Once again, we must differentiate. The European development was much different to that of the USA, and that of the UK was quite radical. The devastating World Wars of the 20th century had a profound impact on British society. The violence and destruction led to disillusionment with traditional religious institutions and contributed to a decline in religiosity. But in Europe the rise of secular humanism, which emphasizes reason, ethics, and human values without reliance on religious doctrines, and taking a lead from the declaration of human rights, began to shape education and public discourse in a special way.Good_Egg wrote: ↑September 22nd, 2023, 3:58 amDifficult as it may be, I think an adequate view of religion needs to distinguish religion in general from the specific circumstances of Western culture.
The controversy over Origin of Soecies is a symptom of what went wrong with Christianity, the religion of Western culture. I see it as religion fossilising, becoming gradually over time more and more disconnected from culture, an enclave of conservatism, a refuge from modernity.
Seems to me that many in the West find Islamic extremism difficult to comprehend, because we're so used to the diminished and degraded position of religion in our own culture.
The temptation is to think that this is inevitable, an inherent consequence of technological progress and resulting social change. But maybe not - maybe this is a particular development of Western culture, that could have happened differently.
However, Europe's trajectory toward secularization has deep historical roots. The Enlightenment period in the 17th and 18th centuries, with its emphasis on reason, science, and individual rights, played a significant role in challenging religious authority. The gradual separation of church and state, as well as the decline of state-sponsored religion, contributed to secularization. In addition, many European countries have strong social welfare systems and universal healthcare, which has reduced the dependence on religious institutions for charitable and healthcare services.
The United States, on the other hand, has always been religiously diverse, and religious pluralism has been a defining characteristic of American society. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution enshrines the principle of religious freedom and the separation of church and state. This legal framework has allowed for a wide range of religious beliefs and practices to coexist. This diversity has contributed to a vibrant religious landscape.
What disturbed this a little were periods of religious revival and "Great Awakenings" in American history that have had a significant impact on religious fervour and the growth of various religious movements. During these waves of religious revivalism, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries, and again in the mid-20th century with the rise of evangelicalism, it had to some degree a counter-secularizing effect and encouraged fundamentalist beliefs that showed a degree of militancy and extremism that was no longer seen in Europe.
In Europe, the introduction of the historical-critical method of exegesis had a profound effect on biblical scholarship and the interpretation of religious texts, particularly in the realm of biblical studies. This method, which also emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries, parallel to religious revivalism in America, revolutionized the way European scholars approached the Bible and was severely criticised across the Atlantic. In the 1970s, Billy Graham launched a “crusade” to oppose these developments in Europe but was only mildly successful in launching evangelical churches in Europe.
So, we see a distinct difference in the developments in Western culture.