My late brother Christopher was a militant atheist (but a good deal more thoughtful than most). He used to delight crowds of his supporters by demanding: ‘Name me an ethical statement made or an action performed by a believer that could not have been made or performed by a non-believer.’
In the end he tired of his own question and told me that he had found an answer. He thought that Lech Walesa, the lone and indomitable leader of Polish resistance to the might of communism, would never have dared take on such a huge and merciless enemy without his faith to sustain him. I suspect he would have felt the same about Arnaud Beltrame. And if this is true, and I think it is, is it time the rest of us wondered whether the West’s long mockery and dismissal of religion as childish and outmoded should now come to an end?
We need to know the difference between how things are, and how they ought to be, or what do we live and die for?