New Age America

A Pew Forum survey provides a very mixed picture of the US religious landscape. As with most human populations, Americans are besotted with supernatural beliefs. But the current picture is also one that would make a conventional monotheist uncomfortable. Increasing numbers of Americans hold a mishmash of spiritual beliefs. More and more, a hybrid, almost Newagey kind of faith seems to be the background belief system, rather than a doctrinally clear(ish) monotheistic picture.To some extent, this … [Read more...]

The millet system

I'm used to nostalgia for the Ottoman Empire in Turkey, particularly among religious and conservative circles. Nationalists like the "Turks carrying forth the banner of Islam" bit; the religious like to think of the Empire as a time when Islam was properly dominant.The funny thing is, I run into praise for the Ottoman Empire's "millet system," in which subjects of the Empire were organized into semi-autonomous religious communities, from some unlikely quarters as well. Recently I was reading … [Read more...]

Homo stupidus

There is something vaguely stupid about religion. This doesn't mean that it is irrational to be religious—I suspect that sometimes it can be rational to adopt even grossly stupid, fundamentalist beliefs. Nonetheless, from asserting the literal truth of ancient myths to driveling about how liberally interpreted myths still lead us to deep and ineffable truths about supernatural realms, there is something about religion that I can't help but think insults my intelligence.Still, I also have to … [Read more...]

Religion and social dysfunction

Gregory Paul's paper "The Chronic Dependence of Popular Religiosity upon Dysfunctional Psychosociological Conditions" is available online. Among its conclusions:all hypotheses that religious belief and practice are the normal, deeply set human mental state that is highly resistant to conversion to nontheism are unverified. Instead popular religion is in the main a superficial psychological response that seeks the daily aid and protection of supernatural entities to alleviate the stress and … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X