the grim death in difficult circumstances. As a


society, we need to do better, and give people the right to die with


dignity. On the way in today, we saw a big sign saying, this is a home


being built for assisted living. I have huge compassion for people who


have difficult deaths. I am a GP, and I have worked as a doctor for


over 30 years. I have seen many difficult things, but I think the


answer to people having difficult births is to improve the medical


care, the nursing care, and great advances have been made in that in


hospices and other places. There are a small number of cases where


palliative care cannot help. In terms of the strength of legislation


that is talked about, and the safeguards, I am not a lawmaker. I


am a GP who works at the coal face. I look after a large nursing home


with a number of beds. Over the 20 years I have been there, I have


looked after many people who have died and had lots of concerts --


lots of conversations with relatives. Some relatives have said


things like, can you not just to speed this up? This is costing


thousands of pounds a week. My fear would be, if we enacted legislation,


the right to die would lead to a huge problem for all the vulnerable


elderly. I am not in favour of a right to die but I want the dying to


die with dignity. There is absolutely no evidence of any


country which put any pressure on them whatsoever. People who opt for


this feisty individuals with a determination to control their own


destiny. Good luck to them. I have looked after many people like that.


I would like people to die with dignity. Just remember that the


organisation that is now called Dignity is the voluntary euthanasia


Society. They are looking to improve services in palliative care and


generally looking after people as the end of life approaches. I will


come to you in a second. There is this principle of double effect. You


give people drugs, not with the intention of killing them, but


knowing that the consequences may well be that their life ends. That


is while you are easing their pain. There are grey areas. I do not think


that is the case. I help people to die. I do not intend to kill them.


They will die as a result. We will all die. Death and taxes and all


that. I can remember visiting someone at home before we had these


syringes to put into people and doctors used to visit people every


three, four hours. I was visiting an elderly lady and gave her her


injection. Within two minutes, she died. The relatives looked at me...


Tony Nicholson starved himself to death because he was not allowed to


have a dignified death. Which would you rather? Would you rather


somebody had that 20 minutes and just drifted away? I would rather,


as a society, we actually care for people and not kill them. I just


want to correct the doctor. I do wish doctors would keep themselves


up to date. There is no such society as the Voluntary Euthanasia


Society. It disappeared three, four decades ago. I have a great


interest. I became isolated from my family about two decades ago. I


attended a lecture by a gentleman from America telling me how I can


dispose of myself when I choose to go. Unlike this doctor here, I do


not want anything to do with care homes. I have no intention of going


into one. My personal GP knows I am not to be put into a care home. Do


not tell us the process. You know how to do it, and the doctor has


told you... Would you help anyone else to do it? I'd do it all the


time but I am not supposed to give details. How many times have you


done it? I have done it three times already. There is a lady who has


contact me at the present time because she has seen my videos and


other videos and DVDs and she knows she can trust me. The point is that


doctors should not be concerned with this. I sat in the House of Lords in


2003 and heard the lady who was head of the British geriatric


Association. I am sorry, I am 84, I have difficulty in remembering. She


said she does not see why doctors need to be concerned with this at


all. It is nothing to do with doctors. What happens in Oregon, no


doctor is allowed to be in the room and help the person to die. This


talk for years about physician assisted suicide is garbage. It only


occurs in the Netherlands and Belgium. I understand. That was a


fascinating contribution, if I may say so. The doctor still has two


write prescriptions. You cannot exclude them from the process. They


will write these prescriptions under the legislation. A lot has been said


about Oregon. There is a study and evidence was given to the Scottish


Parliament. She found 26% of patients in Oregon where depressed.


That says to me there is a real danger. No matter how many


safeguards you try. Depression is associated with a terminal illness.


I understand that. I do not agree with this gentleman but I am in awe


of his candidness. I would like to know how he feels he can make a


judgment to make that action in a way that we are struggling and


grappling to do for the rest of society? We say that is all OK. It


is a very dangerous precedent to be setting. It is a Rubicon being


crossed. No matter the need your brother felt. That is extremely


dangerous. He has not heard the story. I asked you a question. I


will ask you your question when this is over. Legal compassion does not


allow me to walk away. We accept that. That is a conversation after


we are off air for all sorts of reasons. I think we are all right


now. What would you like to say? This entire discussion has proved we


need a bill like this to pass. It is happening in society. We have proved


it. We need this bill to pass so there is legislation in place for


these people to have the end of life they deserve. The gentleman in the


blue tie. Sky I am a pharmacist, health care professional. I take --


doctors and pharmacists are all bound by a code of ethics. In


pharmacy, we have to make sure a patient is our first concern. There


are a lot of issues around well-being. I totally sympathise


with people who might say, well, people should have a dignified right


to die and all that kind of thing. In the end, I feel this bill flies


in the face of everything, the duties we have to adhere to as


health care professionals. At the end of the day, we should do no


harm. Allowing someone to drive does harm. The doctor who gave this


kitchen for my brother said, as a doctor, my first duty is to preserve


life. In Switzerland, I have an extra duty. I will write a


description to enable you to end your life. They make it work in


Switzerland. In Oregon, doctors are not regarded as murdering monsters.


Health care and social care professionals work OK in Oregon.


Nobody has... The state works well. A lot of people are merely


depressed. People are unhappy they are dying. Depression is part of


their illness. Most of the health care professionals have a great


relationship with patients. That is nonsense as well. It sounds as


though doctors are against this whereas the rest of the population


is in favour of it. I have been a practising doctor all my life and I


am sure that, with terminally ill patients, they should have the right


to determine their own death. Nobody else. How would you limit it to


terminally ill patients? The Bill goes further. What you see is an


incremental extension. That has happened in Belgium this week. There


is no incremental extension within Oregon where there was a terminally


ill Bill, i.e. A dying with dignity act. There has been no extension.


There is a difference with this bill, I wish it well. It does not


represent my bills. -- my views. The bill was proposed a few years ago


and it was up for public consultation. According to


Parliamentary briefing, 86% of responses were proposed. That


included the medical Association and different faith groups, disability


groups. The next bill she has introduced includes people with


progressive conditions. I have to look at the bill in front of me and


not what Bill might be produced several years down the line to amend


but I support it. It is a conscience decision in Parliament and I support


it. I would like to see some amendments. I would like to see


terminal illness cleared up as the thing that is required. I came into


this very sceptical. I believe that life is unique and everyone has a


right to theirs. That is what makes us all equal from Prince to pauper.


The stories that were cared by the first consideration of this bill,


like the kind of things that were going on but we have heard, it


showed the need to have this debate, to have the regulation brought in


and to have this confronted. Rather than putting hands over our eyes and


fingers in our is AMP attended it is not happening. As a parliamentarian,


I cannot be deaf to all of this. Thank you so much for coming in.


We're out of time on this. Thank you very much indeed. You can join in


all this morning 's debates by logging on and joining in the


discussion. Tell us what you think about our last question, do


religions need gods? You can join in all this morning's debates by


logging on to the website and following the link to the online


discussion. Yesterday, many Buddhists celebrated Nirvana Day,


when the 80-year-old enlightened Buddha died and obtained release


from the cycle of death and rebirth. Today around 300 million people


follow the path shown by the Buddha. They believe that leading a moral


life, being mindful of thoughts and actions, and developing wisdom and


understanding is the way to true happiness. But they don't believe in


a god. Do religions need gods? Good morning. You have this concept. The


impact of, . Individually, you are working towards Nirvana,


enlightenment. It is an unguided process. There is no top man, no at


the knee straight. How does that work? -- admin. We can get buried in


semantics. I suspect what Christians might call God, Buddhists would call


nature. If Christians would say something like, the kingdom of God


is within you or the kingdom of heaven is within you, that is what


we call good nature. We all have that and we can access that. That is


why we spend a lot of time in reflection and meditation. Karma is


a word that gets bandied about a lot but it really just means action,


cause and effect. What causes actions and the effect of the


actions. You can apply it to all the previous subjects you have been


talking about. It applies to all of them. There is no God to pray to.


You do not have to and all the sides this principle into being, I do not


know, how you might think of some sun -- someone in heaven with a


beard or something like that. Not as a guide, creator, all seeing, the


Kim Jong Un ill in the sky? The Buddha became fully enlightened. We


all have the same potential to become enlightened. It is our


destiny. I have not heard so much of it in the eight series of The Big


Questions. These are mine to states and get ourselves into. We also have


a Hindu monk. You have similar beliefs but you have a God.


Is that because you need someone to pray to? The understanding that


Hindus have a god is completely different to what is thought about


in religions that have a deity. Hinduism is a belief in a number of


different traditions that are very different. For all of them, there is


a unifying, underlying, all pervasive energy of consciousness,


which is completely different to any chap in the sky playing with us with


puppet strings. The life force? I think I can hear it now! Many people


have referred us back to Star Wars and The Matrix! People were actually


impressed by our philosophy, where it started from. Is it right to say


that you broke away from Buddhism? Actually, it is the other way


around! The original divine revelation for Hindus was in 1500


BC. 95% of it says that this existence had origin in something


that was existing, and 1% says that there wasn't any existence. This is


the tradition that we have. We believe there was existence, but


Buddhists believe there was no existence beforehand. Actually,


that's not correct! Jimmy, you are a seventh day Adventist. How do you


imagine God? God existed first. We don't know how he came to be. How


did you imagine him? We imagine him as a person who loves us very much.


So what does he look like? We have some clues in the Bible. The Bible


writers gave us some ideas by which they attributed some human


attributes. They use stuff that they can relate to. It sounds like a big


invisible person. You think that literally he has an arm? I think


literally he exists, and he is a person. He is not someone we can


just put somewhere and use when we need to. We exist as Christians, and


Christianity exists because of him. The interesting point about 1500 BC.


All of us are using the term BC, which means before Christ.


Interesting to me that Jesus has always been a part of humanity, and


that all of our developed thinking that we have today has much of its


roots... Actually, historians don't use the term BC any more. This is


very interesting, because the social science literature on religion shows


that it doesn't really matter what you believe. When you ask people


about their religious... Can I put something into context? Ani Rinchen


Khandro has, and no God. Bramchari Vrajviran Sharan has karma and a


God. And Jimmy has a God and no karma! And you have nothing! And


proud of it! The social science literature shows that it is all


about your religious participation and your social network that is


built up around your religion, and not about your beliefs. There is no


correlation between mental health benefits and charitable giving


benefits to your religious beliefs, but it is to your social network,


which comes about from your religious participation. That is the


nice thing about things like the humanist Society. They give an


opportunity for community participation, but without all of


the absolute nonsense, not to put too fine a point on it, that we have


just heard! That is a bit disrespectful. Is there something in


our society now that leads people to think that this is possible, the


best bits of religion but no God? Most people in this country believe


there is a God, but only just. The numbers of people who believe in God


are falling. Also the kind of god we believe in is changing, from a


personal God to a spirit. But it is a misconception that most people --


most religious people believe in God. Amongst Anglicans, about two


thirds believe in God. Amongst Jews it's fewer, and amongst Hindus --


amongst Buddhists it's even fewer. Religion is all about identity,


belonging to a group, ethics and practices. For some is it dashed --


for some it is about a belief in God, but not for all. The lady over


here just said we are moving away from a God that is personalised, and


moving into a spirit. I think we are actually going back to spirituality.


If you read back, if you go to some African tribes, they believe in


their ancestry, which is the spiritual aspect of it. We are going


back to spirituality, rather than saying we believe in one God. You


have the spirituality. Do you want a comeback in? I spirituality, did you


mean consciousness? We all have that and it gets a reborn time and time


again. We don't have this idea of before creation and the end of


creation. For us, it is about time without beginning, time without end,


and we are part of that because we are born countless times again. And


you come back as different things? What happens to us depends on us. We


take responsibility for our actions. That is what karma is. It is cause


and effect. It is similar to the Abrahamic religions. A sense of


cause and effect. But not a judgement. It is a law, like


gravity. So according to that law, are people who are born with


disabilities being punished for something they have previously


done? There is no concept of punishment or judgement. Is that


because of something? Everything is due to karma. Is that a yes? It is


not a punishment. There are a lot of things that are unpleasant. Being


born is unpleasant, dying is unpleasant, losing money can be


unpleasant. But talking about reality... What is Nirvana like when


you have had the impact of karma and you reach enlightenment, and you


arrive at Nirvana? It is merging into the energy of the divine


being, which is eternal consciousness and bliss. Have you


touched it? Have you felt it? In our meditations, we do, and we do


believe we can access this. As a Buddhist, I am sure that when you


are meditating, you do access calmness, stillness and bliss. And


that is what we believe. Colin, can I recommend this to you? There is a


verse in the Bible that says that God is a sense of eternity in men's


hearts. And women's heart! Are you all saying the same thing? In a


sense, we are sharing that cost must together in our ideology. But the


discussions have gone in two directions. One is looking for a God


within, and that is very much expressed in what we would call the


New Age movement. Ward is within me, -- God is within me, and I cant.


Dot. -- and I can... And the other thing is to look for God. Your


question was, what does God look like? That is a question we asked


Jesus. Jesus says, if you are seeing me, you are seeing the father. It


has been great listening to all these different ideas about the


nature of our existence, from this extremely diverse society we live


in, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians of all colours. Humanism is all


about the things that unite us and don't divide us. What we should be


doing in this era when religion is in decline, when people don't look


to religion, is look for the need for column -- for common values, the


need to be respected and loved. In terms of religion, I am a Christian.


Religion is a relationship with Jesus Christ. That makes all the


difference, because I believe, as Christians do, that Jesus Christ,


God's son, lived amongst us, do died on the cross, and was resurrected on


the third day. That is unique with regard to face around the world. I


am a Christian, and it is only through faith that we discover this


amazing relationship with God. Ani Rinchen Khandro has an amazing Will


Asian ship with energy. I also have an amazing relationship with Christ.


It's not that I don't believe he existed, or I cannot take guidance


from him. Christ was Jewish. I actually saw him in a vision. What


happened? I was very sick at the time, and Christ appeared, and my


thought was, what are you doing here? As you would! It was odd,


because I was not yet a Buddhist. That is proof there is something in


it, because Christ appeared to her? I would agree. I wrote a book about


angels, and I have quite a lot of experience in that. Have you seen an


angel? I haven't seen one, but I feel the presence of God, and I'm


aware of angels around me. I was in an accident, and a voice said to me,


do not your foot on the brake. I didn't put my foot on the break.


When the AA came, they said, most people would have put their foot on


the brake. Why didn't you? And I said, I believe that God is with me.


That is literally incredible. This discussion shows proportioning your


beliefs to the evidence. There are a number of people who have a number


of beliefs in God and energy, which I didn't realise was a thing! We


keep getting the terminology wrong! The point is, one should always


apportion those beliefs to the evidence, which is what sceptics and


scientists try to do, because otherwise you get into endless


discussions. Only your version of evidence counts. On the last


programme we were on together, you said that you thought consciousness


was evolution. How'd know what you are saying? We are going to have to


end on disharmony. Give them all a round of applause, please! The


debate continues on Twitter. Next week, we are in Oxford, weather


permitting. For now, goodbye, and thanks for watching The Big




The Big Questions is live from Leith Academy in Edinburgh. Nicky Campbell asks: Should Christians rise above their differences? Should assisted dying be legal? Do religions need gods?

Download Subtitles