Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Foolish Atheism

There's a bumper crop of Vacuum Energy posts today! I started reading Christopher Hitchens' new book "god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" the other day, and this paragraph threw me for a loop (p.4):
There still remain four irreducible objections to religious faith: that is wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos, that because of this original error it manages to combine the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism, that it is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression, and that it is ultimately grounded on wish-thinking.
My first problem with this is that if one objection only occurs because of one of the other objections, then the list is not irreducible as claimed. Ok, so my first objection might be splitting hairs. Let's move on.

I haven't read the book past page 4 yet, so I haven't read Hitchens' argument for the "dangerous sexual repression" objection to religious faith. In the modern era at least, it seems as if the problem with religious faith is sometimes exactly the opposite one: a dangerous sexual liberation. What I mean by this is that the very servility expected by some religous leaders can act as a very compelling temptation to them. Put even an average person in a situation where his or her every wish must be obeyed as the word of God with no harmful consequences permitted and he or she is quite likely to start "losing it". One moment you're a successful religious guru preaching to the faithful; the next moment you're using biblical verses to redefine the concept of "virginity".

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