Religionized versions of secular ideas
Is this true?
What is missing from the book is much sense of what a world without religion, or one that had not had religion in it, might look like. Lots of the principles that Mr Hitchens holds dear, like tolerance and justice, are secularised versions of religious ideas.
Are tolerance and justice secularised versions of religious ideas? What does that in fact mean? I suppose that the ideas originated in religion and that no one ever thought of them independently of religion, though they have now become partially secularized, but only partially since there are always people saying they are in fact religious. But is that true? I don’t believe it. I think people were able to and did conceive of ideas like tolerance and justice for secular reasons. I also think religions have not historically been particularly concerned with either tolerance or justice, so it’s not clear to me why they have this reputation for being the original source of such ideas (or those of equality and individual worth, either, which are also often attributed to religion).
It also seems fair to say that the process works at least as much in the other direction – that religions have adopted some political and moral ideas that are much more favoured now than they were historically, thus borrowing some of the moral prestige of what are basically secular shifts in attitudes.