There are at this time several prominent intellectuals committed to the rather implausible goal of dismantling (or abandoning) religion. In many respects, such people are reminiscent of those who want to ban boxing because of the physical harm that it causes. It is certainly the case that boxing causes physical harm – that is rather the point of the exercise – but humanity has never prohibited things solely on the basis of the harm they cause, else we would have banned war long ago.
As an alternative to the abolition of religion (ironically, an entirely metaphysical goal, and one that I suspect is quite impossible to achieve except by rendering humanity extinct) I propose the following plan of action.
On the one hand, that religious people adopt Charles Taylor's half-serious suggestion to treat “an unfounded total belief in one's own truth” as heresy. I would even go so far as to suggest calling such self-certain individuals “heretics” were it not for the strange aura of cachet that has attached itself to the term. Thus, within any particular communion, faith or religious tradition, anyone who acts as if they are possessed of the total metaphysical truth would be considered an idolater, and condemned in words (while being – in all practical terms – left alone, free to believe in their arrogant version of reality).
On the other hand, that non-religious people do exactly the same in the community of non-believers and condemn (in words alone) those people so consumed by their prejudicial horror of religion that they become, to neutral observers at least, a hilarious (or disturbing) caricature of that which they claim to abominate; high priests of atheism railing against the corruption of mankind by the consummate evils of religion, from which we must repent in order to be redeemed by the true light of reason and progress.
Or if this is too much to expect (for within this “culture war” sides have already been drawn up, making it harder to turn upon one's putative allies no matter how distasteful they may seem) then let the religious people scorn solely those non-believers in the other camp who dishonour the intellectual pursuits by pugnaciously presuming to have pre-empted the philosophical enquiries of metaphysics, while the non-believers decry solely those representatives of religion in the opposite camp whose actions or speech are blatantly hateful – for no-one who follows any of the world's major religions sincerely can endorse hate, and thus those who claim to follow such a path in hatred are charlatans.
That this proposal will undoubtedly prove unsatisfactory to the zealots in both camps only goes to reinforce the idea that what it is truly worth opposing or dismantling is not religion at all, but the tyranny of truth that flows from arrogant self-certainty of all kinds, both religious and secular.
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