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Hell-Bent, Heaven-Bound

December 7, 2012

In one of my previous posts, I wrestled with the idea that western society was built on the backs of Scripture and biblical principles. It is time to revisit that idea in greater depth. Curiously, it seems that as a culture, since perhaps the turn of the last century, we have been moving past religion as a guiding light to morality and ideas. But the more I read contemporary or near-recent criticism, watch movies, and read news, it appears as though we are still imbedded in the religion that was invented from the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The more I read, the more I find that people have a kind of “de-facto” Christianity about them, whether they know it or not. Somewhere down the line, we borrow from or anticipate the Bible in what we write, how we speak, and what we do. It’s just the way it is.

This is true with one field in particular. The Psychology text book that is assigned to high schools, and I speak pretty much inclusively as far as I know, was written by Christians. Psychology in general seems to be a predominantly Christian exercise. Even Freud referenced a version of the sin nature with his id theory! Our history textbooks, although that discipline is a bit more agnostic than the aforementioned one, all point back to Christ’s lifetime as the focal point of history, even with the relatively new dating system. This is all very interesting.

But why is this? One blogger pointedly asserted the absurdity of giving credence and continuing on with a veritable fringe-cult, and that it is best to move on from religion. But that may be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It may be saying that pretty much all the endeavors, values, assertions, arguments, wars, and passions of the last 2000 years in the west – were completely, utterly, and absolutely pointless; as everything in one sense or another revolved around this belief in Christ and the apparent triumph over death. So what do we do with this? Was this “progress” of the human race thing all for naught? Can we say that we are being in any way more progressive in shedding religion? I will try to answer these questions as best as I can.

Before I continue, I must point to another great divide, and I ask your forgiveness for my polarized thinking. There appears to be, on one side of either divide, rational Christians, who write these textbooks and head our modern way of thinking (I use “Christians” rather loosely – only in reference to their particular “Christian” thinking). And on the other hand, we have fundamentalist Christians. These Christians, it has been asserted, are the more Bible-inspired ones. They’re the ones who actually read the Bible and take what’s actually in there and put it into practice, or at least from an Old Testament standpoint. These “purists” we might say, lead a great deal of the discussion when it comes to “Christian” politics, and they are probably the main reason, if not for the lack of empirical logic in the Jesus story (more on that in another post), that the aforementioned atheist blogger, and many others like him, de-converted. It does not surprise me.

It is hard to say when the fundamentalist movement really began. It might be seen as beginning with the revivalist movement of the 1800s with Jonathan Edwards and company, but most point to it being a reactionary movement against the rapid progression of science in the mid-1900s. The latter is most likely correct, the former is kind of my own musing (I think the sermons of those people are pointedly fundamentalist in their approach, to be honest). But this great divide is not like the other, as with the fundamentalists and the New Atheists we have heated arguments and even attacks by either party (one pastor even told atheists to leave the country, I recall), the passive, rational Christian or Christianized thinkers do not attack or get attacked. And this is the core of the answer to the above questions.

If this “core Christian thinking” which has been imbibed by people for generations, the idea that people are by birth equal, and that we must treat each other in kind; that we are inherently “hell-bent but heaven-bound” gets torn apart at the seams, we have a lot to worry about. No one can escape the religious forethought that comes into play in intellectual discourse, writing, and so forth. We may try to take our minds off it, but the hour and the day we distance ourselves from it completely – we may become savages by nature. Rational thought cannot be our basis of civilization without a seasoning of religious or spiritual flavor, I might say. As we move into the next year, and arguably further away from religion, one must hasten to realize how preeminent the basic human convention that it is has inspired and enriched our lives on this planet.

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