Volume 20, Issue 2, Fall 2013
Religion as Ligature
On the Binding Character Of Religious Belief
An argument found in the writings of the so-called "New Atheists" has it that the religious indoctrination of children is oppressive in and of itself, but this argument rests on what may be called an epidemiological orientation toward belief. While some forms of religious indoctrination may indeed be oppressive, any adequate phenomenology of religious belief must allow for various ways in which individuals relate themselves doxastically to the religion in which they were raised, and some of these ways could hardly be called "oppressive." Drawing on Wittgenstein's scattered writings on religion, this paper sketches out an account of religion as a form of ligature—in line with its etymology—whose binding-character lies in those life-regulating basic attitudes that are deeper, and more resistant to revision, than any opinion one happens to have.