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In the essays "Imagine There's No Heaven" and "Why We Are Infidels," Salman Rushdie and E.L. Doctorow advocate different principles. Although Rushdie criticizes while Doctorow defines the nation's religious beliefs, these writers both focus on secular humanism. Nevertheless, Rushdie's and Doctorow's dissimilar styles of writing affect readers differently.
Because of Rushdie's critical style of writing, "Imagine There's No Heaven" is more stirring. Rushdie straightforwardly rejects religions. He states, "Only the stories of 'dead' religions can be appreciated for their beauty...So you will be told that belief in 'your' stories...must become a vital part of your life in the crowded world" (517). Rushdie candidly dismisses religions as dead, considering them no more than just something to be "appreciated for their beauty." He makes this point in order to bluntly establish that religions are not as important as "your life." Rushdie further states, "every religious story ever told about how we got here is quite simply wrong" (518). Rushdie delivers openly a strong statement that all religion is "simply wrong." Because his statements are unconcerned with the opinions of others, his writing is provocative.
Rushdie then blames religion for many of society's problems. He states,"...if too many people are being born as a result, in part, of religious strictures against birth control, then too many people are also dying because religious culture, by refusing...to fight against the spread of sexually transmitted diseases" (518). Rushdie decries religion for prohibiting birth control, which interferes with the fight against sexually transmitted diseases and causes overpopulation. Later, Rushdie criticizes religion for people living in ignorance. He states, "To choose unbelief is to choose mind over dogma, to trust in our humanity instead of all these dangerous divinities" (518). Rushdie claims that religion inhibits a person from thinking for himself and humanity. He concludes, "The ancient wisdoms are modern nonsenses" (519). Rushdie's blunt conclusion is that religions are ancient wisdoms" that are not pertinent today. His closed-minded statements against religion conveyed through his writing are incendiary.
In contrast, Doctorow's logical style of writing articulates "Why We Are Infidels" more persuasively. First, Doctorow defines the word, infidel. He states, "True, the infidel is not necessarily a nonbeliever; he may also be a believer of the wrong stripe" (514). In other words, an infidel can be someone who has a different belief from another person. He then develops his objective through examples. Doctorow states, "...our religions or religious cults testify to the deeply serious American thirst for celestial connection" (514). Doctorow reveals that Americans' desires for "celestial" or spiritual connection are the reasons for practicing religion. He then states, "The abolitionists decried slavery as sin against God. The South claimed biblical authority for its slaveholding...the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacy groups invoked Jesus as a sponsor of their racism" (515). Clearly, Doctorow makes evident that Americans abusively use religion to justify their actions or defenses. Through Doctorow's logical argument, he makes a persuasive argument that makes the readers understand why we are infidels. As Doctorow simplifies through his examples, the people are considered infidels, since through their religion they discriminate others for their differences.
Rushdie and Doctorow both conclude with the purpose of their essays. Rushdie concludes, "Imagine there's no heaven, my Six Billionth, and at once the sky's the limit" (519). Similarly, Doctorow concludes, "Not just on other shores are we considered a nation of infidels" (516). Through Rushdie's critical style of writing and Doctorow's logical style of writing, both writers conclude on a secular humanism prospect. The difference is that Rushdie suggests the people to be unreligious while Doctorow is simply making known that the people are infidels.