Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Why is it that when a culture get's more educated they reject Christianity?

I think the implied answer to that is obvious- that Christianity is just medieval superstition that does not stand up to the scrutiny of reason.  I think "The Thinking Atheist" said it best-  "You pray for me, I'll think for you."

However, obviously I am not going to draw that conclusion.  Truth is that while educated cultures do seem to move away from faith, they do not do so at nearly the speed that was anticipated 100 years ago. Atheists continue to lament that they cannot understand how people who are otherwise so intelligent in the world of business, economics, politics, and yes, even science, can continue to hold to religions. America is said to be the most advanced country in the world, while at the same time the most religious. How can this be?

Of course, I don't think religion is stupid.  Honestly, I think Catholicism is the intelligent answer to the big questions.  Unlike some other religions, Catholics welcome the scrutiny of reason because they believe that both faith and reason can lead to truth, and truth cannot contradict truth. I will not in this post defend why I think Catholicism is the intelligent answer-  I have done so at length elsewhere.  But I will take on the title question.

So, if the rejection of Catholicism by educated cultures is not indicative of Catholicism's foolishness, what is it?  We could go the root of "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." (1 Cor 1:27) because even in Biblical times teaching people that Jesus rose from the dead sounded foolish.  But I think there are other reasons yet.

One is that there are certain assumptions made by some academics, which are used as the framework within which discussions can be had.  For example, for natural Science to explain the origins of the universe, they need to construct a system that is only dependent on natural science, they cannot bring in a super natural or metaphysical source-  say God.  They succeed in explaining the universe, for the most part, without God and this is taken as a proof that God does not exist.  Anthropologists apply a similar framework when they study the origin of religions-  they assume that the religion must have been invented over time, and do not include the possibility that God actually did reveal elements of the religion. 

You see manifestations of this all the time.  When Hitchen's and Blair debated whether religion was good for the world, at no point did they ask the question 'Is it true?'.  The debate assumed the proposition that religion was a man made construct, and went from there.  I wish Blair would have noticed that.

What I am saying is that often in academic circles the question of religion does not even include the possibility that it is true-  it is necessarily excluded for the purpose of the science.

However, I would like to suggest that there is a bigger reason why Catholicism is rejected among educated cultures.  Furthermore, I would like to suggest that Jesus predicted this.

As a culture gets educated, the importance of money increases.  In fact our whole western culture and system is dependent on consumerism, and consumerism has become the assumption that is unchallenged by Christians.  never mind verses like "The love of money is the root of all evil." or "You cannot serve both God and money."   I would like to suggest that the reason our culture is rejecting God is because they are so wholeheartedly embracing the service of money. 

Jesus pointed to this in his parable about the sower in the field.  In that parable, some of the seed falls into the thorns, where it sprouts up, meaning cares for the word and embraces it, but the thorns choke it.  Jesus says the thorns are 'the deceitfulness of riches and the lust for other things.'

So according to Jesus, when we get too concerned about worldly things, the faith is choked in us and does not bear fruit.

It is interesting how the phenomenon of development works anyway.  Along with development (I will not enter the debate of causality) comes the sexual revolution.  As our values shift to seeking personal comfort and the elimination of suffering, so we choose to have smaller families, or no families at all.  But we still want sex. So we begin to value sex for it's physical and emotional pleasure that it gives, but divorce it from it's original meaning.  And the further we go down this path, the more our sexual values challenge that of Christianity.  40 years ago the Church's teaching on contraception was for many the biggest to accepting the validity of the faith.  Now I suspect it is becoming increasing the teaching on homosexuality.

So as we become educated our values shift more and more from those presupposed by Christianity.  And I think that even we Christians begin to make assumptions that are not in keeping with Christianity, and based on those assumptions we lose faith in Christianity.

I don't know about you but that last paragraph made my brain tired.

I have also found that when I personally am outside the state of grace due to some sin, by faith suffers as a result.  I think that our over attachment to money is sinful, and so as a culture our faith will suffer!

So in conclusion-  I do not deny that there are very intelligent reasons to doubt the faith.  But I think there are intelligent reasons to keep the faith as well.  I suspect that what is tipping the scales is not education but the values that come with it!