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Thu 10 Jul 2008

"Though I was blind, now I see"

Category : Commentary/scales.txt

"Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up ..." and became an apostate.

Reading "god is not Great - How Religion Poisons Everthing" (as capitalised by its author, Christopher Hitchens), and being persuaded by his argument, is like experiencing the conversion of Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, only in reverse.

On the other hand, you may just want to burn the book, and the author with it. There are not many "faiths" left in the world that Christopher Hitchens has not insulted. But insult is in the eyes of the beholder. It depends on how you've come to pick up this book.

It helps if you've read Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" and have been persuaded enough to open up - to critical inquiry - all your years of ingrained beliefs.

So, if you're persuaded (note that I use "persuaded" three times - the point being that you're not forced to believe by diktat) that the evidence in favour of evolution (as to how we came to be) is incontrovertible, then Hitchens makes you come face-to-face with the implications of that switch in world-view - with no apologies whatsoever. Not while people are being burned, killed or otherwise dismembered somewhere in the world this very minute, in the name of religion of one stripe or the other.

So, there, I've laid clear my sympathies. Were we ever to go through our very own "Cultural Revolution" (or "Religio Inquisition"), the web being such that everything ever written can be searched, indexed, filed and noted for future action, I may have just signed my own death warrant. Would it be better then following Descartes' injunction, that "He who hid well, lived well"? But, can anyone show me a better way to stop the carnage than to let the scales fall from our eyes?

In Amy Chua's "World on Fire", you'd get rather more prosaic, and rather more believable, reasons for these same killings - or pogroms, fatwas, and ethnic cleansings. "Imagine there's no heaven" - do we believe in John Lennon now?

Posted at 1:31PM UTC | permalink


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