Losing Our Religion at Exactly the Wrong Time

by Bob Schwartz

There is a thought that religion is an ancient and now outdated way of dealing with our understanding of a complex world. As soon as we began to “understand” the world better, and could even do and make things once attributed only to the gods, religion was considered a vestige, and often an unhelpful or destructive one.

That is ironically wrong-headed. The more we did and made, the more exponentially complex the world became. Even if our tools of whole understanding kept pace with that development—which they didn’t—people were more interested in doing and making than they were in learning and using those tools.

One more step in the downward spiral is that those who still maintained religion often integrated it with doing and making, and religion lost its original power and purpose for understanding. They exploited religion, used it, made it transactional, which made it more unpopular with those who had already rejected it.

We can develop and choose other tools to understand what is now a radically complexifying world and to understand ourselves and our place in it. It does not have to be religion, but it has to be something. Religion is convenient and useful because it has already been built and refined, sometimes—but certainly not always—in positive and enlightening ways.

Choosing nothing is an option, but a costly one. Choosing something, religion or otherwise, may yet help get us out of the mess. This mess, and the ones inevitably to come.