Sunday, January 16, 2011

Notes from "Letters to a Young Contrarian", Letter X

Letter X

More criticism on religion.

[A]s Laplace is supposed to have said when demonstrating his model of the solar system at court, and on being asked where the Prime Mover was: "It can work without that assumption."

What heaven looks like:

Endless praise and adoration, limitless abnegation and abjection of self; a celestial North Korea. (Just to spice things up, some religions promise a good deal of carnal bliss and I think I have already mentioned one of the Church fathers, Tertullian, who also dangled the tempting option of viewing the torments of the damned. All this proves is that religion is man-made, and that men have created gods in their own image rather than the other way about [emphasis added]. Only a humorless tyrant could want a perpetual chanting of the praises that, one has no choice but to assume, would be of the innate virtues and splendors furnished him by his creator, infinite regression, drowned in praise!)

[T]here is something irreducibly servile and masochistic about the religious mentality. And the critical and oppositional stance does ultimately rest on a belief in the capacity and pride of the individual, while religion tends to dissolve this into a sickly form of collectivism (remember "the flock").

Religion is, and always has been, a means of control. Some of those who recommend religion [...] are blunt enough to make this point explicit: it may be a myth and mumbo-jumbo but it's very useful for keeping order. [emphasis added]

Sigmund Freud was surely right when he concluded that religious superstition was ineradicable, at least for as long as we fear death and fear the darkness. It belongs to the childhood of our race, and childhood is not always ---as Freud also helped us to understand--- our most attractive or innocent period.

A degree of solitude and resignation is necessary to being with. Some people can't bear solitude, let alone the idea that the heavens are empty and that we do not even succeed in troubling their deafness with out bootless cries.
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