I knew it would happen sooner or later. It was only a matter of time. As the NY Daily News reports it, "An evangelical pastor cast Mitt Romney in a spooky light Friday by calling Mormonism a cult and urging good Christians to vote for his rival." The pastor was Robert Jeffers, who participated, at Rick Perry's invitation, in the day of prayer that launched Perry's campaign. As an atheist, I am pretty much an equal opportunity sceptic. Judaism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Islam, Lutheranism, Presbyterianism, Mormonism, Scientology, Shinto, and the assorted religions of Native Americans are all pretty much the same to me. So I will just sit back and enjoy the bloodletting. But the kerfuffle put me in mind of what may be my all time favorite passage from a great philosophical work.
Chapter VI of Part I of Hobbes' Leviathan is entitled "Of the Interior Beginnings of Voluntary Motions; Commonly Called the Passions; and the Speeches by Which They are Expressed." [Itself a wonderful title.] Several pages in, after defining endeavour, appetite, aversion, good and evil, Hobbes launches into a brilliant two-page long series of one-line definitions of the passions. After disposing of Hope, Despair, Fear, Courage, Confidence, Diffidence, and twenty others, he penned this immortal sentence:
"Fear of power invisible, feigned by the mind, or imagined from tales publicly allowed, RELIGION; not allowed, SUPERSTITION."
There is really nothing more to be said.