Sunday, August 17, 2014

PBS-style Religion

Once again it’s PBS pledge week, which means it’s a time that PBS presents its most popular programs. Year after year that includes Wayne Dyer’s “I Can See Clearly Now” – a hodge-podge of New Age ‘spirituality’. This leads me to two conclusions: 1) people really are incurably religious – even the network noted for scientific programs like “Nova” or journalism from a secular world-view finds itself compelled to turn to the transcendent; 2) when our Constitution speaks of “freedom of religion” the common mistake we make is to think that Christians, Jews, Mormons and Muslims are “religious” but that ‘secular’ folks are not. But in the world-view of those who wrote the Constitution, “religion” essentially means one’s fundamental beliefs about the nature of reality. At the time, nearly everyone’s world-view included a deity of some kind, but in terms of what the Constitution was getting at, a deity need not be involved. To say it another way, secular naturalism, summarized in the ‘creed’ of someone like Carl Sagan (“The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be”) – is, for all intents and purposes, every bit as much a ‘religion’ as Christianity, Judaism or Islam.

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