At times like these, one cannot but help think of that famous quote from Steven Weinberg, the Nobel Prize winning physicist:
Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
But why does religion make good people do evil things? And let’s face it, denying a woman – a woman in awful pain, a woman who was dying – a life-saving medical procedure in order to uphold a rather ambiguous religious policy, is an evil act. As evil as denying condoms to Africans whose populations are being decimated by AIDS.
It seems to me that this is a strategy for “upping the ante.” The act is, prima facie, so heinous that, having committed it, you are now “all in.” God must exist and Catholic dogma must be true, otherwise you are complicit in an act that is nothing less than the epitome of horror, of madness, of unspeakable, unforgivable evil.
The modern European witch-hunts lasted three hundred years and executed 40,000 people, most of them women. Why did the belief in the existence of witches last so long without the least shred of evidence? One suspects that, at some point, the very idea that there were no such thing as witches, and that all those women had died for naught, became simply too awful to contemplate.
An army marches into battle. Having crossed the treacherous river, it burns the bridge down. There is no turning back now. Full steam ahead.