Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Reply to Bunting's review of 'The Root Of All Evil?'

The Saturday before Dawkins’s programme aired, Madeleine Bunting in the Guardian dedicated a column to debunking Dawkins’s claims about, and critique of, religion. She’d seen the programmes and I hadn’t, so I waited until the first one aired and I had written a review before writing a response to Bunting’s article. I’ve quoted extensively to make sure the original points were preserved (and in fact most of the quotations following directly on from one another). So, taking it from the top:

“On Monday, it's Richard Dawkins's turn (yet again) to take up the cudgels against religious faith in a two-part Channel 4 programme, The Root of All Evil? His voice is one of the loudest in an increasingly shrill chorus of atheist humanists; something has got them badly rattled.”

I’d say so. The man in charge of the world’s only super-power is a devout Christian whose religious beliefs inform his moral agenda at home, from stem cells research and contraceptive drugs to capital punishment, as well as his international policy. The very phrase ‘axis of evil’ carries religious undertones, and it seems clear that a religiously inspired vision drives Bush in his war on terror and in Iraq. Other people, equally if not more devout, believe in an opposite states of affairs, and some of them are willing to blow themselves up to achieve that state of affairs. Of course, the state of affairs is often political a political goal, but the religious justification for acts of terrorism, to the extent there is one, underpin the extreme political activism. I think suicide bombers are sincere in thinking that their acts are morally justified – but this morality is buttressed by faith in their religious commitments. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church condemns the use of condoms in countries stricken by HIV – and on the basis of what? Manifest falsehoods.

“They even turned their bitter invective on Narnia.”

Well if you don’t think Christian theology in particular, or religious belief in general, should be inculcated in young children, like you might not want fascist, racist or sexist messages beamed into your kid’s head, then you are likely to find films with strong Christian undertones aimed at children unsettling, much like you would find implicit racist ideologies portrayed in a kid’s film offensive. I’m not equating religion with racism or fascism – I’m just saying that if you don’t think that it’s an appropriate thing to bring children up believing, and with good reason, then you will object to such films. It shouldn’t be such a surprise, though of course the surprise is feigned and the intent is to ridicule and trivialise.

“By all means, let's have a serious debate about religious belief, one of the most complex and fascinating phenomena on the planet, but the suspicion is that it's not what this chorus wants. Behind unsubstantiated assertions, sweeping generalisations and random anecdotal evidence, there's the unmistakable whiff of panic; they fear religion is on the march again.”

So what are these unsubstantiated assertions, these sweeping generalisations and random anecdotal evidence? The atheist’s critique of religion, particularly Dawkins’s, is of course general in nature, but it is based on an argument, and contrasts the religious mode of gaining understanding of the world (and I use the term loosely) with a scientific approach. Calling this critique a series of names doesn’t refute it, or make it go away.

“There's an aggrieved frustration that they've been short-changed by history; we were supposed to be all atheist rationalists by now. Secularisation was supposed to be an inextricable part of progress. Even more grating, what secularisation there has been is accompanied by the growth of weird irrationalities from crystals to ley lines. As GK Chesterton pointed out, the problem when people don't believe in God is not that they believe nothing, it is that they believe anything.”

Fair enough, some of us lament the fact that the ideals and philosophy of the Enlightenment have not illuminated everyone and everywhere – and I wouldn’t want to achieve this through coercion. But so what? So does every person who desires some state of affairs but is frustrated in their goals. The same could be said of the religious community, lamenting the loss of faith and religion in people’s lives, and fearing a consequent slide into a moral abyss as the moral investment made by Christ’s sacrifice runs dry. And GK Chesterton’s quip, cited by Bunting in the title to her column, gets it precisely backwards: it is faith that enables you to believe in anything, even things contradicted by the evidence of your sense or powers of reason; an atheist of a scientific bent will not believe just anything, but those things which the best evidence and theories point to existing. Of course, we’re fallible in this pursuit – there’s only so much we can hold in our heads, how much time we can spend assessing evidence and theories – but it’s anything but believing in anything.

“There's an underlying anxiety that atheist humanism has failed. Over the 20th century, atheist political regimes racked up an appalling (and unmatched) record for violence. Atheist humanism hasn't generated a compelling popular narrative and ethic of what it is to be human and our place in the cosmos; where religion has retreated, the gap has been filled with consumerism, football, Strictly Come Dancing and a mindless absorption in passing desires. Not knowing how to answer the big questions of life, we shelve them - we certainly don't develop the awe towards and reverence for the natural world that Dawkins would want. So the atheist humanists have been betrayed by the irrational, credulous nature of human beings; a misanthropy is increasingly evident in Dawkins's anti-religious polemic and among his many admirers.”

Mao’s China, Stalin’s Russia, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge in Cambodia – these aren’t good adverts for atheistic regimes. But the link between not believing in a God and committing mass murder and genocide seems less clear than the line from religious faith to extreme Islamism and suicide bombings. For sure, people that don’t believe in God are capable of atrocities, just as religious people are. But there’s nothing intrinsically divisive about not believing in a God – after all, there are many things we all don’t believe in, but they’re not divisive factors in our lives, so why should not believing in a God be, unless you happen to meet those who fanatically do? The idea might be that without a God to ground your moral principles in morality is seen to be an illusion, and then you’re then free to carry out whatever moral barbarities you chose – and further that humans tend to choose mass killing. I don’t buy the argument that morals need to be grounded in religion – indeed, my position starts from a argued rejection of religion – nor that without God humans are complete savages. Indeed, the emerging story about the origins of morality, coming from evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology, gene-culture studies, anthropology, behavioural and neuro-economics is what I’d direct Bunting to as a potential basis for a “compelling popular narrative and ethic of what it is to be human and our place in the cosmos”.

And what about the charge that consumerism fills the gap of religion? Has Bunting heard of a place called the USA? The richest country in the world, and one of the most religious, it is very much a consumerism-driven society. Even Christians have pointed out the incompatibilities of scripture and the pursuit of wealth among their religious brethren, against which the Bible has more severe strictures than against than homosexuality, which gets the rich Christian Right so fired up. Bunting’s idea seems to be that losing your religion creates a void that is filled by pointless trivia and materialism, as if religious belief pushes those things out, but the evidence is clear that devout religion is compatible with consumerism on a massive scale, drug and alcohol abuse, child abuse and all sorts of other criminality. The decline of the power and authority of religious traditions may create periods of moral uncertainty and confusion while we try to find our footing, but isn’t that part of growing up, both individually and as humanity? It is such a base to stand on that secular, humanistic atheists are trying to build.

“This is the only context that can explain Dawkins's programme, a piece of intellectually lazy polemic which is not worthy of a great scientist. He uses his authority as a scientist to claim certainty where he himself knows, all too well, that there is none; for example, our sense of morality cannot simply be explained as a product of our genetic struggle for evolutionary advantage.”

It’s not mere polemic; there’s an argument (you can read my version of it here). Maybe our sense of morality isn’t simply explained (and what a daftly loaded phrase – who on earth thought this problem would be simply explained? And how sophisticated is, “Because God says so?” as a basis for moral truths?) as a product of our genetic struggle for evolutionary advantage, but science has more to go on than that, as alluded to above.

“More irritatingly, he doesn't apply to religion - the object of his repeated attacks - a fraction of the intellectual rigour or curiosity that he has applied to evolution (to deserved applause).”

Well, Bunting hasn’t addressed Dawkins’s central argument about the nature of faith and scientific investigation, which I think is pretty strong and is so far unscathed by her attack, and Dawkins does a good job of pulling the rug out from under religion. If this can be achieved with little in the way of intellectual rigour or effort as compared with what is required in evolutionary biology and the other sciences, then I think that perhaps says something about the intellectual demands of the respective domains of faith and science. This is incredibly arrogant, but I’m just showing how easy it is to play Bunting’s game of merely insulting the opponent's intellect.

“Where is the grasp of the sociological or anthropological explanations of the centrality of religion? Sadly, there is no evolution of thought in Dawkins's position; he has been saying much the same thing about religion for a long time.”

The sociological and anthropological questions of religion are fascinating – why is it so prevalent, how did it emerge in an evolutionary context, what role does it play in explaining the structure of human social systems and human altruism and group living, how does it evolve with culture and affect further cultural and psychological evolution? But these are not directly related to the epistemological questions about the status of religious claims, and the nature of faith. This is a bit of misdirection that is tempting to fall for.

“There are three areas in his programmes where the lack of rigour is most striking. First, Dawkins is featured in Jerusalem; the point is that religion causes violence and most of the world's conflicts can be traced back to faith. If only they didn't have segregated schooling in Israel and Palestine then peace could emerge. Likewise in Northern Ireland.”

It’s simple nothing like this simple minded. Dawkins is focusing on the religion – you kind of can’t miss it – but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t think there is a political element to the clashes. In any case, the religious and the political are not so readily separable.

Bunting objects to:

“Dawkins's reference to a ‘process of non-thinking called faith’. For thousands of years, religious belief has been accompanied by thought and intellectual discovery, whether Islamic astronomy or the Renaissance. But his contempt is so profound that he can't be bothered to even find out (in an interview he dismissed Christian theology in exactly these terms). If this isn't the "hidebound certainty" of which he accuses believers, I'm not sure what is.”

I tried to explain what Dawkins means by calling faith a form of non-thinking in a previous post, but briefly Dawkins is highlighting the fact that religion encourages the disregard of reasons and evidence as grounds for accepting claims as true. This deprives you of tools for assessing the merit of the claim, and to rely instead on authority (not of evidence, which is a good thing, but on some unverifiable ancient scribblings) or tradition. This is surely the antithesis of critical thought, and this is why it is with faith, not the rejection of God, that you can believe in anything – so long as the right authority says it is so. However, once you’re on the faith train, you run into all sorts of difficulties with reconciling your religious faith-based convictions with the way the world is, and so much chin scratching and head rubbing ensues, and through a convoluted path od reasoning clarity is restored - what we normally call theology. The theological sub-field of theodicy – explaining evils, including natural disasters, in a God-created world – is a classic example: a philosophical response to explaining a problem created by believing in something on the basis of faith. If you don’t have the faith, then the problem disappears, although evil still requires a different sort of explanation and understanding (again, naturalistic, humanistic philosophy and science are not bad places to start). And it seems strange how you’d get a ticket on the faith train from this position: you see the evidence of evil, which even to the devout is prima facie evidence that there isn’t a God (then they try to cleverly show why this apparent contradiction is in fact not so), but you don’t have the compensating conviction that there is a moral God that makes sense of it all somehow so on balance you conclude that the facts of the world are suggestive that there isn't a God, and there aren't good reasosn for supposing there to be one - so you do not assent to the belief that God exists. And how are you supposed to get this conviction? Through faith - by merely willing it to be, by telling yourself, "Yes, God exists!”. How people convince themselves like this I don’t know. But of course they don’t. They usually imbibe these ideas as part of their cultural inheritance, and once established they’re hard to shift, not least because of familial and social uproar it would cause. It’s easier to go just along, and in fact there’s no prompting (especially from within the religion) to question your beliefs, and plenty of reinforcement not to, so it’s little surprise the traditions role on. And they may even have some benefits (alongside the drawback), such as playing a role in community cohesion. But the religious worldview has to be taken as a package, if it's grounded in faith and religious tradition, and considered on balance. We can take the ethic from the religion, and ground it in a naturalistic account of the world, and jettison the false beliefs, and bad approach to belief, intrinsic to religion.

This is just a sketch reply off the top of my head, so any further thoughts or criticisms are welcome (depending on the interest I may not be able to respond to all – he’s says presumptively!).

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great critique of what seems to have been a contrary-for-the-sake-of-it and flippant article.

There are too many points to go into, but one point, in fact, of which I would like to mention is Madelaine Bunting's comment:
"Where is the grasp of the sociological or anthropological explanations of the centrality of religion?"

Dawkin's has actually used religion and God as prime examples in his discussion of memetics. And given the title of the second episode, The God Virus, I'd be very surprised if this isn't mentioned (even if only fleetingly) by him on screen. But even if it isn't, Bunting is not only attacking this program, but also Dawkins' stance on religion. And Dawkins has made it abundantly clear how religious ideas can spread.

I also noticed the lack of adverts during the breaks of this show. The most worrying thing about that is that, given that the show was broadcast on a major terrestrial channel during prime-time, I doubt this was due to an expected lack of viewers - which would be worrying enough.
Coupled with the sort of attack Bunting has launched, it seems atheism is still a dirty word.

2:02 pm GMT  
Anonymous wbb said...

You must be the Evil Dan that Nostradamus prophesied would arise on the 8th January 2006. Welcome to our world.

I don't think Bunting's attack is flippant. The stakes are high here. Both sides have everything to lose. She, as a Christian, knows this is for keeps. Not, of course, that anything will be settled in anybody here's lifetime, but taking the long view, it's a zero-sum game and Bunting is giving it her best shot.

Unfortunately, Dan has taken her to the cleaners this time.

7:52 am GMT  
Blogger swiftypete said...

Hi,
I thought that the Bunting
article was brilliant!

ANY cause can be used and
abused - "The Terror" of the
French Revolution could, by
Dawkins's logic, be directly
attributed to Enlightenment
principles. In fact there
are not an inconsiderable
number of secular ideologies
with blood on their hands.
How do you propose to deal
with their re-occurence?

8:22 am GMT  
Anonymous tom p said...

Hi Dan, this is already a rather interesting blog and it's only 4 days old.

Your critique of Buniting was excellent and well-considered, however I reckon you missed out a couple of points that Bunting made that can be easily taken to pieces: Firstly there's her 'appalling and unmatched' claim regarding mass slaughter. Hitler was a catholic who embedded Catholicism within the third reich and was well supported by the Catholic church.

Also, her 'muslim astronomers' didn't have their astronomy fuelled or even helped by Islam. They were astronomers who were operating in a Muslim culture. Their astronomy was probably more helped by the patronage of rich kings, but I haven't seen bunting issuing a call for a return to absolute monarchies.

Swiftypete - in what conceivable way could the terror be directly attributable to enlightenment principles?

2:06 pm GMT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,
Very interesting so far, but as always, debating with Christians (and most religions) is, more often than not, futile as they tend to be blinded by the delusion that is their faith. I note how Bunting and Pastor Ted Haggard accuse Dawkins of arrogance, and try to trivialize his beliefs, but a question that always occurs to me is the ferocious, often vengeful, response a lot of religious people adopt when their beliefs are questioned or challenged. (Our God is a God of love, believe in him or die.) It always seems that they believe they have the divine franchise in "being right"...which is an interesting delusion in itself as I'm not sure that Catholic, Protestant, Muslim and Jew can possibly all be "right.

Now, I'm no intellectual, and although I was brought up in a devout Baptist home, I've not studied theology (dodging too much Sunday School, I suppose). I'm an ordinary bloke trying to predict the punchline of the great cosmic joke called "Life". Before we even debate the rights and wrongs of Religion vs Science, the big puzzle for me starts even before the tranquilizer of Religion was created.

Most, if not all religions (even some indigenous belief systems) centre around the concept of reward and punishment, all tied up in a cycle of sin, penance, redemption, salvation and a dangle of good stuff in the afterlife if you're good. (At the risk of being branded a born-again cynic) this concept should already ring the alarm bells.) These religions all claim that their god(s) kickstarted the whole performance. Now, please forgive me if this seems naive, but boy, I'd love an answer. They would have us believe, that these omnipotent, omnipresent, omiscient gods were just sitting around, and decided to "make something"...some universes, galaxies, planets, water trees, humans and animals and stuff. The question has to be "Why"? That these god(s) then decided to throw in things like "free will" etc... Again, "Why"? Are we all just some sort of experiment, or plaything of the god(s), and if so, what is the punchline? Explain that to me, and I might just start believing that there is something divine in the man-made product of Religion.

Best regards,
Black sheep

5:30 pm GMT  
Blogger swiftypete said...

Hi Tom P,
I think you miss my point.
I was NOT saying "The Terror"
was attributable to Enlightenment
principles, but rather any cause
can be abused and that THAT is
the real issue.

You are on weak ground attributing
The Third Reich to Roman Catholicism. I am not convinced
that you are really engaging with
the true causes of Nazism.

Is this not an example of attempting
to "otherise evil"? That is
demonising those different from
ourselves rather than attempting
to understand those who differ
from us? Bunting's central point
surely was Dawkins' lack of empathy
and understanding. And when all is
said and done - isn't THAT the
root of all evil?

8:42 pm GMT  
Blogger Dan Jones said...

Swiftypete and Tom P mention the issue of great evils perpetrated in the name of ostensibly secular or atheistic ideologies, and Swiftypete rightly mentions that I didn’t engage with that issue in my reply to Bunting. In all honesty, the reason is that I’m less sure what I’d say here. My initial response when people point out the bad track records of certain non-religious regimes in response to a critique of religion and religious authorities is, “So what?”. It strikes me as being a bit analogous to having a conversation with someone who is arguing for the damaging effects of smoking (akin to a critic of religion) and saying in reply, “Don’t go on about smoking – fatty food is also bad for you!”. Quite – but that doesn’t mean that smoking isn’t bad. I’ve actually heard smart people (the cognitive anthropologist Scott Atran, for example) say, in effect, “Religion isn’t a cause of suicide bombings, because the Tamil Tigers used suicide bombings, and they’re not religious.” That’s the same as saying “Smoking isn’t a cause of cancer, because other chemicals can cause cancer.” It seems like misdirection of the sort Bunting tried to use.

Of course, following the smoking/fatty food discussion about health, we might say that both smoking and fatty food – both religious and atheistic regimes – are bad and should be avoided. But I don’t think this is the moral to draw. I think the case for saying that religions are inherently divisive, and that there are no good grounds for encouraging faith-based beliefs, is strong. Religion and religious faith are potentially dangerous partly because of the way faith can be abused by those in authority, but also because of the stunting mental effect it has on individuals (as well as the fact that the beliefs thus fostered are very unlikely to be true, which I guess only matters to those concerned with the truth, which I realise in the post-modern times might seem a bit passé).

Then we notice that atheistic regimes have also been abused – from Stalin to Mao and Pol Pot. But we can ask: were these abuses inherently related to atheism/absence of theism? And I think it’s harder to answer ‘yes’ to this than the question, “Has religious faith played a direct hand in causing atrocities?”. It seems to me likely, or at least plausible, that there are aspects of human nature that can be exploited – such as our propensity to from strong in-group allegiances alongside marked out-group hostilities – that have been taken advantage of by both religious and atheistic regimes. With religions, the out-groups come well defined – those that believe in a different God or gods, or those that do not believe in God or Gods at all. And people actually often make it clear which group they’re in by the way they dress and their trichological habits.

Atheism doesn’t define out-groups in such an immediate or strong way. For sure, you might say that all theists form a big out-group, but that presupposes that atheists seem themselves as an in-group, but I don’t see why this should be so. It’s not like I think me and all my fellow atheists are headed for the same final destination in some afterlife that means I should love my fellow atheists (any more than any other human, at least). And it’s not like atheists think that while they’re all saved, all the theists are sinful and damned – those sorts of views are not part of the package. So an extra element seems to be required to play the role that religion does in exploiting some aspects of human group and interpersonal psychology – something like Communism, as practiced during the Cultural Revolution in Mao’s China. On a smaller scale – the family, for instance – such in-group/out-group distinctions are part of the fabric of human social life, but there’s no reason to exacerbate them with either religion or any other dogmatic ideology.

This is the merest beginning of a proper response to the issue raised by Bunting and the previous readers, but I don’t think the fact that dreadful atheistic regimes have existed should be seen as a shield to deflect criticisms of the harmful effects of religion. Let’s look at how humans function under a wide range of situations, and try to avoid those situations (totalitarian regimes committed to any ideology in a fervent and absolute way, for instance) — religious or atheistic — that lead to bad outcomes. It’s easy to say, but perhaps impossible in practice. I don’t know.

10:10 pm GMT  
Blogger swiftypete said...

Hi Dan Jones,
I believe that you have made some immensely helpful comments there. But I think you have misread me if
you thought I was using an "analogous" argument [evil by A,
is okay because B does the same].
Bearing in mind that the starting point for this discussion is "The
Root of All Evil?" and that Dawkins
attributes that evil to people with
a reliogious faith, I believe it is
only fair to point out that his
argument is based on "observational
selectivity". That was the only point I was making.

I totally agree with you that we should seek to avoid totalitarianism- whether Atheist or
Theist. The problem that Bunting was alluding to was that Dawkins
was being as doctrinaire as any
other fundamentalist you could
mention. He was not fairly engaging
with the issues but setting up "straw men".

History is littered with examples
of groups who have said "THE WORLD
WOULD BE A BETTER PLACE WITHOUT...................PEOPLE"
(FILL IN THE BLANK SPACE!) And
Dawkins is in danger of following
suit.

I Think YOU are right. The problem of evil is much deeper than these
superficial caricatures allow for.
But it was Bunting who was saying
it - not Dawkins.

11:48 am GMT  
Blogger swiftypete said...

"Nothing returns one quicker to God than the sight of a scientist with no imagination, no vocabulary, no sympathy, no comprehension of metaphor, and no wit, looking soulless and forlorn amid the wonders of nature."
Howard Jacobson on Richard Dawkins, in The Independent.

3:49 pm GMT  
Blogger Dan Jones said...

"Nothing returns one quicker to God than the sight of a scientist with no imagination, no vocabulary, no sympathy, no comprehension of metaphor, and no wit, looking soulless and forlorn amid the wonders of nature."
Howard Jacobson on Richard Dawkins, in The Independent.

I can see what Jacobson is getting at here, and also its appeal, but I think it’s more of a posture, or badge of identity, than an argument. Take the insults in turn.

No imagination? Relativity, quantum mechanics, the theory of natural selection, string theory – does Jacobson have any idea of the degree of imagination, of alternative thought, of jettisoning of deeply held assumptions, required to devise and comprehend these theories? I can understand that Jacobson doesn’t care much for these theories or for understanding the universe, or that he finds it a bit difficult, and perhaps his imaginative flights involving, say, the Genesis story or a transcendent God seem to him to be much more impressive that the imaginative flights of scientists, but that’s mere assertion – he’s merely asserting his aesthetic preferences for imaginative acts are superior to those required by science, without any argument or reason to back that up. Of course, that isn’t the point. The point seems to be to me to be a badge to say, “Hey, I’m not a parochial, narrow-minded, scientific literalist – I’m deep, and can appreciate poetry and literature and art and beauty and religion is way unavailable to the tedious scientist”. The insult can easily be reversed, but it’s a mug’s game to talk like this.

No vocabulary – I suppose that whereas Jacobson has the vocabulary of myth, religion, literature, art and poetry, scientists have none of these, just boring facts and theories. Again, this is just condescending rubbish – Jacobson is entitled to say he prefers his vocabulary, but to suggest that scientists have no vocabulary to talk about the wonders of nature is plain ignorant, and arrogant to boot. Jacobson sounds like he wants to be an aesthetic bullyboy, but I’m not frightened in the least.

No wit – for heaven’s sake, is this even worth addressing? What a prat.

Looking soulless and forlorn amid the wonders of nature – I have no idea who or what Jacobson is talking about (though I see the rhetorical gambit, pathetic as it is). Jacobson is asserting the monopoly that his worldview has on soulfulness, and presupposes that it is a coherent concept. To the degree that it is, there is absolutely no reason why a scientific vision of the world shouldn’t be ‘soulful’ (of course, it would deny the existence of souls). As for being forlorn – who does he have in mind? When I see a natural history programme showing the detailed lives of ants, for instance, and consider how this complex organisation has been brought about through natural selection, I am literally elated, floored with amazement. There’s nothing forlorn about it at all – Jacobson is again simply wallowing in his patronising superiority.

As you can see, these comments irritated me, partly because I hear them all the time from smart people with a literary bent who seem to think that their imaginations, uninhibited by reason, argument or evidence, trump those of science and analytic philosophy. It’s a position more appropriate for a sneering sixth-from (in the US read high school) student who thinks they’re just so much cleverer, so much more enlightened, so much deeper, so much more soulful, than their plodding classmates. It’s a sort of Prada bag for the mind, and I don’t follow fashion like this.

4:22 pm GMT  
Anonymous P Armstrong said...

It is pleasing to see somebody articulate my own feelings towards Bunting's (somewhat smug) article. I watched the Dawkins documentary in a state of complete fascination and it is comforting to know that I am not the only one who was ticked off with Bunting's comments. Keep up the good work, Mr Jones!

12:49 am GMT  
Anonymous lu said...

"It’s a sort of Prada bag for the mind, and I don’t follow fashion like this."

Classic. :D

3:37 pm GMT  
Blogger swiftypete said...

Hi Everbody!
Having already commented on this piece I would like to have another bite at the cherry!
Maybe Enlightenment pricincples DO indeed lead logically to The Terror!
If one rejects the principle of "Original Sin" (ie EVERYONE is fundamentally flawed) one might well then conclude that society would be better off purged of those one concludes are "EVIL" and consequently irremdeemable.

5:42 pm GMT  

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