Friday, February 16, 2007

My First Post

This is the first post in my new blog, “Worshipping at the Church of Non-Realism.” So what is non-realism? And what would worship at The Church of Non-Realism be like? And why bother with worship, church, or religion?
In a religious context, non-realism is a theology that states, positively, that this world is all there is. The term used by non-realism’s leading proponent, Don Cupitt, to describe this is “outsideless.” Negatively, non-realism contends that there is nothing outside the world or the universe (s). God is not “outside” or “above.” These two metaphors suggest why this theological approach is named non-realism. The grand supernatural picture painted, in particular, by the traditional monotheistic religions is not real or non-real, at least in the terms set by the western enlightenment and the scientific revolution that followed.
We can speak of, testify to, write about, but not demonstrate the validity of (in the way we can with scientific concepts) the supernatural. In everyday life, the supernatural is no longer useful in the way that the fruits of science like medicine, agriculture, and computers, are useful. Because traditional religion in the West is not useful anymore, fewer and fewer people practice it, even though, occasionally still, we may “pray” for good health and long life, wealth, and love, we are generally convinced now that most of these valuable goods depend not on answers to prayer but genes, hard work, and luck. Only work seems to be the part that we can reliably influence although many of us gamble, trying to put luck on our side.
Certainly, also, traditional religion has not “delivered us from evil.” Traditional religion, just in recent times, has stood by, nay actively encouraged, pogroms, wars, The Holocaust of the Jews, genocides in Africa, and the demonization of homosexuals. So, more and more people see that traditional religion is not only not useful, but actively evil.Thus, traditional religion is useless, evil, or both. Many people have fallen away from it, but many reassert it vigorously, in the face of all its shortcomings, and we are more than ever confronted with fundamentalism, which usually presents itself as upholding traditional religion and in the process shows itself to be violent, in word and deed; anti-intellectual; opposing, for example, evolution and sex education; misogynistic, and homophobic. Of course, fundamentalism has produced critics, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris, prominent among them, but these promote the old Marxist idea that Moderns should just leave childish religion behind get on with their enlightened lives. This is easier said than done, but what are the alternatives? I hope to explore these in my next post.