Monday, December 3, 2007
In previous post below [Is religious dangerous? (II)] William Hawthorne defends the view that religion has no power to get people to hold wacky beliefs; rather it's "people who have the power to assent" to wacky beliefs.
This tendency to teflon-coat religion so that no responsibility for any bad stuff sticks (religion is not bad/stupid/dangerous, people are) is reminiscent of the U.S. gun lobby's insistence that guns don't kill people, people do.
I just want to note, however, that there's a form of dodgy teflon-coating that atheists also apply. Christopher Hitchens, in God is not Great, refuses to give religion any credit for anything good, period. When a religious person does good, it's the person that gets the credit, not the religion.
This is just as silly, of course. Religious people have got v. upset about it. Rightly so. But then I think we're equally justified in getting upset when the teflon-coating is applied, not so the credit for good stuff doesn't stick, but so the credit for bad stuff doesn't stick.
William defends the view that religion has no power to get people to believe wacky things, only people do. I wonder what William's reaction would be to the suggestion that religion has no "power to do good", only people do. My guess is he'll say -"Oh religion does have that power!"