Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Atheists are Coming!

It may seem contradictory but in Britain there is an Atheist Church and it is now setting up shop in Australia. The movement has rapidly grown in Britain and reflects a refreshing change from the all too often dour and sombre tone of traditional religions. Traditional religion is so bloody serious, like this life must be lived in subservience to some higher purpose. One reason I have always had a liking for Zen is because I regard it as the only religion capable of laughing at itself. Sadly though, at least in my experience, Buddhists also seem to suffer from "we're here for a higher purpose" and be lacking in humour.

While people like Dawkins presume the popularity of religion has something to with rationality the popularity of religion has as much to do with maintaining social cohesion, providing group identification, and socialising, as it does about rationality. I consider it one of the major flaws of the New Atheists that they focus far too much on the unsubstantiated beliefs of religions and fail to recognise the more non-rational drivers of religion. The non-traditional churches, pentecostals being the prominent example, focus much more on making religious observance a celebration rather than a sombre reflection upon life. These churches have boomed in recent decades but mainly by acquiring members from the traditional churches. Interestingly in advanced societies traditional religions have been declining for decades, this trend particularly noticeable from the mid-20th century onwards.

Atherosclerosis is an Ancient Problem

There are some who attribute modern degenerative diseases to the modern lifestyle. Some argue that cancer and heart disease were virtually non-existent in the good ol' days. This recent study (full text at link) found that 1/3 of all mummies examined had evidence of atherosclerosis. You can read the Australian ABC news release here.