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Posted on Fri 22 March 2019

CCTV is no religion

The Oxford and Keio study claims that organised religion is triggered when the population of societies reaches a million (News Report, God Threshold triggered at a million, 21 March). The religious instinct is innate in human beings and even small and isolated communities have religious beliefs. It may be, though, that as societies grow in numbers and complexity, religion plays a more important part in social cohesion and regulation. After all, by definition, religion is the social expression of our spiritual nature.

It is, however, both lame and risible for one of the authors to claim that in ‘modern secular societies’ the social function of religion can be replaced by CCTV and Online tracking! Religion is needed to provide us with moral principles about the human person, the justification or not of conflict and wholesome family relationships to name just a few of the areas of our common life.It is also needed to mark important personal, family and community watersheds. Most of all it provides for a final judgement which none can escape whether they are rich or poor, influential or not. Social surveillance, where it is justified, can reinforce moral and spiritual principles but it cannot provide them! Mere public opinion and even democracy cannot either. Every society needs ultimate and transcendent principles if tyranny and mob rule are to be avoided. Religion can and does provide these.Religion which has gone wrong should not blind us to the continuing importance of good religion for our life together.

Letter to the Telegraph: First published 22nd March 2019

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