Monday, February 12, 2007

Salvation for athiests

One of the great weaknesses of Classical Liberalism is that it does not give adequate ritualised space to two permanent human qualities: the sense of guilt and the consequent need for salvation. Both are necessary to a well-run society, but like sex, are very difficult to keep in proportion. Religion, which gives them a greater importance, is a more congenial home for them.

Industrialisation has been a great progenitor of guilt. It has granted an unparalleled power over nature and an enormous and visible inequality of means and wealth. The violence generated in the 20th Century to overcome or rationalise those gaps is indicative of the sense of guilt induced by them. (Mr Smith's speech to Morpheus in The Matrix is a good expression of this.) We have been made aware of the enormity of what we have created at the same time as we have slowly realised just how inadequate our power and importance are in relation to time, space and the rest of it. Unconscionable power and inadequacy: explosive combination.

So, where lies salvation? Let's save the planet. Our nest. Surely that will help. That's gotta be a plus. At the end of the days.

The new religion. Environmentalism.

the religion of choice for urban atheists ... a perfect 21st century re-mapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.
Michael Crichton
A new book by a mathematician called David Orrell, The Science of Prediction and the Future of Everything, describes the inadequacy of our models, our need for prophecy and “the gospel of deterministic science”. There's a review here.

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