Dirac on religion

“I cannot understand why we idle discussing religion. If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality. The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination. It is quite understandable why primitive people, who were so much more exposed to the overpowering forces of nature than we are today, should have personified these forces in fear and trembling. But nowadays, when we understand so many natural processes, we have no need for such solutions. I can’t for the life of me see how the postulate of an Almighty God helps us in any way. What I do see is that this assumption leads to such unproductive questions as why God allows so much misery and injustice, the exploitation of the poor by the rich and all the other horrors He might have prevented. If religion is still being taught, it is by no means because its ideas still convince us, but simply because some of us want to keep the lower classes quiet. Quiet people are much easier to govern than clamorous and dissatisfied ones. They are also much easier to exploit. Religion is a kind of opium that allows a nation to lull itself into wishful dreams and so forget the injustices that are being perpetrated against the people. Hence the close alliance between those two great political forces, the State and the Church. Both need the illusion that a kindly God rewards—in heaven if not on earth—all those who have not risen up against injustice, who have done their duty quietly and uncomplainingly. That is precisely why the honest assertion that God is a mere product of the human imagination is branded as the worst of all mortal sins” (P. Dirac)

Categories: Spinoza

2 replies

  1. It feels a bit anacronistic, though, to talk about religion in such a completely mundane era. The interesting question therefore is: what is the substitute of religion nowadays? What is the drug used to manipulate the will of people and oppress them? Money? Career?Prestige? Consumerism?


    • This is absolutely correct. Apatheism rules today and a fifth of the US electorate is already outside any religious affiliation. But even if the modern world is built on top of concepts and ideas -science- that are completely at variance with old fables and superstitions, not all the people see the contradiction of reading the Bible in the Ipad. It simply does not occur to them. Hence Dirac’s remark is apt, according to me, as it is so clearly to the point.

      As regards the other point you raised, I suggest this documentary


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