jump to navigation

The Great Non-Sequitur October 29, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, religion.
Tags: ,
2 comments

Karen Armstrong’s career has been one long, mighty struggle to make sense of religion. And when she can’t make sense, she just asserts.

In her recent article in Foreign Policy she repeats the most banal of non-sequiturs:

While dogs, as far as we know, do not worry about the canine condition or agonize about their mortality, humans fall very easily into despair if we don’t find some significance in our lives. Theological ideas come and go, but the quest for meaning continues. So God isn’t going anywhere.

Yes, human beings must search for meaning and we are continually threatened by a loss of meaning. But that doesn’t entail that God exists or that humans must believe in God, or that belief in God is an adequate response to the threatened loss of meaning.

I have never been able to figure out, nor has anyone ever adequately explained to me, why life would lack meaning if God did not exist or why belief in God confers meaning on life which it otherwise would not have.

And neither can they explain why hope that God exists is somehow evidence that God must exist.

Yet, writers like Armstrong think this connection is so obvious it doesn’t have to be explained.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

 

Advertisements

Replacing Religion? June 24, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, religion.
Tags: ,
3 comments

In the modern world, most of the roles and functions of religion have been taken over by other institutions.

As H.E. Baber writes:

What once was religion has already been parcelled out to a variety of different institutions and agents – metaphysics and ethics to philosophers, wisdom literature to self-help gurus, pastoral counselling to therapists, and charity to secular non-profits and the welfare state. Science explains natural phenomena and technology provides a means for controlling them.

But Baber points out that despite that loss of function, belief in religion and the paranormal persists. And she thinks these are related.

I doubt that that residue [of religion] will dissolve because I understand the draw of religion and also, I think, the appeal of paranormal beliefs. It’s the yen for the spooky – for wonders, marvels and stangeness, for mysticism. We read ghost stories for that metaphysical thrill and experiment with psychotropic drugs. Religion delivers it most effectively.

Is this a plausible account of the persistence of religious belief? A “yen for the spooky” can be satisfied in ways that do not involve the hardships of ethical commitment, personal struggles with faith, conflict with non-believers and all the other burdens of religious faith. What is effective about the way religion satisfies this “yen”?

This explanation just raises the question why, if the “yen for the spooky” can be pursued through ghost stories, drugs, and the pseudo-spiritual silliness on TV, etc.  do we need religion?

 

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

or Visit the Website: www.revivingliberalism.com