Religion Poisons Everything or Does It?

Religion Poisons Everything or Does It?

In the august first addition of The Harvard Gazette[i] an article appeared entitled “Gods in the Details” in which Prof. Joseph Henrich demonstrates that faith and religion is more than a bunch of taboos and superstitions as propounded by most atheist.

His study seems to be indicating that religion was one of the key factors in unifying people in large civilizations and in building a base for their morality. Of course, it has been known for a long time by historians that whenever a civilization stopped believing in their gods they soon sake into depravity and ceased to exist. It seems now that this has been verified by evolutionary psychology that many in the atheistic community will have to change their rhetoric that religion is worthless.

This study seems to support the idea that religion has contributed to the creation of morality in large civilizations. This at least on the surface seems to be indicating that the atheist position that reason alone can create morality and ethics is simply an oversimplification of religion and morality.

 

[i] The Harvard Gazette is a free on line newsletter.

The Timid Preachers Among Us

The Timid Preachers Among Us

Ephesians 5:11-13

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

In my interaction with the clergy and those in full time religious work, I hear a lot of concerns about the faith becoming irrelevant for the majority of the people.  I think this is and should be a real concern, because this isn’t an idle observation or concern, but the truth.  Religious leaders have become ill, relative to the people in western culture.  The clergy has become a group of people whose sole purpose is to make their people feel good, inflate the membership and teach them abstract doctrines that have no relationship to real life, or sometimes God.

It seems that most religious leaders are quite content with being muzzled by our secular culture that would and has relegated the clergy to second rate citizens that are not allowed to speak about politics in the public square or in their pulpits.  This seems to be true even though the government and society is corrupt and doing evil things.

I think the thing that bothers me the most about all of this is that the clergy in private seems to think of themselves as great defenders of the truth.  However, the only truth they stand for is truth that is convenient and non-offensive.  This all becomes quite obvious, when you look through Face book and see an amazing absence of any real content posted by preachers.  Most of the posts that are submitted about the corruption of politicians and government are posted by laypeople.  Little is said by the clergy about anything that is controversial.  So the Christian movement has become an army of foot soldiers with its officers hiding behind the wall of  separation  between the church and state.  By the way, that wall was erected by a corrupt politician, Senator Lyndon Johnson in 1954, and then voted in by a bipartisan ballot in Congress. Just think, large corporations can do anything they want politically and yet nonprofits like churches, American Legion and veterans organizations have no say, less they lose their tax-free status.

The consequence of this withdrawal from the real world is that the church and its leadership have ceased being the light of the world and the salt of the earth.  They are more like sugar and spice and everything nice.  The result is; the world, western culture, and the church, are filled with corruption and decay.  My counsel to the clergy is for them to take their heads out of the sand.  Stop speaking platitudes to the choir and get your holy hands dirty and engage the world.  If you haven’t noticed there is a war going on.

The Timid Preachers Among Us

  • The Timid Preachers Among Us

Ephesians 5:11-13

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

In my interaction with the clergy and those in full time religious work, I hear a lot of concerns about the faith becoming irrelevant for the majority of the people.  I think this is and should be a real concern, because this isn’t an idle observation or concern, but the truth.  Religious leaders have become ill, relative to the people in western culture.  The clergy has become a group of people whose sole purpose is to make their people feel good, inflate the membership and teach them abstract doctrines that have no relationship to real life, or sometimes God.

It seems that most religious leaders are quite content with being muzzled by our secular culture that would and has relegated the clergy to second-rate citizens that are not allowed to speak about politics in the public square or in their pulpits.  This seems to be true even though the government and society is corrupt and doing evil things.

I think the thing that bothers me the most about all of this is that the clergy in private seems to think of themselves as great defenders of the truth.  However, the only truth they stand for is truth that is convenient and non-offensive.  This all becomes quite obvious, when you look through Face book and see an amazing absence of any real content posted by preachers.  Most of the posts that are submitted about the corruption of politicians and government are posted by laypeople.  Little is said by the clergy about anything that is controversial.  So the Christian movement has become an army of foot soldiers with its officers hiding behind the wall of  separation  between the church and state.  By the way, that wall was erected by a corrupt politician, Senator Lyndon Johnson in 1954, and then voted in by a bipartisan ballot in Congress. Just think, large corporations can do anything they want politically and yet nonprofits like churches, American Legion and veterans organizations have no say, less they lose their tax-free status.

The consequence of this withdrawal from the real world is that the church and its leadership have ceased being the light of the world and the salt of the earth.  They are more like sugar and spice and everything nice.  The result is; the world, western culture, and the church, are filled with corruption and decay.  My counsel to the clergy is for them to take their heads out of the sand.  Stop speaking platitudes to the choir and get your holy hands dirty and engage the world.  If you haven’t noticed there is a war going on.

Religion Poisons Everything Or Does It?

Religion Poisons Everything Or Does It?

In the August first edition of The Harvard Gazette[i] an article appeared entitled “Gods in the Details” in which Prof. Joseph Henrich demonstrates that faith and religion is more than a bunch of taboos and superstitions as propounded by most atheist.

His study seems to be indicating that religion was one of the key factors in unifying people in large civilizations and in building a base for their morality. Of course, it has been known for a long time by historians that whenever a civilization stopped believing in their gods they soon sunk into depravity and ceased to exist. It seems now that this has been verified by evolutionary psychology that many in the atheistic community will have to change their rhetoric that religion is worthless and poisons everything.

This study seems to support the idea that religion has contributed to the creation of morality and unity in large civilizations. This, at least on the surface seems, to be indicating that the atheist position that reason alone can create morality and ethics is simply an oversimplification of religion and morality.

[i] The Harvard Gazette is a free on-line newsletter.

The Decline of Organized Religion

The Decline of Organized Religion

I have noticed that many of my atheist friends on the net seem to be gloating that organized religion in the West is on the decline.  I suspect that some of them who have a high opinion of themselves even imagine that they are influencing its decline.

Let’s, for the moment, assume that religion is declining just as some of the new atheists seem to  believe.  This would, out of necessity, cause us to ask the question “Why?”  Could it be, as some of the new atheists assume, that humanity, at least in the West, is more educated and getting smarter?[1] I have doubts that education has had  little, if any effect on the decline of organized religion or even on the true number atheists.  Their growth could be contributed more likely, to a ‘coming out of the closet’ rather than any actual growth.

There has always been a large number of unbelievers in organized religion, especially when the religion is the dominant cultural religion and it has become socially and economically beneficial to pose as a believer.  It’s easy to come out the closet when you live in a culture that believes nothing.  If this is the case then I personally, as a believer, am thankful to the new atheist for helping us rid ourselves of the chaff within the Christian faith.  However, I really don’t think that this is the case.

One huge contributor to the decline in organized religion and other social organizations is the transfer of  the dependence of poor people on their faith community and other social organizations to their dependency on the state for all of their needs.

Personally, it’s hard for me to see anything very positive about this transfer of power.  The only result is that the poor have lost their moral compass, and the state has gained more power over them thereby expanding their power over the entire population.  On the other end of the economic spectrum, the wealthy and business class no longer have to demonstrate their goodness and honesty by going to church, although many still go to church for what they call “net working”; to sell their wares.

All of this has little or nothing to do with the level of intelligence of people living in the West or the new atheist movement, both of which I believe are a part of the declension and decay of civilization.  One mark of a declining civilization is its loss of faith in its gods or religion.  This loss of faith many not be causal but it does go hand and hand with the death of civilization and is a sign of a decaying culture.

The churches like all social institutions in Western culture are losing membership and this is not something to be gloating over for the reason that people are becoming increasingly isolated from each other, which in turn gives the state more power.  This is one of the factors  contributing to our loss of freedom.  Taking religion out of the public square is not the separation of powers, it is the enthroning of state power without any organized resistance.  This is why dictators and tyrants make it their goal to eradicate religion as soon as they gain power.  Therefore, most tyrannical governments support atheism.

In addition, the creation of democracy and the rise of individualism also can give rise to an anti-authority mindset, that also can cause a decline in any authoritative organization.  So, it is not surprising that organized religions, which have an authority structure, are declining the most in democratic societies.  This would include mainline Protestant and Catholic churches which have an authoritative structure.  Independent churches which are more democratic in their structure are maintaining their membership and even growing in membership.

Again, we see that the increase of knowledge seems to have little to do with the decline of religion and the rise of atheism.  The rise of atheism can be traced much more easily to social and psychological[2] reasons then to any level of education.

[1] If people are getting smarter why is there a decline in philosophy students which seems to be corresponding with the decline in religion?

[2] Note my article on “The Making of a Fundamentalist Atheist” and “Prerequisites for Atheism” at: lyleduell.me