Sunday, November 27, 2005

Ideology as Religion

Michael Crichton, who's most recent book, State of Fear, dramatizes the excesses of the environmental movement, made an interesting and (in my opinion) accurate speech entitled "Environmentalism as Religion" a couple of years ago. The jist of the speech is that environmentalism is essentially a religion for many people, and this is the product of an innate human desire to have something to believe in. He draws some substantiative parallels between Christian mythologies and the core beliefs of the environmental movement (i.e. a pristine initial state of nature/Eden, corruption of said paradise through man's sins/burning fossil fuels, the coming apocalypse). I do think that the fervor with which environmentalists are focused on their goals at the expense of any other meaningful measure of progress resembles the dogma of religious fundamentalists.

More broadly, maybe it's just that we really do need something to believe in, whether it be a religion or an ideology. Some atheists do seem to hold their beliefs (or lack thereof, I suppose) with, ironically, a certain religious-like devotion (i.e. they are really, really concerned about how other people could possibly believe in God). I've never really been religious, but I've gone from believing in the environmentalist dogma pretty strongly to currently 'believing' in the value of free markets and liberty with a similar level of intensity. While I still consider myself an 'environmentalist' in some form, I certainly don't see eye to eye with much of the Environmentalist Movement (TM). I like to believe that this is because of careful observation of the world and serious reflection on the values that are most important to me, but maybe I'm just latching on to a different belief system. I always have had a problem with commitment!

At any rate, read Crichton's speech here.


At 12:21 PM, Blogger Molly said...

Scott, there is a religious philosopher / theologian by the name of Tillich who deals with this question of the fervor of atheism. According to Tillich (whose ideas I find somewhat interesting but also intensely problematic), the only real form of atheism is apathy to one's existence; to fervently believe that there is not a god in fact confirms the existence of god. You'd need to go to the text to get this, but he tries to defend this position, as flawed as the logic seems to me. I thought, however, that I'd mention that as it seems somewhat relevant (however tangentially) to your point. I would also draw your attention to some lyrics that probably made me think about the same question (and the passion of some of my own beliefs) much more (Besides, they are from one of my top 10 albums of last year): "If you hate the taste of wine / Why do you drink it till you're blind? / And if you swear that there's no truth and who cares / How come you say it like you're right? / Why are you scared to dream of God / When it's salvation that you want? / You see stars that clear have been dead for years / But the idea just lives on..." (Oberst, We Are Nowhere and It's Now).


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