Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

America's Religion versus Religion in America: A Philosophic Profile

Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

America's Religion versus Religion in America: A Philosophic Profile

Article excerpt

Abstract: Religion can be politicized to become a murderous ideology and ideology can be interpreted messianically to become a virtual religion. With the caveat that a religioideological capitalism pertains only to a minority of conservative Americans and that most Americans are not ideological, ideological capitalism has had an inordinate influence on America's social-political praxis. This praxis has suffered from the ideology where "ideology" denotes inter alia: 1) a system of belief whose believers are intolerant of anything less than fervent adherence to the cause, 2) treat that cause as overriding common civility, 3) view civility itself as a reward for backing the ideology, 4) suppress or ignore evidence against the ideological belief, and 5) try to silence the disbelief expressed in open societies, where suppression is limited, by schemes ranging from deception and ad hominem attacks to manipulating public officials. These tactics are not characteristic of, or encouraged by, the theological doctrines of the major religions in America such as Judaism and Judeo-Christianity that forthrightly admit of faith. Faith-based religions are the only antidote prima facie to the fatal hubris of a corporate ideology that is morphing pragmatism into a relativistic post-modern constructionism for marketing, packaging and reinventing America.

Key Words: capitalism, education, ideology, Kantian KK Thesis, logical positivism, pragmatism, post-modernism, Wittgenstein

I am talking to a celebrated veteran of Wall Street and big business... For years, he said, he had been giving the same speech throughout Europe on why they should invest in America. We have the great unrigged game, he'd tell them, we have oversight and regulation, we're the great stable democracy with reliable, responsible capitalism. "I can't give that speech anymore..."

Peggy Noonan, John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father, 2005.1

Introduction

I have been a non-ideological conservative in America for most of my life. In 2008, however, conserving good institutions in this country, that have been universally beneficial over the ages by fulfilling our psychobiological nature (per a naturalistic ethics of Aristotle), was failing at an alarming rate. This rate of breakdown was largely due, I concluded, to the rise of an unregulated capitalism as a virtually new religion.2

Faith Versus an Ideological Dogmatism

In contrast to dogmatic ideologies, faith-based religions have liberal ontologies (broad allowances for diverse realities). These include scientific phenomena and phenomena outside the parameters of science, from the "good" in ethics to spiritual dimensions. The vast range of all the dimensions explains why Professor Emeritus Dr. Gerald Holton of the Research Physics Department at Harvard University, in "How a Scientific Discovery is Made," states that scientists have been influenced positively by religion, up to J.G. Bednorz and K.A. Müller's Nobel Prize for superconductor advances, even if this fact "rarely survives in the published record."3 The record ignores that these religions are not either mere dogmatic ideologies or superstitions (pace David Hume) but rather more akin to Ludwig Wittgenstein's "forms of life" that can actually engender open-mindedness in non-religious areas.4 Areas of religion and philosophy may be compared, via Wittgenstein, to ordinary open-minded questions or doubts. These doubts may, for instance, question if traditional marriage benefits health. This doubt about health is not senseless since it permits evidence to resolve the doubt, say, "I know marriage is healthful due to duplicated findings issued in the medical journal Lancet." But senseless doubts exclude counter evidence expressed by "I know..." And to utter, "I know..." is senseless also apart from doubt or possible doubt. So although doubt itself may arise about whether philosophic skepticism and religious faith are senseless since knowing is unrelated to doubting:

Doubt about the wine being blood [for example, per the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation] contrasts to doubts about having two hands [by Rene Descartes who doubts whether or not he's dreaming]. …

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