For some reason I missed, last week, Christopher Hitchens guesting a column on the combined WaPo/Newsweek On Faith site. His topic? Astrology. He compares it to religion, as you might have guessed.
The column was fairly predictable. In fact, he’s said much of it before. But I read this site not so much for the opinions of the guests, but for the comments of the readers. They are usually all over the map, unlike the one sided comments on most other sites. Here’s a couple:
One, responding to a previous comment about Hitchens’ assumption that faith precludes rational thought:
It’s not that faith precludes any rational thought. It’s that faith indicates an inappropriate, and dangerous, sublimation of rational thought. Once a person completely throws out reason in one area of his life (i.e. deciding that the universe works a certain way, based on no supporting evidence and mountains of evidence to the contrary) his entire rational thought process must reasonably be called into question.
Well put, that! I’ve had that argument before. I accused someone of being irrational, because they were a believer in a particular religion. I had my head handed to me (though I still think I was right – they ganged up on me). Within the internal logic of a particular belief, it is possible to be rational. If you truly believe that your god spoke to you, or that you’ve had a personal revelation of some sort, it’s rational to base your belief on that “fact”. However, looking at it from the outside, it is still irrational, and as the comment above indicates, it puts your whole decision making process in question.
Here’s another comment:
Even though I am a Christian, and Christopher Hitchens is an atheist, I don’t really mind anything he says. Nothing he says bothers me. And it makes me laugh to see how unsettled and insecure his “Christianist” opponents are.
If a Christian is secure in his beliefs, then what matter would it make, that Hitchens or anybody would make any kind of criticism? None.
This is probably true of most Christians. It’s not inherent in their belief, but most of them are a “silent majority”, in that they believe but don’t give it enough thought, or feel the need to force others to believe as they do, or are sufficiently comfortable in their beliefs that contradictory opinions wash over them like water off a duck. If they were all like that, the world would be a better place.
I’ll leave off with this one:
While religion may have been a way for pre-scientific people to explain nature, astrology may have been their way to explain personality. I’m not advocating astrology, of course, but I do think its survival on the comics page is fairly benign. Imagine, maybe that’s where religion will be someday.
From your mouth to God’s ears One can only hope.