[Originally published Oct. 1, 2016.]
Thus, a world without religion would be a significantly improved world than the one in which we now inhabit.
Lord, these people make me embarrassed to be unchurched. The rest of the article is the usual collection of New Atheist tropes that will likely be enshrined in the Constitution of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s utopian nation of Rationalia, and you almost have to admire the unblemished, uh, faith in the salvific potential of evangelical atheism, given the prominent and entirely predictable implosion of one of its most prominent online hubs. Bertrand Russell, favorably quoted, as always, in the article regarding the intrinsic obstacle religion presents to moral progress, could have warned them about the danger of trusting pure logic to trump animal nature — in fact, in his autobiography, he did. Reflecting on the messy damage caused by his progressive experiments with free love, he admitted that, “Anyone else could have told me this in advance, but I was blinded by theory.”
All that aside, I’m just impressed by the blithe confidence with which our hero asserts the above sentence. We’ve been here before, and the point still stands: for people who prattle on and on about the value of evidence and experiment, they seem remarkably indifferent to the fact that “a world without religion” is something that has quite literally never existed, making summary pronouncements on its shape and character quite literally meaningless. Faith-based, you might even say. “Religion” is not a mere integer to be easily subtracted, or a simple proposition to be assented to or denied, but rather a tangled knot of threads comprising everything from culture and history to personal identity and psychology. But presumably new developments in “enhancement technologies” will succeed where previous political attempts to rationally remake the world failed horribly. I’m afraid I’m incapable of making such a leap of faith.