Schopenhauer on Religion: Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater just yet

Krishna teaching Arjuna, from Bhagavata Gita.
House decoration in Bishnupur, West Bengal, India. By Arnab Dutta (2011) CC BY-SA 3.0

The Horrors and Absurdities of ReligionThe Horrors and Absurdities of Religion by Arthur Schopenhauer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have second-hand knowledge of Schopenhauer's "the will to live is consecrated in the act of procreation" thesis, and while it makes a brief appearance, much of this collection is focused on religion. The "On Various Subjects" section reads a little like La Rochefoucauld's Maxims, and makes some interesting assertions about genius (it is OK to make mistakes, just your masterpiece ought to be inimitable); on the farcical nature of higher education (perception must precede concept, not the other way around); an early statement concerning animal rights (p. 77); and that great works have to wait until enough idiots agree that it is great - such insight is possessed by the majority in the same way that a "castrate possesses of the power to beget children". Now to religion. Some of my favourites:
All religion is antagonistic towards culture; 
The absurdities of dogma... arise from the need to link together two heterogeneous doctrines as those of the Old and the New Testaments; 
Hatred and contempt are decidedly antagonistic to one another and mutually exclusive (p. 52);
The more prudent rulers enter into an alliance with [priests]; and
Faith and knowledge are totally different.
The latter explains the dialogue On Religion, which, although I understand Schopenhauer was atheistic, appeared on the surface to be bombastic, but might otherwise resonate with court judges who have been confronted with decisions concerning the existence of God, and have deferred on the grounds that, in effect, "faith and knowledge" are different. Nevertheless, there is in this work the attitude (of The Enlightenment) that rational individuals cannot possibly believe in God. I have heard this sentiment expressed by senior academics, in addition to the buffoons who drool over the Facebook echo-chamber "I F***ing Love Science" which confirms empirically that God does not exist because it has 25 million "likes" (see quote above about "castrates"). That said, there is little to surprise the modern reader, but Schopenhauer was one of the few Western students of India, Hinduism, and Buddhism, and his insights demonstrate that the glory days Conservatives dream about did not really exist in the nineteenth century, the counterfactuals were simply hidden from majority view. But to disclose the real gem in this work, I found another piece to the riddle of Benjamin Franklin. One of his "virtues" is "moderation". This is not a riddle in itself, but when "temperance" is also one of the virtues, what is so special about moderation that it should stand alone? Schopenhauer explains in the essay On Ethics by setting out some of the differences between Eastern and Western virtues and vices. For Schopenhauer, "virtues are qualities of will", which means that cowardice cannot be a vice if we have the "will to live"! The Platonic virtues closely align with Franklin's,one of which Cicero translated as temperantia, which is"in English moderation". Schopenhauer states:
[Moderation] is a very vague and ambiguous expression under which many different things can be subsumed, such as prudence, sobriety, keeping one's head.
Prudence. Cautious. To Franklin, "avoiding extremes". "Sobriety", therefore, belongs with "temperance". But "prudence" and "keeping one's head", then, belong to moderation. Whether "keeping one's head" is the same thing as to "forbear resenting injuries so much as one is able" remains to be seen, but I daresay Schopenhauer and Franklin were conversant in the literature on virtues, and eventually I will solve the riddle. But what of Schopenhauer? Religion is something we believe because we are indoctrinated as children, but as humanity "grows up", religion must inevitably die because it doesn't make sense (irrational). Yet the final paragraph tells the story of adolescents throwing out the baby with the bathwater - Aesop's fables are too childish because everybody knows foxes, wolves, and ravens can't talk! Thus, Schopenhauer ends with a real noodle-baker (about the boy who was too grown up to read Aesop):
Who cannot see in this hopeful lad the future enlightened Rationalist?