Deism and Social Ethics: The Role of Religion in the Third Millennium

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Arena books, 2007 - 201 páginas
Religion in many parts of the world, in both politics and personal life, for good or ill, is now exerting a greater influence than at any time in living memory. There is now not merely a cultural-religious confrontation between a worldwide Islam and what it sees as an affluent agnostic West, but the worrying rise of Christian fundamentalism in the most powerful nation on earth. And the latter has its distinctive political agenda. Part of this agenda entails a biased approach to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, but the most significant aspect of all religiously-inspired politics is self-righteousness, and the explosive mix which this creates. These are situations which could never have been anticipated a generation ago when it was assumed that secularism had displaced the beliefs of the past as any longer of political significance. The attitude of many thinking people, in Europe and elsewhere, is to regard religion with askance whilst looking towards the growth of a greater secularism in resolving difficult issues. But such an approach is not an option. Religion is a natural component of human nature and is unlikely to be eradicated through modernism. Nonetheless, it is necessary to distinguish between the benign and malign aspects of religion and those of the different churches. Through surveying the traditions of the major religions in today's world it is shown that those based on revelation too often tend towards a tenacity of belief which leads to irrationalism and then, in turn, to fanaticism. When this mutates into political power it creates a dangerous cocktail which may affect us all, as we have seen with 9/11, and later with the bombings in London, Madrid, Bali, and elsewhere. Such threats can only be met by reverting to the language of those who claim the authority of God. And that means confronting religion with religion. But such a challenge needs to come from an over-arching religion without falsehood, or from the rational belief system of deism which seeks to unify all those of goodwill under the umbrella of an ethical religious consciousness. This book therefore presents a vision for a regenerated deism for the 21st century in helping resolve the most difficult conflicts of our time. The futility of political confrontation, through a dualistic view of the world, must be met by a new moral order amongst majorities everywhere in bringing greater peace and security to our planet.
 

Contenido

CHAPTER
1
2 A natural component of human nature
2
3 The fear of destiny
3
4 Anxiety is no moral justification for religion
4
The crisis of contemporary religion
5
6 Religion must evolve with society
8
The deist interpretation of faith
9
8 Religion and the rationalists disappointment
11
No one religion superior to the rest
108
9 The White mans religion
109
10 Conserving primitive cultures
110
CHAPTER 9
111
Conventional religion has lost its credibility
112
Failure of the churchgoer to extend his intellectual horizons
113
5 Methodism and the retardation of social progress
114
6 Religious thought has lagged behind secular thought
115

9 The clandestine financing of religion
12
The mendacious environment of churchgoing
14
CHAPTER 2
17
2 Evils stemming from Revelation in todays world
18
Some accepted definitions of deism
19
The character of deism
21
5 Common misinterpretations of deism
22
6 A definitive interpretation of deism
24
Towards the ethical life and a peaceful death
26
Our first duty is salvation in the present world not the next
28
CHAPTER 3
32
2 Proselytising amongst the committed and born again
33
3 Proselytising amongst the lukewarm
35
The resurgent evils of religious terrorism
36
5 Christian fundamentalism versus that of Islam
38
6 Increasing religiosity accompanies increasing terrorism
39
7 The psychological damage of Americas fundamentalism
41
Fortuitous role of the deist as peacemaker
43
Confused attitude to religion in public life
45
10A role for deism in public life
46
A Moral Rearmament for social progress
47
The Legacy of Deism 1 How deism is absurdly misapprehended
51
2 Early history of deism
52
3 The great age of English deism
54
Deism coincided with the high point of British civilisation
57
5 Causes for the demise of English deism
58
6 War and its destruction of rational ideals
61
English deism in France and Germany
63
English deism in America
66
CHAPTER 5
69
2 Need for a unifying world religious consciousness
70
3 Ethics as an insoluble philosophical problem
72
4 Practicality of the religious sense
73
6 The need for sincerity
74
7 The dangers of conviction
75
8 Contemporary crisis of the churches
76
The crisis of belief
77
When is religion destroyed by disbelief?
78
CHAPTER 6
79
2 Primitive religion or magic
80
4 The rise of Christianity
81
6 Integrity of the Church Triumphant
82
8 As reflected in the understanding of humanity
83
10 Psychological consequences of salvation through faith
84
Questionable character of the reformers
86
13 The dictator of Heaven on earth
87
15 The atomisation of religion
89
Its contemporary sterility
90
CHAPTER 7
91
3 Limitations of belief in a personal God
92
Backwardness of Islamic social life
93
6 The three reasons for this
94
The threat to Islamic civilisation
95
Religion responsible for these differences
96
The nature of Confucianism
97
Sanity of Confucianism contrasted with the dualism of the West
98
A better approach to inventiveness
99
A developing religion
100
17 Women more liberated than in the West
101
Healthiness of the Confucian soul
102
CHAPTER 8
104
3 Our pagan ancestors respected the environment
105
5 Its kindness to the animal kingdom
106
6 Eastern view of Western religion
107
How religious doctrines were imposed by law
116
And passively accepted until the present day
117
9 Religion is now too often only an aesthetic experience
118
This compared with that in the classical world
119
12 Modern Biblical teaching unconvincing
120
CHAPTER 10
122
3 Applying truth to religion
123
4 Fighting superstition and falsehood
124
Bible abused as a work of revelation
125
Bible not an ideal source for ethical teaching
126
An example of this
127
10 Bibles influence in promoting strife and cruelty
129
CHAPTER 11
131
How the church has destroyed spontaneity between the sexes
133
5 Sense of sin a poor guide to a fulfilled life
134
6 Responsibility of the Christian preacher
135
7 Pathological sexual guilt special to the Abrahamic religions
137
8 Morality distinguished from Ethics
138
Narrow interpretation of Christian morality
139
10 Some sexual issues for consideration
140
Issues not considered
141
12 Some proposals on approaching sexual issues
142
Utilising love in confronting racism
144
14 Putting an end to secrecy and hypocrisy
145
The Christian activists attitude to sex
146
CHAPTER 12
148
Hellfire as the ultimate weapon
149
4 The need for demonstrable truth
150
6 Subjective truth is no truth
151
Only in religion is it seen as necessary to deceive
152
9 Harmful effects of this
153
10 Adverse effects of the Bible on the unbeliever
154
CHAPTER 13
156
2 A churchmans dismissal of ethics
157
4 And as a haven for the unfortunate
158
5 Bible most significant as a study in resentment
159
In this light it is a work of aesthetic truth
160
8 And to deny the spiritual truths of other religions
161
10 All religions must be subjected to sociological analysis
162
12 Present diversity of religious belief
163
CHAPTER 14
165
2 The paradox of religious appeal
166
The need for faith and how it works
167
5 Description of those without faith
168
6 Faith without true religion is sterile
169
Essential to a modern religious consciousness
171
9 The impersonality of God
172
He is not a mere intervener in fulfilling petty desires
173
12 Foolish attempts at proving Gods existence
174
CHAPTER 15
175
Bad arguments for its existence
176
Heaven as a club for the select few
177
5 Ethics of the saved and the damned
178
7 A rational definition of immortality
179
A definition of Heaven and Hell
180
Forgiveness
181
10 Prayer
182
11 Theology must give way to philosophy
183
Towards a new religious consciousness
185
APPENDIX List of works and their authors published during the great era of English Deism between 16901740
189
BIBLIOGRAPHY
193
INDEX
197
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