Secular Britain worships destructive new gods

Nov 30, 2022 by

by Madeline Grant, Telegraph:

As long ago as 1867, Matthew Arnold was writing about the “slow withdrawing roar” of non-belief. In the intervening years, that roaring tide has become a deafening torrent. For the first time, the census has found that less than half of the population identifies as Christian. The number describing themselves as “non-religious” has almost trebled since the millennium. In a press release, Humanists UK boasts that ”England and Wales are among the least religious countries in the world”. Days such as these are always enjoyable for those of a New Atheist/Dawkinsian bent; folks like the rapier wits who answer “Jedi Knight” or “Flying Spaghetti Monster” on the census. (How do I know? I used to be one of them.)

But while we may be losing our faith, that doesn’t mean society is losing its religion – if indeed, that is even possible. As Tom Holland brilliantly observes in Dominion, Western idealists who consider themselves emancipated from religious thought are beneficiaries of an inescapable Judeo-Christian inheritance that seeps into everything, even – especially – their own liberal and progressive beliefs.

The very idea that we can purge ourselves of superstition to reach some higher understanding is an inherently scriptural belief, visible in everything from the lamentations of Jeremiah to Elijah confronting the prophets of Baal. Not that divorcing ourselves from that inheritance isn’t risky all the same. A society that no longer understands the Bible is a society that will struggle to commune with its past – or with itself.

The secularist fallacy goes further still. Religion’s departure invariably leaves a vacuum in our worldviews; which new shibboleths will emerge to fill. This is because the needs religion addresses haven’t gone away: to belong, to trust, to hope and to sense a dimension beyond our own. But do new communities spring up, miraculously, to replace their faith-based predecessors? More often than not, we are left with atomisation, the snarky faux-communities of social media, or cult-like devotions to contemporary fads: my diet, my wellbeing, my half-marathon times, my gym sessions.

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Read also: Keep faith in religion… our rock in tough times, Daily Express editorial

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