Email of the Day
A reader writes:
"You ask: 'Isn't it amazing that the one thing that can unite Muslims, Jews and Orthodox Christians is hatred of gay people'"
No, it's not. Those religions aren't propagated by persuasion and reason, like geometry or geology. They aren't popular because they offer individuals a better way of life, like the South Beach diet or meditation.
The Abrahamic religions survive primarily by indoctrination of the next generation of children. That is why these religions don't just celebrate birth, coming of age, and marriage, but turn them into the most sacred of rites. Homosexuality is a threat to this order, because if people can decide about something so basic as what gender they prefer, they might start thinking twice about circumcision, baptism, bar mitzvah, confirmation, and before you know it, the next generation doesn't believe quite enough to follow the old pattern, and the generation after that is secular.
The religious right is quite correct to identify gays, public schools, science, secular literature, cohabitation, premarital sex, and liberal education as threats to their religion. Abrahamic religion piggy-backs on human reproduction: follow the rules, get married, have children, baptize them, teach them the rules, and take joy that they believe like you do. Everything listed above is a threat to that pattern. The Catholic Church differs from the protestant evangelicals in this regard only in that it knows it can't really expect to win against science. Once bruised, twice shy. But sanction gay sex? Or marriage?? The Catholic Church would first give up on the divinity of Christ. That is not so essential to how it survives."
I'm sorry, but I'm not that cynical. By the way, the best thing I've read on the relationship between religion and science in a long time was published yesterday in the New York Times. It's Leon Wieseltier's superb dissection of scientism.