If religion were to fizzle out

Chris Hedges’s column today, “After Religion Fizzles, We’re Stuck With Nietzsche” claims that mainstream Christian and Jewish religion is in decline, and that the kind of secular options that might replace religion are nothing to be enthusiastic about.

I think he underestimates the resilience of religion—particularly the right wing, magical-thinking, enthusiastic forms of religion he does not have much use for. It looks like conservative Christianity and Islam will continue to go strong, ensuring that the worst of monotheism will always be with us.

Still, if Hedges is right that the more moderate forms of monotheistic religiosity are in decline, it is worth asking whether this is a good thing. Nonbelievers tend to think so; usually I have little sympathy for the empty “sophistication” of liberal theologies. But socially liberal decline might not be so good a thing. I suspect Hedges may be right in that we don’t have a serious secular alternative to put in place. Secular thought has certainly proved incapable of putting up much resistance to neoliberal madness.

Oh well, with any luck civilization will collapse and all this will be moot. If I’m really lucky, civilization will collapse only after I’m dead.

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About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University


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