From Douglas Adams’ “Is there an Artificial God?“:
Now, the invention of the scientific method and science is, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sure weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll all agree, the most powerful intellectual idea, the most powerful framework for thinking and investigating and understanding and challenging the world around us that there is, and that it rests on the premise that any idea is there to be attacked and if it withstands the attack then it lives to fight another day and if it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t withstand the attack then down it goes. Religion doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem to work like that; it has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an idea weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re so familiar with, whether we subscribe to it or not, that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s kind of odd to think what it actually means, because really what it means is Ã¢â‚¬ËœHere is an idea or a notion that youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not allowed to say anything bad about; youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re just not. Why not? Ã¢â‚¬â€ because youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not!Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ If somebody votes for a party that you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t agree with, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument but nobody feels aggrieved by it. If somebody thinks taxes should go up or down you are free to have an argument about it, but on the other hand if somebody says Ã¢â‚¬ËœI mustnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t move a light switch on a SaturdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, you say, Ã¢â‚¬ËœFine, I respect thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
The odd thing is, even as I am saying that I am thinking Ã¢â‚¬ËœIs there an Orthodox Jew here who is going to be offended by the fact that I just said that?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ but I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have thought Ã¢â‚¬ËœMaybe thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s somebody from the left wing or somebody from the right wing or somebody who subscribes to this view or the other in economicsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ when I was making the other points. I just think Ã¢â‚¬ËœFine, we have different opinionsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. But, the moment I say something that has something to do with somebodyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s (IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m going to stick my neck out here and say irrational) beliefs, then we all become terribly protective and terribly defensive and say Ã¢â‚¬ËœNo, we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t attack that; thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an irrational belief but no, we respect itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.