Thursday, March 16, 2017

Vox Popoli: Secularism's pyrrhic victory

Secularism's pyrrhic victory
The Atlantic laments that shiny, sexy, science fiction future predicted by the It's a Small World secularists has not come to pass:

Over the past decade, pollsters charted something remarkable: Americans—long known for their piety—were fleeing organized religion in increasing numbers. The vast majority still believed in God. But the share that rejected any religious affiliation was growing fast, rising from 6 percent in 1992 to 22 percent in 2014. Among Millennials, the figure was 35 percent.

Some observers predicted that this new secularism would ease cultural conflict, as the country settled into a near-consensus on issues such as gay marriage. After Barack Obama took office, a Center for American Progress report declared that “demographic change,” led by secular, tolerant young people, was “undermining the culture wars.” In 2015, the conservative writer David Brooks, noting Americans’ growing detachment from religious institutions, urged social conservatives to “put aside a culture war that has alienated large parts of three generations.”

That was naive. Secularism is indeed correlated with greater tolerance of gay marriage and pot legalization. But it’s also making America’s partisan clashes more brutal. And it has contributed to the rise of both Donald Trump and the so-called alt-right movement, whose members see themselves as proponents of white nationalism. As Americans have left organized religion, they haven’t stopped viewing politics as a struggle between “us” and “them.” Many have come to define us and them in even more primal and irreconcilable ways.

Maybe it’s the values of hierarchy, authority, and tradition that churches instill. Maybe religion builds habits and networks that help people better weather national traumas, and thus retain their faith that the system works. For whatever reason, secularization isn’t easing political conflict. It’s making American politics even more convulsive and zero-sum.

For years, political commentators dreamed that the culture war over religious morality that began in the 1960s and ’70s would fade. It has. And the more secular, more ferociously national and racial culture war that has followed is worse.

What were they expecting? Did they know NOTHING of the history of pre-Christian cultures? Christianity has transformed EVERY culture with which it has come into contact, from Aztec to Viking, and reliably transformed it in the direction of what we consider to be civilization.

Not only that, but for all the dancing and No True Atheism on the part of the atheist apologists, it is a historical fact that non-Christian modernists have slaughtered people on a scale that no Christians ever have. From Genghis Khan and Zhang Xianzhong to Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, and Mao, the great murderers of history have never been Christian.

Like Voltaire or diaspora Jews who prefer living in someone else's homeland to their own, many secularists are beginning to discover that they would rather live a godless life in a Christian society than do so in a godless one.