Christopher Hitchens, writing in Slate:
To regret that we cannot be done with superstition is no more than to regret that we have a common ancestry with apes and plants and fish. But millimetrical progress has been made even so, and it is measurable precisely to the degree that we cease to believe ourselves the objects of a divine (and here's the totalitarian element again) "plan." Shaking off the fantastic illusion that we are the objective of the Big Bang or the process of evolution is something that any educated human can now do.
There is no shortage of illusions I'd like to throw off -- the notion that if I happen to stumble upon a Phillies game in the middle innings, the very act of my watching can somehow affect their play (a butterfly's wings beating in Asia, a fan's couch potato-ism in Washington, D.C. ...) being chief among them. More seriously, I think Hitchens is on to something. In the West, in the last 100 years or so, we've arrived at a point not seen since Periclean Athens, when significant numbers (though by no means a majority, I would wager) of citizens saw the challenges to their system of gods, and recognized the frailty of their myths and legends in the light of reason. The founding myths of our own faiths -- a phantom exodus and the covenant that came from it -- are unraveling in the same way as myths about gods and goddesses bedding down with mortals did for the Greeks.
It will be interesting to see how this all turns out -- or whether it turns out at all.Posted by Ideofact at August 24, 2007 01:18 AM