I should read her stuff more often. I Trekked out today, and she also wrote about Trek recently, and why people who claim religion is a metaphor are lying through their teeth:
Original Showians don’t treat Next Generationists as sinners and blasphemers; and none of them write editorials lambasting people as immoral sociopaths if they prefer documentaries to any sort of science fiction. And they — okay, fine, we — don’t insist that “Star Trek” is just a story… and then get bent out of shape when people point out that it is a story, and hence that it’s not true. Trekkies have a good time trying to fit the inaccuracies and inconsistencies into some sort of continuity (that’s half the fun); but we understand that the show is a fictional story, with all the flaws that fiction is heir to, and we don’t treat it as a divinely-inspired guide to reality and life.
That’s what “it’s just a metaphor” religion would look like.
And if religion looked like that, I would have no problem with it at all.
But it doesn’t. Too many people believe it’s a reality, even though the grandiose miracles of God’s early days have never been duplicated in a time when we could film and properly document them and prove once and for all a god really does give a damn who wins. Now God’s stuck “proving” existence in tree trunks and chocolate bars. People have to put logic on the back burner to credit a disaster to God’s hatred of one group of people. They have to put facts in an oubliette in order to shove their deluded reality into the foreground of their lives and everyone around them.
Progressive religion says, “This is simply a story”… but it isn’t sincere. You can tell that it isn’t sincere by how bent out of shape it gets when people point out that it’s just a story, and therefore isn’t really true. Progressive religion uses the “metaphor” trope as a slippery way of avoiding hard questions when engaged with skeptics… and as soon as the skeptics turn their backs, it slips right back into actual, non-metaphorical, “belief in immaterial entities or forces that it has no evidence for” religion. Progressive religion is ultimately just as willing to ignore evidence that contradicts its comforting story as hard-line conservative religion.
Truly secular “religion,” on the other hand, says, “This is simply a story” — and means it.