This is a follow-up to a previous post, which I recommend you read before you embark on this one. The values that I described there: the equality of Man, the sanctity of life, and what I did not mention – the concept of human rights – all of these values exist not on the basis of rationality but rather on faith, for it cannot be proven in any rational way that people are equal in some metaphysical sense, nor can it be proven that life is of infinite or even considerable value. Certainly none of this can be proven scientifically.
These concepts play the same role that in a previous age was played by deities. A deity simply exists. They require no justification. They dictate, and by dictating, they provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment to their believers.
There was a time when the existence of a living God was taken as given. And just as anyone who questioned God’s existence was harassed and tortured, I am sure that anyone who denies the sanctity of human life, the equality of Man, the equality of races and sexes and so on would be met with ostracism. You have only to visit a college campus to experience the intolerance that is slowly becoming the rule.
To the traditionalists who lament the decline of religion, I would say, fear not. Your children are just as religious as you. Only they are polytheistic, always adding new gods and new rules to go with those gods. They have developed a strict code of speech (political correctness) and a list of do’s and don’ts. You will see in their self-censorship and their lack of humor the Puritanism of their ancestors, and in their rigidity and their intolerance you will see reflected Cromwell’s army.
But I think in one area you who cling to the traditional religion, to the belief in a living God, have them beat. You were happier than your children. The religion you believed in was personal, and it gave you not only rules and dictation but spiritual comfort, dare I say, love.
God is love, says the Bible. Well, God is dead, but love remains. Indeed lacking the succor of a heavenly father, love itself has been raised to spiritual status. “Love is all we need,” sang John Lennon. “Love on each other,” says Katy Perry. The summer of love. Love, love, love. But what is love? An infantile concept. An emotion. One of the many things we use to fill a spiritual void that was once filled, perhaps too fully, by an all-consuming religion.