Letter: Causes of, and cures for, criminal behaviour

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Bishop of Southampton (Letter, 23 February) calls for 'a restatement of and return to the moral, spiritual, family and relational values' of the past, and then adds that 'the laws of God, largely unknown by many today, provide a framework in which right and wrong can be objectively discerned'.

The following points really must be emphasised: there is no longer any agreement whether there are laws of God or, if so, what they are; there is no evidence that religion provides a valid basis for morality in theory, or that religious people behave more morally or that non-religious people behave less morally than other people in practice; a morality based on religion is in danger when belief in religious doctrines fails, and a morality based on false assertions is in danger from the start.

No, the first priority is not to go back to a dogmatic code which didn't work then and can't work now, but to look forward to a pragmatic response which might work and will at least start from facts.

Yours faithfully,

NICOLAS WALTER

Rationalist Press Association

London, N1

23 February

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