Was Aldous Huxley against religion when he wrote Brave New World?Was Aldous Huxley against religion when he wrote Brave New World?
I agree with the first two posts...in part. Yes, Huxley was a humanist and took a dim view on the "opiate" of the masses which I think he thought was "fake religion" (like the Solidarity Services). I think he frowned upon people who just went through the motions and "played" church.
However, if you look at the rather reverent way in which he treats John (who has grown up with an albeit archaic, but heartfelt mix of Christianity and Savage traditions) I think what you see is a man who is conflicted about how feels about religion and its adherents.
John is devastated when he is not allowed to be a part of the whipping ritual or participate in the sweat lodge. It is this passion developed partially through religion and partially through the poetry of Shakespeare, which allows him to see the shallowness of the "happiness" known as the Brave New World.
Aldous Huxley was known for being a humanist, which is a movement that stands in opposition to religious dogma. It is clear that this was a belief that Huxley had throughout his life, not just before or after he wrote this classic dystopian novel. Of course, you are right however that the novel itself presents a world that is free from Christianity and other religions. The only place where religion is still practised is in the Reserves, which are populated with people who are presented as being no better than savages. Their adherence to old systems and creeds and traditions, such as marriage, childbirth and religion, is presented as anathema to the society of the brave new world that we are presented with in the novel, who, it is argued, are freed from conflict and pain and suffering thanks to the radical changes that have been made in human life.
To really discuss this, I think that you need to look at the Solidarity Service that Bernard attends. The first post here says that there is no religion outside of the Reserves, but I would argue that the Solidarity Service is religious in nature. I think it shows that Huxley takes something of a Marxist view of religion.
The Service that Bernard attends is clearly an exercise in fakery that is meant to satisfy the needs of the attendees. The attendees (other than Bernard) have their emotional needs met through soma and sex in this ceremony. This ceremony, then, is an "opiate of the masses" like Marx says religion is.
So, I would say Huxley is anti-religion. He seems to be portraying religion as a set of actons that have no real value but are meant to keep the people from being unhappy.
The point about the reverent attitude toward John is indeed cogent. Huxley does not seem to be against religion per se, but rather against the emotionalism and hypocrisy of organized religion, paritcularly the evangelical revival meetings. This is what Huxley parodies: the emotional hype and singing and jumping that have nothing to do with true religious faith.
Huxley does not believe that people should blindly follow religious principles. The danger is not religion itself, but the absence of free thought. People need to think for themselves and make their own choices, not allow religion to make them for them.