Sunday, September 16, 2007


And what was the Enlightenment’s proffered cure? It was to translate questions about religion into psychological and anthropological questions. The problem was changed from “What does God want from us?” to “Why is man constantly asking what it is that God wants from us?” The thinker most centrally responsible for this interrogative substitution was the 17th-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, and the answer he gives is: because man is a frightened ignoramus. Knowing enough to be terrified of his own mortality but knowing little else about objective nature and thus understandably alarmed, man creates an omnipotent being who can be supplicated and obeyed, a conception that then ends up tormenting him with new fear. Religion, Hobbes thought, comes from a dark place in the psyche.

While the author of the book being reviewed doesn't agree with the above, I sure do. "...a dark place in the psyche", indeed. & while I am severely interested in religion, western religion, in particular, has done very little to advance the human condition in positive ways. Just look at how marginalized Dorothy Day became, while that ghoul Theresa is probably going to become a Roman Catholic saint.

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