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Response to Benedict XVI

July 21, 2008

The AFP reports that Pope Benedict XVI made several interesting statements about the modern world and materialism July 19 in Sydney.  He allegedly:

…urged worshippers to become “messengers of love” to counter a “spiritual desert” spreading in the modern world, saying their youthful energy had helped reinvigorate the church.

“The world needs this renewal,” he said. “In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading, an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair.”

The pontiff has repeatedly railed against consumerism and greed through the week and again warned young worshippers to avoid “the shallowness, apathy and self-absorption which deaden our souls and poison our relationships.”

If Pope Benedict is claiming that a growing lack of faith is equal to a lack of love or morality, I certainly disagree. If he means that faith and spirituality are giving way to reason, how is that a bad thing?  The only thing I have ever noticed about non-religious people as far as an “emptiness” is concerned is that they sometimes are suffering psychologically because of the social isolation they often endure.

The sense of despair and emptiness Pope Benedict describes may also be an indirect result of other factors that accompany development. For example, more people live in and near urban areas in developed countries, where population density is much higher than we are likely evolved to cope with.  Workforces are also much more mobile where infrastructure allows it.  Although this is good for the economy, it may cause additional stress on people as they are forced to rebuild their social networks.  In a nutshell, the negative emotions described by Pope Benedict may have more to do with our evolutionary hardwiring than the fact that we are less religious.

It is normal for humans to be consumers and to stockpile resources. Resources help men attract mates and help women raise healthy children.  We are therefore likely to seek to acquire them, along with status symbols that imply we have them.  To rally against consumerism and greed is to rally against human nature.


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One Comment
  1. GeorgeRic permalink

    Seekers of truth can find it in the contiguous dimensional worlds, humorously described by Edwin Abbott in ‘Flatland’. Science determines truth by checking phenomena against the over-all theory. If that theory explains the phenomena then we can firmly hold it. ‘Techie Worlds’ (available at examines Trinity, resurrection, judgment, soul, and finds Christian teaching logical and rational in Abbott’s context.
    Unlike Christians, materialists believe that only this world exists. Science can only experiment with this material world, whereas mankind is quite unable to manipulate the higher worlds.. Yet humans report on miracles, on events such as the dance of the sun at Fatima. Pagans believe in many gods (with good reason) and the possessed levitate, all evidence that spirit worlds do exist. Both positions resolve to ‘acts of faith’, but the Christian (in the Flatland context) is simple, consistent, and teaches love for human improvement. Open your minds with ‘Techie Worlds’ logical explanations.

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