Friday, May 4, 2012

Why criticise faith?

Time, 8th April 1966
My usual ABC column is up today, 'If God is dead or dying, why criticise religion?'

Given the demise of traditional Christianity, are there any good reasons to criticise Christian ideas and customs? A sample:
Importantly, one need not visit a church to have faith - Christianity also has an anti-clerical tradition, which emphasises conscience and virtue instead of formal associations and their creeds. "Ever since men made it a sacred duty to dispute about what they cannot understand, and made virtue consist in the pronunciation of certain unintelligible words, which every one attempted to explain," wrote the deist Voltaire in 1755, "Christian countries have been a theatre of discord and carnage." Put simply, one can recognise a creator without signing up to a church. 
Also, life without religion need not lack reverence or the numinous; need not be entirely encompassed by Max Weber's iron cage. As I have argued previously, one can see a little blue campion flower as sublime; can be awed by a murmuration of starlings. Atheism or secularism does not mean anaesthesia. 
Instead, the point is simply one of influence. In the West, Christianity is less prevalent, and less ardent, than it once was. In short (and listen carefully, I shall say this only once): Pope Benedict XVI is right. "There's no longer evidence for a need of God, even less of Christ," he lamented in his inaugural year. "The so-called traditional churches look like they are dying." 
Given this, why bother critically examining religious texts, beliefs and customs in Australia, and other Western nations? It is important to give good reasons for civil but continuing criticism of the Judeo-Christian faiths.


Matthias said...

however Damon your ivory towered existence has failed to take into account the Large number of Christians in China and Africa -the former where persecution is still occurring and christians are growing -perhaps a number more than the entire western church that the Pope sadly bemoans. However he too fails, this time to recognise that he and the bishops are part of the problem and not the solution.
So i suggest that you take your son by his hand and visit a non traditional church - i think gary heard's eighth day baptist in west melbourne would suit you so that you can either sharpen your quill or broaden your mind . But i reckon you will not have the guts to do that.

Damon Young said...

Thanks, Matthias. I didn't ignore the studies on Africa and elsewhere. They're just irrelevant to my argument, which is about the West in general, and Australia in particular. It's a justification for the ongoing arguments in my own community - not in others'.

As for your insults about my courage - I don't know what you're talking about.