I enjoy a magic show as much as anyone, but in real life, I dislike illusions. I want to know things as they are.
Yet at the same time I think we are insufficiently critical of the call to destroy illusions. The movement for demystification itself needs to be demystified, for those who see illusions everywhere seem to suffer from a lot of illusions themselves, and are missing a great deal of reality.
For example, take the view that the difference between men and women is a mystification, a self-bewitchment, something all made up. What is the evidence for this view? There is none. It is a mystification – it just happens to be one of the mystifications that demystifiers like. So now we are expected to pretend that we are all the same, even though we all see that we aren’t, and in order to keep the whole creaky structure of nonsense from falling down, we must entangle ourselves in increasingly absurd rationalizations. Since the difference between men and women is arbitrary, we say, a man should be allowed to “change into” a woman if that is what he thinks he is “inside.” But if there isn’t any difference inside, then how can he be one or the other?
Or take the view that belief in God is a mystification. As the story goes, God is just man writ large. We just project our fathers, or policemen, or someone, onto the big movie screen of the cosmos. How many of the demystifiers realize that historically, monotheism has been the ultimate demystification, the ultimate insistence on something real beyond all illusion? If you demystify theism itself, you are left in a peculiar position, because without a First Cause, it is hard to see how anything at all makes sense. And if nothing makes sense, then you are really trapped in illusion.