Robert Wright on Anomie and Salvation

From the NYT:

If salvation is indeed about feeling that you’re on the right side of the law, then you don’t need God — or even, as in my case, the looming memory of God — to seek it. You can be an atheist and feel that there’s such a thing as right and wrong, and that you’ll try to align your life with this moral axis. In fact, I think you can make a sheerly intellectual, non-faith-based case that there is some such transcendent source of meaning, and even something you could call a moral order “out there.” I even think it’s fair to suspect that there’s a purpose unfolding on this planet, leaving aside the much tougher question of what’s behind the purpose.

But, for my money, there’s nothing quite like the idea that what’s behind that purpose is something that can approve or disapprove of you. It keeps you on your toes, and it keeps your life mattering, even when it’s only a feeling, and no longer a belief.

Is a feeling of purpose and meaning truly enough? There is a power in commitment and belief that doesn’t seem to extend to even strong feelings.

How well-ordered could culture be should everybody act only in accordance with strong feelings? Would Christianity ever have emerged as a social order had the early Christians (many of whom were martyred) had only strong feelings to support their actions?

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Explore posts in the same categories: Civil Authority, Cooperation, Uncategorized

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