Thursday, June 3, 2010

Will the "Spiritual But Not Religious" movement challenge religion?

A recent article on CNN asks, "Are there dangers in being 'spiritual but not religious'?"
The article points out:
The "I'm spiritual but not religious" community is growing so much that one pastor compared it to a movement. In a 2009 survey by the research firm LifeWay Christian Resources, 72 percent of millennials (18- to 29-year-olds) said they're "more spiritual than religious." The phrase is now so commonplace that it's spawned its own acronym ("I'm SBNR") and Facebook page:
 The primary danger is to the established clergy, who need followers.  Their response is that they hold the keys to morality:
"Being spiritual but not religious can lead to complacency and self-centeredness," says Martin, an editor at America, a national Catholic magazine based in New York City. "If it's just you and God in your room, and a religious community makes no demands on you, why help the poor?"
But many see religion as practicing "self-centeredness", and this type of grandiosity and sense that the religious establishment knows better can be a turn-off. 

As rationalists, we see the "SBNR" movement as a natural outgrowth of increasing communication and transparency in civilization.  We can now say confidently that your prayers will not heal you or your family members, will not stop earthquakes, and they will not alleviate your financial difficulties.  Supernatural miracles collapse under the light of modern inspection.  There is no booming voice from the heavens telling you what to do and there never will be.  And the mythologies of religion can be recognized as fitting within the framework of ancient tales to amuse and instruct.

There is still room for religious thought, such as Deism (a supernatural intelligence as a grand clock-maker who set the universe in motion and then stepped back), and for the "SBNR" movement.  But running your life by the dictates of an organized religion (a back-story that's fantasy, endless rules that derive from that fantasy, a professional class demanding respect and obedience) seems increasingly futile.

1 comment:

  1. This commentary touches on the reason I am an anarchist. What repels me about organized religions is not their elements of aesthetics, tradition, liturgy and so on, but the concept of subordination of the individual to external authority.

    Mikhail Bakunin points out that there is authority based on expertise, worthy of respect, such as your dentist's professional skills.

    But authority based only on tradition is pernicious and destructive. As the atheist Gora points out, the enemy of your freedom is not a God's existence but the claim of authority for him over you.

    A free man does not bow, kneel, pray, supplicate, beg, mooch or grovel - to anyone or anything - but he may ascribe value and worth to something he encounters such as Yosemite Vallay, and this chosen act is worship.