Saturday, August 20, 2005

Quote of the Day: Mencken on Religious Opinions

"The most curious social convention of the great age in which we live is the one to the effect that religious opinions should be respected. Its evil effects must be plain enough to everyone. All it accomplishes is (a) to throw a veil of sanctity about ideas that violate every intellectual decency, and (b) to make every theologian a sort of chartered libertine. No doubt it is mainly to blame for the appalling slowness with which really sound notions make their way in the world. The minute a new one is launched, in whatever field, some imbecile of a theologian is certain to fall upon it, seeking to put it down. The most effective way to defend it, of course, would be to fall upon the theologian, for the only really workable defense, in polemics as in war, is a vigorous offensive. But the convention that I have mentioned frowns upon that device as indecent, and so theologians continue their assault upon sense without much resistance, and the enlightenment is unpleasantly delayed." -- H.L. Mencken


We could really use a Mencken today.

11 comments:

JC Masterpiece said...

To make this fit today's standards the quote shoud read "The most curious social convention of the great age in which we live is the one to the effect that everyone's opinions should be respected."

JC Masterpiece said...

I wasn't going to correct my statement, but the more i think about it the more i realize that it's wrong.

To make the quote modern and fit today's society and culture, it shoud say "The most curious social convention of the great age in which we live is the one to the effect that everyone's (except Christian's) opinions should be respected."

Jewish Atheist said...

Are you kidding me? Virtually every single senator, congressperson, and cabinet member is a vocal Christian. The president is possibly the most vocal Christian ever. You can't win a political office in America unless you are a devout Christian or, occasionally, a Jew. (Some may fake it, of course.)

In the mainstream media, does anyone EVER just come out and say, "Well some Christians believe that stem cell science is immoral but they're nuts?" Or "some crazies in Kansas want to make our kids even more ignorant in science due to a simple-minded literalness." No. As long as someone believes something because they are Christian, they get a free pass.

dbackdad said...

Honestly, JC, how do you post with a straight face? Why do so many Christians have this worldview that all us non-Christians are just sitting around waiting to be saved ... to see the light? You make posts with no cogent argument. And with no scientific backing. ID's "God of the gaps" explanation defies every logical or scientific way of proving something.

This playing the martyr ... I'm an alienated minority crap that some Christians play is laughable. Has anyone in the US every been descriminated against in hiring because they were a Christian, for housing because they were a Christian, killed for being Christian? Christians are the most coddled, protected group here. If Louis Farrakhan said half of the things that James Dobson does, he'd be crucified.

dbackdad said...

More enlightened thought from Christian leaders:

Robertson called for the assassination of Venezuela's president

Orthoprax said...

DB,

JC has to think that way, that Christians are persecuted everywhere, it's part of his religion. Read Matthew and you'll understand.

This kind of thinking is not dissimilar to the Jewish persecution complex, though I would say Jews actually have the history to back it up.

JC Masterpiece said...

Well, i started to leave a comment about this, but it rather quickly became extremely long so instead of leaving a note as long as this spam posted previously i placed it as a post on my blog.

JC Masterpiece said...

By the way JA, how did you so cleanly remove that spam comment that had been there? I had one of those the other day and deleted it but it still left an ugly "This comment has been removed by administrator" comment. Yours is a clean removal. here

Jewish Atheist said...

jc, I checked the box that said "remove forever" before I deleted it.

mnuez said...

c'mon jewboy, we've got a thousand menckens in our day, in fact Richard Dawkins writes almost the exact same words. The only difference between today and yesterday is that today mencken's opinion is accepted by an even wider group of people than it was in his day. (and in his day too, despite the hypocracy of the talking heads, a great many people had zero respect for religion.)

But anyhow, I appreciate your sharing the quote. I just spent a few wasteful hours (not today but recently) reading some boring mencken letters exchanged with sara (whom he later married) - if you already know mencken well anbd want to know everything about him then get the book but if you're looking for some mencken smarts - eh.


By the way. Though he aint fire and brimstone, I HIGHLY recommend the late great Bergen Evans. A modern skeptic doesn't put pen to paper but he owes a heredity debt to the good professor.

Jewish Atheist said...

It's my impression that Mencken was more accepted by the mainstream than is someone like Dawkins today.