Skip to comments.Why atheism can't replace religion
Posted on 12/18/2010 5:45:06 PM PST by neverdem
In a widely read and commented upon post, Nigel Barber examines some of the evidence and trends related to atheism and the decline of religion. Barber closes his thought-provoking post with the following:
"The reasons that churches lose ground in developed countries can be summarized in market terms. First, with better science, and with government safety nets, and smaller families, there is less fear and uncertainty in people's daily lives and hence less of a market for religion. At the same time many alternative products are being offered, such as psychotropic medicines and electronic entertainment that have fewer strings attached and that do not require slavish conformity to unscientific beliefs."
It is true that much of the developed world lives in not only a post-Christian, but a post-religious society in many ways. And it is true that many people have turned to religion because of economic uncertainty or emotional challenges. They still do, in fact.
However, for many people, religion is not merely a way to deal with fear, uncertainty, and emotional difficulties. In my experience, many people follow a particular religious way of life because they believe that it is true. The problem with a market-based analysis of the future of religion, as well as the market-based practices present in many contemporary religious communities, is that religion at its best is not a consumer product. Rather, at its best religious faith calls for sacrifice, unselfishness, love, and a willingness to remove oneself from the center of the universe, so to speak. In order to be willling to live in such a way, a self-centered market-based approach to religion will not do. Rather, one must believe that she is living in a way that is consistent with reality in order to motivate an unselfish approach to life.
It is also unclear how atheism is positioned to replace religion, in the following way. Atheism is the belief that God does not exist. But this, in and of itself, cannot form the foundation for a way of life. Only by forming and practicing positive beliefs and values can one build a coherent and meaningful life. So if something is to replace religion, it will not be atheism. Perhaps some form of secular humanism will accomplish this task. But here we run into another problem, namely, that human beings long for transcendence of some sort, as shown by the presence and prevalence of religious belief throughout cultures across time.
On this topic, Barber claims that sports can replace religion. In one sense, I think he is right. The loyalty, community-identification, and limited transcendence of the experiences related to sports do fuflill many of the functions of religion for many people. However--and I am a passionate sports fan and participant--at the end of the day sports are incapable of doing the work needed to provide sufficient meaning, transcendence, and fulfillment in life. But even if sport can do this to some degree, the view that sport is replacing religion fails to notice that religion should not be approached as a consumer good.
Lastly, we should be very grateful for the powerful psychopharmacological substances which can make life better for many of us. However, we must remember that religion is not merely about making my life better. Religion at its best is about making me better, and a better contributor to the common good. In closing, I think the reports of the impending death and replacement of religion with atheism are greatly exaggerated.
The OP conflates religion and churches, congregations, etc.
Religion is based in belief (faith). Churches, congregations, etc. are social constructs to share and exchange those beliefs in a community.
Atheism can’t replace religious belief because there’s no there there.
***Why atheism can’t replace religion ***
It has “nothing” to offer!
Neverdem; Thank you for posting!
While there is no altar call in the article, and the religion described is generic, I will be sending this to several people who would describe themselves as wandering on the borders of belief.
>>Atheism cant replace religious belief because theres no there there.<<
Fair enough. But the OP starts in a bad direction and thus, can’t really arrive at the conclusion desired.
>>reductio ad absurdum<<
Wasn’t that what Snapes used as a curse to dispatch Dumbledoor?
It’s an old saying.
On this topic, Barber is a moron.
On the whole, religion simply seems to be playing less and less of a role in the average person's life...at least in the developed world. The United States is an exception, although even here atheism is much more prevalent than it was even half a century ago.
Here's an interesting graphic from Gallup: A religiosity index of the world's countries. The brighter the color, the more religious the country's people.
All I can say is, local roads are a complete MESS with—no exaggerations here—tens of thousands of worshippers trying to get into and out of the various services of the different churches. Local cops try hard to get Sundays off so they can work off-duty at high wages directing traffic for all these services. Churches are being built rapidly as there is more demand for space and even monstrous buildings are crowded. This says something about the hunger people have to hear Christ preached.
Your info is contraindcacatory
The great contradiction people miss is the fact that being an atheist also requires faith in the certainty that there is no supreme being or unexplainable things. There is an arrogance in the denial of the fact we simply don’t know one way or another.
The negative correlation between income and religiosity is a Western model. In the non-Western countries, rich people are as religious—if not more—than poor people. part of the reason is that poor people cannot be bothered with ‘heavenly things’ when they are hungry.
Since the poll was conducted on a country-by-country basis, how else would you illustrate such a map?
It also shows gray areas.
The gray areas represent countries which weren't polled.
Both of which are bunk.
Ok, I'll bite. Why?
While that is true of positive atheism, it's not so for negative atheism. Strong atheism states "There is no God (or gods)", whereas a negative atheist would state "While I have no belief in God (or gods) I cannot know with certainty that such a being or beings do not exist".
I subscribe to the latter, for what it's worth.
Fundamental reality. Try looking into it.
>> Article: Religion at its best is about making me better, and a better contributor to the common good.
Thankfully, Christianity is not a religion.
Are you sure about that? Here's data from a 2009 Gallup poll:
The populations of countries that are dirt poor are much more religious than wealthy countries.
“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him” Voltaire
1) The use of political borders on a map
2) The color gray denoting a lack of data on a map
"Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surely curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they make better neighbors than the other sort. "
Interestingly, atheism is more of an anti-Christian religion than anything else. If Christianity ceased to exist, atheism would have no purpose.
And I'm pretty sure that is a reflection on you, and not on me.
PLEASE GIVE ME MORE INFO.
Ok, I'm stumped. What in Crom's name are you talking about?
Jump me at your preferred point.
As a non-believer, I have far more respect for someone who has arrived at his or her religious convictions as a result of mature personal reflection than someone who is religious because of a need to conform, a desire for “community”, or because “they were raised that way”.
Parts of Western Europe are already “post-religious” in the sense that a majority of of people do not believe in the existence of a god who takes a interest in their individual behavior, but religion is in no danger of extinction there - tens of millions of people still value their personal religious experience and place it make it the core of their moral values, attempt to enlist new believers to their ranks, and will doubtless continue to do so.
Such believers may no longer have the force of the state to enforce their convictions upon others, but it seems to me that this strengthens, rather then weakens, their moral authority.
I'm hoping (in vain, I suspect) for him to give us a detailed explanation of why political borders and the color gray are "bunk"!
Jean has a long mustache.
A mirror, Unfortunately. What are you digging for?
Vive La Résistance! Wolverines!
Absolutely correct. Atheism is a narcissistic religion in which one worships himself and is closely related to humanism.
It is predicated on the atheist's need to deny a God because he wants so desperately not to be held accountable for his behavior. If he is his own god, then all of his actions are pre-approved and acceptable.
Like the Voltaire quote above, "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him," implies, if our rights are not inherent and are solely dependent on society, then they are fluid and changing. Right and wrong are not constants. God is law and that law is immutable. If man is a god then he is a law unto himself only.
It is a religion based on hate.
What’s the OP?
Seek experience with God and you will KNOW without having to believe.
Sorry, but that's just silly.
I don't know with certainty whether I will wake tomorrow, but that doesn't mean I can't believe I will--or live today in acordance with that belief.
Lol. We curmudgeons are only suspicious of those who would force us to be altruistic.
I've already done so. I asked Christ to be my savior (I was quite sincere at the time, let me assure you) when I was in Sunday School...and yet I felt nothing. I certainly didn't receive any divine KNOWledge as a result.
Wow....I wonder what God would say to that!
The article completely misses the relationship between God and His follower. I belong to God. He is the sole source of truth in my life. I do not prize my life above my bond with Him. The world will destroy my body but it cannot touch my soul.
You asked but you did not surrender, absolutely.
As a former luke-warm believer I've come to know that those that don't believe have some misconceptions as to how believers came to believe. I can say with experience that for many (myself included) it wasn't a conscious effort, a need for a "fix", a desire to be part of a social group, etc., but rather a supernatural event. IOW, a miraculous event or series of events take place in believer's lives, undeniable evidence of God's existence. I know it's difficult to explain to non-believers (I was once where you're at), but I can tell you that these "signs and wonders" do happen. It happened to me.
OK Michael W. Austin. You will soon meet
your maker. What then? Your smart prose
will serve you poorly. MARANATHA!