Giles Fraser asks what is to be learned from recent terrorist attacks in the UK: “Perhaps this: that the most dangerous people in the world are those who are absolutely convinced of their own moral virtue and innocence. It is not the scoundrel who is responsible for the darkest moral evil in the world, but the person who is assured of his or her own virtue.”
The man who tried to blow up the airport was reported to have emerged from the car, covered in flames. As the fire melted his flesh, he kept repeating the name of God, punching anyone who tried to put his fire out. Here was a man thoroughly convinced that he was doing the right thing. Make no mistake: it was faith that provided him with his moral alibi.
This is why the people of faith need more epistemic humility, a great deal more self-awareness, a longer pause before answering the big questions of faith, a more open reflection upon our less flattering motivations. It might be difficult to find the confidence to develop self-critical vigilance when so many others want to disparage faith. But develop it more we must.