I’ve gotten quite a few responses from the last few posts (part 1, part 2, part 3). There’s a lot of “you’re just angry you lost” or “get over it” or “You can’t stand it that someone’s in office that represents me” – type of replies. I also got a few troll-like replies that may or may not have insinuated that I commit suicide through extra-homosexual means.
That’s a lot of passion. It takes time and energy and thought to come up with those responses to a listicle that was fairly even-handed. Where does all that passion come from?
Reason 4: No One is Religious Anymore
By all measures, religious attendance is down. Frankly, I think it has something to do with being comfortable. They say “There are no atheists in a foxhole;” it works the other way too: “Everyone’s an atheist in Heaven.” All cars work. Air conditioners are as expensive now as they were in 1952. TVs are practically free. We have so much food available that we throw away 40% of it. Cell phones are so necessary that the government will give you one if you can’t afford it. We have everything we need; we already live in heaven. And in heaven, you don’t need God.
But, as a species, we can’t evolve that fast. Most of human history has been so miserable – hiding from tigers, outrunning ice ages, suffering the spanish inquisition, pretending Morrissey is good – that we’ve needed a belief that this life is just a transition; we’ve needed to believe that something better happens after we suffer through this foxhole we call a life. We can’t go from being constantly uncomfortable as a species to being continuously fellated while a slow-drip of cocaine, caffeine, and high-fructose corn syrup is inserted into our veins in the ten seconds Netflix gives you to choose if you want to watch the next episode. That need to believe in a higher power – that need to believe in something we can’t understand – has been replaced.
By what? By goddamn anything.
Anyone you know who is super into something – exercise, veganism, coffee, honesty, their pets, their kids, their job – is doing so because there is no higher power to be a part of. “Kale flushes me of the toxins that build up in my colon” or “I quit my job to homeschool my kids” or “porn is full of anti-oxidants” actually means, “Since I don’t have a religion to help demystify things I don’t quite understand, I’m going to believe in something equally outrageous!” This replacement of religion also works for global warming, race relations, abortion, gun control, health care, immigration, taxes, wealth inequality, and war.
So now we have two sides, the super-democrats and super-republicans (because no one makes sane, middle-of-the-road choices), who are literally religious about their beliefs in actual problems. People actually believe that it’s not getting hotter; people actually believe guns protect against break-ins; people actually believe that health care shouldn’t be equal.
And how do you change someone’s religious beliefs? Yell louder (that’s how you get holy wars)? Inundate them with facts (evolution and the age of the universe are two good reasons the Bible might be wrong)? Point at the guy behind the pulpit (I would think all the child abuse might deflect some parishioners)? Point out the moral inconsistencies of their own faith (Jesus is all about love, unless you’re into other dudes)? Or do we just stop engaging?
I’m honestly asking. I don’t know how we can collectively talk everyone out of their own personal religions and deal with reality.
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