In every age religion has expressed man’s dominant attitude to life and to the understanding of reality. It is also the greatest dynamic in social life. The secularisation of society is a sign of social decay. In the West, religious tradition and culture are not identical but express a dualism; both seek to bring order and intelligibility into life and thought.
Today science is regarded as the true European tradition, and Christianity is seen as alien – a tradition that has temporarily deflected the normal development of our culture. But neither science nor Christianity are the result of a natural process of development.
The West was unified by Christianity and, as a consequence, it was able to assimilate Greek thought. Science was never able to be a substitute for religion. Science is an intellectual method, not a dynamic impulse from within the person.
Science and religion are distinct in origin, and so today, a new synthesis may in fact be achieved. This will happen through the integration of science and a non-rational yet naturalistic doctrine, and with the abandonment of Christianity.
Science arose from the ritual of ancient religion, and so a modern ‘religion of science’ would be perfectly in order – provided that it be recognized as belonging to the realm of religion and not to that of science. For instance, Plato regarded science as a religious discipline, and in this way he substituted astronomy for mythology.
Today, such an attitude would be out of tune, particularly with regard to bringing any element of metaphysics into the frame. Today’s religion will have to be based in the here and now.
In this analysis we can see the way that ‘faith’ is understood by the secular mind – ‘faith’ is a quality that can belong to any person, rather than to a religion. And that, as a consequence, there is a new relationship between society and ‘faith’; society welcomes people of ‘faith’, one amongst equals. Society however, will not now be formed and guided by Faith, as it was in the previous Christian age.
Today it is commonly accepted that the development of religion since classical times was a ‘blind alley’ for humanity, and that we need to return to the older attitude to nature and life, which was abandoned by developing civilisations about 3000 ago. This will allow us to have a new paganism, where we can again worship the vital forces of nature in place of having a participation in a transcendent divinity. In this new religion, scientific law will replace religious ritual. Even so, this new form of religion will not be a return to the primitive. Now that man has a certain control over his environment, the attitude of awe and wonder is no longer strong, nor can he now admit the supremacy of a non-rational power – which is just as well, because for 3000 years much of humanity has grown and developed precisely through its relationship with a transcendent divinity.