The real problem with religion

… is that it is so damn melodramatic. And it encourages those who are influenced by it to be melodramatic. I’m listening to the discussion panel for Roberto Unger’s Tanner lecture on “The Future of Religion,” and the first commenter is leading off with completely unfathomable dramatic generalities like

Are humans “the infinite trapped in the finite?”
“Does love rise above the demands of justice, without falling below them?”
Are we “not only context-shaped but context-transcending beings?”
“How does the dialectic between situatedness and freedom, engagement and resistance, hold?”
“Individual spirit against the social mediation of grace, initiation against ritual.”

Earlier, this commenter quoted a theologian who critiqued Unger’s claim of infinite human possibility on the grounds that “that’s what the serpent said to Eve.” He quoted this critique as if it represented a serious objection to Unger’s argument, or some kind of reason to reject the claim.

(The comments get better later.)

Unger’s first lecture is just his really good Politics series with some false claims imported from religion added. But all this religion stuff just licenses people to talk in empty generalities and in melodramatic terms. It’s sort of like postmodernism in that respect — the surrender of rationality means we can make all sorts of dramatic claims, because we’ve removed the constraints that force us to cabin ourselves to the defensible or even analytically tractable.

“This illustrates an important truth, namely, that the worse your logic, the more interesting the consequences to which it gives rise.” – Russell on Hegel. Religion is an even better illustration of this.

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2 Responses to “The real problem with religion”

  1. Aaron Says:

    I’ve always wondered if rather than being a result of discarding rationality, it is a way to baffle your audience and make them surrender; because the big words mean you’re obviously right. I’m not saying it’s a conspiracy, but I just wonder if it is a habit they get in to through its yielding the best results, i.e. the audience stops asking questions. I even do this sometimes if I can’t be bothered discussing something with someone, I’ll just put my point in a really complex way and it shuts them up.

  2. CJ Says:

    Yet more proof that what we really need is for pot to be legal. Certain people just really, really need to spend their lives getting high instead of speaking.

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