(This post is part one of a 10 part series that will appear each Sunday)
The past several years have seen a remarkable turn of events in the socio-political conscious of Americans and indeed people worldwide. The Cold War is fifteen years over, but the prospects of a New World Order, an order designed and manipulated by the power elite in the United States, appears to be quite more ominous than anything we have seen in years past.
The ecology also looms. As a civilization, we are faced with new ‘Super-Viruses’, a resurgence of AIDS world-wide, global climate change, and a planet that will see its population double within the next generation, with not enough food or resources to support it.
Where will God fit in to this dynamic?
Many argue that God is needed in our lives more than ever. But why is he needed? Is he needed for the traditional purposes of control – to explain away unimaginable events?
For thousands of years God was used and adapted by all civilizations to ‘explain the unexplainable’ and comfort those who fear what was ‘unexplained.’ However in our time, the ubiquitous power of the ‘unexplained’ has begun to fade, and the very need for God may very well be fading along with it.
This central question is what these series of posts will attempt to examine. Is God an idea of the past whose time and need is over? American Scholar Peter Berger notes that we often live a double standard when we compare our time with the past (1). But in this case, science and reason seem to be winning the eternal battle between the secular humanists and those who see themselves as believers. The evidence is all around us.
In the United States Catholic churches are emptying, while larger churches that I refer to as “Retail Churches”, are flourishing. Catholics attend to discover faith, the latter seems to attend in order to buy it. In Europe most churches are emptying as well and atheism is no longer a taboo subject not to be discussed in certain company, or among a few fringe scholars. More and more, people seem unaffected by the prospect of a life without God, as religious holidays have de-evolved into orgies of over consumption and vanity, less and less resembling generally accepted traditions rooted in the church we knew as children.
A new world economy is also a factor.
People simply no longer have the time, or quite frankly the energy to attend services, much less volunteer extra time to the poor or to other church activities. On a more academic level, those of us who had an issue with God find it a bit liberating to be rid of a God who only existed to ensure we kept our Sunday and holiday schedule of attending church, less we be damned to the eternal fires of Hell. Parents are all working two jobs or more just to survive, and the very idea of another ‘activity’ added to the weekly run of endless soccer games, boy scouts, cheer-leading and various other after school activities, seems almost too much to take. Something must lose, and more people are choosing to opt out of church.
So this is the background. Given these ideas, I will attempt to support my assertion that God is becoming less relevant and less common. In the end we must all deal with the idea that the sometimes hideous and conspicuously absent deity that we have experienced through religion, and that is accepted as authentic by Christians, Muslims, and Jews, may be nothing more than an unfortunate aberration that has been used by those in positions of power to control populations and cultures in the name of material gain.
We must also face the fact that this same deity may also have run it’s course as a convenient and necessary explanation, that has helped to fill a hole in human consciousness and understanding.
Maybe we have grown up and much like children who shed their belief of Santa, various cultures are shedding the practice of theism.
1. Peter Berger, A Rumor of Angels (London, 1970), p. 58
Starting this Sunday we will publish the first of several articles regarding God’s future in American culture.
Are the secular-humanists winning the battle of God? Is Jesus no more than a marketing scheme? Are churches revenue centers and nothing more? Does American culture still need God or even want him?
The posts will attempt to answer these questions as well as examine the continued relevance and resiliency of mono-theism in the modern era, and what the trends are telling us. This series hopes to engage those interested in religion and those who only wish to learn more about religion and it’s place in American culture, both today and tomorrow.
As usual, your comments are always welcome.