The normally congenial religious columnist in Nashville’s daily paper had a piece last Saturday about people turning away from God and embracing other enthusiasms.
“Recent signs of decrease in religious affiliations have been widely noted,” he writes, “yet the same period has seen an unexpected trend—a rise in disastrous credulity on other fronts.”
Pardon me for bringing it up, but what has ever been more disastrous, in its cumulative effect over the course of history, than religious credulity? The author cites, as a couple of recent secular travesties brought on by unwarranted and over-exuberant faith, the Wall Street fiasco, and the Mayan calendar brouhaha. As unfortunate as these phenomena were, would he really rank them with such calamities as the Crusades or the Inquisition?
He says our crises du jour are the result of “a lack of skepticism about human flaws,” and that “monotheistic belief at least comes with a set of tough-minded assumptions about human behavior.”
“Belief in God,” he goes on, “demands a wariness of human hubris and overreach…Monotheism is a challenge to puffed-up self-appraisals.”
Well, maybe, but not that I’ve noticed. On the contrary, the average Christian, for example, believes that God takes a special interest in him, that He is intensely concerned with his day-to-day activities, and that He ardently desires to have a close personal relationship. His God cares if he is bad or good, and wants him to be good, while affording him his precious free will, which gives him the latitude to choose to be bad. If he believes in Heaven and Hell, then he believes that God will make a place for him in one or the other, and no matter which place it is, the whole thrilling idea is that God is vitally interested in his soul.
The object of any worship besides God is a demon, says “scholar” Richard Wentz, as noted by the writer, who adds that the demon is “the false deity of arbitrary political or emotional need.” Funny, but that strikes me as a good definition of God Himself.