Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"When people stop believing in God..."

Mollie Hemingway in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, "Look Who's Irrational Now," notes the tendency in some quarters to disparage orthodox Christian belief:
On the "Saturday Night Live" season debut last week, homeschooling families were portrayed as fundamentalists with bad haircuts who fear biology. Actor Matt Damon recently disparaged Sarah Palin by referring to a transparently fake email that claimed she believed that dinosaurs were Satan's lizards. And according to prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins, traditional religious belief is "dangerously irrational." From Hollywood to the academy, nonbelievers are convinced that a decline in traditional religious belief would lead to a smarter, more scientifically literate and even more civilized populace.

The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won't create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that's not a conclusion to take on faith - it's what the empirical data tell us.
Chesterton supposedly said "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing - they believe in anything." That appears to be demonstrable. From the column:
"What Americans Really Believe," a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.

The Gallup Organization, under contract to Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion, asked American adults a series of questions to gauge credulity. Do dreams foretell the future? Did ancient advanced civilizations such as Atlantis exist? Can places be haunted? Is it possible to communicate with the dead? Will creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster someday be discovered by science?

The answers were added up to create an index of belief in occult and the paranormal. While 31% of people who never worship expressed strong belief in these things, only 8% of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week did.

Even among Christians, there were disparities. While 36% of those belonging to the United Church of Christ, Sen. Barack Obama's former denomination, expressed strong beliefs in the paranormal, only 14% of those belonging to the Assemblies of God, Sarah Palin's former denomination, did. In fact, the more traditional and evangelical the respondent, the less likely he was to believe in, for instance, the possibility of communicating with people who are dead. ....

Surprisingly, while increased church attendance and membership in a conservative denomination has a powerful negative effect on paranormal beliefs, higher education doesn't. Two years ago two professors published another study in Skeptical Inquirer showing that, while less than one-quarter of college freshmen surveyed expressed a general belief in such superstitions as ghosts, psychic healing, haunted houses, demonic possession, clairvoyance and witches, the figure jumped to 31% of college seniors and 34% of graduate students. [read it all]
Look Who's Irrational Now - WSJ.com

1 comment:

  1. You have a really good, high-minded Christian blog. I subscribe to First Things, but find it very difficult to wade through the complicated articles to reach whatever point they are trying to make about how awful our modern American society is. A theocracy is needed to save us, evidently. Well, it probably will come.....then we can have a godly leader to direct us into obedience.

    One little thing I will take issue with in this post.......I've been a church attendee all my life.....raised Baptist; married into Missouri Synod Lutheran 30 years ago. Several years ago all of a sudden I started having precognitive dreams. So, yes.....I do believe that dreams can tell the future......I don't believe dreams are an occultic thing.....they are a function created by God, but barely used in this modern, noisy world.

    All any one of us can do is take care of our little corner of the world.....strive to teach our children correctly and be kind to others. Governmental laws don't change anything in peoples' hearts. Abortion can be outlawed, but abortions will continue....they've been with us since humans fell, along with every other human vice. Well-meaning Christians moan and whine about what a terrible society we live in.......like sin is a modern invention. Take a look at history.....look first at the corruptions of the greedy, power-hungry Church hierarchy of centuries past.

    I'm sure you won't allow this comment to be posted. That's Ok. You have a very good blog.....keep up the good work!


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