Equal Time For Freethought
Show 291: The Big Religion Problems���Solved!
Jan 18th, 2009
���The Big Religion Problems���Solved!��� w/Gregory S. Paul
The point of departure is Paul's article "Religion, the Big Questions Finally Solved" in Free Inquiry, Dec. 2008/Jan. 2009 (vol. 29, no. 1), pp. 24-36.
Paul finds that Rodney Stark's hypothesis that religion thrives in the USA as opposed to Western Europe is because of the free market and the absence of an established church is not supported by corrected data. Serious religiosity decreases with rise of income and education. The USA is an anomaly, with respect to other nations of comparable industrial and political status.
Scientific analysis can refute the existence of a GOOD God, and other supernatural entities. Why then creationism and high religiosity in USA? Income DISPARITY correlates with religiosity. We need universal health care and a social safety net. Corporate consumer culture tends to dampen religiosity. Polls show that Americans are becoming more progressive and secular. But does organized political power cohere with with raw numbers? But look at popular culture war? The right has effectively lost the culture wars.
But what about rise of progressive evangelicals? Even they are helping to undermine religiosity. It is likely not accidental that the religious right opposes universal health care. But they will prove to be ineffective in the end. William F. Buckley a fool to ally the religious right with corporate America, which undermines its culture. Creationism and social darwinism cannot coexist, whereas William Jennings Bryan would not have allied the two. (another example: the decline of "blue laws".)
Religion is easily cast off. Make life secure and comfortable, religion will decline. Religion is a superficial way of dealing with hardship. Religion is not an intrinsic need.
The "new atheists"? The intellectual battle between religion is not essentially an ideological war, but a socioeconomic one. The corporate consumer culture enables the new atheists.
Paul's work will become one chapter in a forthcoming book, "Atheism and Secularity".
The author is a sociologist.
COMMENT: While I agree with this correlation in general, the analysis of it doesn't seem to go deep enough; a more elaborate theoretical analysis is needed. A dialectical relationship has been revealed without being recognized as such. Progress does not merely eclipse regress; rather, exacerbated social tension tends to lead toward a social explosion or social breakdown. Perhaps Obama has made Paul more hopeful, but I remain skeptical. But I welcome Paul's thesis regardless, as it shows that libertarian atheists deserve a good ass-kicking.