This talk by Edwin A. Locke was recorded November 7, 2007, as part of the ARC Speaker Series.
Religion is almost universally regarded as crucial to achieving happiness. Even critics of religion often concede that it helps people live more fulfilling lives. In this talk, Locke argues that, far from being a means to a successful life, religion is incompatible with a basic need of human life: self-esteem.
Dr. Locke shows that religion undermines every essential precondition of self-esteem: metaphysically, it declares that man is evil by nature; epistemologically, it regards faith as superior to reason; ethically, it advocates the “virtues” of obedience, altruistic duty and humility; and politically and economically, it declares money-making to be sinful and demands some form of statism.
Indeed, religion attacks the quest for self-esteem by denouncing its primary cause: pride. This talk argues that pride is not a sin but a virtue, the virtue of moral ambitiousness, and it is attained by constant adherence to reason in the pursuit of moral perfection—a state which religion makes impossible.