Secular individuals have to build their own moral philosophies. Religious people inherit creeds that have evolved over centuries. Autonomous secular people are called upon to settle on their own individual sacred convictions.This is nonsense. First of all, there is a deep history of understanding justice and morality that is not connected to Judeo-Christian practice -- all ancient cultures had a set of rules and the commonality of those rules indicates that they speak to something clearly deeply human. He goes on,
Secular individuals have to build their own communities. Religions come equipped with covenantal rituals that bind people together, sacred practices that are beyond individual choice. Secular people have to choose their own communities and come up with their own practices to make them meaningful.
Secular individuals have to build their own Sabbaths. Religious people are commanded to drop worldly concerns. Secular people have to create their own set times for when to pull back and reflect on spiritual matters.
Secular people have to fashion their own moral motivation. It’s not enough to want to be a decent person. You have to be powerfully motivated to behave well. Religious people are motivated by their love for God and their fervent desire to please Him. Secularists have to come up with their own powerful drive that will compel sacrifice and service.
The point is not that secular people should become religious. You either believe in God or you don’t. Neither is the point that religious people are better than secular people. That defies social science evidence and common observation. The point is that an age of mass secularization is an age in which millions of people have put unprecedented moral burdens upon themselves. People who don’t know how to take up these burdens don’t turn bad, but they drift. They suffer from a loss of meaning and an unconscious boredom with their own lives.What complete rubbish. People who don't know how to take up burdens...as if we have to re-invent a moral and ethical framework from scratch? That's clearly wrong.
Daniel Maguire also takes him on, arguing in a twist that Christian ethics don't require a belief in God--rather, they can be viewed as a cultural inheritance that many of us share.
That epic moral vision that was birthed in ancient Israel and echoed into Christianity doesn’t require deity or afterlife beliefsPaul Kowalewski at the Desert Retreat House disagrees with Brooks as well, particularly over his binary of "you believe in God or you don't":
Indeed many professing Christians might be dogmatically orthodox moral heretics. They take the dogmatic legends literally and fervidly but are less enthused about the moral demands of the tradition. Thus they would smite you for not taking literally such metaphors as Exodus, Virgin Birth, and Resurrection but will not join Isaiah in saying that the only route to peace is through the absolute elimination of poverty. (Isaiah 32;17). Nor are they, as was Jesus, “good news for the poor” or “peacemakers.” (Luke 4:18: Matt. 5:9)
In a splendid irony, secularists who walk the walk on these ideals might be more “Christian” than the “dogmatically” pure.
For Brooks, to be religious you have to believe in “God,” which is way off the mark. Religion is a response to the sacred—whether the sacred is understood theistically or not.
From my perspective, "God" is essentially a Great Riddle, an unknowable mystery, an Abiding Presence at the core of everting that is. From time to time, in the thin places of life, I experience that Holy Presence, but I can never explain it and I never think of God as some sort of separated superior super person. In that sense atheists and I both don't believe in the same imaginary being.And finally, I like this quote from Karen Armstrong:
When it comes to religion, I find great value in being connected with my ancestors in a tradition of faith carried on over the ages. I also believe that being in relationship with other persons of faith strengthens me. ....
And yes, I do love the stories in the Bible and yes I think they are mostly legends and myths filled with metaphor and poetry - but that's the kind of language that is always used whenever we try to talk about great mysteries. So, while my beliefs may appear to be paradoxical, I do not at all think that they contradict one another- that's what "both-and" thinking is all about.
Religion is not about accepting twenty impossible propositions before breakfast, but about doing things that change you. It is a moral aesthetic, an ethical alchemy. If you behave in a certain way, you will be transformed. The myths and laws of religion are not true because they they conform to some metaphysical, scientific or historical reality but because they are life enhancing. They tell you how human nature functions, but you will not discover their truth unless you apply these myths and doctrines to your own life and put them into practice.” The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of DarknessThe idea of the value of religion being less about faith per se and more about a shared cultural community of myth and meaning resonates with me, as I continue my own journey.