Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Faith of China

I have always regarded the Chinese as the least metaphysically-inclined people in the world. This was foolish. Human beings are more or less uniformly metaphysically-inclined, most, however, don't know it. Now, I find, that religion is booming in China with a survey discovering 300 million believers. The academic who conducted the survey attributes this to increasing freedom and the pace of economic change. He is wrong. Oppression invariably fires religious feeling. The communist party is responsible for these new believers. If the Dawkinsian secularist commissars continue their oppressive ranting against religion, we can expect a similar faith boom here in the near future.


  1. There you go again. Just leave Dawkins alone. As for oppression firing religious feeling, I think you are spot on. Religion is opportunistic. It preys on the weak and downtrodden. It invariably sneaks in the back door when dignity and freedom have been marched out the front door in handcuffs (Reason usually stays on the run for a while, but is eventually brought in for 'questioning').

  2. The flame dies.
    The flame is born.
    Who has eyes to see the invisible?

  3. Duke, as ever, your wisdom humbles.

  4. Who are the "Dawkinsian secularist commissars"? Isn't it just Dawkins? Dennet maybe? If there are a whole host of mini-Dawkinses following in his wake I've missed them.

    Dawkins#2 (there are two Dawkinses - Dawkins#1 is the clever evolutionary biologist; Dawkins#2 is the anti-religious evangelical lunatic) is obviously on a fool's errand if he thinks he can defeat all religion by the use of cogent argument and reasoning. The question is whether he is good or bad for sane atheists who just want to live and let live.

    In Britain, a place already utterly uninterested in God, he can probably only do his own cause harm by the ranting process you mention. But in the US, which is surely his natural audience and where it is still often socially unacceptable to be overtly godless, he might have shifted the debate so far and made himself such a demon that the live-and-let-live atheists are suddenly acceptable, cuddly and united with the Bible-bashers in hating him.

  5. Brit,
    "In Britain, a place already utterly uninterested in God."

    A tad solipsistic don't we think? Just because you feel no religious impulse doesn't mean that applies generally. The great majority of 'Brits' claim a religious belief, and while most won't act on it in any meaningful sense, those that do constitute a greater number than those involved in any other communal activity.

  6. So, the best way to ensure that wacky, pernicious beliefs don't flourish is just to keep quiet (live-and-let-live)? With your government supporting such things as 'faith schools', some of them, I daresay, run by people like that bigot I saw on Newsnight the other night, surely you need more secularists to speak up.

  7. Ecusant:

    How do you know I don't have any relgious impulse? You should see me when England are trying to hold on for the draw in the final session of the fifth day with Warne bowling on a raging bunsen.

    My only observation is that nobody is sufficiently interested in religion to go to church anymore. Religion died slowly and without even a whimper. You don't need Dawkinsian bangs.


    Yes, that is the best way, if that's what you want (I don't particularly). Also, you can be agin' faith schools without claiming that all religious people are evil and stooopid.

  8. And what are the beliefs of applied atheism? One of the major tenets is that morality is merely an artificial human creation and that therefore all is permitted. Go out and rape a child, for instance. There is no moral law. Any action as good as any other. As opposed to wacky pernicious beliefs such as love your neighbour.
    At a simple logical level, if life conformed to the reasoning of atheism, there would simply be no life, there being of course no impetus for anything to exist. We would simply have absolute nothingness. Anyway, do people seriously imagine religion is simply a matter of blind faith in what cannot be experienced? In the words of John Lennon, "Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns, It calls me on and on Across the universe." Such experience is where the true religious impulse springs from. And I'm sure my good friend, the Duke of Zhou would agree.

  9. I think the likes of dawkins, toynbee and hari are way more attached to religion than the usual run of the mill atheist and agnostic.
    Maybe deep down they can't stop believing in 'something else' and it infuriates them.

  10. Andrew, it doesn't follow that if morality is a human construct then everything is permitted. I think you are being a bit disingenuous. I value humanity for what it is. And within that, I also respect those who hold religious beliefs. However, my respect for others includes challenging their beliefs. My best friends, in fact, are those who challenge me most, and I them. It is by challenging each other that we discover who we are and what is important and necessary for us all to be able to live together. Atheism is not something that is applied, as such. I'm not a practicing atheist. I am practicing human being (I'll get it right some day, I hope).

  11. Neil


    Yesterday: "Religion is opportunistic. It preys on the weak and downtrodden. It invariably sneaks in the back door when dignity and freedom have been marched out the front door in handcuffs."

    Today:"I also respect those who hold religious beliefs."

    Funny kind of respect. I know - you respect them but not their beliefs. But you don't really, do you? You think they're a bunch of idiots.

    "nobody is sufficiently interested in religion to go to church anymore." But there are still more who do than for any other communal activity, including sports. Now the papers have 5-10 pages of sports coverage but you won't find similar religious/theological coverage in them. It's not really - no, be honest, REALLY - as if you are being battered over the head by mad religious zealots wherever you go, is it?

  12. Recusant:

    It's not really - no, be honest, REALLY - as if you are being battered over the head by mad religious zealots wherever you go, is it?

    I thought that was the same point I was making. No, I'm not, which is why Dawkins is wasting his time on Britain. Not so much preaching to the converted, as preaching to the couldn't-care-less.

    Most British people (about 70%) call themselves Christian. Being CofE means never having to worry about religion.

    "A 2002 survey found average weekly attendance at Anglican churches in England varied between 4.0% of the population in the diocese of Hereford, down to just 1.4% in Birmingham."

    It goes up a bit at Christmas because people like the carols.

    Somebody claimed the other week that in the UK more people go to Ikea on a Sunday than go to Church. I don't know if that's true, but whereas virtually everyone I know has been to Ikea at least once, virtually none of them ever go to Church outside the funeral/marriage/christening circuit.

  13. I think they are mistaken, Recusant. I don't think they are idiots. Don't be goading me. My point about the weak and downtrodden was alluding to one particular scenario in which religion often finds it easier to secure a foothold. Of course, many people who hold religious beliefs are not weak and downtrodden. And yes, as banal as it sounds, I respect everyone (even you Recusant).

  14. I am beginning to feel like the net in this game of tennis. But do carry on. It is what I do best.

  15. I thought I was the net and you were the umpire.

    But anyway, maybe I'm starting to Believe...

  16. Oh bugger. I'm crap at sports so i'm defintely going to lose tis one. Can rain stop play?

    Neil: not trying to goad you. Just playing a bit of verbal tennis.

    Sort of........