The death of faith

Ross Douthat speculates in the New York Times about Christianity’s likely future in the United States.

A key piece of this weakness is religion’s extreme marginalization with the American intelligentsia — meaning not just would-be intellectuals but the wider elite-university-educated population, the meritocrats or “knowledge workers,” the “professional-managerial class.”

Almost certainly, Christianity’s future in the United States is identical to what already has happened in other well-educated Western countries — attrition and eventual death.

By any sane reckoning, this is a good thing; after all, the Christian narrative is undoubtedly false, and nobody actually needs the Weekly Berating. What is more, religion’s displaced energies will almost certainly be turned toward things that actually conduce toward a good life — family and career.

So Douthat’s mopey meditations don’t move me. What is worthwhile about the column is the frank acknowledgement — by a deeply devout man — of the degradation at the heart of Christian thought.

One problem is that whatever its internal divisions, the American educated class is deeply committed to a moral vision that regards emancipated, self-directed choice as essential to human freedom and the good life. The tension between this worldview and the thou-shalt-not, death-of-self commandments of biblical religion can be bridged only with difficulty — especially because the American emphasis on authenticity makes it hard for people to simply live with certain hypocrisies and self-contradictions, or embrace a church that judges their self-affirming choices on any level, however distant or abstract.

I was startled to encounter the death-of-self passage I’ve highlighted; few Christians are willing to frankly acknowledge it — and fewer still to acknowledge the degradation which drives it … You’re self is no damn good!

So … good riddance. The churches can’t fail fast enough, so far as I’m concerned.

Friedrich Nietzsche believed that the collapse of Christianity would be accompanied by a turn toward nihilism, that when people could no longer rely on diktat from the sky they would abandon notions of right and wrong. As the evangelical adoration of Donald Trump shows, he wasn’t far off. Nietzsche’s philosophical project, then, was a bit like Joe Biden’s — to “build back better,” to develop an ethical system that didn’t rely on supernatural assertions about right and wrong. He died before that work could be completed, but his notebooks offer clear pointers to the direction he was going — some flavor of what is known today as humanism.

America is going to be just fine without preachers wagging their fingers under our noses.

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Serving the market for cowards

Apparently, there are a lot of Americans who refuse to get vaccinated against Covid-19, but are too cowardly to say so in plain language.

Online Scammers Have a New Offer for You: Vaccine Cards

Hundreds of sellers are offering false and stolen vaccine cards, as businesses and states weigh proof of vaccinations for getting people back to work and play.

Vaccination is one of science’s greatest success stories, from Pasteur’s defeat of rabies to the (nearly) global eradication of smallpox. I am unable to regard these people with anything but contempt.

As I’ve said more times than I can count, you can’t protect these idiots from their own stupidity; all you can do is protect yourself from them. Get vaccinated.

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Quote for the day

The anti-abortion movement has always had authoritarian underpinnings; forcing women to give birth against their will would require police-state surveillance and coercion. (It’s certainly more intrusive than being made to wear a mask, which some conservatives regard as tyranny.)

Michelle Goldberg

The anti-abortion movement is not merely authoritarian and intrusive; it is misleading. Definitely, it doesn’t mean to rest with the end of Roe. Albert Mohler, for instance, has made it clear through the years that he wants to eliminate the availability of birth control, too.

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Evangelicals remain hostile to vaccination

White evangelicals are not merely ignoramuses — they’re dangerous ignoramuses.

There are about 41 million white evangelical adults in the U.S. About 45 percent said in late February that they would not get vaccinated against Covid-19, making them among the least likely demographic groups to do so, according to the Pew Research Center.

“If we can’t get a significant number of white evangelicals to come around on this, the pandemic is going to last much longer than it needs to,” said Jamie Aten, founder and executive director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, an evangelical institution in Illinois.

You can’t reason with these morons, because they didn’t get reasoned into their screwed-up ideas; all you can do is protect yourself by keeping them at a distance.

Businesses and schools can help by demanding employees get vaccinated, and by refusing to admit the unvaccinated onto their premises — and they should. The pandemic is an existential threat to the country writ large, and those who refuse to join the fight against it deserve to be outcasts.

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Church membership hits historic low

For the first time ever, fewer than half of all Americans claim church membership.

The proportion of Americans who consider themselves members of a church, synagogue or mosque has dropped below 50 percent, according to a poll from Gallup released Monday. It is the first time that has happened since Gallup first asked the question in 1937, when church membership was 73 percent.

In recent years, research data has shown a seismic shift in the U.S. population away from religious institutions and toward general disaffiliation, a trend that analysts say could have major implications for politics, business and how Americans group themselves.

I don’t doubt there are people who will cluck and scowl and mourn the news, but I think it’s wonderful news. The Abrahamic narratives are false, one and all, and have caused slipshod thinking and human grief everywhere they’ve gone. Good riddance.

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