Religion and Culture

Religion and Culture

Brice, I believe your remarks on religion are spot on. I am unaware of a great culture that did not organize itself around a strong religion.

Dr. Richard Malott writes about Spiritual Contingencies, i.e., the after-life consequences of Hell or Heaven. Yes, these are delayed consequences, but he points out that with humans, delayed consequences that are certain to occur can control behavior. To people of faith, these delayed consequences are certain.

The cameras that communities have been installing to reduce crime is an example of controlling such behavior by making delayed consequences less delayed and more certain. This is also an example of secular society replacing the “Eye of God” with a mechanical eye…it would seem that there is an inverse relationship between the prevalence of such cameras and the prevalence of devout spiritual beliefs within the population involved.

Finally, when spiritual contingencies naturally erode science-based liberal democracies another precious advantage is lost. Faith-based spiritual contingencies also support relevant behavioral contingencies (people more immediately reward moral behavior and punish immoral behavior amongst themselves). This is a powerful and pervasive source of decentralized “auto-control” in a socioculture. It cannot be duplicated by the more centralized control of cops and courts.

In my view, Secular Humanism is the acendent religion in the worlds’ liberal democracies. Secular Humanism has yet to find a replacement for the Spiritual Contingencies of traditional God centered religions and it is hard to see that it will. I think that this is why Secular Humanisms’ moral foundation crumbles beneath its increasingly corrupt political superstructure.

I sadly note that America is an increasingly Secular Humanistic socioculture.

VTM, 8/24/09

One Response to “Religion and Culture”

  1. Jana Martin Says:

    This is good stuff! I am delighted to read both of your thoughts on this matter. As always, I am wondering about other related things. The delayed reward of heaven, 72 virgins, or promises of a better position in the next reincarnated life, I’m sure, motivates millions of people to follow a set of rules. I think this idea applies to many Christians in the same way; those whose understanding is based on the belief that following the rules in the Bible earns them entrance into heaven. Yet Christianity is different from all the other religions, so Dr. Richard Malott’s theory can’t apply to all Christians. Entrance into heaven is NOT based on good works. Contemplate the meaning and ramifications of the following scripture.

    “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is a free gift from God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” Eph 2:8,9

    In Mark Virkler’s book, “Communion With God”, he describes Christianity as much more than a code of ethics; it is much more than a religion. It is a love relationship with the King of Kings; a direct encounter with Him through the indwelling works of His Holy Spirit. “I can study the Bible rationally, simply with the mind, and learn many facts about God. For instance, I can learn that God loves me. But since love is an inner heart experience, I cannot fully experience God’s love until He touches my heart with His love, heals my hurts, and breaks my hardness. When He fills me to overflowing, then through intuitive, spiritual experience, I have fully experienced the love I have read about.”

    The Bible explains that God imparts love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, and faithfulness through His spirit.

    It is these experiences that inspire and empower me to love others when they are unlovable, follow God’s ways when my way seems more desirable, and honor Him with my life. I am not motivated to follow Him to gain entrance into heaven. I am grateful that I was freely given it. I guess I don’t fit into Dr. Richard Malott’s theory.

    Mark Virkler states that spiritual experience is not irrational, but superrational; an extension beyond rationalism, not considered by science, but none-the-less, real.

    If it were real, would you consider a spiritual experience to be a catalyst for positive change? What ways could people experiencing God’s spirit affect those around them? What could this mean for a society?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: