The twofold essence of all religions is worship and faith. The element of worship exalts and glorifies the subject of the religion, while the element of faith requires an unquestioning adherence to the set of principles and attributes associated with that subject.

 

The exaltation of a subject causes the heart to quicken on the mere mention of the name; this love is fervent, akin to passion. Blind adherence to the subject’s nature and attributes transcends facts and logic; it is what it is, whatever the small voice of reason might attempt to say to the contrary.

 

In America today, and perhaps much of the rest of the world as well, there exist a diversity of religions. Oddly, most of these, and certainly the most prominent, are secular in nature, despite the First Commandment:

 

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

 

As I describe these false religions below, I’m compelled to confess my own participation in the first. My forthcoming rant is directed to myself as well as to the reader; perhaps in writing about it I shall come to understand more clearly my sin in that area. Furthermore, I don’t speak against the desire of a person to maintain a decent standard of living, nor against a loving physical union between man and wife, nor the moderate consumption of alcohol, particularly red wine, nor a healthy self-awareness as limited by a humble nature, nor an appreciation of mankind’s legitimate philosophic, mathematical and scientific achievements, particularly when viewed as having been brought forth by a benevolent God. What I do speak against is excess in these matters, and the exercise of blind faith in supporting them.

 

The subject of one almost universally adored religion is wealth, most popularly expressed in the form of cash, which is viewed in terms of pure good. Here we’re not talking about the needy and destitute, for whom a little cash might help extricate them from continuous misery. Instead, we’re talking about the already-comfortable, who simply wish to broaden their comfort horizons in limitless fashion. Services in America for this religion are conducted daily Monday through Friday evening on Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. What adherent to this religion doesn’t experience a sharp intake of breath upon viewing a commercial for Publishing Clearing House? On Sundays, when the Wheel is running repeats, there are a multitude of available alternates. One is to enjoy the repeat, as the nature of the entertainment doesn’t demand originality. Another is the plentiful “Christian” Churches that one might attend, either on the tube inside his livingroom or in an actual so-called “Church”, the basic difference from the Wheel being that instead of Pat Sajak, it’s “God” himself who wants to hand out the largesse to the greedy “faithful”.

 

This god is an insatiable taskmaster. The adherent to the religion of wealth will exhibit only a limited attribute of generosity, and then only lasting until he realizes that his efforts in helping the needy don’t result in a sevenfold increase in his own income.

 

In Matthew 19:23 and 24, Jesus had this to say about the wealth-seeker’s prospect of getting to heaven:

 

“Verily, I say unto you that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

 

Paul echoed Jesus’ denunciation of this form of self-hurt in 1 Timothy 6:10:

 

“For the love of money is the root of all evil, which, while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

 

Self-gratification, whether it involves alcohol, chemicals or pornography, also qualifies for religious status. Despite the variety of ways by which the gratification can be accomplished, the subject here is singular: wanting it all and wanting it now, in complete disregard of the inevitable consequences. If these consequences were limited to the indulger, it would be bad enough for the world to have to take care of these mental, moral and physical invalids who never matured out of the suckling stage. But the consequences almost inevitably extend to innocent bystanders: parents and siblings who must pick up the messes made by the indulgers. Innocents who have lost possessions due to the robberies of those who, unable to find normal work, have had to resort to theft and burglary to satisfy their slavish hunger to appease their false god. Victims and grieving families of victims of accidents caused by operating motor vehicles under the influence on one drug or another. Wives and children of pornography viewers and participants of other selfish adulterous habits, who must suffer the alienation of their mates and the shame of the inevitable exposure. None of these self-indulgences are limited to unbelievers. The number of so-called “Christian” participants is shocking: one recent study found that 80 percent of “Christian” men indulged in pornography, fully half of these being full-blown addicts to it.

 

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 10, says that:

 

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

 

A third religion is the worship of self. This god exalts pride in multiple forms. For the would-be sports star, it is his or hers prowess on the game field. For the lover of physical beauty, it is his or her body and facial features. For the orator, it is his or her ability to speak to crowds. For the intellectual, the object of his or her adoration is the human brain.

 

Mary’s predecessor Hannah, in 1 Samuel 2, had something to say about pride in her song to God:

 

“And Hannah prayed, and said My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord; my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies, because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy like the Lord; for there is none beside thee, neither is there any rock like our God.

 

“Talk no more so exceedingly proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. They who were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they who were hungry ceased to hunger; so that the barren hath borne seven; and she who hath many children languisheth; The Lord killeth, and maketh alive; he bringeth down to sheol, and bringeth up. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich; he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the refuse, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory; for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s and he hath set the world upon them. He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall be thunder upon them. The Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

 

In her Magnificat (Luke 1), Mary herself, as directed by the Holy Spirit, also touched upon the theme of pride:

 

“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden; for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For hethat is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shown strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He had holpen his servant, Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.”

 

The fourth secular religion to capture our attention is the thoroughly secular and incredibly powerful religion of science.

 

Actual, truthful, non-speculative science has endowed mankind with wonderful benefits in both knowledge of God’s world and our own comfort. This actual science is to be respected as a worthwhile human endeavor and a proper use of the minds that God gave us and directed us in their use; we have no truck with it; in fact, of themselves the calculus that Isaac Newton invented and the physical discoveries that followed are wonders of beauty and magnificent displays of the riches of God. Who can fail to marvel at the intrinsic majesty of (d/du)eu and any number of like mathematical expressions, as well as their practical applications that took us to the moon and beyond?

 

Although its technological applications can be dangerous to the health of our planet and its inhabitants, truthful science is generally to be respected. But when that science attempts to eclipse God to the point that untruthful science achieves a foothold and also inspires from its adherents an unthinking allegiance amounting to blind faith, it has exceeded its proper bounds. The worship of science is so dominant and widespread today that an examination of it deserves detailed consideration beyond this posting.

Published by Art Perkins