The essence of religion is that God is the creator and governor of reality. Man must serve God. Human thinking is subordinated to God’s will, reason is rejected in favor of faith, unquestioning obedience to authority is demanded and independent thinkers run the risk of being burned at the stake. Religion does attack the mind; it does turn man’s life on earth into a hell.

The Dark Ages are the most dramatic example of religion in action. The leading philosopher of that period was Saint Augustine. His claim that “science is the lust of the eyes” is a vivid statement of the belief that it is presumptuous on the part of man to think he can unlock the mysteries of God’s universe by means of his unaided intellect. With science banned as a sin, disease was rampant, the mortality rate for both infant and mother at birth skyrocketed, the standard of living and life expectancy plummeted.

Religion does attack the mind and for that reason it is evil. However, the religionists hold that the soul is capable of knowing God and choosing to obey Him. The soul or the spirit or the mind is therefore efficacious; it can know the creator and first cause of existence. There is no skepticism in religion. A man’s soul can understand and embrace the most profound moral truths. Therefore, man has value. The attack on the mind is not complete. This is why Western religion has some good in it. It even has elements of egoism and individualism.

Since their metaphysics stipulates that justice exists only beyond the grave, the religionists must posit the immortality of the soul. The salvation of one’s own soul is the highest value to be attained. A sincere religionist will give up anything

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Andrew Bernstein

Dr. Andrew Bernstein is an adjunct professor of philosophy at Pace University and at the SUNY. He is a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute.

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