‘I don’t believe in God personally but I have great respect for those people who do’ Ed Milliband apparently told Radio Five Live after winning the election for the Leadership of the Labour Party.
Hmm ! I’m afraid not sure that I can quite get my head around the ‘logic’ of that statement.
If you believe that God exists, then it is obviously possible to have respect for people who don’t believe in God; simply because at the end of the day they may have a variety of reasons for not being convinced of His existence – reasons which may well not even be their ‘fault’, but rather the result of education, circumstances, or many other causes, and therefore not something for which they can be blamed . . . nor something which inherently implies that they are devoid of rationality or intelligence.
If you don’t believe in God, though, this must surely imply that you are satisfied that an ordinarily rational and intelligent person can satisfy him or herself that God does not exist . . . in which case it must necessarily follow that anyone who does believe in God is either not rational, not intelligent, or has not bothered to consider the issue . . . in which case it’s somewhat hard to understand how you can have ‘great respect’ for them.
As a result, it seems to me that Mr Milliband’s stated position must either be a piece of window-dressing with no foundation behind it, or evidence that he hasn’t really thought about it properly.
Either way, though, I'm afraid it doesn’t reassure me as to his powers of thought and reasoning . . .
(If you want to argue that it may be suggested that a rational person can be convinced by external - and therefore rationally unarguable - factors that God does exist, and that S. Thomas Aquinas (inter alia) has demonstrated that, my response would be that whilst I actually agree with you that he has, following his arguments requires a particular type of reasoning which in turn appears to require a particular type of education : whereas the type of reasoning apparently required by the atheists is the most basic and standard kind, and possessed by more or less everyone.)