Saturday, November 08, 2008

I didn't know that Micahel Crichton died.

Here he is making a point I have sometimes made:
I studied anthropology in college, and one of the things I learned was that certain human social structures always reappear. They can’t be eliminated from society. One of those structures is religion. Today it is said we live in a secular society in which many people—the best people, the most enlightened people—do not believe in any religion. But I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form. You can not believe in God, but you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious.

Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it’s a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths. cf. Uncommon Descent

He's right but I wouldn't lump all religion together. I would at least classify some as more transcendent and some as more immanent. Environmentalism is an immanence based religion which matches patterns in other immanence based religions. For example, Catholics worship the mother of God while environmentalists tend to worship Mother Earth. Catholics used to sell indulgences so that one could pay for their sins while environmentalists sell carbon credits so that one can pay for their sins against the environment. And so on. You can't simply lump all religion together though, there are transcendent (Islam/Allah, Jews/Jehovah, Christians/Father God) and immanent patterns to them. It seems to me that there is only one which reconciles patterns of transcendence and immanence, as it is claimed in Christianity that the transcendent God was immanently incarnated, etc. It's even claimed that this is not a mythic, philosophic or symbolic way of unifying the mental patterns typical to us into One, it's a historical claim about what really happened. Despite the details in the end either it did or it didn't. As odd as it is I think it happened, so I'm a Christian. I'm not sure from what perspective it seems odd to me that God would do things in such a bloody, messy or dirty way because if it is odd then we're very odd creatures of blood, mess and excrement ourselves. If the gardening God wants to get His hands dirty or to create evil then I'm not in a position to object on "moral" grounds and neither is anyone else that I know. And in order to think things odd I must be imagining some other "normal," "clean" or "logical" way for the same ends to come about, yet the simple fact is that for all I know there may be no other means to achieve the same ends.

I know that logic may not help people experiencing evil in the moment but if an infinite God is totally good and a greater good can come about by creating, using or allowing for evil to exist then vast amounts of evil must necessarily exist. If messy forms of redemption are "more perfect" than law-like forms of perfection then evil must necessarily exist to the same extent that all the "more than perfect" things like redemption, mercy, forgiveness and so on exist.

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