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Friday, September 17, 2010

Rich Faith Poor Faith

Is Islam the faith of the poor and Christianity the faith of the wealthy? If so, is that ironic given the attitude of each of their founding figure's toward money?

From wealthiest to poorest: blue, green, purple, red.


Matt Dick said...

My research indicates that estimates of non-relgious range from about 11.5% to 16% of the world's population (excluding Buddhism and similar). The highest percentage of non-religious per nation are France, England and the Scandinavian countries. Even at the low end this represents more people than all but three religions, so one has to consider them in the equation.


JimII said...

So, applying that to what I was looking at in this post, non-religion is certainly the religion of the wealthy, yes?

That suggests that either, religion has failed to adapt to meet the needs of enlightened people who have their basic physical necessities satisfied, or religion has nothing to offer that group. Or, believing in God makes you poor.

Matt Dick said...

Or maybe it's that atheism followed the enlightenment, and the enlightenment gave rise to atheism *and* wealth, with no implication that wealth and atheism are related.

I suspect that they *are* related though. I think that whatever its value to one's moral well-being (or its ultimate truth), religion has a dampening effect on science and technology, and those are primarily the mechanisms for the generation of wealth.


JimII said...

Harvey Cox suggests that there have been three ages of Christianity. The first was the age of Faith. In this age, Christianity was about relationship, direct response to the historical Jesus and to the movement that sprung up from his teaching. It was free of doctrine and focused on living in accordance with the "Way," or brigning about the Kingdom of "God" not "Caesar."

Then there was the age of Faith. In this age, the Church established articles of fact to be accepted as true, which were conditions of salvation. One cringes a bit in Cox's book to read that he believes this period began just about the time he himself was experience a spiritual renewal in the 1950's.

Then there is the age of Spirit, which is like the age of Faith in that it focusses on the here and now, but is different because it requires translation from a 2000 year old ministry. It is less concerned with what one believes than with what one does.

Setting aside whether this is a valid history of Christianity, with the big change occurring conveniently inside of the time period to really allow validation, I think the distinctions of how one experiences religion are valid. "Age of Faith" thinking would surely interfer with scientific advance and, more generally, to creating a flexible society. "Age of Spirit" thinking would not.

Matt Dick said...

An extension to that thinking would be to generalize to each religion. If Christianity is in an Age of Spirit now, then perhaps Islam is in an Age of Faith. Hence the association with science, modernity and wealth not necessarily with Christianity, but with a religion that embraces an Age of Spiritism.

As a test of this hypothesis, was Rome in an Age of Spirit with regard to its faith when Rome was dominating the world and making great leaps in science and technology?

I don't think I buy any of this, but it's worth thinking about.