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There still remain four irreducible objections to religious faith: that it wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos, that because of this original error it manages to combine the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism, that it is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression, and that it is ultimately grounded on wish-thinking.I do not think it is arrogant of me to claim that I had already discovered these four objections (as well as noticed the more vulgar and obvious fact that religion is used by those in temporal charge to invest themselves with authority) before my boyish voice had broken."But you will one day, when you start to lose loved ones." Again, I experienced a stab of sheer indignation as well asdisbelief.

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At later lessons we would be given a printed slip of paper entitled "Search the Scriptures," which was sent to the school by whatever national authority supervised the teaching of religion.

(This, along with daily prayer services, was compulsory and enforced by the state.) The slip would contain a single verse from the Old or New Testament, and the assignment was to look up the verse and then to tell the class or the teacher, orally or in writing, what the story and the moral was.

She never raised her voice or offered violence—which couldn't be said for all my teachers—and in general was one of those people, of the sort whose memorial is in Middlemarch, of whom it may be said that if "things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been," this is "half-owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs."However, I was frankly appalled by what she said.

My little ankle strap sandals curled with embarrassment for her.

I would read all the chapters that led up to the verse, and all the ones that followed it, to be sure that I had got the "point" of the original clue. Seeking ambitiously to fuse her two roles as nature instructor and Bible teacher, she said, "So you see, children, how powerful and generous God is.

I can still do this, greatly to the annoyance of some of my enemies, and still have respect for those whose style is sometimes dismissed as "merely" Talmudic, or Koranic, or "fundamentalist." This is good and necessary mental and literary training. He has made all the trees and grass to be green, which is exactly the color that is most restful to our eyes.

The eyes were adjusted to nature, and not the other way about.

I must not pretend to remember everything perfectly, or in order, after this epiphany, but in a fairly short time I had also begun to notice other oddities.

I used to love this exercise, and even to excel at it so that (like Bertie Wooster) I frequently passed "top" in scripture class.

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