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On matters of faith

October 12, 2008

Re "That need for opium," Opinion, Oct. 6

Gregory Rodriguez makes two assumptions: that religious faith cannot be grounded in evidence; and that we must therefore find some psychological explanation for it, which, from Marx and Freud on, always turns out to be "fear." Both, methinks, are painfully condescending.

People of faith believe for the same reason a person holds to any worldview -- it makes sense of a wider range of our deepest experiences. The view that religion is ultimately grounded in fear is thus just as much an article of "faith" as any. And less cogent, for it fails to consider the possibility that faith appeals not to our weaknesses but to our strengths, that believers believe not because their fears are soothed but because, like hearing a great piece of music, they have been awakened, emboldened, "surprised by joy."

Stanley R. Moore

Claremont

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Rodriguez claims that "faith answers fear," but faith is a wellspring of fear. The implication of the Northwestern University study is that for devout Christians, fear of eternal torment is the only check on "incessant conflict and chaos" and "people's inability to control their impulses." Rodriguez implores us to ignore basic questions about God's existence and instead focus on "real knowledge and fundamental questions."

What could be more fundamental? The world burns while we asks, "Why it is that so many of us feel compelled to pray?" Superstition never solved a single problem. Ask instead, "When the world is burning, shouldn't we reach for buckets instead of praying for rain?"

Kevin T. Freeman

Rancho Cucamonga

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