Jonathan Sacks with James Harding

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Jonathan Sacks, Baron Sacks, is a rabbi, philosopher and scholar of Judaism, who was Chief Rabbi from 1991 to 2013.  His book ‘Not in God’s Name – Confronting Religious Violence’ explores the concept of altruistic evil or the execution of terrible acts in the name of a higher power.

Religion is on the rise across the world, simply because religious people have far more children. The secular nations of Europe all have a birth rate of less than two per family, so secular communities are in a period of inevitable decline.

Lord Sacks, it transpires, is a fan of social media and believes that we should be using it more to build bonds in society “but there is also a lot of anger on the Internet.”

Sacks compares the relationship between Judaism, Christianity and Islam to sibling rivalry. He cites Freud in describing this rivalry as a powerful and violent force. However, he says that the many bible stories about sibling conflict are teaching followers of all three religions, not to view themselves this way.

The BBC’s Head of News James Harding challenges this view, saying that religious teachings that tell their adherents that they are “chosen”‘ must themselves be a source of conflict. Lord Sacks counters saying that religion will ultimately persuade its followers to question conflict that brings suffering on its own people.

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