Who we, white man? (part xxxvi)

Larry Moran quotes an interview with Dan Dennett:

“The very fact that we agree that there are moral limits that trump any claim of religious freedom—we wouldn’t accept a religion that engaged in human sacrifice or slavery, for instance—shows that we do not cede to religion, to any religion, the final authority on moral injunctions”

This shows up very neatly the second great systematic weakness of Dennett on religion (the first, of course, being the belief that “memes” have any explanatory value). He is extremely parochial. The “We” for whom he speaks are post-protestant liberal North Americans. An admirable tribe, but one losing influence everywhere. We live in a time when there are supposed to be more slaves alive than every before. Someone, somewhere, clearly finds slavery perfectly acceptable, and is probably fortified in this by their religious beliefs, though of course the great twentieth century slave empires were avowedly atheistic.

Human sacrifice in its old form is, I admit, almost everywhere out of fashion, but I think you will find a residual enthusiasm for sacrificing our enemies can be found in even the most respectable quarters. You might try a poll question in America on whether God is pleased by the death of a terrorist.

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