In the Name of Reason

In chaper twelve, Hitchens stops arguing fallaciously from the presumed origin of all religions, and argues briefly, but equally fallaciously, from the collapse of relgious movements. He makes this case on the basis of the collapse of one religious movement.

“It can be equally useful and instructive to take a glimpse at the closing of religions, or religious movements” (p. 169).

He does this by examing the religious hysteria that accompanied the rise and fall of Sabbatai Sevi, a false messiah among the Jews in the mid-seventeenth century. There was quite a hubbub for a time, and then the whole thing cratered.

There is an Indian tribe in our neck of the woods named the Nez Perce, which is also the name of the county immediately to the south of us. The name was given by French explorers, and it means “pierced nose.” The problem is that the Nez Perce did not have pierced noses. The misnomer perhaps came from the fact that the French encountered an early North American hippie, an outcast from the tribe, a loner who liked to listen to the voices in his head. He had a pierced nose, and the French may have had the same reasoning methods of Hitchens: “Find a sample size of one, and render general by induction.”

Remember, of course, that we are getting this treatment in the name of reason.

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