Dr. Blackwell's BLOG

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Religion Losing Ground

Filed under: American Life and Society,Religion — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 00:57

downward_graph_small2.jpgAfter an explosive piece by the Washington Post was published Monday indicating the number of Americans who identify as Christian or with a major religion is dwindling, one evangelical is conceding, the writing is on the wall. Michael Spencer has written an excellent op-ed piece for The Christian Science Monitor this month in which he predicts the eventual extinction of evangelical Christianity in the not-too-distant future. Spencer articulates his opinion based partly on the fact that evangelicals are out of step with mainstream America on social issues like abortion, gay and lesbian rights, and stem cell research but mostly because of their allegiance to conservative Republican political ideology and quest for political prowess.

Evangelicals have been able to donate large sums of money to mostly staunch-conservative Republican politicians and have worked diligently to show their muscle in getting their voters out to the polls to affect elections. No one can doubt the past 8 years of George Bush were largely the result of the huge funding arms of fundamental Christian groups like the Christian Coalition and their ability to bring voters to the polls in droves. While I believe Spencer’s thesis is partly correct, I believe he is ignoring one of the largest contributors to the demise of traditional Christianity: Science.

Scientific discovery, which has proliferated over the past century, has disproved so many Christian beliefs that Americans are beginning to become more disenchanted with ideologies that aren’t based in scientific reason. Evolution, genetics, physical law/theory, and discoveries in medicine and health have covered the falsehoods of supernatural powers being responsible for things like creationism, mysticism, and magical healing of the sick. And as science begins to show more mundane explanations for facets of life previously considered unexplainable by humans, religion loses not only its appeal, but its merit and fidelity as well. 

Spencer’s piece is meant as a “wake up call” for evangelicals and he might have some short-term success. But as social experiences of Americans continue to change and science continues to cast such a strong shadow of doubt over long-standing Christian and religious-based doctrines, religion will continue to dwindle in its relevancy in American life. Everyone is entitled to his or her own beliefs and as a Christian myself, I work to be the best person I can be and live how I believe God wants us to live. But when religion begins to spew hate, take away the rights of minorities, and perpetuate ignorance and unreasoning, my conviction it has no place in politics or any aspect of secular life grows ever so stronger.

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