Thursday, 5 June 2008
The opium of hope
Religion gives people hope. The opium of the people, Marx called it (of course), just before he said it was the heart of a heartless world. And whilst most medical practitioners would decry drug-use, few if any would deny that opium may be needful, if a person is in severe enough and chronic enough pain. What does this say? ‘My faith gives me hope, and without it I would not be able to go on with life,’ the religious person tells me. I understand. Who can carry on living without hope? Oh, a rhetorical question … an atheist can, clearly. ‘My faith is my strength,’ the religious person tells me. I can only reply but that any strength I have is founded in my faithlessness. The atheist is, of necessity, stronger than the believer. It’s not much of a boast; but it takes more willpower, if one has a broken arm, to walk down the street without analgesic than with.