Dear Mr. Jacoby,
I have only started reading your columns consistently for several months (I only recently moved to Brandeis), but I find them interesting and thought-provoking. I must say though, I was disappointed and disturbed by your recent "Created by God to be Good" column. Clearly, we don't get our ethics from the Bible. You accuse the American Humanist Association of cherrypicking some grim verses, but you seem to be cherrypicking in choosing "Thou Shalt Not Murder." The Bible condones genocide and tells us to kill witches. The Bible (including the New Testament) gets the big questions like slavery wrong. We get our morality not from the Bible or the West's Roman Catholic roots, but from developed skeptical, secular thought. "Moderate religion" is simply religion influenced by that thought. Your point about Stalin and Mao is brought up in every debate with Christopher Hitchens and as he always notes, these were people who replaced religion with a faith-based system of their own. As Bertrand Russell once noted: "In our day, a new dogmatic religion, namely, communism, has arisen. To this, as to other systems of dogma, the agnostic is opposed. The persecuting character of present day communism is exactly like the persecuting character of Christianity in earlier centuries." Skepticism of faith-based claims and thoughtful considerations of what will best better the future for all of humanity is what we need. Economic and foreign policy issues require the attention which many wish to divert to their faith-based political claims.