In a comment after my previous post, Raymond Martin asked for more information about Phil Zuckerman. In response I paraphrase some points made by him: He believes there are two main causes for the growing flow away from religion: 1. As more people know more from science, they trust myth less; 2. As more people know more about the myths of other religions, they tend to distrust their own religions.
Zuckerman also cited some events that may explain the rise in the numbers of those who reject religion. This one is painful because it relates to the Christian faith itself. The moral majority began in the 80s and successfully blended conservative Christianity with the political right. Zuckerman believes this unholy blending makes religion less attractive. He also noted that the Catholic Church declined by 30 percent because it failed to respond quickly to the pedophile issue. (Click here for an example of the misuse of religion that turns thoughtful people away from it.)
Zuckerman followed by listing cultural reasons for the decline of religion and the growth of secularism. The dramatic increase of women who work outside the home allowed them to leave their religious connections. Religion resisted homosexuality while large numbers of the general population and the courts embraced it. Popular TV shows often make fun of religious persons. The Internet is no friend of a single particular religion, and has a secularizing effect.
Don Blosser, a biblical scholar, reacted negatively to Zuckerman. (I paraphrase Blosser’s response) Zuckerman is not correct when he uses Fundamentalism as his working definition of “religion” in America. Blosser grants that fundamentalism is ONE very bad expression of religion and shares with Zuckerman a wish to remove it from society, but he does not take the next step and assume that a world without religion would be a better place.
Blosser drew a parallel. Obesity is a significant health problem in America. Too many of us eat too much of the wrong food. By using Zuckerman’s logic we should get rid of all food. But we know the right answer is to eat the right amount of the right food and to exercise.
For Blosser the answer to the bad religion offered by Fundamentalism is not the removal of all religion, but to have the vision of a religion that is healthy, positive, life-giving and dramatically new, as in the teachings of Jesus. Next, I do not paraphrase, but quote Blosser directly:
Let’s get rid of the “other-worldly, individualistic, pietistic” approach to religion, and create an understanding of religion that unites us, helps us share together, creates a better world right here and now–finding ways to reach across barriers, build bridges, and work together, etc.Thus, I find little satisfaction in the continual deconstruction of religion. I know, for many, that might be necessary because of where they are in the process–but I want to pour my energy into building, teaching, and living a religious faith that has integrity, is based on the teaching of Jesus to love, share, bring healing, helping your neighbor, caring for the environment (because our grandchildren will have to live in it) etc.etc.