religion and terror



Religion's power comes from something much simpler, its unshakable truths.

If we take the term “imagination” in its first meaning – fantasy, originality – it is almost synonymous with poetry: that language, more than narrative, in which doubts, hesitations, inconsistencies and inconsistencies, oxymorons, in short, are virtues, more than vices. .[I] Imagination sets the subject in motion, unexpected, unpredictable. It is inseparable from the individual, from the singular, from the creature asserting itself, condensing its potential, sparkling, unique, assertive and unmistakable. From this perspective, imagination is an insult to religions.

Thus seen, they are practically antithetical. Religions can be strongly emotional, in their appeal and rites, but the emphasis on emotion (personal or collective, cathartic or silently intimate), so that it corresponds to rituals and devotional patterns, and, above all, to dogmas and fundamentals, this specific emotion catalyzed in religions does not admit the anarchic intervention of the imagination. In this essay, we will develop reflections and resort to historical examples that may illustrate this hypothesis.

We will defend that the imagination coexists very badly with institutionalized religions, since the nature of the emotion they demand is different, the feeling so frequently summoned, so diligently instilled in hearts and prayers: the vertiginous emotion that religions demand and awaken is fear. Either to justify the evils of the world, accommodating them to any theodicy,[ii] whether to comfort, it is in fear (as prudence, extreme caution or terror, pure and simple) that the unshakable power of religions rests.

In this sense, the imagination is its antithesis, a real abomination to the religious forma mentis; it is, at best, synonymous with heresy.[iii]

The fantasy most commonly evoked in religions is that which resorts to tremendous, result of numinous[iv]: phenomenon that provokes astonishment, fear, terror, the 'feeling of being a creature' mentioned by Rudolf Otto, in which the creature sinks into nothingness before the terrible transcendence, the absolute inaccessibility of the divinity, and is annulled, crushed, pulverizing it if terrified of what is above (from dust to dust). Hence the true vocation of religious emotion: that of being, not the promise of wonder, (the promise of happiness in art[v]), but the recriminating warning, the continuous alert and continuous vigilance, the trumpeting about the end of time – eschatology is the religious emotion par excellence, and perfectly fulfills its role, that of arousing fear and ensuring the discipline of the faithful .

unshakable power

The power of religion does not lie in fundamentalisms (which are so engaging) nor in its considerable temporal role. It is not in the pomp and nepotism of the Renaissance popes, that power to commit excesses that made the pontiff Alexander VI – father of Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia – the most important, and lethal, politician of his time. Nor in the deeds of Salâh Al Din Yusef ibn Ayyub, or Saladin the Great, Kurdish Muslim leader (interestingly, the greatest hero of Islam was not an Arab) whose diplomacy, mixed with the art of war, undermined the endeavor of the Crusades (another typical example of the pleonastic alliance of power & religion). The power of religion does not lie in the jihads or holy wars it sponsors, in the monuments it erects to immortalize itself, pyramids or cathedrals, nor in the fortunes that the Churches amass or dissipate, or in the ability they have to upset the destiny of entire peoples. , comfort people (with gifts of this world and promises for the next, eventually trading indulgences on sight) or ruin them ugly (heretics to fire).

The power of religion comes from something much simpler, at its heart – from its unshakable truths.

Everything else is mere consequence. Gold, frankincense and myrrh, glory, magnificence, influence, longevity and also the ability to turn simple people into fanatics (or, as the Nobel laureate in physics Steven Weinberg put it, to “make good people do bad things”) are the result of this haughty self-assurance, which admits of no replication and which is at the very core of religions. In self-respecting religions, there is no room for hesitation (digressions, digressions, oxymorons), neither in their doctrines nor on the part of their followers.

The rest, that is, the extraordinary political, financial or military power, the moral authority, the capacity for persuasion and, finally, the infinite resilience of religions – they survived intact the onslaught of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, the hasty declaration of Nietzsche ( “God is dead”) at the turn of the XNUMXth century and the competition of secular religions of the left and right, and their millenarian prophets Stalin and Hitler – in short, the perenniality and safety of religions are due to the simple reason that they never they need to be held accountable.

It is not in the nature of religions to have to explain themselves. “I believe because it is absurd”, already said in the second century one of the first Christian theologians, the brilliant Tertullian of Carthage.

Unlike science, whose engine is doubt – questions, discord, mistrust and ruptures were the oxygen of Galileo, Newton and Einstein – religion is born, grows, lives and reproduces itself in dogma.[vi] And dogmas are incontestable exactly insofar as they literally mean mysteries.

Mysteries are not around to be scrutinized – like atoms, the human genome, or the surface of Mars. Any attempt to analyze them or give them coherence would be an undue interference, as well as foolish and useless from a religious point of view.

Pretending to unravel the meaning of a dogma, or religious mystery, is a sign of the intruder's total spiritual unpreparedness. A mystery is only a mystery because it is absolutely impenetrable, immune to any logic, and, above all, forbidden ground for questioning or contesting. How could one disagree with the ineffable? With what argument, if faith, when legitimate, dispenses with frivolities such as justification or reasoning? We are precisely in the land of “that's how it is, because that's how it is”, a palace of truisms in which the curious or very restless do not set foot. Incidentally, it is known that the more implausible, obscure or abstruse the dogma, the better.

Mysteries seduce because they operate like miracles: all the more powerful the more unbelievable and, above all, unfathomable (a curious fact in the chapter on miracles is because, in general, they never happen where they are most needed, like in Auschwitz or in Africa of 2009, but in Fátima, and its beneficiaries seem to be chosen somewhat randomly, in addition to its benefits sounding a bit haphazard; after all, what could be more pressing than making a statue cry blood?).[vii]

There are those who contradict all of this, and defend that the supreme power of religion is to elevate us to heights, straight to the heavens of pure beauty and transcendence: the epiphanies emanating from the Passion according to Saint Matthew by Bach, from Mozart's Requiem, from the Pietá of Michelangelo, of the Divine Comedy, of the vaporous and soft blues of Giotto or the faded cobalt blue of a little chapel forgotten on a dirt road. But this is just the power of art, which has been in the world for as long as religion, but has always had another address, that of the promise of happiness here and now. Art, fruit of grace, is given to us for free, too. It is selfless celebration.

Nothing is further from the artistic imagination, from the graceful impetus, than the rigid and calculated system of punishment and reward, sin and forgiveness, condemnation and salvation, of that merciless accounting that is at the base of all religions.

The true vocation of religious power is not to awaken the sublime, but to awaken the unnameable. This is the definition of "numinous",[viii] key concept in religion studies: one more “oh!” terrified that an “ah”! delighted. Proof of this is that religious truths (each creed with its respective), generally serious, do not admit to being contradicted. In the territory of the ineffable mysteries, little is heard of the music of angels (as in Bach) and much, much more, the clamor of calls for order and discipline. Religions don't let themselves be shaken by their malcontents - they get rid of them, and that's it. Hesitations in faith are only admitted as resistance tests of the fidelity of the believer, harassed by the temptation of doubt.

Desires for change – like the Protestant Reformation, the name already indicates –, which would be the salt of the imagination, in religion become seditions. Efforts to modernize, or adapt to new times, end up in that story of one step forward, two steps back (compare the neo-fundamentalism of Benedict XVI with the ecumenism of John XXIII, The Pope Buono, The Good Pope, as he was called[ix]). And interreligious dialogues, in practice, are chimeras. The propagated project of peaceful coexistence of religions is, paraphrasing Clausewitz, just the continuation of the war between beliefs, by other means.

Why? Simple, Franciscanly simple, again: for the obvious reason that adhering to one religion requires, outright, excluding all others. [X] This can happen through force, through violence, or, if the gods and their representatives are in a good mood, through a certain contempt masked as condescension. Degrees of intolerance vary, but the gift of inclusion has never been the Church's strong suit.

Exclusivism has always been the cardinal virtue of religions, at least the monotheistic ones – which, paradoxically, are blood cousins.

Another matter is to discover what motivation (psychological, ethical, cultural or inertial) makes people so attached to their beliefs and so irritated when some unsuspecting person dares to smuggle in a “but really?” in the narrow and orderly interior of his certainties. There are those who say that the human penchant for religions, so old, is a result more of biology than of the supernatural[xi]. The propensity to believe would be an unwanted effect, almost a collateral damage, of another habit, this one the result of a vital need for the survival of the species: the habit of obeying, inculcated in childhood.

In order for the child to emerge unharmed from the multitude of dangers that surround him, he must learn from an early age to accept without protesting (or protesting, but yielding) certain elementary truths that are transmitted to him by his parents. For example, that he cannot hang from the terrace of the 3rd floor or else he will fall, or he must not put his finger in the socket, or he must believe that the Earth is round. Were it not so, each generation would reinvent the wheel. Imagine if each of us, aged 3 or 13, had to personally test, instead of simply adhering to, the more or less consensual body of available knowledge. Each would have to circumnavigate the planet in their own boat and only then agree that the Earth is not flat; or throw your own apple, mull it over for a while and, eureka, arrive at the law of gravity. It would be unfeasible, as well as a tremendous waste.

That is why blindly obeying and believing wholeheartedly in childhood is generally advantageous and sensible. But if this habit continues into adulthood, it becomes an addiction: that of systematic credulity. Thus, what had been useful at 3 or 13 years old, after 30 years old, becomes harmful: a parasitic residue. From this point of view, belief – the gateway to religions – is nothing more than the lazy and comfortable repetition of something that has already lost its raison d'être, a talent (precociously processing transmitted information) that has become automatism, an obsessive mania, spinning in a vacuum.[xii]

No one has illustrated with so much care and acuity this peculiar nature of religious power - love of obedience, horror of doubt; adoration of dogma, contempt for imagination - like Tertullian of Carthage, the effervescent, fierce, and (despite himself) deliriously imaginative theologian of North Africa. It is worth remembering that, in the second century, Alexandria, Antioch and Carthage were as or more important than Rome for nascent Christianity.[xiii]

Born in Tunisia in 150, into a prestigious family in Roman society, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus converted late, around the age of 40, but he made up for the lost years with his combativeness. He was the most feared critic of Christian dissidents at the time. His target was not pagans, but fellow dissenters. He composed around the year 200 the most famous manual for detecting and combating heretics, the classic From Praescriptione haereticorum. [Prescriptions against heretics] that inaugurated a new art of arguing, bluntly. His verve and his method made a school, going through time, the feuds of the countless Councils, the schism between Rome and Byzantium and even resisting his own excommunication, since Tertullian was punished at the end of his life for being more realistic than the king. His work has an unmistakable aroma, a mixture of ironies, truisms, dogmatisms, and enviable vehemence. He left countless imitators. His style can be seen in the later debate between Roman Catholics and Byzantines in the XNUMXth century, an imperfect attempt to copy the master: Western Christians branded Easterners “faces of feces, unworthy of sunlight”, while Easterners called their brothers from the west of “sons of darkness”, an allusion to the fact that the sun never sets in the west.

Champion of tautologies, one of his most famous quips is that whatever conforms to the Church is true because it couldn't be otherwise; consequently, everything that does not come from the Church can only be counterfeit. Tertuliano cemented his love of absolute certainties through contradictions. The best of them is his most famous phrase, “I believe, because it is absurd”, an argument so mysteriously dogmatic that it becomes unanswerable. In front of him, you can't even begin the debate.

Philosophers are one of the favorite targets of Tertullian's wrath. His anti-intellectualism is one of those born of a past of intellectual life; therefore, as is often the case with self-inflicted reckoning, it is especially virulent. His praise of obscurantism comes from the gut: “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem, the [Platonic] Academy with the Church, heretics with Christians? Our teaching comes from the Porch of Solomon, who personally taught that men should seek God in the simplicity of their hearts.” Philosophers and Christians from other groups dislike it because they fall into the temptation of curiosity and imagination. The presumption of knowledge, for Tertullian, was more than levity, it was an insult of lese-majesty to the true faith, which, to be healthy, should literally feed on poverty of spirit.

“Away with all attempts to produce a mixed Christianity of Stoic, Platonic or dialectical composition. We don't want any curious disputes after we possess Jesus Christ, any kind of inquiries after we enjoy the gospel. With our faith we do not wish for another belief,” he wrote. The combat waged by Tertullian, however, is not only against heretics; it is against any initiative to put the brain (opponent of the soul) to work. Tertuliano wanted to extract from the mind what ascetics like Santo Antão extracted from the body, that is, to mortify it and leave it in want. A good Christian should abstain from any form of mental exercise. To think is to pollute the soul.

In the eagerness to ward off the danger of thought, not even the gospels are spared. Even canonical passages are under suspicion because, if mulled over too often, they can lead the devotee astray. To the traditional “Seek, and you will find”, he contrasts a “Away with the one who seeks where he will never find”! Vigilance must not give way even in the face of passages from the Bible, because if they are subject to ambiguity, that is, to interpretation, they will certainly poison the spirit. Since almost everything you read can be interpreted, even the most innocuous passages are banned. 'Knock at the door and you will find'? None of that, says Tertuliano: "Away with him who is always knocking, for it will never be opened to him, since he knocks where there is no one to open". 'Ask, and it shall be answered'? No way to think: “Away with him who is always asking, for he will never be heard, since he asks those who do not listen”.

Asking, asking, or waiting is a breach of decorum. Asking is the most ominous, as it suggests that there is some doubt in the air, something to clear up, and doubts are the unmistakable route to perdition. Why ask if it's enough to accept? "Evidence of stricter discipline among us is further evidence of the truth." Doubt paves the way to hell; discipline, the road to Paradise.

If asking is indecent, inventing is an abomination. The great internal diversity of the Christian groups of his time is ridiculed by Tertullian, who describes his opponents as architects of crazy cosmologies (given the freedom with which each group interpreted the Christian message), in which the heavens would succeed each other “like room piled on top of room”. , each designating a god by as many stairs as there are heresies: here is the universe transformed into rooms for rent!”. The image of the universe as a pile of rented rooms is not only sensational (Tertullian hated his opponents' imaginations but could not help his own) and is quite pertinent. The rooms are stacked; this indicates that they must be the same size or close in size, and that they offer equal comfort; there's no imperial suite or VIP penthouse, no perks. More: none of the residents is the owner, as the rooms are rented, and if the guest is dissatisfied, he just needs to move. This is an anarchic building, not what he, Tertullian, wants for the Lord's House.

“Each of them – he says of his Christian opponents – as his temperament pleases, changes the traditions he has received, just as the one who transmitted them also changed them by molding them according to his own will”. The mania for polemicizing stuns him. And this continuous reinvention of tradition scares him, which should be untouchable. Tertullian enumerates the main defects of Christians who are not of his group: plasticity of ideas, contempt for hierarchy; the clear preference for rotating positions; the absence of distinction between clergy and laity; equal treatment of women and men, or veterans and newcomers.

These characteristics, he says, can only lead to ruin: “Their ordinances are carelessly dispensed with, full of caprices and changeable; at one moment it is the novices who carry out the functions, at another it is people with secular jobs… nowhere is promotion easier than among the rebels… so that today one man is a bishop, and tomorrow it will be others; he who is a deacon today will read the scriptures tomorrow; whoever is a priest today will be a layman tomorrow, because even on the laity they impose the functions of the priesthood”. And he continues, in defense of the single truth: “It is not clear who is a catechumen and who is already included among the faithful; all are equally admitted, all hear alike, all pray alike... they share the kiss of peace with all who come, for they care not how each conceives the topics of the faith, since they are gathered together to rush against the citadel of her who is the only one. true".

In the host of their Christian opponents, novices officiate like priests, priests act like novices; anyone can be a bishop, even for a day; all participate in the service and can take charge of the sermon of the day; priests and lay people are equal, and nowhere is it so easy to be promoted, that is, to be accepted on equal terms. Such insubordination, such 'humanity', seems to Tertullian degeneration in the highest degree. "How frivolous, worldly, how merely human, without seriousness, without authority, without discipline, how well befitting their faith!" Of all subversions, the one that horrifies him the most is the emancipation of women. Misogynistic even by the patriarchal standards of the time, Tertullian called the female sex "the devil's gateway."

Marcion and Mark, two of his Christian competitors, had ordained several women as priests and bishops, and the representative of the sect of Gnostic Christians in Rome was a woman, Marcelina. This permissiveness infuriated Tertullian. Women, not content with the disorder that their ancestor had caused in paradise, continued to disturb the earthly order: “These heretical women, how daring they are! They lack modesty and have the audacity to teach, discuss, exorcise, heal, and perhaps even baptize!” They had better do without jewels and ornaments and, "according to the law of St. Paul, cover themselves with veils." But, justice be done, Tertuliano wasn't very liberal with the stronger sex either: the act of shaving, for him, was impious, as it is a disrespect to the Creator to try to improve the face granted by his will. The Taliban had a learned predecessor.

Tertullian was a prolific as well as a passionate author – thirty-one of his works survive. He wrote about everything worthwhile, monogamy, virginity, modesty, patience and heaven. About public entertainment, the fervent African warned: “You who like shows, wait for the greatest of all, the Last Judgment”. His mission is to disqualify his competitors, but that doesn't take away his sense of humor. When Christians were accused of the crime of not worshiping the emperor, he replied that the accusation was far-fetched: Christians did not need to worship the emperor, as they already prayed for him.

After years of vigorous militancy on the Orthodox front, around 207 he broke with the Catholics and became one of the leaders of Montanism, an apocalyptic movement in Asia Minor. Adherence to a heresy was the least expected of the tireless hunter of heretics. But the borderline between heresy and orthodoxy, as he was unfortunately able to prove, is a matter of who gets to tell the story. Late in life, the patron of dogma turned against his regiment. Tertullian died fighting the Catholics, whom he had fiercely defended all his life, accusing them of being the “Church of a few bishops”, too narrow for 'spiritual people', those imaginative ones as he had always been.

crooked symmetry

Religions are the best proof that asymmetries are at the base, at the vertebra, and even at the obligatory surface of what is called civilization. Since the world began, there has been no civilization without religion – just as there has been no society without power, or at least an attempt at it. And if we exclude the Greco-Roman cults, that luminous religion of drunken, carousing, jealous, troublemaking but also superlatively generous gods – Olympus totally symmetrical to our floor below, mirroring the best of our vices and virtues –, named after paganism, the history of religions is that of the irrefutable, though not always ineffable, victory of asymmetries. Political, logical, anthropological victory.

Anthropological: in any of them, from the cults of Vanuatu (in Melanesia), to the full-bodied monotheisms or the dance to call rain to the Diktats from the Vatican, religion only works because there is a radical asymmetry between the one who asks and the one who grants. Silly to say that some are primitive superstitions and others a sublime quest for transcendence. They are all a convincing system of exchange between unequals. In the beating of the drum or in the prayer, in the rattle or the candle, in the talisman or in the elaborate liturgy of a mass, it is magical thinking that is at work, and to operate a convenient trade in dissimilars. Between a supreme and inscrutable power, on one end, and us, suppliants, on the other.

Religion is the continuous and continued replacement of heteronomy. That is why religions are the opposite of the classical ideal of philosophy, that of the search for autárkeia,[xiv] the autonomy with which Socrates waved us when he suggested that we listen to the daimon interior, without paying attention to the divinity of the time. Socrates was condemned to drink hemlock for the crime of impiety, for urging the youth to follow the advice dictated by the inner voice (virtue), not always consistent with the dictates of the gods, and administrators, of the polis.

Knocking wood to ward off bad luck is an unmistakably religious gesture, as much as praying or mantra. Since we don't knock on wood to take a practical step (the way we knock on a nail to nail a picture), the act is symbolic, the summoning of someone or something to solve our problems, playing our role. Contrition, adoration or supplication are contractual rites, and a contract that is more Hobbesian than Rousseauist (a contract concluded not between us, but by which we cede everything to Leviathan).

In this curious operation of exchanging favors, it would seem that we have the advantage, since in general we ask for the impossible, or at least the improbable, in exchange for small things like a novena or a promise. The burden and toil are left to the Almighty; the dividends, with the beggar. Illusion: in this asymmetrical exchange, between abysmally asymmetrical beings, the end result is that we become chronic hostages. The gap deepened.

Logic: If this asymmetry of principle between the Almighty and what he can only ask was not enough, the spiritual accounting of religions also has a venerable logical foundation. The most famous proofs of God's existence, the ontological and cosmological ones, or intelligent design, put to the ground any desire to reduce this distance, this polar asymmetry. The proof of design, or creationism, currently in vogue among neoconservative enemies of Darwin, postulates that only a perfect Being could build a universe so well equated, millimetrically functional, and on top of that bursting with beauty in the color of birds' feathers and in the architecture of flowers.

“Just look out the window!” creationist Leibniz would say. “Provided the roof does not leak, and long contemplation does not result in a cold,” would reply the skeptical Hume[xv]. The traditional ontological proof of God's existence, invented by Saint Anselm, was simpler and more direct. If God is perfect, omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, if he condenses everything that was, is and is to come, then, since he has all the attributes, it is clear that he cannot lack... the elementary attribute of existence. Pascal was less rocambolesque and more pragmatic, and his explanation reveals another form of asymmetry, between those who have nothing to lose and us, who risk everything if we don't make the right bet.

It is called, by the way, “Pascal's wager”, and lists four possibilities and their combinations. Either God exists or he doesn't; either we believe in him, or we don't. If he doesn't exist and we don't believe, no problem. If he doesn't exist and we believe, waste of time, but without major consequences. If it exists and we believe it, lucky for us, but if it exists and we don't believe it, hellfire. When in doubt, therefore, it is better to believe.

There were those, like Epicurus, who asked the obvious question: if He is good and potent, where does evil come from? For evil – war, suffering, disease, injustice – is undeniable. His hypothesis (and that's why Epicurus is a philosopher, not a theologian), is that either God is really good, but he can't do much, or he can do everything, but he doesn't have such good intentions.

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis who won the Goethe Prize for Literature, addressed the inherent asymmetry of religions in at least three essays: totem and taboo, in which he scrutinizes Judaism (its roots), The future of an illusion, in which he reviews Christianity (the society of his time and environment), and O civilization malaise, a text that could have been conceived in the XNUMXst century, given its relevance.[xvi] The conclusion is the same: religion was indispensable for the construction of the civilizing edifice, whether with its rites (to assuage our anguish) or prohibitions (to keep our societies cohesive, to prevent us from cannibalizing ourselves), but must, if the world takes a better course, be replaced by education.

For him, religion is born from an archaic psychic asymmetry, between father and son, between the holder of the law and the one who must be domesticated and tamed, between the judicious superego and a chaotic and wild unconscious. Freud had no illusions about the majority of men: the human community is asymmetrical, yes, and a majority had to be restrained by highly coercive commandments, (read: religions) otherwise civilization would sink in a minute. But Freud also had his hopes, that a time would come when men, all properly educated (that is, self-repressed), could dispense with superstition (the dependence on that external asymmetry, which, through fear, restrains savagery), and began to base their actions on the moral rule, on the simple satisfaction of doing good, and not on the fear of punishment.

Psychoanalysis does not incense God, but accepts that religions did more than narcotize, they were more than the “opium of the people”. Monotheisms, with their definitive polarization between the Protagonist of the cosmos and us, mere supporting actors, would have been an advance over the more restless and anarchic polytheism and pantheism, in which asymmetry is diluted and practically disappears in the identification between nature and Creator, generating a dangerous symmetry between stone and flower, man and animal, a risky insinuation that the same divine élan emanates from everything, a divinity distributed with equity, therefore quite wasteful.

This would have been the great achievement carried out by monotheisms against the simplistic and sweetest religions that preceded them: the destruction of individualistic religiosity, whether that of the animist, the free-shooter believer or the self-absorbed mystic.

But the final asymmetry, the “politics”, is what was consummated with the purge of the poets of God by the bureaucrats of faith. It is the historic persecution, in all creeds, of mystics, dissenters, freethinking believers. It was with the political victory of the enthroned Churches that the most mundane of religious asymmetries was consolidated, that of positions, functions, roles, and, above all, (material) benefits. It was only with the consolidation of religion as an institution that space was opened for the Inquisition, the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, Jihad, televangelist extremism, in short, so that fundamentalisms of all stripes could prosper. Here, the asymmetry reached its culmination, becoming, paradoxically, its opposite. It became a crooked symmetry: the fight of all against all, the holy war in the name of the One who, looking closely, is the same.

*Marilia Pacheco Fiorillo is a retired professor at the USP School of Communications and Arts (ECA-USP).


[I] See the clear and illuminating argument by Suzanne Langer, disciple of Ernst Cassirer, in Philosophy in a New Key: A Study in the Symbolism of Reason, Rite, and Art, Harvard University Press, 1957.

[ii] From Anselm to Descartes to Leibniz, from Pascal (prudence) to Kant, in the latter the sophisticated solution of Practical Reason demanding a Supreme Being as the foundation of morality and the elan for virtue, happiness and justice.

[iii] Fiorillo, Maria, The exiled God: brief history of a heresy. Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian Civilization, 2008.

[iv] Otto, Rudolf. the sacred. Editions 70, Lisbon, s/d.

[v] THE 'promise of bonheur' of which Stendhal spoke.

[vi] Boyer, Pascal, Religion Explained, Basic Books, Perseus Books Group, 2001

[vii] Bertrand Russell makes a complaint of this nature in the passage where he asks why in the gospels there is so little charity and love for animals and plants: the poor pigs, possessed, are not spared from the abyss, and the tree is condemned to dry up. (“Because I am not a Christian”. In: Essay, Ed Livraria Book Exhibition, 1965).

[viii] Otto, Rudolf, ditto

[ix] Arendt, Hannah: it is worth reviewing her splendid essay on “Il papa buono” in men in dark times.

[X] The one who most concisely arrives at this definition is the North American playwright Arthur Miller, author, among other plays, of The Crucible, in which he resumes the historical episode of the trial and murder of the alleged Salem witches, a magnificent study of religious neurosis and its nefarious political implications.

[xi] boyer, ditto

[xii] Boyer is not alone in connecting religion and obsession; psychoanalysis, since the founding master S Freud, traditionally associates obsessive neurosis with religious ritualistic behavior.

[xiii] Fiorillo, M. The exiled god: brief history of a heresy. Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian Civilization. Quotations in the sequence are from the book.

[xiv] In Aristotle, the happy man is the free man who participates in the life of the city

[xv] Hum, D. Dialogues concerning natural religion. London: Dover Philosophical Classics, 2006.

[xvi] freud, s. Complete works, Editorial Biblioteca Nueva, 1981.

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