'Compulsion To Inflate
The Human Ego'
May 24, 2002
To the Editor
Why has religion so often been the basic or contributing cause of wars, genocide, "ethnic cleansing," torture, cruelty, censorship, brainwashing, and senseless evil of all kinds? Blaise Pascal -- a seventeenth century mathematician, philosopher, Christian apologist -- said "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." But whence comes religious conviction?
The universal human experience of helplessness and dependency during the long years of infancy and childhood, which all humans are born into, inevitably produces a sense of worthlessness and inferiority for which the personal ego demands compensation! The human's most desperate need is to feel good about himself. The more intense the inferiority complex, the more necessary is extreme absolutism. Religious certainty is the most universal and effective means of boosting the individual ego. To know with absolute certainty that an omnipotent, omniscient Supreme Being approves of and takes a personal interest in one's self is the most powerful ego compliment that can be imagined. There can be no other affirmation as pleasing to the ego as that of God. The total lack of empirical evidence supporting this belief is irrelevant as Tertullian in the second century said "I believe because it is absurd."
So Mr Pascal's observation would be more accurate if it read: "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it under the compulsion to inflate their ego."
Albuquerque, New Mexico
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