For example, just yesterday, some poor soul remarked:
Let me say also that religious belief is now largely only the preserve of the insane or mentally defective, it has been outflanked by commonsense and rationality...Let him say it by all means, but understand that it is utter rubbish.
Religion is universal to humanity. Those who don't believe in God don't believe in nothing, they believe in anything — Spiritualism, Vegetarianism, Communism, Liberalism, or some other creed usually worse by far than that inculcated by the Christian gospel.
Or to put that in more abstract terms, humans attach high emotional significance to socially approved rules of conduct. It is this characteristic that underlies all religions and without which civilization would be impossible.*
The inherent human tendency to assimilate moral rules may be reinforced by belief in the power of gods or ancestral spiritsto punish or reward. But today, when Anglican bishops in good standing openly avow their atheism, such theological reinforcements are of little significance. For most, fear of the moral disapprobation of peers and the desire for applause is sufficient to enforce a morality resting on nothing more substantial than the belief in historical necessity (Communism), the unmitigated evil of whatever is deemed by the arbiters of morality to be racism (Political Correctness), the moral equivalence of man and animals (Vegetarianism), or even crazier, the power of common sense and rationality to achieve the greatest good of the greatest number (Utilitarianism).
But whatever it is that they believe or disbelieve, all but psychopaths have a religion, whether they know it or not.
* This view of the nature and universality of religious belief is set forth in The Origins of Political Order, Francis Fukuyama's brilliant Darwinian study of the evolution of human social organization.
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