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Parasitic Religion

Yesterday as I was driving around town, I listened to parts of a CBC Radio interview with outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins who was in Canada promoting his new book. Based on what I heard, it was fairly predictable fare—Dawkins delighting in cataloging and heaping scorn upon the exploits of fundamentalist young earth creationists, the program host knowingly mm-hmming and piling on the ridicule. Nothing demonstrates one’s intellectual and moral superiority more ably than making fun of the ignorance and dogmatism of fundamentalists, after all.

Indeed, fundamentalist-bashing seems to be the one area where those most postmodern of virtues—tolerance, respect, mutual dialogue, etc—no longer apply. Because if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that fundamentalists (Christian, Muslim, and pretty much every other kind) are stupid and dangerous and fully deserving of whatever scorn and intolerance we can direct their way. However eager (desperate?) we are to show how tolerant and enlightened we are in embracing whatever exotic views from whatever exotic places we can discover, “fundamentalist” land is one place where we can still safely be as intolerant and demeaning as we want.

Now, I’m certainly no fan of most expressions of Christian fundamentalism. I’m not a young earth creationist, I’m not a biblical inerrantist (at least according to most definitions of the term), and I’m probably a little left of centre politically. I have no desire whatsoever to be included in the “fundamentalist” category and take almost every opportunity I can to distance myself from the people Dawkins has such fun lampooning.

But part of me retains some affinity for those slapped (fairly or unfairly) with the “fundamentalist” tag. I understand why they go to the wall for the issues they do, even if I don’t share their conclusions. I understand their desire for something certain and solid in a world where so many things often seem ambiguous and unreliable, even if I don’t, finally, believe that the certainty they seek on the big questions of life is available to us, religious or not. I understand why a liberal Jesus seems impotent and unreliable to them, even if I think the Jesus they serve up as a substitute bears little resemblance to the one I see in the gospels. “Fundamentalists” are not some kind of alien species, with a completely different set of hopes, fears, concerns, and questions as “reasonable” people.

At any rate, somewhere around the time I was listening to Richard Dawkins and his breathlessly agreeable interlocutor wax on about the obvious naïve stupidity of belief in miracles and the comparative respectability of more “liberal” forms of religion, my thoughts returned to a book review by Ross Douthat from last Thursday’s New York Times. Douthat suggests that as much fun and as intellectually respectable it is to be liberal, there is an essentially “parasitic” component to liberal religion:

This explains why liberal religion tends to be parasitic on more dogmatic forms of faith, which create and sustain the practices that the liberal believer picks and chooses from, reads symbolically and reinterprets for a more enlightened age. Such spiritual dilettant­ism has its charms, but it lacks the sturdy appeal of Western monotheism, which has always offered not only myth and ritual and symbolism (the pagans had those bases covered), but also scandalously literal claims—that the Jews really are God’s chosen people; that Christ really did rise from the dead; and that however much the author of the universe may surpass our understanding, we can live in hope that he loves the world enough to save it, and us, from the annihilating power of death.

Of course there are still questions. Do literal claims trump other ones simply by virtue of preceding them historically? Can beliefs evolve? Can truth be something that is somehow cumulative? I don’t think (and I don’t think Douthat thinks) that the dogmatic forms of faith that sustain more liberal ones are true simply by virtue of performing this role.

But I also think that there are stranger things in our world than can be conceived of or granted by folks like Richard Dawkins or those who wish to preserve a bit of religious window dressing for their essentially secular worldviews. Our deepest hopes as human beings seem to depend on the fact that strange and “scandalously literal” things are possible—that what is reasonable, demonstrable, predictable, and ordinary is precisely what needs to be transcended, overcome, and healed. Whatever else “fundamentalists” may be wrong about, they seem at least to realize this much.

30 Comments Post a comment
  1. Indeed, fundamentalist-bashing seems to be the one area where those most postmodern of virtues—tolerance, respect, mutual dialogue, etc—no longer apply.

    The reason is that fundamentalist evangelicals are themselves lacking in tolerance and respect. Talking to them has been pointless. What did you expect would happen when they actively engage in subverting secular institutions to their nefarious ends? I have no interest in a government which favors ANY group over another. Why would I allow right wing fungelicals to do exactly that? And religious moderates excuse their actions because to stand up and say they are wrong might shed a bad light on the actions of the religious. But this silence is far worse.

    All we atheists want is to be left alone. But, no. The religious simply will not let it lie. And your surprised at the counterattack? You can believe as you wish. But would you extend me the same courtesy?

    October 5, 2009
    • I’m not excusing anyone’s actions; I was talking about beliefs and the needs they correspond to. I fully admit that some fundamentalist evangelicals behave deplorably and deserve to be called out when they do so.

      You can believe as you wish. But would you extend me the same courtesy?

      Of course. I’m not sure how anything in the post would suggest otherwise.

      October 5, 2009
  2. Joe Isuzu #

    I’ll have to concur with Shameless.

    One of the points secularists keep stressing is that those who profess some kind of belief system based on an organized and recognized “acceptable faith”, base their daily actions upon that faith. But only to a legal point.

    Wausau, Wis. Leilani Neumann has been convicted by a jury of her “peers” of second-degree reckless homicide. Her daughter, Madeline Neumann, died of untreated diabetes March 23, 2008, surrounded by people praying for her. When she suddenly stopped breathing, her parents’ business and Bible study partners finally called 911. Her defense attorney, in response to his client being labeled a religious zealot who let her daughter die as a test of faith, stated “Religious extremism is a Muslim terrorist. They are saying these parents were so far off the scale that they murdered their child. The woman did everything she could to help her. That is the injustice in this case.”

    Injustice indeed! In trying to deflect away from his client and towards a different type of extremist, the defense missed the actual point. He could have just as easily turned inward to everyone in the courtroom. Chances are that most people in that courtroom, the accusers, the accused and the “peers” on the jury, believe in the same Bible that the Nuemanns’ and their friends put their faith in. So how could she possibly be found guilty? But since we live in a nation that runs on the law of man and not God, most people cherry pick which parts of the Bible to follow. If you go strictly by the Word, you may end up in jail. The desperate effort of the defense to deflect what their client was accused of to another religion makes one ask the question that most people do not ponder; why do we believe what we believe?

    Modern Christians are “parasites” that cherry pick the very document they profess belief in because if they acted in a literal way, they’d be arrested in todays society. But if you are a Christian or a Muslim or a Jew, would you vote for someone who was trying to be elected to a governmental office, trust their judgement on issues of importance to your well being, to someone who actively professed a belief in Zeus? Or to someone who actually believes that the world was created by a blue elephant? The senator from Missouri will be sworn in by holding the symbol of his belief system, the sword of Odin, his personal ticket to Valhalla. We are all atheists to someone’s belief system. Dawkins refuses to show homage to a belief system just because it is one and gives delusional comfort to those seek shelter from the light.

    You spoke of transcending what is reasonable, predictable, demonstrable, and ordinary. I hope you meant taking great joy in the mundane and not avoidance. Carl Sagan once asked in a lecture how much of what you believe to be true will transcend from where you believe it. In other words, is it just as valid in another place and time?

    October 5, 2009
  3. Ken #

    Even though my own theology is liberal, I do not have an urge to defend it against Douthat’s critique. He is hitting in a very vulnerable place. And, even though, I have more atheism in me than faith, I don’t harbor the negative feelings towards conservative Christians that Dawkins feels (or that liberal Christians tend to feel as well.)

    At the same time, I find in theological liberalism, in spite of its weaknesses, a will to carry on. I think Peter Berger has expressed this well. I think it may be the case in modernity that evangelicalism, liberalism and Roman Catholicism (plus other traditions of Christianity) rely on each other to some extent. Our diversity may be a strength, in spite of the terrible things each may say about the other.

    I think that each of us in modernity faces a great degree of cognitive dissonance related to religion, and related to claims about truth and goodness. We do the best we can to cope with it. In my experience, a perfect solution does not exist. I think those of us who don’t have so much resistance to the other traditions, who have sympathy for them, have a little easier life. I think that this feeling of sympathy makes it easier to live with cognitive dissonance and with people who have found other ways to cope with it.

    October 5, 2009
  4. Gil #

    It seems to me that both fundamentalist Christians and atheists like Dawkins depend on precisely the same narrative to make sense of their worlds. Both camps desperately need to see themselves as ‘defenders of truth’ in a world that is full of the threats of their enemies.

    For fundamentalists it’s the secular humanists who are the villains, spreading their godlessness through the channels of mass media and higher education. For these neo-atheists it’s the religous faithful who are threatening the progress of civilization by propagating their ignorance and superstition.

    What I find humorous is how both sides are telling essentially the same story; namely, that there are only a few brave souls who dare to resist a majority that is largely hostile to their views. Both sides NEED the threat of the other to function (your image of the parasite is good). Both sides can look at exactly the same world and (surprise!) come to the conclusion that they are the victimized minority who must resist the encroachments of the other.

    It seems to me that this says far more about the existential needs of those involved in the conversation than anything meaningful about the social space we occupy.

    October 5, 2009
    • I think this quote somewhat echoes your sentiments Gill.

      Nothing could be smarter, more splendid, more brilliant, better drawn up than two armies. Trumpets, fifes, hautboys, drums, cannons, formed a harmony such as never been heard in hell.

      – Voltaire, Candide

      October 5, 2009
    • Gil, I think your analysis is bang on. Even in the American context (which is unique), evangelicals’ self-understanding seems to match your description. Big media, entertainment, higher education—all spreading the plague of godlessness. The issue probably has more to do with scope of influence than bare numbers. As far as how the two groups (atheist/Christian fundamentalists) understand themselves, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

      Joe, you said that in “the West,” Christians really are a majority while atheists are still forced to struggle along as an embattled minority. I don’t know of too many historians of religion who would look at “the West” and still consider it to be a bastion of Christianity. There are certainly vestiges of it everywhere you turn. How could there not be, given the course history has taken? But most of the scholars I’ve read on the matter describe “the West” as a post-Christian society.

      Speaking from a Canadian perspective, I can tell you that I have never felt like I was a part of any kind of majority as a Christian. Atheism/agnosticism was the underlying assumption of most of my formal education. This would certainly be the case in Europe as well. Again, the American situation is likely different. But America is not “the West.”

      October 6, 2009
      • When I said “the West” I meant everything west of Constantinople (Istanbul) stopping at the Wasatch Mountains just east of Salt Lake City, then from Reno to San Diego.

        October 7, 2009
  5. “both sides are telling essentially the same story; namely, that there are only a few brave souls who dare to resist a majority that is largely hostile to their views.”

    In Christianity it really was a few brave souls: 2000 years ago. Now they are the majority in the west. But when were atheists EVER a majority? The history of the western world revolves around humanistic advances in the face of religious intolerance. Which means if you spoke an idea contrary to accepted doctrine, you may end up labeled a heretic and burned at the state. Atheists organizing, as independent thinkers, is as Dawkins says, like herding cats. Where is the temple for atheists to go and celebrate their acceptance of being born again secularists? Monticello?

    October 5, 2009
    • Mike #

      They can go to China – seems to me that organized atheist majority hasn’t done that well for social needs and cares of the people at least not in practice, as was the case in Stalin run Soviet Union and China.

      October 5, 2009
      • (I probably shouldn’t even respond.) China and the Soviet regime under Stalin are not examples atheism or a group of atheists getting together to celebrate. Sheesh! That is not what you get from atheism, that is what you get from a different kind of belief system: autocratic totalitarianism.

        October 6, 2009
      • Yes. Autocratic totalitarianism motivated (at least in part) by atheism. Apparently not all atheists want to “celebrate” when they get together. It’s obviously silly to suggest that atheism necessarily leads to totalitarianism; but it’s equally silly to deny the empirical historical connection in certain cases.

        Of course, there’s always Sam Harris’s option: just define any belief system that leads to violence as “religious.” Keeps things nice and simple…

        October 6, 2009
      • Ryan, are you saying that religion can’t lead to totalitarianism? Apart from the immense number of theocratic totatlitarian nations throughout history, I suggest you look to Iran…

        October 6, 2009
      • No, I am not saying that religion cannot or has not lead to totalitarianism. And yes, I am aware of the nation of Iran. I don’t see how making the fairly obvious observation that atheism and totalitarianism have a connection in certain historical cases would suggest otherwise in either case above.

        October 6, 2009
    • Gil #

      Your reading of Western history as “humanistic advances in the face of religious intolerance” is simplistic to put it mildly. Of course no honest Christian can deny that shameful things have been done in the name of dogma (the burning of heretics and the Crusades are rightly, if predictably, trotted out as examples).

      There are also irreplaceable elements of Western civilization that have profoundly Christian origins – the dignity and worth of the individual, the value of personal conscience, the affirmation of human rationality, the significance of ordinary life – all of these things can be traced back to some element of Christian teaching. That is not to say that these things cannot exist outside of a Christian belief system, only to suggest that in terms of Western history, this is where they have come from.

      To read Western history as the long struggle of the humanists against their religious oppressors is popular (and in some cases even true). But to paint ALL of Western history with this brush (while explaining away the more recent contributions of atheistic ideologies) is just a little too easy.

      October 6, 2009
      • “Your reading of Western history as “humanistic advances in the face of religious intolerance” is simplistic to put it mildly.”
        True enough. Your response, however, is to my response to a response that Christians and atheists are on equal footing as to the impact that they both have on society. And, of course, what I wrote should be merely a footnote when it comes to the complexities of history.

        October 6, 2009
  6. ” Autocratic totalitarianism motivated (at least in part) by atheism.” Like the Spanish Inquisition? But then “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”

    “but it’s equally silly to deny the empirical historical connection in certain cases”
    That should be “empirical historical assumptions”. Stalin was an atheist. Ferdinand and Isabella were Catholic. Hitler was a Catholic. The ancient Roman empire incorporated as many Gods as peoples’ conquered and practiced “piety” which at that time meant unity and loyalty to the State.

    I brush my teeth religiously. Twice a day. (Maybe I should do it five times a day.) I believe that if I do, I will have a better tooth life. So far this hygiene has return empirical positive results. And I haven’t violently repressed anyone yet.

    October 6, 2009
    • So when I suggest that Stalin’s atheism might have had something to do with the nature of his rule, this is just an assumption I am making?

      I don’t think anyone here is denying that totalitarians come in all sizes and shapes and with all kinds of different ideological motivations. Some are explicitly religious, some are explicitly atheist, most are somewhere in between (Hitler was acting out of authentically Christian motives? Just like Stalin was acting consistently with modern conceptions of benevolent atheism?). The common denominator seems to be a lust for power and control—and a willingness to resort to violence to achieve them. These are, tragically, generically human desires which can be fed in any number of ways.

      October 6, 2009
  7. Paul Johnston #

    My personal experience with atheism, commencing some 35 years ago lasting about 20 years, corresponds to a time in my life when I found little pleasure with self, family, friends, work or play. I got high a lot. Kept busy with activities that were mostly self centered, argued a lot and in the end found that most of the personal relationships I was invested in were either beyond repair or in a state of serious disfunction.

    Looking back, I didn’t love myself or other people very much. I used people more than I gave thought to serving them. I wasn’t happy and the concurrant discord that was my life reflected as much.

    I guess, like Ryan said with regard to totalitarianism, not all the discord relates to atheism. It was far more personal than a belief system. Still the belief system a person subscribes to reinforces and affirms certain values and behaviors. My experience with atheism was that it enabled me to justify angers and resentments on a rational level so as to remain trapped in the toxic unhappiness that was fermented by the traumas of childhood.

    Reconcilliations didn’t begin to occur for me until I found both deep dispair and an overwhelming desire for a change of heart. Crucial to a change of heart was abandoning atheism for faith.

    Based on my personal experience, I cannot feel anything but great sadness for those who would choose atheism as an answer to the difficulties of their lives. For me, it is gasolene on fire.

    October 6, 2009
    • Paul,
      What you written my be the most import thread in this thread.
      Most of our actions are predicated on some system of belief. If you believe that there is no connection between yourself and the rest of humanity, that any action you take will not have consequences, then you will be on a road leading to despair and the sign reads “Abandon All Hope”. We are all part of, influenced by, and have direct influence upon, the environment we live in. Finding balance and a way to deal with the daily vicissitudes of life should be one of the benefits of any belief or religion, which in turn can be viewed as an external influence with internal consequences. Perhaps it all boils down to appreciation. And brother, I can appreciate your effort. But for me, I can appreciate a shared humanity without having an omnipresent and omniscient external anthropomorphic deity behind the curtain. That’s my daily effort and responsibility.

      October 6, 2009
    • Ken #

      Paul and Joe,

      Each of you has a compelling personal story that validates your position.

      For a friend mine, atheism liberates him from fears instilled in him by his religious parents that he is an evil person who will be punished eternally. They also physically abused him. Anyone who tries to convince him he is wrong in his atheism, no matter how well-intentioned the evangelism may be, unleashes an awful fear and depression in him.

      For me atheism is something that simply seems inevitable. It liberates me from nothing. It is simply a given in the world I live, such an important given that I think of myself as mostly atheist. It ties me to no particular ethic or idea of goodness, nor does it motivate me or license me to do harm to others. Religion is less of a given, but still a given. I find an aesthetic pleasure in it and hope. I think its ethic is less than purely good by modern standards and when religion attempts to conform to modern standards of ethics it loses some of its power – modern morality and truth have no need for religion.

      I think history and our own times affirm the great danger associated with religion. And yet, for most of us at least, it remains important in one way or another. But I would also say that I have no wish to return to the age of faith, except in meditation.

      Personally, I think in most cases saying that one believes in God or that one is an atheist reveals very little about a person today. In surveys, an interesting percentage of people who say they are atheists also say they believe in God. And I know from experience that many people who say they believe in God confess their disbelief to people they trust.

      October 6, 2009
  8. Ken #

    Ryan, the discussion you started here, especially with Joe’s response, begins where the book Gil and I have been reading (Construction of the Self, by Charles Taylor) leaves its reader, with the question: should we stifle the spiritual side of life, of humanity because of its dangers?

    You wrote, “But I also think that there are stranger things in our world than can be conceived of or granted by folks like Richard Dawkins or those who wish to preserve a bit of religious window dressing for their essentially secular worldviews. Our deepest hopes as human beings seem to depend on the fact that strange and “scandalously literal” things are possible—that what is reasonable, demonstrable, predictable, and ordinary is precisely what needs to be transcended, overcome, and healed. Whatever else “fundamentalists” may be wrong about, they seem at least to realize this much.”

    I think this implies that you sense in Dawkins and in the liberal Christains Douthat criticizes an urge to stifle more than we should. I think it is true that Dawkins would stifle more than liberal Christians stifle. One way to understand Dawkins is that he is more concerned about the negative effects of religion than a liberal Christian is, but both are concerned about it. Similarly, one way to understand conservative Christianity is that it is more concerned than liberal Christians that we may stifle spirituality too much. It is very hard to know where to draw the line. In my own limited experience with Christians who subscribe to versions of Christianity so conservative that Dawkins surely, and you probably, would call fundamentalists, even they draw the line somewhere short of unrestricted spirituality in the way they conduct their lives.

    October 6, 2009
    • I think you’re right, Ken, Dawkins (and probably many Christians, “liberal” or otherwise) are probably more concerned about the negative effects of religion than the actual content of their beliefs. Somehow I doubt he would be as concerned to demonstrate the “delusional” nature of belief in God if believers were generous citizens who with one voice promoted peace, equality, learning, and all other things virtuous (of course, he wouldn’t be as wealthy without delusional religious folks and their misbehaviour either, but I digress…).

      I’m not sure about your assessment of conservative Christians. My own sense is that they are not overly concerned with spirituality, per se (although I suppose a lot depends on how that word is defined) or the extent to which it is promoted/hindered. I think conservative Christians tend to see the world in very binary and adversarial terms (a disposition that can be and is fed via certain readings of Scripture). As Gil said above, an enemy is required for this view of the world to work (and is amply provided by Dawkins & co., although it’s never very difficult to find enemies). All this is to say that “spirituality”—at least as I understand the term—doesn’t seem to figure too prominently in the culture wars south of the border. Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you meant by “spirituality?”

      October 6, 2009
      • Ken #

        Actually, I was using that word because that is the umbrella term Taylor used. The meaning I had in mind is basically the same as “religion,” as Eliade uses that term.

        In addition, you may be using a narrower definition of fundamentalism or conservative Christianity than I thought you had in mind and than I had in mind. I just meant evangelical, or conservative evangelical – meaning theology beginning with scripture and traditional moral values. In southern California those designations are generally not associated with an adversarial view. Here, fundamentalism is rarely used as a self-description. It is most often used by people who are condemning Christians or Muslims and by Christians who are condemning other Christians.

        Also, regarding the culture wars in the U.S., I think they can better be understood as a class and regional conflict rather than a religious conflict. The media mostly presents a distorted view here, one designed to build their audience, so I imagine that is true there too. Right now the culture war can be seen as coastal urban areas versus the inland less urban areas or as Democrats vs. Republicans. The values and economic interests are simply different. But I do know people on both sides of this ugly conflict who absolutely hate each other and are at least suspicious of those of us who are not engaged in the conflict with them. The members of one’s own social class are the hardest on deviant members of that class. The folks in my social class, the ones I live around, would definitely be suspicious of you, as they are of me, even though as you know, the term fundamentalist applies to neither of us by any meaningful standard. It is also so ironic considering that I grew up being taught to be suspicious of and to stay away from fundamentalists and people who are conspicuously religious and considering the degree to which I am really more of an atheist than I am a religious person. It just shows how silly people can be when they are in a fight.

        BTW, I saw a video on evolution in which Dawkins was interviewing Rowan Williams. Dawkins was making the point that theistic evolution is as luny as creationism in Dawkin’s view. In the video Dawkins made Williams look and sound like a fool. Williams appears to have a liberal theology and he does appear to espouse a kind of mysterious theistic evolution, which is not the same as Darwin’s, of course, but it is quite harsh to present him as a fool even though I think Dawkins really believes Williams and the liberal-minded Christians are fools. So, with Douthat on one side knocking the liberal Christains, and Dawkins on the other side, what is one to think or do – maybe one should keep one’s religion a secret or learn to be a chameleon.

        Nevertheless, in spite of all of this religion remains dangerous – Dawkins is right about that. And, because we know it is dangerous, in the West right now we want to stifle it even while we find it appealing and so human. The other irony is that the self-mutilating aspect of religion and morality that Nietzsche described and Taylor (and many others) affirms has found another home in secular humanism.

        October 6, 2009
      • So, with Douthat on one side knocking the liberal Christains, and Dawkins on the other side, what is one to think or do – maybe one should keep one’s religion a secret or learn to be a chameleon.

        Or, just unapologetically believe what we believe for the reasons we believe it and continue to be open to dialogue and further discovery.

        Nevertheless, in spite of all of this religion remains dangerous – Dawkins is right about that. And, because we know it is dangerous, in the West right now we want to stifle it even while we find it appealing and so human.

        I think it is human beings that are dangerous, and religion is one of the means (but not the only one) by which human beings justify behaving dangerously. Is it (to whatever extent we can speak of religion as a monolithic “it”) more dangerous than other ideologies? Perhaps. Maybe one of the reasons it seems to be so is because religions touch on the questions that matter most to us as human beings. This does not, of course, justify religious violence of any kind, but people are not generally passionate about things that don’t matter or have any existential significance to them. I’m not sure Dawkins (or anyone else) will ever be successful in stifling the religion or the human impulses it responds to.

        October 7, 2009
      • Ken #

        The trouble is that a liberal cannot really unapologetically believe.

        October 7, 2009
  9. Paul Johnston #

    Ken, I agree that morally speaking atheism neither inspires or informs. I think it is precisly it’s provision of this vacumn, that makes it a useful tool of the totalitarian. Atheism as means to an end but not neccessarily and end in of itself. Politically useful in order to shout down the old religeous ideas, then made irrelevant when the new authorities implement their new, mostly religeously inspired, agendas.

    Religeosity may be empherically lacking but my, my how it inspires the mood of a man.

    For me atheism ends in the great psalmist’s lament, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity”. Desperate, dark and alone. Christian faith on the other hand offers hope. Where there is hope there is love. Where there is love there are people striving to connect with the better part of themselves in the service of others.

    Loving community is the great inner truth each person seeks, the real treasure of our existence. Only systems that offer such potentials, speak to truth, as we would all hope to experience it.

    Christian expression, has been dangerous. History is full of such examples. Still within it’s tenents are the seeds of self correction and reform. Confession and repentence are essential dogmas.

    Only those belief systems that offer the hope of reform and renewal, speak to true fullness of human potentials and desires.

    In the end I cast my lot with a divine mystery that is predicated on love. The alternatives, by comparison, seem dark, dull and dishonest.

    October 7, 2009
  10. Ken #

    Reading Rousseau today, Reveries of the Solitary Walker, I happened to read a passage in which he referred to certain modern philosophers that he lived among as “ardent missionaries of atheism” as “overbearing dogmatists” who “could not patiently endure that anyone should think differently from them on any subject whatsoever.”

    I thought you might enjoy this quote. (It is in the Third Walk.)

    October 7, 2009
  11. Ken #

    Paul, I forgot to mention, Rousseau cast his lot as you have.

    October 7, 2009
  12. Paul Johnston #

    Thanks Ken, it’s nice to know that the other team has it’s “fundy’s” also.

    October 7, 2009

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