Daniel Dennett on religious belief… (I)

"And here is an interesting fact: the transition from folk religion to organized religion is marked by a shift in beliefs from those with very clear, concrete consequences to those with systematically elusive consequences – paying lip service is just about the only way you can act on them. If you really believe that the rain god won’t provide rain unless you sacrifice an ox, you sacrifice an ox if you want it to rain. If you really believe that your tribe’s god has made you invulnerable to arrows, you readily run headlong into a swarm of deadly arrows to get at your enemy. If you really believe that your God will save you, you cut the rope. If you really believe that your God is watching you and doesn’t want you to masturbate, you don’t masturbate. (You wouldn’t masturbate with your mother watching you! How on earth could you masturbate with God watching you? Do you really believe God is watching you? Perhaps not.)"
Daniel C. Dennett, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, New York: Viking 2006, 227.

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