Part 2: My interpretation:

(Go here for Part 1)

If I were to connect what Senator Palpatine is saying to Anakin with what Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris are saying to today’s Christian Church, I would interpret it like this:

The narrow, dogmatic view of religion is both 1) limited because it considers only one half of the knowledge available and 2) holding you back from realizing your full potential, the potential to be immortal and rid the world of struggle.

The agenda of the new-atheist, those who are evangelistic and antagonistic about eradicating the world of religion (i.e. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and their disciples) is exactly the same thing.

  • Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.
  • I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.
  • Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where’s the harm? September 11th changed all that.
  • One of the things that is wrong with religion is that it teaches us to be satisfied with answers which are not really answers at all.
  • Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time.
  • We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.

–Richard Dawkins

  • No personal God need be worshipped for us to live in awe at the beauty and immensity of creation.  No tribal fictions need be rehearsed for us to realize, one fine day, that we do, in fact, love our neighbors, that our happiness is inextricable from their own, and that our interdependence demands that people everywhere be given the opportunity to flourish.  The days of our religious identities are clearly numbered.  Whether the days of civilization itself are numbered would seem to depend, rather too much, on how soon we realize this.
  • Words like “God” and “Allah” must go the way of “Apollo” and “Baal,” or they will unmake our world.

–Sam Harris in The End of Faith

If I were to offer personal comments on my interpretation of the Anakin/Palpatine conversation, I would say this:

  • The Creator God is not concerned with how much we understand or what our interpretation of a true society would look like.  He is concerned with whether or not we know Him and are truly known by Him, and whether or not that relationship is reflected in how we love or do not love.
  • The primary concern of man is not to establish a perfect society or to find immortality.  It is to recognize that both are brought about in acknowledging contingency upon the Creator God rather than autonomy from Him.
  • True knowledge does not lead to true faith.  That’s backwards.  True faith leads to true knowledge and true knowledge leads to complete peace, wholeness, and true life–a perfect society.

–Stephen C. Allen in What The _____ Do I Know