Monday, December 01, 2003

God on the Quad

The Quad at Harvard University, that is.

New England's liberal college campuses have become fertile ground for the evangelical movement, which is attracting students in record numbers.

As an agnostic, I'm unable to appreciate the benefits of formal religious faith. However, I've always had a great deal of respect for religious beliefs, and I recognise the importance of these beliefs and of the rich symbolism of formal religions for the vast majority of people the world over. Unlike most atheists, I don't regard my inability to believe as being indicative of superiority on my part in any way.

Here the best and brightest student minds in America still make room in their lives for formal religious beliefs and apparently see no contradiction.

My theory is that spirituality is an essential human characteristic, present in all cultures and at all times in history. This is why it keeps springing up in renewed forms even in places where it seems to have been long absent and will often be expressed in non-traditional forms if traditional forms are suppressed.

Everyone has a spiritual outlet of some kind, and for those who eschew formal religions this outlet is often an ideology that entrains all of the emotionality and irrationality of any spiritual belief system. Channeled in this way spirituality can be destructive and counterproductive in a way and magnitude that formal religions never have been. One need look no further than the totalitarian states created by leftists for an example of this principle. For all the tens of thousands of people killed in the Inquisition, for example, it can't hold a candle to the tens of millions slaughtered and starved to death in the previous century by atheistic Communist zealots.