Religion Criticism Quotes

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When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons.
Anaïs Nin (The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947)
The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holders lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately.
Bertrand Russell (Sceptical Essays)
Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where's the harm? September 11th changed all that.
Richard Dawkins
There are few things more dangerous than inbred religious certainty.
Bart D. Ehrman (God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question - Why We Suffer)
The problem with today’s world is that everyone believes they have the right to express their opinion AND have others listen to it. The correct statement of individual rights is that everyone has the right to an opinion, but crucially, that opinion can be roundly ignored and even made fun of, particularly if it is demonstrably nonsense!
Brian Cox
Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns. These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound them: they should not be confounded: appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of Christ. There is – I repeat it – a difference; and it is a good, and not a bad action to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation between them.
Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)
It is taboo in our society to criticize a persons religious faith... these taboos are offensive, deeply unreasonable, but worse than that, they are getting people killed. This is really my concern. My concern is that our religions, the diversity of our religious doctrines, is going to get us killed. I'm worried that our religious discourse- our religious beliefs are ultimately incompatible with civilization.
Sam Harris
The problem with religion, because it's been sheltered from criticism, is that it allows people to believe en masse what only idiots or lunatics could believe in isolation.
Sam Harris
I'm very depressed how in this country you can be told "That's offensive" as though those two words constitute an argument.
Christopher Hitchens
The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world... Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo. Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower. The criticism of religion disillusions man, so that he will think, act, and fashion his reality like a man who has discarded his illusions and regained his senses, so that he will move around himself as his own true Sun. Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself.
Karl Marx (Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right)
I began to see that for some, religion was just a form of politics you couldn’t criticize.
Gloria Steinem (My Life on the Road)
When people have invested their identities into clichés, the only counter argument they have is 'being offended'.
Stefan Molyneux
The point is not that Jesus was a good guy who accepted everybody, and thus we should do the same (though that would be good). Rather, his teachings and behavior reflect an alternative social vision. Jesus was not talking about how to be good and how to behave within the framework of a domination system. He was a critic of the domination system itself.
Marcus J. Borg (The God We Never Knew: Beyond Dogmatic Religion to a More Authentic Contemporary Faith)
The moment you say that any idea system is sacred, whether it’s a religious belief system or a secular ideology, the moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible.
Salman Rushdie
If there's something you really want to believe, that's what you should question the most.
Penn Jillette
Religion is probably, after sex, the second oldest resource which human beings have available to them for blowing their mind.
Susan Sontag (Styles of Radical Will)
I had a long talk with my dear Fat Mary that night, because I had many questions. Could someone actually be beaten to death by such a nun? Did Mother Rufina, the new Superior, know that Sister Clotilda was so cruel? Who let her work with children? Could nuns go to hell? Fat Mary told me she didn’t know the answers to my questions, but she reminded me that it was her role to take my worries and burdens and keep them for me until a time when I could understand them.
Maria Nhambu (Africa's Child (Dancing Soul Trilogy, #1))
In the beginning God created man in His own image, and man has been trying to repay the favor ever since.
Voltaire
Some religions actually go so far as to label anyone who belongs to a religious sect other than their own a heretic, even though the overall doctrines and impressions of godliness are nearly the same. For example: The Catholics believe the Protestants are doomed to Hell simply because they do not belong to the Catholic Church. In the same way, many splinter groups of the Christian faith, such as the evangelical or revivalist churches, believe the Catholics worship graven images. (Christ is depicted in the image that is most physiologically akin to the individual worshipping him, and yet the Christians criticize "heathens" for the worship of graven images.) And the Jews have always been given the Devil's name.
Anton Szandor LaVey (The Satanic Bible)
Reading list (1972 edition)[edit] 1. Homer – Iliad, Odyssey 2. The Old Testament 3. Aeschylus – Tragedies 4. Sophocles – Tragedies 5. Herodotus – Histories 6. Euripides – Tragedies 7. Thucydides – History of the Peloponnesian War 8. Hippocrates – Medical Writings 9. Aristophanes – Comedies 10. Plato – Dialogues 11. Aristotle – Works 12. Epicurus – Letter to Herodotus; Letter to Menoecus 13. Euclid – Elements 14. Archimedes – Works 15. Apollonius of Perga – Conic Sections 16. Cicero – Works 17. Lucretius – On the Nature of Things 18. Virgil – Works 19. Horace – Works 20. Livy – History of Rome 21. Ovid – Works 22. Plutarch – Parallel Lives; Moralia 23. Tacitus – Histories; Annals; Agricola Germania 24. Nicomachus of Gerasa – Introduction to Arithmetic 25. Epictetus – Discourses; Encheiridion 26. Ptolemy – Almagest 27. Lucian – Works 28. Marcus Aurelius – Meditations 29. Galen – On the Natural Faculties 30. The New Testament 31. Plotinus – The Enneads 32. St. Augustine – On the Teacher; Confessions; City of God; On Christian Doctrine 33. The Song of Roland 34. The Nibelungenlied 35. The Saga of Burnt Njál 36. St. Thomas Aquinas – Summa Theologica 37. Dante Alighieri – The Divine Comedy;The New Life; On Monarchy 38. Geoffrey Chaucer – Troilus and Criseyde; The Canterbury Tales 39. Leonardo da Vinci – Notebooks 40. Niccolò Machiavelli – The Prince; Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy 41. Desiderius Erasmus – The Praise of Folly 42. Nicolaus Copernicus – On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres 43. Thomas More – Utopia 44. Martin Luther – Table Talk; Three Treatises 45. François Rabelais – Gargantua and Pantagruel 46. John Calvin – Institutes of the Christian Religion 47. Michel de Montaigne – Essays 48. William Gilbert – On the Loadstone and Magnetic Bodies 49. Miguel de Cervantes – Don Quixote 50. Edmund Spenser – Prothalamion; The Faerie Queene 51. Francis Bacon – Essays; Advancement of Learning; Novum Organum, New Atlantis 52. William Shakespeare – Poetry and Plays 53. Galileo Galilei – Starry Messenger; Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences 54. Johannes Kepler – Epitome of Copernican Astronomy; Concerning the Harmonies of the World 55. William Harvey – On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals; On the Circulation of the Blood; On the Generation of Animals 56. Thomas Hobbes – Leviathan 57. René Descartes – Rules for the Direction of the Mind; Discourse on the Method; Geometry; Meditations on First Philosophy 58. John Milton – Works 59. Molière – Comedies 60. Blaise Pascal – The Provincial Letters; Pensees; Scientific Treatises 61. Christiaan Huygens – Treatise on Light 62. Benedict de Spinoza – Ethics 63. John Locke – Letter Concerning Toleration; Of Civil Government; Essay Concerning Human Understanding;Thoughts Concerning Education 64. Jean Baptiste Racine – Tragedies 65. Isaac Newton – Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy; Optics 66. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz – Discourse on Metaphysics; New Essays Concerning Human Understanding;Monadology 67. Daniel Defoe – Robinson Crusoe 68. Jonathan Swift – A Tale of a Tub; Journal to Stella; Gulliver's Travels; A Modest Proposal 69. William Congreve – The Way of the World 70. George Berkeley – Principles of Human Knowledge 71. Alexander Pope – Essay on Criticism; Rape of the Lock; Essay on Man 72. Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu – Persian Letters; Spirit of Laws 73. Voltaire – Letters on the English; Candide; Philosophical Dictionary 74. Henry Fielding – Joseph Andrews; Tom Jones 75. Samuel Johnson – The Vanity of Human Wishes; Dictionary; Rasselas; The Lives of the Poets
Mortimer J. Adler (How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading)
To criticize a person for their race is manifestly irrational and ridiculous, but to criticize their religion, that is a right. That is a freedom. The freedom to criticize ideas, any ideas - even if they are sincerely held beliefs - is one of the fundamental freedoms of society. A law which attempts to say you can criticize and ridicule ideas as long as they are not religious ideas is a very peculiar law indeed. It all points to the promotion of the idea that there should be a right not to be offended. But in my view the right to offend is far more important than any right not to be offended. The right to ridicule is far more important to society than any right not to be ridiculed because one in my view represents openness - and the other represents oppression
Rowan Atkinson
4. Religion. Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object. In the first place, divest yourself of all bias in favor of novelty & singularity of opinion... shake off all the fears & servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine first, the religion of your own country. Read the Bible, then as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature, you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy and Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor, in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature, does not weigh against them. But those facts in the Bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from God. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong, as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature, in the case he relates. For example in the book of Joshua we are told the sun stood still several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, &c. But it is said that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine therefore candidly what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature that a body revolving on its axis as the earth does, should have stopped, should not by that sudden stoppage have prostrated animals, trees, buildings, and should after a certain time have resumed its revolution, & that without a second general prostration. Is this arrest of the earth's motion, or the evidence which affirms it, most within the law of probabilities? You will next read the New Testament. It is the history of a personage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions: 1, of those who say he was begotten by God, born of a virgin, suspended & reversed the laws of nature at will, & ascended bodily into heaven; and 2, of those who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who set out without pretensions to divinity, ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition, by being gibbeted, according to the Roman law, which punished the first commission of that offence by whipping, & the second by exile, or death in fureâ. ...Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you... In fine, I repeat, you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected or believed it... I forgot to observe, when speaking of the New Testament, that you should read all the histories of Christ, as well of those whom a council of ecclesiastics have decided for us, to be Pseudo-evangelists, as those they named Evangelists. Because these Pseudo-evangelists pretended to inspiration, as much as the others, and you are to judge their pretensions by your own reason, and not by the reason of those ecclesiastics. Most of these are lost... [Letter to his nephew, Peter Carr, advising him in matters of religion, 1787]
Thomas Jefferson (Letters of Thomas Jefferson)
When...did it become irrational to dislike religion, any religion, even to dislike it vehemently? When did reason get redescribed as unreason? When were the fairy stories of the superstitious placed above criticism, beyond satire? A religion was not a race. It was an idea, and ideas stood (or fell) because they were strong enough (or too weak) to withstand criticism, not because they were shielded from it. Strong ideas welcomed dissent.
Salman Rushdie (Joseph Anton: A Memoir)
Religion has the capacity to silence critical thinking and create blindness in entire groups of people. It can infect the minds of followers so completely as to allow the most egregious sexual acts against children and others to go unchallenged for centuries.
Darrel Ray (Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality)
The North American Church is at a critical juncture. The gospel of grace is being confused and compromised by silence, seduction, and outright subversion. The vitality of the faith is being jeopardized. The lying slogans of the fixers who carry religion like a sword of judgment pile up with impunity. Let ragamuffins everywhere gather as a confessing Church to cry out in protest. Revoke the licenses of religious leaders who falsify the idea of God. Sentence them to three years in solitude with the Bible as their only companion.
Brennan Manning (The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out)
The teachings of Buddha are eternal, but even then Buddha did not proclaim them to be infallible. The religion of Buddha has the capacity to change according to times, a quality which no other religion can claim to have... Now what is the basis of Buddhism? If you study carefully, you will see that Buddhism is based on reason. There is an element of flexibility inherent in it, which is not found in any other religion.
B.R. Ambedkar (The Buddha and His Dhamma: A Critical Edition)
You cannot simply read the Quran,not if you take it seriously.You either have surrendered to it already or you fight it. It attacks tenaciously,directly,personally; it debates,criticizes,shames and challenges. From the outset it draws the line of battle, and I was on other side.
Jeffrey Lang (Struggling to Surrender: Some Impressions of an American Convert to Islam)
In moments of prayer, people tend to pose as a critic and point out percieved flaws in God's art.
Steve Maraboli (Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience)
A satirist that criticizes religion is seen as a satanist.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Are small, critical actions enough? Small gestures make us feel good—about ourselves, about others. Small things connect us. They feel like everything. A lot depends on them. It’s not unlike religion and God. We believe in certain constructs that help us understand life. Not only to understand it, but as a means of providing comfort.
Iain Reid (I'm Thinking of Ending Things)
One of the most amazing and perplexing features of mainstream Christianity is that seminarians who learn the historical-critical method in their Bible classes appear to forget all about it when it comes time for them to be pastors. They are taught critical approaches to Scripture, they learn about the discrepancies and contradictions, they discover all sorts of historical errors and mistakes, they come to realize that it is difficult to know whether Moses existed or what Jesus actually said and did, they find that there are other books that were at one time considered canonical but that ultimately did not become part of Scripture (for example, other Gospels and Apocalypses), they come to recognize that a good number of the books of the Bible are pseudonymous (for example, written in the name of an apostle by someone else), that in fact we don't have the original copies of any of the biblical books but only copies made centuries later, all of which have been altered. They learn all of this, and yet when they enter church ministry they appear to put it back on the shelf. For reasons I will explore in the conclusion, pastors are, as a rule, reluctant to teach what they learned about the Bible in seminary.
Bart D. Ehrman (Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible & Why We Don't Know About Them)
Conversion and zealotry, just like revelation and apostasy, are flip sides of the same coin, the currency of a political culture having more in common with religion than rational discourse.
Norman G. Finkelstein (Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left)
The irony of Christianity is that believers get so angry, and self righteous toward other Christians who sin differently than they do. Christianity is like one large fraternity where brother and sisterhood is tested by hazing.
Shannon L. Alder
When people say that the values of Islam are compassion, tolerance, and freedom, I look at reality, at real cultures and governments, and I see that it simply isn’t so. People in the West swallow this sort of thing because they have learned not to examine the religions or cultures of minorities too critically, for fear of being called racist. It fascinates them that I am not afraid to do so.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Infidel)
We are living in a time when sensitivities are at the surface, often vented with cutting words. Philosophically, you can believe anything so as you do not claim it a better way. Religiously, you can hold to anything, so long as you do not bring Jesus Christ into it. If a spiritual idea is eastern, it is granted critical immunity; if western, it is thoroughly criticized. Thus, a journalist can walk into a church and mock its carryings on, but he or she dare not do the same if the ceremony is from eastern fold. Such is the mood at the end of the twentieth century. A mood can be a dangerous state of mind, because it can crush reason under the weight of feeling. But that is precisely what I believe postmodernism best represents - a mood.
Ravi Zacharias (Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message)
دعوة علماء الدين إلى أن يكونوا رسل الديمقراطية الإسلامية بالسعي لتعديل مابين طبقات الناس من الفروق الشاسعة
مصطفى صبري (موقف العقل والعلم والعالم من رب العالمين وعباده المرسلين)
Study so that you are able to meet arguments of your opponents. Equip your ideology with supporting arguments. If you oppose a prevailing belief, if you criticize a great person who is considered to be an incarnation, you will find that your criticism will be answered by calling you vain and egoist. The reason for this is mental ignorance. Logic and free thinking are the twin qualities that a revolutionary must inevitably possess. To say that Mahatmas, who are great, should not be criticized because they are above criticism and for this reason, whatever they say about politics, religion, economics and ethics is correct and that whatever they say will have to be accepted, whether you believe it or not, reveals a mentality which cannot lead us to progress and is clearly regressive.
Bhagat Singh
There are conversations going on about the Church constantly. Those conversations will continue whether or not we choose to participate in them. But we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what our Church teaches... We are living in a world saturated with all kinds of voices. Perhaps now, more than ever, we have a major responsibility as Latter-day Saints to define ourselves, instead of letting others define us.
M. Russell Ballard
While religious faith is the one species of human ignorance that will not admit of even the possibility of correction, it is still sheltered from criticism in every corner of our culture.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason)
من الناس من يتخذ من المناصب الحكومية طبقات في العلم يوشك من ارتقاها مرة ألا يصعد إلية صوت ناقد
مصطفى صبري (موقف العقل والعلم والعالم من رب العالمين وعباده المرسلين)
How stupid would it look if when someone broke a hand, the foot started criticizing the hand? That what we look like when Christians begin to criticize the church. One part of the body should lead itself to the healing process of another hurting member. That's love. That's the gospel. And that is Jesus.
Jefferson Bethke (Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough)
The problem I want to talk to you about tonight is the problem of belief. What does it mean to believe? We use this word all the time, and I think behind it lurk some really extraordinary taboos and confusions. What I want to argue tonight is that how we talk about belief- how we fail to criticize or criticize the beliefs of others, has more importance to us personally, more consequence to us personally and to civilization than perhaps anything else that is in our power to influence.
Sam Harris
Philosophy, art, politics, religion and bohemia have never sought to do away entirely with the status hierarchy; they have attemptee, rather, to institute new kinds of hierarchies based on sets of values unrecognised by, and critical of, those of the majority.. They have provided us with persuasive and consoling reminders that there is more than one way of succeeding in life.
Alain de Botton (Status Anxiety)
Criticizing a person’s ideas about God and the afterlife is thought to be impolitic in a way that criticizing his ideas about physics or history is not.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason)
Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower.
Karl Marx
that's a real big part of what holds this religion together: it's not having to make those critical decisions that many of us have to make, and be responsible for your decisions.
Jon Krakauer (Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith)
The problem that religious moderation poses for all of us is that it does not permit anything very critical to be said about religious literalism.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason)
When God becomes man in Jesus of Nazareth, he not only enters into the finitude of man, but in his death on the cross also enters into the situation of man's godforsakenness. In Jesus he does not die the natural death of a finite being, but the violent death of the criminal on the cross, the death of complete abandonment by God. The suffering in the passion of Jesus is abandonment, rejection by God, his Father. God does not become a religion, so that man participates in him by corresponding religious thoughts and feelings. God does not become a law, so that man participates in him through obedience to a law. God does not become an ideal, so that man achieves community with him through constant striving. He humbles himself and takes upon himself the eternal death of the godless and the godforsaken, so that all the godless and the godforsaken can experience communion with him.
Jürgen Moltmann (The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology)
The purpose of religion is to control yourself, not to criticize others. How much am I doing about my anger, attachment, hatred, pride, and jealousy? These are the things we must check in our daily lives.” —HIS HOLINESS, THE DALAI LAMA
Haemin Sunim (The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How to Be Calm and Mindful in a Fast-Paced World)
We do not really want a religion that is right where we are right. What we want is a religion that is right where we are wrong. We do not want, as the newspapers say, a church that will move with the world. We want a church that will move the world.
G.K. Chesterton (Charles Dickens: A Critical Study)
Behavior is imitated, then abstracted into play, formalized into drama and story, crystallized into myth and codified into religion—and only then criticized in philosophy, and provided, post-hoc, with rational underpinnings
Jordan B. Peterson (Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief)
Widespread criticisms of jihad in Islam and the so-called sword verses in the Quran have unearthed for fair-minded Christians difficult questions about Christianity's own traditions of holy war and 'texts of terror.' Like Hinduism's Mahabharata epic, the Bible devotes entire books to war and rumors thereof. Unlike the Quran, however, it contains hardly any rules for how to conduct a just war.
Stephen R. Prothero (God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World--and Why Their Differences Matter)
The basis of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. In other words, religion is the self-consciousness and self-feeling of man who has either not yet found himself or has already lost himself again.
Christopher Hitchens (The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever)
The purpose of religion is to control yourself, not to criticise others.
Dalai Lama XIV
The belief that the world was created yesterday seems to hold great appeal to those born at that time.
Gary Malone (Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left)
To learn that it's easier to be told by others what to think and believe than it is to think for yourself.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
So long as the burden of proof remains with the critic, a cult can never lose.
Amber Scorah (Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life)
There are two kinds of religions; those which we can criticize, and those which I shouldn’t be talking about.
Abhaidev (The Gods Are Not Dead)
The problem is not that religious people are stupid. It's not that religious fundamentalists are stupid. I happen to think that you can be so well educated that you can build a nuclear bomb, and still get--and still believe that you will get the 72 virgins in paradise--that is the problem. The problem is that--religion--because it has been sheltered from criticism as it has been--allows people--perfectly sane, perfectly intelligent people--to believe en masse, what only idiots or lunatics could believe in isolation.
Sam Harris
I'm not religious, and I'm not a Christian, but I do reserve the right to believe in the possibility of a God. It's kind of defending the indefensible, though; I'm critical of what religions are becoming, the more destructive they're becoming. But I think as an artist, particularly, it's a necessary part of what I do, that there is some divine element going on within my songs.
Nick Cave
But let’s not forget the Jew. Anybody that gives even a just criticism of the Jew is instantly labeled anti-Semite. The Jew cries louder than anybody else if anybody criticizes him. You can tell the truth about any minority in America, but make a true observation about the Jew, and if it doesn’t 't pat him on the back, then he uses his grip on the news media to label you anti-Semite.
Malcolm X
Are small, critical actions enough? Small gestures make us feel good—about ourselves, about others. Small things connect us. They feel like everything. A lot depends on them. It’s not unlike religion and God. We believe in certain constructs that help us understand life. Not only to understand it, but as a means of providing comfort. The idea that we are better off with one person for the rest of our lives is not an innate truth of existence. It’s a belief we want to be true.
Iain Reid (I'm Thinking of Ending Things)
As many critics of religion have pointed out, the notion of a creator poses an immediate problem of an infinite regress. If God created the universe, what created God? To say that God, by definition, is uncreated simply begs the question. Any being capable of creating a complex world promises to be very complex himself. As the biologist Richard Dawkins has observed repeatedly, the only natural process we know of that could produce a being capable of designing things is evolution.
Sam Harris (Letter to a Christian Nation)
We only give credence to that which we can prove exists. Since we cannot find evidence that gods, miracles, and other supernatural things are real, we do not trouble ourselves about them. If that were to change, if Helzvog were to reveal himself to us, then we would accept the new information and revise our position." "It seems a cold world without something . . . more." "On the contrary," said Oromis, "it is a better world. A place where we are responsible for our own actions, where we can be kind to one another because we want to and because it is the right thing to do, instead of being frightened into behaving by the threat of divine punishment. I won't tell you what to believe, Eragon. It is far better to be taught to think critically and then be allowed to make your own decisions than to have someone else's notions thrust upon you. You asked after our religion, and I have answered you true. Make of it what you will.
Christopher Paolini (Eldest (The Inheritance Cycle, #2))
How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values.
John Maynard Keynes
Our age is the age of criticism, to which everything must be subjected. The sacredness of religion, and the authority of legislation, are by many regarded as grounds of exemption from the examination of this tribunal. But, if they on they are exempted, they become the subjects of just suspicion, and cannot lay claim to sincere respect, which reason accords only to that which has stood the test of a free and public examination.]
Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason)
There is a difference between criticizing people and criticizing a people's uninformed ideals. That is, unless one defines himself or others by their ideals, then he is offended, and usually offended secretly. Because oddly enough, this person is the same person quickest to resort to dismissive name-calling, such as 'bigot' or 'zealot'. And oddly enough, he is always the one, the 'open-minded' one, who adamantly protests for, not only himself, but others not to listen to any type of scholarly theological truth inherently for the sake of his own personal, moral beliefs.
Criss Jami (Killosophy)
One of the Christian's biggest fears is appearing 'too Christian'. God forbid, because that's often characterized as god-awful! We want to be one, but without being 'one of them'.
Criss Jami (Killosophy)
God is not a technician. God is an Artist. This is the God who made you. The same God who lives inside of you. He comes into us, then comes out of us, in a million little ways. That's why there's freedom, even in the blah. Hope, even in the dark. Love, even in the fear. Trust, even as we face our critics. And believe in the midst of all that? It feels like strength and depth and wildflower spinning; it feels risky and brave and underdog winning. It feels like redemption. It feels like art.
Emily P. Freeman (A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live)
Art is not religion, 'it doesn't even lead to religion.' But in the time of distress which is ours, the time when the gods are missing, the time of absence and exile, art is justified, for it is the intimacy of this distress: the effort to make manifest, through the image, the error of the imaginary, and eventually the ungraspable, forgotten truth which hides behind the error.
Maurice Blanchot (The Space of Literature)
These days when Christians bicker they exaggerate passion into a legalistic belief and prosperity into a lukewarm belief.
Criss Jami (Killosophy)
Most people don't think for themselves. They just regurgitate someone else's opinion and pass it off as their own.
Oliver Markus Malloy (Inside The Mind of an Introvert)
When you go with first principles, a giant light goes off in what you think is a city and turns out to be an insane asylum.
Stefan Molyneux
In the matters of religion, it is very hard to deceive a man, and very hard to undeceive him.
Pierre Bayle (Historical and Critical Dictionary: Selections)
Durkheim frequently criticized his contemporaries, such as Freud, who tried to explain morality and religion using only the psychology of individuals and their pairwise relationships. (God is just a father figure, said Freud.) Durkheim argued, in contrast, that Homo sapiens was really Homo duplex, a creature who exists at two levels: as an individual and as part of the larger society.
Jonathan Haidt (The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion)
If you are looking for a hate book you have come to the wrong place here. This book may be full of fact and discussion and even argument but it is out of concern, a concern that is not subject to some group partisan issues. It has opinion as well and this is most certainly what many critics will call many things in this book to the point that there will be whole essays of review that are just diatribes of psychological issues on both sides.
Leviak B. Kelly (Religion: The Ultimate STD: Living a Spiritual Life without Dogmatics or Cultural Destruction)
Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect." [I Stand With Charlie Hebdo, as We All Must (Wall Street Journal, January 7, 2015)]
Salman Rushdie
All I’m arguing for really is that we should have a conversation where the best ideas really thrive, where there’s no taboo against criticizing bad ideas, and where everyone who shows up, in order to get their ideas entertained, has to meet some obvious burdens of intellectual rigor and self-criticism and honesty—and when people fail to do that, we are free to stop listening to them. What religion has had up until this moment is a different set of rules that apply only to it, which is you have to respect my religious certainty even though I’m telling you I arrived at it irrationally.
Sam Harris
When liberals equate criticizing Islamic doctrine with anti-Muslim bigotry, it leaves a vacuum that is too frequently filled by genuine right-wing anti-Muslim bigots who are even more disagreeable. Who gets stuck in the middle? Ex-Muslims.
Ali A. Rizvi (The Atheist Muslim: A Journey from Religion to Reason)
a lot of people have died because they read a book the wrong way
Rick Roderick
Religions, themselves, are (intellectual) blasphemies.
Kedar Joshi (Superultramodern Science And Philosophy)
In the West, of course, God has been dead for some time. What remains is religion as social belief, which is at best a moral code and at worst social etiquette.
John Ralston Saul (Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West)
People in the West... have learned not to examine the religions or cultures of minorities too critically for fear of being called racist.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Infidel)
Religion is a belief in invisible beings, inaudible voices, intangible entities, undetectable forces, and events and judgments that happen after we die. It therefore has no reality check. And it is therefore uniquely armored against criticism, questioning, and self-correction. It is uniquely armored against anything that might stop it from spinning into extreme absurdity, extreme denial of reality… and extreme, grotesque immorality.
Greta Christina (Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless)
The process of reconciliation implies that people who want to engage in interfaith cooperation should be prepared to reflect critically on their own religious tradition. They should also contemplate what place their own religious tradition assigns to people of other faith traditions. (by Cilliers, Ch. 3, p. 52)
David R. Smock (Interfaith Dialogue and Peacebuilding)
Barth was the first theologian to begin the criticism of religion...but he set in its place the positivist doctrine of revelation which says in effect, 'Take it or leave it': Virgin Birth, Trinity or anything else, everything which is an equally significant and necessary part of the whole, which latter has to be swallowed as a whole or not at all. That is not in accordance with the Bible. There are degrees of perception and degrees of significance, i.e. a secret discipline must be re-established whereby the mysteries of the Christian faith are preserved from profanation.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Letters and Papers from Prison)
Protestantism developed its sense of identity primarily in response to external threats and criticisms rather than as a result of shared beliefs. In one sense, the idea of "Protestantism" can be seen as the creation of its opponents rather than of its supporters.
Christianity's Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution: A History from the Sixteenth Century to the Twenty-First
There is a sense in which all cognition can be said to be motivated. One is motivated to understand the world, to be in touch with reality, to remove doubt, etc. Alternately one might say that motivation is an aspect of cognition itself. Nevertheless, motives like wanting to find the truth, not wanting to be mistaken, etc., tend to align with epistemic goals in a way that many other commitments do not. As we have begun to see, all reasoning may be inextricable from emotion. But if a person's primary motivation in holding a belief is to hue to a positive state of mind, to mitigate feelings of anxiety, embarrassment, or guilt for instance. This is precisely what we mean by phrases like "wishful thinking", and "self-deception". Such a person will of necessity be less responsive to valid chains of evidence and argument that run counter to the beliefs he is seeking to maintain. To point out non-epistemic motives in an others view of the world, therefore, is always a criticism, as it serves to cast doubt on a persons connection to the world as it is.
Sam Harris (The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values)
…such criticism and mockery are largely beside the point. All religious belief is a function of nonrational faith. And faith, by its very definition, tends to be impervious to to intellectual argument or academic criticism. Polls routinely indicate, moreover, that nine out of ten Americans believe in God—most of us subscribe to one brand of religion or another. Those who would assail The Book of Mormon should bear in mind that its veracity is no more dubious than the veracity of the Bible, say, or the Qur'an, or the sacred texts of most other religions. The latter texts simply enjoy the considerable advantage of having made their public debut in the shadowy recesses of the ancient past, and are thus much harder to refute.
Jon Krakauer (Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith)
The faith that stands on authority is not faith. The reliance on authority measures the decline of religion, the withdrawal of the soul. The position men have given to Jesus, now for many centuries of history, is a position of authority. It characterizes themselves.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson)
We criticize Americans for not being able either to analyse or conceptualize. But this is a wrong-headed critique. It is we who imagine that everything culminates in transcendence, and that nothing exists which has not been conceptualized. Not only do they care little for such a view, but their perspective is the very opposite: it is not conceptualizing reality, but realizing concepts and materializing ideas, that interests them. The ideas of the religion and enlightened morality of the eighteenth century certainly, but also dreams, scientific values, and sexual perversions. Materializing freedom, but also the unconscious. Our phantasies around space and fiction, but also our phantasies of sincerity and virtue, or our mad dreams of technicity. Everything that has been dreamt on this side of the Atlantic has a chance of being realized on the other. They build the real out of ideas. We transform the real into ideas, or into ideology.
Jean Baudrillard (America)
Behind the heavens, life and death, a tone, Behind the heart, a butterfly dancing, In the end everything is simple, as simple as a leaf that one holds in one’s hand, as simple as the laughter of a child.
alexis karpouzos (The self-criticism of science: The contemporary philosophy of science & the problem of the scientific consciousness.)
Johnson is a radical skeptic, insisting, in the best Socratic tradition, that everything be put on the table for examination. By contrast, most skeptics opposed to him are selective skeptics, applying their skepticism to the things they dislike (notably religion) and refusing to apply their skepticism to the things they do like (notably Darwinism). On two occasions I’ve urged Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic Magazine, to put me on its editorial board as the resident skeptic of Darwinism. Though Shermer and I know each other and are quite friendly, he never got back to me about joining his editorial board.
William A. Dembski
The dictator State has one great advantage over bourgeois reason: along with the individual it swallows up his religious forces. The State takes the place of God; that is why, seen from this angle, the socialist dictatorships are religions and State slavery is a form of worship. But the religious function cannot be dislocated and falsified in this way without giving rise to secret doubts, which are immediately repressed so as to avoid conflict with the prevail trend towards mass-mindedness. […] The policy of the State is exalted to a creed, the leader or party boss becomes a demigod beyond good and evil, and his votaries are honoured as heroes, martyrs, apostles, missionaries. There is only one truth and beside it no other. It is sacrosanct and above criticism. Anyone who thinks differently is a heretic, who, as we know from history, is threatened with all manner of unpleasant things. Only the party boss, who holds the political power in his hands, can interpret the State doctrine authentically, and he does so just as suits him.
C.G. Jung (The Undiscovered Self)
It is terrible that we all die and lose everything we love; it is doubly terrible that so many human beings suffer needlessly while alive. That so much of this suffering can be directly attributed to religion—to religious hatreds, religious wars, religious taboos, and religious diversions of scarce resources—is what makes the honest criticism of religious faith a moral and intellectual necessity. Unfortunately, expressing such criticism places the nonbeliever at the margins of society. By merely being in touch with reality, he appears shamefully out of touch with the fantasy life of his neighbors.
Sam Harris (Letter to a Christian Nation)
The study of Scripture I find to be quite like mastering an instrument. No one is so good that they cannot get any better; no one knows so much that they can know no more. A professional can spot an amateur or a lack of practice or experience a mile away. His technicality, his spiritual ear is razor-sharp. He is familiar with the common mistakes, the counter-arguments; and insofar as this, he can clearly distinguish the difference between honest critics of the Faith and mere fools who criticize that which they know nothing.
Criss Jami (Healology)
Respect and the observation of good manners when dealing with ulama (the Muslim clergy) are commanded by the nas (Scripture) of Islam, but this has never stopped a person presenting intelligent criticisms, nor prevented his questioning the opinions of ulama, even though he maintains the disciplines of religion.
Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin (Islam in Malaysia: Perceptions & Facts)
scientific knowledge is advanced by the systematic criticism and purging of what currently passes for knowledge, so in religion too we need to criticize and expel all the illusory and dysfunctional religious material we have inherited.
Don Cupitt (Above Us Only Sky)
Arguments for atheism can be divided into two main categories: those that dispute the existence of god and those that demonstrate the ill effects of religion. It might be better if I broadened this somewhat, and said those that dispute the existence of an intervening god. Religion is, after all, more than the belief in a supreme being. It is the cult of that supreme being and the belief that his or her wishes have been made known or can be determined. Defining matters in this way, I can allow myself to mention great critics such as Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, who perhaps paradoxically regarded religion as an insult to god.
Christopher Hitchens (The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever)
The new atheists show a disturbing lack of understanding of or concern about the complexity and ambiguity of modern experience, and their polemic entirely fails to mention the concern for justice and compassion that, despite their undeniable failings, has been espoused by all three of the monotheisms. Religious fundamentalists also develop an exagerrated view of their enemy as the epitome of evil. This tendency makes critique of the new atheists too easy. They never discuss the work of such theologians as Bultmann or Tillich, who offer a very different view of religion and are closer to mainstream tradition than any fundamentalist. Unlike Feurerbach, Marx and Freud, the new atheists are not theologically literate. As one of their critics has remarked, in any military strategy it is essential to confront the enemy at its strongest point; failure to do so means that their polemic remains shallow and lacks intellectual depth. It is also morally and intellectually conservative. Unlike Feurerback, Marx, Ingersoll or Mill, these new Atheists show little concern about the poverty, injustice and humiliation that has inspired many of the atrocities they deplore; they show no yearning for a better world. Nor, like Nietzsche , Sartre or Camus, do they compel their readers to face up to the pointlessness and futility that ensue when people lack the resources to create a sense of meaning. They do not appear to consider the effect of such nihilism on people who do not have privileged lives and absorbing work.
Karen Armstrong (The Case for God)
Many people, observing religious conflict in the contemporary world, have become hostile to religion as such and regard it as a source of violence and intolerance.5 In a world of overlapping and plural religious environments, this can clearly be the case. But they fail to put religion in its broader historical context, where it was a critical factor in permitting broad social cooperation that transcended kin and friends as a source of social relationships. Moreover, secular ideologies like Marxism-Leninism or nationalism that have displaced religious beliefs in many contemporary societies can be and have been no less destructive due to the passionate beliefs that they engender.
Francis Fukuyama (The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution)
Regarding Christians who feel they have a free pass on being criticized; When the blind worship of an invisible being and the doctrine of millennia-old texts written by ignorant men in another country becomes more important than real, present human beings, then the blind worshiper SHOULD be shunned and criticized. It would be unethical to respond otherwise.
Kelli Jae Baeli (Supernatural Hypocrisy: The Cognitive Dissonance of a God Cosmology)
Snatch religion back from the clerics and literature from the critics.
Michael Foley (Embracing the Ordinary: Lessons From the Champions of Everyday Life)
Judge, criticize, object before you decide to believe something; but once you believe, you're but an idiot if you need to be scrupulous any more.
Raheel Farooq
Simply disabling specific critical thinking skills is all that is necessary for the god virus.
Darrel W. Ray (The God Virus: How religion infects our lives and culture)
All religious belief is a function of nonrational faith. And faith, by its very definition, tends to be impervious to intellectual argument or academic criticism
Jon Krakauer
It is easy for those who conflate religion with government to interpret any criticism of government or policy as an 'attack' on their 'faith'.
Christina Engela (Loderunner)
Where there is no critical thinking, there is no progress. If the children are our future, then critical thinking must be their guide.
Dale McGowan (Parenting Beyond Belief- Abridged Ebook Edition: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids without Religion)
The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.
Brian D. McLaren (The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World's Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian)
Churches that are filled with self-righteous, exclusive, insecure, angry, moralistic people are extremely unattractive. Their public pronouncements are often highly judgmental, while internally such churches experience many bitter conflicts, splits, and divisions. When one of their leaders has a moral lapse, the churches either rationalize it and denounce the leader’s critics, or else they scapegoat him. Millions of people raised in or near these kinds of churches reject Christianity at an early age or in college largely because of their experience. For the rest of their lives, then, they are inoculated against Christianity. If you are a person who has been disillusioned by such churches, anytime anyone recommends Christianity to you, you assume they are calling you to adopt “religion.” Pharisees and their unattractive lives leave many people confused about the real nature of Christianity.
Timothy J. Keller (The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism)
Religion demands complete conviction, but science advises against that. It demands understanding instead of belief, so it must be based on verifiable evidence; it must explain related observations with a measurable degree of accuracy; it must withstand continuous critical analysis in peer review; and it must be falsifiable too. If it doesn’t fulfill all these conditions at once, then it isn’t science. If it meets none of them, it could be religion.
Aron Ra (Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism)
Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo. Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or conclusion, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower.
Karl Marx
We can believe in hierarchy. We can believe the universe was made just for us. Hierarchy and a major sense of entitlement are not insurmountable problems. The problem occurs when we treat those whom we believe lie beneath us as slaves. Religion once sustained human slavery. It was wrong then. When it blindly sanctions the slavery of every nonhuman animal, it is wrong now.
Cass R. Sunstein (Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions (AAR Cultural Criticism Series))
Your frequent claim that we must understand religious belief as a “social construct,” produced by “societal causes,” dependent upon “social and cultural institutions,” admitting of “sociological questions,” and the like, while it will warm the hearts of most anthropologists, is either trivially true or obscurantist. It is part and parcel of the double standard that so worries me—the demolition of which is the explicit aim of The Reason Project. Epidemiology is also a “social construct” with “societal causes,” etc.—but this doesn’t mean that the germ theory of disease isn’t true or that any rival “construct”—like one suggesting that child rape will cure AIDS—isn’t a dangerous, deplorable, and unnecessary eruption of primeval stupidity. We either have good reasons or bad reasons for what we believe; we can be open to evidence and argument, or we can be closed; we can tolerate (and even seek) criticism of our most cherished views, or we can hide behind authority, sanctity, and dogma. The main reason why children are still raised to think that the universe is 6,000 years old is not because religion as a “social institution” hasn’t been appropriately coddled and cajoled, but because polite people (and scientists terrified of losing their funding) haven’t laughed this belief off the face of the earth. We did not lose a decade of progress on stem-cell research in the United States because of religion as a “social construct”; we lost it because of the behavioural and emotional consequences of a specific belief. If there were a line in the book of Genesis that read – “The soul enters the womb on the hundredth day (you idiots)” – we wouldn’t have lost a step on stem-cell research, and there would not be a Christian or Jew anywhere who would worry about souls in Petri dishes suffering the torments of the damned. The beliefs currently rattling around in the heads of human beings are some of the most potent forces on earth; some of the craziest and most divisive of these are “religious,” and so-dubbed they are treated with absurd deference, even in the halls of science; this is a very bad combination—that is my point.
Sam Harris
In his numerous historical and Scriptural works Bauer rejects all supernatural religion, and represents Christianity as a natural product of the mingling of the Stoic and Alexandrian philosophies...
Joseph McCabe (A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists)
On the contrary,” said Oromis, “it is a better world. A place where we are responsible for our own actions, where we can be kind to one another because we want to and because it is the right thing to do instead of being frightened into behaving by the threat of divine punishment. I won’t tell you what to believe, Eragon. It is far better to be taught to think critically and then be allowed to make your own decisions than to have someone else’s notions thrust upon you. You asked after our religion, and I have answered you true. Make of it what you will.
Christopher Paolini (Eldest (Inheritance, #2))
[His research into biblical criticism had lead him to the conclusion that most of what was contained in traditional religion simply wasn't true] Was I to lie in order to teach the truth? ...Was I to repeat these words? It was impossible. It was certain they would stick in my throat. On these grounds the separation was decided by me.
Felix Adler
In a free society, people should have the right to criticize a religion; they should have the right to do so, and of course their criticisms are themselves open to criticism; that is the essence of freedom of speech and thought.
Gad Saad (The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense)
I believe that we are henceforth incapable of returning to an order of moral life which would take the form of a simple submission to commandments or to an alien or supreme will, even if this will were represented as divine. We must accept as a positive good the critique of ethics and religion that has been undertaken by the school of suspicion. From it we have learned to understand that the commandment that gives death, not life, is a product and projection of our own weakness.
Paul Ricœur (The Conflict of Interpretations)
The term “humanities” includes, but is not limited to, the study of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism, and theory of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life.
Edward O. Wilson (The Social Conquest of Earth)
(...) about one of his schools he said, "I would make the following criticisms. First, too much attention to marks. Second, too much religion. Third, no time for me to develop my own interests. Fourth, group discipline may be imposed unfairly".
John Gunther (Death Be Not Proud)
Though they can look deceptively similar, there is a critical difference between faith in God—which can only come from placing your full trust in Him and His Word—and religion, which puts its trust in human standards and traditions and rituals.
Chauncey W. Crandall (Touching Heaven: A Cardiologist's Encounters with Death and Living Proof of an Afterlife)
As he defended the book one evening in the early 1980s at the Carnegie Endowment in New York, I knew that some of what he said was true enough, just as some of it was arguably less so. (Edward incautiously dismissed 'speculations about the latest conspiracy to blow up buildings or sabotage commercial airliners' as the feverish product of 'highly exaggerated stereotypes.') Covering Islam took as its point of departure the Iranian revolution, which by then had been fully counter-revolutionized by the forces of the Ayatollah. Yes, it was true that the Western press—which was one half of the pun about 'covering'—had been naïve if not worse about the Pahlavi regime. Yes, it was true that few Middle East 'analysts' had had any concept of the latent power of Shi'ism to create mass mobilization. Yes, it was true that almost every stage of the Iranian drama had come as a complete surprise to the media. But wasn't it also the case that Iranian society was now disappearing into a void of retrogressive piety that had levied war against Iranian Kurdistan and used medieval weaponry such as stoning and amputation against its internal critics, or even against those like unveiled women whose very existence constituted an offense?
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
People who want to study religion usually have an ax to grind. They either want to defend their favorite religion from its critics or want to demonstrate the irrationality and futility of religion, and this tends to infect their methods with bias.
Daniel C. Dennett (Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon)
God is not a technician. God is an Artist. This is the God who made you. The same God who lives inside of you. He comes into us, then comes out of us, in a million little ways. That's why there's freedom, even in the blah. Hope, even in the dark. Love, even in the fear. Trust, even as we face our critics. And believing in the midst of all that? It feels like strength and depth and wildflower spinning; it feels risky and brave and underdog winning. It feels like redemption. It feels like art.
Emily P. Freeman (A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live)
He criticized Christianity, but his objections were not so much intellectual as moral and aesthetic: he attacked the Christian religion because of its impact on the quality of life. Devaluing the natural world for the sake of a spiritual realm, Christianity could not be other than hostile to happiness: ‘man’, Leopardi wrote, ‘was happier before Christianity than after it.
John N. Gray (The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Inquiry into Human Freedom)
Today everybody admits that something is wrong with the world, and the critics of Christianity are the very people who feel this most. The most violent attacks on religion come from those who are most anxious to change the world, and they attack Christianity because they think that it is an obstructive force that stands in the way of a real reform of human life. There has seldom been a time in which men were more dissatisfied with life and the more conscious of the need for deliverance, and if they turn away from Christianity it is because they feel that Christianity is a servant of the established order and that it has no real power or will to change the world and to rescue man from his present difficulties. They have lost their faith in the old spiritual traditions that inspired civilization in the past, and they tend to look for a solution in some external practical remedy such as communism, or the scientific organisation of life; something definite and objective that can be applied to society as a whole.
Christopher Henry Dawson (Religion and World History: A Selection from the Works of Christopher Dawson)
What constitutes a civil society? At minimum, it is a place where ideas, of all kinds, can be criticized without the risk of physical violence. If you live in a land where certain things cannot be said about the king, or about an imaginary being, or about certain books, because such utterances carry the penalty of death, torture, or imprisonment, you do not live in a civil society. It
Sam Harris (The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason)
The deeper truth is that reform, if it is real reform, is an exercise of love. Prophecy, if it is real prophecy, is an exercise of love. Amos, Hosea, and Jeremiah employed such harsh language in criticizing the children of Israel precisely because they thought more of the people than the people thought of themselves. The prophets were in love with, were possessed by, a vision of the dignity and destiny of those they addressed. The outrageousness of sin and failure was in direct proportion to the greatness of God's intent for his people. Prophecy was always an exercise of love, never of contempt, for those to whom the prophet addressed his criticism.
Richard John Neuhaus (The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America)
Anti-intellectualism is virtually our civic religion. "Critical thinking" may be a ubiquitous educational slogan—a vaguely defined skill we hope our children pick up on the way to adulthood—but the rewards for not using your intelligence are immediate and abundant.
A.O. Scott (Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think about Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth)
Though he never actually joined it, he was close to some civilian elements of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which was the most Communist (and in the rather orthodox sense) of the Palestinian formations. I remember Edward once surprising me by saying, and apropos of nothing: 'Do you know something I have never done in my political career? I have never publicly criticized the Soviet Union. It’s not that I terribly sympathize with them or anything—it's just that the Soviets have never done anything to harm me, or us.' At the time I thought this a rather naïve statement, even perhaps a slightly contemptible one, but by then I had been in parts of the Middle East where it could come as a blessed relief to meet a consecrated Moscow-line atheist-dogmatist, if only for the comparatively rational humanism that he evinced amid so much religious barking and mania. It was only later to occur to me that Edward's pronounced dislike of George Orwell was something to which I ought to have paid more attention.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
For Satan, as for Marx, religion was an impediment to the grand design of transforming humanity from a collection of free-willed, autonomous individuals into a mass of self-corralling slaves who mistake security for liberty and try to keep the cognitive dissonance to a minimum in order to function.
Michael Walsh (The Devil's Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West)
If a man can't be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing [for Satan and his devils to do] is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that "suits"him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches. The reasons are obvious. In the first place the parochial organization should always be attacked, because, being a unity of place and not of likings, it brings people of different classes and psychology together in the kind of unity the [Lord] desires... In the second place, the search for a "suitable" church makes the man a critic where the [Lord] wants him to be a pupil.
C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)
Many ex-Muslims do have lifelong Muslim friends and family who are supportive, moderate, or liberal, even if they disagree. This was a common theme in the #ExMuslimBecause tweets: most participants, while certainly unreserved in their criticism of the faith, made it a point to differentiate between criticizing Islam (an idea) and demonizing Muslims (a people). Human beings have rights and are entitled to respect. Ideas, books, and beliefs don’t, and aren’t.
Ali A. Rizvi (The Atheist Muslim: A Journey from Religion to Reason)
When we place the Bible on equal footing with God, we become paralyzed by how to deal with it--because any criticism of the Bible becomes criticism of God himself. The cure for the religion of Biblicism is the realization that Jesus is the inerrant Word of God, and the Bible is just a collection of inspired and useful writings that introduce us to him. Let me be clear: whenever we find tension between something Jesus taught and something taught elsewhere in the Bible, the tiebreaker always goes to Jesus. Always.
Benjamin L. Corey (Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith)
[Christianity] is a religion for slaves and women!' said the warrior of old. (Slaves and women were largely the same thing.) 'It is a religion for slaves and women' says the advocate of the Superman. Well? Who did the work of all the ancient world? Who raised the food and garnered it and cooked it and served it? Who built the houses, the temples, the aqueducts, the city wall? Who made the furniture, the tools, the weapons, the utensils, the ornaments--made them strong and beautiful and useful? Who kept the human race going, somehow, in spite of the constant hideous waste of war, and slowly built up the real industrial civilization behind that gory show?--Why just the slaves and women.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman (The Man-Made World)
Much of our modern difficulty, in religion and other things, arises merely from this: that we confuse the word "indefinable" with the word "vague." If some one speaks of a spiritual fact as "indefinable" we promptly picture something misty, a cloud with indeterminate edges. But this is an error even in commonplace logic. The thing that cannot be defined is the first thing; the primary fact. It is our arms and legs, our pots and pans, that are indefinable. The indefinable is the indisputable. The man next door is indefinable, because he is too actual to be defined. And there are some to whom spiritual things have the same fierce and practical proximity; some to whom God is too actual to be defined.
G.K. Chesterton (Charles Dickens: A Critical Study)
YOU DON’T HAVE TO ALWAYS TAKE SIDES! Did you know, that it is entirely possible to disagree with BOTH self-proclaimed nationalists & those deemed anti-nationals, BOTH right-wing & left-wing hardcores, BOTH ultra-religious people & atheists, BOTH vegans & meat-eaters, BOTH CrossFitters & non-CrossFitters, BOTH ‘cardio’ & ‘non-cardio’ folks, AND BOTH ‘low-carbers’ & ‘high-carbers’?! It’s called THINKING FOR YOURSELF! It gives you an identity. It‘s a highly pleasurable job too; it involves telling people off. I highly recommend it!
Deepak S. Hiwale
For to maintain a critical stance toward the world at large meant that she was not a fool, had not been duped, that she would not be taken in by the accepted thinking of the day simply because that was how things were or because of fun or simplicity or being a good sport. No. To be Nightbitch meant always to be on guard, to doubt and confront, to critique and question, her husband, her motherhood, her career, these women, capitalism, careerism, politics and religion, all of it, especially her-marketing plans. But- and she truly couldn’t believe she now felt this way- she needed this, needed other women, other mothers, and even if these weren’t the exact right ones, they were a start. The cold terror of the cat murder left her desperate for some kind of equilibrium, to return to her self, or at least to a transformed self that owned her dreams and desires, but wielded her power with even determination.
Rachel Yoder (Nightbitch)
Or more important, I an a Christian (which can be deduced from my stories), and in fact a Roman Catholic. The latter "fact" perhaps cannot be deduced; though one critic (by letter) asserted that the invocations of Elbereth, and the character of Galadriel as directly described (or through the words of Gimli and Sam) were clearly related to Catholic devotion to Mary. Another saw in waybread (lembras)=vaticum and the reference to its feeding the will (vol. III, p. 213) and being more potent when fasting, a derivation from the Eucharist. (letter 213)
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien)
I’m frustrated and sad to think of all the good people who have abandoned Christianity because they felt they had to choose between their faith and their intellectual integrity or between their religion and their compassion. I’m heartbroken to think of all the new ideas they could have contributed had someone not told them that new ideas were unwelcome. Of course, we all carry around false fundamentals. We all have unexamined assumptions and lists of rules, both spoken and unspoken, that weigh down our faith. We’ve all got little measuring sticks that help us determine who’s “in” and who’s “out,” and we’ve all got truths we don’t want to face because we’re afraid that our faith can’t withstand any change. It’s not just conservative Christians. Many of us who consider ourselves more progressive can be tolerant of everyone except the intolerant, judgmental toward those we deem judgmental, and unfairly critical of tradition or authority or doctrine or the establishment or whatever it is we’re in the process of deconstructing at the moment. In a way, we’re all fundamentalists. We all have pet theological systems, political positions, and standards of morality that are not essential to the gospel but that we cling to so tightly that we leave fingernail marks on the palms of our hands.
Rachel Held Evans (Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions)
Marxism criticizes the world’s dominant economic system, which allows people to amass as much wealth as they can and to spend it as they wish. Should we be surprised that this critique generates backlash? To acquire things and to use them selfishly is a big part of human nature. Technological advances—the new smartphone, the new app, the new car—make each new toy more enticing and addictive. Today technology, more than religion, has become the opium of the people. In developed and developing countries alike, people long to acquire more and consume more.
Philip Clayton (Organic Marxism: An Alternative to Capitalism and Ecological Catastrophe (Toward Ecological Civilization))
In Tetlock’s research, subjects are asked to solve problems and make decisions.11 For example, they’re given information about a legal case and then asked to infer guilt or innocence. Some subjects are told that they’ll have to explain their decisions to someone else. Other subjects know that they won’t be held accountable by anyone. Tetlock found that when left to their own devices, people show the usual catalogue of errors, laziness, and reliance on gut feelings that has been documented in so much decision-making research.12 But when people know in advance that they’ll have to explain themselves, they think more systematically and self-critically. They are less likely to jump to premature conclusions and more likely to revise their beliefs in response to evidence.
Jonathan Haidt (The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion)
With the growth of civilisation in Europe, and with the revival of letters and of science in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the ethical and intellectual criticism of theology once more recommenced, and arrived at a temporary resting-place in the confessions of the various reformed Protestant sects in the sixteenth century; almost all of which, as soon as they were strong enough, began to persecute those who carried criticism beyond their own limit. But the movement was not arrested by these ecclesiastical barriers, as their constructors fondly imagined it would be; it was continued, tacitly or openly, by Galileo, by Hobbes, by Descartes, and especially by Spinoza, in the seventeenth century; by the English Freethinkers, by Rousseau, by the French Encyclopaedists, and by the German Rationalists, among whom Lessing stands out a head and shoulders taller than the rest, throughout the eighteenth century; by the historians, the philologers, the Biblical critics, the geologists, and the biologists in the nineteenth century, until it is obvious to all who can see that the moral sense and the really scientific method of seeking for truth are once more predominating over false science. Once more ethics and theology are parting company.
Thomas Henry Huxley (The Evolution Of Theology: An Anthropological Study)
The Stetson passage is an allusion to Frazer theory in The Golden Bough that religion originated as agricultural engineering. Through a grotesque process of literalization, all of the dying gods and heroes in The Golden Bough, along with Christ and the Fisher King, are transferred from mythic to modern consciousness ( Frazer himself was an unabashed positivist) to be made explicable in scientific terms as fertilizer.
Jewel Spears Brooker (Reading the Waste Land: Modernism and the Limits of Interpretation)
The truth is, Jung has brought back one member of the old duality, unreason, with a new name; it is no synthesis at all, but only the latest maneuver in the war against rationality that has been conducted with rising hysteria by literary intellectuals and humanists against the laws of a culture they have reason to distrust and disobey. The Jungian theory proposes to every disaffected humanist his "personal myth," as a sanctuary against the modern world. Against the vulgar democracy of intelligence, Jungian theory proposes an aristocracy of feeling. From this proposal derives Jung's persistent influence on modern critical and aesthetic style.
Philip Rieff (The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud)
It is no accident that both of the substitutes for religion that Hoffer names—nationalism and social revolution—are political. Political/economic ideology is the religion of modernity. Like the adherents of traditional religion, many people find comfort in their political worldview, and greet critical questions with pious hostility.50 Instead of crusades or inquisitions, the twentieth century had its notorious totalitarian movements.
Bryan Caplan (The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies)
Suppose that we agree that the two atrocities can or may be mentioned in the same breath. Why should we do so? I wrote at the time (The Nation, October 5, 1998) that Osama bin Laden 'hopes to bring a "judgmental" monotheism of his own to bear on these United States.' Chomsky's recent version of this is 'considering the grievances expressed by people of the Middle East region.' In my version, then as now, one confronts an enemy who wishes ill to our society, and also to his own (if impermeable religious despotism is considered an 'ill'). In Chomsky's reading, one must learn to sift through the inevitable propaganda and emotion resulting from the September 11 attacks, and lend an ear to the suppressed and distorted cry for help that comes, not from the victims, but from the perpetrators. I have already said how distasteful I find this attitude. I wonder if even Chomsky would now like to have some of his own words back? Why else should he take such care to quote himself deploring the atrocity? Nobody accused him of not doing so. It's often a bad sign when people defend themselves against charges which haven't been made.
Christopher Hitchens (Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left)
The merits and services of Christianity have been industriously extolled by its hired advocates. Every Sunday its praises are sounded from myriads of pulpits. It enjoys the prestige of an ancient establishment and the comprehensive support of the State. It has the ear of rulers and the control of education. Every generation is suborned in its favor. Those who dissent from it are losers, those who oppose it are ostracised; while in the past, for century after century, it has replied to criticism with imprisonment, and to scepticism with the dungeon and the stake. By such means it has induced a general tendency to allow its pretensions without inquiry and its beneficence without proof.
Joseph Mazzini Wheeler (Crimes of Christianity)
The danger we face does not come from religion. It comes from a growing intellectual bankruptcy that is one of the symptoms of a dying culture. In ancient Rome, as the republic disintegrated and the Caesars were deified, as the Roman Senate became little more than an echo chamber of the emperor, the population’s attention was diverted by a series of frontier wars and violent and elaborate spectacles in the arena. The excitement of entertainment consumed ancient Rome’s emotional and intellectual life. It poisoned civic and political discourse. Social critics no longer had a form in which to speak. They were answered with ridicule and rage. It was not prerogative of the citizen to think.
Chris Hedges (I Don't Believe in Atheists)
The neo-cons, or some of them, decided that they would back Clinton when he belatedly decided for Bosnia and Kosovo against Milosevic, and this even though they loathed Clinton, because the battle against religious and ethnic dictatorship in the Balkans took precedence. This, by the way, was partly a battle to save Muslims from Catholic and Christian Orthodox killers. That impressed me. The neo-cons also took the view, quite early on, that coexistence with Saddam Hussein was impossible as well as undesirable. They were dead right about that. They had furthermore been thinking about the menace of jihadism when most people were half-asleep. And then I have to say that I was rather struck by the way that the Weekly Standard and its associated voices took the decision to get rid of Trent Lott earlier this year, thus removing an embarrassment as well as a disgrace from the political scene. And their arguments were on points of principle, not 'perception.' I liked their ruthlessness here, and their seriousness, at a time when much of the liberal Left is not even seriously wrong, but frivolously wrong, and babbles without any sense of responsibility. (I mean, have you read their sub-Brechtian stuff on Halliburton....?) And revolution from above, in some states and cases, is—as I wrote in my book A Long Short War—often preferable to the status quo, or to no revolution at all.
Christopher Hitchens (Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left)
It is the thing of myth and legend and the greatest epic stories ever written. But it's not myth or legend or story, and that's why it's not even really a world religion. Christianity is just the way it is. Whether you like it or not, one man has united the tribes, overthrown the tyrant, and established Himself as the master of the universe. Sufficient proofs have been left in the historical records to convince any critic who isn't too bigoted to read the evidence on its own merits. Not believing it doesn't change it, and scoffing at it only proves you to be a fool. It's the most potent Word ever spoken because this Word hasn't been spoken by man alone, but by the very mouth of the Creator God.
Jonathan Fisk (Broken: Seven Christian Rules That Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible)
And you don’t put stock in gods.” “We give credence only to that which we can prove exists. Since we cannot find evidence that gods, miracles, and other supernatural things are real, we do not trouble ourselves about them. If that were to change, if Helzvog were to reveal himself to us, then we would accept the new information and revise our position.” “It seems a cold world without something … more.” “On the contrary,” said Oromis, “it is a better world. A place where we are responsible for our own actions, where we can be kind to one another because we want to and because it is the right thing to do instead of being frightened into behaving by the threat of divine punishment. I won’t tell you what to believe, Eragon. It is far better to be taught to think critically and then be allowed to make your own decisions than to have someone else’s notions thrust upon you. You asked after our religion, and I have answered you true. Make of it what you will.
Christopher Paolini (Eldest (The Inheritance Cycle, #2))
According to Teleology, each organism is like a rifle bullet fired straight at a mark; according to Darwin, organisms are like grapeshot of which one hits something and the rest fall wide. For the teleologist an organism exists because it was made for the conditions in which it is found; for the Darwinian an organism exists because, out of many of its kind, it is the only one which has been able to persist in the conditions in which it is found. Teleology implies that the organs of every organism are perfect and cannot be improved; the Darwinian theory simply affirms that they work well enough to enable the organism to hold its own against such competitors as it has met with, but admits the possibility of indefinite improvement.
Thomas Henry Huxley (Criticism on "The Origin of Species")
Cats catch mice, small birds and the like, very well. Teleology tells us that they do so because they were expressly constructed for so doing—that they are perfect mousing apparatuses, so perfect and so delicately adjusted that no one of their organs could be altered, without the change involving the alteration of all the rest. Darwinism affirms on the contrary, that there was no express construction concerned in the matter; but that among the multitudinous variations of the Feline stock, many of which died out from want of power to resist opposing influences, some, the cats, were better fitted to catch mice than others, whence they throve and persisted, in proportion to the advantage over their fellows thus offered to them. Far from imagining that cats exist 'in order' to catch mice well, Darwinism supposes that cats exist 'because' they catch mice well—mousing being not the end, but the condition, of their existence. And if the cat type has long persisted as we know it, the interpretation of the fact upon Darwinian principles would be, not that the cats have remained invariable, but that such varieties as have incessantly occurred have been, on the whole, less fitted to get on in the world than the existing stock.
Thomas Henry Huxley (Criticism on "The Origin of Species")
As the leader of the international Human Genome Project, which had labored mightily over more than a decade to reveal this DNA sequence, I stood beside President Bill Clinton in the East Room of the White House... Clinton's speech began by comparing this human sequence map to the map that Meriwether Lewis had unfolded in front of President Thomas Jefferson in that very room nearly two hundred years earlier. Clinton said, "Without a doubt, this is the most important, most wondrous map ever produced by humankind." But the part of his speech that most attracted public attention jumped from the scientific perspective to the spiritual. "Today," he said, "we are learning the language in which God created life. We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, and the wonder of God's most divine and sacred gift." Was I, a rigorously trained scientist, taken aback at such a blatantly religious reference by the leader of the free world at a moment such as this? Was I tempted to scowl or look at the floor in embarrassment? No, not at all. In fact I had worked closely with the president's speechwriter in the frantic days just prior to this announcement, and had strongly endorsed the inclusion of this paragraph. When it came time for me to add a few words of my own, I echoed this sentiment: "It's a happy day for the world. It is humbling for me, and awe-inspiring, to realize that we have caught the first glimpse of our own instruction book, previously known only to God." What was going on here? Why would a president and a scientist, charged with announcing a milestone in biology and medicine, feel compelled to invoke a connection with God? Aren't the scientific and spiritual worldviews antithetical, or shouldn't they at least avoid appearing in the East Room together? What were the reasons for invoking God in these two speeches? Was this poetry? Hypocrisy? A cynical attempt to curry favor from believers, or to disarm those who might criticize this study of the human genome as reducing humankind to machinery? No. Not for me. Quite the contrary, for me the experience of sequencing the human genome, and uncovering this most remarkable of all texts, was both a stunning scientific achievement and an occasion of worship.
Francis S. Collins (The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief)
Islam was, at least during its first centuries, the religion of reasoning, responsible individuals capable of telling what was true from what was false as long as they were well equipped to do so, as long as they possessed the tools of knowledge - specifically, the collections of Hadith. The fact that, over the course of centuries, we have seen believers who criticize and judge replaced by muzzled, censored, obedient, and grateful Muslims in no way detracts from this fundamental dimension of Islam.
Fatema Mernissi (The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women's Rights in Islam)
Something is indeed returning today - but the conventional wisdom that this is religion making its reappearance is insufficient to satisfy critical inquiries. Nor is it the return of a factor that had vanished, but, rather a shift of emphasis in a continuum that was never interrupted. The genuinely recurring element that would merit our full intellectual attention is more anthropological than 'religious' in its implications - it is, in a nutshell, the recognition of the immunitary constitution of human beings.
Peter Sloterdijk (Du mußt dein Leben ändern)
Literary criticism, as I attempt to practice it, is in the first place 'literary', which is to say personal and passionate. It is not philosophy, politics, or institutionalised religion. At its strongest - Johnson, Hazlitt, Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, and Paul Valéer, among others - it is a kind of wisdom literature, and so a meditation upon life. Yet any distinction between literature and life is misleading. Literature for me is not merely the best part of life; it is itself the form of life, which has no other form.
Harold Bloom (The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life)
Among this bewildering multiplicity of ideals which shall we choose? The answer is that we shall choose none. For it is clear that each one of these contradictory ideals is the fruit of particular social circumstances. To some extent, of course, this is true of every thought and aspiration that has ever been formulated. Some thoughts and aspirations, however, are manifestly less dependent on particular social circumstances than others. And here a significant fact emerges: all the ideals of human behaviour formulated by those who have been most successful in freeing themselves from the prejudices of their time and place are singularly alike. Liberation from prevailing conventions of thought, feeling and behaviour is accomplished most effectively by the practice of disinterested virtues and through direct insight into the real nature of ultimate reality. (Such insight is a gift, inherent in the individual; but, though inherent, it cannot manifest itself completely except where certain conditions are fulfilled. The principal pre-condition of insight is, precisely, the practice of disinterested virtues.) To some extent critical intellect is also a liberating force. But the way in which intellect is used depends upon the will. Where the will is not disinterested, the intellect tends to be used (outside the non-human fields of technology, science or pure mathematics) merely as an instrument for the rationalization of passion and prejudice, the justification of self-interest. That is why so few even of die acutest philosophers have succeeded in liberating themselves completely from the narrow prison of their age and country. It is seldom indeed that they achieve as much freedom as the mystics and the founders of religion. The most nearly free men have always been those who combined virtue with insight. Now, among these freest of human beings there has been, for the last eighty or ninety generations, substantial agreement in regard to the ideal individual. The enslaved have held up for admiration now this model of a man, now that; but at all times and in all places, the free have spoken with only one voice. It is difficult to find a single word that will adequately describe the ideal man of the free philosophers, the mystics, the founders of religions. 'Non-attached* is perhaps the best. The ideal man is the non-attached man. Non-attached to his bodily sensations and lusts. Non-attached to his craving for power and possessions. Non-attached to the objects of these various desires. Non-attached to his anger and hatred; non-attached to his exclusive loves. Non-attached to wealth, fame, social position. Non-attached even to science, art, speculation, philanthropy. Yes, non-attached even to these. For, like patriotism, in Nurse Cavel's phrase, 'they are not enough, Non-attachment to self and to what are called 'the things of this world' has always been associated in the teachings of the philosophers and the founders of religions with attachment to an ultimate reality greater and more significant than the self. Greater and more significant than even the best things that this world has to offer. Of the nature of this ultimate reality I shall speak in the last chapters of this book. All that I need do in this place is to point out that the ethic of non-attachment has always been correlated with cosmologies that affirm the existence of a spiritual reality underlying the phenomenal world and imparting to it whatever value or significance it possesses.
Aldous Huxley (Ends and Means)
...properly a theory about knowledge, not about religion. A theist and a Christian may be an agnostic; an atheist may not be an agnostic. An atheist may deny that there is God, and in this case his atheism is dogmatic and not agnostic. Or he may refuse to acknowledge that there is a God simply on the ground that he perceives no evidence for his existence and finds the arguments which have been advanced in proof of it invalid. In this case his atheism is critical, not agnostic. The atheist may be, and not infrequently is, an agnostic.
Robert Flint (Agnosticism)
Behold the complacent salesman retailing the Good and True. One can even buy a so-called Religion, which is really but common morality sanctified with flowers and music. Rob the Church of her accessories and what remains behind? Yet the trusts thrive marvelously, for the prices are absurdly cheap,--a prayer for a ticket to heaven, a diploma for an honorable citizenship.Hide yourself under a bushel quickly, for if your real usefulness were known to the world you would soon be knocked down to the highest bidder by the public auctioneer.
Kakuzō Okakura (The Book of Tea)
Many things in this period have been hard to bear, or hard to take seriously. My own profession went into a protracted swoon during the Reagan-Bush-Thatcher decade, and shows scant sign of recovering a critical faculty—or indeed any faculty whatever, unless it is one of induced enthusiasm for a plausible consensus President. (We shall see whether it counts as progress for the same parrots to learn a new word.) And my own cohort, the left, shared in the general dispiriting move towards apolitical, atonal postmodernism. Regarding something magnificent, like the long-overdue and still endangered South African revolution (a jagged fit in the supposedly smooth pattern of axiomatic progress), one could see that Ariadne’s thread had a robust reddish tinge, and that potential citizens had not all deconstructed themselves into Xhosa, Zulu, Cape Coloured or ‘Eurocentric’; had in other words resisted the sectarian lesson that the masters of apartheid tried to teach them. Elsewhere, though, it seemed all at once as if competitive solipsism was the signifier of the ‘radical’; a stress on the salience not even of the individual, but of the trait, and from that atomization into the lump of the category. Surely one thing to be learned from the lapsed totalitarian system was the unwholesome relationship between the cult of the masses and the adoration of the supreme personality. Yet introspective voyaging seemed to coexist with dull group-think wherever one peered about among the formerly ‘committed’. Traditionally then, or tediously as some will think, I saw no reason to discard the Orwellian standard in considering modern literature. While a sort of etiolation, tricked out as playfulness, had its way among the non-judgemental, much good work was still done by those who weighed words as if they meant what they said. Some authors, indeed, stood by their works as if they had composed them in solitude and out of conviction. Of these, an encouraging number spoke for the ironic against the literal mind; for the generously interpreted interest of all against the renewal of what Orwell termed the ‘smelly little orthodoxies’—tribe and Faith, monotheist and polytheist, being most conspicuous among these new/old disfigurements. In the course of making a film about the decaffeinated hedonism of modern Los Angeles, I visited the house where Thomas Mann, in another time of torment, wrote Dr Faustus. My German friends were filling the streets of Munich and Berlin to combat the recrudescence of the same old shit as I read: This old, folkish layer survives in us all, and to speak as I really think, I do. not consider religion the most adequate means of keeping it under lock and key. For that, literature alone avails, humanistic science, the ideal of the free and beautiful human being. [italics mine] The path to this concept of enlightenment is not to be found in the pursuit of self-pity, or of self-love. Of course to be merely a political animal is to miss Mann’s point; while, as ever, to be an apolitical animal is to leave fellow-citizens at the mercy of Ideolo’. For the sake of argument, then, one must never let a euphemism or a false consolation pass uncontested. The truth seldom lies, but when it does lie it lies somewhere in between.
Christopher Hitchens (For the Sake of Argument: Essays and Minority Reports)
Dogmatic belief in the central axioms of Christianity (that Christ’s crucifixion redeemed the world; that salvation was reserved for the hereafter; that salvation could not be achieved through works) had three mutually reinforcing consequences: First, devaluation of the significance of earthly life, as only the hereafter mattered. This also meant that it had become acceptable to overlook and shirk responsibility for the suffering that existed in the here-and-now; Second, passive acceptance of the status quo, because salvation could not be earned in any case through effort in this life (a consequence that Marx also derided, with his proposition that religion was the opiate of the masses); and, finally, third, the right of the believer to reject any real moral burden (outside of the stated belief in salvation through Christ), because the Son of God had already done all the important work. It was for such reasons that Dostoevsky, who was a great influence on Nietzsche, also criticized institutional Christianity (although he arguably managed it in a more ambiguous but also more sophisticated manner).
Jordan B. Peterson (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos)
Yet the freedom of the artist, the pure beauty of nature, and the liberty of each of us to live our lives as we choose are still under threat—and despite all our progress, this threat may be greater now than in many years. The slave religions have used the weapons of fear, guilt, superstition, greed, terror and paranoia to achieve significant gains in political, ideological, and cultural power during recent decades, notably in the forms of militant Islamic fundamentalism and Christian dominionism. It takes strength to stand in defense of beauty, truth and freedom, and strength requires unity. Even while we celebrate our diversity and individuality with justified exuberance, it is critical that we remember those principles we hold in common, and those things we owe to each other as brothers and sisters of this, our Holy Order.
Sabazius X° (Beauty and Strength: Proceedings of the Sixth Biennial National Ordo Templi Orientis Conference)
OUR age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchres of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories, and criticism. The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs? Embosomed for a season in nature, whose floods of life stream around and through us, and invite us by the powers they supply, to action proportioned to nature, why should we grope among the dry bones of the past, or put the living generation into masquerade out of its faded wardrobe? The sun shines to-day also. There is more wool and flax in the fields. There are new lands, new men, new thoughts. Let us demand our own works and laws and worship.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (Nature)
But we have no [Marian] apparitions cautioning the Church against, say, accepting the delusion of an Earth-centered Universe, or warning it of complicity with Nazi Germany — two matters of considerable moral as well as historical import.... Not a single saint criticized the practice of torturing and burning “witches” and heretics. Why not? Were they unaware of what was going on? Could they not grasp its evil? And why is [the Virgin] Mary always admonishing the poor peasant to inform the authorities? Why doesn’t she admonish the authorities herself? Or the King? Or the Pope?
Carl Sagan (The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark)
In all conflicts between groups, there are three elements. One: the certitude that our group is morally superior, possibly even chosen by God. All others should follow our example or be at our service. In order to bring peace to the world, we have to impose our set of beliefs upon others, through manipulation, force, and fear, if necessary. Two: a refusal or incapacity to see or admit to any possible errors or faults in our group. The undeniable nature of our own goodness makes us think we are infallible; there can be no wrong in us. Three: a refusal to believe that any other group possesses truth or can contribute anything of value. At best, others may be regarded as ignorant, unenlightened, and possessing only half—truths; at worst, they are seen as destructive, dangerous, and possessed by evil spirits: they need to be overpowered for the good of humanity. Society and cultures are, then, divided into the “good” and the “bad”; the good attributing to themselves the mission to save, to heal, to bring peace to a wicked world, according to their own terms and under their controlling power. Such is the story of all civilizations through the ages as they spread over the earth by invading and colonizing. Differences must be suppressed; “savages” must be civilized. We must prove by all possible means that our culture, our power, our knowledge, and our technology are the best, that our gods are the only gods! This is not just the story of civilizations but also of all wars of religion, inquisitions, censorships, dictatorships; all things, in short, that are ideologies. An ideology is a set of ideas translated into a set of values. Because they are held to be absolutely true, these ideas and values need to be imposed on others if they are not readily accepted. A political system, a school of psychology, and a philosophy of economics can all be ideologies. Even a place of work can be an ideology. Religious sub—groups, sects, are based upon ideological principles. Religions themselves can become ideologies. And ideologues, by their nature, are not open to new ideas or even to debate; they refuse to accept or listen to anyone else’s reality. They refuse to admit any possibility of error or even criticism of their system; they are closed up in their set of ideas, theories, and values. We human beings have a great facility for living illusions, for protecting our self—image with power, for justifying it all by thinking we are the favoured ones of God.
Jean Vanier (Becoming Human)
After two centuries of colonization, the air struggle on Mars was still so critical that the V-L Law, the Vegetative-Lynch Law, was still in effect. It was a killing offense to endanger or destroy any plant vital to the transformation of Mars’ carbon dioxide atmosphere into an oxygen atmosphere. Even blades of grass were sacred. There was no need to erect KEEP OFF THE GRASS neons. The man who wandered off a path onto a lawn would be instantly shot. The woman who picked a flower would be killed without mercy. Two centuries of sudden death had inspired a reverence for green growing things that almost amounted to a religion. Foyle
Alfred Bester (The Stars My Destination)
In our towns and cities they will continue to be born, in our communities they will go on to be nurtured & radicalised & from within our neighbourhoods they will terrorise & murder our citizens including women & children in their attempt to destroy the very fabric & order of our civilised society. They are influenced by our ignorance, our lack of knowledge is their power, martyrdom in the name of their God and prophet is their aspiration & so it is critical that we waste no time & learn more about them & this ideology they follow before we can even begin to eradicate this chilling & growing endemic Islamic faith based terrorism’.
Cal Sarwar
The problem for US officials is the same problem that filters through all the other sections of our societies. It goes something like this. Since we know – thanks to Salman Rushdie, who was forced into hiding for his life because of his novel about Islam, The Satanic Verses, Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film-maker who was murdered after making a critical film about Islam, and others – that there is a potentially high price to pay for criticising Islam, what reaction are we able to make in response to the religion? If we cannot criticise it at all, ever, for fear of being ‘phobic’ at best and beheaded at worst, we have to find some other attitude towards it.
Douglas Murray (Islamophilia)
For Dawkins, atheism is a necessary consequence of evolution. He has argued that the religious impulse is simply an evolutionary mistake, a ‘misfiring of something useful’, it is a kind if virus, parasitic on cognitive systems naturally selected because they had enabled a species to survive. Dawkins is an extreme exponent of the scientific naturalism, originally formulated by d’Holbach, that has now become a major worldview among intellectuals. More moderate versions of this “scientism” have been articulated by Carl Sagan, Steven Weinberg, and Daniel Dennett, who have all claimed that one has to choose between science and faith. For Dennett, theology has been rendered superfluous, because biology can provide a better explanation of why people are religious. But for Dawkins, like the other “new atheists” – Sam Harris, the young American philosopher and student of neuroscience, and Christopher Hitchens, critic and journalist – religion is the cause of the problems of our world; it is the source of absolute evil and “poisons everything.” They see themselves in the vanguard of a scientific/rational movement that will eventually expunge the idea of God from human consciousness. But other atheists and scientists are wary of this approach. The American zoologist Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) followed Monod in his discussion of the implications of evolution. Everything in the natural world could indeed be explained by natural selection, but Gould insisted that science was not competent to decide whether God did or did not exist, because it could only work with natural explanations. Gould had no religious axe to grind; he described himself as an atheistically inclined agnostic, but pointed out that Darwin himself had denied he was an atheist and that other eminent Darwinians - Asa Gray, Charles D. Walcott, G. G. Simpson, and Theodosius Dobzhansky - had been either practicing Christians or agnostics. Atheism did not, therefore, seem to be a necessary consequence of accepting evolutionary theory, and Darwinians who held forth dogmatically on the subject were stepping beyond the limitations that were proper to science.
Karen Armstrong
People who use their religion as a framework to kill people, simply , are not nice people. Yes, that's quite a stand I'm making, but the idea that people are systematically executed because they don't share your God is beyond barbaric. The fact that there are people in our own country who seem to tolerate that, while being intolerant of a Christian's biblical stance regarding gay marriage, makes me want to go to leave the United States and go to a more sensible place, like Texas. There are more things I refuse to tolerate (pretentious music criticism, clove cigarettes, slow-moving ceiling fans, restaurant hostesses who pretend they own the joint, people who walk and text on a crowded sidewalk, Hostess Snowballs, people who drop subzero in their conversation when they aren't talking about the Arctic winds, people who bring their own bedroom pillows onto flights, pharmacists who yell out your prescription in front of other customers, Time Warner Cable, Sting's chest hair) but I'll get into that later.... I may not do that...though, because I refuse to tolerate lists. They're lazy. And listy.
Greg Gutfeld (The Joy of Hate: How to Triumph over Whiners in the Age of Phony Outrage)
Sometimes critics decry spirituality as individualism, but they miss the point. Spirituality is personal, yes. To experience God’s spirit, to be lost in wonder, is something profound that we can all know directly and inwardly. That is not a problem. The real problem is that, in the last two centuries, religion has actually allowed itself to become privatized. In the same way that our political and economic concerns contracted from “we” to “me,” so has our sense of God and faith. In many quarters, religion abandoned a prophetic and creative vision for humanity’s common life in favor of an individual quest to get one’s sorry ass to heaven. And, in the process, community became isolated behind the walls of buildings where worship experiences corresponded to members’ tastes and preferences and confirmed their political views.
Diana Butler Bass (Grounded: Finding God in the World-A Spiritual Revolution)
White Evangelicals neither obscure nor ignore their religious convictions when they declare their allegiance to the 45th president. In fact, their actions indicate a preeminent concern with upholding orthodoxy. In the case of President Trump, observers should focus on discerning the orthodoxy of an actor who is perceived as religiously legitimate primarily because he engages in actions in support of religiously defined group interests rather than as a result of statements of belief or piety of behavior. While fear, nostalgia, racial resentment, and white nationalism have all been analytical pieces of the Trump support puzzle scholars have been weaving together since November 2016, a critical aspect of Trump support is to assert, rather than deny, that he is indeed unexpectedly religiously orthodox in the conduct of his presidency
Gerardo Marti (American Blindspot: Race, Class, Religion, and the Trump Presidency)
Where did secular liberalism go wrong? It has been undone by its own ideas. The first idea is that matters of conscience — religion, ethics, and values — are private matters. The privatizing of conscience started with two important principles: religion should be separated from the state and people should not be forced to believe one way or the other. But it went further to say that belief has no place in the public sphere. Conscience belongs in homes and houses of worship, not in the marketplace. By making conscience private, secular liberals had hoped to prevent believers from introducing sectarian beliefs into politics. But of course they couldn’t, since freedom of belief means believers are free to speak their minds in public. Instead, secularism imposed a gag order on itself. Because “private” is equated with “personal” and “subjective,” questions of conscience were placed out of bounds of serious critical evaluation. … … The mistake lies in thinking that because conscience is free from coercion, it must be free from criticism, reason, truth, or independent, objective standards of right and wrong. The indispensable principle of freedom of belief has mutated into an unthinking assumption that matters of belief are immune to critical public inquiry and shared evaluative norms.
Austin Dacey
It is not enough for a population or a section of the population to have Christian faith and be docile to the ministers of religion in order to be in a position properly to judge political matters. If this population has no political experience, no taste for seeing clearly for itself nor a tradition of initiative and critical judgment, its position with respect to politics grows more complicated, for nothing is easier for political counterfeiters than to exploit good principles for purposes of deception, and nothing is more disastrous than good principles badly applied. And moreover nothing is easier for human weakness than to merge religion with prejudices of race, family or class, collective hatreds, passions of a clan and political phantoms which compensate for the rigors of individual discipline in a pious but insufficiently purified soul. Politics deal with matters and interests of the world and they depend upon passions natural to man and upon reason. But the point I wish to make here is that without goodness, love and charity, all that is best in us—even divine faith, but passions and reason much more so—turns in our hands to an unhappy use. The point is that right political experience cannot develop in people unless passions and reason are oriented by a solid basis of collective virtues, by faith and honor and thirst for justice. The point is that, without the evangelical instinct and the spiritual potential of a living Christianity, political judgment and political experience are ill protected against the illusions of selfishness and fear; without courage, compassion for mankind and the spirit of sacrifice, the ever-thwarted advance toward an historical ideal of generosity and fraternity is not conceivable.
Jacques Maritain (Christianity And Democracy)
The controversy over resurrection, then, proved critical in shaping the Christian movement into an institutional religion. All Christians agreed in principle that only Christ himself—or God—can be the ultimate source of spiritual authority. But the immediate question, of course, was the practical one: Who, in the present, administers that authority? Valentinus and his followers answered: Whoever comes into direct, personal contact with the “living One.” They argued that only one’s own experience offers the ultimate criterion of truth, taking precedence over all secondhand testimony and all tradition—even gnostic tradition! They celebrated every form of creative invention as evidence that a person has become spiritually alive. On this theory, the structure of authority can never be fixed into an institutional framework: it must remain spontaneous, charismatic, and open.
The Gnostic Gospels
People who create successful strategic relationships demonstrate 10 essential character traits:    1. Authentic. They are genuine, honest, and transparent. They are cognizant of (and willing to admit to) their strengths and weaknesses.    2. Trustworthy. They build relationships on mutual trust. They have a good reputation based on real results. They have integrity: their word is their bond. People must know, like, and trust you before sharing their valuable social capital.    3. Respectful. They are appreciative of the time and efforts of others. They treat subordinates with the same level of respect as they do supervisors.    4. Caring. They like to help others succeed. They’re a source of mutual support and encouragement. They pay attention to the feelings of others and have good hearts.    5. Listening. They ask good questions, and they are eager to learn about others—what’s important to them, what they’re working on, what they’re looking for, and what they need—so they can be of help.    6. Engaged. They are active participants in life. They are interesting and passionate about what they do. They are solution minded, and they have great “gut” instincts.    7. Patient. They recognize that relationships need to be cultivated over time. They invest time in maintaining their relationships with others.    8. Intelligent. They are intelligent in the help they offer. They pass along opportunities at every chance possible, and they make thoughtful, useful introductions. They’re not ego driven. They don’t criticize others or burn bridges in relationships.    9. Sociable. They are nice, likeable, and helpful. They enjoy being with people, and they are happy to connect with others from all walks of life, social strata, political persuasions, religions, and diverse backgrounds. They are sources of positive energy.   10. Connected. They are part of their own network of excellent strategic relationships.
Judy Robinett (How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits)
According to the gospels, Christ healed diseases, cast out devils, rebuked the sea, cured the blind, fed multitudes with five loaves and two fishes, walked on the sea, cursed a fig tree, turned water into wine and raised the dead. How is it possible to substantiate these miracles? The Jews, among whom they were said to have been performed, did not believe them. The diseased, the palsied, the leprous, the blind who were cured, did not become followers of Christ. Those that were raised from the dead were never heard of again. Can we believe that Christ raised the dead? A widow living in Nain is following the body of her son to the tomb. Christ halts the funeral procession and raises the young man from the dead and gives him back to the arms of his mother. This young man disappears. He is never heard of again. No one takes the slightest interest in the man who returned from the realm of death. Luke is the only one who tells the story. Maybe Matthew, Mark and John never heard of it, or did not believe it and so failed to record it. John says that Lazarus was raised from the dead. It was more wonderful than the raising of the widow’s son. He had not been laid in the tomb for days. He was only on his way to the grave, but Lazarus was actually dead. He had begun to decay. Lazarus did not excite the least interest. No one asked him about the other world. No one inquired of him about their dead friends. When he died the second time no one said: “He is not afraid. He has traveled that road twice and knows just where he is going.” We do not believe in the miracles of Mohammed, and yet they are as well attested as this. We have no confidence in the miracles performed by Joseph Smith, and yet the evidence is far greater, far better. If a man should go about now pretending to raise the dead, pretending to cast out devils, we would regard him as insane. What, then, can we say of Christ? If we wish to save his reputation we are compelled to say that he never pretended to raise the dead; that he never claimed to have cast out devils. We must take the ground that these ignorant and impossible things were invented by zealous disciples, who sought to deify their leader. In those ignorant days these falsehoods added to the fame of Christ. But now they put his character in peril and belittle the authors of the gospels. Christianity cannot live in peace with any other form of faith. If that religion be true, there is but one savior, one inspired book, and but one little narrow grass-grown path that leads to heaven. Why did he not again enter the temple and end the old dispute with demonstration? Why did he not confront the Roman soldiers who had taken money to falsely swear that his body had been stolen by his friends? Why did he not make another triumphal entry into Jerusalem? Why did he not say to the multitude: “Here are the wounds in my feet, and in my hands, and in my side. I am the one you endeavored to kill, but death is my slave”? Simply because the resurrection is a myth. The miracle of the resurrection I do not and cannot believe. We know nothing certainly of Jesus Christ. We know nothing of his infancy, nothing of his youth, and we are not sure that such a person ever existed. There was in all probability such a man as Jesus Christ. He may have lived in Jerusalem. He may have been crucified; but that he was the Son of God, or that he was raised from the dead, and ascended bodily to heaven, has never been, and, in the nature of things, can never be, substantiated.
Robert G. Ingersoll
As for law and religion, which also have preached this principle, they have simply filched it to cloak their own wares, their injunctions for the benefit of the conqueror, the exploiter, the priest. Without this principle of solidarity, the justice of which is so generally recognized, how could they have laid hold on men's minds? Each of them covered themselves with it as with a garment; like authority which made good its position by posing as the protector of the weak against the strong. By flinging overboard law, religion and authority, mankind can regain possession of the moral principle which has been taken from them. Regain that they may criticize it, and purge it from the adulterations wherewith priest, judge and ruler have poisoned it and are poisoning it yet. Besides this principle of treating others as one wishes to be treated oneself, what is it but the very same principle as equality, the fundamental principle of anarchism? And how can any one manage to believe himself an anarchist unless he practices it? We do not wish to be ruled. And by this very fact, do we not declare that we ourselves wish to rule nobody? We do not wish to be deceived, we wish always to be told nothing but the truth. And by this very fact, do we not de- clare that we ourselves do not wish to deceive anybody, that we promise to always tell the truth, nothing but the truth, the whole truth? We do not wish to have the fruits of our labor stolen from us. And by that very fact, do we not declare that we respect the fruits of others' labor?
Pyotr Kropotkin (Anarchist Morality)
The Men, who have taken care to engross the affairs of Religion, as well as others, to their own management, are no more guided in that than in any thing else by the dictates of reason. The religion they were bred up in, they blindly prefer to all others, without being able to give any stronger proof of it's being the best, than that it was the Faith of their fore-fathers. Upon the strength of this prejudice, they adhere to it as the only true one, and without ever examining into it, or comparing it with others; they condemn all beside it as erroneous. Is not this the case with most of the Men, our clergy not excepted? No country pleases a man so well as his own; nay, so far is he apt to carry prejudice, that he can seldom be induced to do justice to any other nation, even where truth is on it's side, if the honour and interest of his own is at stake: And this is a foible the very best Men are equally subject to. Nay, such is the imbecility of that sex, as well as ours, that even professions are a matter of prejudice.
Sophia Fermor (Woman Not Inferior to Man)
[I]n addition to being a Spirit person, healer, and wisdom teacher, Jesus was a social prophet. There was passion in his language. Many of his sayings (as well as actions) challenged the domination system of his day. They take on pointed meaning when we see them in the context of social criticism of a peasant society. His criticisms of the wealthy were an indictment of the social class at the top of the domination system. His prophetic threats against Jerusalem and the temple were not because they were the center of an “old religion” (Judaism) soon to be replaced by a new religion (Christianity) but because they were the center of the domination system. His criticism of lawyers, scribes, and Pharisees was not because they were unvirtuous individuals but because commitment to the elites led them to see the social order through elite lenses. Jesus rejected the sharp social boundaries of the established social order and challenged the institutions that legitimated it. In his teaching, he subverted distinctions between righteous and sinner, rich and poor, men and women, Pharisee and outcasts. In his healings and behavior, he crossed social boundaries of purity, gender, and class. In his meal practice, central to what he was about, he embodied a boundary-subverting inclusiveness. In his itinerancy he rejected the notion of a brokered kingdom of God and enacted the immediacy of access to God apart from institutional mediation. His prophetic act against the money changers in the temple at the center of the domination system was, in the judgment of most scholars, the trigger leading to his arrest and execution.
Marcus J. Borg (The God We Never Knew: Beyond Dogmatic Religion to a More Authentic Contemporary Faith)
Yet the contents and structures of the unconscious are the result of immemorial existential situations, especially of critical situations, and this is why the unconscious has a religious aura. For every existential crisis once again puts in question both the reality of the world and man's presence in the world. This means that the existential crisis is, finally, "religious," since on the archaic levels of culture *being* and *the sacred* are one. As we saw, it is the experience of the sacred that founds the world, and even the most elementary religion is, above all, an ontology. In other words, in so far as the unconscious is the result of countless existential experiences, it cannot but resemble the various religious universes. For religion is the paradigmatic solution for every existential crisis. It is the paradigmatic solution notb only because it can be indefinately repeated, but also because it is believed to have a transcendental origin and hence is valorised as a revelation received from an *other*, transhuman world. The religious solution not only resolves the crisis but at the same time makes existence "open" to values that are no longer contingent or particular, thus enabling man to transcend personal situations and, finally, gain access to the world of spirit. This is not the place to develop all the consequences of this close relation between the content and structures of the unconscious on the one hand and the values of religion on the other. We were led to refer to it in order to show in what sense even the most avowedly nonreligious man still, in his deeper being, shares a religiously oriented behavior. But modern man's "private mythologies" -his dreams, reveries, fantasies, and so on- never rise to the ontological status of myths, precisely because they are not experienced by the *whole man* and therefore do not transform a particular situation into a situation that is paradigmatic. In the same way, modern man's anxieties, his experiences in dream or imagination, although "religious" from the point of view of form, do not, as in *homo religiosus*, make part of a *Weltanschauung* and provide the basis for a system of behaviour. -Mircea Eliade, The Sacred And The Profane:The Nature of Religion
Mircea Eliade
Neither are the humanistic scholars and artists of any great help these days. They used to be, and were supposed to be, as a group, carriers of and teachers of the eternal verities and the higher life. The goal of humanistic studies was defined as the perception and knowledge of the good, the beautiful, and the true. Such studies were expected to refine the discrimination between what is excellent and what is not (excellence generally being understood to be the true, the good, and the beautiful). They were supposed to inspire the student to the better life, to the higher life, to goodness and virtue. What was truly valuable, Matthew Arnold said, was 'the acquainting ourselves with the best that has been known and said in the world.' [...] No, it is quite clear from our experience of the last fifty years or so that the pre-1914 certainties of the humanists, of the artists, of the dramatists and poets, of the philosophers, of the critics, and of those who are generally inner-directed have given way to a chaos of relativism. No one of these people now knows how and what to choose, nor does he know how to defend and validate his choice.
Abraham H. Maslow (Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences)
The intellectual context in which Eliot began work on the "long poem" that was to become The Waste Land has much to tell us about formal aspects of his poem. Certainly it reveals something of the problem any artist would have had in finding a perspective on the twentieth century. Emphasis on context, however, should not be taken as an assertion of specific influence. It should not be assumed that Eliot was consciously trying to adjust his presentation of reality to conform with the presentations in science or in the visual arts or even that he was greatly influenced by any specific scientific theory or any aesthetic manifesto. Without a doubt, he was aware of what was happening in science, in philosophy, and in the other arts. And without a doubt, he created structures in art which show his sensitivity to his age and which are formally analogous to structures created by other artists. He arrived, however, not by following anyone but by trying to find his own way. He spent most of the decade before writing The Waste Land as a close student of philosophy, comparative religion, and Buddhism, and his understanding of these subjects is part of the basic context of his art.
Jewel Spears Brooker (Reading the Waste Land: Modernism and the Limits of Interpretation)
A scientist must put faith in the experimental data reported by other scientists, and in the institutions that sponsored those scientists, and in the standards by which those scientists received their credentials. A scientist must put faith in the authority of the journals that publish the results of various studies. Finally, but perhaps most fundamentally, a scientist must trust that empirical reality is indeed perceptible and measurable, and that the laws of cause and effect will apply universally. No scientific endeavor can proceed if the experimenter subjects every phenomenon to radical doubt, disqualifying his own observations as well as those of his peers. Polanyi concluded that science proceeds from a trust that is “fiduciary”—a word that derives from the Latin root meaning “faith-based.” Such faith is well placed and well founded, and it enables science to proceed apace; but, nonetheless, it is a species of faith, not an absolutely certain knowledge. “We must now recognize belief once more as the source of all knowledge,…” Polanyi said. “No intelligence, however critical or original, can operate outside such a fiduciary framework.” Secularism’s attempts to replace the authority of religion with a supposed “authority of experience and reason” has proven, in Polanyi’s words, “farcically inadequate
Scott Hahn (Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith)
Literature before the Renaissance had frequently offered ideal patterns for living which were dominated by the ethos of the church, but after the Reformation the search for individual expression and meaning took over. Institutions were questioned and re-evaluated, often while being praised at the same time. But where there had been conventional modes of expression, reflecting ideal modes of behaviour - religious, heroic, or social - Renaissance writing explored the geography of the human soul, redefining its relationship with authority, history, science, and the future. This involved experimentation with form and genre, and an enormous variety of linguistic and literary innovations in a short period of time. Reason, rather than religion, was the driving force in this search for rules to govern human behaviour in the Renaissance world. The power and mystique of religion had been overthrown in one bold stroke: where the marvellous no longer holds sway, real life has to provide explanations. Man, and the use he makes of his powers, capabilities, and free will, is thus the subject matter of Renaissance literature, from the early sonnets modelled on Petrarch to the English epic which closes the period, Paradise Lost, published after the Restoration, when the Renaissance had long finished. The Reformation gave cultural, philosophical, and ideological impetus to English Renaissance writing. The writers in the century following the Reformation had to explore and redefine all the concerns of humanity. In a world where old assumptions were no longer valid, where scientific discoveries questioned age-old hypotheses, and where man rather than God was the central interest, it was the writers who reflected and attempted to respond to the disintegration of former certainties. For it is when the universe is out of control that it is at its most frightening - and its most stimulating. There would never again be such an atmosphere of creative tension in the country. What was created was a language, a literature, and a national and international identity.
Ronald Carter (The Routledge History of Literature in English: Britain and Ireland)
As a science fiction writer who began as a fan, I do not use my fiction as a disguised way to criticize the reality of the present. I feel that the greatest appeal of science fiction is the creation of numerous imaginary worlds outside of reality. I’ve always felt that the greatest and most beautiful stories in the history of humanity were not sung by wandering bards or written by playwrights and novelists, but told by science. The stories of science are far more magnificent, grand, involved, profound, thrilling, strange, terrifying, mysterious, and even emotional, compared to the stories told by literature. Only, these wonderful stories are locked in cold equations that most do not know how to read. The creation myths of the various peoples and religions of the world pale when compared to the glory of the big bang. The three-billion-year history of life’s evolution from self-reproducing molecules to civilization contains twists and romances that cannot be matched by any myth or epic. There is also the poetic vision of space and time in relativity, the weird subatomic world of quantum mechanics … these wondrous stories of science all possess an irresistible attraction. Through the medium of science fiction, I seek only to create my own worlds using the power of imagination, and to make known the poetry of Nature in those worlds, to tell the romantic legends that have unfolded between Man and Universe.
Liu Cixin (The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1))
Some of the middlemen who claim to be closer to God than all the rest of humanity realise that they can outwit their followers by making them believe that the more you serve them, the more you are pleasing God. Needless to say, many folks throughout history bought this codswallop. For those followers, having an authority figure like a middleman, teacher, cleric, or guru becomes their only way to add spiritual significance into their lives and to feel whole. As a result, they throw away that responsibility by counting on another entity outside of themselves. Depending on such hand-holding renders them mentally, emotionally, even spiritually immature — losing their freedom and critical thinking in the process while never achieving wholeness. On the other hand, propelled by the exhausted rules, dogmas, and hierarchy they embody, when “the false prophets in sheep's clothing” notice the submission of such followers they often begin taking advantage of it. Now bow down and kiss my feet to reach Nirvana! Wash them first. But as Allan Watts seamlessly put it: “Anybody who tells you that he has some way of leading you to spiritual enlightenment is like somebody who picks your pocket and sells you your own watch. Of course if you didn’t know you had a watch, that might be the only way of getting you to realise.” This all echoes with even more striking words by Bob Dylan: You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Simply Know Thyself; the rest shall follow.
Omar Cherif
You’ve said, “You can lie or distort the story of the French Revolution as long as you like and nothing will happen. Propose a false theory in chemistry and it will be refuted tomorrow.” How does your approach to the world as a scientist affect and influence the way you approach politics? Nature is tough. You can’t fiddle with Mother Nature, she’s a hard taskmistress. So you’re forced to be honest in the natural sciences. In the soft fields, you’re not forced to be honest. There are standards, of course; on the other hand, they’re very weak. If what you propose is ideologically acceptable, that is, supportive of power systems, you can get away with a huge amount. In fact, the difference between the conditions that are imposed on dissident opinion and on mainstream opinion is radically different. For example, I’ve written about terrorism, and I think you can show without much difficulty that terrorism pretty much corresponds to power. I don’t think that’s very surprising. The more powerful states are involved in more terrorism, by and large. The United States is the most powerful, so it’s involved in massive terrorism, by its own definition of terrorism. Well, if I want to establish that, I’m required to give a huge amount of evidence. I think that’s a good thing. I don’t object to that. I think anyone who makes that claim should be held to very high standards. So, I do extensive documentation, from the internal secret records and historical record and so on. And if you ever find a comma misplaced, somebody ought to criticize you for it. So I think those standards are fine. All right, now, let’s suppose that you play the mainstream game. You can say anything you want because you support power, and nobody expects you to justify anything. For example, in the unimaginable circumstance that I was on, say, Nightline, and I was asked, “Do you think Kadhafi is a terrorist?” I could say, “Yeah, Kadhafi is a terrorist.” I don’t need any evidence. Suppose I said, “George Bush is a terrorist.” Well, then I would be expected to provide evidence—“Why would you say that?” In fact, the structure of the news production system is, you can’t produce evidence. There’s even a name for it—I learned it from the producer of Nightline, Jeff Greenfield. It’s called “concision.” He was asked in an interview somewhere why they didn’t have me on Nightline. First of all, he says, “Well, he talks Turkish, and nobody understands it.” But the other answer was, “He lacks concision.” Which is correct, I agree with him. The kinds of things that I would say on Nightline, you can’t say in one sentence because they depart from standard religion. If you want to repeat the religion, you can get away with it between two commercials. If you want to say something that questions the religion, you’re expected to give evidence, and that you can’t do between two commercials. So therefore you lack concision, so therefore you can’t talk. I think that’s a terrific technique of propaganda. To impose concision is a way of virtually guaranteeing that the party line gets repeated over and over again, and that nothing else is heard.
Noam Chomsky (On Anarchism)
Dryden was a highly prolific literary figure, a professional writer who was at the centre of all the greatest debates of his time: the end of the Commonwealth, the return of the monarch, the political and religious upheavals of the 1680s, and the specifically literary questions of neoclassicism opposed to more modern trends. He was Poet Laureate from 1668, but lost this position in 1688 on the overthrow of James II. Dryden had become Catholic in 1685, and his allegorical poem The Hind and the Panther (1687) discusses the complex issues of religion and politics in an attempt to reconcile bitterly opposed factions. This contains a well-known line which anticipates Wordsworth more than a century later: 'By education most have been misled … / And thus the child imposes on the man'. The poem shows an awareness of change as one grows older, and the impossibility of holding one view for a lifetime: My thoughtless youth was winged with vain desires, My manhood, long misled by wandering fires, Followed false lights… After 1688, Dryden returned to the theatre, which had given him many of his early successes in tragedy, tragi-comedy, and comedy, as well as with adaptations of Shakespeare. ...... Dryden was an innovator, leading the move from heroic couplets to blank verse in drama, and at the centre of the intellectual debates of the Augustan age. He experimented with verse forms throughout his writing life until Fables Ancient and Modern (1700), which brings together critical, translated, and original works, in a fitting conclusion to a varied career.
Ronald Carter (The Routledge History of Literature in English: Britain and Ireland)
Now everyone knows that to try to say something in the mainstream Western media that is critical of U.S. policy or Israel is extremely difficult; conversely, to say things that are hostile to the Arabs as a people and culture, or Islam as a religion, is laughably easy. For in effect there is a cultural war between spokespersons for the West and those of the Muslim and Arab world. In so inflamed a situation, the hardest thing to do as an intellectual is to be critical, to refuse to adopt a rhetorical style that is the verbal equivalent of carpet-bombing, and to focus instead on those issues like U.S. support for unpopular client re­gimes, which for a person writing in the U.S. are somewhat more likely to be affected by critical discussion. Of course, on the other hand, there is a virtual cer­tainty of getting an audience if as an Arab intellectual you passionately, even slavishly support U.S. policy, you attack its critics, and if they happen to be Arabs, you invent evi­dence to show their villainy; if they are American you confect stories and situations that prove their duplicity; you spin out stories concerning Arabs and Muslims that have the effect of defaming their tradition, defacing their history, accentuating their weaknesses, of which of course there are plenty. Above all, you attack the officially ap­ proved enemies-Saddam Hussein, Baathism, Arab na­tionalism, the Palestinian movement, Arab views of Israel. And of course this earns you the expected accolades: you are characterized as courageous, you are outspoken and passionate, and on and on. The new god of course is the West. Arabs, you say, should try to be more like the West, should regard the West as a source and a reference point. · Gone is the history of what the West actually did. Gone are the Gulf War's destructive results. We Arabs and Mus­lims are the sick ones, our problems are our own, totally self-inflicted. A number of things stand out about these kinds of performance. In the first place, there is no universalism here at all. Because you serve a god uncritically, all the devils are always on the other side: this was as true when you were a Trotskyist as it i's now when you are a recanting former Trotskyist. You do not think of politics in terms of interrelationships or of common histories such as, for instance, the long and complicated dynamic that has bound the Arabs and Muslims to the West and vice versa. Real intellectual analysis forbids calling one side innocent, the other evil. Indeed the notion of a side is, where cultures are at issue, highly problematic, since most cultures aren't watertight little packages, all homogenous, and all either good or evil. But if your eye is on your patron, you cannot think as an intellectual, but only as a disciple or acolyte. In the back of your mind there is the thought that you must please and not displease.
Edward W. Said (Representations of the Intellectual)
Women of the world, our time has come! Our leaders have taken us down a road of destruction. Aggressive, masculine reflexes have created more violence and rage, have left us with little hope for remedy in the Middle East or anywhere else. Our hope of survival lies in honoring the feminine, that which a patriarchal society has tried vehemently to squelch. Their legacy has left us living in a deluded universe, a world that worships a fixed and righteous view. In order to feel secure, we only welcome change that men in power determine for us. Our patriarchal religions are prime examples of this, creating a one-sided world gone from static, brittle believes. Let us remember that patriarchy is founded on division not unity. We concentrate on the differences instead of giving importance to the similarities. There is good and bad, there is black and white. We are constantly in a state of opposites. Where does unity come into the picture? It is no wonder women have been seen as evil, an abhorrent influence that must be destroyed. Intuition, psychic energy, spiritual force, the unknown, creation itself…merely feminine mockeries of sanity—or so it has been claimed by religious men in power. Women have died at the stake for challenging such beliefs, and to this day dogmatic religious views have persisted in undermining the feminine. Therefore it is up to us to develop a balance between the feminine and the masculine. That’s the formula for a stable democracy. Wisdom and compassion working together will swing the pendulum away from aggression and fear toward peace and conciliation. I’ll venture to say it’s already begun. We have reached a critical mass. Now the energy of woman is being powerfully unleashed. Negative powers have reached levels where enough of us are reacting against them to instigate change. The critical mass that we have reached cannot be turned back, and the force of it will literally shift the energy of our planet, creating a new paradigm.
Perri Birney (Pure Vision: The Magdalene Revelation)
In under two weeks, and with no budget, thousands of college students protested the movie on their campuses nationwide, angry citizens vandalized our billboards in multiple neighborhoods, FoxNews.com ran a front-page story about the backlash, Page Six of the New York Post made their first of many mentions of Tucker, and the Chicago Transit Authority banned and stripped the movie’s advertisements from their buses. To cap it all off, two different editorials railing against the film ran in the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune the week it was released. The outrage about Tucker was great enough that a few years later, it was written into the popular television show Portlandia on IFC. I guess it is safe to admit now that the entire firestorm was, essentially, fake. I designed the advertisements, which I bought and placed around the country, and then promptly called and left anonymous complaints about them (and leaked copies of my complaints to blogs for support). I alerted college LGBT and women’s rights groups to screenings in their area and baited them to protest our offensive movie at the theater, knowing that the nightly news would cover it. I started a boycott group on Facebook. I orchestrated fake tweets and posted fake comments to articles online. I even won a contest for being the first one to send in a picture of a defaced ad in Chicago (thanks for the free T-shirt, Chicago RedEye. Oh, also, that photo was from New York). I manufactured preposterous stories about Tucker’s behavior on and off the movie set and reported them to gossip websites, which gleefully repeated them. I paid for anti-woman ads on feminist websites and anti-religion ads on Christian websites, knowing each would write about it. Sometimes I just Photoshopped ads onto screenshots of websites and got coverage for controversial ads that never actually ran. The loop became final when, for the first time in history, I put out a press release to answer my own manufactured criticism: TUCKER MAX RESPONDS TO CTA DECISION: “BLOW ME,” the headline read.
Ryan Holiday (Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator)
Much of the so-called environmental movement today has transmuted into an aggressively nefarious and primitive faction. In the last fifteen years, many of the tenets of utopian statism have coalesced around something called the “degrowth” movement. Originating in Europe but now taking a firm hold in the United States, the “degrowthers,” as I shall characterize them, include in their ranks none other than President Barack Obama. On January 17, 2008, Obama made clear his hostility toward, of all things, electricity generated from coal and coal-powered plants. He told the San Francisco Chronicle, “You know, when I was asked earlier about the issue of coal . . . under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. . . .”3 Obama added, “. . . So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all the greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”4 Degrowthers define their agenda as follows: “Sustainable degrowth is a downscaling of production and consumption that increases human well-being and enhances ecological conditions and equity on the planet. It calls for a future where societies live within their ecological means, with open localized economies and resources more equally distributed through new forms of democratic institutions.”5 It “is an essential economic strategy to pursue in overdeveloped countries like the United States—for the well-being of the planet, of underdeveloped populations, and yes, even of the sick, stressed, and overweight ‘consumer’ populations of overdeveloped countries.”6 For its proponents and adherents, degrowth has quickly developed into a pseudo-religion and public-policy obsession. In fact, the degrowthers insist their ideology reaches far beyond the environment or even its odium for capitalism and is an all-encompassing lifestyle and governing philosophy. Some of its leading advocates argue that “Degrowth is not just an economic concept. We shall show that it is a frame constituted by a large array of concerns, goals, strategies and actions. As a result, degrowth has now become a confluence point where streams of critical ideas and political action converge.”7 Degrowth is “an interpretative frame for a social movement, understood as the mechanism through which actors engage in a collective action.”8 The degrowthers seek to eliminate carbon sources of energy and redistribute wealth according to terms they consider equitable. They reject the traditional economic reality that acknowledges growth as improving living conditions generally but especially for the impoverished. They embrace the notions of “less competition, large scale redistribution, sharing and reduction of excessive incomes and wealth.”9 Degrowthers want to engage in polices that will set “a maximum income, or maximum wealth, to weaken envy as a motor of consumerism, and opening borders (“no-border”) to reduce means to keep inequality between rich and poor countries.”10 And they demand reparations by supporting a “concept of ecological debt, or the demand that the Global North pays for past and present colonial exploitation in the Global South.”11
Mark R. Levin (Plunder and Deceit: Big Government's Exploitation of Young People and the Future)
Knowledge of revelation cannot interfere with ordinary knowledge. Likewise, ordinary knowledge cannot interfere with knowledge of revelation. There is no scientific theory which is more favorable to the truth of revelation than any other theory. It is disastrous for theology if theologians prefer one scientific view to others on theological grounds. And it was humiliating for theology when theologians were afraid of new theories for religious reasons, trying to resist them as long as possible, and finally giving in when resistance had become impossible. This ill-conceived resistance of theologians from the time of Galileo to the time of Darwin was one of the causes of the split between religion and secular culture in the past centuries. The same situation prevails with regard to historical research. Theologians need not be afraid of any historical conjecture, for revealed truth lies in a dimension where it can neither be confirmed nor negated by historiography. Therefore, theologians should not prefer some results of historical research to others on theological grounds, and they should not resist results which finally have to be accepted if scientific honesty is not to be destroyed, even if they seem to undermine the knowledge of revelation. Historical investigations should neither comfort nor worry theologians. Knowledge of revelation, although it is mediated primarily through historical events, does not imply factual assertions, and it is therefore not exposed to critical analysis by historical research. Its truth is to be judged by criteria which lie within the dimension of revelatory knowledge. Psychology, including depth psychology, psychosomatics, and social psychology, is equally unable to interfere with knowledge of revelation. There are many insights into the nature of man in revelation. But all of them refer to the relation of man to what concerns him ultimately, to the ground and meaning of his being. There is no revealed psychology just as there is no revealed historiography or revealed physics. It is not the task of theology to protect the truth of revelation by attacking Freudian doctrines of libido, repression, and sublimation on religious grounds or by defending a Jungian doctrine of man in the name of revelatory knowledge.
Paul Tillich (Systematic Theology, Vol 1)
The Golden Bough captured the imagination of many artists in the early twentieth century. Eliot, certainly, was immersed in it, discussing it familiarly in his graduate school papers and book reviews and constantly alluding to it in his art. The most straightforward advice he offers to readers of The Waste Land (given in the notes to the poem) is, in paraphrase, that any serious reader of the poem must take into consideration modern scholarship in myth and anthropology, especially Frazer Golden Bough and Jessie Weston From Ritual to Romance. The poet says that he is indebted to this scholarship for his title, his plan, his symbolism, and many of his references to ancient religion and society. His claim about the title, taken from the monomyth of Frazer and Weston, his claim about the symbolism, associated with the birth-death-rebirth cycles of the myths, and his claim about the miscellaneous undergirding references have been discussed by Grover Smith and other scholars. We wish to focus more on Eliot's claim about being indebted to Frazer for the plan of the poem. We believe it refers, at least in part, to Frazer's use of the comparative method and to his practice of assembling many perspectives and allowing these perspectives to make his point. It must be noted at once that Eliot was quite selective in his admiration of Frazer. For example, he did not admire Frazer's positivism. Frazer put his faith in science and celebrated what he called the evolution from magic to religion to science. Nor did Eliot share Frazer's conclusions. In his 1913 paper on the interpretation of primitive ritual, he says that Frazer's interpretations of specific myths (the myth of the dying god is his example) are almost certainly mistaken. But Eliot did admire Frazer's erudition and his increasingly nontheoretical presentation of many angles of vision which in themselves tend to generate an overarching abstract primitive vision. In 1924, on the occasion of the publication of a condensed edition of The Golden Bough, Eliot wrote a review in which he lauded Frazer for having "extended the consciousness of the human mind into as dark a backward and abysm of time as has yet been explored." Eliot argues that Frazer's importance for artists is in his exemplary withdrawal from speculation, his adoption of the absence of interpretation as a positive modus operandi.
Jewel Spears Brooker (Reading the Waste Land: Modernism and the Limits of Interpretation)
More specifically, this book will try to establish the following points. First, there are not two great liberal social and political systems but three. One is democracy—political liberalism—by which we decide who is entitled to use force; another is capitalism—economic liberalism—by which we decide how to allocate resources. The third is liberal science, by which we decide who is right. Second, the third system has been astoundingly successful, not merely as a producer of technology but also, far more important, as a peacemaker and builder of social bridges. Its great advantages as a social system for raising and settling differences of opinion are inherent, not incidental. However, its disadvantages—it causes pain and suffering, it creates legions of losers and outsiders, it is disorienting and unsettling, it allows and even thrives on prejudice and bias—are also inherent. And today it is once again under attack. Third, the attackers seek to undermine the two social rules which make liberal science possible. (I’ll outline them in the next chapter and elaborate them in the rest of the book.) For the system to function, people must try to follow those rules even if they would prefer not to. Unfortunately, many people are forgetting them, ignoring them, or carving out exemptions. That trend must be fought, because, fourth, the alternatives to liberal science lead straight to authoritarianism. And intellectual authoritarianism, although once the province of the religious and the political right in America, is now flourishing among the secular and the political left. Fifth, behind the new authoritarian push are three idealistic impulses: Fundamentalists want to protect the truth. Egalitarians want to help the oppressed and let in the excluded. Humanitarians want to stop verbal violence and the pain it causes. The three impulses are now working in concert. Sixth, fundamentalism, properly understood, is not about religion. It is about the inability to seriously entertain the possibility that one might be wrong. In individuals such fundamentalism is natural and, within reason, desirable. But when it becomes the foundation for an intellectual system, it is inherently a threat to freedom of thought. Seventh, there is no way to advance knowledge peacefully and productively by adhering to the principles advocated by egalitarians and humanitarians. Their principles are poisonous to liberal science and ultimately to peace and freedom. Eighth, no social principle in the world is more foolish and dangerous than the rapidly rising notion that hurtful words and ideas are a form of violence or torture (e.g., “harassment”) and that their perpetrators should be treated accordingly. That notion leads to the criminalization of criticism and the empowerment of authorities to regulate it. The new sensitivity is the old authoritarianism in disguise, and it is just as noxious.
Jonathan Rauch (Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought)
It should be clear by now that whatever Americans say about diversity, it is not a strength. If it were a strength, Americans would practice it spontaneously. It would not require “diversity management” or anti-discrimination laws. Nor would it require constant reminders of how wonderful it is. It takes no exhortations for us to appreciate things that are truly desirable: indoor plumbing, vacations, modern medicine, friendship, or cheaper gasoline. [W]hen they are free to do so, most people avoid diversity. The scientific evidence suggests why: Human beings appear to have deeply-rooted tribal instincts. They seem to prefer to live in homogeneous communities rather than endure the tension and conflict that arise from differences. If the goal of building a diverse society conflicts with some aspect of our nature, it will be very difficult to achieve. As Horace wrote in the Epistles, “Though you drive Nature out with a pitchfork, she will ever find her way back.” Some intellectuals and bohemians profess to enjoy diversity, but they appear to be a minority. Why do we insist that diversity is a strength when it is not? In the 1950s and 1960s, when segregation was being dismantled, many people believed full integration would be achieved within a generation. At that time, there were few Hispanics or Asians but with a population of blacks and whites, the United States could be described as “diverse.” It seemed vastly more forward-looking to think of this as an advantage to be cultivated rather than a weakness to be endured. Our country also seemed to be embarking on a morally superior course. Human history is the history of warfare—between nations, tribes, and religions —and many Americans believed that reconciliation between blacks and whites would lead to a new era of inclusiveness for all peoples of the world. After the immigration reforms of 1965 opened the United States to large numbers of non- Europeans, our country became more diverse than anyone in the 1950s would have imagined. Diversity often led to conflict, but it would have been a repudiation of the civil rights movement to conclude that diversity was a weakness. Americans are proud of their country and do not like to think it may have made a serious mistake. As examples of ethnic and racial tension continued to accumulate, and as the civil rights vision of effortless integration faded, there were strong ideological and even patriotic reasons to downplay or deny what was happening, or at least to hope that exhortations to “celebrate diversity” would turn what was proving to be a problem into an advantage. To criticize diversity raises the intolerable possibility that the United States has been acting on mistaken assumptions for half a century. To talk glowingly about diversity therefore became a form of cheerleading for America. It even became common to say that diversity was our greatest strength—something that would have astonished any American from the colonial era through the 1950s. There is so much emotional capital invested in the civil-rights-era goals of racial equality and harmony that virtually any critique of its assumptions is intolerable. To point out the obvious— that diversity brings conflict—is to question sacred assumptions about the ultimate insignificance of race. Nations are at their most sensitive and irrational where they are weakest. It is precisely because it is so easy to point out the weaknesses of diversity that any attempt to do so must be countered, not by specifying diversity’s strengths—which no one can do—but with accusations of racism.
Jared Taylor (White Identity: Racial Consciousness in the 21st Century)