A topic for discussion:

Some views of
Religion
as seen from the fourth level of abstraction
 

but first, consider Richard Dawkins' observation from his article below:

Last year a British lynch mob attacked a pediatrician, confusing that word with "pedophile."
This is dumbed down behavior, and must be vigorously discouraged if civility is to survive.
But dumbing down is not only encouraged, it is often insisted upon.
The persuasion industry is shaping our society into a collection of "beasts that cannot learn."


"A philosophical opinion about the nature of the universe, which is held by the great majority of America's top scientists and probably by the elite intelligentsia generally, is so abhorent to the American electorate that no candidate for popular election dare affirm it in public.  If I am right, this means that high office in the greatest country in the world is barred to the very people best qualified to hold it, unless they are prepared to lie about their beliefs:  American political opportunities are loaded against those who are simultaneously intelligent and honest."
Richard Dawkins on atheism (or nontheism)
Free Inquiry, Summer, 2002, pp40-43.
This is the intentional end product of the opinion shaping perpetrated by the persuasion industry.

Severe dumbing down.
Demagoguery driven.
Dangerous.
It is stupid, in every meaning of that word.

We can do better.
A lot better.

Will we?

The viewpoint of one of England's top scientists:

(...reviewing John Polkinghorne's recent book, The God of Hope and the End of the World.  Polkinghorne "is a well-known physicist who spent twenty years doing research in theoretical particle physics and then switched to theology.  He was ordained as an Anglican priest and has spent the last twenty years...serving as a link between the Church and the academic community.."  For many, Polkinghorne gives academic and scientific support to religous beliefs.  In this review, Freeman J. Dyson finds Polkinghorne's arguments without scientific substance.)
 
Perhaps, we should substitute other religions in place of "Christian" in Dyson's writing and then look for Dyson's message in the 
totality of all such variations.  It was Islam that preserved science during the Dark Ages, and it appears to be Judaism that today 
is most diligent in preserving intellectuality in culture, education and society.  For Dyson, "Christianity" is an accident of birth,
the society of his family, a fact of his life...but not the guiding force behind preserving the arts, guiding the young, and helping
the needy.  Religion is an irrelevant parameter here: each religion has it's own (perhaps small) intellectual cohort.
And so, "worship God" has a meaning to Dyson that is foreign to most who claim solid religious belief.  It's in our realm of  "Magic."
 ..
 ..
"Secular Judaism" is a concept to some.
"What are we who are not Jews, or we Jews who are not theologians, to make of all this?  We are in the position of anthropologists observing the rituals and liturgy of an alien culture.  As anthropologists, we try to understand the alien way of thinking and we try to enter into the alien culture as far as we can.  We make friends with individual members of the alien culture and listen to their stories. We respect them as human beings, struggling in their own way to deal with the mysteries of life and death, sharing with us our common weaknesses, fears, passions, and bewilderments.  We respect their faith in the love of God, whether or not we share it.  We observe them with a sympathetic eye, but from a distance.  We do not for a moment imagine that their detailed vision of a world to come, with heaven and hell and eschatological verification, the vision that they find emotionally satisfying or intellectually compelling, is actually true.

"I am myself a Jew, a member of a community that preserves an ancient heritage of great literature and great music, provides help and counsel to young and old when they are in trouble, educates children in moral responsibility, and worships God in its own fashion...  "I am a practicing Jew, but not a believing Jew.  To me, to worship God means to recognize that mind and intelligence are woven into the fabric of our universe in a way that altogether surpasses our comprehension."

"What are we who are not Christians, or we Christians who are not theologians, to make of all this?  We are in the position of anthropologists observing the rituals and liturgy of an alien culture.  As anthropologists, we try to understand the alien way of thinking and we try to enter into the alien culture as far as we can.  We make friends with individual members of the alien culture and listen to their stories. We respect them as human beings, struggling in their own way to deal with the mysteries of life and death, sharing with us our common weaknesses, fears, passions, and bewilderments.  We respect their faith in the love of God, whether or not we share it.  We observe them with a sympathetic eye, but from a distance.  We do not for a moment imagine that their detailed vision of a world to come, with heaven and hell and eschatological verification, the vision that they find emotionally satisfying or intellectually compelling, is actually true.

"I am myself a Christian, a member of a community that preserves an ancient heritage of great literature and great music, provides help and counsel to young and old when they are in trouble, educates children in moral responsibility, and worships God in its own fashion...  "I am a practicing Christian, but not a believing Christian.  To me, to worship God means to recognize that mind and intelligence are woven into the fabric of our universe in a way that altogether surpasses our comprehension."

Freeman J. Dyson
reviewing The God of Hope and the End of the World, by John Polkinghorne
The New York Review of Books, March 28, 2002, pp4-6
 ..
 ..
Is "Secular Islam" a concept to some?
"What are we who are not Muslims, or we Muslims who are not theologians, to make of all this?  We are in the position of anthropologists observing the rituals and liturgy of an alien culture.  As anthropologists, we try to understand the alien way of thinking and we try to enter into the alien culture as far as we can.  We make friends with individual members of the alien culture and listen to their stories. We respect them as human beings, struggling in their own way to deal with the mysteries of life and death, sharing with us our common weaknesses, fears, passions, and bewilderments.  We respect their faith in the love of God, whether or not we share it.  We observe them with a sympathetic eye, but from a distance.  We do not for a moment imagine that their detailed vision of a world to come, with heaven and hell and eschatological verification, the vision that they find emotionally satisfying or intellectually compelling, is actually true.

"I am myself a Muslim, a member of a community that preserves an ancient heritage of great literature and great music, provides help and counsel to young and old when they are in trouble, educates children in moral responsibility, and worships God in its own fashion...  "I am a practicing Muslim, but not a believing Muslim.  To me, to worship God means to recognize that mind and intelligence are woven into the fabric of our universe in a way that altogether surpasses our comprehension."

"Nature is full of traps for the beast that cannot learn."