"I said that only feeble-minded people need the crutch that faith provides against the terrors of non-existence that follows death."
My opinion on the crutch called faith.
U say this without any scientific evidence at all or at least I don't see any or maybe it is just your point of view, which is fair enough.
"the crutch that faith provides against the terrors of non-existence that follows death"
Faith may provide a crutch for people to go about their day to day hassles, in this unforgiving and fiercely competitive world, with hope that there is some power that will take care, not sure how many of them keep the faith thinking of the day they will die. A proof of it is that the greatest and die-hard followers of any faith are found in the less prosperous sections of society. Many of them may not be living lives worth all the suffering. Maybe I should not be judgemental about their lives.
Anyway, having faith does not guarantee immortality, it may be better to stay on earth rather than end up in the fires of hell? Faith doesn't guarantee heaven, no faith does! Faiths that talk of reincarnation, at least some of them talk of Karma. In very naive terms and I am no great exponent of philosophy, all they say is that you will pay for your own deeds (good or bad, what is good and what is bad may be matter of trial). Shouldn't sound very good to most of these handicapped billions. Only ignorance of their faith can act as a crutch.
Vivekananda in fact said that man should contemplate death and not shy away from it. He was a man of faith no man in need of crutches. So was Mahatma Gandhi (where I am not using Mahatma to imply that he was godly) who may have acted as a crutch for many but was very confident about the faith he followed. Man does go through various phases in a life time that is comprehendible to this world. There may also be a phase beyond what we humans can comprehend, the existence of which has not been disproved yet. It is OK not to accept something that has been disproved by science but scientists cannot ask people or ridicule people who believe in stuff that science has not been able to disprove, in fact have no proof against.
Even Einstein, from what u have quoted (as said by Carl Sagan), despises people who think of immortality of their physical body or self not of reincarnation or after-life. Reincarnation doesn't essentially mean that Einstein should be born as a great scientist in his next life. All it says is that one is caught in the infinite cycles of life and death till one rises above his own ego only to realise the oneness of this creation. In fact it talks of loosing one's self (the soul included) to recognise the oneness (Well this is my understanding and may not be the absolute truth, if there is any).
As an aside, I have recently read some beautifully written articles on the blogosphere that give reasons on why creationism is unscientific and why there is no great intelligent blueprint behind all what is evolving [link - got it via India Uncut's link ]. But none of the people who supported the darwin theory of evolution just presented the ridicule of creationism. They had scientific discoveries made after extensive studies to prove their theory and disprove the theory of creationists who were without a proof.
Acceptable that we are not clear about what the truth is but then that is a handicap that science will overcome with time. Till then it is not fair to call people who believe in faith as ones who require crutches.