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By Robert A. Vella

On another blog, I stumbled upon a profoundly insightful comment.  Here’s the relevant excerpt:

“… I think we are in the dawn of an age where much of what we ‘needed’ to explain away with the supernatural is now explained by science. In addition, our culture has shifted from comprising relatively small local ‘tribes’ to one of global reach. With these changes, the primary benefit of religion has shifted from uniting us to dividing us. The disaster that religion wreaks, in today’s climate, far outweighs its benefit.”

What danicanallen essentially asserted is that religion is incompatible with our technocratic, globalized modern civilization.  Indeed, religion has always been effectively divisive, tribal, and warlike regardless of any benevolent precepts it officially espouses.  Actions speak louder than words, and history does matter… very much so.

At the crux of the Abrahamic religions‘ foundations, the world’s total human population did not exceed 300 million.  Today, it is more than 25 times that number.  Back then, when Rome ruled the western Old World, its activities were no more than rumor in East Asia and Africa, and were unheard of in the New World and Pacific.  Wars, and other deadly conflicts, were confined regionally.  The tragic hostilities of the Punic Wars, for example, had no effect on China or Japan who were busy conducting their own hostilities.  Where death and destruction decimated local populations, more distant peoples had opportunities to prosper.

Now, such respites are few and far between.  We humans are no longer isolated.  We live in an integrated, globalized society having shared forms of communication, economics, politics, and increasingly culture.  What happens in the East will surely affect the West;  and, because of technology, it will do so almost instantaneously.  Therefore, any source of societal division is highly problematic be it related to ethnicity, ideology, or any other contrived difference between peoples.

29 thoughts on “Thought of the Day: Religion is incompatible with Modern Civilization

  1. Could not agree more Robert! Very well elaborated on Danica’s superb comment over on Nan’s blog!

    Actions speak louder than words, and history does matter… very much so.

    If I humbly may Robert… 🙂

    Actions speak louder than words, and unanimous (or majority consensus) cumulative history does matter… very much so.

    Not any one “testimony” reflects all truth, some truth, or little. By comparing, contrasting, evaluating, scrutinizing, testing, all available directly-related and independently related accounts/testimonies — and NON-accounts and NON-testimonies — the more accurate truth, fact, and reality becomes. Would you agree Sir? After all, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity requires other disciplines, other equations & mathematics, other laws HE learned from those before him. 🤓😁

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I agree in principle. As an empiricist, I place much more value on objective facts than I do on testimonials. Human beings are prone to all manner of subjective misperception and dysfunction, and what is asserted must be verified.

      Verification must be an empirical process, and the best way we have to do that is through the scientific method.

      To many people these days, reality is exclusively subjective and objectivity is just illusion. I disagree. To me, reality is objective and it is only our human subjectivity which clouds our perception.

      Historical accuracy is harder to verify empirically because there is often no evidence other than testimony. In these cases, the consensus (quantity) and veracity (quality) of testimonies becomes determinative.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. If religion wasn’t used to divide people, wouldn’t something else take it’s place? If pure science was the rule, some evil scientists would surely try to take over the world — all in the name of science (The Good).

    My point is that power “tends to corrupt,” and power is often misused. Power, itself, is the terrible temptation. It matters less what system is able to accumulate power — religion, nationalism, or science.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “Evil Scientists” = Dexter, Hannibal Lecter, Jack Kevorkian, Joseph Mengele, Dr. Moreau, Alphonse Mephisto, and the all-time worst… Professor Nut-Meg! 😮 Begone!

      Stop the Power! Flip the Breaker-Switch! Unplug the cord! 🔌 😛

      Liked by 2 people

    • JoAnn, your central point is valid. If religion didn’t exist, social division would still occur; and, that is precisely why we should be looking for ways to reduce divisive mechanisms especially in this day and age.

      However, I disagree with your equating of science with religion and nationalism as accumulators of power. Religions are social institutions which seek to advance theological ideologies. Nationalism is simply an emotional state of mind derived from tribalism. The profession of science serves only one purpose – to learn about the natural world through peer-reviewed observation and experimentation. It is not a structure of power. Politicians, business leaders, and anyone with a personal agenda (including individual scientists) can and have misused the application of science; but, this has nothing to do with academic science as an institution of learning.

      Liked by 1 person

      • There are philosophy, ethics, and intent behind science… something like an ideology. Can science be exploited? Certainly — there’s so much money to make, and power to create. You could call it organized science.

        Just as organized religion feeds on faith, an organized science feeds on discovery. Science could turn into factions, it could be tribalized and nationalized — science could get even more competitive. Power-mongers could don the respectability of science in order to promote their own agendas.

        In any case, the death of religion would not stop wars from occurring. If science were to then fill the void, you’d just have a lot of superficial scientists running around.

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        • Please explain the “philosophy, ethics, and intent behind science” which you see as “something like an ideology.”

          I’d also like you to explain exactly how science is “organized” and exactly how it “feeds on discovery.”

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      • Since we’re discussing science, it’s suddenly everywhere. In my mailbox. By Philip Mirowski, Professor of Economics and Policy Studies and the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Notre Dame. “Against Citizen Science.”

        I never heard of “citizen science.” But it appears that citizens may be recruited to perform data collection for free, and then along the way be duped about real science. All in the name of “truth” the people think — but of course, it’s more about business, marketing, and profits.

        It goes along with what I was trying to express… the powers-that-be will not leave sacred science alone, they will manipulate it if they can, wrap it up (in a system), and use it to influence and persuade people.

        Anything essentially good and attractive is vulnerable to misuse.

        If you have a chance to read the article, I’d love to hear your take, Robert.

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  3. Most of modern society’s ills can be attributed to the belief system (religion) of Capitalism, a system which is integral to the governmental system of Corporatocracy. The lure of comfort, convenience, possessions and power over others overrides the lesser belief systems commonly referred to as religions.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I would agree with the qualification that your statement applies to laissez-faire capitalism. Capitalism under more egalitarian political systems such as post-WWII socialism in western Europe, FDR-style progressivism in the U.S. (1933-1968), and post-WWII Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, etc., does not trigger an unstable degree of class warfare that is typical of its laissez-faire cousin. In comparison, religion is inherently divisive because of its absolutist doctrines.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Those examples are of Capitalism as an economic system. Today, Capitalism is a belief system or, if you prefer a different way of putting it: today this economic system – which has predatory tendencies – has become our social system. It has permeated virtually every aspect of society rendering compassion as nothing more than something interesting to discuss. There is a new breed of economic theorists today who openly say that compassion has no place in economics. I used to debate them online, then met a few at Zuccotti Park during OWS who debated against regulating the financial industry. They believe that unfettered Capitalism is the cure for all of the problems in the world. They are dogmatic in their views. That is why I perceive it as a religion.

        Liked by 1 person

    • The “lesser belief systems,” indeed. The church has lost its punch. If following Jesus more closely and correctly, the Church would be the greatest adversary to greed, war, racism, misogyny, etc. The Christian Church would also be a lot smaller.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Interesting post and discussion, Robert! I avoid discussions on God and religion because they are usually very contentious. And for just reason. Our religious institutions have failed us time and again.

    I am currently reading, simultaneously, Dan Brown’s latest novel, ORIGIN (released in September), and Reza Aslan’s non-fiction book, GOD: A HUMAN HISTORY. The juxtaposition of these works, released just months between each other, is incredible.

    There is still so much that we don’t understand about who we are as a species and the purpose of our existence.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I completely understand your reluctance to discuss religion, and I generally do so in my personal life. However, this blog would be in dereliction of its duties if I didn’t discuss it. Someone told me that if I was pissing-off both sides of an argument, then I must be doing something right.

      Still, though, the topic of this post is the relationship between religion and modern civilization; so, it is more sociological than religious.

      I’d love to read your review on those two books. And, yes, we still have much to learn about our species and existence. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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