Christopher Hitchens and David Allen White discuss the impact of Christianity on Western Civilization
HH: Welcome to a special couple of hours on the Hugh Hewitt Show. This is the second in a series of conversations about the role of God or not God in the modern world. The principal interlocutor on the party of not God is Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair columnist, author most recently of the New York Times bestseller, god Is Not Great, frequent contributor to the program, and Professor David Allen White, for more than 25 years, a professor of English literature at the United States Naval Academy, the author of the Encyclopedia of Shakespeare and most recently the Horn of the Unicorn. I describe Professor White as a supporter of the Society of Pius X, a Roman Catholic. Today, these two hours, not theology, but really culture and the Church and culture, and whether or not Western civilization is better off for there having been a robust Christian faith. Welcome to you both, gentlemen. Christopher, welcome back, David Allen White, welcome back, good to have you both.
CH: Thank you.
DAW: Glad to be here, Hugh.
HH: I’d like to start, since we’re taping this on August 8th, which is the feast of St. Dominic, the founder of the Dominicans, the teaching-preaching order, by asking David Allen White, and then Christopher Hitchens, is it a good thing that Dominic lived, and that the Church embraced his tradition?
DAW: Well, being a Catholic, of course, I’m very fond of all the saints. Catholics have special favorite saints, and St. Dominic plays a very special role, again, not just in teaching, but in preserving culture. The establishment of the monasteries and the establishment of the Dominican order, extraordinarily important, I think, in holding onto civilization and advancing civilization, and I do see the two very much as interconnected. I’m not sure there can be one without the other.
HH: Christopher Hitchens?
CH: Well, I say in my book that religion was our first, and for that reason partly our worst, but still our first attempt at philosophy, at understanding the world and our place in it, and that this is obviously attested by the libraries of the monasteries, as it is with the building of the cathedrals and the content of many great art galleries. What I argue is that religion can no longer perform that function, and if you’re going to claim that for it, Professor White can claim today for the Christian Church, but you can’t deny that claim to the rabbis who kept a lot of scrolls going, and spread a great deal of learning and establishing a number of schools, though they teach a ridiculous orthodoxy, nor indeed to the Muslims who at a time of extreme darkness in Christian Europe, have kept alive the ideas of Greek philosophy and retransmitted them to us, to Peter Abelard and other Catholic philosophers. So I elucidate, it doesn’t say anything to the credit of Islam that Muslim societies did that.
HH: Would you deny that legacy to them, Professor White?
DAW: Oh, I’m not claiming exclusivity in that sense. Of course there have been many, many different factions, different visions that have helped keep civilization alive. But I would assign something of a special role to what I call the Christian West. In fact, it’s one of the things that troubles me about god Is Not Great. There is a sense all the way through, and being a Catholic, that’s what I must defend. I can’t defend those things I don’t necessarily believe in. But I of course have a sense of the role they have played in the advancement of civilization. But there is a sense in the book of looking at the dark side and the down side, almost exclusively, there’s a wonderful comment by Dorothy Sayers about people who only read the Inferno, the first part of Dante’s Divine Comedy. And she says it’s a bit like visiting one of the great cities of Europe, say Paris, and only spending your time in the sewers.
DAW: If you come up above into the landscape, you’re going to see not just Notre Dame, but the Louvre filled with paintings, you’re probably going to have a fine French meal as well, which I think is part of that civilization. And the incredible diversity that Catholic culture spread throughout Europe is still fascinating and part of our legacy. Not denying the others played a role, but I would assert there is something special and extraordinarily beautiful in what the Church offered.
HH: Christopher Hitchens, did you go out of your way to avoid elaborating on Christianity’s gifts to civilization?
CH: First, I should just say Professor White, I think he, I suspect in of undue modesty here, that does he not in fact say that the Catholic Church is the one true Church?
DAW: Yes, I do. Absolutely, I do.
CH: So what Mr. Hewitt believes as a Christian is, in a sense, irrelevant to you? I mean, you just think he’s wrong? He’s in the wrong Church? He’s not really a proper Christian at all?
CH: I think we should all…I mean, since my views are probably very well advertised, I think we should understand that I’m not arguing with one of those a la carte Catholics this time. You’re the real thing, aren’t you?
DAW: Well, let’s…I think of myself as a traditional Catholic. Let me put my cards on the table. From about age 17, I was raised very liberal Protestant, and at an early age, about 17, lost any faith at all, so I read your book with a familiarity, because I made many of the same arguments myself at one time. I came into the Church, the Catholic Church at the age of 31, and I must say one of the men you respect, I think, I don’t want to put words in your mouth, one of the men I think you respect, Evelyn Waugh, was very influential in leading me towards the Church.
CH: Indeed, yes.
DAW: But as you well know, Waugh was troubled at the end of his life at what was going on in the Church. As he said at one point, Vatican II knocked the guts out of me. So when I came in, I began trying to get a sense of what was going on, and found what is called the traditional movement. It’s simply those who are maintaining what the Church had always taught over the centuries.
CH: Yeah, well I say in my book that I think it was a great loss to the Church, I rather sympathize with Evelyn Waugh on this point. By the way, I’m not dodging your earlier question, I’m coming straight to it. But the abandonment, particular of the Latin Mass, the so-called Tridentine Mass, was an enormous blow to the morale of the Church, and the subsequent rituals appear to be extremely banal. But does that not give you some difficulty in that that must mean that along with people like Mel Gibson and others, you essentially say that Pope John XXIII was not just not infallible, but deeply in error?
DAW: No, because…
CH: And from the Catholic point of view, isn’t there an element of impossibility in that position?
DAW: No, and fortunately, I don’t have to say that, because the last infallible pronouncement of a pope, as you also mention in your book, was the Doctrine of the Assumption, which came out in 1951. The so-called liturgical changes in the Church were never in any way decreed as doctrine or dogma. Now obviously, it’s troubling, and I do find it very interesting, in fact, I’ve talked on Hugh’s show about this, I’m delighted that the Latin Mass is “back,” although as the Pope himself has admitted, it was never abrogated, never really went away. And I know for a fact that there is a surge going on out there of priests who are now learning the traditional Mass.
CH: Well, and there was always the movement associated with Archbishop Lefebvre, though I mean, I’m nostalgic for the Latin Mass in the aesthetic sense that you were talking about earlier. But I’m, I don’t miss the expression perfidious Jew, which was one part of its ritual, for example.
DAW: Well, it is in the Good Friday service, when we pray for almost everyone. The prayers go on at length, and indeed, that phrase is used, but as you probably know, it means fallen away. It is not in any sense a judgment on them, and of course, one is under the obligation to pray for all souls to come into the Church, because as you said, I do believe it’s the one true Church.
CH: Well now, then…I’m glad we’ve clarified that. Look, on the point of whether one only emphasizes the bad, my book is written as a critique of religion, so I take it for granted that those who believe in the virtues of it already know what those are. Now I couldn’t be without Notre Dame, for example, nor could I be without quite a lot of devotional music. I could actually do without a fair amount of devotional painting, but who cares what my opinion on paintings are? My point would be this. We have no means of absolutely knowing for certain that the people who built and painted and composed those things were themselves believers. What we do know is that it would have been very dangerous for them not to be, extremely dangerous, and that many of them did have to write and perform in fear. We know that because of what happened to Giordano Bruno, to Galileo and to many others, and from many other testimonies. I actually don’t think St. Peter’s in Rome is that wonderful a building. But if you think it is, and if you want to take credit for it, then you have to accept also the responsibility for the fact that it was built on the revenues of the special sale of indulgences.
DAW: Chalk and cheese. Let me just clarify one thing. If you’re speaking about the artists, I think it’s true, it’s very difficult to get at the core of an artist’s intentions. The question of them living in fear I don’t know about, and then the examples you give are two scientists. That to my mind is very much a separate issue. I would say this, it seems to me very difficult to come up with what I think we might agree on, as masterpieces of music, literature, painting, sculpture, if there isn’t some higher vision, if there isn’t something motivating it. I don’t know of many great artists who have created great art solely out of fear.
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HH: When we went to break, Christopher Hitchens, the question on the table was without a higher vision, can there ever be great art?
CH: No, I would say there could not. I mean, I think that there’s a big confusion, though, in many people’s minds between the transcendent and the supernatural. I have a special passage in my book trying to speak about this. I think is one wants to consider the awe inspiring and the infinite and the majestic, that actually, there’s more to be found if you study the photographs taken by the Hubble telescope, or examine the extraordinary beauty and implications of the double helix, or read a page of Stephen Hawking on the event horizon than there is in, say, the contemplation, I’m very sorry to say, of St. Dominic, and that the natural world is wonderful enough, and as Einstein says, the miraculous thing about it is they aren’t in miracle, that it works with an impressive, extraordinary underlying regularity. Now Dr. White can’t follow me in this by, it seems to me, by definition, because he’s obliged to believe that the Church has recorded and established Divine interventions that are responsive to prayerful intercessions that changed the natural order in favor of those praying, for example, a belief that I’m sorry to say, I must get out of the way, I think is utterly nonsensical, and actually sinister.
HH: David Allen White?
DAW: A number of things to comment on there. Let me start with a word of praise for the book. I find in it one of the more interesting passages. I wish I could quote it at length, but in the book, Mr. Hitchens talks about indeed those staggering photographs taken by the Hubble telescope, talks about the glorious mystery and the symmetry of the double helix. I wouldn’t disagree that those are remarkable things, and that science at its greatest has allowed us view that. Now obviously, our response to that will be different. But I do have a question, and I would like to get to the other issue about prayer in a moment, but let me put it this way. One of the great events in modern human history was that man stepped off the planet. It was an extraordinary scientific event, it was an extraordinary human event, an engineering feat that in its way was incomparable. I know of only two works inspired from that event. One, Norman Mailer’s Of A Fire On The Moon, which I’m very fond of, even though Mr. Mailer drives me crazy much of the time with things he says, but I think he is a fine writer and an interesting writer.
CH: Well, we agree about that.
DAW: And the other is a minor poem by W. H. Auden. And I’m wondering if it will be possible that great art can indeed be inspired by these events in the same way that for example, St. Francis, that in the book is referred to as a mammal who was said to have preached to birds, has inspired artists from Dante and Giotto, back in the 14th Century, up until our own time when Francis Poulenc has a beautiful setting in the 50′s of the prayers of St. Francis, and Olivier Messiaen’s fascinating new opera from the early 80′s, St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis is still inspiring artists. I admit there are glories to be seen in what science has shown us. I don’t know if they can inspire art, or would do so 600 years in the future.
HH: Mr. Hitchens?
CH: Well, I was just going to say that I agreed with most of that, but wouldn’t…isn’t it a somewhat depressing thought that the ability of religious faith to inspire great painting and music and architecture seems somewhat, though, diminished? The examples you give are not bad, and like you, I’m also a great admirer of W.H. Auden, as well as a critic and admirer of Norman Mailer. But just as the age of miracles and of great religious writers, and people like Aquinas and Augustine seem to be somewhere behind us, because it’s not possible to hold the positions of faith with the same absolutely uncritical devotion as it used to be. I think the same is true of the aesthetic, but again, I repeat, the same claim can be made for Hinduism, for the splendid and barbarous temples of pre…not Hindu, but Buddhist…Cambodia, for example, or Burma, for the grand mosque in Damascus, and for many other things, that at least speak to me at any rate, not at all of the truth or validity or moral standing of the faith that inspired them.
DAW: I would agree with you very much in that there has been a diminishment in the number of these works that have appeared. But again, I would say you can’t have it both ways. You are expressing a kind of, a kind of gratitude, would that be fair, that finally religious faith is diminishing?
CH: Yes, that would be fair.
DAW: But one of the consequences is we are losing the art, the artists, the literature. I’m sure you know this, because you refer to the book often, and I’d love to talk about it maybe sometime during the course of the discussion, one of my favorites, which is the Brothers Karamazov…
DAW: You know the great scene where old Theodore, the father, has two of his sons, Ilyusha and Ivan at the table. And he says to them directly, is there a God? And Ivan says no, there is not God. He asks Ilyusha, the young monk, is there a God? Ilyusha says there is. He follows. Is there immortality? Ivan says no, no immortality, Ilyusha says yes, there is. Now Ivan goes one step further then, and takes the cognac away from his father, and says without God, there will be no cognac, either. There would be no civilization at all if God had not been invented. Now I think that’s your claim, fair enough, that God was an invention?
CH: Yes, absolutely. It’s a manmade construct. It’s a reification of our peers, and also of our self-centeredness.
DAW: I guess what I am suggesting, and Dostoyevsky said himself in a letter he wrote after the book was finished, that he thinks he made better arguments than the atheists themselves had made. He was an honest man and a brilliant man, and in that taking away of the cognac and saying there can be no more civilization, I think he is absolutely correct in that civilization is connected directly to the religious impulse, and that what we are likely to see is a dissent into mere political power, as Waugh called it in his great novel Helena, power without grace. Maybe we can explore that later.
HH: Christopher Hitchens, you’ve got a minute to the break, so are you destroying civilization by attacking God?
CH: Well, right…Well, Oscar Wilde, who we’d both have to agree was a rather heterodox Catholic, did, I remember once say, that there were religions that invented green chartreuse can never truly die. And like you, I’m a great fan of Evelyn Waugh, but I’m sorry to say that the will to power, which Nietzsche said would be all that was left of that religion, is expressed through religion as well. You don’t get away from the will to power by invoking faith. It’s part of the will to power, and it’s always been used for it. And if you want instances of power without grace, there are many theocracies to which I can point you, sir, as you must know.
DAW: Oh, of course I know, but again, it doesn’t invalidate the notion that grace exists, and power is more dangerous without grace.
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HH: Professor White, as I went to break, and I said it quite seriously, I wanted to ask you, since it’s the feast of St. Dominic, we’re taping this on…his mission was to the heretics, in many sense. Are you concerned with the soul of Christopher Hitchens, and what happens to him if he stays in the state of atheism that he’s in?
DAW: Well, let me put it this way. As a believing Catholic, I’m concerned for all souls. But I have no business making any pronouncements whatsoever upon what happens to any individual soul at the time of death.
HH: What does the Church teach about a soul that is not convicted?
DAW: Well, this is very interesting. In fact, in the book, there is a fascinating passage. I assume you know the one I refer to, Mr. Hitchens, about Mary McCarthy?
DAW: …who was shocked at learning from a Jesuit preacher that her Protestant grandfather was doomed to eternal punishment because he had been baptized the wrong way. Now I’m not a fan of the art of Mary McCarthy, but she was a bright woman, and she was deeply troubled. Now my own, I do object to a phrase you use. The Mother Superior consulted higher authorities, and you say there was a loophole in the writings of Bishop Athanasius, who held that heretics were only damned if they rejected the true Church with full awareness of what they were doing. That is a Catholic doctrine simply called invincible ignorance. The Church has always said we do not know how God will judge any individual human soul. It is not my place to say anything. It’s my place to have a conversation with Mr. Hitchens to try to convince him. Obviously, there is a great gulf fix between what the two of us believe, but we have certain things in common. We can have a serious discussion about things we have in common, and maybe I can hope to move him one way or another, believing in prayer. I could pray for him. It is I think terribly unfair to make any assumption about what will happen to any soul. As a Catholic, I can’t do that. One other quick comment…
HH: But wait, that undermines a lot of the Hitchens argument about the Church, that the Church is judgmental and condemning.
CH: It would if it were true, but I mean, but what Professor White has to do before he goes any further is to say that he repudiates the decades, generations in which children were told in blood-curdling tones by elderly virgins, that they would go to hell if they played with themselves, even though they were Catholic, and those who weren’t Catholic would go to hell no matter what, if they had turned away from the Church, if they were the wrong kind of Christian, or if they were Jewish, or Muslims. And the whole argument of invincible ignorance is invented to deal with an insuperable problem, which is this. Why did the revelation of Jesus of Nazareth only begin and occur in a small, remote, inaccessible, illiterate part of Palestine? Why are the millions and millions of people who’ve been born and died never hearing of it, why there are still millions and millions of people who never had the chance to be redeemed in the only available way? The Church says extra-ecclesia nulla salus. Am I not correct?
DAW: That’s absolutely correct, yes.
CH: That you can’t be saved without it, but that therefore, what are we going to say to the people who never even had the chance. Now this, I think, simply shows how crudely manmade religion is, not just how manmade and manufactured it is, but how very crudely they suddenly have a thought that if it was allowed to occur properly, would demolish their whole premise.
HH: Professor White, you have a minute to the break.
DAW: Let me answer the first part of that, and may I answer the second when we come back from the break?
DAW: The first part is this. Thank Heavens I don’t have to defend those who are ignorant of the teachings of their own Church. Now admittedly, this suggests of flaws in the hierarchy, flaws in the way in which doctrine has been taught, and certainly misconceptions that have been forced on a number of young people. In any educational system, I hope you would agree with me, very often there is bad teaching. I’ve been a teacher for 37 years. I know it happens. It certainly happens in the Church. That doesn’t, however, change the actual doctrines and dogmas that the Church does hold, and I will answer the second part of that after the break, if I may.
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HH: When we went to break, we’d gotten around to this issue which is very central to god Is Not Great, that Christianity is a rather crudely made manmade religion, because no one would think up a religion so awful in its consequences for so many people bereft of the even the opportunity to embrace it. David Allen White, you were going to speak to that?
DAW: Let me just say, and I will submit to a higher authority here. Being a traditional Catholic, my impulse is just to submit to the higher authority. Being a teacher of literature, let me submit to Dante. There is a magnificent scene in Canto 19 of the Paradiso, and by the way, I would disagree with you that no really tempting vision of Heaven’s ever been created. I’d point to Dante’s Paradiso, which T.S. Eliot called the greatest poetry that can be written. But in any case, he is in the sphere of justice, the sphere of Jupiter, and that is the precise question he asks. A man is born along the shoreline of the Indus River, none is there to speak or teach or write of Christ. He as far as human reason sees in all he seeks, and all he does is good. There is no sin within his life or speech. That man dies unbaptized, without faith. Where is this justice then that would condemn him? This is Dante, the Catholic, asking that question when he’s in Heaven. The response of the Eagle of justice is very interesting, in that the first response is take care of your own business first before you start worrying about others who are on the banks of the Indus River. But then the answer comes in a very strange scene in Canto XX. Dante is about to shoot up to the sphere of Saturn, and before he goes, he sees souls in Paradise, including Trajan and the Trojan Ripheus, neither of whom could have been baptized. And he shouts aloud, can such things be? These men have made it into Heaven. It was indeed Pope Benedict XV who said Dante’s the greatest Catholic artist, and his theology is sound, meaning the Church admits there may well be souls in Heaven that we will be surprised to see there, may not understand how they got there. They may not have gone through the usual process we think of. It’s God’s domain, not ours. We should tend to our own knittin’.
HH: What do you make of that, Christopher Hitchens?
CH: Well again, I think it’s a perfectly defensible…well, it’s not defensible, it’s a perfectly reasonably expressed viewpoint. It just isn’t what the Church has been preaching. I mean, just to take a very recent example, I mean, Pope Benedict, the current pope, the very one who’s recently reaffirmed that the Catholic Church is the one true and only Church, upon his visit to Brazil was forced to make some apologetic remarks about the Church’s history of forcible conversions. I mean, in point of fact, these things were not done by aberrant teachers or overzealous missionaries, they were done institutionally by the Church. Now in the…I forget, you’ll probably know, Professor, if it’s in the…or the Nicene Creed, it may be in both, but one is required to say that after being crucified, dead and buried, Jesus descended into hell. And my understanding is that he went down to rescue those who’d been boiling there for eternity before his opportunity for redemption became available. Now that simply to me smacks of squaring the circle.
DAW: If I may respond to that…
DAW: That is indeed in the creed, that he descended into hell. What is interesting again is what we find there is he is freeing those souls that had at last will be released into Heaven. It’s a comment you make in the book as well that I would quarrel with a bit, and that is that they’ve been boiling there. The fact is He goes to limbo, and not only do we meet in limbo those great figures from the Old Testament, but we also meet a number of great pagan philosophers and poets, and you give the impression that they’re all boiling. What Dante sees when he gets there is that they’re living in a rather pleasant place. Their suffering, as he describes it, is that they are giving up sighs from sorrow because they know they’re missing something, but they’re not quite sure what. They’re living in an exalted castle, circled by towering walls, with a fair stream running around it, and they go to a meadow of green flowering plants. If that’s boiling, it’s okay by me. But it is not the fullness of Heaven, so that yes, He goes down, He frees them, but they have not been suffering, although you do make it very clear, and I agree with it, much lower down, we do find a Mohammed who is suffering, and even the Inferno, in the Catholic vision, is hierarchical.
HH: Christopher Hitchens, you’ve got about a minute to our break.
CH: Well, I mean, to be exact, I mean, Mohammed is, the prophet Mohammed, is revoltingly described as being repeatedly disemboweled full of excrement, and then sewn up and disemboweled again. Again, as with all these things, if we’re going to take good bits of Dante, you have to take all of them as well. You have to accept the responsibility for that…I thought I was going to be the one to mention limbo. Am I not correct in saying that that’s what St. Augustine said the souls of unbaptized children went?
DAW: And indeed, Dante…
CH: And that it took until very recently…
DAW: Dante includes those…
CH: Until very recently, the Church has now told us well, you can relax about this, because it turns out there’s no such place as limbo after all. Now doesn’t this again materialize my point? This is a manmade fable, all of it is a manmade fable, and it shows.
DAW: What is very interesting is that that debate is currently going on in Catholic circles, because as you well know, there have been some recent pronouncements about limbo. They have not been definitive, but it is…you may find it crazy that this is being debated right now. I find it actually very interesting.
HH: Well, to both of you…
CH: I find it both. I find it both crazy and interesting.
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HH: Christopher Hitchens, you argue in god Is Not Great that this has to be manmade, it’s so stupid and cruel, Christianity in particular, but religion generally. And I look at the same field, and I say this has to be Divine, because it’s so infinite, complex and grace-filled. I think whatever you argue, there’s a reverse to it.
CH: Well, when you say, as you were just saying before the break that God wouldn’t make it easy for us, and that there would be enormous complexities, possibly infinite ones, I think you say no more than the truth. That’s why people are, in my opinion, obliged to be atheists, because we say that those who claim to know God’s mind cannot possibly know what they claim to know. We can’t prove that this entity or this force does not exist. We can only say that there’s no evidence that He does, and therefore the hypothesis for that existence has been exploded or abandoned. The other side can’t say that. They can’t say that there’s mysteries we’re not even meant to understand. They say no, we, our pope has the keys of Peter. He’s the vicar of Christ on Earth. He can interpret God’s will, he knows what God wants you to do about, for example, your sex life. Now this is claiming more than any human being can possibly hope to claim to know, and thus, religion falls in my view.
HH: Professor White?
DAW: Well, I’m not sure it would be fair to say that the Church claims to know the mind of God. What the Church claims is that revelations came from God, telling us the things we needed to know to eventually attain salvation. In the simplest terms of the Catechism, the first question of the old Baltimore Catechism, why are we here? To know, love and serve God in this world, and be with Him in the next. There’s no claim that we have the entire picture. We can never as humans fully grasp the mind of God. It’s a great blessing that we’ve been given a glimpse of it as we have, and that He’s spoken to us, and told us what we need to know. But it’s very interesting, you know, in a sense that the debate will rage on. I think eventually, a revelation will come even to those who don’t believe. But a little line from William Blake. He who doubts from what he sees will never believe. Do what you please. There is a kind of entrenchment in positions, I think more now than ever before, because science offers an alternative. And it may be more difficult to believe now than it’s ever been in the past, and I think that may be a sign we’re in, as the Chinese say, interesting times.
HH: Last 30 seconds to you, Christopher Hitchens, of this hour. We’ll be back for hour two?
CH: Can’t do it in 30 seconds.
HH: All right, I’m not surprised. We’ll be right back, America. Don’t go anywhere.
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HH: Welcome back, gentlemen. Christopher Hitchens, in our first conversation in this series, and I hope there will be more, I had you opposite theologian Mark Roberts, and I quoted to you from Walter Isaacson’s new biography of Einstein, in which Einstein said, “Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature, and you will find that behind all the discernible laws and connection, there remains something subtle and tangible and inexplicable, a veneration for this force beyond anything we can comprehend, and that is my religion. To that extent, in fact, I am religious.” Now David Allen White says science destroys religion. It seems to me that Einstein is saying it builds upon it.
CH: Well, I’m saying that if you take religion as being the pantheism of Spinosa, who was in fact Einstein’s favorite philosopher, a man not just excommunicated by his own synagogue, but that excommunication enthusiastically seconded by the Catholic and Protestant authorities of the day. It was a very highly dangerous heresy. Then it amounts to then what I was saying earlier about the Hubble telescope or the double helix. Of course there are things that are awe inspiring that make us feel small, that inspire in us the transcendent. But these have nothing to do with the supernatural. The insistence of Einstein is that there are no miracles, there are no changes in the natural order, God does not intervene in our affairs, there is no such person, in fact, to do so. And his statements about organized religion throughout his life were uniformly contemptuous for that reason.