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May 4, 2006

Religion Lite

Even if religion has been making a comeback against secularism in recent decades, hasn't much (not all) religion been transformed by its exposure to secularism? This from A. C. Grayling, writing in The Guardian:

In its bleeding-heart modern form, Christianity is a recent and highly modified version of what, for most of its history, has been an often violent and always oppressive ideology - think Crusades, torture, burnings at the stake, the enslavement of women to constantly repeated childbirth and undivorceable husbands, the warping of human sexuality, the use of fear (of hell's torments) as an instrument of control, and the horrific results of calumny against Judaism. Nowadays, by contrast, Christianity specialises in soft-focus mood music; its threats of hell, its demand for poverty and chastity, its doctrine that only the few will be saved and the many damned, have been shed, replaced by strummed guitars and saccharine smiles.

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at May 4, 2006 9:36 AM


Seems that way for christianity, but the muslims have in fact gone the other way. They used to be the relatively tolerant ones in the middle ages, and now look at them. And it might be actually happening as a reaction to the secularization of the West, and the mollifying influence of that secularization on christianity.

- Andrey

Posted by: Andrey at May 5, 2006 2:46 PM

A young man, wise beyond his years, wrote:

Religion doesn't make people better, people make religion better.

"Getting Saved in the Soup Aisle"

Posted by: No More Mr. Nice Guy! at May 5, 2006 11:14 PM

Could this be an attempt by the church to hold on to those who are finally starting to realize, consciously or not, that their religion is intolerant? "Honest, we're not a bunch of bigotted, male chauvenistic oppressive people vying for power...we're a loving, tolerant people...just don't read THAT part of the bible."

Any organization that is falling out of favor, or at least losing their overwhelming hold of their "faithful", is going to soften it's message. It just makes good business sense.

Posted by: JustinOther at May 7, 2006 6:54 AM

Hecht said that belief as an explicit focus of religion came after Greek and Jewish doubt, and probably as a reaction to that doubt. I think Dennett said something similar: first belief, then doubt, then belief in belief. Before the doubters, believers just believe, like you don't notice air until you're short of breath.

Posted by: Damien at June 16, 2006 1:14 AM

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