In the post-Christian West, it is an article of secular faith that religion and reason repel each other like magnetic poles. Religion, it is said, is not rational and reason cannot embrace anything that lies outside materialist explanation.
In recent years, this disdain for religion has grown into a virulent animus, not least in response to the Islamic jihad that poses a mortal threat to life and liberty from a religious fanaticism that would bomb us back to the seventh century.
Illustration by Lara Harwood
By contrast, the West is perceived to embody reason, science, modernity, liberty, equality, tolerance and human rights — all of which, it is assumed by many, are evidence of the benefits of secularism and stand as a rebuke to God and all his doctrines.
It is therefore odd that the great ideologies which currently consume the West — such as man-made global warming, scientism (the belief that science alone can explain the world), anti-Americanism and hostility to the state of Israel — all share characteristics of religious belief such as dogmatism, intolerance and evangelical fervour.
Even odder, they all display specifically Christian motifs of sin, guilt and redemption. Odder still, they all exhibit features of the millennarian apocalyptic beliefs associated with medieval Christianity, the pre-modern world and Islam throughout the ages.
Millennarianism is a religious belief in the perfectibility of mankind and life on earth through the collective redemption of sin. Contemporary secular ideologies identify the sins committed by humanity — oppression of Third World peoples, despoliation of nature, bigotry, poverty, war — and offer redemption and salvation by a return to the path of righteousness.
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