"Our blindness to the point of primitive modes of life is a corollary of the pointlessness of much of our own life."
-- Peter Winch, "Understanding a Primitive Society" (1972)
This line comes in response to some arguments made by Alasdair MacIntrye, in a paper called, "Is Understanding Religion Compatible with Believing?" MacIntrye's ultimate answer appears to be: No. But he takes a long way round to this answer, via the attempts of sociologists and anthropologists to understand primitive (read: non-Western) cultures. Upshot: primitive belief in witchcraft is empty because the discourse can only be made intelligible (i.e. non-contradictory, rational) if the "theory" of witchcraft is rendered unfalsifiable. (This is roughly the story MacIntryre tells.) Ditto for Christianity in the eyes of the skeptic, viz. it's empty, pointless (read: explains nothing).
Winch doesn't take up MacIntyre's discussion of (Western) religion, but focuses on what he sees as M's minsinterpretation of his own views about understanding primitive cultures. But I can see a version of what Winch says being exactly the sort of thing a religious person might say to a skeptic...
(Something that puzzled me about the MacIntyre paper is that while he argues that religion has lost its context (read: point) in the West overall, he is resistant to what he sees as a Kierkegaardian embrace of the apparent paradoxes of religious views, and the internalization of religion, as "too easy." I don't know much about MacIntryre, but the description of a Kierkegaardian approach to religion as "too easy" strikes me as something someone could only say as a result of not reading Kierkegaard very closely...am I missing something?)