Yesterday “Dr” David Hope, the Bishop of York, and “Dr” Tom Wright, the bishop of Durham, “contributed” to the debate about whether Tony Blair was right to go to war against Saddam’s regime. At the same time they contributed evidence to my case for the teaching of reasoning skills at British universities. PooterGeekers who know a sound argument when they read it (and there are and were sound arguments against our going to war in Iraq) can identify the following classic fallacies in the bishops’ drivel:

  • the faulty analogy fallacy of unwarranted assumption,
  • the genetic fallacy of irrelevance, and
  • the red herring fallacy of diversion.

Wright’s racist and ignorant comment to the increasingly desperate Independent:

For Bush and Blair to go into Iraq together was like a bunch of white vigilantes going into Brixton to stop drug-dealing

was just icing on a very stale cake indeed. Has he even visited Brixton recently? (He might be a “white non drug dealer”, but he certainly couldn’t afford to live there.)

I never based my pro-war stance on the WMD issue, but, to paraphrase one wag, there’s certainly more evidence for Saddam Hussein’s stockpiles than there is for Hope’s “higher authority before whom one day we all have to give an account”.

It is fortunate that, in this country at least, we are not governed by old men who take instructions from disembodied voices or from reading badly transcribed collections of folklore; we don’t live in the Middle East. The chronically superstitious still retain some unearned prominence in British life, however. The war in Iraq has been a great moral test for all of our public figures. This kind of infantile gibbering suggests that the Church of England’s representatives have failed it. If this was an item on Oliver Kamm’s ‘Blog there’d probably be generous and urbane comment about the bishops “suffering from intellectual incoherence”, but it’s not: they’re just idiots.