"I seem to be distinguishing between good and bad religion. Robert finds this absurd because the literal claims of all religions are more or less equally preposterous. I think I can save myself from absurdity with two related claims: first, religion isn't about belief and, secondly, religion is dynamic.

Fundamentalism of any type is superstition, the opposite of religion. Dr Chappel, the Scientologists and the FLDS in Texas are offering false certainties - false because they are certainties - that exploit our unease. In each case belonging requires absolute submission to a system which cannot be allowed to change over time - unless, as in the case of the FLDS under Warren Jeffs, it is to become even more rigid. It is also important that they are all relatively recent. Conventional faiths are all much older and the passage of time has made them diversify, change and adapt.

This process is no threat to religion, the idea of a revelation unfolding in time is entirely credible. Science is exactly that. The consolations of religion are nothing to do with certainties, they are to do with our wonder and gratitude that such stories can be told at all and that, mysteriously, they express something about our predicament that can be expressed in no other way. Belief in this context is largely meaningless and fundamentalism an outrage," - Bryan Appleyard, this morning.

Or as Montaigne put it:

"Some impose upon the world beliefs they do not hold; others, more in number, impose beliefs upon themselves, not being able to penetrate into what it really is to believe," - "Apology for Raymond Sebond."

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