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''What is boasted of at the present time as the revival of religion is always in narrow and uncultivated minds, at least as much the revival of bigotry'' - Review Mill's attitude to religion: authority, creed and the heretic.

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Introduction

''What is boasted of at the present time as the revival of religion is always in narrow and uncultivated minds, at least as much the revival of bigotry.'' Review Mill's attitude to religion: authority, creed and the heretic especially in the light of this comment. J S Mill was especially interested in 'on Liberty' with the important social matter of morality and conduct. As these issues are so widely influenced by the dominant religious belief of that time, religion morality is where Mill focuses his attention. As is all to clear from the title quotation, Mill did not share the common view held by the majority in the Victorian ages concerning religion. To fully understand Mill's view on Christianity, heretics and authority we must comprehend exactly what Mill recognised religion to actually be. Mill comes to a conclusion that religion is to be judged chiefly by the ideal they present of a Perfect Being, who is a guide to conscience. This results in the aspect which most regard as the thing that most greatly divides two beliefs -the presence or absence of transcendental beliefs- being pushed aside and not aiding the choice between two religions (Christianity and the religion of humanity is used as a comparison). ...read more.

Middle

(p.91/92 #18). This conclusion is reached as it follows that that the believers are only prevented from lying by the fear of hell. Mill was deeply aware of the fact that progression and long term fundamental change was driven by ideas and beliefs rather than legislation and economic powers. Those ideas that prevail, shape the future of the development of societies. Mill saw the church as producing a society that thought themselves were infallible, as their beliefs had never been questioned. To explain the 'mischief' this behaviour can cause Mill dipped into various ages to pluck out some examples where a good idea or an original personality has been crushed by the public coercion of infallible beliefs. 'History teems with instances of truth put down by persecution. If not suppressed forever, it may be thrown back for centuries. To speak only of religious opinions: the Reformation broke out at least twenty times before Luther, and was put down. Arnold of Brescia was put down.' Mill's first longer example is that of Socrates; 'the head and prototype of all subsequent teachers of virtue, the source equally of the lofty inspiration of Plato and the judicious utilitarianism of Aristotle'.(p.84 # 12) ...read more.

Conclusion

Is Mill asking for the impossible? For the Christian church to be dissolved, for people to have liberty regarding opinion, speech and actions and also for them to avoid the sways of others and remain original. Christianity is an institution in which many find immense joy and salvation, comfort and protection. To tell a nation that they are completely wrong and must not take what they think they know about morals and beliefs to be true may further deepen their ties with the church. Mill believes that education is the key, and the elite, cultured minds can lead the majority into a progressive, cultured society. It is not unreasonable for Mill to recognise that the church is a limiting factor on individuals freedom and wish for that limitation to be removed. - Mill believed a religion could occur if one believed in a theory, idea or anything not necessarily involving a deity. Bentham and Mill shared a basic belief that Christianity was corrupt and authoritative, this lead to the conclusion a new religion should be created. In 1801 Bentham remarked, 'A new religion would be an odd sort of thing without a name - I propose utilitarianism. ...read more.

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