In my last post, I discussed the inherent conflict between religion and science. It’s a regular theme here. While many people believe that Religion and Science can co-exist, I’m not one of them. I think there is an inherent conflict between the two, and that ultimately science will predominate in our culture, and religion will die a timely death. Probably not in my lifetime, but since the process started sometime during the Renaissance, it’s unreasonable to think that it would. I can see it happening in the next hundred years however, because of the speed at which the progress of critical thinking has accelerated, primarily because of computers, and most notably the internet. Where it used to take, literally, years for a novel idea to circumnavigate the globe, it now takes seconds.
Intrinsic to this is the role of education. The progress referenced above is increased in direct proportion to the amount of education in any particular populace. A recent attack on education by and English Bishop is a good indicator of the truth of this.
The Rt Rev Patrick O’Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, has claimed that graduates are spreading scepticism and sowing dissent. Instead of following the Church’s teaching they are “hedonistic”, “selfish” and “egocentric”, he said…
Bishop O’Donoghue, who has recently published a report on how to renew Catholicism in Britain, argued that mass education has led to “sickness in the Church and wider society”.
You know that the church is just a tad bit worried when it attacks education itself, and blames academia for the decline in interest in the church, church attendance and, for that matter, church relevance. I find this to be an astonishing admission that religion is dependent on the ignorance of its faithful and the fostering of blind adherence to church doctrine. While it always seemed clear to me that any religion would fail once the body of the church reached a certain level of group intelligence, I always thought that it was a dirty little secret no church would admit to. Apparently, things have gotten desperate.
“What we have witnessed in Western societies since the end of the Second World War is the development of mass education on a scale unprecedented in human history – resulting in economic growth, scientific and technological advances, and the cultural and social enrichment of billions of people’s lives,” he said.
Coincidentally, during the same time frame, religion has become less and less significant, losing more and more influence in the lives of it’s adherents. He blames education. Why? Because educated people learn to think for themselves. They study the scientific method, learn critical thinking at the higher levels of academia, and generally shed the thought processes that are necessary to maintain a system of people reliant on a central authority that offers nothing but hope in an ephemeral and nonexistent afterlife. So of course, when confronted with a decline in attendance, and an increase in religious apathy, what else to blame but the education of the flock? Clearly, they’ve been over-educated! They’re now too smart to buy into the concept of original sin, which along with “radical scepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism” is the root cause for a decline in mass attendance and priests.
Attendance at Mass in 1991 was recorded as 1.3 million, representing a drop of 40 per cent since 1963, but it fell further to 960,000 in 2004. The number of priests in England and Wales has slumped by nearly a quarter in 20 years, from 4,545 in 1985 to 3,643 in 2005.
Although the good Bishop pays lip service to the advisability of continuing education, what he’s really suggesting is that we should educate less, indoctrinate more. Stop teaching people to think for themselves, teach them to let the church do their thinking for them. Turn them back into good little sheep.
As Christopher Hitchens has pointed out, shepherds don’t tend to their flock because they love them, they do so in order to a) fleece them and b) turn them into meat for the butcher. The church needs a flock to maintain its wealth, power and prestige. It provides a source of all three of these to the bureaucracy and hierarchy of the church, at the expense of its members. If the members wake up, and realize they don’t need their church, the church falls. It’s that simple.
So keep them stupid, and keep them worshiping on Sundays.