Thursday, 2 December 2010

Academia and atheism...

I just read a passage in one of my books that irritated me and got me thinking about why so many academics seem to be atheists/agnostics (and especially why some seem to find pleasure in mocking faith...). Before blogging, I googled it (as usual) and found an actual study on this topic written by none other than my brother-in-law's cousin, Solon Simmons. It felt really weird to be doing research and see the name of a guy I actually know--been to his house, had dinner, played with his kids, etc. His research found that despite the stereotype that academics are atheist or agnostic, the majority of professors are actually religious believers. Maybe those who mock the faithful are just louder than the rest?

Anyway, the passage that irked me in the first place:
"Despite America's self-image as the primary twenty-first century civilizing force, the overwhelming majority of Americans believe in angels and miracles and, among countries where people believe religion to be very important, America is closer to Pakistan and Nigeria than to France or Germany." (Gary Younge, Who Are We--and Should it Matter in the 21st Century?, 2010, p. 6)

Ok, so you can't be a 'civilizing force' and also hold religious beliefs? Why are those 2 things mutually exclusive? Albert Schweitzer actually included sprituality in his definition of civilization:
"It is the sum total of all progress made by man in every sphere of action and from every point of view in so far as the progress helps towards the spiritual perfecting of individuals as the progress of all progress." (The Philosophy of Civilization).

Civilization is about progress. Why does Gary Younge equate "progress" with atheism, with not believing in angels and miracles, with religion not being 'very important'?

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