A colleague referred me to this piece in Reason magazine as background to Gertrude Himmelfarb’s position. It is… enlightening.
We seem to be in Straussian “noble lie” territory here. Sample:
“Kristol [Himmelfarb’s hubby] agrees with this view. ‘There are
different kinds of truths for different kinds of people,’ he says in
an interview. ‘There are truths appropriate for children; truths that
are appropriate for students; truths that are appropriate for educated
adults; and truths that are appropriate for highly educated adults,
and the notion that there should be one set of truths available to
everyone is a modern democratic fallacy. It doesn’t work.’”
Translation: “We cognitive elites know religion is a crock, but it
helps keep the bubbas in line, so we must pretend to be in sympathy
This line of thinking seems to me to be unspeakably horrible and
inhuman, though, yes, I am aware that it has a long pedigree. If
that’s conservatism, I want out.