BetaPaul, one thing we’ve got to keep in mind is that this particular debate and education project has been going on at full speed for over 100 years now. Obviously, neither side has managed to come up with a complete victory yet. When either side gets close to victory, there’s always some kind of public reaction and things swing the other way. I could give examples, but this is going to be too long anyway. I suspect that this is exactly what we’re seeing right now as these huge crowds, millions of people, pour into Rome. Could this possibly be, in large part, a collective reaction against the secularization of Europe plus the fact that those thousands coming from Poland remember the suffering they endured under the Nazis and then under the Communists?
In fact, an even more alarming symptom, with apologies to Sam Harris, may well be that the secular humanists appear to have fairly suddenly discovered that it’s OK to be “spiritual” so long as this doesn’t include belonging to an organized religion or believing in any kind of god. So what’s wrong with that? Probably nothing. It’s probably the right direction, but I can’t help being suspicious and wondering about the timing.
Especially considering that the secular humanists made anything that could possibly, by any stretch of the imagination, in any way be considered “spiritual” or somehow related to “spirit” including normal phenomena like inspiration and intuition utterly taboo, at best delusional and “sick” for several generations. Google “CSICOP” and you’ll see what I mean. Repression by the thought police hasn’t really accomplished much.
I know exactly what you mean about extracting that Teddy bear from your son. And I agree that we’re up against exactly the same kind of thing when we try to explain that religion is mostly a kind of security blanket we can outgrow. But I think we need to develop much more sophisticated tactics than we’ve used so far. Everybody’s already heard it all and either accepted it or rejected it by now. Some aspects of spirituality are what anthropologists would call a “universal given” because they’ve always appeared in every society. People know from personal experience that something’s missing in a purely secular society and they yearn for it. This is the problem we have to solve, and it’s undoubtedly more related to a need to integrate the rational with the emotional and irrational aspects of human nature than to anything supernatural.