Last night on The Late Show, Vice-president Joe Biden spoke movingly with Stephen Colbert about how his faith had helped him get through the dark times in his life, like the recent death of his son. It is true that faith can be a great force for good. But it is also true – and should be remembered on today, of all days – that as the 3 speakers in this clip note, religion can be a powerful force for horror and destruction as well.
Modern science tells us that everyone and everything is interconnected, part of a larger, dynamic whole. It also makes us aware of our dual, particle/wave nature. Humans reflect that dual nature in the way they need to both feel part of a larger whole and to feel that they offer a unique contribution to that whole. (Ernest Becker discusses this in The Denial of Death.) Religion offers a fundamental way of fulfilling these needs. However, there is always the danger that, blinded by what Monsignor Albacete calls “religious passion,” believers can become blinded to our interconnectedness and wreak horror and destruction on so-called non-believers.
Only when we recognize this fact can we resist the pull of religion’s potential for darkness.