Headlines can be misleading. The “Time” in question here is, in fact, the magazine TIME, this week’s edition (August 18, 2014) and its Letters to the Editor. Only eight of the thousands no doubt submitted were published, but as many as two of the eight concern religion. One says, without any great originality : “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has raged on for too long. Peace will continue to be elusive as long as religion continues to influence the mind-set of the belligerents involved”. The other is more general : “My Dad taught me early on that more people have died because of organized religion than anything else”, and notes that “TIME has mirrored this sentiment”. Neither statement is particularly insightful. Some readers may dismiss both as truisms. But it is the proportion that strikes me : 25% of the letters chosen concern religion. This is not due, I’m sure, to any editorial policy or desire to denigrate religious belief the way some diabolical blogs do. And I am not suggesting that there is any particular statistical significance in the ratio I have underlined. It is just a reminder that religion is of permanent interest to many and of deep concern to some.
One could, I suppose, plot on a Gauss bell-curve the minority of people passionately in favor of religion, another minority passionately opposed to religion, and a big fat majority in the middle of people who more or less believe and practise religion within the degrees from indifference to fervor which the graph would illustrate. My Believers on the Brink are over there on the slope on the right, on their way, I hope, to joining the militant atheist minority.
Meantime the millions of TIME readers will, even if they haven’t yet discovered this Blog, perhaps reflect on the further evidence which the TIME letters recall of the truth in Hitchens’ sub-title : “Religion Poisons Everything”.