Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Is it the Religion? Or the Mind-set?

I found this article recently about a study that shows the decline of religion in America.

I've read subsequent articles referring to this study, specifically by religious leaders that are obviously concerned, and contemplate what my mindset might be if faced with the same predicament. If the "value" system I've been using to judge the world around me is losing "subscribers", what does that mean to me? Could I ignore the fact that people were finding better explanations that what I was giving? Is my life/personality/being so wrapped up in this system that I could never look at my position objectively? While I believe that a person could hold to their religion even as others are finding reason to leave, that this not only could change a person, but SHOULD change, (or at least give pause), to those that profess an undying faith. As pragmatism wins out over vague references to "good" or "evil", so goes reason over faith. And this seems to be the arc of Western History...

As Aristotle and Socrates brought the gods down from Olympus, as Galileo and Copernicus brought the stars down to earth, and as Darwin and the Scientific Method discovers the story of life on our planet, the ability for man to make arguments on "feelings" and "faith" has greatly diminished. As evidence and logical rationale take the place of superstition, the culture of man advances on. While there were hiccups in this process, (The Dark Ages, etc.), it is still the case that the mind-set it takes to hold religious convictions is being replaced by the mind-set that allows for new evidence to enter the room at any time. It is this ability to deal with new facts that makes humans as successful as they are, the brain was not meant to be a static storage space, but a biological tool that evolves to the changing circumstances.

It is my thought that this study doesn't necessarily show that religion is "losing out" to non-religion, but that we are becoming more discriminate in our knowledge base. With the amount of knowledge we have access to, we don't need the preacher to take on biological theories, our Imam isn't our pharmacist anymore, and our Rabbi's better stay out of the political realm. I believe that the fact that we are "losing religion" in our country isn't solely because of the disenfranchising by the clergy, (see Catholic Priests), but by an awakening that we can think for ourselves. As we allow ourselves to become self-aware, we are compelled to be truthful with ourselves, and in doing so require no guidance but the self-evidence of our own consciousness.


  1. As a "believer" I must say...In my opinion only, Jesus wants us to think freely and there is a need/place for churches and clergymen but they do not replace the need/moral duty for a person to relize in themselves their own belief and relationship to a higher power.

  2. Doesn't the statement that "Jesus wants us to think freely" imply that there is something that Jesus wants us to do? And if we are doing what he wants us to do, (because he simply wants us to), then aren't we not thinking freely?

    If humans can think morally for themselves, why do we need churches then? Why do we need to give money to support clergy if we can be moral without them?

    If morality is based on human interaction and the free-will within these interactions, what does "god" have to do with anything?