God Is Back

John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge discuss their new book, God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World, over at Fox. They write:

By the 1960s it looked as if the prophets of secularization were being proved right. Christianity was withering in the former heartland of Christendom — Europe. Developing countries from India to Iran were in the hands of avowedly secular governments. And two of the world’s biggest countries — Russia and China — were run by Communist Parties that were dedicated to proving that Marx was right. …

Today it is secularization theory that is dead rather than religion. Religion continues to flourish in the United States.

These bare facts help establish why religion has not gone away, despite its inherent irrationality. Between Jesus and Marx, Jesus doesn’t look like such a bad option.

But surely few wish to proclaim Iran as an example of religious success.

The authors write, “Man is a theotropic beast — some men always crave the consolations of religion. Religion answers questions that have always troubled people — why am I here and what is the purpose of life?” But this confuses philosophy with religion: we can answer such questions without reference to a mythical being.

These authors, at least, praise the separation of church and state. While I believe that ultimately a free society depends on a rational, secular defense, I am more than happy to tolerate the religious views of those who endorse the separation of church and state. I point out, though, that such a position depends on political commitments that go beyond strictly religious convictions.