‘Pride goes before destruction, haughty spirit before a fall.’ Proverbs 16:18
In our haste to crown ourselves the smartest and most moral generation in human history, we have neglected this all important lesson, and each day we move closer to a moral and intellectual precipice. Many fail to see this, most of all the powerful and influential elite who run our governments, control our institutions, and shape our culture. To them, their vision has led us not just to surpass previous generations – but to reach the pinnacle of moral clarity, truth, and wisdom. All that remains is to implement it across society – whether through persuasion, manipulation, or force.
But there is one giant flaw in this vision: it is godless. For this reason it will not only fail to fulfil its promise of a fair and just world, but will instead lead us down a path of depravity and destruction.
In this piece then, I, an atheist, will make the case for why we need religion to underpin and guide our civilisation. I will focus on 3 points specifically; the first is that without religion, a society and its people become rudderless and easily led astray. The second is that religion provides an antidote to an inescapable fact of our existence: that we are our own worst enemies. And the third is that religion can survive changes of political systems, parties, and leaders, so is more resilient and long lasting than they could ever be.
Lastly, I will explore what religion today, if any, is best suited to guide the next stage of Western civilisation. Let’s get into it.
1- A Godless Society
Firstly, I want to distinguish between ideology and religion. In the first, man is the highest being, and in the second, man serves a higher being. Now it’s easy to get lost here in a battle of semantics or definitions, for example, one could say the first is a secular religion and the second a supernatural one, or that they’re both man-made religions, or that religion is a form of ideology, etc, but for this purpose let’s stick with the definitions I’ve used as these best highlight the situation at hand.
Today, if it’s not obvious already, the West is in the grips of ideology. What does this mean in practice? It means that flesh and blood men and women are the ultimate authority on morals, truth, and justice – there is nothing and no one we answer to besides ourselves. More specifically, within the current power structure and dynamics of our society, it’s a particular group of men and women who are calling the shots and who are seeking to impose their ideology on us, our children, and future generations to come. These people include but are not limited to: Jenny, who has a journalism degree and writes articles on her MacBook Air for a national newspaper; Terry, who studied sociology and liked it so much he hung around at his University till he eventually became a lecturer; Tom, who joined a social media company straight out of college and is proud to have been promoted several times and is now a senior director there; Suzy who got her teaching qualifications and is enjoying teaching her 6 year old pupils at her local school; Chris, who used to love performing in amateur theatre and eventually landed a big role in a movie that made him a star; Alison who after working as a lawyer, used her contacts and networking skills to secure a spot on a ballot and is now a member of congress; Wayne who became a billionaire by working 18-20 hours per day and being cutthroat in the investment world; Melissa who after graduating decided to join a non-profit and focus on activism for causes she believes in; Sam who, growing up, was a whizz with computers, and who after dropping out of college founded a tech company that went onto make it big, and the list goes on.
These people have become the self-appointed gods, prophets, and priests of humanity. How have they attained this position? Well, how could they not? If there is no ultimate lawgiver above humans, then it’s humans who will decide what is right and wrong, what is true and false, and what we can and can’t do. Of course with such free reign, invariably there will be disagreement on these matters, both amongst individuals and groups, but in a godless society who settles this? How can you definitively prove one way or the other that you are right and the other side is wrong? There is no universal authority to appeal to after all – just other, imperfect, flesh and blood humans.
Herein lies the origin of moral relativism, where there is no objective truth or right and wrong, so you simply choose your own. Any belief and behaviour becomes possible or acceptable (if not now, then eventually), and this is embodied by maxims like: “I don’t judge,” or “tolerance,” or “do whatever feels right for you,” or even “anything goes.”
Now you could be thinking: live and let live, let people choose their own way, but there are two major problems with this. Firstly, moral relativism inevitably gets taken to a point where, to be consistent, it must tolerate any belief or behaviour, and not just tolerate it, but celebrate it for being different – no matter how depraved, destructive, delusional, or deranged it is. We all see this happening before our eyes today. Secondly, moral relativism creates confusion, conflict, and ultimately a vacuum – and human society abhors a vacuum – so in time a motivated, coordinated, and uncompromising minority will find a way to fill it by imposing either their ideology or their religion on the majority. It’s at this point that moral relativism dies and is replaced with intolerance and authoritarianism.
If this sounds hard to believe, it’s probably because our perspective has been skewed by the unusual circumstance of living in a period of relative freedom and prosperity over the past 70-80 years. (If you’re watching or listening to this, you’re likely anywhere between 18 to 65 years of age, so you’ve known nothing else.) This is not the historical norm however, and our current trajectory is evidence of that. We are not trending towards continued freedom and ‘live and let live,’ we are trending towards authoritarianism – in other words to the historical norm.
Which brings us back to our friends: Jenny, Terry, Tom, Suzy, Chris, Alison, Wayne, Melissa, Sam and others like them, some of whom may be individually weak, but who collectively are strong. We know their ideology of course just by the brief descriptions I gave of each of them, but it’s worth unpacking it here, as well as examining another dominant ideology they have formed an unholy alliance with, for it will illustrate the folly and degeneracy of godless ideologies that place man as the highest being and authority in the universe.
The first ideology is brought to you courtesy of Communism, and it is Wokeism, whose catch-cry is tolerance. The second ideology is brought to you by Capitalism, and it is Consumerism, whose key tenet is consumption (lots of it). These two ideologies have become intertwined at the macro level, and not by accident, but rather than looking at the vested interests that have fuelled this alliance, which is a topic unto itself, in this piece I want to stay focused on the ideologies themselves. Wokeism is the endpoint of moral relativism: it’s simultaneously where we reach the highest levels of depravity and moral and intellectual corruption, and the point at which we transition to authoritarianism, thus being forced to accept it as our reality whether we like it or not. As for consumerism, it is taking consumption to a level where we throw self-control, self-discipline, and in some cases self-respect, out the window. It means consuming to a point beyond what is necessary, where you harm or even kill your body, numb your mind, and corrupt your spirit, and where your highest calling becomes pleasure, indulgence, and comfort. If these two working together isn’t the perfect recipe for civilisational destruction, then I’d like to see what is. It’s not hard to imagine the most depraved beliefs and acts being, not just tolerated, but in time promoted for pride and profit.
They also both sit firmly in opposition to the previous dominant cultural force in the west: Christianity. Wokeism in particular seems to relish deconstructing Christianity, and taking the opposite stance to it on every issue. That wokeism has been successful in its mission, and that it is gaining ever more momentum and control cannot be disputed. For though Christianity in its truest form is still alive in the hearts and minds of some Americans, for many it has been corrupted and watered down significantly by woke ideology and political correctness, and the majority of self-proclaimed Christians today are CINOs (Christian in Name Only). In Europe it is even worse – believers are dwindling and church attendance is abysmal. And in both regions of course, Christianity has little if any power or influence. Our governments, aka the unelected bureaucrats and civil servants that make up the bulk of it, are godless. The universities, education system, media, entertainment industry, tech giants, corporations, legal system, NGOs, non-profits, the arts, Wall Street and big banks, intelligence agencies, and more, are all godless and woke. We are therefore living in a post-religious society, led by an ideological minority, and we are being bullied into conforming by their decrees and their army of minions. As for our children, they are being indoctrinated through the education system, the media, and the culture to become tomorrow’s woke leaders and ideological enforcers.
The obvious truth is that without religion we are unable to anchor ourselves to anything eternal or bigger than ourselves, so are easily led astray by the whims and moods of the moment. We are like a leaf blown around in the wind – susceptible to accepting the ideas of power hungry, crazy, and corrupt flesh and blood humans – whose desire to control society and impose their ideology on it far exceeds the common man’s desire (or courage) to oppose them.
Let’s now examine why human nature points to us needing religion.
2- Our Own Worst Enemy
First, I feel it’s important to share with you my background as it relates to religion. I was raised a Christian, and was a firm believer, attending church every week and praying every day. I also took the Bible literally for the most part, as it’s intended to be taken (unless of course you think you know better than God). Lastly, I have read the Bible cover to cover three times.
By my early 20s however I had become what you might call a militant agnostic or atheist (I use these two terms interchangeably). I just couldn’t square what I saw in society and the world with the claims of my religion. I was a truth seeker, so naturally I went wherever the truth led me. Science, history, and modernity suggested the explanation for existence lay elsewhere.
I’m in my 30s now and looking back I realise I was right in one sense about things (namely, religion’s friction with science), and wrong in that when I condemned Christianity (and religion as a whole) as manmade and unnecessary, I had missed the forest for the trees – as many supposedly enlightened anti-theists do. I have since come to believe that religion is not only necessary, but when done right is one of the most genius developments in the history of humankind.
Let me explain.
Humans need other humans in order to survive. From when we come into the world, we are dependent on others for food, shelter, and protection. The saying it takes a village to raise a child is true, and indeed the survival of our species depends on it. Naturally a village is made up of people who aren’t related to each other by blood, but who nonetheless must get along to ensure we all survive, and if we’re lucky live happy and productive lives. This means the baker, carpenter, farmer, and blacksmith must cooperate and be bound by a common set of rules and values. In our complex, modern society, it means the software engineer, police officer, accountant, and store associate must do likewise.
The challenge however is our nature. We have a brain and emotions that encourage cooperation and the continuation of our species, but that also lead us to feel pride, fear, anger, hurt, envy, selfishness, prejudice, hatred, greed, lust, egoism, delusion, laziness, paranoia, despair, and madness. This, along with the setting we’re in, which is an unpredictable world with scare resources, competing groups, natural disasters, pests, disease, man-made calamities, accidents, and death – can lead us to violence, division, oppression, and war. And so we discover we have no greater enemy than ourselves: we are the great in the world and also the terrible.
The question then becomes, how do we within the limits of our own minds and bodies, and the environment we are in, find a way to coexist?
The answer: we need a glue that binds. It’s not enough to just have an economic marriage of convenience with others as consumerism encourages, or to tolerate anything and everything (excluding Christianity and traditional values of course) as wokeism does. What we need is a strong sense of solidarity and shared beliefs and values. The idea that this can come from an ideology which makes imperfect beings the ultimate authority, and not only that, allows them to change their beliefs and values though time to suit their evolving selfish interests and predispositions, is a farce. We need something above us – not a king or emperor, not a dictator or president, not a CEO or First Citizen, but a god or religion. For whilst we can argue amongst ourselves all day long, and call this or that leader corrupt or a liar or a fool, and can privately or publicly trash an ideology or set of values or laws coming from one group or another, we cannot do so with god or religion. It is a truth and a wisdom above ours. Accepting this requires humility of course, and in our current society, this is something we are in very short supply of – thinking as we do that we have all the answers and know best.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not to imply that we should stop being curious or engaging in science and developing technology, but rather that we should do so within the limits set by religion. These are there to protect us from ourselves. Remember, “pride goes before destruction.”
Beyond that, it is also well established the benefits religion bestows upon a people and society. Here is a snapshot of some that are relevant to us today:
Fertility: the belief that having children is a blessing and a duty (the more the merrier). Contrast this with the woke and the consumerists, the former which believe that more children will pollute the environment and lead us to climate catastrophe, and the latter whom see children only as future consumers of pointless products (but who unwittingly encourage people to have less children as consumers don’t want to compromise their comfort and lifestyle). It’s no surprise then that many today have one or zero kids.
Another one is Resilience: life is filled with challenges, it involves hard work, ups and downs, unexpected tragedies, and the list goes on. The religious have a resilience about them, an inner strength that comes from their belief in being part of something bigger and nobler than themselves. Atheists will claim they’re using their religion as a crutch, I would instead say it is a source of power. Moreover they have established communities of like-minded people, who can offer them support when they need it. If you look at the typical woke or godless liberal by contrast, and this is backed up by data including surveys, reports, etc, their ‘sources of strength’ are antidepressants, mental illness, virtue signalling online, paranoia, and cancelling others for not respecting their confused mental state and emotions.
Another area is Morality: the religious have a strong and clear sense of right and wrong – mandated by the ultimate lawgiver. There’s no hiding from your actions either, you will be held responsible for them either now or later. The woke by contrast seem to have a slippery slope morality, which today includes sexualising children, glorifying or excusing criminality, spreading false accusations, cutting off people’s livelihoods for disagreeing with them, coercing people to inject drugs, cheating in sports, and much more. Despite this they are convinced they are infallible – remember, “haughty spirit before a fall.”
In short, ideologies, without fail, deny human nature. They sweep it under the carpet and imagine they can mould people and society like clay. The results range from pitiful to disastrous, from sad to horrifying. By contrast, religion’s genius is that it understands human nature so well. The cynical will say it is merely about controlling people, but in practise it is about social cohesion, order, morality, and justice. It is an extraordinary system that has helped our upright walking species to survive and propagate on this tiny rock in endless space.
Let’s now look at religion vs political systems and leaders.
3- Religion vs Politics
I don’t want the message here to be that religion ushers in an earthly paradise. It doesn’t. It just works better than the alternatives. We’ve already looked at moral relativism, wokeism, and consumerism, which put no brakes on the worst elements of human nature – but rather accelerate them.
It’s important to look at politics now too. Systems like democracy are a fertile territory for the aforementioned ideologies to blossom. Democracy is perhaps the political embodiment of relativism, in that it assumes there is no right or wrong vision for society, except for that which a majority of often ignorant, prejudiced, self-interested, and misinformed citizens happen to think at the time. Whether or not what citizens vote for actually comes to pass is another matter. Countries like the US are so far down the rabbit hole of oligarchy, that they are a democracy in name only. But that’s not relevant here – what’s relevant is that the principle of democracy, if you take it to its logical conclusion, is that the whims and individual interests of each person are what dictate what is true, best, and right. So we’re basically compounding the problem of making man the highest being, by extending it to the realm of how we govern society.
But what are the alternatives to democracy today? Well, there’s dictatorship; China is a good example of this. Here you have a single party ruling with an iron fist over the population. The Chinese Communist Party have zero tolerance towards the decadent ideologies of Western democracies, and have successfully subdued or crushed them within China, but to achieve this they have taken the de facto position of god. The obvious issue is they are not, but are instead flawed men and women whose laws and decrees come from their own hearts and minds, not some higher power. To maintain their position and authority then, and not be challenged as fallible or corrupt, they have had to wield the weapon of totalitarian ideology, which permeates every part of their society.
So with democracy and dictatorship we’re kind of between a rock and a hard place.
What about something in the middle then, like Russia under Putin? Again, Putin has been firm in restricting the decadent ideologies of the West, he is a nationalist, and his country is technically a democracy. In practice however, Russia is a dictatorship. And nationalist dictators through history have had a predictable tendency to launch futile foreign wars and wipe themselves and their nations out in the process. Or if they resist this temptation, their system rarely outlives them anyway.
Getting too attached to one political system or another then seems either a recipe for disappointment or failure. You can let things take their own course with democracy, and that course is usually one of going downhill slowly, and then rapidly. Or you can rule with an iron fist and make everyone’s lives unpleasant. Furthermore, we need only zoom out to the history of any nation, and we will see the never ending rise and fall of political systems, leaders, parties, and dynasties. We will see revolutions, upheavals, war, and collapse. We will see the erasure of peoples, the mixing of peoples, and the rise of peoples. We will see what was democratic one day, become oligarchic the next day, and a dictatorship the day after. No political system lasts forever, and certainly no political entity outlasts religion.
Think of a religion like Christianity – it has been around for 2,000+ years. How many times has the political order changed in this time? How many catastrophes have we faced in the West during these years? The answer boggles the mind, and yet Christianity has survived it all.
In addition to outlasting politics, it also is far less divisive than politics. Democracy is divisive. Dictatorships are divisive, and so is everything in between. You are either the wrong class – for using your talents and skills to further yourself in life, or you are the wrong race – because you happened to be born to a particular mother or father, or you are the wrong sex – because you had a different chromosome pair at conception, but with religion any and all are welcome: rich or poor, light or dark skinned, male or female. Christianity has adherents from every class, race, and nation.
Now you could argue that religion creates division between believers and non-believers. Sure it does. But you have a choice whether to join the religion or not. All are welcome; none are excluded for things they have no control over. Moreover, if we’re honest, how would a true Christian achieve unity with a true woke person? The two are completely incompatible. You have to draw the line between right and wrong somewhere, and some will be on one side of the line and others on the other side. That is life. We can’t please everybody, or we’ll please nobody. We need a strong sense of right and wrong in society, and pandering to the corrupt is not the way to achieve it.
Or what about religion creating division among adherents of the same faith or of other faiths? For e.g. Catholic vs Protestant or Christian vs Muslim? Well, again, it’s a fact of life that there will be power struggles, disagreements, and that events may take on a life of their own. This happens with or without religion, so the key question is instead when it comes to imperfect beings who live in an unpredictable and dangerous world, which option leads to the better result: religion or ideology? I would argue religion does significantly more good than harm, and ideology does significantly more harm than good.
Religion also has a way of putting pressure on or even forcing the rulers of the day to adhere to its principles lest they lose the legitimacy to rule or have to resort to overt and extreme tactics to retain control, which can often backfire.
The hierarchy in our society should thus be religion first, politics second. Politics is important, and we must not ignore it, but we must also know it’s place. Relying on political systems alone will not save us, and could destroy us. Religion provides us with moral, cultural, and spiritual continuity whilst our political systems crumble, are upended, and are remade over and over again.
Now let’s look at which religion, if any, can lead the West in the 21st century and beyond.
I wish this was an easy answer – that the, at face value, lowest hanging fruit were the way forward. But I’m not convinced. To have the best chance of success in the West in this new millennium, and particularly this century, I believe that a religion needs to square the circle in 3 areas:
Let’s start with science. It will be obvious to many who have examined modern history that the Scientific Revolution (commencing in the 16th century), and the Enlightenment it gave way to in the 17th and 18th centuries, put Christianity on the back foot. Science and reason have been chipping away at the moral and cosmological foundation of the Christian faith ever since. Whether it’s the origins of earth and the universe (the latter through the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago), or the emergence of humans via evolution around 300,000 years ago, or even the acceptance that people who act crazy are mentally ill (and not demon possessed), and much more – all of this has served to create doubt, disbelief, and even animosity towards Christianity. Today, unless you’re willing to do lots of mental backflips and ignore large parts of the Bible, then it’s very hard to square the circle between Christianity and science. Those Christians who do, if they’re being honest, are on the one hand dismissing the word of god as nonsense and reinterpreting it through a liberal lens (as if they know better), whilst simultaneously claiming it’s true. This is having your faith cake and eating it too.
Then there’s technology, which has transformed our society enormously, beginning with the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. Our lives today compared to the first Christians, or even the Medieval Christians, are very different. The internet, smartphones, satellites, electricity, antibiotics, planes, cars, social media, x-ray machines, guns, and I could spend the next 6 hours listing things, have changed not just our society, but our beliefs, values, and expectations. When we look at what lies ahead – the scale of change is even greater. Think artificial intelligence, robotics, the metaverse, brain-machine interfaces, advanced space exploration, quantum computing, gene editing, nanotechnology, and much more. How relevant therefore can an ancient religion, brilliant as it is, be to the future we are heading towards?
Then there’s prosperity. It’s common for a prosperous people to become decadent, weak, selfish, short sighted, and spoiled. In the time and place in which Christianity arose, poverty, struggle and conflict were the norm. In the Middle Ages, when Christianity was dominant, this was also the case. In the West today however, we can relate in no way to the lives our Christian ancestors lived. Nor could they relate to ours. Even the poorest among us have free education, free money, access to buses and trains, and own smartphones and TVs. Moreover, the rewards people yearn for are in the here and now. It’s much harder therefore for the Christian message to resonate in a prosperous society like ours. Short of us collapsing into mass poverty and suffering, more and more will abandon the faith or become CINOs.
Now all this is not to say that Christianity is bad. It has been an amazing success. It has been a core part of Western civilisation for the longest time. It also helped to civilise the barbarians in Europe when the Roman Empire collapsed. And whilst I admit it would be much easier to propose we re-embrace Christianity, and claim it can save us from today’s ideologies, I think it’s an uphill, and in the long run, losing battle.
The truth is that no religion lasts forever. They all have a shelf life. The Ancient Roman religion lasted 1,000 years. The Ancient Egyptian religion lasted 3,500 years. The Aboriginal Australian religion lasted 10,000 years (or maybe more). These and countless other religions must have seemed as true and eternal to their adherents back then as ours do to us. Yet they are all but dead.
Moreover, religions borrow from other religions. Zoroastrianism likely influenced Judaism. Christianity built on top of Judaism. Islam built on top of Judaism and Christianity. The Mormons built on top of Judaism and Christianity, and there are so many links between minor and major religions through history and in every region of Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia, that it would fill an entire book all on its own to examine these. So thinking one’s religion is unique amongst all others isn’t looking at things honestly.
Turning back just isn’t the way to go. We need to acknowledge that science, technology, and prosperity are our reality today, and this calls for a faith and creed that is either immune to these facts or that incorporates them. It needs to be future proof too, meaning it’s fit for time horizons of centuries or longer starting from now. And it mustn’t close our minds, but rather encourage our quest for knowledge of and expansion in the universe. Humans aren’t meant to be confined to Earth alone, our destiny lies in the stars. Religion can be our guiding force and moral compass as we fulfil this destiny.
Of course the road ahead right now seems uncertain. There is the real possibility that our civilisation collapses, or that even if it doesn’t, things get really bad, which is even more the reason to not leave things up to chance. The work begins today – laying the foundation for what emerges from the ashes. If we can prevent a collapse however, and it’s important to prepare for all possibilities, then be under no illusion that it will be hard to take back control. We are combating a wicked ideology and an elite that are as relentless as they are pernicious (even if they think they are the good guys). They, along with their army of brainwashed minions, are chipping away at the pillars that hold up our society. This is the march to authoritarianism, which ultimately leads to dictatorship in all but name.
The only thing compelling enough to stop this and renew our civilization is religion. It is the ultimate force, for it is imposed from within – encompassing mind, heart, and spirit. But even the best of religions after a while lose their power and relevance, particularly when the society in which they exist undergoes monumental change. We therefore need to say the unthinkable out loud, to temporarily break the fourth wall, and acknowledge we need a new religion.
If we fail in this, then we will be left to impose things from without, and that means adopting the same tactics as our enemies – authoritarianism and dictatorship. It will become a race to who gets there first.
Some Final Words
A famous philosopher once said: “If god did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”
We are seeing the truth of these words today. When humans have no higher authority than themselves, they set themselves on a path to self-destruction. We are simply not fit to be our own gods. It takes humility and wisdom to accept this.
Our ancestors understood this too. The pioneers of faith were men of genius and foresight, with a deep insight on human nature. Let us not fool ourselves that we know better. Let us build on this most incredible tradition of our species. Let us fulfil our potential in this extraordinary universe. Let us serve a higher power, real or not.
Written by Arcadius Strauss.
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