This morning while doing morning things, I watched this youtube interview with W. Keith Campbell:
The Narcissism Epidemic
In it Steve Paikin of TVOntario is the interviewer on his The Agenda show. They do not mention religion, but about three-quarters through the interview I realized that the decline of Christianity in the West is symptomatic of the rise of narcissism. By narcissism, I should add, Keith Campbell does not mean ordinary pride in accomplishments, but a culture where too many people base their lives and actions around their own wants and desires and needs. This got me to thinking about Richard Dawkins and an essential view of atheism, expressed in this debate with the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams over faith and atheism: Richard Dawkins, Rowan Williams, Anthony Kenny: "Human Beings & Ultimate Origin" Debate. In it, amongst many other points, Richard Dawkins states his belief that existence began as an accident. It is fundamental to many religions that there is purpose at the heart of reality and existence. According to essential atheism, there is no overarching, fundamental purpose to the universe, including life or inanimate objects - to everything in short. When I initially mulled over that one statement of his, I saw that you must, as an individual atheist, be narcissistic in order to live - because if there is no overarching, pre-existing purpose to life then each person must create that purpose within - that meaning only subsists in your own head - cogito ergo sum, that famous statement by Descartes is here taken to its extreme position: I think, therefore, I am. Thus in a world where narcissism has become the default social reality, any religion, but in the case of the West, Christianity, will decline because once one strips away all the complex details (I am reading Leviticus right now and that book is all about details), Christianity is about purpose lying as the foundation of everything. Also, Christianity contradicts this narcissistic basis of atheism in its two fundamental precepts: 1. love of God and 2. love of others. Christianity is being rejected because it violates narcissism, not because it is scientifically unprovable, or illogical, or did or did not cause wars, but because at root it tells individuals to think of oneself third, if at all.