Somehow I seem to have gotten swept up in an emailing circuit awash in very bright people who love science and rational thought and are deeply skeptical -- "horrified" or "outraged" might be better words -- by the depredations of religion. It's such a delicious disdain.
And of course I haven't gotten "swept up" -- I swept myself up: I love people who hate religion in intelligent ways. I feel as if I were on a playground with a lot of very energetic kids ... and I love kids and their energies.
One of the people in this circle of emailers seems to be a former rabbi, so I guess the circle of intelligent criticisms has a quotient of leavening: Keenly intelligent AND with religious underpinnings. The playground is more interesting than just lock-step critiques.
But I do enjoy the playground. So smart. So skeptical. So unwilling to cave in to anything as mindless as any system that finds its home in unprovable beliefs and, sometimes as a result, causes great harm.
But one of the things I find most interesting is the sometimes-implied willingness to notice the filthy bathwater but ignore the baby sitting in it. Why would anyone avail themselves of the perceived idiocies of religion in the first place? An awful lot of people do, in fact, seek something that might be called spiritual solace. And I agree that numbers of adherents (to anything) do not prove that what is adhered to is worth a fart in a windstorm, but still ... for those with a keen mind, wouldn't it be incumbent to investigate this matter not as it pertains to their degrees in philosophy or psychology or other elevated intellectual attainments, but rather as it pertains to the poor schlub sitting in the bathwater?
It seems to me that those with greater capacities -- to the extent they aren't locked into their own zealotries -- have a responsibility to lend a hand and point out ways that might work better ... not as a dictum from on high or an ego trip (if you don't see things my way, you're an idiot), but as a way of improving the world the skeptic and scientist often claim they would like to improve.
Sure, throw out the bathwater. But smug arrogance is no way to care for a baby.