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Enlightenment

March 8, 2010

I discovered a great quote over the weekend:

Our age is the very age of criticism, and everything must submit to it. Religion, on the strength of its sanctity, and legislation, on the strength of its majesty, try to exempt themselves from it; but they thereby arouse a just suspicion, and cannot claim that sincere respect which reason grants only to that which has been able to withstand its free and open examination.

This sums up the main issue I’ve had recently with religion; we do live in an age of criticism, yet religions and those that follow them are still granted exemption from large amounts of this criticism. The institutionalisation of religion prevents rational arguments about its place in society and gives it a level of respect that I think is in no way deserved.

I’d like to say that the quote above was written recently, but it wasn’t. It’s from a footnote to the preface of the first edition of Critique of Pure Reason by Kant, published in 1781. We’ve had well over two centuries since then, and society has yet to catch up. We are still left with a culture giving undue respect to irrational beliefs.

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