Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

“Over the centuries, we’ve moved on from Scripture to accumulate precepts of ethical, legal and moral philosophy. We’ve evolved a liberal consensus of what we regard as underpinnings of decent society, such as the idea that we don’t approve of slavery or discrimination on the grounds of race or sex, that we respect free speech and the rights of the individual. All of these things that have become second nature to our morals today owe very little to religion, and mostly have been won in opposition to the teeth of religion.”
— Richard Dawkins, quoted by Natalie Angier in “Confessions of a Lonely Atheist,” New York Times Magazine, January 14, 2001.

“Wherever God erects a house of prayer,
The Devil always builds a chapel there;
And ’twill be found, upon examination,
The latter has the largest congregation.”
— Daniel Defoe, “The True-Born Englishman” (1701), from the Encarta Book of Quotations (1999).

“You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
— Anne Lamott


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Joyce Lovelace
Joyce Lovelace
13 years ago

This is a strange one to wrap my head around, especially the quote from Dawkins. As I remember it, the argument over slavery had strong religious ties on both sides, not just Dr. King who achieved his work through the churches, but also many white folks who worked hard in the civil rights movement. In particular I have had the honor of meeting many Presbyterian men who faced the fire hoses, the beatings and jail time during the 50’s and 60’s.
Today though the media likes to focus on the Christians who rail against gays, we should realize there wouldn’t be an argument without many who rally in support. Support strong enough to create congregations with labels such as the Welcoming and Affirming congregations of the American Baptist church.
As to Mr. DeFoe we could argue as to which house came first the devil’s or God’s, but do we think that the devil’s work would not be done if folks didn’t gather in opposition to it? This reminds me of a comment I heard against Dr. King many years ago. The commenter affirmed that Dr. King practiced non-violence, but said the violence would not have happened if Dr. King had not stirred up the opposition. (Maybe I was wrong but I took that to mean if had just “known his place”.
Anne Lamott is the voice we must keep in our heads so that we continue to question and reason our own opinions and don’t go too headstrong down a road of our own making.

RS Janes
13 years ago

Joyce, it’s true that in the 18th and 19th century, there were some religious groups, such as the Quakers, who were against slavery, but the majority in this country avoided the subject of abolition or actively tried to rationalize slavery by quoting verses from the Old Testament. Some of Dr. King’s black colleagues in the south were not happy with him for trying to get rid of segregation — they parroted the white bigots’ line that he was an ‘outside agitator’ trying to stir up trouble. Dr. King, when he started out publicly opposing segregation, was in a small minority among religious leaders, and I think Dawkins would recognize his contribution. What Dawkins was talking about, IMO, was the long history of slavery and what little was done by organized religion to end it.

I don’t have the quote handy, but let’s just say that the Prince of Lies would, of course, use the church and piety to spread his message of evil and corrupt others, just as those who work against America’s best interests cynically wrap themselves in patriotism and the flag. As to what came first — the Bible says in Isaiah that the Lord created both good and evil, so I imagine they came into existence at the same time.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x