from David French at National Review, Post-Christian America: Gullible, Intolerant, and Superstitious
Although I’ve heard some variation on this argument countless times, as I grew older I noticed something odd. Many of the best-educated and least-religious people I knew weren’t all that reasonable. They held to downright irrational views about reality. I remember an elite-educated secular friend in Philadelphia who scoffed at my wife’s Christian faith; this friend was also convinced that her child had an “indigo aura” that imbued him with special gifts. I recall conversations with Harvard Law School classmates who laughed at the New Testament but thought reincarnation was “cool.” And how can I forget the strange sight of Harvard students walking in and out of the neighborhood witchcraft store?
Lest you think these are isolated and meaningless anecdotes, I’d urge you to read a fascinating article in this Sunday’s New York Times. It turns out that America’s less religious citizens are far more likely to believe in things such as ghosts and UFOs than people who attend church.
Here’s the core problem. In the United States we’re replacing an organized, systematic theology with basically nothing. Sure, there’s the moralistic therapeutic deism of the modern “spiritual” American, but its “God wants me to be happy” ethos isn’t quite up to the challenge of dealing with real life. So, we search and search, and in the immortal worlds of the philosopher Aaron Tippin, we learn the hard way that “you gotta stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything” — and “anything” can include indigo auras or the “vibration of a thought.”
The damage extends far beyond politics, of course. If there’s one abiding consequence of the shallow theologies and simple superstitions of our time, it’s the inability to endure or make sense of adversity. It’s a phenomenon that fractures families, fosters a sense of rage and injustice, and ultimately results in millions of Americans treating problems of the soul with mountains of pharmaceuticals.
The choice isn’t between reason and religion. It’s all too often between religion and superstition. Post-Christian America will be a less rational place.