The TED folks are sponsoring a disturbingly vacuous call for a Charter for Compassion, which they claim is an attempt to rescue religion from an aberrant fundamentalism by emphasizing the goodness of faith. I don’t see it. What I see is a foolish whitewashing of religious history to claim that it is all about tolerance, when it’s the opposite: it’s all about tribalism. Instead of opening minds to the wonders of the world, it’s all about clamping down on the human mind and imposing the strictures of dogma. It’s all very nice to sit around and dream up a religion that’s all beauty and sweetness, but it’s the same wishful thinking that drives belief in invisible nonsense.
Throwing up another dishonest façade of a fatuously beatific faith accomplishes nothing but to reinforce one of the greatest promoters of ignorance, hatred, absurdity, and intolerance. We don’t need this. The way to change the world is to work to free people of religion, rather than inventing more rationalizations for it.
I’m with Dan Gardner on this one. Fundamentalism is not some recent historical quirk of modern religions: the selfish, dangerous, destructive narrowness of religious belief has been there in the Abrahamic religions all along, and religions have actually gotten less virulent (with obvious exceptions flaring up sporadically) recently. Would you like to live in an 8th or 14th century Christian, Islamic, or Jewish community? No way. Asking religion to return to its roots is asking for a restoration of theocracy.