What induces a person to shoot up a military recruiting center in middle America is surely a complex of factors. But the same network of politicians and media who absurdly attributed Dylann Roof’s murder to the presence of a flag on state property 120 miles away — that is, to the deep and abiding menace of structural racism, “interpersonal and structural . . . current and historical . . . explicit and implicit . . . articulated and silent,” in Charles Blow’s perfectly nebulous formulation — are hesitant to blame terrorism on any “structure” or “institution” not amenable to a stimulus package.He concludes:
The hold of religion is deep, and does not acquiesce to jobs programs or tax credits. Until our leaders acknowledge that squarely, we’ll continue to blame earned income for the problems of Islam — and continue to be surprised that we’re in the crosshairs.Ed Driscoll has an interesting post on the hold of religion that includes the following:
Nietzsche killed God in 1883, but man is hardwired to believe in something. Which explains why much of the 20th century was a search for alternate religions: The State, environmentalism, feminism, hallucinogenic drugs, and virtually all other aspects of the left take on religious aspects as they become more and more radical. But then, as Tom Wolfe wrote in “The ‘Me’ Decade and the Third Great Awakening,” “It is entirely possible that in the long run historians will regard the entire New Left experience as not so much a political as a religious episode wrapped in semi military gear and guerrilla talk.”
All keen observations, but the penultimate paragraph really caught my attention:
But, as the literary critic Irving Babbitt observed in his 1924 book Democracy and Leadership: “When studied with any degree of thoroughness, the economic problem will be found to run into the political problem, the political problem in the philosophical problem, and the philosophical problem itself to be almost indissolubly bound up at last with the religious problem.” Talk about lack of jobs, if you like — or rampant inflation, unaffordable housing, &c. — but eventually you have to go deeper. Marx was wrong. Men are not explained solely by their economic circumstances.
An economics without consideration of people is not real world economics. Studying the matter with enough depth and breadth in a "if you give a mouse a cookie" manner, purely material explanations are clearly insufficient. My own intellectual experience is in accord with that of Irving Babbitt.
Returning to the hold of religion and non-material explanations of the world, Law Professor David Skeel has written a book, True Paradox. He makes a case for what religion offers people:
Skeel’s work is both philosophically weighty and engagingly brief. The essence of his case for Christianity (or at least monotheism) is that humans seem inexorably drawn to normative ideas about truth, beauty, and justice, all of which are better explained by a created order than by random materialistic chaos. As a lawyer, he especially notes how people – reformers, activists, and politicians – seem unable to get away from normative ideas of justice, and seek to implement just systems. Paradoxically (one of a number of paradoxes he notes), we have a strong sense of justice and yet seem unable to manifest and or even approximate justice in most societies. This speaks to our innate notions of morality and fairness, yet highlights our inability to overcome the debilitating effects of sin and the Fall.
Skeel’s apologetics do perform a service for Christians, of course, as I walked away with greater assurance that my faith really is philosophically satisfying in the face of the toughest questions. But I hope, as Skeel (an elder at Philadelphia’s Tenth Presbyterian Church) hopes, that non-Christians will read this book, too. If they don’t find certainty, those with eyes to see and ears to hear will at least realize that Christianity has coherent, powerful answers to many of humanity’s enduring conundrums.
Another reviewer concludes:
“True Paradox” is written by a Christian in defense of Christianity, but most nonbelieving readers will not find it off-putting. Mr. Skeel expresses great respect for those with whom he disagrees—a good deal more respect, in fact, than some prominent materialists have accorded their believing interlocutors. Which may be precisely what this subject needs.
But it really depends upon whether or not one is willing to study matters with the intent of improved understanding or merely to support already held beliefs.