G.K. Chesterton once wrote: “When men have ceased to believe in Christianity, it is not that they will believe in nothing. They will believe in anything.”
When one looks around at today's "secularised" world and the many who claim to have "no faith" one quickly realises that this is not strictly true. Most hold some belief in something, such as a political ideology, climate change, "science" (undefined) and "reason" (again, undefined). Recently Mr. Milliband proclaimed himself an "atheist" but then went on to say he believed "absolutely" in the eventual "triumph of socialism" and the ideology that he espouses. This despite the disastrous examples littering the history of the last century - and his own Party's ruining of the economy every time they've occupied Number 10 Downing Street.
We have a mishmash of "alternative" "faiths" as I was reminded recently in reading a "Chronicle of the Year 1971." That was the era of "Hari Khrishna" and the adoption of a number of strange mixtures of Eastern Mysticism by some celebrities. It also saw the rise of "New Age" religious teaching, among them a number of supposed "Druid" practices - the provenance of which owes more to the fertile imaginations of certain Victorian creators of what are, I think, best described as 'fringe' Masonic "Orders." While I can, to an extent, understand the drift away from organised religion with its clergy centric focus, I really do fail to see the attraction of many of the "new alternatives."
It is interesting to see that many of those most vociferous in their condemnation of Christianity in public and private life, pull back from condemning anything to do with any other faith. There is almost a line of thought running through their activities that suggests they believe that by switching to promoting any alternative, they can destroy the Christian heritage of the west and, presumably, consolidate their own authority as "leaders" of thought.
The funniest example I can find is Phillip Pullman's "Golden Compass" in which "God" is the evil baddie to be defeated - but the theme is straight from the Gospel's he decries - self-sacrificing love to save the world. I wonder if Mr Pullman appreciates the irony?
I can't escape the feeling, however, that our "leaders" have misjudged or misunderstood human nature. Even as secularism has risen, so has faith - not the traditional type, but a "belief in anything" that embraces "everything." It must be one of the great ironies of our age ...