Denouncing bad religion


The saturation coverage of the assassination of Osama bin Laden is a recent reminder that bad religion dominates media headlines. It provided further ammunition for anti-religionists, like the so-called New Atheists, to make blanket denunciations of religion, that it’s all bad.

The interviewee featured here on Eureka Street TV freely admits there is much bad religion out there. But he makes a plea that if we are to deal with it effectively, we must discriminate between good and bad religion, and there must be alliances amongst the forces for good, including religionists and atheists, against bad manifestations of religion.

British academic, Peter Vardy brings his considerable skills as a theologian, philosopher, educator and communicator to this task. He is recorded here speaking at a seminar in Sydney called ‘Good Religion, Bad Religion’ organised by the St James Ethics Centre and the Islamic Sciences and Research Academy of Australia.

Since 1999 Vardy has been Vice Principal of Heythrop College. Begun by the Jesuits in 1614, the college was originally founded in Louvain in Belgium to educate English priests at a time when Catholics were persecuted and priests were outlawed in England. It is now a specialist college of the University of London, and offers courses in theology and philosophy.

Vardy has a Master’s degree in theology, and a PhD from King’s College, London, his doctoral thesis being on ‘The Concept of Eternity’. He lectured in the Philosophy of Religion at King’s College, and other institutions before moving to teach this discipline at Heythrop College.

One of his abiding interests is fostering relations and understanding among religious traditions, particularly the Abrahamic faiths. He is on the academic board of Leo Baeck College which trains rabbis in the Jewish Reformed Tradition in Britain, and he has links with a number of Muslim organizations.

He is much in demand as a speaker, and travels around the globe speaking on such topics as ethics and values education, truth claims in different religions, the impact of globalization, particularly on religion, and nurturing a spiritual perspective in a secular world.

Vardy is a prolific author, and his books include God of our Fathers; And If It’s True?; The Puzzle of God; The Puzzle of Evil; The Puzzle of Ethics; The Puzzle of Sex; The Puzzle of the Gospels; Great Christian Thinkers (editor); What is Truth?; Being Human; The Thinker’s Guide to Evil; The Thinker’s Guide to God; and his latest, Good and Bad Religion.

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Peter KirkwoodPeter Kirkwood is a freelance writer and video consultant with a master's degree from the Sydney College of Divinity.

Topic tags: Peter Vardy, good religion, bad religion, new atheism, osama bid laden, Heythrop College



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