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When modern citizens cease to be religious they do not cease to be moral, they still have the same moral mind and the same moral impulses and needs that they used to channel through religion. They still have the same need for a moral identity, for a moral north and to signal that identity and their readiness for cooperation to others.

What used to be done at mass or at religious festivals and rituals is now done on Twitter and other social networks. With the disappearance of religion, the moral pacemaker passes to the secular society and moral innovators and pioneers appear and compete to assume this vacant role.

But one thing has changed: the speed at which moral changes occur nowadays has accelerated enormously . Changes now occur almost from one year to the next, so that it is difficult to keep up with them.

To give an example, it has always been known that "acts can be violence". Maybe 10 years ago, the slogan "Words are violence" was circulating among the followers of the social justice movement. Today it has become "Silence is violence": it is now a sin not only to speak out against the dogmas and beliefs of this new religion, but also not to speak out in favor of and obey them.

Matias 8 June 22

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"Nothing will be changed if God does not exist; we will rediscover the same norms of honesty, progress and humanity." -- Jean-Paul Sartre


... said a man who thought that Stalin was a decent man, and the Soviet Union a humanistic project...


When people leave religious dogma behind, they tend to become more moral because they no longer have their imaginary friend to beg forgiveness from when they behave badly. Religion does not promote or support good social standards but instead it breeds division and deplorable behavior with the possibility of absolution in all its forms instead.

One of the features of the new postmodern religions is that they have kept the notion of sin, even of 'original sin', but there is no longer any forgiveness or absolution possible. One morally wrong tweet five years ago - and you'll stand at the pillory for the rest of your life.

@Matias What an idiot believes doesn't influence me in the least but nice to know that stupid is still a thing with a strong following. 👍

@SnowyOwl That's the raison d'être of echo chambers like this one 🙂

@Matias Throw in a little French and everything sounds so much more eloquent. lol

@SnowyOwl The expression 'raison d'être' has become part of the English language. People with little education can look it up in the Oxford dictionary or the Merriam Webster

@Matias If you grew up in a bi-lingual country like Canada, then you would realize that Americans hijacking other people's language while at the same time demanding that 'the god damn world needs to learn to speak American' does not in and of itself constitute Francais becoming Anglais, let alone whatever language American's speak because it sure as fuck isn't The Queen's Good English.
Look it up, google it even.


I think it has to do with trying to get people to use their brains instead of just watching rubbish on tv.


I know what you're talking about, but I'm not sure it's representative of society at large. Squeaky wheels get the headlines, but I'm not sure that predicts long term trends. And Rosenberg was talking about verbal violence sixty years ago. I don't think tribal fads constitute religions. And I don't think religion is disappearing. It fluctuates locally with fashion, but it is increasing as a percentage of world population.

skado Level 9 June 22, 2022

Maybe the first sentence should have been "When more and more modern citizens cease to be religious in the old-fashioned way..."
Nobody can deny that organized mainline religions are losing ground, especially in European countries, but even in the USA. The free-floating religiosity then moves to other vessels, some of them organized, some not. And some forms of the so-called "Social Justice" movement are such a new vessel. Sapiens is a deeply moral animal, and its morality always finds new ways to express itself.

I can deny that organized mainline religions are losing ground. When you’re talking about “sapiens” you’re talking about a species. And as a species, we’re getting more, not less religious:
Pew 2015 []
Pew 2017 []

I don’t deny we’re a moral species, and I don’t deny that propensity for morality shows up in places other than in traditionally religious activities, but religion is more than just public moral outrage in wealthy nations.

And even in those wealthy nations, the trend toward less religion is way too young to be taken as linear. It may be fashionable today and unfashionable ten years from now.

@skado That's correct. On the global scale there is no great trend towards secularization, but in Western societies I'm sure that it is more than a temporary decline -- if we look at traditional organized religion, like the two big churches: Catholicism and Protestantism. No, they won't stage a comeback.

As for the most important of the various post-modern quasi religions, the "Social Justice" movements with its different branches, they offer their followers not only moral guidance and moral outrage, but also a coherent intellectual system to explain the human sphere, and a deep sense of belonging, plus the certainty to be on the right side of history.
These are the main functions of religion nowadays: explanation, morality, belonging, justification - all of them not as something relative and contingent, but as something absolute.

Species-wise, Christianity won’t need to stage a “comeback,” because, species-wise, it is not in decline. The decline is in isolated pockets surrounded by ongoing ascendancy.

It’s way too early to tell whether those pockets are temporary fashion or permanent trend. The causation/correlation debate notwithstanding, those same pockets are also experiencing destabilizing polarization. The noticeable issue here being that the evolutionary function of organized religion is to counter polarization.

Nobody knows the future, but my guess is that stable societies without unifying society-wide religions is a mirage that will never materialize… or at least not in the next few hundred thousand biological years or before we evolve into non-biological creatures.

There are, of course, different levels of analysis of religion, and many different definitions. And I think they all have some truth from a given angle. Many, maybe most of the definitions are descriptive, and accurately enough descriptive.
But I prefer a more explanatory definition, because I think it is more universal and more durable than merely descriptive ones.

Regardless of what proximate effects religion might produce in a given time period and location, it must, in my view, always be viewed from its most upstream explanatory definition in order to avoid losing the meaning of the word.

So as far as I’m concerned, the main functions of religion nowadays are the same as they’ve always been - to unify a given society into a functional whole, and to help individuals find meaning (real or imagined) in a meaningless existence. Everything else is culture-specific window dressing.

Politics, on the other hand, it seems to me, is, in its most universal sense, about the distribution of power - who has it, and who doesn’t. It’s not that religion and politics aren't interlaced at many points of contact - they certainly are. But social justice is primarily an issue of unequal power distribution - not one of existential angst, and certainly not one that engenders unity.

Politics, at its deepest essence, is about society-wide competition between factions. Religion, at its deepest (and pre-globalized) essence, is about the society-wide unification of factions.

Religions competing with other religions in a global society not only doesn’t dilute the evolutionary definition of religion, but, in fact, illuminates the need for a world meta-religion that does for global society what national religions used to do for nations - give a large group of unrelated, biologically tribal individuals an imaginary sense of group identity.

Politics gives identity to competing factions within a society (fostering civil war). Religion gives identity to a whole society (fostering civil peace). The difference could hardly be more stark.

It may well be that when religions fail, as ours arguably are doing in pockets, people turn to whatever they still find believable to find meaning, even if that is fighting. But fighting will never bring peace, as George Carlin humorously pointed out. There is no lasting explanation, morality, belonging, or justification in "We're right and you're wrong."

If a global religion were to emerge it would need to turn explanation over to science, morality over to ethics, belonging over to Homo sapiens, and justification over to philosophy. What it can safely continue to offer for the foreseeable future, with no apparent competition, is the same regular training in self transcendence that has defined it since its beginning. I would argue that it is the hunger for absolutes, along with every other Pleistocene instinct, that is religion's competition. It has always been religion's esoteric purpose to retrain those instincts for the world we inhabit now.


Too much wacky weed is Obviously not good for you.......


Kurt Vonnegut: "I do not need the promise of reward or the threat of punishment, to be a good decent person" or something close to that. very true

Leetx Level 7 June 22, 2022

And yet could not pomise of reward or threat of punishment, make some turn away from being a good person. So while it may not make anyone better, it could make them worse.

I didn't think of that. yes... you are right... see it every day @Fernapple


So your point is, you would like to speak out in favour of acts of violence, and the promoting of them. Good luck with that. (irony)


Very well observed and thoughtful commentary which shows that the non religious cannot relax.

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