Honorable human destination

Robert McKinney is an intelligent man. If he wasn’t, then he would not be able to write as well as he does, and he does write well. But Jennifer Kim writes well also, and her March 17 response to his March 14 letter is a spot-on critique.

A life of religious faith does not mean a life of unquestioning acquiescence to a set of delusional and foolish intellectual propositions or beliefs — beliefs that atheists condemn variously as primitive and preposterous, backward, stupid and contrary to proven knowledge, and even evil — but rather a life of trust, steadfastness and intellectual engagement. Religious faith is an intelligent destination of the human journey representing millennia of profound struggle with and reflection on our experience. It is not the only destination, but it is an honorable one.

Stupid and evil people cannot be prevented from doing stupid and evil things in the name of their service to a higher authority. No one is perfect and neither is religion, which is a human affect. We all live and die within a spectrum of development toward true personhood, and unfortunately some people never progress very far within the spectrum. That is what gives us religiously sincere fools. Sadly, there are many of those.

The thing about atheism, and anti-Christian polemics especially, is that it does not match my experience of religion. Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are entertaining and informative writers, for example, but the Christianity they attack bears no resemblance to the Christianity I know.

Maybe Hitchens had particularly bad experiences growing up with maltreatment from pointedly obtuse churchmen, and then as an adult got carried away with vendetta.

Much of the contemporary attack against religion relies on vengeful outrage against selected or misrepresented facts — not a paucity of facts, mind you, but a truly horrible accumulation of awful facts, none of which disqualifies religious faith.

The problem is not so much one of too much religion in contemporary life as too much bad religion. Bad critiques of religion are a poor prescription.

grant piper
tokyo

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • Mints

    Regarding Christopher Hitchens, he has traveled all over the world—including to war zones—to report on current events as a journalist. Having seen firsthand the consequences of religion in places as wide ranging as Iraq, Serbia, Northern Ireland, India, and his adopted country of the United States, I think he has a fairly objective and broad perspective from which to argue from. That his observations do not resemble the Christianity you know does not discredit them.You would have to admit, your own experience of religion—as it is actually practiced
    in the world—is far more limited than his.

    The problem with blaming “too much bad religion” is this: one group’s good religion is another group’s bad religion, and visa versa. That is the source of so much conflict. Hitchens describes this brilliantly in his book, God is not Great.