For all its flaws, our justice is benign

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From William Emslie.

LIKE Michael de Petrovsky (JEP, 13 September) I find it absurd that the biblical story of Jonah should be taught as literal fact. Unlike him, I find it a delightful tale: mildly humorous and, to my mind, palpably allegorical.

Its message is surely that when mere mortals come to believe that they know better than God, there will be trouble in store. I think that Mr Petrovsky may do well to dwell on this story’s symbolism.

He is, of course, entitled to his view that it’s time for society to grow up and stop believing in all this God malarkey, although he should be aware that many of history’s greatest scientific minds, including Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Steven Hawking, would beg to differ.

Einstein, not a religious man, whose believe in God was based on scientific deduction, summed up the conundrum succinctly: ‘Religion without science is blind; science without religion is lame’.

The problem with the non-creationary explanation of existence is, put crudely, that big bangs result in chaos, not an unthinkably complex and finely-tuned cosmos. This ‘scientific’ theory is no more credible in my view than chapter 1 of Genesis. Hence, I suggest, the persistence of monotheism in the beliefs of enlightened, rational people.

Leaving scriptural interpretation to one side, I am normally no apologist for the establishment or formal tradition. Indeed, I have a sneaking admiration for Abiezer Coppe and his fellow Ranters who showed their contempt for court by pelting the judiciary with nut shells. If you’re going to do it, then do it properly, I say.

But when it comes to the religious trappings that shroud our legal system, I think I see the point. It is that those who administer justice do so with deference to a higher authority.

As a free-spirited libertarian, I see no reason on earth why some dude in a wig or silly hat should sit in judgment over me, no matter how reprehensible my actions or learned his background. One does not have to interpret the higher authority literally as God; it can be seen in a more secular way as the sanctity of right and wrong. It is the principle of deference that is important. Take that away and you are left with a state that acts as a deity, and that’s the sort of society in which I would rather not live.

For all its undoubted flaws, our system of government and justice is relatively benign. Some of us devote considerable effort in trying to improve it, but I, for one, acknowledge that I am lucky to be able to do so.

Dieu et mon droit. Amen to that.


Rue de Petit Plémont,

St Ouen.

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