"'The basic problem,' he proposes, 'has always been getting other people to die for you. What's worth enough for a man to give up his life? That's where religion had the edge, for centuries. Religion was always about death. It was not used as an opiate so much as a technique--it got people to die for one particular set of beliefs about death'" (715).
I thought this passage was really interesting, especially considering its proximity to the end of the novel. First, the notion of religion being about death really struck me. I guess I've always considered religion to be about life--the conduct of people and that type of thing. Some religions are even focus on the lives of certain figures. But religions do tend to emphasize what happens after life too, I guess. And many religions do celebrate martyrdom. The last part of the passage, I think, is quite accurate and well-written.
In connection with the end of the novel, I think this passage fits pretty well. "What's worth enough for a man to give up his life?" Certainly, at the end of the novel Gottfried gives up his life--for the rocket? For Blicero? But I get the impression that his sacrifice wasn't voluntary. It's interesting, too, to weigh worth: I'm not sure I understand fully the complexities of Gottfried's and Blicero's relationship, but it seems like Gottfried might be willing to sacrifice everything for Blicero.
It's interesting, too, that Gottfried dies for (or at least on) the rocket, which can be thought of (if you stretch a little bit) as a belief about death. After all, someone had to imagine and design and create the rocket, all the while knowing exactly what it would do when it was finished. So Gottfried died for a belief about death? Maybe a bit of a stretch, but something to think about.