Letter: Questions of faith

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Sir: The Bishop of London's article proclaiming the resurrection of faith (Saturday Essay, 3 April) completely fails to answer the questions that concern people who look for some version of truth.

Is faith - any faith - true? It's not good enough to say people want faith. They also want chocolate bars the size of Mont Blanc.

Why have people of differing faiths hated one another with more viciousness than any other form of hatred across the centuries? The Bishop mocks "Consumer Unbeliever International", but Voltaire sensibly saw commerce as a way of finding common purpose between Jews, Christians and Muslims "where the only infidel was the bankrupt".

Why are the epiphenomena of religion so startlingly similar to the epiphenomena of metal illness? Anyone who has had experience of knowing someone afflicted by either will know that the delusions of the one (magic, control, irrational thinking) are often echoed in the other.

If religion is a good thing, why is the fundamentalist form today - whether of Judaism, Christianity, Islam or Hinduism - so intolerant, repellent, bigoted and politically intransigent? Surely something which seeks to define goodness should be good in its most extreme form. Yet the manifestations of extreme religion, from the destruction of the Ayodhya mosque westwards, have been events of peculiar horror and badness. How can the Bishop explain that?

CHRISTOPHER WALKER

London W14

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