Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Religious no longer a protected class

I've just finished reading a fine book, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, written some fifteen years ago by the US philosopher Daniel Dennett. Last year, I had encountered an extract of this work in The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing, edited by Richard Dawkins.

A short article by Dennett, entitled Religious no longer a protected class, has just appeared in The Washington Post [display]. He sums up his theme as follows: "Activities that would be condemned by all if they were not cloaked in the protective mantle of religion are beginning to be subjected to proper scrutiny." Dennett points out the existence of a "double standard that exempts religious activities from almost all standards of accountability", and he insists that it be dismantled immediately. He compares the violence done in the name of religion to "crimes of avarice", and he looks forward to the day when clergy who are "telling pious lies to trusting children" and "making their living off unsupported claims of miracle cures and the efficacy of prayer" might be convicted of fraud.

Dawkins has commented: "What an utterly splendid piece by Dan."


  1. I've had an enjoyable morning wandering around your pages.

  2. Your FreeFalling blog has some splendid photos. Some of your themes are most interesting: for example, the colors of your various years, and your visit to Canberra (I've never been there myself) to meet up with Van Gogh and his friends from Paris. Incidentally, I once happened to meet up briefly with two of your neighbors from Beaufort.

  3. In my comment, I messed up the address of your excellent blog, which should be FreeFalling. I'm tempted to ask: Do you make a noise when you're all alone in the forest? (That's an old philosophical question.)