Education Ethics Newspaper Letters

Whose Values? Letter in the Scotsman – 24th June 2015

Robert Canning of the Scottish Secular Society (Letters, 23 June) speaks of universal virtues as if they were self-evident but what are these virtues?
But what does he mean by these? Where do they come from? What is their foundation? Who decides?

Would he accept, for example, that it is a universal virtue that the child in the womb should be protected, or that marriage is between a man and a woman?

The trouble is that the Scottish Secular Society assume that their virtues/values are the default obvious position for all reasonable human beings, and that those who do not share their opinions are somehow not worthy to participate in the modern world.

They have no rational or logical basis for their values other than current fashion and their own sense of cultural ideological superiority.

On the other hand, the Christian tradition provides a sound, reasonable, historically proven basis for “universal values”.

Given the choice between the stability of Christian virtues or the confusion and changeability according to who is in power of secular ones, I wonder what most Scottish parents would choose. The trouble is that the SSS are determined not to let us have that choice and instead, such is their belief in the values of their own virtues, they insist that all children must be educated according to them.

David A Robertson, Moderator, The Free Church of Scotland, Dundee

You can get the original letter here – note the sad and ignorant comments afterwards…..


  1. What were the values of the Church of Scotland ministers and Christians in Edinburgh that called for the death of Thomas Aikenhead – the last person executed for Blasphemy in the UK.

    Every comment I have made on your blog about him has never got through moderation so I doubt this one will but it is a challenge when you claim reasonable proven historical values. What is reasonable about the value of demanding death for blasphemy.

    And who would want to live in a country that claims values from a source that systematically denies equality to other people in that country? I am happy that you are Christian and can hold the values you hold. I am also delighted that this country allows same sex marriage. My humanism allows for a country that allows for both, not privilege for one.

    1. Hi Douglas – I’m afraid I don’t know enough about Thomas Aitkenhead or who and why those who ordered his execution. I do know that this example from the 17th century is the only example atheists cite. De facto he is an anomaly. However I can give tens of thousands of instances of people killed within atheist states, because they did not hold the faith of the state. I think it is wrong to demand death for blasphemy.

      Who would want to live in a country that claims values from a source that systematically denies equality to other people in that country? You mean like the Humanist society who want to deny equality of education to Christians? Or those who want to deny ‘equality’ to polygamists?

  2. There was one comment that I hadn’t herd before “Dungeon Master’s Guide” – something creative in that one.

    Seriously though, when it resorts to personal attack and not on the ideas then arguments have been lost. I don’t think you need be concerned about any personal attack on you David – and I hope you see that as an encouragement.

    I think you have them rattled about “universal virtues” as there was over moral values and humans being “good” in your recent “Good Morning Scotland” interview. I do believe in original goodness in humanity in that when God created humans he saw it was good. However it doesn’t take a genius to pick up a newspaper or look at history and see that this cannot be counted on.

    So, humanly, we work with the closest we have got to universal virtues and goodness – the universal declaration of human rights. As you rightly imply, there is no universal inherent understanding of an interpretation of what these are. So we are left to figure these out with the inevitable differences that we see being expressed. Not easy.

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