I came across the article Atheists sound the alarm: Decline of Christianity is seriously hurting society. It is quite fascinating and reminded me of the two articles (first and second) I wrote on Christian Humanism. I wrote these two from the point of view of a believer and a cradle Anglican. What is surprising is to read such ideas coming from atheists who begin to be a little less sure of themselves.
In the past, the atheist argument has consisted of saying that all religion and irrational beliefs in anything that cannot be verified by physical science (physics, chemistry and biology) is harmful to the human person and to society. All wars and violence are caused by religion. Myself, I have been forced to make a distinction between the inmost and transcendent consciousness which we call God, on one hand, and the systems of memes and “spiritual viruses” that cause us to consider each other as enemies and therefore have the right to fight against them, on the other.
My own studies of Romanticism and its philosophy in particular have brought me to consider the capital importance of the Enlightenment in its time and the need to bring back the imagination, human emotions and spirituality to bring about a new synthesis of reason and the heart. The Romantics, as a whole, did not wish to return to what was obscurantist about the period before great man like Descartes and Newton, but to re-humanise reason. This is at the heart of the present-day discussion of faith and reason. Without this balance, we have the extremes of irrational religion which is often violent, hateful and intolerant – and that of atheism and the arrogance of science as caricatured in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and many books and films in the modern science fiction genre.
Could it be that the romanticism of our own time is bursting through the dryness and arrogance of “pure” science to give us a view of consciousness and humanity. I see this in the work of Rupert Sheldrake as he criticises materialistic science. The French and Russian revolutions happened in Christian countries where the faith (however lukewarm it became) modelled moral life and the sense of right and wrong. In our own time, Christianity is rotting away like the churches for which no one has any further use. Atheists like Dawkins begin to see that once Christianity is gone, there is no other principle to guide people morally and ethically. Ethics are replaced by the brutal struggle of winner-take-all.
Was not the Enlightenment the very principle of Christianity and its morality? Did not humanism, the value of life and the respect of the human person come from Christianity? There are any number of religious traditions, philosophies and cultures where human life is cheap and the person counts for nothing. This is returning to our own world as money and political power rule supreme. Darkness would return to this world, as it is doing right now.
Even Richard Dawkins is more sceptical of the idea according to which we would get rid of religion and our world would become a utopia. He even thinks that Christianity can be good or even necessary for western civilisation. This is astounding coming from one of the hardest “evangelists” of hard atheism!
Indeed, we need God.