Conversations: Civilization


Helena
It is important to realize that the distinction between science and religion is not a matter of excluding our ethical intuitions and spiritual experiences from our conversation about the world; it is a matter of our being honest about what we can reasonably conclude on their basis.

Xanthippe
However, there are good reasons to believe that people like Jesus and the Buddha weren’t talking nonsense when they spoke about our capacity as human beings to transform our lives in rare and beautiful ways.

Sappho
But any genuine exploration of ethics or the contemplative life demands the same standards of reasonableness and self-criticism that animate all intellectual discourse.

Helena
Indeed. And as a biological phenomenon, religion is the product of cognitive processes that have deep roots in our evolutionary past. Some researchers have speculated that religion itself may have played an important role in getting large groups of prehistoric humans to socially cohere.

Sappho
If this is true, we can say that religion has served an important purpose. This does not suggest, however, that it serves an important purpose now.

Helena
That religion may have served some necessary function for us in the past does not preclude the possibility that it is now the greatest impediment to our building a civilization for the family of man.

(Based on: Harris. S. 2006. Letter To A Christian Nation p. 29)

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