From the preface:
As far as we can tell, humanity is the only animal that practices religion. But this is not hardwired into the human psyche; the earliest hominidae had no religion, though they may have practised a form of magic.
At this stage in human history, however, religion is so much a part of our thinking that there appears to be an innate human tendency to turn any hypothesis into a dogmatic belief system, which must be defended with religious passion.
That is why the most powerful modern religions are secular, and why the struggle against religions must not be confined to the conventional targets of mechanistic materialism.
It is simplistic to see this as a conflict between science and religion. Science grew out of the religious attempt to understand the world; without the causality explicit in the Judaic Decalogue, there would be no science at all.
In 1882, Friedrich Nietzsche declared that God is dead, but over 130 years later the idea persists of a reality not contingent on our conceptions, and indeed philosophers are still arguing over the exact meaning of Nietzsche’s declaration.
I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.
(It was significant that Trevor Huddleston used Chesterton’s phrase as the title for his meditation upon apartheid, and his realization that this was not a specifically South African phenomenon. In 1956 he drew parallels with segregation in the United States; today, like his great successor, Desmond Tutu, he would no doubt be looking to the state of Israel, and its blasphemous resistance to the humane teachings of the Torah in its relationship with its fellow Semites.)
As climate change darkens the skies, and the seas are rising at the rate of one metre per century, inundating countries like the Maldives, the Netherlands, and Nigeria, the need to see clearly becomes more pressing.
Inasmuch as religion impedes this vision it is the enemy of humanity; the irony is that like alcoholics dealing with their addictions, acceptance of the religious impulse is the best way to struggle against it.