Lilla goes on to cite the many liberal religious figures who became apologists for Nazism and Stalinism, and I think he is again correct to stress the Jewish and Protestant element here, if only because most of the odium has rightly fallen until now on the repulsive role played by the Vatican. So, what is he really saying? That religion is no more than a projection of man's wish to be a slave and a fool and of his related fear of too much knowledge or too much freedom. Well, we didn't even need Hobbes (who wanted to replace a divine with a man-made dictator) to tell us that. To regret that we cannot be done with superstition is no more than to regret that we have a common ancestry with apes and plants and fish. But millimetrical progress has been made even so, and it is measurable precisely to the degree that we cease to believe ourselves the objects of a divine (and here's the totalitarian element again) "plan." Shaking off the fantastic illusion that we are the objective of the Big Bang or the process of evolution is something that any educated human can now do. This was not quite the case in previous centuries or even decades, and I do not think that Lilla has credited us with such slight advances as we have been able to make.
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