Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Nov/08

29

Religion and moral decline, contd.

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A reader suggests that one needs to examine the same society over time, rather than comparing different societies, to test whether the waning of religious belief and fervor leads to moral decay. So let’s look at the West over the centuries, which has become increasingly secular as the Church was ousted from government power and religious faith and practice occupied less central a role in civil life. It is not my impression that public norms have become more callous, predatory, or violent; that civil society has become more unruly; or that individual obedience to the law more uncertain.

Here are just a few practices that have become unthinkable in our secular times:

–Burning at the stake was not only tolerated by religious authorities, it was practiced by them.

–A whole host of cruel and unusual punishments—starving in dungeons, flogging, drawing and quartering—were carried out without opposition from the Church or the public; prison practices were reformed under Enlightenment pressure. Our Founding Fathers banned cruel and unusual punishment in accordance with their Enlightenment training. Such practices are still tolerated under Sharia law.

–Animals were treated callously and sometimes lethally for purposes of work and entertainment.

–The mentally ill and handicapped were regarded as almost subhuman, and occasionally seen as objects of amusement. Their institutional confinement was often miserable.

–Slavery aroused only the most belated and localized opposition from church leaders and was generally tolerated by society.

Has civil society become more lawless? A 21st century visitor to the fairs of Elizabethan London or the Five Points area of 19th century New York would likely not conclude so. Piracy, brigandage, and impressment were common.

Have public officials become more corrupt and self-serving? Our standards regarding public behavior and conflict of interest have only grown more exacting. Bribery is less common.

Were merchants and bankers more honest and trustworthy centuries ago? Were there fewer mountebanks foisting shoddy and deliberately fraudulent goods on the public? Did businessmen break contracts less often? I know of no evidence to that effect, but perhaps it exists.

The one area where I can see a serious argument being made for moral decline regards sexual behavior and, even more so, attitudes towards sexual behavior. Both have changed radically from centuries past. Divorce and illegitimacy have become normalized. But for all the havoc that such behavior has wreaked on the family, the loosening of the stigma upon divorce and out-of-wedlock child-bearing has also meant an increase in individual freedom, something which our society prizes highly. The penalties on women for the loss of chastity were severe. Arguably, the damage to children from looser sexual mores far outweighs any benefits from the gain in personal autonomy. But I’m not sure many people would willingly forego the freedom, including the freedom to make bad decisions, now available to them.

I do not pretend that the observations above are scientific. But I’m also not aware that the moral declinists have offered much evidence to support their thesis. Perhaps I’ve just missed it.

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24 comments

  • Author comment by David Hume · November 29, 2008 at 11:56 am

    The crime rate dropped during the 1990s, the same decade when a massive disaffiliation from organized religion occurred (the % of people with “no religion” doubled between 1990 an 2001). I’m not making a causal connection, but I can guarantee that if the data were inverted so that crime rates increased, or religious affiliation increased, many would make a causal connection. Let me be frank: like with prayer, nothing ever counts against god or religion, but all that can count in favor are counted.

  • Author comment by David Hume · November 29, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    P.S. The massive crime wave after 1965 was in fact directly attributed to the first modern wave of church disaffiliation in the 1960s. Social science is complicated….

  • Craig · November 29, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Regency England makes for an interesting comparison to modern society in terms of sexual mores. Consider this passage from Robert M. Adams’ The Land and Literature of England (1983, page 355):

    “Because the upper ranks of society were now rich beyond precedent, life, on that level at least, was ostentatious and promiscuous. Lady Oxford produced children by so many different lovers that her family was popularly known as the Oxford Miscellany; the set in which she moved saw nothing exceptional in this. No young squire who wanted to be known as a blood came up to the university without a retinue of servants, a cellar full of bottles, a stable full of horses, and at least one mistress. Regency bucks spent their lives shooting, gambling, drinking, chasing foxes through copses and ladies through bedrooms.”

    However, one might look more deeply into the whole question of religion and moral decline by asking exactly what the source of moral authority and definition is if we no longer believe in the Judeo-Christian God and therefore presumably are not particularly concerned about his commandments. But this is an area that the “secular Right” tends to have trouble with: it wants to hold to “traditional values”, and yet those traditional values are intimately entwined with Christian faith and rest on a bedrock of Biblical commandment. If we are to be truly secular, then these essentially religious ideas of morality and ethics need to be examined carefully rather than tacitly accepted as part of our tradition. So even if we were to concede that people today are more promiscuous, have more children out of wedlock, have more divorces, and so on — perhaps the right response is simply: So what?

  • Author comment by David Hume · November 29, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    it wants to hold to “traditional values”, and yet those traditional values are intimately entwined with Christian faith and rest on a bedrock of Biblical commandment.

    This is false. For example, Moral Minds or Evolution for Everyone. Most behavior emerges from implicit assumptions and group conformity, not adherence to explicit rules. Even ritual injunctions which are textually grounded are learned in communities through imitation and observation.

    Many people presume that morality arose out of religion. Many would disagree (e.g., see a cognitive anthropologists’ view in Religion Expained), and contend that basal human morality (e.g., do not murder those in your ingroup, do not have sex with your mother, etc.) was co-opted into institutional religions which arose with the emergence of organized mass societies enabled by agriculture. I am one of those who believes that the compound we think of as “religion” (e.g., Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, etc.) accrued to themselves much normal human cognition and culture (e.g., morality, metaphysics, group identity) which existed prior to the emergence of said religion. You may disagree, but don’t pretend as if your position is normative on a weblog like this.

    So even if we were to concede that people today are more promiscuous, have more children out of wedlock, have more divorces, and so on — perhaps the right response is simply: So what?

    This is also probably false, and/or misleading. For example, in a society where there is a much higher uniform rate of mortality between age 20 and 50 many marriages would expire upon the death of a husband or wife. But obviously the lower divorce rate would not indicate a more robust understanding of the pair bond.

  • Author comment by David Hume · November 29, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    If we are to be truly secular, then these essentially religious ideas of morality and ethics need to be examined carefully rather than tacitly accepted as part of our tradition.

    Actually, no. The whole point of being a conservative is to accept tradition and custom unless there are reasons not to accept tradition and custom. The need to rationally justify every act is fundamentally unconservative. For example, even if you presuppose that bourgeois values are necessarily derived from religious precepts (which I do not, see above), if they have worked in the past then that is sufficient.

  • Craig · November 29, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Actually, no. The whole point of being a conservative is to accept tradition and custom unless there are reasons not to accept tradition and custom. The need to rationally justify every act is fundamentally unconservative.

    That isn’t what I wrote. To “examine” something does not imply that we aim to reject it, though that option is always available. The point of the examination is, in fact, to determine whether or not there are, as you wrote, “reasons not to accept” them. A liberal may tend to enter into the examination hoping to find such reasons (and perhaps even determined to invent them regardless of the evidence); a conservative may take the opposite approach; but to refuse to enter into the examination at all is not honest conservatism, but merely playing the ostrich.

    For example, even if you presuppose that bourgeois values are necessarily derived from religious precepts (which I do not, see above), if they have worked in the past then that is sufficient.

    Then you’re essentially arguing that a position of total philosophical incoherence is perfectly acceptable as long as it “works.” After all, if, as you just wrote, we “presuppose that bourgeois values are necessarily derived from religious precepts,” but we reject the religion that gave us those teachings, we are in the absurd position of continuing to support conclusions drawn from syllogisms the premises of which we have rejected. This sort of attitude leads to nihilism in the long term, because you are giving the next generation no reason to believe as you do; in fact, you are giving them no reason to believe anything at all. If you want to support moral teachings even after rejecting their religious source, then an alternative source of authority must be provided. This seems to me to be the real point of books such as the ones you point to; they are not disinterested, objective studies, but attempts to prop up, not necessarily all aspects of traditional morality, but those aspects of it to which the authors remain wedded; and even the validity of morality itself, the idea that society has any right to dictate norms.

  • Author comment by David Hume · November 29, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    This sort of attitude leads to nihilism in the long term, because you are giving the next generation no reason to believe as you do

    No it doesn’t. Most people don’t need reason. In fact, they barely engage in reason. Most people are not intelligent. Not only do most people not know what a syllogism is, but they can’t even engage in syllogistic reasoning. They’re not intelligent. They live using intuitive common sense and emotional impulses. This is the fundamental nature of the human animal. Philosophical coherence is irrelevant, and a game of utility to a very peculiar type of human.

    P.S. Even “intelligent” peoples’ cognition is mostly implicit and non-reflective. This is a widespread finding of cognitive psychology. Most people with MD’s and PhD’s simply are very bad Bayesians, as bad as the average person of modest intelligence. See the heuristics and biases literature.

  • mikespeir · November 29, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Recently, I heard someone in the media comment that the campaign for President between McCain and Obama was the dirtiest in history. Obviously, this person had never bothered to read about the race between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams in 1828. We tend to be a lot more civil today than we were back then.

  • Author comment by David Hume · November 29, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    We tend to be a lot more civil today than we were back then.

    The media is not particularly intelligent or well informed. Most people have a very weak historical sense.

  • Author comment by David Hume · November 29, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    but to refuse to enter into the examination at all is not honest conservatism, but merely playing the ostrich.

    An examined life is not necessarily the good life. That is one major reason why I am not a liberal, I do not hold to the conceit that all things must be put under the lens of rationality, in large part because I believe we do look through the glass darkly and “rationality” is often simply window-dressing to justify our presuppositions through cognitive fireworks. I am under the impression this is what Derb believes of Catholic Thomistic works.

  • Craig · November 29, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Most people are not formally educated in logic and wouldn’t know an undistributed middle term from a begging of the question, but many (perhaps not most) are at least capable to a degree of seeing when an argument obviously doesn’t make any sense. This is actually part of the problem: they can see that an argument based on religious teachings is on shaky ground once you reject the religion that provided the teachings, but they tend to jump from there to rejecting the conclusion (and substituting whatever they want to, whether or not it makes any better sense) rather than subjecting it to a proper examination that might reveal an alternative justification for it. Their flawed logic is thus comparable to, “Jimmy told me the sky is blue, but Jimmy’s a liar, therefore the sky is green — why? Because I like green.”

    The idea that it’s okay for our philosophical framework to be incoherent because most people wouldn’t understand the problem anyway is sort of curious. It’s as if you’re dividing the world into two classes: a majority of stupid beasts who uncritically believe whatever they’re taught no matter how obviously absurd it is, and a minority (yourself included, presumably) who simply believe in “what works” and aren’t (I judge from this discussion) interested in abstract intellectual considerations about “truth”. One problem is that there are people who don’t fall into either category; another problem is that if the rise and fall of civilizations teaches us anything, it’s that “what works” doesn’t keep working forever. Sitting on train tracks works only until the next train comes through, and if you have no basis for your beliefs except “what works”, then when that train does come through, you’ll probably say that your death was the train’s fault.

  • Author comment by David Hume · November 29, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    are at least capable to a degree of seeing when an argument obviously doesn’t make any sense. This is actually part of the problem: they can see that an argument based on religious teachings is on shaky ground once you reject the religion that provided the teachings, but they tend to jump from there to rejecting the conclusion

    Honestly, I don’t think this is true. Most people aren’t that complicated, and can’t follow arguments.

    t’s as if you’re dividing the world into two classes: a majority of stupid beasts who uncritically believe whatever they’re taught no matter how obviously absurd it is, and a minority (yourself included, presumably) who simply believe in “what works” and aren’t (I judge from this discussion) interested in abstract intellectual considerations about “truth”.

    It’s more complicated than that. There are many classes. But yes, I do believe that one of the problems in modern discourse is that most humans are incapable of, and uninterested in, discourse. That is, ideas have fewer consequences than you might think. That’s why black Americans can simultaneously be much more religiously traditionalist than whites, but also have far higher abortion rates.

    As for those who are intelligent and interested in rational thought, most of the time we don’t do it well, and are guided by our presuppositions. A few areas, such as formal logic and mathematics differ because of the constrained structure of this sort of cognition. But intelligent people are no less emotional than unintelligent people, so quite often they enter into the same “fallacies” as the dull. It makes them feel good (as you indicate above).

    As for the rise and fall of civilizations, nothing is forever. I do not reject reason in toto. I am saying that reason’s purview is far narrower than the types who write, and comment on, weblogs such as this would like and prefer. But that’s not ultimately relevant, the world is what it is.

    See behavioral economics for my relatively jaded take on the supposed ubiquity of reason.

  • steveT · November 29, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Hume,

    How do you resolve your philosophy with the significant improvement in life that has occurred in the West over the past 500 years. Many of the improvements were created by people who tried improve things that they felt could be improved.

    I can’t help but feel if everyone strictly adhered to your dictum “if they have worked in the past then that is sufficient,” the world would be much worse off than it is now.

    On the other hand, you also say “unless there are reasons not to accept tradition and custom.” This seems like a pretty big opening. Who gets to decide what the “reasons” are, and whether they are valid? I suppose that unique minority of un-emotional, intelligent people would be the ones to decide.

  • Author comment by David Hume · November 29, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    How do you resolve your philosophy with the significant improvement in life that has occurred in the West over the past 500 years. Many of the improvements were created by people who tried improve things that they felt could be improved.

    I can’t help but feel if everyone strictly adhered to your dictum “if they have worked in the past then that is sufficient,” the world would be much worse off than it is now.

    There are qualitative distinctions between technological improvements, and sociological improvements. The past 500 years, especially the past 200 years, are to some extent sui generis insofar as we’re outside of the Malthusian trap. A short response would be to favor incrementalism, as opposed to qualitative jumps. The dominant school of economic historians now reject a discontinuity even in the industrial “revolution” (see Farewell to Alms), suggesting that slow change over the long term (specific, compounding economic growth due to shifts in human/cultural capital) has worked well for us so far. Just because person A accepts a 10% change within 10 years as prudent, while person B accepts a 1% change in 10 years as prudent, does not mean that person A accepts total change while person B rejects all change. Just because I am person B does not entail that I reject all change, but particular types of change I am very cautious of.

    I suppose that unique minority of un-emotional, intelligent people would be the ones to decide.

    DON’T PUT WORDS INTO MY MOUTH IF YOU WANT TO GET THROUGH THE MOD QUEUE. MY COMMENTS MAKE IT CLEAR THAT THERE ARE NO SUCH PEOPLE. ADDITIONALLY, WHAT FOOL WOULD CALL HIMSELF HUME IF HE PRIVILEGED REASON OVER EMOTION?. And I put the caps there on purpose to indicate my fury at this sort of jumping-ahead-misrepresentation. Do you understand me?

    I would suggest that our political processes would decide the shift in the Zeitgeist, but the reality is that the aggregate “wisdom” of our culture does. To some extent this is equally aggregate, as everyone contributes, to a large measure the wealthy and intelligentsia have always played a disproportionate role (e.g., note the Gordon Riots in late 18th century Britain re: religious liberty).

  • Craig · November 29, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    “There are qualitative distinctions between technological improvements, and sociological improvements.”

    This is certainly true. One point of annoyance that I have with many people is the attitude that because we now have more advanced technology (space flight, pacemakers, computers, or whatever) that the world is now a “better place” than it was at some point in the past. I really don’t agree, not because I have any inherent objection to these innovations, but because I don’t think they have as radical or as unequivocally positive an effect on the quality of our lives as some people like to think. We should not confuse convenience or longevity with quality of life; they’re simply not the same things.

  • Craig · November 29, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    “But yes, I do believe that one of the problems in modern discourse is that most humans are incapable of, and uninterested in, discourse. That is, ideas have fewer consequences than you might think.”

    I agree that most humans are substantially incapable of reasoned discourse and that even most of us who are not incapable of it are imperfect at it. However, I think that in the long run, those who are better at it tend to be disproportionately influential. Also, the skills of rationality and the mental balance of keeping the difference between reason and emotion clear in the mind improves with practice, but only if one truly practices them by pursuing truth for its own sake rather than depending on “what works” — although certainly when something “works”, it’s worth examining it to try to understand why it works, or under what conditions it works.

  • Author comment by David Hume · November 29, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    re: technology & the difference with other things. We can now cover vast distances vis-a-vis our ancestors. But we can’t really juggle more than 200 friendships & acquaintances because of our biological substrate (see Dunbar’s number). This makes the “revolutionary impact” of social networking technology contingent upon our psychological hardware. We can, and are, improving aspects of our mental hardware, but it serves as a really significant break on the nature of technologically enabled advances. To make it more clear, some technology extends our biological hardware, and some technology supersedes it. The latter includes transportation, and is the sort of advance which we can make exponentially because of the lack of constraint.

    However, I think that in the long run, those who are better at it tend to be disproportionately influential. Also, the skills of rationality and the mental balance of keeping the difference between reason and emotion clear in the mind improves with practice, but only if one truly practices them by pursuing truth for its own sake rather than depending on “what works” — although certainly when something “works”, it’s worth examining it to try to understand why it works, or under what conditions it works.

    To some extent, I agree. This is a complicate topic, and I will expand upon my own opinions and therefore engage with readers in future threads. Many of the disagreements have to do with differences in assessments of the empirical data, or their weighting.

  • Jeff Singer · November 29, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Heather,

    I think your “back of the envelope” examples can be used as part of the “brief” for religion, not for an increasingly secular society. A couple of thoughts come to mind:

    1) I’m in the middle of Barzun’s “From Dawn to Decadence”, so I’ve got his biases and ideas at the front of my mind right now. But he starts his survey of the past 500 years of cultural life in the West with Luther and the Protestant Revolution for a good reason — he makes the case that these religious ideas became the foundation for much of the revolution in government and science that we later attribute to the Enlightenment. In short, without a strong sense of individual conscience; it is unclear we would have seen the development of democracy, individual rights (which were argued as God-given), and even the importance of observing nature to learn about God’s creation.

    2) Slavery is another good example…yes, it was tolerated all those years (and still is) within religious societies. But it was also put to an end through religious ideas…Wilburforce and the Abolitionists used the Bible and God to make their arguments (as did the slave-holders). I have to wonder whether or not Lincoln would have inspired the North with simply secular rhetoric and ideas. Of course, I also have to acknowledge the secular power of the North’s industrial might. But ideas matter!

    3) Looking at two of your other examples, prison reform and the treatment of the handicapped; again, many reformers were indeed motivated by religious ideals (e.g. John Howard was a Calvinist and Chuck Colson, famous for modern-day reform efforts, is a born-again Christian).

    To use one of David Hume’s favorite arguments, it seems like the data that exists suggests multiple factors influencing what we moderns consider social progress and one of these factors has to be religious ideals. The question becomes which ideals and how were they influential. I would argue you need to look to Luther, Oliver Cromwell, and the Puritans when thinking about who we need to thank for Western/American institutions we all enjoy, just as much as Locke, Newton, and the Founders.

  • Author comment by David Hume · November 29, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    2) Slavery is another good example…yes, it was tolerated all those years (and still is) within religious societies. But it was also put to an end through religious ideas…Wilburforce and the Abolitionists used the Bible and God to make their arguments (as did the slave-holders). I have to wonder whether or not Lincoln would have inspired the North with simply secular rhetoric and ideas. Of course, I also have to acknowledge the secular power of the North’s industrial might. But ideas matter!

    Slavery is a complicated example. Read a biography of John Brown, the group which swept down upon Harper’s Ferry was religiously mixed. Brown is well known Calvinist, but people might be surprised that many of the band were secular free thinkers (including his sons). Yes, I agree religion played a role in abolition, but so did secular radicalism (e.g., the French revolution outlawed slavery for a while), and religion played a role in its maintenance (see R. L. Dabney), as did secular conservatism (Napoleon’s regime and the attitude toward Haiti). Some of the foremost abolitionists were so religiously heterodox that they were accused of heathenism (e.g., William Lloyd Garrison). Godless men like Jeremy Bentham who opposed slavery were thin on the ground, but there were very few godless men in that age.

  • Author comment by Bradlaugh · November 29, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Mr. Hume: You are correct that I ascribe Thomist lucubrations to “cognitive fireworks” with no semantic content. Other theology, too: “An effort to explain the unknowable by putting it into terms of the not worth knowing.” (Mencken, Chrestomathy, p.624).

    In fact a large proportion — over historical time, surely a majority — of human intellection likewise. Modern literary theory; most philosophy; astrology; pre-modern medicine (I saw somewhere a scrupulous calculation of the date after which a doctor was more likely to help you than hurt you: it was 1930); pre-17C chemistry; etc.

    As individuals, we live in a fog, with very little understanding of our own motivations (though great ingenuity at concocting a posteriori explanations). How our collective life stays on the rails is a mystery. The conservative lesson is, let’s keep on doing whatever we’re doing (socially) for fear of something worse.

  • steveT · November 30, 2008 at 4:27 am

    Bradlaugh and Hume,

    I think you both are too negative on the ability of man to make good decisions regarding his future. To me, the key to making decisions in this respect is not understanding all of the issues, but instead having feedback on whether any incremental decision was good or bad. With feedback a monkey could solve the quadratic equation. Of course, it wouldn’t understand what it had done, but that is beside the point in this example. It would be able to achieve a concrete result.

    It’s the same for all animals, including man. The Galapagos finch has no understanding that a change in its beak size will confer an advantage in the next generation, but it doesn’t need to. It gets feedback in the form of being more likely to live, therefore it’s able to make the “right” decision.

    You could say that this reinforces your A/10% vs B/1% argument, as we could say that we’ve made pretty good decisions up to this point, so any new decision should be small so that we can evaluate its incremental (positive or negative) effect without fundamentally disturbing the status quo at any point in time. Largely I agree with this line of reasoning and I think that drastic changes will turn out badly most of the time.

    All the same, I wanted to point out that I do think man can make good decisions about his future, and I feel that we are moving largely in the right direction. A quick reading of Heather’s examples above reinforces this opinion.

  • Jeff Singer · November 30, 2008 at 6:04 am

    Hume,

    Your last point is excellent (“there were very few godless men in that age”) and I note in passing that many French revolutionaries were religious although they had heterodox views and certainly weren’t very fond of the Church (e.g. Robespierre:

    http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/robespierre.htm)

    Bradlaugh,

    As mentioned in an earlier comment, couldn’t the advice “let’s keep on doing whatever we’re doing (socially) for fear of something worse” apply to the treatment of religion in America? After all, we used to allow prayer in schools, Scopes lost his trial, and religion was a force for censorship and the regulation of ‘smut’. So when do we know a change is good and when do stand athwart history yelling stop? Burke is an interesting character in this respect — he supported the American Revolution but presciently saw how the French Revolution was going off the rails. What were his criteria for judgment? What should be our criteria?

  • Author comment by Bradlaugh · November 30, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Jeff: I don’t know about a catalog of criteria, but a general posture of suspicion of and resistance to dramatic social change, tempered by grudging, grumbling acceptance where appropriate or absolutely inevitable, is a good start.

  • gene berman · December 1, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Razib:

    Everybody not mentally incapacitated thinks, using reason and syllogisms
    (whether they even know what the word means); the fact that many err frequently, even very frequently, is not remarkable, or at least no more remarkable than that there are differences in various abilities between individuals and, generally, between groups of individuals.

    Nor is the fact that many live lives almost deliberately arranged as to lessen the need to reason (or to reason abstractly) any more than the manifestation of a considered course of action–itself the product of an exercise in reason and involving the application of a theory.

    Reason may be practiced by other animals to some extent but it is the universal and defining characteristic of our genus. Its function is precisely to enable the best possible perception of the future, both of
    the environment and our deliberate interaction with it, exercised with the view to rendering that future as much less unsatisfactory than the present as possible, within the constraints of available resources. Even “common sense” (in its many varieties) presupposes rational processes of categorization, etc. To some men (and to similar men at different times in history or of their civilizational development), it was “common sense” to exterminate competitors mercilessly, later to enslave them wherever possible, and, much later, to try to resolve whatever disputes might exist with as little acrimony as possible and, subsequently, to transform competition to an entirely different mode (called “trade”) in which the parties both gain more than possible under any other arrangement.

    A major reason I take issue with your dim view of the essential rationality of mankind it that such view is a very frequent precursor
    to a build-up and solidification of broad enmities between people of differing tribes, nations, religions, etc. It’s almost a prereqisite to the conception of “the other.” (Though, of course, I do not believe that anything of that sort whatever is your intention.) While those to whom death suffered in the slaughter of infidels is no sacrifice but rather entry to a surfeit of sexual delight may be beyond rational approach, the enormous preponderance of those of the same faith respond to arguments of a different sort. Their leaders, like most others of other groups, promise improvements in matters of everyday living, better incomes, housing, etc. And then, they are on a plane where reason and rationality count—even to the sensibilities of habitually emotional people.

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