Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Demanding Irrationality

This imperviousness to reason is, I think, the property that we should most fear in religion. Other institutions or traditions may encourage a certain amount of irrationality - think of the wild abandon that is often appreciated in sports or art - but only religion demands it as a sacred duty. This might not matter if the activities that composed religion were somewhat insulated from the rest of the world the way they are in sports and art. Then we could treat religious allegiances the way we treat differences in taste: if you have a taste for kick boxing or heavy metal bands, that's your business. Knock yourself out, as we say, it's only a game. Not so with religion. Its arena includes not just the participants but all of life on the planet. Given that, it's troubling to note how avidly some people engage in deliberate make-believe in order to execute the prescribed duties.

The better is enemy of the best: religion may make many people better, but it is preventing them from being as good as they could be. If only we could transfer all that respect, loyalty and intense devotion from an imaginary being - God - to something real: the wonderful world of goodness we and our ancestors have made, and of which we are now the stewards.

Daniel Dennet

The full article can be read at The Guardian.

No comments:

Post a Comment