Thursday, December 22, 2011

Religion and its Malcontents

Bret Stephens (via Mangan) writes:

As with religion, [global warming enthusiasm] is presided over by a caste of spectacularly unattractive people pretending to an obscure form of knowledge that promises to make the seas retreat and the winds abate. As with religion, it comes with an elaborate list of virtues, vices and indulgences. As with religion, its claims are often non-falsifiable, hence the convenience of the term "climate change" when thermometers don't oblige the expected trend lines. As with religion, it is harsh toward skeptics, heretics and other "deniers."

And more in like vein.  This is, of course, a riff on Michael Crighton’s famous “Environmentalism as Religion” speech in which he blames the AGW hoax (among others) on the religious impulse.

As I have written before, I believe this to be misleading.  It is precisely at the point where people stop believing in the God of the Bible that they became susceptible to all manner of nonsense in an effort to fill the religion-shaped hole in their psyches.  Stephens, et. al are correct to criticize religious approaches to what should be empirical questions, but it never seems to occur to them that the continued effort at undermining true devotional religion is actually exacerbating the problem.

This reminds me how, post-1991, atheists, when confronted with Soviet brutality, claimed that Russian communism was actually a religious movement, official statements to the contrary.  (They never seemed to realize this before 1991.)

Similarly, Calvinism has become the go-to whipping boy at Ferdinand’s site on any number of issues as the writers blame if for all that is wrong with the world.  Never mind that no observant Calvinist, then or now, actually believes or advocates anything Ferd is attacking; it’s Calvin’s fault anyway because . . . well, I’m not sure, but something about how anything that Ferd doesn’t like is logically consistent with Calvinism by Ferd’s reckoning, and that’s enough.

Yet another example:  I’m pretty sure that any reasonable observer would agree that Christianity, especially the fundamental variety, stands foursquare against drunken orgies.  Yet, when those orgies turn out badly, sure enough we can find people who blame them on Christianity anyway.

Φ’s First Law:  Anything bad is going to be blamed on Christianity and Christians, notwithstanding any amount of actual Christian opposition to the bad thing.


Dexter said...

No doubt you are familiar with the liberals who blame Nazi atrocities on the "Christian Nazis" and insist that Hitler was a Catholic.

Justin said...

Great points. I have found atheism is less an intellectual position than an anti-Christian worldview stance. It is no more rational than anything else, often less so, as it is driven by emotional factors.