Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Pope Slams Modern Societies For Godlessness

From the AP via the Huffington Post Newswire:

Pope Benedict XVI warned Sunday that modern culture is pushing God out of people's lives, causing nations once rich in religious faith to lose their identities.

Benedict celebrated a Mass in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls to open a worldwide meeting of bishops on the relevance of the Bible for contemporary Catholics.

"Today, nations once rich in faith and vocations are losing their own identity, under the harmful and destructive influence of a certain modern culture," said Benedict, who has been pushing for religion to be given more room in society.

More here.

What does it mean, exactly, "for religion to be given more room in society"?

You hear this bullshit all the time here in the US, that religion is under fire, that there needs to be more display of religion in public, that more God equals a better society. But how does that work exactly? From my perspective as an agnostic leaning atheist, we've got plenty of room for religion in society. People are always talking about God's will. The schools teach Christian inspired abstinence-based sex education while tolerating "student sponsored" religious events and prayer meetings. Politicians crawl over each other to out-God the opposition, always saying "God bless America."

Maybe the Pope was talking about secular Europe, but I'm pretty sure he was including America. But put all that aside for a moment to modify my original question: why must religion be given more room in society?

There is no public discussion on this question. It seems that the prevailing attitude is that religion is generally a good thing, so more of it seems to be a reasonable goal. But what would it do, having religion play a stronger role in society? How is it going to make life any better? Nobody really ever asks that, which is why nobody appears to have an answer. What's particularly troubling to me is that not many Americans seem to be troubled by this. I mean, if you supported the proposition that more religion in society is good, wouldn't you want your view to be grounded in a strong and reasonable argument? But no such argument, short of vague assertions that God is great, or Jesus loves us, exists.

It's one thing to lose an argument, but I'm really disturbed by the fact that there is no argument about this. C'mon. Shouldn't the god-believers at least have to make a legitimate case?