Sir, I will happily respond to David Aaronovitch’s challenge (Comment, March 25) when he will answer me these questions.
First, does he think that there is any difference between humans and other animals, and does this difference matter? Secondly, what makes him think he can reduce the function of religion (which Jews, Christians and Muslims have traditionally seen as being about public truth) to the provision of “comfort and companionship”? Thirdly, where in St Paul’s letters to the Corinthians — or anywhere else for that matter — does the Apostle attack the “sinful mixing” which Mr Aaronovitch seems to think is the sole subject matter of Leviticus?
The Right Rev Tom Wright
Bishop of Durham
Today, David Aaronovitch replies to the bishop in Who wants to kill the elderly?
Last week, irked by what I saw as the use of wild exaggeration by church leaders in the embryology Bill debate, I challenged one of them – the Bishop of Durham – to justify one of his more outrageous claims. Tom Wright had accused the “militantly atheist and secularist lobby” behind the Bill (a Bill, as it happens, supported and sponsored by many practising Christians) of believing “that we have the right to kill unborn children and surplus old people.”
I didn’t choose to quarrel with Dr Wright’s characterisation of abortion. What I did ask for, however, was any evidence whatsoever that any significant secular or atheist body of opinion advocates “the right to kill surplus old people”.
Bishop Wright’s reply to my challenge, carried on Thursday’s letters page in The Times, was to refuse to reply to it until I had answered a further series of questions that he set for me. This is, of course, odd. A cynic might think that the Bishop was playing for time while a diocesan search squad parsed the texts of old Polly Toynbee columns looking for gerontocide.
So let me answer the Bishop’s questions…
Another primer on the science can be found at this NHS page, Embryology Bill controversy.