Saturday, December 31, 2011

Varieties of irreligious experience

Jonathan Rée - Varieties of irreligious experience | New Humanist:

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Opponents of religion – anti-clericals, humanists, rationalists or whatever we want to call ourselves – ought to recognise that religion is a complicated box of tricks, containing much wisdom as well as folly, along with diversity, dynamism and disagreement. And we need to realise that many modern believers have moved a long way from the positions of their predecessors: as Mill once said, they may believe they are loyal to an old-time religion when in reality they have subjected it to “modifications amounting to an essential change of its character”. In particular, they may not accept the idea of God as an actually existing entity, so arguments for atheism will not disturb them; and they will be aware that there has always been more to religion than belief in God. The dividing lines between religiosity and secularism, or between belief and disenchantment, are not getting any clearer as time goes by, and if there has been a lot of traffic travelling from the camp of religion to the camp of disbelief in the past couple of centuries, it has followed many different paths, and is bound for many different destinations.
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