After the horrific attack on London Bridge and in Borough Market on Saturday night Theresa May said, "Enough is enough." In doing so I guess she echoed the thoughts of most people as we found ourselves in the midst of the news of another terrorist attrocity, whilst we were still coming to terms with the last one. Manchester was not even off the front page before London displaced it.
People are looking for answers as to why married men with children (because for some reason we presume that having a wife and child makes you less capable of evil) could heartlessly mow down pedestrians with a van, before walking calmly into a restaurant and randomly plunging a knife into someones young daughter or son with the perverse cry of "This is for my family!".
The blame is being placed at the feet of religious fundamentalism. More specifically Islamist fundamentalism. An Islamist is someone who believes that Islam should be propagated by any and all means possible. Including violence.
Now I have no doubt that Islamist ideology is evil. Any view of the world that says that you should kill people so that you can impose your belief system on them should not just be condemned, it should be outlawed.
The problem is that the utopian alternative that is being suggested is Western secular liberalism. That is the philosophical framework that dominates the thinking of most of those involved in politics and the media. It means that those reporting our news and those running our country view the world through two unworkable assumptions.
The first is about religion. That religion is a private matter to be kept out the public domain. That religion is largely irrelevant. That all religions are basically the same and equally invalid. That individuals should have the freedom to decide on their own worldview and express it as they wish. As long as it doesn't harm anyone else.
The second is about human nature. That human beings are basically good and given the right education and environment we will sought out our own problems.
There are too many reasons to discuss now as to why this can't work and doesn't work. But here are two which mean that Western secular liberalism will never be able to address the problem of Islamist violence:
1. Western secular liberalism wants to trivialise the fundamental differences between world religions. It can't be bothered to study even the source documents for Islam and Christianity. The Koran and the Bible. It is generally extremely patronising towards any other view than it's own, rather superior, intellectually incoherent view of the world. It is incapable of engaging with other belief systems in a meaningful way. In fact it has created a culture where talking about God is the only social taboo left. I read in my newspaper on Saturday that the latest social guidance from The Tatler advises that snogging and being drunk in public can have a very positive effect on other party goers. But whatever you do don't talk about God!
2. Because Western secular liberalism believes that human beings are basically good, it has to find a reason for every crime beyond the human heart. History would seem to agree more with the observation of Elizabeth O'Neill, the mother of one of Saturday night's victims, when she said, "If it wasn't religion they'd find some other excuse..". Undoubtedly Islamist ideology gives a framework for the evil of the human heart to be unleashed, but the problem is the human heart.
As Jesus says in Mark 7 "For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come – sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person." (Mark 7:21-23)
The only world view that has a hope of addressing Islamist ideology is one that both engages in serious religious debate, whilst showing respect and tolerance towards all people created in the image of God. And also has an answer to the problem of the human heart. The good news of Jesus found in the Bible is unique in doing both of these things.